Unfortunately, very few airports seem to now have observation decks and there’s little reason for this that I can think of. Since they’re after security, there’s no risk of attack and if they’re worried about smokers, they can always post security staff up there or shove in a smoking area discreetly.
Zurich Airport have what I think is the best observation desk that I can recall visiting at an airport, free of charge and of some considerable size.
It was possible to listen in to the radio communications system, with the phonetic alphabet displayed. I can never remember this, I just make words up, usually relating to food or products which Greggs manufacture.
The view of an aircraft owned by Swiss Air Lines, with Zurich Airport being their hub.
An Air Berlin aircraft.
An explanation of the air traffic control system.
A detailed explanation of the runway system.
Everything was clean and well implemented, with the whole area offering somewhere more interesting to wait for a flight than sitting in the main terminal. It also adds an extra element of excitement for children and it’s a shame that more airports don’t offer this. Heathrow has made little effort here and although there’s an observation deck at T4, it’s enclosed and has obstructed views. Now that Heathrow have said they don’t intend to build a Terminal 6, I don’t imagine much will change in the UK’s main airport….