Melbourne is considered the cultural and sports capital of Australia. There are arts, crafts, films, music, theater, dance, international sporting events, festivals and so much more you won’t know where to begin. But you’re hardly going to see all of that from the airport arrivals lounge. Here’s what you’ll need to know about traveling through Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport quickly:
Before getting to the heart of the matter, we should note that there are two airports in Melbourne: Tullamarine in the north of Melbourne caters for the majority of domestic and international flights, and this is the one we will be discussing. Avalon, located in the west, provides for domestic flights and will be adding international flights to its services in the future. However, most people use Tullamarine as it offers substantially better services and connections. Both Virgin Australia (and code-share flights on Delta) and Qantas (with code-share flights with American Airlines) offer non-stop flights from LAX to Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport.
The Melbourne (Tullamarine) Airport has one large building for international and domestic flights. T1, in the north east, is for Qantas and Jetstar domestic flights; T2 in the north-east, is for international; T3 in the east is for Virgin Australia and regional flights. T4 in the south-east is for Tiger Airways’ domestic flights which are housed in a different building, with an interconnecting outdoor walkway.
The T1, T2, and T3 building has several floors. In T1 and T3: the ground floor is for domestic baggage claim, the next level (mezzanine) is for gates and lounges, and the first floor is for check-in and departures. In T2: the ground floor is for international baggage claim, with first floor for check-in, arrivals and departures. In T4, all services are available on the ground floor.
Melbourne Airport is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Allow between two and three hours for check-in, customs and security checks for international flights and two hours for domestic flights to be safe. Traffic to the airport can be quite intense and unexpected delays could hold up your arrival. Flight information displays in each of the terminals.
Melbourne Airport has two information desks (one in T1 and the other in T2), which offer a range of services, including tourism information, flight and airport information, transportation suggestions, and help for other issues. The T2 desk is open from 6am to noon and 7pm to 11pm, every day of the week. Outside of those hours, call +61 3 03 9297 1062, or email [email protected] The airport also provides a free iPhone application, and an interactive map with live locations of flights on their website.
Current renovationsMelbourne Airport is undergoing a lot of redevelopment, which includes building a new domestic terminal, additional aircraft parking and lanes, better car parking facilities, and roadworks. Airport management suggests allowing for extra time due to possible delays these renovations may cause.
Traveling To And From The Airport
Melbourne Airport is accessible by bus, rental car, taxi and shuttle. The airport is about 20 – 40 minutes from the city center, depending on which route you take and the city traffic.
Numerous companies offer taxi and shuttle service. Fares are usually $70 AUD one way to the city, including a $2 AUD airport fee (for taxis leaving the terminal) and any tollway fees incurred (see below in the rental cars section). You can pre-book shuttles and taxis, but both are available on arrival when you arrive at the airport.
A SkyBus shuttle service operates every 10 minutes, all day every day. It begins and ends at Melbourne’s train station, Southern Cross, in the city center. Tickets are $17 AUD one way for an adult. This shuttle operates between 6am and 10.30pm, Mondays to Fridays, and 7.30am to 5.30m on weekends (except Christmas day) and can be exceptionally busy in the early morning hours. The shuttle company can also provide transfers to and from your hotel with advance booking. This service is worth the extra money during peak times (a seat is guaranteed and you won’t have to drag your luggage to the bus terminal at the train station). For more information visit the SkyBus website.
The major international rental car companies – Budget, Hertz, Avis, Thrifty and Europcar are represented at the airport as well as Redspot, and Australian-based car rental company. Their information desks are on the ground floor of the domestic terminal, while their offices are located directly outside in the short-term parking lot.
A word of warning that two of the roads (Citylink and Eastlink) connecting to the airport require tolls to be paid. Before you get on the road, check with your rental car company if payment of the toll is included with your rental – some companies offer this service. If the toll is not included, find out how to pay it – as it would be a most unpleasant shock to receive an inflated “toll bill” months after returning home.
There are several buses that travel to and from Melbourne Airport, including some to regional towns and cities. The below buses are for travel to Melbourne city suburbs. Note that the public transport system in Melbourne requires a ‘Myki’, a pre-paid card which can’t be purchased on board the vehicles. You will need to find a Myki vending machine, available at many retail stores including 7-Eleven. Fares are calculated based on travel distance, and deducted from your card. For more information visit the Myki website.
- Route 901, Frankston – Melbourne Airport. (Also known as the Smartbus. Does not take you to the city center but to inner suburbs and other public transport connections) Runs every 15 minutes on weekdays and every 30 minutes on weekends.
- Route 478, Moonee Ponds – Melbourne Airport. (Does not take you to the city center but to inner suburbs and other public transport connections) Limited service is offered during weekdays and hourly on weekends.
- Route 479, Moonee Ponds – Sunbury. (Does not take you to the city center but to inner suburbs and other public transport connections) Limited service is offered during weekdays and only once a day on weekends.
- Route 500, Broadmeadows – Sunbury. (Does not take you to the city center but to inner suburbs and other public transport connections) Runs every 2 hours, Monday to Friday, during business hours.
Connections to train stations and trams (trolleys) can be made from the bus. For more information about bus timetables, maps, fares and stops, visit the public transportation website.