Kingsford Smith airport, as it is officially known, is the only international airport serving Sydney. It is situated 5 miles south of the metropolis, next to Botany Bay. Two of the airport’s runways extend deep into the Bay, on reclaimed land.
It has three Terminals: T1 is dedicated to international flights; the others serve airlines operating domestic flights. T3 is run by Qantas from where it operates its internal services, while T2 is reserved for other domestic carriers: Jetstar, Tiger, Virgin Australia, and Regional Express. Note that domestic sectors that are part of international flights use Terminal 1.
T1 and T2 offer free wi-fi for a period of 2 hours (or 500Mb of data). Find “Free Internet by sponsors name & SYD” in the list of available networks and follow the prompts.
Complimentary wi-fi is also available in T3 but for a period of 30 minutes per day (or 500 Mb).
Banks, Post Office, and Chemists
ANZ Bank is present in T1 before Customs on both departures and arrivals levels. They offer normal banking services and foreign currency exchange. Travelex has 33 multi-currency ATMs located throughout the airport, in T1 and T2. They are also in T3, opposite Gate 3.
Post Office: There is one in T1, landside, before Customs, T2 has a post box in the departure concourse. Australia Post is also in T3, on level 1, near gate 6.
Airport Guardian Pharmacy is located before and after Customs in T1, and airside in T2, near Gate 32. There is a pharmacy on level 1 of T3.
Arriving passengers holding foreign passports need to complete the Immigration and Customs forms, which should be given out on the aircraft by the Cabin crew. You must be aware that Australia has strict regulations over the import of plants and animal products, designed to protect their agriculture from pests and diseases. Usual offenders are the straw hats brought by visitors arriving from South-east Asia or the Pacific islands. Even food taken from the aircraft is prohibited and you must declare in the Customs form that you are not bringing any of those items into the country. There are quarantine bins, where you can dispose of any offending items before reaching the Customs clearance area.
Duty free allowances for each adult over 18 years of age include 50 cigarettes or 50 grams of cigars (only!), and 2.25 litres of alcoholic beverages. This can be purchased on arrival at duty-free shops inside the Terminal before you reach Customs. If you go over the allowances you will have to pay duty on all imports of that type, not just the excess.
There is an Outgoing Passenger Card that must be completed and presented to the Customs and Border Protection Officer along with your passport and boarding card.
As expected in the current international security atmosphere, passengers cannot carry liquids, aerosols, or gels in containers of more than 100ml, and only as long as they fit in a transparent re-sealable plastic bag no larger than 20cm x 20cm. These regulations do not apply to items bought in the duty-free shops inside the departure lounges; or if they are prescribed medicines accompanied by a letter from a doctor explaining that they are needed for health reasons. You can also take non-prescribed medicines, as long as the quantity does not exceed that needed for the duration of the flight. A further exemption are baby products to be used by travelling infants, such as sterilised water, food, milk, or wet wipes.
On the other hand, a number of previously banned articles are now allowed: umbrellas with metal points; rackets for tennis or similar sports; and some pointed objects like nail files and clippers, corkscrews, or knitting needles. See the regulations here . You must bear in mind, though that those items may have been prohibited by the authorities of the country from which you flew to Australia.
Sydney airport has installed body scanners in their international airports, and you may be requested to go through this new equipment. The scans emit radio frequencies that are lower than those generated by an average mobile telephone call. The question of privacy has also been addressed by the introduction of a high-tech “automatic threat recognition” software. This dispenses with the need for intrusive body images, and instead produces a stylized outline of a person that is identical to all passengers. Any possible threats and their locations are highlighted in the figure.
The new technology uses low-level radio waves, which do not pose the health risks of the original, and contested x-rays that, additionally, revealed naked parts of the body!
Passengers refusing the scan without valid medical or physical reasons will not be allowed to pass through into the departure lounge, and therefore will not be able to board the aircraft.
There is a Passenger Movement Charge (PMC), which is currently AUD $55. This is, however, included in the price of the ticket, and there is nothing else to pay when you depart.
Tourist Refund Scheme
If you purchased goods that entitle you to a tax refund, and you have all the necessary documentation, you should go to the Tourist Refund Scheme office located just after Customs inside the main Tax & Duty Free store.
While you wait
There are some 120 shops and catering facilities in the departure lounge of the International Terminal, and more that 50 in T2. You can find fashion and accessories, perfumery, books and magazines, gifts and souvenirs, electronics, duty-free beverages and tobacco, and a lot more to spend the last of your Australian dollars, and deplete your bank account back home.
If you prefer to sit in a restaurant, bar, or café, the choice is plentiful: T1 for Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Australian, without forgetting the fast food outlets like McDonald’s. Some are in the Departures lounge, others before Customs. T2 has another extensive choice, starting with a bistro, a brasserie, or a pub to relax and replenish your energy, and a variety of cafes, and quick-service eating places like McDonald’s, Subway and many others.
T3 is run by Qantas and offers the same variety with some 30 retail outlets and close to 20 catering establishments.
The opening hours of all the above vary from 6am to 10 pm.
If you have to transfer between T1 and one of the domestic terminals, there are a number of options:
1) T-Bus Service runs between the arrival levels of T1 (Bus Bay 21) and T2 (first roadway in the centre of the terminal) – it costs $5.50 each way and takes about 10 minutes, with frequencies up to half-hourly until 9pm
2) Qantas offers free transfers to their passengers connecting with their flights; So does Virgin Australia when connecting with Pacific Blue, Polynesian Blue or one of Virgin’s interline or codeshare partner airlines
3) Sydney Buses Route 400 passes the airport and stops at T1 and T3, affording convenient transport between the two terminals. It runs every 10/15 minutes and the journey takes about 10 minutes.
4) Airport Link train: this is the fastest transfer option that takes about 2 minutes and runs between 5am and 12pm. The ticket costs $5.00.
5) A taxi between T1 and T2 or T3 depending on traffic takes up to10 minutes. The fare ranges between $17 and $22 per taxi.
6) The two domestic terminals are linked by a walkway.
Transportation into the city
The T2 train line (not to be confused with terminal 2 in this sense) run every 10 minutes, or so, and costs $12.60 for a 13 minute journey into Sydney central Station. There are stops for both International and Domestic terminals.
Sydney Buses runs route 400, between Bondi Junction and Burwood stopping at T1 and T3. If you are not going into central Sydney, this may be an option.
A taxi to central Sydney, under normal traffic conditions, costs around $50; Considerably more expensive, in the rush hour or if you go further across the Bridge.
Rough fare estimates:
Sydney City $50
North Sydney $60
A $3.75 airport toll is payable by all passengers taking a taxi from any of Sydney Airport’s taxi ranks and the cost of road and bridge tolls is the responsibility of the passengers.
You can request from the supervisor at the rank, vehicles with baby seats, wheelchair access, and larger taxis for small groups or bulky baggage.
Drivers must accept trips to nearby places at no extra cost.
Some of the more expensive downtown hotels may offer complimentary transfers. Enquire at the time of booking.
Rent a car
All major international car rental agencies, and Redspot, an Australian company, have desks in all three Terminals.
For passengers requiring a hotel for an overnight stop, the Holiday Inn Sydney Airport (enter their website here) is a mere 10/15 minutes away. It provides a shuttle service to and from the Terminals (at additional cost: $6.00 per person, each way) with a half-hourly frequency.
A more economical alternative and best option for the Domestic Terminals is the Ibis Budget Sydney Airport, which is a mere 10 minutes' walk from the hotel. It also offers a paid shuttle service to the international terminal ($6 each way).