New 'VIP passenger' channel for Sydney, Melbourne airports?

By David Flynn, May 5 2016
New 'VIP passenger' channel for Sydney, Melbourne airports?

Sydney, Melbourne and Perth Airports will introduce a new 'premium arrivals' system under plans revealed in this week's Federal Budget.

The proposal would extend beyond the Express Path lanes currently available to first class and business class travellers and include escorted 'fast-tracking' from the moment passengers step off their flight through to baggage collection and exiting the terminal.

Similar to VIP meet-and-greet services offered at other major airports around the world, the suite of premium perks has been described by a spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton as "premium traveller facilitation services", reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

"Airport operators would pay the government a fee for the premium service, the cost of which may be passed on to airlines or passengers."

"The services would be on a user-pay basis and travellers using these services will be processed under established clearance procedure."

Sydney Airport "is working closely with the government to develop an initial concept for premium border processing", a spokesperson for Sydney Airport told Australian Business Traveller, adding that “passengers frequently request premium border processing options, which is a standard practice in major airports globally."

A privately-operated VIP terminal for Melbourne Airport was floated in 2014, initially aimed at domestic high-flyers including celebrities, rock bands, cashed-up 'whales' bound for Crown Casino and others belonging to the private jet set.

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

10 Sep 2012

Total posts 149

Have used a similar service to this at LAX many times.  It makes a big difference there, but I'm not really sure that there would be an advantage at Sydney.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Aug 2014

Total posts 216

Given the speed of the automated immigration gates, residents with ePassports really don't need arrivals assistance anyway. I see it as a good money spinner for foreign tourists / businesspeople only.

A lot of vitriol on the SMH website too, a la "Stop the rich privilege!" etc. As long as the program is cashflow positive to the gov't, I don't see a problem.

I'm curious why it's announced as part of the budget, rather thanjust being rolled out in policy form by the Dept of Immigration?

Would not the airports, being privately owned, foot the construction bill if they want to impliment VIP channels (as an adjunct service offering for inbound airlines using their facilities)? Or is the DoI paying for these new facilities inside the terminals?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2207

The whole "STOP THE RICH PRIVILEGE!!!!!11" thing is just the usual tall-poppy tosh from the 1st Division Class Outrage, and can be safely ignored government revenue aside, it's inconsequential from a social perspective because there are no impacts on people apart from a minor inconvenience, unlike other issues that deserve attention, like (say) educational outcomes in disadvantaged schools.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 414

Recently I noticed these automated machines/gates have slowed up because they have been opened to Americans and enough of them have no clue how to use them. Without a word of lie, there were queues on every single machine I approached after getting off the QF flight from LAX in SYD, and I was in F so off the plane fast. Every time before that was a breeze and great. Maybe this new proposal of VIP might help; any indications of cost?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 May 2015

Total posts 76

This is such a bad idea it makes my blood boil.

Why? Because they are proposing a solution to a problem that should never exist in the first place. There is no excuse for long waiting and slow processing. Why? Because people arriving into Australia should receive the best welcome possible. It is called ‘first impressions’ and ‘hospitality’ and it is crucial to creating an experience so people:

a) have a great time in Australia

b) return back soon and stimulate the economy with their tourist dollars

There are countries that understand this and countries that don’t.

For example, Bangkok airport is shocking with long queues and bureaucratic overkill. It makes me less likely to travel to Bangkok and whatever money the government might save on administration they miss out on in my tourism spend.

In contrast, I recently arrived into Montevideo in Uruguay and cleared the airport in under 10 minutes.

Unfortunately Australian airports are far below world class. Last year I arrived into Melbourne and the queue for foreigner passport holders stretched beyond the Duty Free shopping (probably 200-300m long queue). That is unacceptable.

My point is that the government emphasis should be on providing a world class experience which is so good that any priority options are simply not needed.

One comment said this proposal is ok ‘‘As long as the program is cashflow positive to the gov't’. Accountants can pretty much justify anything on paper. You can say ‘this costs $1 but we get $2 back in revenue.’ But that doesn’t take into account the negative impact a poor airport experience has on tourism because this would be too difficult to quantify. But anecdotally, think of people that say they never want to fly through LAX because of poor experiences or people who deliberately fly through Singapore because of the excellent experience.  

This is a proposal by a desperate and small minded minister who lacks vision and doesn’t get that the current arrivals experience just isn’t good enough for everyone.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 May 2015

Total posts 76

I might add one further comment.

It is a pity the headline reads ‘New 'VIP passenger' channel for Sydney, Melbourne airports?’

and not:

'Dutton slashes visa redtape and guarentees world class airport arrivals experience is ambitious tourism dollar grab’

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Jan 2013

Total posts 241

And cue the fat cat bashing in 3, 2, 1… I’m not for this, but not for the reason of not wanting a VIP terminal/infrastructure. I’m not fussed about that.

Firstly, it seems to be a very costly and complex solution that IMHO doesn’t really exist. How badly would customer be after the convenience of 10 minutes fewer waiting in lines, (I get that they can be longer wait times but I’m assuming that’s the standard,) that they’d be willing to pay the premium the airport would have to charge?

Secondly, what the hell is going on with our pollies, (that’s right I’m not calling them leaders,) that they look at a problem like delays at airports and completely ignore the simple option of rostering on a few more staff and setting in place a project to install more gates. I agree those two options aren’t an overnight fix, but I can’t shake the feeling they’re over thinking this.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Nov 2011

Total posts 133

While Sdney Airport certainly isn't a Changi, it does seem to be getting better. The last couple of times I've come through I've made it through in under 20 minutes.

I don't get the outrage over this proposal. Higher tier FF's already get express passes; this proposal opens up the oppoprtunity to anyone who is happy to pay to get through quicker, so actually more people will have the opportunity.

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