The best ways to get to major airports around the world

Singapore is such a compact city-state that it’s often easiest to simply take a taxi from Changi Airport to your hotel.

What are the best ways to travel to and from major airports? We look at the options for Australia’s major domestic airports – plus four popular international hubs.

By Katrina Lobley 

When it comes to travelling to or from airports, frequent flyers will likely have a few grumbles. I know I do. In all my years travelling, I’ve missed two fights. I blamed both on the difficulties of hailing a taxi in Sydney during morning rush hour. 

These days, I prefer to take the train. While Sydney’s Airport Link isn’t the cheapest option, its reliability and regularity make it my preferred way of reaching the airport, except when catching a super-early fight, which necessitates a taxi or Uber as the airport train doesn’t start until 6am.

Sydney

Emirates' Boeing 777-300 descends into Sydney.The price of a train ticket to Sydney’s domestic and international terminals comprises the gate pass (A$14.30), plus a rail component that varies according to your station of departure. Get an Opal card (available free from newsagents and outlets such as 7-Eleven) then load money onto the card to cover the train ride to the airport. 

Alternatively, take a taxi or order an Uber (the ride-sharing service offers Sydney Airport-bound passengers UberX, UberXL for groups of up to six, and UberSelect for a luxury ride). 

Uber is now permitted to operate to and from more than 300 airports worldwide, including Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra and Hobart, as well as several regional Australian airports. Qantas frequent flyers can also earn points by taking Uber to or from eligible airports through the airline’s app.

Melbourne

Taxi, horse and carriage, cyclists and a tram on Melbourne's Swanston Street.Taxis can be an expensive option as Melbourne Tullamarine Airport is 23km from the city centre. A popular option is to take SkyBus to or from Southern CrossStation (tip: tickets are cheaper, A$18 one way for an adult, if bought online). 

If you’re then taking an onward train from Southern Cross, you will need to buy a myki (pronounced “my key”) card for A$6 and load money onto the card. Station attendants can help calculate how much you need to preload onto your myki for intended travels around Melbourne.

Brisbane

At Brisbane’s airport, take the Airtrain to Central Station or Roma Street if you’re heading to the CBD for work. Buy tickets online for the best deal. You can also use a free loop bus that travels between the international and domestic terminals and the airport’s Skygate shopping precinct, if you need to while away a few hours.

Perth

In Perth, look for Bus 380 (yes, it’s named after the Airbus A380) that runs regularly between the airport and Elizabeth Quay bus station in the city centre. Alternatively, take a taxi or rent a car.

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Adelaide

The JetExpress double-decker bus service operates between the airport and the city. There’s also a city shuttle bus that operates between the airport and city hotels from 8am daily. However, given Adelaide is a relatively smaller city, you might just want to catch a taxi to your destination.

Singapore

Singapore is such a compact city-state that it’s often easiest to simply take a taxi from Changi Airport to your hotel. A 30-minute ride costs between S$20 and S$40. Beware the midnight surcharge, though, which adds 50 per cent of the final metered fare to rides taken between midnight and 6am.

Dubai

Dubai Metro in the UAE.From Dubai International Airport, you can ride the air-conditioned Dubai Metro into the city. The front carriage of each driverless train is deemed “gold class” – enjoy the view through the front window for a small premium. 

Metro services start at 5.50am (5.30am on Thursday) and end at midnight (1am on Thursday and Friday). Remember that in Dubai the weekend starts on Friday: the Metro only starts operating at 1pm.

Auckland

SkyBus outside Auckland Ferry Terminal.

Traffic gnarls are common in New Zealand’s biggest city. The most stress-free option is to take the round-the-clock SkyBus (NZ$18 one way) between the city and airport.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles International Airport.

Pack your patience if you’re trying to get anywhere in L.A. because the city’s freeways can be choked well past the usual rush hours. Make the pain bearable by booking a transfer with a limousine service such as Music Express (its network covers more than 650 cities worldwide). Hop into a limo with one of the knowledgeable chauffeurs and enjoy service par excellence – and perhaps a little gossip along the way about celebrity clients such as Cher.

“Just call my chauffeur!” 

If you’re fortunate enough to be flying at the pointy end of an aircraft, some airlines will throw in chauffeur-driven airport transfers at select destinations as part of the ticket price.

Qantas includes a ride for those flying business and first class between Australia and London. Its partner airline, Emirates, offers business-class passengers in Dubai a complimentary transfer in a top-line BMW.

"While Sydney's airport link isn't the cheapest option, its reliability and regularity make it my preferred way of reaching the airport."

Virgin Australia’s business-class passengers on international long-haul fights can pre-book a complimentary airport limousine transfer from participating airports, including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Los Angeles. 

Etihad offers its business-class passengers a chauffeur service to and from Abu Dhabi International Airport to anywhere in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

Read next: How to make the most of your travel loyalty program


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October 2018
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