Sydney Airport closes Express Path at T1 international departures

Sydney Airport closes Express Path at T1 international departures

Sydney Airport has temporarily closed the Express Path departures lane at its T1 international terminal, in a move which will see first class and business class passengers as well as top-tier frequent flyers joining the same interminably lengthy lines as every other traveller.

Construction work around the Express Path area, located at the rear of the Qantas premium checkin area, will see the fast track facility shuttered until at least the end of August.

The closure affects the Express Path channels both at passport control and security screening.

The inbound Express Path channels for passengers arriving at Sydney Airport's international terminal is not affected.

Airlines including Qantas have begun advising passengers to allow additional time for the airport formalities, as Sydney Airport has not made any alternative arrangements for fast-tracked departures.

Travellers who would usually qualify for Express Path access are advised to arrive at T1 well ahead of their usual schedule.

Those who have access to the Qantas first class lounge might consider arriving much earlier than usual, using Qantas all-day checkin facility, to avoid peak periods and spend less time queueing and more time lounging.

Read more: Expert tips for making the most of the Qantas first class lounge

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

74 comments

  • moa999

    moa999

    2 May, 2019 05:52 pm

    That won't be popular.
    Albeit the last few times I've been through the queues have been short and I've not even used the pass
    No member give thanks

  • jubbing

    jubbing

    2 May, 2019 06:07 pm

    That's ridiculous that no alternative solutions were made.
    Members who gave thanks

    Ananas, skoffman

  • Sacha Koffman

    skoffman

    3 May, 2019 06:12 pm

    Such a typical arrogant Australia thing to not think of or create a short term alternative. Absolutely unacceptable. It’s a part of the benefits you buy into when purchasing Business or First, or if you’ve earned them through status. And to just remove them cos of building something new without an alternative is not on.
    Not to mention, if this were Dubai and a new area was being built, it’d be done in 3 days. But for the same outcome in Australia, it’ll take at least a month. God we’re lame
    No member give thanks

  • cssaus

    cssaus

    2 May, 2019 06:13 pm

    Anyone know if the APEC line is a viable option for departures?
    No member give thanks

  • Jay Overton

    JayO

    2 May, 2019 06:24 pm

    APEC line is combined with the crew line at Sydney. It’s the opposite end to the express path, so shouldn’t be affected. It is however only open for the morning peak departures.
    No member give thanks

  • flubberghusted

    flubberghusted

    2 May, 2019 10:07 pm

    Using the APEC line outbound recently, the customs official gave me lip about how the card means nothing to them when in Australia and departing ...W.T.H!
    In hindsight, I waited longer with the crew than the regular pleb queue so the benefit was negated.
    No member give thanks

  • AJW

    AJW

    3 May, 2019 07:12 am

    It’s quite true. Same for Aussies with official or diplomatic passports too. Exiting or entering aus you are meant to use the normal Aussie lines.
    No member give thanks

  • THR

    THR

    2 May, 2019 06:19 pm

    The express path inbound is never open from my experience. Most recent example being Sunday night.

    Sydney airport immigration is always a disaster, with little care for premium cabin passengers.
    Members who gave thanks

    RosBL, Ananas

  • IntegralMan

    IntegralMan

    2 May, 2019 06:49 pm

    That's a shame. In my experience, you often don't even need a pass to access the line. You just say "Express" in a cheerful voice as you walk past the staffer.
    No member give thanks

  • Adethya  Sudarsanan

    adethyasjce

    3 May, 2019 08:53 am

    In my experience, it's never been that way. The official at the queue makes sure that she/he collects the express path card before letting us through.

    If you've been able to go through by saying "Express" in a cheerful voice, you're lucky :)
    No member give thanks

  • dylanmalloch

    dylanmalloch

    2 May, 2019 06:50 pm

    Rats! I have a flight from Brisbane landing in Sydney at 8:05am and then on a flight out to Hong Kong at 10am. Was hoping the express lane would give me some time in The House. Sounds like I’ll be lucky just to board my connecting flight on time!
    No member give thanks

  • Andrew Kinnear

    StPeter

    2 May, 2019 06:52 pm

    The Express path at arrivals is useless - just look for the shortest line...
    With Arrivals, I am surprised they can't sort express card holders (or now they often just look at boarding pass) to dedicated lines. First world problems I guess...
    No member give thanks

  • Andrew Kinnear

    StPeter

    2 May, 2019 06:53 pm

    I mean 'Departures' for the second sentence...

