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VA International Transfer Arrangements - Sydney

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Hi All,

Later this week I am flying from CBR - SYD - LAX. Having never flown VA internationally can someone tell me the international transfer arrangements? In particular, will I be issued with my international boarding pass when I check-in in CBR, or do I need to check-in for the international flight at the transfer desk in Sydney? Their website suggests the latter, but whenever I have flown Qantas I have always gotten all boarding passes in CBR. Also, does the bus run from airside T2 (like the Qantas transfer bus running airside from T3) or do I need to head back out to the arrivals area and the curb?

Cheers for any advice!
 

YNWA

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I've only ever done NAN-SYD-OOL and got all the boarding passes in NAN, collected luggage and went through customs in SYD. Checked in again at the transfer desk (process would have been simpler with carry on only). The bus doesn't run airside (unfortunately).
 

aaflyer

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You will be issued with your Boarding Pass in Canberra (look for the 'International Connections' check-in sign in Domestic Canberra).

You should be given a wallet with directions to the transfer bus in Sydney (gate 46 down the escalators at the end of the concourse).

Hand the little tare-off pass from the folder to the bus driver as you board. It's good to re-check with the staff at the transfer lounge too.

The bus starts off air side but ends up land side. You end up at the end of the International terminal upstairs in departures. Not great but it's not that bad.

With both the Qantas and Virgin busses, you are dropped off landside though (you arrive airside on Qantas, but walk into the main terminal).
 

AustraliaPoochie

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The QF buses is a bit faster and more interesting.
I think the QF bus goes airside all the way.
Faster in the sense that once the bus fills up with pax, it goes from the SYD QFd via airside road, and then goes along that airside road all the way to SYD QFi glass sliding doors, (then up escalators).
If you were on the ball, you would note that for QF, there is not a gate till you get to the international terminal, just near the glass sliding doors.
VA's bus will depart the gate on departure, near Dnata, and out on the public road.
Personally, I would have preferred if VA had access to airside road all the way.
You will have to present your passport at VA CBR for them to scan the data page line down the bottom, >>>, thus you don't have to do it in SYD.
In your travel wallet, you also get a transfer bus tear off slip, pass to bus transfer driver in SYD.
I think that going from Aust D-I is much easier than the other way around.
CBR should also give you an Outgoing Passenger Card to fill.
And ExpressPath too depending on class of travel/status.
For the VA transfer bus, you are taken up the bus and car ramp to departures, on the main road, so you don't have to up escalators (for VA).
Edit: the VA bus transfer goes out onto the main road near Sixth St, Sydney Airport, you can check it out at Google Maps.
 
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anat0l

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The QF buses is a bit faster and more interesting.
I think the QF bus goes airside all the way.


No. The QF bus for connections to international go from airside domestic to landside international. The drop off point deposits you approximately where Zone C check-in counters are, a bit around the corner is Express Path (and a bit further on is the common departures entry). You then clear immigration then security screening as per other pax.

The QF bus for connections from international go from landside international to airside domestic; security screening is done at the transfer facility.

Anyway this is off topic but I'm not aware of the exact nature of VA's / VA partner transfers from domestic to international. I do know there is a special gate or counter at T2 for such passengers, and you should obtain onward boarding passes, transfer directions and express passes (if applicable) at the port of check-in. Bags should also be all tagged to the final destination - if your bags are not tagged as such, you will need to claim them at T2 then get to T1 to re-check them in for your international flight. In the latter case where you must get to T1 the transfer will be at your expense (T bus, train, etc.).

EDIT: Just re-read, you meant to say the QF bus transfer route is completely airside. In that case, you are correct.
 
Joined
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Thanks everyone. From what's been discussed here it looks like I will get all my boarding passes in CBR when I check-in, so that makes things much easier in Sydney.

On a related topic, what happens in the opposite direction (i.e. when I arrive back in Sydney and need to transfer to domestic)? Is it is a similar system to Qantas - once your out into the terminal you recheck your bags in the VA transfer area within the international terminal and are then transferred to domestic? Do you re-clear security in international and are then dropped airside in domestic?

Thanks!
 

