Business travellers have welcomed this week's move of regional QantasLink flights from Sydney Airport’s shared Terminal 2 to the dedicated Qantas Terminal 3, although there are also a few reservations surrounding what Qantas has dubbed the ‘Homecoming’ project.
Here’s what Australian Business Traveller is hearing.
Faster transfers, smoother connections
All QantasLink flights will now arrive and depart from Terminal 3, joining the rest of Qantas’ domestic or ‘mainline’ services and assigned to T3's Gates 1A, 1B and 1C.
For Seumas Hyslop, an anesthetist who flies each week between Tamworth and Sydney as well as onwards to other capital cities, that means "not having to walk back and forward through the car park each time I transfer between Qantas mainline and QantasLink.”
Having QantasLink and Qantas flights in the same terminal also means an end to going through another set of security lanes at the outbound terminal.
No more buses
“When you land on a QantasLink flight into Sydney Airport you generally weren’t brought into the secure terminal despite being screened at Tamworth” Hyslop reflects.
“Instead they’d put you on a bus, transport you to the terminal (near to gates G1 and G2) and then drop you to baggage claim. This means you're no longer in a sterile area and you have to clear security again, even if leaving from the same terminal.”
Hyslop told Australian Business Traveller that half of his flights terminate in Sydney “and the other 50% of the time I'm jumping on a connecting CityFlyer flight to another state.”
Between swapping terminals, riding buses and doubling up on security lines, that makes for a lot of time saved which can now be spent in...
“I’m looking forward to making the Qantas Business Lounge my second home” admits Jenny Francis, sales manager with a national financial company.
“Let’s be honest, the Qantas Club in T2 was a bit of a dive! T3’s Qantas Club is the best in Australia, and the Qantas Business Lounge is better than anything I’ve seen, even in the US - and their barista Carole makes the perfect cuppa!”
But with QantasLink flying one million passengers each year through Sydney Airport over a scheduled 300 flights per week, some travellers are concerned about potential overcrowding in the T3 lounges.
“The T2 Qantas Club used to get pretty busy in the early mornings as it was” says UK-based rural property manager Gavin Fauvel, who flies into Sydney and then via QantasLink to Armidale, Moree and Tamworth every few months.
“With QantasLink saying that they have more early- and later-connections to their destinations, will that add to the number of sharp-elbows at the T3 Qantas Club’s pancake machine?”
When Australian Business Traveller raised this issue with Qantas, a spokesperson for the airline replied “our lounge facilities in T3 have capacity for QantasLink customers”, adding that “different peaks in the QantasLink and Qantas schedule will also assist in managing resources.”
However, the airline says "an extra 80 seats have also been added to the Qantas Club to accommodate for the additional customers using the lounge."
Hyslop and Francis agreed that being able to use T3’s next-generation checkin system with their Qantas Frequent Flyer cards, along with the baggage drop zones and Qantas Bag Tags, will be another serious time-saver.
“Plus T3 has a priority security line for Gold and Platinum frequent flyers” added Francis. “When I use T3 I’m able to get from the airport’s taxi drop-off zone to the Qantas lounge in three minutes – try doing that at T2!”
Better international transfers, too
The Qantas shuttle bus from T1 to T3 will remain ‘airside’ when it pulls up adjacent to Gate 15, which once again means less time trekking between terminals and shuffling through security lanes.
“It will be so much easier to transfer from International to T3 compared to T2 – it should make for a swifter and more joined-up transfer from T1” offers Fauvel.
So is there anything these very frequent QantasLink flyers will miss about T2?
T2 wins in the shopping stakes
“People that don't have Qantas Club access will find the T3 departure-level food purchasing options limited” Hyslop says. “The food court in Terminal 2 is much better than Terminal 3."
“I rather like T2’s shops, despite it being a small terminal” Fauvel agrees. “The great bar with a bottle shop is perfect for last-minute present buying of a bottle or two for various hosts I’ll to be staying with.”
T2 Qantas Club to close
“Sometimes we go through ‘cheapest flight on the day’ periods and I end up flying a lot of domestic legs on Jetstar” says Francis, “so I’m not thrilled to hear the Qantas Club at T2 will be shutting down”.
She says that it “probably won’t be time-efficient” to use the T3 lounges and then walk back across to T2 and “go through security again” for her Jetstar flights.
“It’s just nice to have somewhere quiet to sit, enjoy a coffee, spread out my work and use my laptop for a half hour before the flight” Francis explains.
“I’d like to see an independent lounge open in the old Qantas Club space at T2 but would I use it? It would depend on how good it was and how much they charged."
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