Your guide to travelling between Brisbane Airport and the CBD

From Airtrain and SkyBus through to taxis, rideshare, chauffeur-driven journeys and more, you're spoiled for transfer choices.

By Chris Chamberlin, July 27 2021
Your guide to travelling between Brisbane Airport and the CBD

Whether you're a visitor to Brisbane or frequently fly from the 2032 Olympic host city, there are plenty of ways to get between Brisbane Airport and the CBD.

Some journeys will no doubt find convenience prioritised – especially when lugging along several bags – while others might see cost a more important factor.

Here’s what you need to know, and how much you can expect to pay for each transfer. 

Airtrain at Brisbane Airport

One of the most popular methods of travelling between Brisbane Airport and the CBD is Airtrain – Brisbane's airport train.

The train line commences at Brisbane's Domestic Terminal, with a second stop at the International Terminal before departing the airport precinct.

Airtrain services then call at the suburban stations of Eagle Junction, Wooloowin and Albion, along with an inner-northern stop at Bowen Hills, before reaching Fortitude Valley: Brisbane's entertainment precinct, not far from the CBD.

That's followed by Central Station, then Roma Street – another Brisbane CBD stop – before continuing to South Brisbane (at the Cultural Centre and QPAC), South Bank, Park Road, and then onwards through the southern suburbs and towards the Gold Coast.

Fares between Brisbane Airport and the CBD are cheapest when booked online, being $15 one-way or $28 for a return ticket.

Tickets can also be purchased at the station, or paid by tapping a Queensland Go Card. For the latter, you'll be charged $19.50 each way between the airport and city.

Just check that Airtrain's timetable meets your needs, as very early morning or late evening flights may not be catered for by Airtrain.

Private car services from Brisbane Airport

Nothing beats the convenience of being dropped from door to door, with somebody else carrying your luggage: and that's what many private hire car companies offer.

Operators like Hughes – which would normally provide free Chauffeur Drive services to eligible Emirates passengers, when borders are open – accept online bookings with pre-set rates.

When we obtained online quotes from the domestic terminal to the CBD, Hughes priced an Executive Sedan at approximately $89 one-way, while Premium Sedans were around $100, and people Movers $114, all-inclusive. 

Taxis at Brisbane Airport

Taxis are plentiful at Brisbane Airport, with a central rank located at the domestic terminal, being within walking distance of all arrivals.

A separate rank exists at the international terminal, too.

You can either join the queue and take a taxi from the rank when you arrive, pre-book a ride through a specific taxi company, or summon a taxi on-demand through a mobile app like Placie.

Rather than juggling multiple taxi apps, Placie provides live fare estimates for the two key taxi companies in Brisbane – 13Cabs, and Black & White – and also handles booking and payment.

First-time Placie users can get a $20 discount off the first journey paid through the app when signing up here before booking a cab.

That discount goes a fair way towards a taxi fare between Brisbane Airport and the CBD, which Placie recently estimated at $45.

With payment processed via the app – and no credit card surcharges, including for American Express – you'll receive a tax invoice in your email inbox shortly after you arrive.

Rideshare at Brisbane Airport

Catching a rideshare vehicle from Brisbane Airport is easy, with two dedicated pick-up zones at the domestic terminal, and another at the international terminal.

Passengers arriving domestically will find one pick-up zone towards the Qantas end, with the other towards the Virgin Australia end – just cross the road with the taxis, and cross over the next road too, and you'll find the "pre-booked ride pick-up" area.

Prices often vary between rideshare apps, with discounts available for first-time users.

Uber recently quoted us $38.76 for a one-way UberX to King George Square, $48.62 for Comfort, and $53.32 for UberXL. If you’re a first-time Uber user, enter the promo code UberAU10 when you sign up to save $10 off that first ride.

Ola instead gives an estimated fare range for each trip, with the same journey showing $30-$37 for a Prime Sedan (the Ola equivalent of UberX), and $44-$51 for Prime SUV.

If you’re a new customer, enter the Ola promo code B666GMU to save $10 off your first ride – plus, link your Velocity Frequent Flyer number to earn up to four Velocity Points per $1 spent on airport trips.

Didi describes itself as the low-fare rideshare, with an entry-level Didi Express journey quoted for us at $34.05 – cheaper than UberX and within the Ola Prime Sedan range for the same type of service – and $45.75 for Didi Max.

