Transiting through Sydney

Moira is booking a flight which transits through Sydney and would like to know how long it takes from the domestic to the international terminal.

Q. Moira

I’m planning on a booking an overseas trip but it seems that for most of the flights I would need to connect through Sydney. I’m not sure how long I need to give myself from when my domestic flight lands at Sydney to when I have to catch my international flight. And also, will I need to collect and check my bags in once I get to Sydney?

A. Most airlines will say that 90 minutes is sufficient to transit through Sydney but this is tight and relies on a lot of variables out of your control, such as, will your flight land on time and will the transit bus be available straight away. I would leave at least two hours, assuming your bags are checked right through.

If your bags are checked right through, which is usually the case if all flights are issued on the one ticket, then when you arrive in Sydney, you need to go straight to the airside transit desk. This is located near gate 15 in T3 (you can walk between T2 and T3). You will then board a bus, which operates every 20 minutes or so, and which will take you to the international terminal, where you’ll need to clear security and passport control.

On occasions where you need to collect and recheck your bags, i.e. if you’ve booked your flights separately and are flying separate airlines, then you’ll need to allow much longer than two hours. You will still have to collect your bags and transfer to the international terminal, which you can do by using the T-Bus ($5.50 one way), taxi (about $17) or the Airport Link ($5.40). You’ll also need to drop your bags 90 minutes before your flight is due to depart and clear security and passport control.

When returning to Australia, you need to collect your bags and clear customs at the first Australian port of call. So if you’re arriving in Sydney and transferring to a domestic flight, you’ll need to go through passport control, clear customs and then head to the transit lounge. Here you can simply drop your bags if you’re checked right through, or check in to an onward Qantas, Virgin Australia or partner flight (Qantas and Virgin have separate transit areas). A bus will then take you to the domestic terminal.  This can take as little as 40 minutes, but as long as one and a half to two hours, so again, allow yourself plenty of time to save you stress.

If your onwards flight is not with Qantas, Virgin or a partner airline, then you will need to follow the same process as above and use the T-Bus, taxi or Airport Link to transfer between terminals.

Written by Debbie McTaggart