    No member give thanks

  • James O'Mahony

    Ourmanin

    2 May, 2019 07:18 pm

    Suspect this won't be a popular comment, but if it's a problem then its for the airlines rather than the airport. You either need / want to fly to / from Sydney or you don't. I can't imagine anyone has ever chosen to fly there based on the availability or otherwise of a priority lane. Maybe slightly different in cities where you have multiple airport choices (London, New York as two examples). Would be interested to know who actually pays for the priority line, is it the airlines? I can't imagine that ABF / Airport Authorities have any obligation to provide such a facility.
    No member give thanks

  • John Phelan

    John Phelan

    2 May, 2019 11:19 pm

    Yes, the airlines pay a $ cost per express passenger for the supposedly faster clearance. It has not always been there; I well recall in the 1990s that SYD did not have an Express Path for international departure immigration.
    No member give thanks

  • Michael Gibbons

    rowwdy

    2 May, 2019 08:28 pm

    They hadn’t informed MEL this morning. Still handing out cards for transiting passengers. Bit of a memento..
    No member give thanks

  • Chun Wah Dou

    Pallydou

    2 May, 2019 08:30 pm

    What a shame. Infrastructure of Kingsford-Smith is already third-world, temporarily closing down Express Path makes it worse.
    Members who gave thanks

    RHM, skoffman

  • Andrew

    andyf

    2 May, 2019 09:37 pm

    I have always wondered were the bloody Express Path was ... enter from the higher letter check-in counters, and you don't get see any express path, with airport staff seeming to always direct you to the regular queue.

    Also, is there an Express Path at arrivals? The sign seems to be on top of the only exit that everyone else uses, so it all seems a bit pointless.
    Member who gave thanks

    Ananas

  • Leonie Ferretter

    Ltaylor

    2 May, 2019 11:48 pm

    That is an absolute disgrace. Business and first pay thousands of dollars more than economy and the ability to arrive later and skip those queues is part of the price - particularly for time strapped business flyers. Will the airlines be discounting our ticket prices (subsidised by the airport) for this major inconvenience?
    Members who gave thanks

    RHM, skoffman

  • Paul Cabrelle

    PaulC

    3 May, 2019 05:51 pm

    You pay those exorbitant fares to the airline for their products and services and a seat on their aircraft.
    No member give thanks

  • Rotate

    Rotate

    6 May, 2019 03:51 pm

    my ticket does pay for the rent of the lounges and what not. would think its symbiotic/inter-related.
    No member give thanks

  • Paul Cabrelle

    PaulC

    6 May, 2019 04:56 pm

    No I don't think it is. QF nor any other airline, least of all SYD Airport can control the border. There are extensive renovations underway and access to the border is limited.
    No member give thanks

  • Leonie Ferretter

    Ltaylor

    2 May, 2019 11:50 pm

    PS express path arrivals is used after immigration at the far left hand side of the terminal. Always works for me.
    Member who gave thanks

    RHM

  • THR

    THR

    3 May, 2019 07:21 am

    That’s the express customs. That’s hardly ever open either.
    No member give thanks

  • A C

    Tunzy

    3 May, 2019 01:28 am

    Shame about the temp closure of the Express Path... Anyone know if QF will still giving out Express Cards for pax to burn to skip the potential queues at security check after (departure) immigration?
    No member give thanks

  • David Flynn

    David

    3 May, 2019 08:50 am

    As the article indicates, it appears there won’t be an Express Path at security either. That said, of late I’ve found that simply showing my business class boarding pass rather than handing over an Express Path card is sufficient to get to the security fast-track. I don’t expect there will be any queue-jumping just because someone would otherwise have had Express Path access. Running late for their flight, yes; being a premium passenger, maybe not. Once we have a better idea of the new temporary arrangements we’ll share them here.
    No member give thanks

