Insider’s guide to Sydney Airport

How you spend your time at the airport before your flight directly impacts the rest of your trip. After all, it’s where your holiday really begins. From the people on the inside, here’s how to work the system at Sydney Airport and get the most out of the first day of your vacay.

Brought to you by Sydney Airport

Sydney Airport guide - #wortharrivingearlyfor - MMR

Getting to the airport early is almost as much a habit for us as waking up or turning on our computers. It heralds new stories and the start of our next adventure.

But Christina and I have had a long romance with airports. We’ve travelled so much together, and coming from other sides of the world, one of us regularly has ‘tours of duty’ to see family.

It’s always the airport that seems to unite us again.

We’re always excited to see the latest change to happen in our home away from home – Sydney Airport. We’ve been flying in and out of here for years, but the new shopping and dining opportunities now make us want to book more flights and get there even earlier than normal!

Sydney Airport guide - #wortharrivingearlyfor - MMR

We’ve worked with Sydney Airport to bring you some of the best travel tips, tricks and hacks to maximise your time at the airport.

These nuggets of insider info make up one of the reasons we love getting to the airport so early, but we thought we’d also put together a quick list of the other reasons why.

Are you the same as us with any of these?

Sydney Airport guide - #wortharrivingearlyfor - MMR

7 reasons why Sydney Airport is worth arriving early for

1. Christina is a nervous arriver

Christina’s not a nervous flier; she loves getting on planes. She worries about missing that plane though, so she always wants to get to the airport at least 20 hours early. Once she’s checked in, it’s party time!

2. There’s just so much you can do

Airports are getting better and better at making the pre-flight experience as pleasurable as possible for travellers. And Sydney Airport – Australia’s busiest travel hub – is really nailing it. They get that it’s where your holiday starts and gives us all a reason to arrive early.

Sydney Airport guide - #wortharrivingearlyfor - MMR

3. I love airport bars

There’s something special about having a drink and a bite to eat at the airport. I love it. You can get some prime people watching done there too.

4. Christina loves airport shopping

While I’m spying out the best watering hole, Christina is exploring the shops. As she says, money spent on airport retail doesn’t really count; after all, it’s tax-free so it must belong to a different budget.

It’s kind of how I feel about airport calories!

Sydney Airport guide - #wortharrivingearlyfor - MMR

Sydney Airport guide - #wortharrivingearlyfor - MMR

5. The airport has a special place in our hearts

We’ve travelled so much together, and coming from other sides of the world, it’s always the airport that seems to have brought us back together again.

6. There’s a special energy at the airport

Christina’s family and friends used to have a tradition when she was a child: whenever anyone went away, everyone would come to the airport to see them off. They’d arrive early, set up in a spot and have a leaving party.

Christina still taps into that excited emotion going around the airport. She loves the arrivals lounge most of all, but at departures, there’s a palpable feeling of expectation that we both relish.

7. The airport is the real start of your holiday

You’ve spent months planning, thinking about and getting excited about this trip. Why not get things started as soon as possible? The airport is where all the fun begins – and there’s so much to do there.

Sydney Airport in particular has so many things you can really cash in on by arriving early for your flight.

Check out these awesome tips from a Sydney Airport insider that’ll help you reap the rewards of an early arrival and maximise what you can get out of Australia’s busiest airport.

Sydney Airport guide - #wortharrivingearlyfor - MMR

14 insider tips, cool stats and secret benefits to Sydney Airport

Dining did-you-knows

If you were worried about slim pickings when you get to the airport, this run-down will put your mind at rest. Check out these awesome stats for the hungry traveller.

1. Sydney Airport offers 50 coffee brands across both domestic terminals and the international terminal – pro tip: if you want to know where the best coffee is, go into one of the shops when it’s quiet and ask the member of staff. They’ll know where to go.

Sydney Airport guide - #wortharrivingearlyfor Soul Origin - MMR

2. World-renowned chefs Wolfgang Puck, Luke Mangan, Mike McEnearney, Shannon Bennett and Warren Turnbull are working with Sydney Airport to bring an elevated dining experience to SYD:

– T1 is home to The Bistro by Wolfgang Puck, for steak frites, gourmet pizzas and wagyu burgers.

– Luke Mangan’s Bridge Bar – also in T1 – offers a delight of seasonal menus featuring locally sourced produce.

