For aviation enthusiasts or travelers with a long layover between flights at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam a free fair weather diversion is to head up to an outdoor observation deck called the Panorama Terrace  to watch aircraft at the world’s tenth busiest airport take off, land and taxi to gates.

Located on Schiphol’s third floor with views of the planes in the C, D and E piers the Panorama Terrace is post-security and open to the public year-round. Simply follow the first signs to Departures 1 & 2, then look for another sign that reads ‘Panorama Terrace’.

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Entrance is complimentary to the terrace which is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (winter) and 7 a.m. to  9 p.m. (summer) except in cases of inclement weather.

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My mid-September visit was graced by clear skies and a light breeze making plane spotting easier.

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Also on the observation deck is an authentic Fokker 100 KLM Cityhopper plane that served KLM’s regional subsidiary for over two decades and was retired to help illustrate the airline’s illustrious aviation heritage with a timeline of important events but note that the time line is in Dutch only.

photo by author 

photo by author 

Schiphol’s Panorama Terrace is a one of a handful of outdoor observation decks at major international airports including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Honolulu, and Frankfurt but once upon a time there were many more but post 9/11 security concerns closed many.

As a boy who pressed his nose against the Plexiglas at Saskatoon’s John  G. Diefenbaker  Airport in the late 1970’s watching the DC8’s taxi right up to the terminal airport’s have always held a certain fascination for me and so it was with great delight that I spent an hour after arriving from Reykjavik on Icelandair watching the aircraft movements with my jet lag momentarily forgotten.