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  #1  
Old March 3rd, 2013, 09:56 AM
NancyIL NancyIL is offline
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Default Minimum layover for flights that connect in Australia

I will soon book flights from Auckland to the US via Sydney or Melbourne. Do we go through customs upon arrival in Australia - even if we are only passing through? If so, what's the minimum amount of time to allow between flights? Thanks!

Last edited by NancyIL; March 3rd, 2013 at 09:56 AM.
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  #2  
Old March 3rd, 2013, 01:51 PM
celle celle is offline
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If you book the flights all on one ticket, you should be able to check your luggage right through to the USA and you won't have to go through Australian Customs and immigration. You will stay airside, but you will probably have to go through security as you get off the first plane.

If you book your flights on two tickets (as two separate journeys) you will have to exit the secure area, go through immigration, claim your baggage, go through customs and then re-check your bags. This could take hours!

It's best to book the whole journey as one. It avoids most of the hassles.

PS: I'm wondering why you have to go through Australia to get from Auckland to the USA. New Zealand is closer to the USA than Australia. (Have a look at a map.) To go via Australia, you have to fly west first, and then east (and the plane may still land in Auckland again). Air New Zealand flies Auckland-Los Angeles direct, also Auckland to San Francisco.

Going to Australia first could add 6 hours to your travel time - AKL-SYD = approx 3 hours, the same in reverse.
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Holland America - 58 cruising days, 100 status days.
Celebrity - 56 days.
Royal Caribbean - 72 days.
"I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky. And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by." (John Masefield: "Sea Fever.")

Last edited by celle; March 3rd, 2013 at 01:57 PM.
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  #3  
Old March 3rd, 2013, 02:04 PM
NancyIL NancyIL is offline
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Originally Posted by celle View Post
If you book the flights all on one ticket, you should be able to check your luggage right through to the USA and you won't have to go through Australian Customs and immigration. You will stay airside, but you will probably have to go through security as you get off the first plane.

If you book your flights on two tickets (as two separate journeys) you will have to exit the secure area, go through immigration, claim your baggage, go through customs and then re-check your bags. This could take hours!

It's best to book the whole journey as one. It avoids most of the hassles.

PS: I'm wondering why you have to go through Australia to get from Auckland to the USA. New Zealand is closer to the USA than Australia. (Have a look at a map.) To go via Australia, you have to fly west first, and then east (and the plane may still land in Auckland again). Air New Zealand flies Auckland-Los Angeles direct, also Auckland to San Francisco.
Thanks for the info. I imagine it's the same scenario for flights from NZ to Melbourne that connect in Sydney?

We are using American Airlines FF miles, and Air New Zealand is not a partner airline. My DH will be on Qantas via Sydney, Brisbane, or Melbourne, and then to LAX.
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Old March 3rd, 2013, 02:21 PM
celle celle is offline
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Originally Posted by NancyIL View Post
Thanks for the info. I imagine it's the same scenario for flights from NZ to Melbourne that connect in Sydney?

We are using American Airlines FF miles, and Air New Zealand is not a partner airline. My DH will be on Qantas via Sydney, Brisbane, or Melbourne, and then to LAX.
You can fly Auckland-Melbourne direct. No need to go through Sydney. If you do, however, you may have another problem; SYD-MEL being a domestic flight (unless you are staying on the same international carrier - I've only done that once, on KLM en route to Amsterdam), you will probably have to go from the International to the Domestic terminal in Sydney, and lug your bags with you.

I know that Qantas no longer flies via Auckland, but you really are making yourself a very arduous journey if you do what you are planning. Is there any other carrier amongst AA's partners, with which you could avoid going backwards in your journey? Would you consider taking separate flights from your DH and meeting up again in LAX?

AKL-SYD-MEL-LAX sounds like a nightmare. When will you know which Australian airport your DH will be leaving from? That could help you in your planning.
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Troop ship, Alexandria to Southampton 1945, 7 days. River Nile paddle steamer, Sudan to Tanganyika & return, 1946, 1947.
MV Akaroa, Southampton to Auckland 1968, 48 days. Yangtse River Cruise 2005, 4 days. Nile cruise Luxor to Aswan 2008 - 4 days.
Holland America - 58 cruising days, 100 status days.
Celebrity - 56 days.
Royal Caribbean - 72 days.
"I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky. And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by." (John Masefield: "Sea Fever.")

