Don't let size fool you. Sydney Airport may be Australia's smallest capital city airport judged by land size, but it's the biggest by far for air traffic with more than 30 million passengers a year.
What also sets Sydney airport apart from other national air travel gateways is its superb underground link-up to a rail network under both Domestic and International terminals. Indeed, it's one of the most efficient and convenient transport services in the world; just what the doctor ordered, especially after a lengthy, tiresome flight. Plus, if your flight is delayed for a few hours? Don't stress. Take a two-minute walk, jump on a train and hit Sydney CBD 15 minutes later for a browse around the shops or take in a movie.
But there's more to this airport that makes it a quality experience for travellers, including the fact its facilities are comprehensive and clean. Not to mention Sydney itself is considered Australia's "global city" and the CBD is less than 10km away.
Being one of the oldest continually operating passenger airports, Sydney also acts as the main hub for Australia's premier airline Qantas. There are three runways, three terminals and more than 150 stores for shopping. A leader in innovation, the airport caters for all types of person - and animal! There's even a brand new "Park, Bark and Purr" pet boarding facility that's been introduced in recent times.
Airlines & Terminals
If there's an airline in the sky above Australian soil, there's a sure bet it will touch down at Sydney airport! Ok, a slight exaggeration we admit, but Sydney certainly has the largest number of airlines flying in and out of all Australian Airports and is regarded as the main airport gateway into the country. Some of the Airlines that fly into Sydney include: Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Emirates, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Lauda Air, Malaysia Airlines, Norfolk Jet Express, Qantas, Regional Express (Rex), Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Thai Airways, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Blue.
Sydney has three terminals: T1 is its International Terminal, including Qantas flights 001-399. T2 is a Domestic Terminal, which has Aussie airlines including Virgin Australia, Jetstar, Regional Express, Aeropelican, Air Link, Big Sky Express and Qantas flights including and above QF1600. T3 is the third terminal and is solely used by Qantas and includes flights 400 to 1599.
The basics are all covered here, with showers and toilets located throughout all terminals. The biggest winners for facilities at Sydney airport are families, particularly children and babies, especially in T1, the International Terminal - there are baby change rooms throughout and they each have microwaves for heating of food and formula, while baby seats have been fitted to cubicle doors in the women's bathrooms to make a lot easier for mums. And children needn't stay restless for long as there are superb play areas including slides, climbing equipment and play tubes and mini play areas near the check-in and departure gates. Furthermore, there's a "kids cinema" near Gate 33 of T1 where they can enjoy a range of children's TV shows.
For money matters, the Bureaux de change is on the Arrivals level 1 of T1 and ATMs are located in all terminals. ANZ, the Change Group and Travelex can be found in the international terminal. Internet kiosks are available throughout the airport, as are public phones which are compatible for the hearing impaired, including text phones and phones fitted with induction loops. Sydney Airport has a public wireless network that uses Wifi technology to provide coverage throughout the terminals.
Disabled car parking is directly out the front of T1 and wheelchairs are available from several airlines or from the Tourism NSW desk at arrivals in T1. There are also offstreet kerbside rampways.
Executive conference facilities accommodate large groups and come with TVs and videos, overhead projectors, flip charts and whiteboards as well as all the other mod cons that come with business events.
Directions & Transport
As mentioned earlier, for airport proximity to a city centre, it doesn't get any better than Sydney. The CBD is less than 10km away which makes it ever-so-convenient if you're renting a car from the airport. Most routes to the airport carry regular signs of the universally recognisable aeroplane symbol.
If not using a hire car, Sydney's public rail and road services linking to the airport are sensational.
- Sydney Airport Link offers train services at both international and domestic terminals -directly underneath them, in fact, and can be accessed from the arrivals level. Trains run every 10 minutes and it generally takes about 15 minutes to reach the city centre.
- All terminals have sheltered taxi ranks with supervisors there on hand for assistance during peak periods. These supervisors are particularly handy for organising such things as maxi taxis for large groups, wheelchair access and other special needs. Fares to the city cost about $25 on average. It's important to remember that taxis aren't allowed to pick you up outside the taxi ranks by law, so forget the idea of being sneaky. There's always plenty around so it's rare to wait for long.
- Buses: Airport hotels (Stamford Plaza, Holiday Inn, Mercure Hotel, IBIS Hotel and Airport Sydney International Inn (rates available atwww.roomsnow.com.au) provide regular complimentary shuttle services for guests but confirmation of services should be made when making reservations. If you're staying with other hotels in the CBD, check to see if they also offer free shuttle services. The public bus route (www.sydneybuses.info) has services between Bondi Junction and Burwood which includes the T1 and T3 in the route. Bus stops are easily found on the arrivals level of each terminal. There's also many other metropolitan and regional bus companies operating, so there's no shortage of bus trips throughout Sydney and surrounding suburbs.
Shopping / Duty Free
Whether you are flying in or out of Sydney, there's some seriously good shopping to be had. There are more than 150 stores are located throughout T1 and T2. In addition a large Shopping Centre is currently under construction immediately outside the International Terminal.
From exclusive designer labels to uniquely Australian clothing companies, or world renowned eateries to homegrown restaurants, bars, cafes and wine stores, there's no shortage of shopping and eateries. Throw into the mix music stores, newsagencies, chemists and many other specialty shops/retail services and all bases are covered.
One of the great things about Duty Free shopping at Sydney is its comprehensive range that boasts prestigious worldwide brands and some exclusives that can't be found anywhere else in Australia.
Another great advantage about Duty Free in Australia is that not only can you enjoy the spoils of duty free when flying out of the country, but you can also purchase products on arrival, something quite unique, whether your on your way home Down Under or you are an overseas visitor.
Nearby hotels provide a range of accommodation styles for all types, from budget to deluxe:
Airport Sydney International Inn has rooms ranging from basic three and a half star style to modern and contemporary four star Botany rooms. Cosy and with a relaxed atmosphere, kick back in a sensual spa, enjoy a beer at the bar. There's business facilities and complimentary parking for up to five days.
The Holiday Inn Sydney Airport is a four and-a-half star property only minutes away from the airport and is popular with business travellers for meetings. Modern facilities and children can stay free of charge if using existing bedding. It only costs $40 a night for extra guests.
The Stamford Sydney Airport Hotel is a deluxe choice boasting monster sized bedrooms, marble bathrooms and double glazed windows to block out that noise. Enjoy a free shuttle service from the airport to the hotel, otherwise there's undercover parking and there's excellent gym facilities, a heated pool and sauna and spa.
The hotel has a couple of snappy bars and a very stylish Grove restaurant that serves up the tastiest of dishes.
Improvements & The Future
A bid to operate a second airport out of Sydney has been about for some time. It's a matter becoming more urgent given the congested skies above Sydney and a need to cater for a bigger influx of visitors. Land has been purchased by the Australian Government at Badgery's Creek in south-west Sydney in Badgery's Creek at this stage there is no confirmed start date for construction - and most people don't think it is likely to start anytime soon.
The airport is in the midst of a 20-year master plan, including the upgrade of the airfield to cater for the A380 airbus, an estimated $200m modernisation of the international terminal to cater for new aircraft and enhanced passenger processing facilities, and a an upgrade of T2 to include bigger and better retail and food outlets.