– Mike McEnearney of Kitchen by Mike fame offers international travellers food not normally seen in airports. woodfired pumpkin with nigella seeds, roast chicken, Kurobuta pork belly, cucumber with mirin and sesame and chia pudding with rhubarb.

– McEnearney also has Kitchen by Mike Express, which is before international security, so that visitors seeing off loved ones can enjoy Sydney Airport too.

– Shannon Bennett’s Better Burger in Terminal 1 is more than just a burger joint. Focusing on organic produce and sustainable practices, these burgers have a feel-good factor all of their own.

– Warren Turnbull’s well-known and much loved Chur Burger is a welcome addition to Domestic Terminal 2’s food arena. Taking his skills as a fine-dining chef and restauranteur, Turnbull’s burgers are several cuts above.

Sydney Airport guide - #wortharrivingearlyfor Bistro Wolfgang Puck - MMR

3. Sydney Airport is the only airport in Australia to have launched a pre-flight food pack. Kitchen by Mike in T1 produces Fly by Mike packs so you can curate your own inflight meal and carry it on the plane with you.

4. Between all 3 terminals there are over 60 places to eat, drink and be merry, so you’ll be less reliant on what your airline dishes up when you’re flying at 43,000 ft.

5. Sydney Airport is the only airport in Australia to launch a yoga room. The Move Studio is in the Domestic Terminal 2 Lorna Jane store, where you can stretch before you board.

Like T1’s Kitchen by Mike, you can pick up a meal tray to take on board from the Lorna Jane Nourish Café.

Sydney Airport guide - #wortharrivingearlyfor Kitchen by Mike - MMR

Super shopping stats

In the T1 International Terminal, there are some serious bargains and tax-free retail therapy to be had.

6. Heinemann Tax & Duty Free has more than 9,000m² of tax-free shopping with over 28,000 products across 800 local and international brands.

7. Heinemann offer click and collect via their website to save you time when you get airside.

8. Heinemann hold items for you to pick up as you come back through arrivals – it’s like a welcome home present from yourself!

9. Heinemann stock rare and one off special edition spirits and wine you can only buy at the airport.

Sydney Airport guide - #wortharrivingearlyfor - MMR

Sydney Airport guide - #wortharrivingearlyfor - MMR

Designer brand bonuses and benefits

Also at the T1 terminal, here are some of the cool services you can take advantage of from some of the world’s most exclusive brands.

10. Tax-free shopping doesn’t just include perfume, tobacco and alcohol. It’s across all fashion and accessory retailers too.

11. Kate Spade offers gift wrapping, they can hold items prior to departure and can arrange delivery of large pre-purchased items to arrivals for when you return.

12. Burberry, Michael Kors, Emporio Armani and Gucci all hold for 1 week (dependant on stock levels) and can usually deliver items to gate lounges.

Sydney Airport guide - #wortharrivingearlyfor Hermes - MMR

Sydney Airport guide - #wortharrivingearlyfor Gucci - MMR

13. Rolex also holds for 1 week for free or 1 month with 30% deposit and can deliver to gate lounges. They will also adjust watchband links prior to flying.

14. Tiffany & Co. takes it a step further and has an on-the-spot cleaning service and can engrave certain pieces. They can organise jewellery repair with pick up from any Tiffany & Co. store in Australia, watch battery replacement, and delivery to your gate. And of course there’s champagne for shoppers – no breakfast though. 😉

Sydney Airport guide - #wortharrivingearlyfor - MMR

If you enjoyed these tips for Sydney Airport, you’ll love these other stories we’ve written on how to make the best of flying and long-haul travel:

How to tackle long-haul flights like a pro

37 tips on flying in style

Our tricks to finding cheap flights online

So with no excuses for getting to the airport late next time, what will be the first thing you do when you arrive at Sydney Airport?

Sydney Airport guide - #wortharrivingearlyfor - MMR


  • Reply April 12, 2018


    I always arrive early and love the new look Sydney airport! I had no idea I could shop online too. That’s awesome! Great photos too

    • Reply April 13, 2018

      Mr Romance

      Thanks Mary. Christina did a great job with the photos, didn’t she? Yes, Sydney Airport is so much nicer with all the updates and places to eat, shop and relax. And getting your duty free shopping done online before you even get to the airport leaves more time to enjoy the rest of SYD! J

Leave a Reply