AustraliaPoochie

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On a related topic, what happens in the opposite direction (i.e. when I arrive back in Sydney and need to transfer to domestic)? Is it is a similar system to Qantas - once your out into the terminal you recheck your bags in the VA transfer area within the international terminal and are then transferred to domestic? Do you re-clear security in international and are then dropped airside in domestic?
Yes, its similar.
For the VA, you have to clear domestic security at T2 domestic-no clearing domestic security at international terminal for VA flight/VA partner flights, so you will have to spend time with all the plebs.
For QFi to QFd we are lucky we clear domestic security at the international terminal, so you get to be taken directly to Gate 15 at T3.
For VA, you are taken and dropped off outside T2, so you have to do domestic security with everyone else, making your time to use the VA lounge if you have status, short, if your flight to CBR is short from international arrivals.
I have done a dummy run from CBR to SYD to LAX and back, the transit time can be just 2.45 hours, coming back, hopefully if you get hold up somewhere, that VA will put you onto the next domestic flight.
I have done several VAint to VAdom, and NZint to VAd at SYD and the transit time have all been very short.
Touch wood, nothing has as yet happened to change that in my case, but if Customs decide to hold me aside, I would be up *h** creek. When I changed my citizenship to Australian, its a bit better coming back to Australia, than holding another citizenship with Australian PR status.
Personally, if I had to do another trip overseas, I would do the QFd to QFi/QFi to QFd than VAd to VAi/NZ or VAi/NZ to VAd.
Forgot to add, because your domestic flight is linked to an international one, there is also no OLCI for your domestic sector, no matter even if its T-48 from your domestic flight.
At least with QFd to QFi, if you have a laptop with printer, you can print your boarding pass, and at checkin, or using the automatic pole, you just scan your passport.
With VA at CBR, you have to physically go to a counter, and see a counter girl/guy.
 
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aaflyer

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Thanks everyone. From what's been discussed here it looks like I will get all my boarding passes in CBR when I check-in, so that makes things much easier in Sydney.

On a related topic, what happens in the opposite direction (i.e. when I arrive back in Sydney and need to transfer to domestic)? Is it is a similar system to Qantas - once your out into the terminal you recheck your bags in the VA transfer area within the international terminal and are then transferred to domestic? Do you re-clear security in international and are then dropped airside in domestic?

Thanks!
Once you are landside you turn left and there's the bag re-check and bus area. Board the bus and it takes you over to the domestic terminal, also land side. In the event of a late arrival, they'll also arrange to re-check you onto the next flight (providing it's all on the same booking/itinerary/PNR). It's as seemless as it can be.

The days of airside-to-airside are long gone and it was only Qantas doing it (and only Domestic to International).
 

OzEire

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Resurrecting an old thread to add my 2c worth.

Travelling as a VA WP in J (intl long haul) connecting to a domestic J flight, my VA SYD T1 to T2 transfer this morning was a less than premium experience.

As you may imagine I was not impressed to wait 30 mins in the SYD humidity as the smokers and taxi exhaust battled it out; for a bus that never arrived. VA staff response "yeah, we were wondering about that, bit of a a crowd out there now."

So I took the train and a vow to avoid VA when connecting from SYD T1.

Another example of how VA pays lip service to premium travel.
 

anat0l

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Resurrecting an old thread to add my 2c worth.

Travelling as a VA WP in J (intl long haul) connecting to a domestic J flight, my VA SYD T1 to T2 transfer this morning was a less than premium experience.

As you may imagine I was not impressed to wait 30 mins in the SYD humidity as the smokers and taxi exhaust battled it out; for a bus that never arrived. VA staff response "yeah, we were wondering about that, bit of a a crowd out there now."

So I took the train and a vow to avoid VA when connecting from SYD T1.

Another example of how VA pays lip service to premium travel.
Surely the transfer staff would have been onto the radio as to where the bus(es) was (were) in the system, if it was taking so long?

Why did you have to wait in the humidity? You're allowed to wait for the bus inside, where it is at least climate controlled.

The transfer is not a premium experience; it's a courtesy service. That doesn't excuse what happened, but you weren't going to garner any better than what you did by virtue of status or class (except possibly in the negotiations for the lack of service).
 

OzEire

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Surely the transfer staff would have been onto the radio as to where the bus(es) was (were) in the system, if it was taking so long?

Why did you have to wait in the humidity? You're allowed to wait for the bus inside, where it is at least climate controlled.