  • Michael Gibbons

    rowwdy

    3 May, 2019 10:11 pm

    They’re not doing it there either at the moment.
    No member give thanks

  • Stephen Doggett

    Stephen D

    3 May, 2019 06:06 am

    Yeah gods this is appalling, the queues on the last flight where so long...
    No member give thanks

  • Daniel Keaton

    New York State

    3 May, 2019 07:56 am

    Let’s hope the new Express Path lane will be more functional than the one already closed.
    No member give thanks

  • David Flynn

    David

    3 May, 2019 08:53 am

    My hope is that the new Express Path will feed directly into its own set of eGates instead of simply channeling premium passengers into the same block of gates as everyone else. Express Path users tend to be frequent flyers and very used to these gates - many other passengers are not, and they understandably slow things down due to their uncertainty, hesitation and mistakes.
    No member give thanks

  • Fergo747

    Fergo747

    3 May, 2019 09:55 am

    Let's hope that they'll actually have an express path security too, rather than a separate lane that then just funnels behind every other man and dog that they've dispersed along all available security checks
    No member give thanks

  • Mark Bringans

    Briggo

    3 May, 2019 10:07 am

    anyone with a flight in that busy window going out 0930-1030 ish this is a 'mare.
    Member who gave thanks

    David

  • ChristopherSolo

    ChristopherSolo

    3 May, 2019 10:13 am

    Cripes. Flying out of Sydney on 15 May with a shortened connection from Canberra. Was counting on the Express Path to ease the process. Gobsmacking the Sydney can't have a temporary facility. This simply confirms its place as one of the worlds truly dreadful airports.
    No member give thanks

  • joey

    joey

    3 May, 2019 10:49 am

    Who is first in line for the Darwin Award. Dumb decision without a temporary facility.
    Members who gave thanks

    skoffman, window seat

  • Nick  Sydney 348

    Nick Sydney 2

    3 May, 2019 02:56 pm

    First world problem. Getting through all of that security business is not really that much of a chore compared to LHR at times and some US ports
    No member give thanks

  • 2A

    2A

    3 May, 2019 03:08 pm

    Thanks for the heads-up, I'll make sure I avoid SYD for the duration. I'm trying CNS for a change for my next international departure. Any views?
    No member give thanks

  • Janeblogs

    Janeblogs

    3 May, 2019 03:20 pm

    Sydney airport has become completely ridiculous. There never seems to be any point in the incoming express path and very little on the outgoing. Wherever possible I try to make my international connections via Melbourne from Canberra predominantly because QF flies so few jets into Sydney and it is so much easier to walk from domestic to international in Melbourne. The whole experience is superior. I have 3 international flights in the next 6 weeks and fortunately 2 of them have been able to be routed via Melbourne.
    No member give thanks

  • Suzanne Cromie

    SuzanneCromie

    3 May, 2019 04:01 pm

    Typical Sydney Airport don't care, like it or lump it policy
    Member who gave thanks

    skoffman

  • Joe

    Joe

    3 May, 2019 04:18 pm

    Where is Qantas and the other airlines advocating for premium pax. Sydney airport is a piece meal confusing building at best. Not putting in place alternative arrangements is a perfect example of Sydney Airports Corporation incompetence.
    No member give thanks

  • crosscourt

    crosscourt

    3 May, 2019 04:32 pm

    so its not my imagination, that so-called priority line gets very blurred with non fast track pax. those attendants that man the lines are the ones to blame, they just keep ushering anyone into the supposed priority queues.

    No member give thanks

  • sydney001

    sydney001

    3 May, 2019 05:52 pm

    So they close the express lane during the bloody peak season which starts end of may! Which stupid airport official decided on that! If they get of their arses and stop sitting in their Ivory tower..they will see what really happens in the real world!.same applies for customs too!
    No member give thanks

  • Michael63

    Metoo

    3 May, 2019 05:55 pm

    Crap decision by Sydney Airport. It can make a difference having an Express Path depending on the day. Like most travellers you want to get through Immigration and security screening ASAP, one of the perks of flying at the pointy end. I hope they do what they need to do quickly and get the Express Path access back on track.
    No member give thanks

  • sydney001

    sydney001

    3 May, 2019 06:20 pm

    You can send your feedback direct to Sydney airport...see below..


