About 40 million people pass through Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport every year – it’s Australia’s busiest airport! And no wonder, since Sydney is one of the most popular places to visit in the country. Air Canada, Delta, Qantas, Virgin Australia and United all offer non-stop flights from North America to Sydney.
With so many people arriving and departing every day, it would be very easy to get lost in the crowd. Here are some tips to help you find your way through Sydney Airport:
The airport has two separate buildings for international (west building, or T1) and domestic flights (east buildings, T2 and T3). In T1, gates and baggage claim are on the ground floor; with check-in and retail on level one. Level two is for lounges and the medical center.
T3 is for some of the Qantas domestic flights (QF0400-1599); T2 is for all other domestic flights. At T2 you will find baggage claim on the ground floor, retail and gates on the first floor, and check-in on the second floor. At T3, baggage claim is on the ground floor, with check-in and gates on the first floor.
T1 is open from 3am to 11.30pm, and T2/T3 is open from 4am to 11pm.
To transfer between T2 and T3, simply use the connecting walkway between the two buildings. It will take you about 10 minutes to get from one side to the other. To transfer from the international terminal to one of the domestic terminals – or vice versa – you have several options. There is the T-Bus, which runs every 30 minutes throughout the day between T1 and T2; it costs $5.50 AUD one way per person, and takes about 10 minutes. Taxis can take you as well, and this will cost about $8 – 12 AUD one way.
If you’ve flown into Sydney from the United States on Qantas and have a connecting flight within Australia on Qantas, or if you’ve flown on Virgin Australia or Delta and your connecting flight is on Virgin Australia, you’ll find a domestic desk for both airlines in the international terminal. You’ll be able to check your luggage, pick up your boarding pass and use the airline’s complimentary bus to transfer to the domestic terminal.
Otherwise, one of the easiest ways to transfer is the train. Airport Link runs about every 10 minutes, and takes 2 minutes to get from T1 to T2/T3. It also offers the earliest and latest scheduled transport between terminals. It costs $5 AUD one way per person – however, this price is limited to the airport transfer only. As the train makes up part of the public transport system, if you plan on traveling elsewhere using this service, the price will be higher.
If you’re departing from Sydney Airport on an international flight, allow two to three hours for customs and security checks, processing and unexpected delays. Flight information displays are located at numerous places in the concourses of all of the terminals.
Sydney Airport offers Ambassadors, known for their bright gold coats. They can provide help and directions if you need them and can be found throughout T1 and T2. In addition, there is a free concierge service in T1 and T2 where you can find help with your travel arrangements or airport-related information. To use this service, visit the kiosks or call 1300 40 20 60. A tourist assistance kiosk is also available in T3.
If you’d like information on your flight, there is an iPhone app, as well as an interactive live-flight map on the Sydney Airport website.
Take some time before leaving the airport to enjoy the observation deck on the first floor of the international terminal. Enjoy a relaxing drink while watching the planes arrive and depart, and the city of Sydney in the distance.
Sydney Airport staff have finished adding on an extension to T2, however the ground floor of the terminal will continue to be worked on throughout 2013. The work includes increased retail and dining options.
Traveling to and from the airport
Sydney Airport is accessible by bus, train, rental car, taxi, limousine and shuttle. The time it takes to get to the airport from the city center or vice versa is totally dependent on the time of day and traffic. On Sundays and off-peak traffic hours, it can be a short 20 minute drive but during rush hour (late afternoon to early evening) the ride can take up to an hour. Depending on the time you’re traveling, the 15 minute train ride may be the best choice.
Numerous companies offer taxi and shuttle service. Fares are usually $50 – 65 AUD one way to the city. An exit fee of $3.50 AUD applies to all taxis departing the airport. You can pre-book shuttles and taxis, but both are available on arrival at the airport. Limousines can be booked at the kiosk at T1, but pre-booking is advisable.
The major car rental companies including Avis, Hertz, Thrify, Europcar, and Budget are represented at both the domestic and international terminals.
Train stations are located directly below both the international and domestic terminals. Airport Link runs about every 10 minutes, and takes 2 minutes to get from T1 to T2/T3, and 15 minutes to get to the city center. You may wish to purchase the MyMulti Day Pass that includes unlimited travel on the CityRail trains, buses and ferries.
More information about the Airport Link train can be found at Airport Link’s website here.
Sydney Buses provides a regular service (route 400) that runs from Bondi Junction to Burwood. It stops outside T1 and T3 and runs every 20 minutes. Bus fares are $4.60 AUD.
You can find more information on bus timetables, maps, fares and stops at the Sydney Buses website here.