Sydney Airport Guide

Sydney Airport
Sydney Airport sees thousands of flights from dozens of carriers each and every year

Sydney Airport is by far Australia’s busiest, providing entrance to the city and a gateway to the rest of Australia for millions of visitors each year. A huge portion of the international traffic coming in and going out of the country flows through the landing strips and terminals of Sydney Airport.

History

It all started back in 1919, when the Australian Engineering Aircraft and Engineering Company built a canvas hangar on land leased from the Kensington Racing Club in Mascot. Within five years, the Australian government had come in to beef-up operations, with regular flights operating between Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

In the 1940s, the first passenger terminal at Sydney Airport was opened. Then, in 1963, another terminal, this one for international flights, was constructed. A third runway was added in 1989.

Airlines & Terminals

Sydney Airport is quite large but accessible. It consists of three terminals. Terminal 1 is the international terminal. Terminals 2 and 3 are reserved for domestic travel, though Terminal 3 is operated by Qantas only. The T2 and T3 terminals are easily walkable, but you will need some sort of transportation to get from them to Terminal 1 or vice versa. Many carriers offer a transfer service to the international terminal, so check in at customer service to see what the go is with that when you arrive.

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.

T1 is Sydney's International Terminal, including Qantas flights 001-399. Domestic T2 has Aussie airlines including Virgin Australia, Jetstar, Regional Express, Aeropelican, Air Link, Big Sky Express and Qantas flights including and above QF1600. T3 is dedicated to Qantas domestic flights 400 to 1599.

Facilities

Here are a few of the perks provided by the airport that can help the hours pass by while you wait to board your flight.

Wi-Fi

Everybody knows how important it is to stay connected in today’s digital world. Slotting in just behind food, water, and oxygen, a trusted Wi-Fi connection at the airport is one of the most important pieces of a successful journey. You’re in luck with the Wi-Fi at Sydney Airport. There is free Wi-Fi connectivity in Terminals 1 and 2 on the “-FREE SYD WiFi-“ network.

A few taps and a sponsored message later and you’ll be cruising your favourite sites, sending messages to friends and family to update them on your progress, or streaming some movies and shows to chew up the clock while you wait for your next flight. As always, you’ll want to make sure any sites with sensitive information are properly encrypted if you’re going to punch in passwords and other login information.

Lounges

Seasoned international travellers know just how valuable lounge access can be. The lounges at Sydney Airport provide extreme comfort and service, letting you relax and enjoy a bite to eat or a refreshing, calming drink before boarding your international flight.

Located in the international terminal, you’ll find lounges for Air New Zealand, Emirates, Etihad, Qantas, Silver Kris, American Express, and Skyteam. Check-in and chill out before you hit the sky.

Banking

They might say the best things in life are free, but unfortunately your holiday isn’t one of those things (at least not one of those free things; it could be one of the best)! Having quick access to banking and cash conversion services can give you the monetary ammo you need to hit the ground running on your travels or get your finances in order before heading home. With Global Exchange, ANZ Bank, and Travelex dotting the airport landscape, you’ll be able to take care of your banking needs with ease.

Phone Services

With Optus and Vodafone storefronts in multiple locations throughout Sydney Airport, you can recharge your minutes and data or grab a SIM card to keep your communication game on point while travelling.

Refuel: Some of the Best Places to Eat at Sydney Airport

Don’t rely on plane food to keep you going when you’re travelling. Whether it’s just a quick snack to get you through to your next meal or a place to set up shop and relax while you wait out an annoying delay, there are plenty of solid places to drink and eat in Sydney Airport. While this list is by no means exhaustive, here are a handful of places in which you can refuel while on the go.

Chur Burger

Chur Burger
Grab a couple of these beauties at the Chur Burger Express at Sydney Airport
Source: Chur Burger

While boutique burger joints are a dime a dozen these days (not that we’re complaining, mind you!), it can be rare to find yourself in an airport featuring such delicious options. That’s why you might want to heavily consider pouncing at the chance to sample the work of Chur Burger in Terminal 2 at Sydney Airport. One of the earliest entrants on the burger scene in Sydney, Chur Burger churns out incredible fare in a quick, casual setting.

Coopers Alehouse

If a pint of something cold and refreshing is what you’re after, Coopers Alehouse in Terminal 1 can give you what’s required to quench your thirst. Winner of the 2014 award for International Airport Bar of the Year, Coopers Alehouse has the food to match its massive selection of tasty brews.