Last edited by celle; March 3rd, 2013 at 02:23 PM.
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  #5  
Old March 3rd, 2013, 03:56 PM
NancyIL NancyIL is offline
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Originally Posted by celle View Post
You can fly Auckland-Melbourne direct. No need to go through Sydney. If you do, however, you may have another problem; SYD-MEL being a domestic flight (unless you are staying on the same international carrier - I've only done that once, on KLM en route to Amsterdam), you will probably have to go from the International to the Domestic terminal in Sydney, and lug your bags with you.

I know that Qantas no longer flies via Auckland, but you really are making yourself a very arduous journey if you do what you are planning. Is there any other carrier amongst AA's partners, with which you could avoid going backwards in your journey? Would you consider taking separate flights from your DH and meeting up again in LAX?

AKL-SYD-MEL-LAX sounds like a nightmare. When will you know which Australian airport your DH will be leaving from? That could help you in your planning.
My DH and I will not fly home together. His options from Auckland are to Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane, and then to LAX. (He could also fly on Hawaiian Airlines via Honolulu, but he doesn't want to do that.) On the other hand, I will stay in NZ a few weeks longer. I plan to fly from Queenstown to Melbourne for a few days - with a probable plane change in Sydney. If I have to change from the international to the domestic terminal - how much time would you suggest between flights? When I return home, I hope to fly from Melbourne directly to LAX, without first having to fly to Sydney.
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  #6  
Old March 3rd, 2013, 04:18 PM
celle celle is offline
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Ah,the situation is becoming clearer!

Your flights should be less arduous than your DH's.

Looking at Quantas - QF93 departs Melbourne at 10:20, arrives LAX at 06:45 the following day. That seems to be the only direct flight out of Melbourne. Most of the others go via Sydney.

If you have to go via Sydney, make sure you book it as one journey, with Qantas. You should then be able to check your luggage in at MEL, straight through to LAX.

Since you'll already have gone through immigration when you entered Australia, you shouldn't have to do that again. I'd allow a couple of hours between flights, but Qantas may advise suitable connections when you book. They won't suggest anything less than a legal connection.

I'm not familiar with AA, so I don't know what partner airlines they use, but I would accept most choices that avoid having to go back from AKL to SYD before heading for LAX. Your DH will be one tired fellow when he arrives in LAX!
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Troop ship, Alexandria to Southampton 1945, 7 days. River Nile paddle steamer, Sudan to Tanganyika & return, 1946, 1947.
MV Akaroa, Southampton to Auckland 1968, 48 days. Yangtse River Cruise 2005, 4 days. Nile cruise Luxor to Aswan 2008 - 4 days.
Holland America - 58 cruising days, 100 status days.
Celebrity - 56 days.
Royal Caribbean - 72 days.
"I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky. And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by." (John Masefield: "Sea Fever.")
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  #7  
Old March 3rd, 2013, 05:10 PM
NancyIL NancyIL is offline
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Originally Posted by celle View Post
Ah,the situation is becoming clearer!

Your flights should be less arduous than your DH's.

Looking at Quantas - QF93 departs Melbourne at 10:20, arrives LAX at 06:45 the following day. That seems to be the only direct flight out of Melbourne. Most of the others go via Sydney.

If you have to go via Sydney, make sure you book it as one journey, with Qantas. You should then be able to check your luggage in at MEL, straight through to LAX.

Since you'll already have gone through immigration when you entered Australia, you shouldn't have to do that again. I'd allow a couple of hours between flights, but Qantas may advise suitable connections when you book. They won't suggest anything less than a legal connection.

