Best side of plane for view

Jun 13th, 2010, 06:43 PM
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Best side of plane for view

Does anyone know of a website that allows you to enter a routing and find out which side of the plane (usually) has better views?

For example, if you put in DFW-SFO it might say something like "The Grand Canyon is visible from the right side of the plane as you fly over, but the Golden Gate Bridge is visible from the left side when you land."
Cranachin is offline  
Jun 14th, 2010, 07:34 AM
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I've not found such a site.

Air routes are not fixed, as though the plane is on rails. What may be on the left side on one flight might be on the right side on the next, and obscured by clouds on the next.

I was on a Houston/San Diego flight once where the pilot (I suspect he was retiring) negotiated permission to alter the route to fly near the grand canyon; when he announced that it was visible on the left side, a large number of people, including the flight attendants, rushed to the left side to see it. We had similar experiences approaching Anchorage, on a rare day when Mt. McKinley was not socked in, and on the polar route to Asia when some northern lights showed up.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Jun 14th, 2010, 09:19 AM
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I've always found the best view is on the opposite side of the plane from where I'm sitting.

Clevelandbrown is correct, there are multiple flight paths a plane can take between any given points so there's no way to insure you'll be sitting on the "right" side of the aircraft.

By the way, my memory is a bit hazy but I don't recall being on a flight between DFW and SFO that came close enough to "see" the Grand Canyon - if it did the GC was so far off in the distance it was rather unremarkable.
RoamsAround is offline  
Jun 14th, 2010, 04:02 PM
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The safe bet for DFW-SFO would be to assume the left side of the plane would be the side the Grand Canyon is on. However, like RoamsAround pointed out, more than likely it would too far off to be able to actually make it out. I don't know of any such websites. Probably all you can really do is go with common sense and book on the side that it should be on (flying northwest, the left side of the plane would look southwest) or just ask about people's experiences on particular flights to see what they suggest for the best views.
mdlee3 is offline  
Jun 14th, 2010, 04:51 PM
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Thanks for the feedback so far. The DFW-SFO comment was just an example of what such a site might say, not an actual request for information on that route.

Of course, the actual route a given flight takes will depend on weather, traffic, and other factors. But it does seem that flights would often follow a roughly similar path, so that it would be fairly easy to predict (maybe even with a percentage probability).

By the way, I think the Grand Canyon was out the right-side windows when I flew ABQ-SFO. It was a great view!
Cranachin is offline  
Jun 14th, 2010, 05:40 PM
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While not as easy as a few point & clicks, you can find recent flight routes on, then you can plug the coordinates into a mapping program such as MS Maps & Streets.

Or you can enter selected points into any online mapping program such as google maps and see the exact location.

I quickly checked an AA flight today from DFW to SFO and it passed about 50-100mi to the north of the Grand Canyon.
J62 is online now  
Jun 14th, 2010, 05:43 PM
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That's because something dictated that the plane take a western route and then fly up the coast. Generally speaking, planes fly a more direct route now. Obviously weather and other circumstances can change the route, but more often than not, you'll see them fly a straighter route to their destination.
mdlee3 is offline  
Jun 15th, 2010, 03:11 PM
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You can have the best view in the world, but if you're on the side of the plane with the sun glaring through the window at you, you won't see a thing. Have to consider time of day as well as geography. And I don't know the statistics but in my last 2 dozen flights or so, I'd say maybe 2/3 were over cloud cover and I could see little. Best shot: in winter, between storm systems.
Cyanna is offline  
Jun 18th, 2010, 03:02 PM
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The usual routes from DFW to SFO fly over the upstream portion of Lake Powell and then west northwest, passing from 50 to 100 miles north of the Grand Canyon (closest at the eastern end, then further and further away as the flight moves west). In clear weather the canyon will be easily visible from the left side of the aircraft, although it won't be very close.

It's not a good idea for a large number of passengers to scamper to a particular part of the aircraft because it perturbs the weight and balance of the airplane.
AnthonyGA is offline  
Jun 26th, 2010, 10:46 PM
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To add to AnthonyGA, almost all flights to SFO arrive from the south to the north. Given that SFO is 10+ miles or so south of SF with a bay approach, the only thing you'll see is the Peninsula.
Rastaguytoday is offline  

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