    No member give thanks

  • sydney001

    sydney001

    3 May, 2019 06:21 pm

    Contact us

    For all general enquiries and feedback, please complete the contact form below or call 133 SYD (133 793) or +61 2 9667 6111 outside Australia

    We aim to provide all customers and visitors to our terminals with a positive travel experience, and welcome feedback about our service and products.

    Customer feedback

    Thank You
    No member give thanks

  • Austman

    Austman

    3 May, 2019 08:08 pm

    How can pax on already booked connecting via SYD Qantas flights (eg MEL-SYD-XXX) allow for extra time"?

    My tix are issued, I can't change them without a costly penalty.

    Thanks NOT SYD for making the process even worse than your existing process is.

    At least I hope you have requested Qantas to allow connecting pax a free change to earlier connecting flight?
    Member who gave thanks

    skoffman

  • Sacha Koffman

    skoffman

    4 May, 2019 04:16 pm

    I want to be able to clear customs in melbourne WITH AN EXPRESS CARD for my connecting QF flight to Jakarta (via Sydney). That should be Qantas’ alternative for connecting passengers who have tight connections
    No member give thanks

  • BatteryBen

    BatteryBen

    3 May, 2019 08:19 pm

    I transited from BNE en route to BKK on Wednesday morning and there was no warning from Qantas and no signage/advice by SAC. Just crowds of people and frazzled staff.
    No member give thanks

  • BatteryBen

    BatteryBen

    3 May, 2019 08:22 pm

    @rowwdy comment wrt MEL above ... Yes indeed Qantas handed out an Express Departure card at BNE on check-in.
    No member give thanks

  • Paul Wade

    paulw@

    4 May, 2019 01:23 am

    The express path in both Sydney and Brisbane is normally shut when I go through anyway... so it's not going to make much difference. It's sold as a benefit by the airlines and handed out when checking in, but those airports often just pile biz over into the economy passengers' queue.
    No member give thanks

  • John Prior

    JohnP

    4 May, 2019 08:07 am

    Given the fact that SYD has a curfew, have any of the bone heads at the airport thought of doing the works at times when there is no one there? Thereby the works could be completed earlier and some adjustment could be made to allocate 3-4 Customs counters to Fast Track during normal and peak hours. Oh. That's right, we are in Australia. We don't work on projects like this outside of normal working hours, as do the rest of the world..
    No member give thanks

  • Michael63

    Metoo

    4 May, 2019 09:53 am

    https://www.sydneyairport.com.au/investor/investors-centre/investor-contact-us
    No member give thanks

  • Michael63

    Metoo

    4 May, 2019 10:32 am

    No member give thanks

  • Rita Cavanagh

    Rita Cavanagh

    4 May, 2019 11:02 am

    I leave MEL 0830 on 18/5 for JNB via SYD. Only i hour transit, so may have a problem there. My TA suggested getting to MEL earlier to see if I could get an earlier flight. When I contacted QANTAS a while ago, they said that if there are delays in MEL, they would re-route me if I missed the connecting flight. Just hoping I get there OK. At least I've got an o/night in Jo'burg and an extra night in Cape Town before the start of my tour.
    No member give thanks

  • sydney001

    sydney001

    4 May, 2019 11:09 am

    I hope the publisher of this article sends the comments to Sydney airport corporation..so they can see how dumb and stupid they are!
    No member give thanks

  • Jeremy Charles

    Jeremy9680

    4 May, 2019 02:29 pm

    This doesn’t make sense, it’s ridiculous that (despite any construction) they can’t spare 1m of real estate on the left side of whatever space remains for express pass passengers. Surly the change would just affect the separate entrance, and not the lanes in the hall themselves.

