7.5 hours in Sydney airport - will I go mad?

Aug 18th, 2007, 03:56 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 78
7.5 hours in Sydney airport - will I go mad?

Here's the thing. Flying Perth - Sydney - SFO - Seattle. Travel time all up is 30 hours.

Around 7.5 hour layover in Sydney - great, we thought, we'll head into town and look around. Should also mention we have a longing for an exit row seat for that 13.5 hour leg, therefore want to check in for first 2 legs in Perth, thus as an international traveller and bags are checked through for us. But to do this, you technically are NOT allowed to leave the international airport. ie land in Sydney at domestic airport, take courtesy bus to int. terminal and wait there. For 7.5 hours.

Alternative is fly as domestic passenger, collect bags in Sydney, I presume store them at int. terminal somewhere, then take train into circular Quay, BUT get back 3 hours before flight to try for exit row seats. Which leaves maybe 2 hours to look around... and no certainty of a good seat.


As much as I'd love to spend a few hours in Sydney, I think the lure of a potentially good seat wins out. Has anyone spent this amount of time at Sydney airport, and what on earth did you do? I should also add we're on the red-eye to Sydney and arrive at 6.20am!!
Chelsea1479 is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 05:01 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 677
Interesting, and I can empathise with the dilemma.

But surely (and clearly you are not an Australian passport holder) this is about Immigration and Customs. The airline is just the carrier. It is not up to them to decide what you can and can't do.

The question I would have thought is, will Immigration have put an exit stamp in your passport at the airport in Perth? If yes then you have technically left the country. If no you haven't.

And if you have left the country but didn't need a visa in the first place, then there shouldn't be anything to stop you going thru immigration again in and out.

Alternatively, and this is just a thought, tell the people at Perth that you will be leaving the airport at Sydney and will get your exit stamp there.

I mean, I haven't the faintest - just thinking about it logically and working from first principles.

Good luck.
chimani is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 05:44 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
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I don't know whether you will be allowed to leave the airport, but if you can arrange it, I would do it. It does not take long to get from the airport into town, so you should have enough time for a walk around the Rocks, Circular Quay, the Opera House and through the Botanical Gardens. You could probably make it over to the Queen Victoria Building as well which is well worth a look. Or, if you might be able to get in a harbour cruise on one of the ferries (depending on their schedule and yours) and you can always walk across Sydney Harbour Bridge for some great views as well.
I think this would be time well spent rather than waiting around the airport on the CHANCE that you can get an exit row seat. I don't know which airline you are flying, but most of the U.S. airlines these days charge extra (Economy Premium) for exit row seats or reserve them for their frequent flyer passengers with special status. Besides, it's just not that bad in a regular economy seat. We've made the trip to/from Australia several times and this summer we even flew a longer flight (15+ hours) to South Africa and my 6'2" son did fine in his economy seat on the aisle.
longhorn55 is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 02:45 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Most seats are pre-booked at the time the tickets are arranged so waiting to be first in line is no longer necessary.
Ask your travel agent to do this for you alternatively phone the airline yourself and pre-book the seat. Mind you I am only talking about Australian airlines so if you are on a US airline then that may be a different matter. But at least ask.
LizzyF is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 09:54 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
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What airlines are you on?

I didn't think you could clear immigration in Perth and stay on the secure side between Sydney Domestic and International. Again, my impression was that if you were checking your luggage through, your seats will be allocated at original point of departure - in Perth.
Sarvowinner is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 10:31 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 551
Assuming you haven't even booked your flights yet. Is it even possible to book on an international flight to SFO form Perth.

I'm doing a similar flight (with less stopover and not going onto Seattle). I'm flying on a domestic flight out of Perth and transfer to International at Sydney. I'm led to believe you will be checked through from Perth and your bags are either checked through, or given a priority so they come out first, so maybe you can request your seats then?

People must do this all the time. I doubt there's be a problem leaving the airport as long as you do customs and immigration correctly ( and get back in plenty of time!)

BTW there's baggage storage at the international terminal.

Baggage Storage
If you need to store any items at the airport, Smarte Carte operate a baggage storage service located at the northern end of the arrivals level next to McDonalds.

From the airport website
eigasuki is offline  
Aug 20th, 2007, 04:43 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 78
Thanks to all for replies. I think I should clarify - I am an aussie, living in Perth. We are flying Qantas.

The issue seems to be that if they indeed allocate all seats for us when we check in at Perth, then our bags will be checked through automatically at Sydney but we are not supposed to leave the airport, ie we must transfer from domestic to international terminal and NOT leave the terminal, as that would constitute abandoning our luggage (even though it's already checked through).
We are flying economy and I've flown Perth-Singapore-London with Qantas and suffered (the only time it's bad to be 6 feet tall with long legs!).
But I think if we can endure the layover at the airport, we definitely stand a good chance of getting an 'exit row' (extra legroom) seat - these are never pre-allocated as the check-in staff need to make sure you are physically able to operate the exit door if required.

So I guess my original post was more about whether I could survive that long at an airport, and whether anyone had spent a similar time at Sydney international airport!!
Chelsea1479 is offline  
Aug 20th, 2007, 05:05 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,479
Hi Chelsea

<<these are never pre-allocated as the check-in staff need to make sure you are physically able to operate the exit door if required.>>

the domestic check-in staff are able to judge if you are physically able etc. I've flown to NZ via Melbourne and the Sydney domestic staff have booked me all the way through - and allocated seats.

It has given me the sh-ts sometimes as the exit rows have been allocated to passengers transiting from Perth. This means they have a 6 hour advantage over Sydney passengers.
Sarvowinner is offline  
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