I'm not familiar with AA, so I don't know what partner airlines they use, but I would accept most choices that avoid having to go back from AKL to SYD before heading for LAX. Your DH will be one tired fellow when he arrives in LAX!
It gets more complicated, because we live south of Chicago and have at least 2 more flights from LAX! Los Angeles is just the first US gateway - unless we fly to Dallas or Honolulu. While my DH could fly from Auckland to Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines without backtracking to Sydney, the connections from Hawaii would take even longer.

I appreciate all of your helpful info - thanks!
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  #8  
Old March 3rd, 2013, 09:12 PM
celle celle is offline
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Just one more thought:

Someone on Flyertalk has told me that AA award tickets are quite difficult to get on Qantas and that you often have to apply for them about 330 days in advance.

Given the length of your flights and the additional travelling once you get to the USA, perhaps you should consider an overnight stop somewhere, so that you can shower and rest in a comfortable bed?

Sorry I can't help you more.
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Troop ship, Alexandria to Southampton 1945, 7 days. River Nile paddle steamer, Sudan to Tanganyika & return, 1946, 1947.
MV Akaroa, Southampton to Auckland 1968, 48 days. Yangtse River Cruise 2005, 4 days. Nile cruise Luxor to Aswan 2008 - 4 days.
Holland America - 58 cruising days, 100 status days.
Celebrity - 56 days.
Royal Caribbean - 72 days.
"I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky. And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by." (John Masefield: "Sea Fever.")
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  #9  
Old March 4th, 2013, 04:44 AM
kuldalai kuldalai is offline
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Firstly why would you book flights from Auckland to the US via Australia you are just making your trip 6 - 8 hours longer and backtracking as NZ is 3 hours nearer to the US than Australia . ? You can fly Air New Zealand daily from Auckland direct to either San Francisco or Los Angeles. From those cities you can make onward connections to major US cities through Air NZ Code Share partners in the same Airline alliance . Air NZ is a superb airline and 2nd ranked for safety in the world.

If you particularly want to fly home via Aus then better to fly via Melbourne . The flights to Los Angeles are a mind boggling 16 hours non-stop and depart mid-morning . This means you need to fly the Auckland - Melbourne leg the previous day leaving Auckland on the midday flight . You can stay overnight at either of two hotels within Melbourne Airport itself . In this case you will go through Australian Immigration and Customs on arrival in Melbourne, and again departing next morning . BUT Australian Immigration is one of the best staffed and automated in the World so processing times are fast and queues are short if at all . Melbourne airport is more compact than Sydney so your walking distances are much shorter.

If you plan to fly home via Aus why not spend a few days in marvellous Melbourne and discover Australia,s cultural and shopping capital with its wonderful mix of colonial and modern architecture ?

If you must use AA miles then fly Qantas to Melbourne and then Qantas Melbourne to Los Angeles .

If you must fly via Australia avoid Sydney especially arriving on a domestic flight and departing on International as they are in separate terminals on oppositte sides of the Airport . Therefore fly via Melbourne .
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Last edited by kuldalai; March 4th, 2013 at 04:48 AM.
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  #10  
Old March 4th, 2013, 08:37 AM
NancyIL NancyIL is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kuldalai View Post
Firstly why would you book flights from Auckland to the US via Australia you are just making your trip 6 - 8 hours longer and backtracking as NZ is 3 hours nearer to the US than Australia . ? You can fly Air New Zealand daily from Auckland direct to either San Francisco or Los Angeles. From those cities you can make onward connections to major US cities through Air NZ Code Share partners in the same Airline alliance . Air NZ is a superb airline and 2nd ranked for safety in the world.

If you particularly want to fly home via Aus then better to fly via Melbourne . The flights to Los Angeles are a mind boggling 16 hours non-stop and depart mid-morning . This means you need to fly the Auckland - Melbourne leg the previous day leaving Auckland on the midday flight . You can stay overnight at either of two hotels within Melbourne Airport itself . In this case you will go through Australian Immigration and Customs on arrival in Melbourne, and again departing next morning . BUT Australian Immigration is one of the best staffed and automated in the World so processing times are fast and queues are short if at all . Melbourne airport is more compact than Sydney so your walking distances are much shorter.

If you plan to fly home via Aus why not spend a few days in marvellous Melbourne and discover Australia,s cultural and shopping capital with its wonderful mix of colonial and modern architecture ?

