Skip to content

Gold Coast Airport Coolangatta reviewed

March 11, 202412 minute read

The Gold Coast Airport Coolangatta (OOL) in South East Queensland is a small airport, located at the bottom end of the Gold Coast, just off the M1 highway. However, it has good domestic connections and international links to the South East Pacific region and to selected Asian destinations. It’s also known as the Coolangatta Airport.

Gold Coast Airport Coolangatta
Taking off from Gold Coast Airport OOL (top of picture). Seat 46A

Two foreign airlines (Air Asia and Air New Zealand) currently offer scheduled international services to and from Gold Coast Airport Coolangatta as do Australian airlines Jetstar and Virgin. Local airlines (Bonza, Jetstar, Qantas, REX Airlines and Virgin) fly various routes, with new player, Bonza covering some of the smaller destinations not serviced by others.  

  • Australia – Bonza, Jetstar, Qantas, REX Airlines, Virgin
  • New Zealand – Jetstar, Air New Zealand
  • Asia Air – Asia X (Kuala Lumpur) Virgin (Bali)
  • The Americas – Air New Zealand (5 destinations)
  • Europe – currently none

Check for changes as the airlines and routes may change.

Gold Coast Airport Coolangatta
The Departures screen is clear (and shows different languages as well, when appropriate)

Gold Coast Airport Coolangatta – all you need to know

The airport is a single story facility catering to domestic flights and a number of international airlines, principally low cost carriers. A double story extension to the Gold Coast International Airport opened in November 2022, at the southern end of the existing terminal. The three level expansion offers an additional 6 parking bays and includes four glass aerobridges. We were pleased to read that further transformation works  were announced in November 2023 and are now underway, with an expected completion by mid-late 2024. 

Gold Coast Airport Coolangatta
An aerial view of the extended section.

For now, however, many of the processes with regard to check-in for both International and Domestic check-in and Domestic arrivals remain largely unchanged, with only International Departures and Arrivals moved to the extension.


The check-in counters are located at the northern end of the building, to the right of the entrance to the Departure Hall as you enter the terminal. Here’s a handy interactive airport map to help you find your way around.

There are banks of self-service check-in kiosks where you can check-in and print your boarding pass and bag tags. If your airline has a self-service bag drop, you’ll save a lot of time. AirAsia currently does not have this facility, so you’ll have to queue at the bag drop.

If your carrier has self-service bag drop facilities, use them to save time.

If you are travelling overseas and wish to make a TRS/GST claim, you will also need to queue. Please allow enough time as you may have to wait for an officer if you have items in your checked baggage, which need to be checked. If you have any batteries, make sure they are within the allowed specs and advise the check-in staff. 

The queues may be long, so allow plenty of time.

If you’re having difficulties, there’s an information counter with helpful people, do ask for their assistance if you need it.

The Information counter’s the place to go if you’re not sure.

If you arrive with lots of luggage and need a trolley, have your money handy. A trolley will cost you AU$5, paid by card. You can find trolleys near the domestic arrival area if you come by bus as the bus stop is just outside.

  • Please note – you don’t get your money back when you return the trolley.
  • There is also a  bag wrapping service operated by Smarte Carte. They also offer self-service baggage storage for different sized bags on a first come, first serve basis.
  • These services are located at the northern end of the check-in area, to the right as you face the check-in counters.
Gold Coast Airport Coolangatta
Baggage carousel & trolleys, Domestic Arrival area

Make sure you allow plenty of time to complete all formalities. AirAsia does have web check-in available, so make use of this if you want to spend more time with your friends before you pass through security, or sit and enjoy a cup of coffee before you leave. Please note that if you have oversized items or a TRS claim, you may need more time. If you’ve already bought coffee in the check-in area, you may carry it through with you.

There is no internal Transfer facility for arriving passengers to transfer between domestic and International flights (or vice versa). You need to collect your baggage and check in again for your next flight. Make sure you’ve allowed enough time to do this.


Both domestic and international departing passengers, as well as people seeing them off, are able to enter the Departure lounge through the security barrier. Queues are often long. This can be an issue for international passengers who still have to complete immigration formalities and a second, more comprehensive security check, so line up as soon as you can. If you are travelling domestically, the Departure lounge is comfortable and has a good view of the runway.

Gold Coast airport
All departing passengers must first pass through this Departure security check.

The international security check is located in the new extended part of the terminal. Keep to the left after you enter the Domestic Departure Lounge and walk along the corridor. There are no travellators and we did not see any buggies, although there may be some. The Airline Lounges are located on the left of the corridor as you walk. Be prepared  – allow plenty of time for this. If you are a Domestic passenger departing from Gates 20-23, you will also depart from the extended section. Follow the signs as you reach the escalators at the end of the corridor.

At the end of the corridor, you will have to say goodbye to any non travelling well-wishers, before going up a level using stairs, escalator or the lift. The Customs check is the first queue. You may need to remove your belt and/or shoes and electronic items must be placed in the trays provided. The checks are thorough, so make sure you are not carrying anything like nail scissors or liquids more than 100ml. Liquids, Aerosols and Gels (LAGs) must be placed in a bag for inspection. They do have a pile of bags, if haven’t already done this.

