Sydney Airport: from domestic to international - ouch!

Sydney airport transit trains

SHE's just attempted one of the ultimate travel transit feats: negotiating the transfer between terminals at Sydney airport. SHE arrived into Sydney Domestic Terminal 3 and needed to join an international flight (different terminal, different airline).  Straightforward SHE thinks...ah - nope. SHE was travelling with more than the usual amount of luggage on this trip: a bag of clothes donated from friends destined for the needy in Bali, a regular size suitcase (with wheels, 15kgs), a carry on and a handbag.  And here's the way it goes...

SHE starts with a domestic flight from Melbourne - straight forward. Collect bags in Sydney at Terminal 3 (flights on different airlines so no checking bags through to final destination), make way to International Terminal via a train…sorry? Is this the only option? Yes as it turns out. And so the fun begins.

Find a trolley ($4 thanks), load bags and off SHE goes in search of the lift. So far so good. And then SHE reaches the only way to arrive at the International terminal..the train station, that requires a ticket. That'll be $5 thanks (really?!) for a one stop trip. Ouch. Can't take the trolley though. "We'll open the 'handicapped' gate for you so you can get through, but we'll take the trolley at the lift" says surly, indifferent woman who's clearly heard it all before. Oh. Okay. Not.

SHE got chatting with a lovely young Scottish traveller in the lift on the way to the station - thankfully; the wee lass held the lift, and helped shepherd the bags onto the train. Quite a juggling act. Miss Scotland was slightly horrified at the cost of the train ticket. Rightly so.

We don't wait long - 2 minutes - for the train. And moments later we arrive at the International Terminal, make our way to a lift, up a few floors, to the Departure Terminal - hooray.  Except there are only escalators…so we follow the signs to another lift  (are we there yet?).  And not a trolley in sight. Lots of very helpful airport workers who directed us - thanks guys. (Were we looking slightly desperate?!).  And finally, the lift doors open and we're magically at the terminal we've been searching for - nearly 20 minutes later.  SHE says a fond farewell to Miss Scotland (who's looking down the barrel of a 6 hour layover at this illustrious terminal - woo hoo) and SHE goes in search of yet another trolley (cheap stripy bag with 12 kgs of clothing is really cutting into arm now). Another $4 (yep), load up and off SHE goes in search of checkin counter J (SHE's arrived at A). So close but yet so far...

SHE wonders if anyone who works at Sydney airport has ever actually taken this journey, or walked in the shoes of the regular people who transit through this major airport every day. Beware folks: allow lots of time if you're brave enough (or have no other choice) to take this challenge on. The friendly security man at immigration said he sees very stressed travellers every day who've underestimated that transit time. SHE doesn't think there's much worse than running late for a flight - after all, it's your holiday and you've probably been planning it for a very long time, even looking forward to it!  Now you're stressed, hot, bothered, and in desperate need of a drink. If you're travelling with a few friends, some children (how on earth do you people do it?), if you're a first time traveller, are elderly, or just don't do this very often, this would be a pretty ordinary way to start a trip, a holiday of a lifetime, or pretty much any travel adventure.

Moral of the story: transit through Melbourne - we have a lovely airport all linked up together like it should be!