If you must use AA miles then fly Qantas to Melbourne and then Qantas Melbourne to Los Angeles .

If you must fly via Australia avoid Sydney especially arriving on a domestic flight and departing on International as they are in separate terminals on oppositte sides of the Airport . Therefore fly via Melbourne .
My main reason for starting this thread was to ask about going through customs on flights that connect in Australia, and the amount of time needed between flights. As I explained above, we are using American Airlines miles, which are NOT good for Air New Zealand flights.

I plan to spend a few days in Melbourne before flying home. I will be flying there from Queenstown, and I'll probably have to change planes in Sydney.

My husband will fly home from Auckland on Qantas and American. Thanks for the recommendation to fly via Melbourne rather than Sydney. The flight from Auckland to Melbourne departs at 7:00 and arrives at 9:10, so there is no need for an overnight in Melbourne before the 11:20 a.m. flight to Los Angeles. Another option is a morning flight to Sydney, followed by a mid-afternoon flight to Dallas.
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Old March 4th, 2013, 09:18 AM
NancyIL NancyIL is offline
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Originally Posted by celle View Post
Just one more thought:

Someone on Flyertalk has told me that AA award tickets are quite difficult to get on Qantas and that you often have to apply for them about 330 days in advance.

Given the length of your flights and the additional travelling once you get to the USA, perhaps you should consider an overnight stop somewhere, so that you can shower and rest in a comfortable bed?

Sorry I can't help you more.
Thanks again. It's even harder to get business class seats on Qantas using AA miles. I could buy a ticket on Qantas for our travel dates next January, but the award seats on Qantas from LAX to SYD haven't opened. American's award tickets can be changed without penalty - as long as the beginning and ending cities remain the same. I have a feeling that I will be tweaking our flights long after they are ticketed - as seats on better connections become available.
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  #12  
Old March 4th, 2013, 12:05 PM
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I saw this thread and since I have a flight going through Melbourne on our way to LAX, decided I'd better read it to find out the answer to the minimum layover question. Did we ever come to a consensus? I don't think I saw the answer! I take it the Melbourne airport is smaller and easier to manage. So my layover time there of 3 hours 35 minutes should leave me plenty of time to get a snack and rest. I prefer not to have tight connections anywhere!
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  #13  
Old March 4th, 2013, 07:46 PM
celle celle is offline
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I saw this thread and since I have a flight going through Melbourne on our way to LAX, decided I'd better read it to find out the answer to the minimum layover question. Did we ever come to a consensus? I don't think I saw the answer! I take it the Melbourne airport is smaller and easier to manage. So my layover time there of 3 hours 35 minutes should leave me plenty of time to get a snack and rest. I prefer not to have tight connections anywhere!
There is no easy, one-fits-all answer to the minimum layover question.
  • It depends on whether one of your flights is a domestic flight or is classed as part of an international flight.
  • If the first flight is domestic, you may need to transfer from the domestic to the international terminal for the second flight. If your first flight arrives into the international terminal, you will just have to pass through security, to get to your next boarding gate.
  • If your flights are booked all on one ticket, as one journey (and you are departing from Australia), you may be able to check your baggage right through. If not, you will need to reclaim and re-check the bags.
  • If you arrive on an international flight into Australia and then take a domestic flight, you will need to go through Immigration, claim your bags, and then go through Customs, transfer to the domestic terminal and re-check your bags. That could take some time, so you'd need to allow extra. I have got through this in under an hour in SYD, but it has also taken nearly 3 hours another time. Depends on the number of aircraft landing about the same time as your flight.

