Sydney - Kingsford Smith
- Open daily from 6am
- Free entry for selected American Express cardholders
- Unexciting breakfast selection
- Sydney Airport’s only arrivals lounge
Have you ever staggered off an overnight international flight to Sydney wishing you could freshen up with a shower, grab breakfast and even settle down with your laptop to catch up on the news and all those emails?
Sydney Airport’s T1 international terminal finally has a place for just that: the Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge.
Arrivals lounges aren’t just for the travel-frazzled – they’re a handy pit-stop when your hotel doesn’t allow check-in until later, or when you want to recharge before heading to the office or your first meeting of the day.
Location & Impressions
Sydney’s Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge is part of the Aerotel short-stay transit hotel, although you don’t have to be staying at the Aerotel to use the lounge.
The Aerotel, in turn, is tucked away at one end of Terminal 1’s arrivals level, just a minutes’ walk from the arrivals gates.
The arrivals lounge is a compact open-plan space with seating for 30 weary flyers. That seating ranges from cafe-style tables to padded banquettes and high benches.
The design is functional if a little stark, despite the plentiful use of woods and planter boxes, although tall windows overlooking the taxi rank outside help funnel in the morning sunshine (when this writer visited, it was pre-dawn and so the blinds were drawn).
Guests are entitled to an initial two-hour stay, along with 30 minutes spent in one of the three shoppers suites, with the option to purchase a five-hour stay – and if you’ve stepped off an early-morning arrival, this will definitely help close the gap until your hotel checkin time.
The Plaza Premium Sydney Arrivals Lounge is open daily from 6am to noon, so it’s geared towards the first wave of international flights into Sydney as well as mid-morning arrivals.
As with all Plaza Premium lounges, the Sydney arrivals lounge is largely a pay-to-enter affair, although the following American Express cards provide complimentary access for the cardholder and two guests:
- American Express Centurion
- American Express Platinum
- American Express Platinum Business
- American Express Platinum Corporate
For everybody else (and that includes American Express ‘partner’ cards such as from airlines, banks and retailers) the rates are as follows:
- up to two hours, $40
- two to five hours, $45
- up to two hours, $25
- two to five hours, $30
Bookings for the arrivals lounge can be made online or you can pay as a ‘walk-in’ at the Aerotel’s reception desk.
Most visitors to the Plaza Premium Arrivals lounge will be in the mood – and the timezone – for breakfast.
On offer the day Executive Traveller visited was a relatively standard fare of bacon, scrambled eggs, pork chipolatas and baked beans.
Lighter options includes breakfast cereal, fruit salad and yoghurt, a small selection of cheeses and boxed sandwiches (egg & chive, basil pesto chicken, and chicken schnitzel with sweet chilli mayo).
Although the overall mix covers most of the bases for what travellers might want, it struck me more as being safe and even pedestrian – but then, lounge operators are of course working to a tight budget, so you can’t expect the same menu as your favourite weekend cafe.
One of the first things any visitor to an arrivals lounge is likely to do – especially if they’re a business traveller – is fire up their laptop, smartphone or tablet to catch up with the world.
The two essential ingredients for this are power outlets and fast WiFi. Sensibly, the Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge packs both.
Combined AC/USB outlets are dotted around the lounge, most noticeably at the high benches – although a few also line the walls behind the cafe-style seating.
And with WiFi downloads tested at close to 70Mbps, and uploads at 50Mbps, there’s plenty of speed for what you need.
Three private and well-appointed shower suites afford a welcome opportunity to freshen up after your long flight.
These showers are included in the cost of your visit to the Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge, and are also covered by the complimentary access provided by a suitable American Express card.
They can also be booked on their own (without arrivals lounge access) on a walk-up basis – but given the shower on its own is charged at $30 while the full lounge package is $40, there’s little reason not to spend the extra $10 and relax before or after your shower.
Just don't expect frills such as the pressing service offered at the British Airways and Swiss arrivals lounges, for example: this Plaza Premium facility is a much leaner operation which puts a focus on the meeting the core needs of a weary traveller.
The Plaza Premium International Arrivals Lounge at Sydney Airport is a good post-flight companion to the ‘airside’ Plaza Premium Lounge – it won’t be for everyone, because not every traveller needs an arrivals lounge, but for those who do it’s a welcome addition to the Sydney loungescape.