    I always accessed the express pass lane through the main entry to the hall anyway (I rarely fly qantas so I’m coming from higher lettered check ins)

    I’m hoping that this is just confusion communication of behalf of the airport in their attempt to have express pass pax use the main hall entry. (Which could also easily have a express pass lane)

    If there is no express lane accessed through the usual entrance this could be rectified very easily by reconfiguring retractible queue barriers with the right motivation.
    Member who gave thanks

    greg959

  • David Flynn

    David

    4 May, 2019 02:48 pm

    Jeremy, I have to concur and I'll be keen to see exactly how this has been set up when I next fly out of SYD T1 later this month. I really would think that splitting the passenger flow at the main airside entrance - express path to the right, everybody else to the left - and directing those premium passengers to their own series of e-passport lanes would not be the hardest thing to do, and then on existing those lanes you'd continue straight ahead to the security checkpoints at the far right of the departures area.

    My flight is CX110 at 7.35am, I booked it before learning about this closure so I'm fortunate that there will be almost no queue when I arrive.
    No member give thanks

  • Jeremy Charles

    Jeremy9680

    4 May, 2019 02:59 pm

    Could even have a retractible barrier lane all the way though (albeit a little tight in that intital doorway turning left through the main hall entrance).
    The extra width beyond the door was only for filling out no obsolete departure cards an express lane could even start from there.
    No member give thanks

  • lawf1

    lawf1

    4 May, 2019 07:52 pm

    Flying out of Sydney tonight there was still someone ushering crew through the old express path security area after the e-gates. When I asked about the express path I was told that it's gone due to renovations.
    No member give thanks

  • Nate Webster

    Concorde1990

    4 May, 2019 08:38 pm

    No express lane in Sydney? Seems that every time I arrive or depart BNE international; the express lanes are closed.
    Have a look at your taxes and other charges on your ticket. Mine are often 3 digits. Some of that is what the airport charges us! The more expensive your tickets, the more your charges are.
    I’ve ALWAYS allowed 2 hrs to transfer at SYD. If the airline website doesn’t show that option I call the airline. (No booking change because it’s their faulty website).
    I also do my best to avoid SYD. One shoddy add on after another. Disgusting design, disgusting layout, disgusting airport facilities.
    Do what HKG did. Build a state of the art airport woth enough capacity for the next 59 years of traffic growth AND with high speed train connectAND CLOSE KINSFORD!
    Member who gave thanks

    gmwong

  • Gavin Wong

    gmwong

    5 May, 2019 12:19 am

    When I checked in at SYD T1 for my QF flight to HKG last Monday morning, the business class check-in desk staff told me that “due to airport changes, Express Path departure was no longer available”. She then wished me “good luck” as this was the morning that Border Force computer systems were experiencing a nationwide outage. Affecting both arrivals and departures, Border Force officers were manually processing all passengers, resulting in lengthy delays.
    The scene in the T1 departure hall after the check-in counters resembled something more akin to the throng at a train station in India. The “queue” started at the single immigration hall entry (near the rear of Row D counters), stretching all the way through the landside food court area, out to the far end of the departures hall after Row K Check-in counters to where a maze of temporary queue barriers had been set up, then back through the food court area towards the rear of Row C Check-in which was the end of the queue. There were hardly any airport staff assisting outbound passengers through the confusion, I saw many airport staff standing around bemused by the situation and taking photos, when they should have been helping?
    Total chaos ensued. Rude queue jumpers attempting to cut in line were being shouted down by other people farther back in line.
    My airport arrival timed to allow for breakfast and a chance to check and respond to emails in the QF lounge was cut to zero, necessitating heading directly to the gate just in time to board my flight.
    Another #epicfail for SYD “International” Airport. Not happy Jan!
    No member give thanks

  • AJW

    AJW

    5 May, 2019 05:12 am

    Considering the core issue was an immigration computer system problem (well outside of the airports control) what do you think Sydney airport could or should have done better? How could they have “helped” as you so put it?
    No member give thanks

  • Gavin Wong

    gmwong

    5 May, 2019 03:58 pm

    I accept that the Border Force system crash was outside of SYD airport’s control, but as a paying passenger was it too much to expect airport staff to take control, organise the chaos, provide passengers with information and guidance on where and how to join the queue?
    No member give thanks

  • Austman

    Austman

    5 May, 2019 03:21 pm

    I have just confirmed with Qantas that despite them requesting at


    that eligible passengers should "allow additional time" at SYD international, they will not allow connecting (DOM to INT), even already ticketed, passengers to actually do that without charging a standard flight change fare penalty.