I can't comment on the size difference between SYD and MEL, but since Melbourne is also a pretty big city, don't expect a small-town airport.
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Troop ship, Alexandria to Southampton 1945, 7 days. River Nile paddle steamer, Sudan to Tanganyika & return, 1946, 1947.
MV Akaroa, Southampton to Auckland 1968, 48 days. Yangtse River Cruise 2005, 4 days. Nile cruise Luxor to Aswan 2008 - 4 days.
Holland America - 58 cruising days, 100 status days.
Celebrity - 56 days.
Royal Caribbean - 72 days.
"I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky. And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by." (John Masefield: "Sea Fever.")
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Old March 5th, 2013, 01:58 AM
celle celle is offline
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PS: 3 hours 35 minutes sounds fine to me!
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Troop ship, Alexandria to Southampton 1945, 7 days. River Nile paddle steamer, Sudan to Tanganyika & return, 1946, 1947.
MV Akaroa, Southampton to Auckland 1968, 48 days. Yangtse River Cruise 2005, 4 days. Nile cruise Luxor to Aswan 2008 - 4 days.
Holland America - 58 cruising days, 100 status days.
Celebrity - 56 days.
Royal Caribbean - 72 days.
"I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky. And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by." (John Masefield: "Sea Fever.")
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Old March 6th, 2013, 05:03 AM
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Just a comment on the differences between Melbourne & Sydney airports.
Sydney domestic terminals (T2, T3) are physically located on the other side of the airport to that of the International Terminal (T1). This can take quite some time but there are Qantas and Virgin transfer busses as well as a general transfer shuttle bus (TBus). At the International Terminal there is also a Qantas domestic transfer check-in just outside the northern exit of the arrivals hall.
Melbourne airport is "more compact" in that both domestic and international terminals are within the same building complex. It is not smaller - just easier to get somewhere and operates 24 hours whereas Sydney shuts between 11pm and 5am.
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Old March 6th, 2013, 05:50 AM
kuldalai kuldalai is offline
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Default Connection time transit pax at Melbourne.

To answer specifically the transit time in Melbourne question .

If you are booked AKL - MEL - LAX with 3- 3.5 hours in Melbourne your connection should be fine . Provided you do not want to leave the Airport you are classed as a "transit" passenger as both your flights are International. On arrival from NZ you will see signage directing TRANSIT PAX (you)to one area and ARRIVING PAX to Immigration & Customs in a second area . You should take the TRANSIT PAX pathway and will go the Transit lounges area to await your QF departure to Lax . NB: You should book your bags through at AKL from AKL all the way to LAX .

In the above scenario you do not have to go through Immigration or Customs at all . However you will be Security screened on departure from AKL and again at MEL before the flight to LAX .

Talk to your TA re the connection time but 3 - 3.5 hrs sounds fine for a transit pax, as even those just starting out as pax from MEL to LAX are only required to be at Tullamarine 2 hours prior to departure .
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SEA PRINCESS. Sydney - Pacific Crossing - San Francisco. 04/2012
M.S. AMADAGIO . Arles - Lyon . 09/2012
M.S. AMACELLO. Basel - Amsterdam. 10/2012
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RSSC VOYAGER . Bali - Melbourne. 12/2012
REGATTA . Miami - San Francisco . 04/2013
Avalon CREATIVITY. Paris - Normandby - Paris. 10/2013
PRINSENDAM. Rome - Fort Lauderdale. 11/2013

QUEEN MARY II Fremantle - Sydney 02/2014
ARANUI III - Freighter to Paradise - 06/2014
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Old March 6th, 2013, 11:04 AM
NancyIL NancyIL is offline
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Thank you, everyone. I will have several Sydney to Melbourne flight choices when I fly from Queenstown, NZ to Melbourne. Since I will change from the international to domestic terminal and have to go through customs, I'll choose a longer layover in Sydney.
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Old March 6th, 2013, 04:10 PM
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I hope whoever plans the rumoured and badly needed second Sydney airport doesn't repeat the ridiculous mistake of locating the Domestic and International terminals on opposite sides of the airport with only a white knuckle bus ride connecting them.
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Old March 7th, 2013, 12:32 AM
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I hope whoever plans the rumoured and badly needed second Sydney airport doesn't repeat the ridiculous mistake of locating the Domestic and International terminals on opposite sides of the airport with only a white knuckle bus ride connecting them.
The latest rumour is that Qantas will operate all their domestic flights from the International terminal.
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Old March 7th, 2013, 12:42 AM
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Oh joy. That will be a huge improvement
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