The Immigration check is usually quite quick, now that passports are electronically checked, and the length of the queue will determine the time taken. Then you turn right and proceed up to the Departure Lounge. The TRS Claim counter is at the top of the escalator on the right. Make sure all your forms are pre-filled and you have a QR code to show the officer and it should all be done quite quickly. You can get more information on making your TRS/GST claim in this article.

The International Departure Lounge

The expanded Departure Lounge is spacious and much more comfortable, with Duty Free offerings as well as the well stocked Wollumbin Café & Bar and a WHSmith store, close to where you enter the Lounge. There is one water fountain (so you can fill your water bottle prior to boarding), located at the far end of the space. Fill your bottle early as it is a decent walk and there is likely to be a queue. Close by is a small playground, so if you’re travelling with young children, this will keep them occupied. There’s plenty of seating, some as in the photo, some with a table in between seats and some with a separate table. There are charging stations between seats, with multi sockets and USB ports.

Gold Coast Airport Coolangatta
In-seat charging station with international plugs and USB ports.

Like the Domestic Departure Lounge, large windows overlook the runway so you get a lovely view of the aircraft movements in front of the beautiful Scenic Rim and Mt Warning. This section of the airport is equipped with aerobridges, which are accessed by ramps or a single lift for assisted passengers. If you have mobility issues, please advise the ground staff when you check-in. If you need assistance, make sure you arrange this before you arrive at the airport. The aerobridges are used by both International passengers and Domestic passengers departing from Gates 20-23.

When you reach the bottom of the ramp and the boarding gate, there’s a weighing scale for hand carried luggage. However, we didn’t see it actually being used to check anything.

If it looks heavy…..


Thanks to the aerobridges, our arrival was smooth and access to the terminal was straightforward.  Have your Passenger arrival card completed if it was given to you on board, all passengers must have one, including Australian citizens. Otherwise you’ll spend time doing this at this point. 

There is an Arrival Duty Free shop that you must walk through to reach the queues for the kiosks to scan your passports. There are plenty of officers around to assist you if you need help. 

As you pass from the Immigration  counters to Customs after collecting your luggage, look out for the State line marker (Queensland/New South Wales) after you collect your luggage, which crosses the entrance diagonally.

International passengers should note that Australian Customs and Quarantine laws are very strict. Do not ignore the list of items you are not allowed to carry. While the rules on bringing in food have been somewhat relaxed, you must still declare items you are not sure about. The duty officer checking your card will either direct you to the green lane, which leads straight to the exit, or to the much longer queue for checking. We have always found the officers polite but firm and they will give you an explanation why you may not keep an item.

  • The officer will check and either give the OK or you will have it taken away.
  • Anything containing even traces of milk falls into this category.
  • Cut flowers like orchids are usually OK, but anything with seeds or roots is not.
  • You may be directed to stand on a marked square with others for sniffer dogs to check.
    • They only check your bags and will sit beside the bag if they detect food etc.
    • Don’t touch or speak to the dog
    • We did not see any dogs checking on this most recent trip.
  • It’s better to declare and have it taken than keep quiet and be caught. The penalties are heavy.

If you are a domestic passenger, your bags are delivered on to a carousel open to the public so it’s wise to be there waiting when it arrives.

The Arrival Hall is quite bare. If you need to purchase a local SIM card or collect a hire car, make your way through the glass doors directly in front of the Exit from Customs and walk along the path to the Domestic Arrival area. The counters are inside this area.

The Arrival Hall is a bit bare at the moment.

Transport from the Airport

If you’re planning to catch the train to or from Brisbane, you will need to first catch a bus to the Varsity Railway Station. The trains run half hourly so you won’t have to wait too long. If you’re wanting to go to Gold Coast, you can catch the 777 bus to Broadbeach South Station. This is fastest, as there are limited stops. To go to Tweed, Palm Beach, Burleigh Heads or Broadbeach, you can walk nearly 700m, to the 700 service. Save your legs and catch the 777 to that stop and change to the 700. Tell the driver, they are friendly and helpful. Either way, the Adult fare is AU$4.34 paid by card, even if you change buses as it’s a ‘follow-on’ fare. The Bus stop is outside the Domestic Arrivals door.

You will need a goCard to do this, however, their card readers also accept contactless Interac Debit, American Express, Mastercard, and Visa credit cards along with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.

Hire car (rental car) counters are located closer to the domestic arrival area. ATMs (automatic teller machine) are also located close to the Exit doors in this area. If you are meeting a passenger off a domestic flight you can wait briefly near the Baggage claim area or time your arrival so you can collect them from the Pick-up point outside the International Arrivals doors.


There’s plenty of parking available at the airport, most within a short walk to the terminal. If you just want to stop, unload and leave, you do get 10 minutes free in the short term park, closest to the terminal, after that, prices range upward of AU$5 per hour.

The least expensive option is AU$16 per day for an uncovered spot in the long-term uncovered area. This is a brisk walk away, though there is a covered walkway.

You will have a number of payment options, but you need to note that there are no manned exit booths. You’ll need to pay at the machine (inside the terminal building), or by credit card at the exit of the car park.


Even though it’s a small facility, the Gold Coast International Airport has an impressive range of services as it handles both domestic and international flights. There are also plenty of clearly signposted washrooms which are very clean and offer contactless soap dispensing, water and drying. 

Food offerings are adequate and offer sufficient variety. