"Despite being a very busy airport, it's not actually a 24-hour airport, so if you're traveling in the wee hours of the morning you won't find many facilities available."
Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport is the longest continually serving airport in Australia, and indeed the world having been founded in 1920. Over 35 airlines operate from the airport servicing daily flights to various destinations worldwide.
Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport is the busiest airport in the country. It has 3 terminals; an International Terminal (T1) and two Domestic Terminals (T2 & T3) and it's only about 12km from the city center.
Traveling from Sydney International Airport.
The airport is located about 12km from the city center. If you're hiring a car at the airport you'll find the car rental desks located in the arrivals hall. There are two arrivals areas A/B and C/D.
There are also a number of public transport options.
The quickest is probably the train. The station is located on the opposite side of the arrivals area to the car rental desks. Once here, you should look for the Airport Link which heads straight for the city center, though you can buy tickets to any CityLink destination.
A ticket from the International terminal will cost about AUS$14.20 for an adult and AUS$9.60 for a child (it's a little cheaper if you are traveling from the domestic terminals).
These fares are fairly high due to the airport fee, though if you don't mind a short walk you can head out to the next station on foot; Wolli Creek Station is about 2km from the International Terminal and costs AUS$3.40 to the city center; and Mascot Train Station is less than 2km from the domestic terminals and costs AUS$5.20 to the city center. Neither of these routes are signposted so you should probably ask for directions.
Alternatively, if you're traveling in a larger group it would probably work out cheaper to share a taxi and it is certainly better if you have some luggage. You shouldn't have any trouble finding the taxi rank outside the arrivals area. The taxi fare will cost about AUS$30 to the city center.
If you would rather head straight to your hotel, one option would be one of the mini-buses which can hold a larger group and plenty of luggage and will take you to your hotel for about AUS$13.
Getting to Sydney International Airport.
The airport is located about 13km from the city center in Mascot which is located in southern Sydney on the northern shores of Botany Bay. If you're driving to the airport you'll need to get onto the Eastern Distributor (coming from the other side it's called the South Western Motorway) which runs right through the airport.
By public transport:
All terminals are connected to the Cityrail network. There's no direct bus service to the city center, but the bus routes 400 and 410 connect the airport with the eastern suburbs. These routes do however overlap with a number of routes (such as the 392, the L94 and others) that can take you directly into the city center. The trip should take just over an hour.
Facilities at the airport.
Despite being a very busy airport, it's not actually a 24-hour airport, so if you're traveling in the wee hours of the morning you won't find many facilities available. In fact the domestic terminals close completely after the last flight each day.
The international terminal also handles some domestic flights, but for the most part lives up to its name. If you do happen to be getting a transfer to a domestic flight from the domestic terminal be sure to leave extra time as you'll have to travel between terminals and the domestic terminal is located on the other side of the runways.
The airlines that fly internally and use T2 include Qantas & Qantaslink, Aeropelican, Regional Express (Rex), Jetstar and Virgin Blue. Qantas also uses T3 exclusively, including their Cityflyer which is the main inter-capital service at the airport.
If you do have to transfer between terminals you can do so between T2 and T3 easily enough on foot, simply follow the signs through the underground rail station or across the car park.
If you wish to transfer to the international terminal, you'll have to travel about 4km. You can either take the T-bus from outside the terminal building. This dedicated terminal shuttle costs about AUS$5 and takes about 10 minutes using the normal roads (though this can mean it occasionally gets stuck in traffic).
An alternative is the train which is connected to the Sydney Suburban network. For about AUS$13.40, you can get to the other terminal in just one stop (approx 2 minutes) and the train is fairly frequent leaving every 10/15 minutes.
If you're getting a transfer with Qantas, a One World Partner, or between Virgin Blue, you can take the free Air-side shuttle.
And of course you can make your way by taxi. It shouldn't cost more than AUS$10, though it suffers from the same problems as the bus during peak traffic hours.
If you are in the international terminal waiting for a departure, then you might avail of some of the following facilities. There are free internet kiosks dotted throughout the terminal, perfect for checking your email before a long flight. If you have kids that need distracting then there is a kids cinema located near Gate 33 that shows a variety of kids shows.
There's also the observation deck that is perfect for plane spotting; all you have to do is pass through the Volare Cafe. There's a food court located on Level 2, and here you'll find the Sumo Salad, the Cafe Viaggio, Santos, Oporto and some others.
The Tourist Refund Scheme offices, operated by Australian Customs Service are located after customs. There's an office in Pier B located opposite Gate 10, and in an office in Pier C immediately behind Customs primary line. In these offices you can claim back tax you paid on items purchased in the country, constrained by certain conditions.
After you've passed through customs into Pier B, there are a number of retail outlets including Ralph Lauren, Souvenir World, DFS Watches and plenty more. In Pier C, you can find such retail outlets as MAC Cosmetics, Purely Australian Clothing Co., Live 2 Play, Destiny Jewelers and many more.
There's a medical center located on level 3 open Monday to Friday from 8:00am - 5:00pm. There's no smoking anywhere in the terminal buildings. The International terminal is currently undergoing some redevelopment, so the shops & services that are provided are subject to change.
Reference: Mairead Foley writes for Novacarhire.com where you can book car hire at airports, ferry ports, rail stations, cities and towns all over the world.
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