‘Express Path’ returns to Sydney Airport, but there’s a catch

Spend less time in line and more in the business lounge... if you’re flying at the pointy end, that is.

By Chris Ashton, June 14 2022
‘Express Path’ returns to Sydney Airport, but there’s a catch
Executive Traveller exclusive

Premium passengers can once again skip the queue when jetting out of Sydney T1 international terminal, with the airport finally dusting off an Express Path departures lane.

However, its return may only be temporary – and frequent flyers are no longer on the guest list.

In the past, the Express Path was a handy perk designed and paid for by participating airlines, one which allowed first and business class passengers, as well as elite frequent flyer status holders, to bypass the main queues when passing through immigration.

All you needed was to wave your ‘Express Path’-branded paper slip and you were waived right through. During peak travel times, they were worth more than their weight in gold (and you’ve probably got a few stashed away for emergencies).

Due to ongoing resourcing challenges hitting security and immigration at the airport, and despite a continued resurgence of overseas travel, the Express Path of old remains shuttered.

To help ease congestion in peak periods, Sydney Airport has instead introduced its own ‘Priority Screening Lane’.

A sign directs passengers to the Priority Screening Lane.
A sign directs passengers to the Priority Screening Lane.

Originally intended for passengers with flights close to departure – staff would regularly ‘comb the queue’ and bring people forward in order of flight priority – the priority lane has since expanded to also include those travelling in first and business class cabins.

Frequent flyers travelling in other cabin classes, even those holding Qantas Platinum or Star Alliance Gold, are not included within the list.

“We are currently operating a priority screening lane for passengers with flights that are close to departure and for first and business class ticketed passengers,” a Sydney Airport spokesperson tells Executive Traveller.

“We are working closely with our international airline partners to see when it will be possible to bring back the ‘Express Path’ product.”

Sydney Airport saw 544,271 international passengers pass through T1 in April 2022. Though an impressive figure, it is still 61.1% down from the corresponding period in 2019.

There is no firm timeline on how long the Priority Screening Lane at Sydney Airport will remain open, though it’s expected to be at least until the end of the July school holidays.

How about an Express Path at 2T guys, that would be a smart move as well, REX Business, VA Business / Gold and Platinum, QF Gold and Platinum travelling Jetstar as well as airline workers. 

Happy for anyone to take credit for the idea as long as it comes.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Aug 2017

Total posts 73

From (distant) memory, Sydney airport T2 had a little-known screening area downstairs, next to the luggage claim area at the very end of the terminal. I only used it once or twice but there were never any queues. Is my memory correct and, if so, does it still exist?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2017

Total posts 20

It is still there physically but can only be used by groups when buses drop them off outside. I also hope it comes back. Not sure how it works if a bag needs to be checked in though coz you still have to go landside to do that. 

JD1
JD1

03 Aug 2020

Total posts 7

Out of the mouth of a senior SYD (formally SACL) manager within the airport operational area, SYD would be happy to do away with the Qantas premium security lane at the Qantas domestic terminal as they see this as a Qantas offering and would rather there be no preferential lanes at all.  Having said that it appears Qantas is making next to no effort in managing this lane anyway. Pre-covid it was one of the best things about going through security there that I enjoyed. I hope that they'll do something about it when all the construction is finished 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Jan 2018

Total posts 27

Not a bad idea. Several times flew out of SYD domestic and I thought the premium lane is just as slow as the other public lane.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Jun 2017

Total posts 21

Sydney Airport should also provide Express Path priority to APEC Business Card Holders. It’s not just Sydney, Australia in general does not provide much priority to APEC card holders compared to many other countries that I visit.

11 Dec 2019

Total posts 2

ABTC holders are allowed to use the crew line!

At SYD departures there is a small doorway off to the side before the main ramp that is for staff, airline crew and APEC card holders. It is straight-up a hallway to a passport control officer rather than smart gates.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Oct 2017

Total posts 11

Sydney Airport have not heard of moral hazard obviously. The incentive now is to arrive at the airport late, knowing that Sydney Airport will pull you out of the line and give you priority. This will end badly

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Oct 2013

Total posts 14

This is strange to read. My friend used the express pathway just yesterday.  It was also on his digital qantas boarding pass! 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Sep 2012

Total posts 32

I flew out to LAX a week ago and the lines were beyond horrendous and there definitely was NOT an express path option (everyone asked!) I estimated that from check in (which you were forced to do even if you had checked in online) through to the gate it would have taken me close to 2.5hrs! The passport control and then security lines were so long that they had to stop letting people through the passport control because the backlog spilled back into the passport area. As much as I was keen to get travelling again that was a horrible start to my trip!!

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

29 Jan 2011

Total posts 163

Where precisely is the new priority lane?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Sep 2012

Total posts 32

If the photo is anything to go by, it looks like its the 'old' Express Path lane to the left of the general departure area..definitely wasn't there/open a week ago though :(

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

29 Jan 2011

Total posts 163

Thanks. From ancient trips in the past I now remember continuing walking past the general departure area to where the express path entry are was.

09 May 2017

Total posts 37

the story and comments just reinforce my decision to keep avoiding Sydney airport!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Mar 2018

Total posts 23

Can't avoid SYD if you want to travel SIA A380 to SIN. The execrable 777 only flies in and out of MEL.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2014

Total posts 137

I also flew out of there a week ago. The security line was so long it had backed up into the passport control area and all passport processing had to be suspended for 10 minutes to allow the queue to get smaller. The Business Class Express lane sign was there but it was not open. 


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