The Terminal 1 multi-storey car park is a relatively popular spotting location at Manchester. There used to be an aviation shop on the roof (level 13) and so this was historically an ‘official’ spotting location. The Aviation Shop has since moved to Terminal 1 arrivals so the car park is no longer an official spot, there are always people up there though and the police and airport staff know it’s popular. The main reasons it is very popular are because the car park offers exceptional views of most of the apron area. The ‘West Apron’ is completely visible from Level 12 of the car park. That level also offers great views of all the way down Terminal 2, from the Southern most gates to the Northern most.
The roof or car rentals level, level 13, is the most popular part of the car park. There is usually a group of spotters in the corner watching the action and chatting – it’s a pleasant and friendly atmosphere. Located in this corner are large plastic bags which the airport has put up there as bins for the spotters to use, there are also many small ‘holes’ in the metal grill fencing – facing the ‘West Apron’ – that have been cut to allow photographers to poke lenses through and get a clear shot of the action.
Level 12 is open to the air and occupies the Northern half of the car park roof. It’s usually less popular than level 13 but harbours better views in my opinion. As previously mentioned it offers complete views of Terminal 2, as well as the remote stands in the middle of the ‘West Apron’, the whole of the World Freight Terminal, and the Northern side of Terminal 1’s Pier C. Level 12 is an active part of the car park however - so during peak travel times there may not be much space next to the walls because of the parked cars.
There are a few ways to get to this location, the most obvious being to drive up to the roof and park your own car up there and this is a great idea. It means that when there is a lull in traffic you can sit in your car with the air conditioning on and be free from the often harsh Manchester weather! Parking at T1 is not cheap though.
The prices are as follows: (Accurate as of March 2013.)
Up to 30 minutes £2.50
Up to 1 hour £4.50
Up to 2 hours £8.00
Up to 4 hours £15.00
Up to 6 hours £20.00
Up to 24 hours £35.00
If the idea of parking your car up there is not attractive to you then another easy way of getting to T1 is on the train. Trans-Pennine Express operate many services to Manchester Airport every hour from Manchester Piccadilly, Northern Rail operate an hourly service to the Airport from Crewe via Wilmslow and to Liverpool Lime Street. There are also plans for a direct link between North Wales and Manchester Airport via Chester. As is the case with the entire country, services are more regularly affected by engineering work on Sundays.
Please note that the rail services to/from Crewe via Sandbach,
Holmes Chapel, Alderley Edge, and Wilmslow do not run on Sundays.
If you do chose to take the train then leave the station from the normal exits, and head straight ahead towards a couple of sets of doors that lead out onto internal roads. Go up the escalator opposite these doors and turn right at the top. This should lead you onto the Skywalk for T1 and T3. Keep walking until you can see the ‘West Apron’ to your right out of the Skywalk’s windows. You’ll see that the Skywalk ‘enters’ the car park on Level 7. From here, there are 2 ways to get to the top. Either carry on straight ahead and enter the lifts to the left, selecting Level 13, or take the small exit to your right that leads through automatic doors into the car park. From here you can walk North where you will find a set of stairs which will take you up to Level 12.
The view of the West Apron from car park level 12.
Taxiway and runway action is partly visible from car park level 13.
The World Freight Terminal is a kilometre away acoss the apron.
The view of Terminal 2 from level 12. Photo © Alejandro Alvarez.
A Manchester Airport bound Northern Rail train waits at Crewe Station.