How much time to allow at Sydney airport for flight to US at 7:30 pm on a Thursday

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#2
Muscat/Oman, Abu Dhabi/UAE and Sydney/Australia
868 Posts
Joined May 2011
That would be a good idea.
Depending on aircraft type, A LOT of people could be checking in.
Passport control tends to be quick, but security checks are usually tediously slow. If you are lucky to get through all of this quickly, have a beverage or browse duty free on the other side.
#3
198 Posts
Joined Feb 2017
Originally posted by teacherplus
Do I need to get to the Sydney airport 3 hours ahead to get through security and make my flight? Thank you for any information!
The government has tightened security at major airports and request you arrive as early as possible. 3 Hours is the benchmark for ease of departure.
#4
Point Richmond CA
5,701 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
Originally posted by buchhalm
That would be a good idea.

Depending on aircraft type, A LOT of people could be checking in.

Passport control tends to be quick, but security checks are usually tediously slow. If you are lucky to get through all of this quickly, have a beverage or browse duty free on the other side.


If they say 3, make it 4. Hopefully, you'll have an FF lounge in which to hang out.


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#5
I come from a land down under
24,395 Posts
Joined Jul 2014
Originally posted by teacherplus
Do I need to get to the Sydney airport 3 hours ahead to get through security and make my flight? Thank you for any information!
Yep. Or even a bit earlier.
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#7
Sydney, Australia
5,541 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
Keith - interesting recommendation - how many times have you flown out of Sydney International airport? I think some local knowledge may be useful

First it depends what class you are travelling and your airline status

Qantas state on their tickets:
  • International First / Business Closes 60 minutes before departure
  • Economy / Premium Economy Closes 90 minutes before departure
  • Qantas codeshare services (QF Flight numbers operated by Jetstar)^
    Check in opens 3 hours before departure Closes 60 minutes before departure
  • Jetstar Business / Economy (JQ)^ Check in opens 3 hours before departure Closes 60 minutes before departure
  • Flights operated by Jetstar Asia (3K)~ Check in opens 2 hours before departure
Virgin is 90 minutes before departure

You do need to see what your airline requires

So I guess it depends on how cautious you are and how much you like waiting around airports

If you have checked baggage and been ticketed then they are unlikely to leave without you if you are stuck in a processing lane - they will be paging you and sending out the search parties - they don't want to unload your baggage - now if you are finishing that last drink in the bar and ignoring pages then you deserve to be left behind

Sydney has facial recognition on immigration gates so if you have an electronic enabled passport you will use that - then through security which is not as (visibly) stringent as most US international airports

Two hours is fine - a 33% tolerance over the airline recommendation - three is being cautious ad four is just plain crazy

Now what I will warn of is allowing time for Sydney traffic delays - our traffic is notoriously bad most of the time and certainly around late afternoon as the commute begins and that impacts airport traffic - so do allow plenty of time to get to the airport at that time of the day
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#8
Point Richmond CA
5,701 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
Originally posted by Bodogbodog
Keith - interesting recommendation - how many times have you flown out of Sydney International airport? I think some local knowledge may be useful

First it depends what class you are travelling and your airline status

Qantas state on their tickets:
  • International First / Business Closes 60 minutes before departure
  • Economy / Premium Economy Closes 90 minutes before departure
  • Qantas codeshare services (QF Flight numbers operated by Jetstar)^
    Check in opens 3 hours before departure Closes 60 minutes before departure
  • Jetstar Business / Economy (JQ)^ Check in opens 3 hours before departure Closes 60 minutes before departure
  • Flights operated by Jetstar Asia (3K)~ Check in opens 2 hours before departure
Virgin is 90 minutes before departure

You do need to see what your airline requires

So I guess it depends on how cautious you are and how much you like waiting around airports

If you have checked baggage and been ticketed then they are unlikely to leave without you if you are stuck in a processing lane - they will be paging you and sending out the search parties - they don't want to unload your baggage - now if you are finishing that last drink in the bar and ignoring pages then you deserve to be left behind

Sydney has facial recognition on immigration gates so if you have an electronic enabled passport you will use that - then through security which is not as (visibly) stringent as most US international airports

Two hours is fine - a 33% tolerance over the airline recommendation - three is being cautious ad four is just plain crazy

Now what I will warn of is allowing time for Sydney traffic delays - our traffic is notoriously bad most of the time and certainly around late afternoon as the commute begins and that impacts airport traffic - so do allow plenty of time to get to the airport at that time of the day


So, basically, you are agreeing with 3-4 hours if only for a buffer related to traffic.