The transfer is not a premium experience; it's a courtesy service. That doesn't excuse what happened, but you weren't going to garner any better than what you did by virtue of status or class (except possibly in the negotiations for the lack of service).
Agree with this, but to clarify I was not trying to garner anything .... Simply an observation of the lack of "premium" in the experience. VA cannot shake its LCC roots.

Also, only 6 seats inside which I left for the elderly and pregnant in the group of 60+ people waiting.
 

smit0847

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I've done the intl to VA dom transfer in SYD numerous times, always in the mornings around 7-8am. Never waited more than 15 mins for the bus and there's rarely many on it. Check in/transfer staff always very cheery.
That being said I avoid transiting syd wherever possible. It's hardly a seamless experience even when things do all go right.
 

anat0l

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Agree with this, but to clarify I was not trying to garner anything .... Simply an observation of the lack of "premium" in the experience. VA cannot shake its LCC roots.

Also, only 6 seats inside which I left for the elderly and pregnant in the group of 60+ people waiting.
Fair enough. I didn't mean to imply you were getting your DYKWIA on; just rather that the transfer service is just a courtesy rather than a part of the premium experience.

I'd probably stand and wait, but I'm used to that and might not be able to hold on as long if I were double my age. The part which baffles me is the 60+ people waiting - that might struggle to fit into even two buses.

That being said I avoid transiting syd wherever possible. It's hardly a seamless experience even when things do all go right.
Yes we'd all prefer to transit in MEL, but unfortunately it doesn't always work out that way.
 

backofthebus

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I've done the intl to VA dom transfer in SYD numerous times, always in the mornings around 7-8am. Never waited more than 15 mins for the bus and there's rarely many on it. Check in/transfer staff always very cheery.
That being said I avoid transiting syd wherever possible. It's hardly a seamless experience even when things do all go right.
Yes this is my experience too- not ideal- could be worse, but bearable.

Recently I booked my onward SYD-final domestic destination ticket separately and checked into this leg at the VA INT-Dom transfer desk. No issues, quick to be served.

Although it is a 50m walk up along the domestic drop off area, I prefer clearing security at the Lounge Premium Entry (where the security contractors easily outnumber pax to be screened whenever I have been through...). instead of going into the Domestic check in area.
 

medhead

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I've whinged about my VA experience elsewhere on here when transiting from EY to VA domestic in Sydney. Arrived late, in the evening, bags not out as per the priority tag. Got to the transit desk 2 minutes after the cut off time for transfers (what 45 mins or 60 mins or something). Told to bad so sad. So much for platinum, and the transit desk is where premium service can be provided. Told to get a taxi - Friday night Sydney traffic, plus abuse from the taxi driver for a short trip?

Took the train. Now why the hell is the transit desk at the opposite end of the terminal from the train station.

No response from VA to my feedback = no longer platinum.
 

anat0l

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So much for platinum, and the transit desk is where premium service can be provided.
I've never understood how the transit desks (either airline) at T1 give elites any sort of favour. All you get is a line for yourself. Even non-status holders who are nice can sometimes be flow-forwarded at T1, so that's not even a huge thing for elites. If one wants to flex some elite muscle, one has to get to the domestic terminal. Zero-zero for each of the airline rivals here.

Told to get a taxi - Friday night Sydney traffic, plus abuse from the taxi driver for a short trip?

Took the train.
Rolls off the tongue easier, doesn't it? "Get a taxi" :p I don't see why drivers should get snitchy; if anything they'll probably pick up a job at the domestic and the fare isn't too shabby for the time "wasted" (which is almost none because the route is pretty direct). Ah well, that's why Uber is taking over, yeah?

Now why the hell is the transit desk at the opposite end of the terminal from the train station.
VA probably got a bit of a raw deal with their transfer facility at T1. Pretty odd location, poor signage, not much space, no room for a dedicated security screening facility (so everyone can transit airside), and their transfer bus is completely landside using standard roads. The little tab they give you as your "ticket" on the bus is a bit of a waste of time. I guess it was better than the alternative of not having any sort of transfer facility at all.

No response from VA to my feedback = no longer platinum.
But... they have spirits in the SYD Lounge now! :)
 

serfty

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No response from VA to my feedback = no longer platinum.
A bit off topic, but while such an event would put you off, did you not gain some sort of award/prize for Qantas travel of which redemption was going to make it difficult to fly VA much at all without losing the some value of the award/prize?
 
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