Savings regularly appear in the Didi app for existing users which can make those costs even lower.

If you’re a first-time Didi rider, however, save $10 off your first trip by entering the Didi discount code Chris10351 into the app’s Promotions tab before ordering a car.

(When using one of the codes above, we’ll also get a $10 discount off our next ride, so it’s a win-win.)

Hire cars at Brisbane Airport

As at most airports, hiring a car is easy in Brisbane, with travellers able to collect and return vehicles at the terminal.

Do note, on-airport rentals attract "premium location surcharges" – which may not make much difference on short rentals, but if you'll be using the car for an extended period, it could make sense to collect your car from the city instead.

Even with the added cost of getting to the city first, a much lower rental rate may apply, which would more than pay for the savings.

Also read: Hiring a car? Avoid the pitfalls with these 10 tips

Brisbane Airport SkyBus

Brisbane Airport is now served by SkyBus, too – the same company behind the operation at Melbourne Airport and elsewhere.

Although SkyBus is popular and frequent in other cities, the Brisbane SkyBus only departs once every two hours, making it impractical for many travellers for the time being, although frequencies are expected to improve as demand increases.

Adult SkyBus fares mirror the Airtrain, being $15 one-way or $28 for a return ticket, which can be booked online, or in person.

Stops are available at both the domestic and international terminals, then Hamilton, Newstead, Fortitude Valley and the CBD.

Public transport for Brisbane Airport

If you're on a tight budget and view the Airtrain or SkyBus services as too pricey, travelling by regular public transport proves much more affordable – but what you gain in savings, you lose in time.

Firstly, you'll need a pre-paid Go Card. You can purchase one from the Airtrain ticket counter or vending machine: found up at the train station, but without then catching the train.

Your next move is to exit the airport precinct, by jumping aboard the free Skygate Loop bus from the terminal to the Skygate shops.

Alight at Skygate, and take the Brisbane City Council 590 bus to Toombul Interchange, located at the Toombul shopping centre.

Touch your Go Card when you board the 590 bus, and again when you alight. At this point, $3.37 will be deducted during peak times, or $2.70 during off-peak.

From Toombul, you can switch to another bus – such as the 310, which heads into the city and stops at Ann Street near Central Station – or can cross the road and take a train from Toombul Station into the city.

As this onward trip upgrades your fare to a two-zone ticket, you'll be charged an extra $0.74 during peak or $0.59 during off-peak.

For this combination of three buses – or two buses and then a train – allow about 1.5 hours, including waiting times. The total cost is $4.11 during peak, or $3.29 off-peak.

You can use Queensland's TransLink website to plan your journey, but begin the search with 'Skygate', not Domestic Terminal: otherwise you'll only see the Airtrain. 

Pickup by friends and family at Brisbane Airport

If someone is collecting you by car from Brisbane Airport, chances are, they'll be meeting you on the main (and free) domestic terminal pick-up/drop-off road.

This is easy to find: just exit the terminal, and keep crossing (or use the overhead walkway) until you reach the long public road.

Alternatively, there's a 'Domestic Terminal Pick Up Waiting Area' car park, where your ride can wait for up to 30 minutes, also for free.

If you choose to meet your contact here, just be mindful that this is about a 10-minute walk from the domestic terminal arrivals hall and is found towards the end of the multi-storey parking structure.

A better strategy is to have your ride wait here if they're a little early, then to call them when you're ready to be picked up – having them exit the waiting area within the free 30-minute window, and collect you via the public pick-up road.

Also read: SkyBus' Brisbane City Express service takes off

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

16 Oct 2017

Total posts 131

With the Airtrain going to the Gold Coast it might look like a good way of getting there from BNE, but it may not be. To keep costs down you'd have to get off at Helensvale and transfer to light rail (which takes a while to wind its way along the northern coastal strip as far as Broadbeach).  Or you'd have to get off at Nerang and take a bus from there to the northern coast. Or Robina for the southern Coast. It's all a time/cost/convenience trade-off. A taxi or even Uber from the above stations to the beach areas will cost you. Of course, with car rentals sky-high it does start to look more attractive especially if you don't need a car once you get to your accommodation.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 795

Don't forget Varsity Lakes. 


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Your guide to travelling between Brisbane Airport and the CBD