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#9
Sydney, Australia
5,541 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
Originally posted by Flatbush Flyer
So, basically, you are agreeing with 3-4 hours if only for a buffer related to traffic.
No I’m not ������

There’s a big difference to needlessly sitting around Sydney airport for 4 hours (twice as long as you need to IMHO) and actually getting to the check in on time given the traffic in Sydney

If I were agreeing then depending on where they were coming from, let’s say the central city for example, they might have to allow 3 hours for the travel to the airport and to checkin - but if they were coming from say Hornsby they’d really need to allow 4 hours in total to be on the safe side.

Judging Sydney traffic is an art not a science - although traffic apps like Waze and Google maps is helping these days

I’m amused that someone from CA and someone from TX is giving advice on a question relating to Sydney airport - yes there’s a theoretical answer but I think the OP was looking for practical advice and local knowledge
#10
Georgia
242 Posts
Joined Oct 2009
Thank you all for replying. It is Virgin and I have no status. I was hoping to do a tour to the Blue Mountains that day that said I would be at the airport at about 4:45 pm and thus the question for my 7:30 pm flight wondering if I was allowing enough time.
#11
Sydney, Australia
5,541 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
Originally posted by teacherplus
Thank you all for replying. It is Virgin and I have no status. I was hoping to do a tour to the Blue Mountains that day that said I would be at the airport at about 4:45 pm and thus the question for my 7:30 pm flight wondering if I was allowing enough time.
I think given you will be coming from Western Sydney from the mountains you do run a risk of hitting traffic on the M4. The trip from the scenic area of the mountains is around 2 hours each way without a delay

I don’t know how long they’ve allowed for the trip to the airport but it looks risky and tight to me based on Sydney traffic - 1 hour plus delays can easily occur on the main routes and that would put you at risk

Maybe you will need to consider another tour that day and do the Mountains earlier in your visit - sorry but that would be my recommendation
#12
Point Richmond CA
5,701 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
Originally posted by Bodogbodog
No I’m not



There’s a big difference to needlessly sitting around Sydney airport for 4 hours (twice as long as you need to IMHO) and actually getting to the check in on time given the traffic in Sydney



If I were agreeing then depending on where they were coming from, let’s say the central city for example, they might have to allow 3 hours for the travel to the airport and to checkin - but if they were coming from say Hornsby they’d really need to allow 4 hours in total to be on the safe side.



Judging Sydney traffic is an art not a science - although traffic apps like Waze and Google maps is helping these days


Some airports are worth "sitting around"

We are fortunate to fly out of SFO, which has very well appointed FF clubs, modernized terminals (including an ongoing series of curated museum displays) and enough good eateries to satisfy a variety of palates. In addition, one of the adjacent towns is Burlingame, which has great shopping, dining et al. and is served by a free trolley that circulates among the many excellent airport hotels.

With the understanding that we are very cautious about all sorts of travel elements including insurance, ground transport, buffer arrival/layover times, etc,. (resulting in part from a professional lifetime of work-related flying where "we've seen it all"), we often arrive for early AM flights out of SFO the evening prior! We catch a ride from home on the north side of the Bay to one of the Burlingame hotels, trolley to dinner, get a good night's sleep and early shuttle from hotel to SFO - still arriving for international flights prior to whenever the earliest checking begins. Whether it's the United Club or just a restaurant (e.g., Yankee Pier) and a stroll through the latest exhibit, there's plenty to do/see at the airport.
It's been about a decade since I was last at SYD and I don't have much recollection of the amenities. But, I am sure there are things to do and see there. After reading this thread, I tried checking out SYD on the Gate Guru iPhone app only to find that SYD is not listed. That's weird!
In any case, major international airports can be a pleasant experience. It just may take a bit of research to find out all that is offered.


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#13
Sydney, Australia
5,541 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
Originally posted by Flatbush Flyer
Some airports are worth "sitting around"

On that one we will have to agree to disagree - the option of spending time in Sydney proper or in an airport concourse seems a clear cut choice to me - but to each their own

Originally posted by Flatbush Flyer
It's been about a decade since I was last at SYD and I don't have much recollection of the amenities
And here was I thinking this thread was about Sydney International Airport in Australia as opposed to San Francisco International airport and its’ facilities...and that the OP was looking for local knowledge and input
#14
Point Richmond CA
5,701 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
Originally posted by Bodogbodog
And here was I thinking this thread was about Sydney International Airport in Australia as opposed to San Francisco International airport and its’ facilities...and that the OP was looking for local knowledge and input


It is about SYD- just offering an example and hoping someone who frequents SYD will respond in kind.