    So: Request pax to "allow extra time" but don't allow transit pax to actually do that (by changing to an earlier connecting flight) without a substantial charge?

    Great work Qantas! (not)


    No member give thanks

  • Austman

    Austman

    5 May, 2019 03:27 pm

    I have just confirmed with Qantas that despite their website requesting pax to "allow additional time", they will not allow already ticketed transit passengers to actually do that without charging them the standard flight change fare penalty.
    No member give thanks

  • AJW

    AJW

    5 May, 2019 03:55 pm

    Might be because if you are in danger of missing you flight they can help expediate you through immigration and security. Not good if you want to relax in the lounge but not in their interest for you to miss the flight.
    No member give thanks

  • Austman

    Austman

    5 May, 2019 03:30 pm

    Here is the Qantas request:


    But if you are a Qantas domestic connecting passenger, that "allow extra time" request must be done at your expense. You can't change to an earlier domestic connecting flight for free.

    Nice Qantas! (not)
    No member give thanks

  • Austman

    Austman

    5 May, 2019 05:23 pm

    Pretty poor of Qantas. They said "no free changes to an earlier domestic connecting flight to a SYD international flight unless it's airline initiated". I pointed out that the airline (Qantas) is actually asking their pax to "allow additional time" on their website - which seems "airline initiated to me".

    Request pax to "allow additional time" but then charge them for doing that.


    No member give thanks

  • Dec1971

    declanr

    6 May, 2019 09:36 am

    Flying F SIA later this morning and just had the pleasure of queue into passport control which I kid you not would have been 150m long winding through the terminal with the NSW police trying to keep everyone in check and making sure people join the line at the end. Only good thing I can say is that all gates were open but didn’t help.

    Absolutely shocking from Sydney Airport. How they can’t create a temporary express pass is ridiculous. To be greeted by police yelling at passengers has to be a new low for this airport.
    I won’t even mention the usual traffic chaos (dam I just did!).
    No member give thanks

  • sydney001

    sydney001

    6 May, 2019 10:03 am

    As I said..we are coming into the peak season for intl travel. They should know better..the problem is they do know it's peak season and they decide to shut down the express lane! And having the police there won't help and they do not need to shout at the passengers either! Where are we? In a third world country? It's disgusting and they should be ashamed of themselves! I hope someone sends a copy of all the responses direct to SACL!
    No member give thanks

  • Stm Aus

    stmaus

    6 May, 2019 10:55 am

    Don't insult all the third world countries out there! I've visited quite a few and the vast majority are more pleasant experiences than SYD INT.
    No member give thanks

  • sydney001

    sydney001

    6 May, 2019 12:10 pm

    Hey mas...try and understand what I'm trying to say...even manila airport is better than ours....I'm talking as a general
    No member give thanks

  • esquire

    esquire

    6 May, 2019 08:09 pm

    Has the pleasure of departing T1 on Sunday morning - absolutely chaotic. The e-Gates were the most crowded so head for manual checks - I was lucky they had a very organised Airport Staff member moving people in that area very efficiently, others were waiting much longer. The worst part was security - frustrating watching people take forever. All in all from getting boarding pass to walking into duty free - 45 minutes. Disgracegul.
    No member give thanks

  • Joshua Teoh

    doctorjosh

    7 May, 2019 08:02 am

    Good lord... I am not looking forward to my next few international flights from SYD over the next few months. This construction work to update the Departures Express Path area better be worth it.
    I am simply astounded by the lack of common sense from the airport aithority in planning all of this! And QF's response to assisting passengers with their connections, knowing that this going to be a huge problem, is sumply disgusting.
    No member give thanks

  • Austman

    Austman

    7 May, 2019 10:05 am

    All that Qantas has do is to offer similar to this:

    'Already ticketed Qantas domestic to international connecting passengers can move to an earlier connecting flight without penalty, subject to seat availability, in order to "allow additional time" at Sydney International Airport.'

    But they have so far refused to do this.

    Hopeless of them!
    No member give thanks

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26 May, 2019 07:27 am

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