Sydney Airport's handy but little-known T1 shortcut

By David Flynn, July 1 2017
Sydney Airport's handy but little-known T1 shortcut

TRAVEL TIP | We’re certainly fans of the substantial improvements in the departures area of Sydney Airport’s T1 international terminal.

What used to be a cramped and cluttered duty-free chicane has made way for a spacious retail zone with a clear wide lane from security and immigration straight to the central atrium and Qantas lounges.

However, all outbound passengers continue to be funnelled through this area – even if they’re headed for the southern wing of the terminal used by airlines include Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand and Etihad.

So here’s a little shortcut to save you taking the scenic route if you’re headed straight for those airlines’ lounges.

Once through T1 security, peel off towards the right side of the sprawling Heinemann Duty Free store and toward the TRS Tax Refund signs, then head into the narrow TRS Tax Refund corridor.

(If it’s a busy morning you’ll need to cut past the queue of travellers lining up for their 10% GST rebate.)

The TRS claims desk is off to the right, but straight ahead you’ll see signs towards gates 50-63 and the associated airline lounges.

This shortcut is especially useful during busy peak periods such as school holidays.

Other time-saving AusBT shortcuts


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.

How is it that the existence of duty free shops at Changin Airport is such a pleasure and pleasant distraction from the travel experience, while the duty free shops at AU international ports are a hindrence and annoyance?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 569

Agreed. There's still this feeling that duty free shops are there to trick you into buying something.

Re Changi, HKG and the like. I summise the wide open spaces make the duty free shops appear marrage like in a cavanous hall, they seem to draw you in from a distance. Whereas our little terminals ensure you're overwhelmed by an orgy of perfumes and giant toblerones the minute you clear customs! You're funnelled through various retail traps like a visit to Ikea. That gets my guard up completely and renders me completely immune to implusive purchases.

That is spot on! You're being funnelled through like it's IKEA in MEL, LHR and SYD. I'm glad they've taken the SIN, HKG concept at LAX TBIT.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2014

Total posts 32

Changi and HKIA don't plonk the duty free shops right after security. The lines of passage to other facilities are clearly marked with signage or other indicators, e.g. change of carpet, lack of path obstructions, etc.

To be honest, the rearrangement to SYD T1 is substantially better than what they had before. It is MEL T2 that went substantially backwards in their arrangement, making it one of the more confusing and annoying departure experiences.


10 Dec 2015

Total posts 177

"How is it that the existence of duty free shops at Changin Airport is such a pleasure and..., while the duty free shops at AU....a hindrence...?"

Easy.  Because fundamentally, the design concept/priority in their terminal architectural blueprints are diff.  There are 2 aspects:

1. Age:

For example, SYD T1 opened for biz in 1970 on a site with little to no potential for further physical expansion.  It's planned in an era(i.e. 60s) when int'l terminal op profitability & retail+duty free Rev$ were not important to planners/airport't viewed airport terminals as not much more than a public utility such as a railway/subway/metro station.  4+ decades later, the air travel industry has changed beyond recognition and the econ sustainability of an int'l terminal heavily DEPENDS on retail+duty free Rev$.  Yet the basic architectural bluepint/layout  of SYD T1 remain unchanged.....there's only so much U can do in renovation/expansion to alter/improve how pax traffic flow thru as soon as U start to dedicate sufficient retail+duty free floor areas in there....  Unless SYD T1 is largery demolished & rebuilt per modern terminal design concept/priority(e.g NRT T1 went thru exactly that 6-7yrs ago), it'll always remain as a compromised solution.

SIN T1 was planned in the late 70s on a site with lots of easy growth potential(i.e. T2, T3, T4 and in the future, T5).  By that time, int'l terminal design concept has evolved to include much larger retail space which compliment rather than conflict with pax flow.  And for pax flying to/fm AU via SIN, the bulk of them fly SQ and therefore experienced mostly T3 anyway....a terminal designed in this century when the concept has evolved further to  being more of a spacious shopping mall+resort than simply a nice waiting room for departing int'l pax.  Similar story @ HKG.

2. SYD has relatively much fewer/smaller duty free sales opportunities than SIN(And HKG).

100% of all pax volume @ SIN(And HKG) is int'l and therefore 100% potential for any real estate project aimed to improve retail duty free experience.  In contrast, only about 1/3 of all pax volume @ SYD is int'l...a dramatically lower potential RoI for any real estate project aimed to improve retail duty free.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

13 Jun 2013

Total posts 24

Tks FLX for sh'wg u cn sh'ten words n know yr 3 ltr codes. Cn u retype in English 2 makit read'bl? Tks.

Asiana Airlines - Asiana Club

09 Feb 2017

Total posts 41

In short: Sydney Airport was built in a time when you went to an airport to fly from A to B and they made money by charging planes more. Now they charge planes less and make money from shopping. But there isn't much room to grow Sydney Airport's terminal so the only way they can get people to shop is by forcing everyone to pass through the shopping area. But when Singapore Airport was built, they had lots of room to grow it further later, and were already designing it for shopping and travelling.


Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 733

How many minutes walking time will the TRS route save me enroute to the Emirates Lounge. Have to do it soon, (I usually fly from Melbourne).

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2553

Less than five minutes at most, depending on how many bags you have and how fast (or slow) a walker you are – but this is less about time and more about just getting straight from A to B without the bother of navigating a needless circuit which can still see you stuck behind go-slow stragglers.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 362

I agree it is an improvment, however I think the biggest improvment getting through departures has come with the smartgates on departure and additionall security lines. Right there is the real time saver.

There used to be another sneaky staircase that led direct from just before duty free on the right hand side up to the Qantas lounge level. It was great, until they got rid of it. It still seems that the duty free snake (which is much improved over the old layout) is still the fastest way to the QF lounges.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Aug 2014

Total posts 504

Being bombarded with shops at MEL T2 just kills my mood of going in and buying something even if I have lots of time on my hands, but at SIN even if I don't have time I would go into one of the stores and have a look around.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 220

There is this enduring bashing of Sydney airport at all times.  It's now the duty free.  As a very frequent traveller through  T1 I really have no issues.  It's a question of spending as little time as possible in the airport whether it Sydney,  Changi or wherever.  Duty free grog may be the big thing but frankly in years of travel I have yet to buy anything major at any airport.  Hong Kong has great shops but am I in the market for hermes or some high end retail?  At best a book and chocolate to keep the energy up 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1379

Agreed. I sometimes wonder how these stores actually sell anything

Btw I think "cut paste" is meant to be "cut past"


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 386

How can you not bash T1 SYD, granted it's circa 1970 but in nearly 50 years it still only has a single car lane to departures and no outdoor awning on the older part to keep people out of the rain as they struggle with their bags. Give us all a break!!!

13 May 2016

Total posts 31

I've been using this short cut for a while now and it certainly saves a lot of time!

17 May 2012

Total posts 81

Great advise. Been using that corridor for a while now and cuts out all the duty free on the entrance side and makes it much quicker over to the 'other side'. Syd Airport Duty Free still awkward and expensive and obstructive.. Sold out at BKK so bought Litre of Baileys on the way in to Syd a couple of weeks ago $33.90.......$35.95 at Dan Murphy's. Nothings changed.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1024

I like the International (non EU) section of HEL. Right into the shops as you pass departure immigration, but if you're paying attention, there is a side corridor that takes you right past the shops.

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

16 Jun 2017

Total posts 36

I must say I  find it more than annoying that you are forced to walk through the duty free shop on arrival (international) at ADL before you go through immigration.

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