You said no need to show up hours ahead. But, that is a faulty assumption given the vagaries of modern air travel. Your post also insinuates that an airport (specifically SYD) is not a pleasant place.


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#15
Sydney, Australia
5,541 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
Originally posted by Flatbush Flyer
hoping someone who frequents SYD will respond in kind
They did and I do
I fly in and out of Sydney International airport regularly and have done so for many years

Originally posted by Flatbush Flyer
You said no need to show up hours ahead. But, that is a faulty assumption given the vagaries of modern air travel. Your post also insinuates that an airport (specifically SYD) is not a pleasant place.
What assumption is faulty about anything I’ve said as it relates to Sydney Intl airport? I know the security processes that guests are required to pass through from firsthand experience and they are different than say LAX or Heathrow

You are clearly cautious as indicated by arriving at the airport the day before for some flights. I look at what the airlines require and knowing the airport and how it operates make a choice that compiles with the requirements. You are correct I don’t see an airport as my holiday destination

Don’t try and put words in my mouth - I didn’t say it wasn’t a pleasant place just that there are nicer places to spend time at in Sydney
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#16
London
22,157 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Originally posted by Bodogbodog
Two hours is fine - a 33% tolerance over the airline recommendation - three is being cautious ad four is just plain crazy
Unless there's been some recent new recommendation to allow more time than previously, I agree with every word of this.

Sadly, I think that my view may also come from being a regular user of Sydney airport. It sounds like those of us who know the airport best have the least valued opinions about how much time to allow.

There is only one qualification to what I have said: if you have access to the Qantas first class lounge, then four hours could be a very pleasant time. But I've also done the non-status hanging around for hours there when it's been necessary. There are far worse airports in the world to do that, but I wouldn't deliberately choose to spend four hours at SYD.
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#17
Sydney, Australia
5,541 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
Originally posted by Globaliser
There is only one qualification to what I have said: if you have access to the Qantas first class lounge, then four hours could be a very pleasant time
Thanks for the confirmation I just couldn’t believe it when some said 4 hours

There is no new requirements or recommendations from the authorities - I am travelling in less than a week so would be aware or have been advised if that were the case

Yes the Qantas First lounge is one of the best globally I believe but even with the spa and the restaurant there’s only so much eating and drinking one can do - so even with that access I’d still opt for a couple of hours

The OP will be out in the concourse so no such luck - and for them the challenge is more around the amount of time to allow to travel to the airport
#18
London
22,157 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Originally posted by Bodogbodog
Yes the Qantas First lounge is one of the best globally I believe but even with the spa and the restaurant there’s only so much eating and drinking one can do ...
I agree with that, but it is a beautiful space in which to just sit, look out of the window, watch the airport activity and (for me) sadly get a last fill of the Sydney skyline for a number of months.
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#19
Sydney
182 Posts
Joined Feb 2015
I don't think Sydney airport (FF lounges excluded) has ever been considered an enjoyable place to hang out for more than about 30 minutes. Check-in 2 hours before flight time is ample.
The traffic to the airport can be truly diabolical however and you definitely need to be generous with time allowed to get there. I would be very uncomfortable doing a day tour of the Blue Mountains on the same day as a 7.30pm flight. Too many possibilities for missing your flight or at the least spending a very stressful few hours stuck in freeway traffic.
#20
Sydney, Australia
5,541 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
Just a bit of information that confirms my earlier post

I just checked in for my flight to the US tomorrow - on Virgin their advice is be at the airport at least 2 hours before departure for bag drop and processing after online checkin

Please see a Virgin Australia team member at the airport to obtain your boarding pass and to have your travel documents verified. This will include a valid passport and may include visas and/or proof of onward travel. If you have checked baggage, arrive at the airport least 120 minutes prior to flight departure. We also recommend that you are at the boarding gate at least 45 minutes prior to flight departure.

If you are flying to the USA, you must have a copy of your itinerary with you (either electronically or hard copy) and please arrive at the boarding gates 75 minutes prior to departure.

Interestingly the boarding pass I printed out refers to arriving at the airport 90 minutes prior to departure....talk about confusing and contradictory
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04/14/2017 Crystal Symphony - Tokyo to San Diego - 17 days
12/21/2016 Crystal Symphony - Auckland to Melbourne - 15 days
01/24/2016 Crystal Serenity - San Francisco to Sydney - 22 days

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10/28/2014 Crystal Symphony - San Diego to Auckland - 15 days
02/16/2014 Crystal Symphony - Sydney to Bali - 12 days
01/05/2013 Crystal Symphony - Melbourne to Hobart - 6 days