The Bistro by Wolfgang Puck

Sometimes when you’re travelling all you want is a familiar name. While such familiarity can come in the form of fast food staples such as McDonald’s and Hungry Jack’s, sometimes you need a bit more than takeaway fare. Enter The Bistro by Wolfgang Puck, one of the best-known names in casual but quality dining. Sit around and watch the aircraft take off while sipping a glass of wine and dining on delicious hot meals.

Sushi spots

Get your fill of fresh fish before flying with a quick stop at some of the sushi spots located throughout Sydney Airport. Yo! Sushi, and Sushia offer up everything from hand rolls to nigiri and sashimi, so you can grab your chopsticks and get to work before taking off.

Shopping / Duty Free

Shopping at the airport can be a vital chore for all sorts of reasons. It can be one of the best ways to help ease the pain of a delayed flight or otherwise unfortunate travel disasters, and also all that stands between you and people back home who demand quality souvenirs from your trip. Shopping options in the airport mean can also help you fill the holes created by all that stuff you forgot to pack or rapidly changing weather reports.

Whatever the reason, knowing where you can turn for a quick shopping hit is key to a successful airport experience. Here are some of the best places to go shopping in Sydney Airport, regardless of why you need to hit the racks.

Sweet Smell Spots

Hugo Boss - Sydney airport
Hugo Boss is just one of the dozens of amazing shopping options waiting for you at Sydney Airport
Source: Sydney Airport

Depending on where you’re flying to or from, you might be trapped on an airplane for a good long while. Or maybe you’re headed into Sydney for business and you realise you’ve forgotten to pack some of your everyday essentials. Whatever the reason, the right cologne or perfume might make all the difference in your stress and comfort levels.

There are several spots in which you can find scents that can let you focus on the actual important things in life, like the next movie you’re going to watch or that big presentation you’ve got to deliver. Make a quick stop into Hugo Boss in Terminal 1 or L’Occitane in Terminal 3 and sort yourself or somebody on your shopping list out with a great gift.

The Basics

There are some things that you just can’t imagine flying without. So what happens when something breaks or you forget something? Don’t freak out—chances are you can buy most of the basics on which you rely for travelling quickly and conveniently in Sydney Airport.

Travelling with a small child? Nobody wants to be the target of everybody’s ire with a screaming toddler the entire flight. Head to Kaboom in Terminal 2 and grab something new for the little one. While you’re there, pick up something to read, a bottle or water or other necessities that will keep flyers of all ages happy in the air.

Broken headphones can be one of the most upsetting things you can experience if you’re facing a long haul flight. The same goes for your beloved e-reader and other trusted electronics that you rely on every day. Luckily for you, you can grab all that as well as the chargers and cords and cables you need to make your travelling as smooth as possible. Multiple Relay and tech2go locations throughout Sydney Airport mean you’re never too far away from a handy outlet that can hook you up with the tech you need.

There are also sizable pharmacies that give you a chance to pick up something to cure what ails you. Find sleeping aids, everyday pain killers, and other materials that can help you deal with that upset stomach or pounding headache. Look for Amcal Pharmacy locations around the three terminals of the airport or visit the Guardian Pharmacy in Terminal 2.

Fine Fashion in Terminal 1

Jimmy Choo
Feel like focusing on finer fashion? Jimmy Choo is just one of the great retail stops in Sydney Airport
Source: Sydney Airport

Looking your best can go a long way in helping you feel your best. And, while you won’t confuse it with the streets of Italy or the fancy pants shopping districts of France and other European hotspots, the Sydney Airport has quite the collection of fashionable outlets that can provide you with sensational shopping options.

If fine Italian pieces are what you’re after, Salvatore Ferragamo in Terminal 1 should be on your to-hit list before boarding. A slick pair of new shoes, a fresh belt that can tie a whole outfit together, or fine bags that make an awesome accessory for your next big event. For more fine Italian goodness you can check out Ermenegildo Zegna and Emporio Armani, with their own inventory of men’s clothing and accessories, also located in Terminal 1.

And those are just the start. Pick up a glitzy, glamorous pair of Jimmy Choo shoes and give yourself some formal footwear by which to remember your trip. Meanwhile, Michael Kors, Fendi, Oroton, and Coach can fill in the bits and pieces you’re missing.

If you want something a bit shinier, the right piece of jewellery can get you out of a jam, whether you’re looking to buy a gift for somebody else or just need something pretty to dry the tears from the end of holiday, T1 in Sydney Airport has Rolex, Tiffany & Co., and Toscow Australia, to check out.

Accommodation

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.

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.