The Wednesday Review – Sydney Airport

I don’t usually go to the lengths of review airports, but today, as a little break from my ‘best of’ series, I thought I’d continue the story of my latest trip and look at my experiences at Sydney International Airport.

Firstly, I’ll start by saying that the domestic terminal where we arrived from Melbourne was smooth sailing. Everything was quick, out of the plane, not long for bags, before we knew it we were on the train to Sydney Central.

However, a couple of days later we flew out to New Zealand from Sydney, and I have to say I had always presumed Melbourne was the worse airport. It clearly isn’t. Of course, Sydney’s volume of air traffic is far greater than Melbourne’s, but the airport just doesn’t appear to be big enough to deal with that volume efficiently.

sydney airport 1

On arrival at the International terminal, I was taken by the lack of room. The check-in counters are pushed right up to around five metres from the automatic doors. If you arrive at one end and discover your counter is at the other end, you’d best go outside the building and walk to your counter that way, because moving through the throngs of passengers is a nightmare, many of them in queues to check in.

Luckily we were three hours early for the flight, as is recommended. The check-in wasn’t bad, although it was mostly electronic which I’m not a fan of as as soon as you have an issue, the process of resolving it takes that bit longer.

sydney airport 3

It was lining up for immigration where the airport’s lack of space and capacity really came to the fore. I struggle to remember anywhere I’ve had to wait 90 plus minutes to clear customs. The queue was THAT long. Then there was the fast track for business class customers. Grrrr. And then a lady that just pushed through the entire queue and moved herself forward with ‘I’m sorry, my flight board’s in twenty minutes’. She was stopped a few passengers ahead of me and had to be patient like the rest of us.

sydney airport 2

After that, before we could blink, we were in another queue almost as long to do x-rays. We got to the airport three hours early, but by the time we were at the gate it was almost boarding time. They were doing some works on the airport which cut off a bit of space, it really rivalled Heathrow and Istanbul for being packed. And no, it doesn’t come close to either’s volume.

They want to build a new Sydney airport, but there have been a lot of issues with residents in the areas they want to build, but it is patently clear that for business and passengers, it was needed ten years ago. All that waiting in line doesn’t a happy person make. At least we were not the only ones. What do you think of Sydney Airport? Please do comment!


May the Journey Never End!


  1. Ahhhh I do not miss having to deal with the customs queue at Sydney airport!! They’ve definitely made parts of it look nicer in recent years though 🙂

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