Connecting from a domestic to an international flight in Sydney can be a time-consuming process. The international and domestic terminals are located several kilometres apart. Passing through the immigration and security checkpoints can also be a lengthy process.

Despite this, Qantas continues to sell connections with as little as 60 minutes between the scheduled arrival of the domestic flight in Sydney and the departure of the international flight. Our members believe this Minimum Connection Time – which is regularly offered as the first choice when making a Qantas booking – is far too short.

For some reason the minimum connect time in SYD from domestic to international is 60 minutes. I have no idea why it’s so short as this would be almost impossible during busy periods. From international to domestic the min connect time is 75 minutes.

The transfer bus between the domestic and international terminals can take up to 30 minutes. After midday, the Qantas shuttle only runs every 20 minutes. The trip across the tarmac takes approximately 10 minutes.

After arriving at the international terminal, passengers must then pass though the immigration and security checkpoints. This regularly involves snaking queues, especially during the busy periods of 7-11am and 7-9pm.

With just 60 minutes between flights, it would be almost impossible to arrive at the international boarding gate on time. Even on a quiet day, there would be a real risk of missing the flight.

There is no way I’d even attempt a 65 min D-I connection at SYD. Depending on the time of day, and when your domestic flight gets in compared to the shuttle bus, it could take that long just to get to T1, not to mention getting through immigration and Intentional security.

Of course, this all assumes that the inbound domestic flight is on-time. With such a short connection time, even the slightest delay jeopardises the connection.

There is some good news. As long as you’ve booked all flights on a single ticket, the airline would have to look after you if you missed the connection. This could involve rebooking you on the next flight and providing accommodation if necessary. Nevertheless, this could cause serious inconvenience – especially if you’re travelling to a destination that only has one flight per day.

Many Qantas check-in staff recognise that 60 minutes is not adequate. They routinely place passengers connecting through Sydney on earlier flights. If you have a tight layover, it is likely this will be offered if you check in early. But it is not guaranteed.

Many members use the multi-city booking tool when booking flights on the Qantas website, to force a longer connection in Sydney. As well as reducing the risk of missing the connection, this at least allows for some lounge time.

I generally allow 3 hours for transfers in Sydney – I know that is a bit obsessive, but I hate stress (and of course there is the FL). There have been plenty of times when I have been glad to have the extra time….

Airlines generally prefer to advertise flights with short connection times. This is because it makes the overall travel time appear shorter than competitors.

Join the discussion HERE.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]