Melbourne airport– the gateway to the sky. Is it an awesome airport? No not really. It’s an airport. Unless you are picking someone up, dropping off or working, there really isn’t any reason to go there.
But millions of passengers travel through the airport so I’d thought I’d give you some pointers to help your travel plans run just that little bit more smoothly…
How to get to and from the airport.
To get to and from the airport as a tourist your best way is to use the Skybus. These bus’s run constantly through out the day and are a direct link from the airport to Southern Cross station in the CBD. There is other routes if your hotel is not in the CBD but check on their website to find out more.
Some hotels may also offer to pick you up but that is something you need to talk to your hotel about.
Taxi’s of course come and go from the airport all the time. A word of warning- if your journey is short, the driver may not be happy as they have waited inline for 2hrs just for the opportunity to pick someone up from the airport. I don’t like the system myself and avoid using taxi’s. If you are comfortable with them and can afford them then by all means use them. All taxi’s have to be cleared before they can pick up from the airport. Uber is also available as of the 15th August. There is an area out the front that is designated for Uber pick up.
If you have friends or family that can pick you up, the pick-up points are in front of the hotel directly outside of the airport. If you are getting dropped off, I recommend using the pick-up area. There is no rule saying you can’t and in fact Melbourne airport encourages it as the drop-off zones get really busy and congested.
There is a public bus stop near by if you want a really cheap way to get in to the city but it does take over an hour as opposed to the Skybus which takes around 25mins. You can check it out on the PTV website to ind your journey.
Parking at the airport is expensive. We can boast about being the second most expensive parking of any Australian airport. Sydney has the title and they can keep it. Click here to see all the prices.
There is a free 20min waiting area however if you want a better parking view that has no time limit, I suggest the lookout spot on Operations Rd. Here you can watch the planes come and go and i you are waiting for someone on a Tigerair or Jetstar flight you can see when the aircraft has parked so you know when to leave.
MEL airport has 4 terminals;
- Terminal 1- Qantas
- Terminal 2- International
- Terminal 3- Virgin Australia and REX (departures)
- Terminal 4- Jetstar, TigerAir and REX (arrivals)
Terminal 1 Qantas domestic
All domestic Qantas flights depart and arrive from terminal 1. The check-in counters are on the top floor. Qantas has converted to mostly self check-in kiosks however there are staff members around to help you out if need be. Once checked in, you then drop your bags off at the bag drop off area (which is just against the wall right behind the self check-in kiosks).
Once you are all checked in and bags dropped off, you can make your way through security screening. Be warned, during peak times the queues to get through the screening can be huge. Allow yourself plenty of time to get through during those peak times (morning peak times are about 7.00am to 9.30am, Monday to Friday. Evenings are about 4.30pm to 6.30pm).
There is a couple of coffee shops in terminal 1. There is one on the ground floor and when facing the self check-in, turn to the left for more coffee shops plus if you keep walking you’ll come across Australian gifts, Subway, Hungry Jacks, Muffin break, Nando’s and a couple more.
If you go through the security screening to the gates, there is more to choose from.There is coffee shops (naturally when the first departures are at 6am, coffee is needed), Krispy Kreme, Hungry Jacks plus more including travel luggage stores, stationary and book stores.
Click here for a map of Qantas departures.
Arrivals and baggage claim is down on the ground level. This is also where the car hire places are located but they are not staffed 24hrs. Gloria Jeans is also there if you need another coffee fix or snack.
Terminal 2 International
Yep terminal 2 is all international. It gets really busy at night as thats when a lot of the big flights leave (i.e. A380’s). To me it
looks like organised chaos as there is a system but you have to study it. Pretty much just look at the screens and see where your flight is being checked in. Again there are shops around however I don’t recommend you buy anything from them as they are expensive (Tim Tams should not cost anything more then $3.00. I have seen them for twice the price at the airport, rip off!)
Now its been awhile since I have used the international terminal but its not hard to find your way around as there is only 1 walkway so as long as you keep walking you’ll find your gate. Also there is food and shops inside the terminal as well incase you need something for the long journey.
When you arrive to Melbourne airport and have gone through quarantine, your best bet is to turn right to access most of the transport options. Turn left if you want Qantas domestic, all other airlines, turn right.
Click here for a map of terminal 2 departures.
Click here for a map of terminal 2 arrivals.
Terminal 3 Virgin Australia and REX departures
Terminal 3 is where you’ll find Virgin Australia and the REX check-in counters. Like the qantas terminal there is check-in kiosks and staffed check-in. To get to the gates you must turn right from the counters and head down the escalator.
Check your ticket as there is 2 different ways to go to get to the gates. Some Virgin flights actually depart from the terminal 4 area, usually the bigger flights i.e. Perth but please check your ticket as its a very long walk if you get it wrong.
The terminal has the same mix of food outlets and shops but once again pricing is can be a bit ridiculous. On level one where you checked in there is a McDonalds for those that want fast food. There is also a sushi sushi, hightide and an Irish pub.
Click here for a map of terminal 3
Terminal 4 Jetstar, TigerAir and REX arrivals
Terminal 4 is the newest terminal to Melbourne airport. I remember when it was just a tin shed (literally it was just a metal shed). Now its a nice big fancy terminal with lots of natural light and plenty of room, however I don’t like the layout they have created.
On the ground floor is your check-in for both Jetstar and Tiger plus baggage claim. This is different to all the other terminals where check-in was on level 1. Once you have checked in, proceed up the escalators (or stairs which can be quicker during busy times) and through the security screening point. Now you have arrived into terminal 4 lounge and gates and this where I dislike the design.
What they have done is make everyone stay in this area until the flight is ready to be boarded. So unlike all the other terminals which tell you which gate you are departing from, this terminal won’t tell you till about 30mins before departure. The reason for this I think is too keep everyone in the food court area so they will spend their money. Like I said I dislike this idea. I like to sit at my gate and read a book or play a game. The food court is too noisy for my liking.
When you arrive at terminal 4 it’s a lot harder to explain where the pick-up and drop off points are so I’m just going to insert the map Here. I can tell you that when you exit the building turn right and head towards the big multi-level carpark.
Click here for a map of terminal 4 departure and gates.
There are 3 hotels within walking distance of the airport. They are Parkroyal, Holiday Inn and Ibis budget. Parkroyal and Holiday Inn are very pricey, I don’t think there is a room for under $200. Ibis budget is a very basic room and its price’s are usually around the $130 mark. If you want a cheaper option, try to get a room in the city and then take the Skybus but look at your prices and see which is more valuable to you. If you have an early morning flight and you’re not much of early morning person then maybe book a hotel room as you can save yourself about an hour or more of waking up early!
Melbourne airport doesn’t rival any of the big international airports but having said that its a lot easier to get around then the big airports. So long as you know which terminal you need. If you do end up at terminal 1 when you need terminal 4 then it shouldn’t take longer then 5mins to walk at a slow to moderate pace.
There is talk of some sort of rail connection to the city being built but this ‘talk’ has been going on for over 20 years so I’m not going to hold my breath until it happens. I hope it happens as it’ll cut the commute time down by almost half and I’m hoping it’ll be cheaper.
Like most airports the prices of buying from the stores is over inflated except for the chain food stores. If you have an ASIC then some places will offer you a discount but you must show your ASIC to receive the discount.
For more information on Melbourne airport visit their website.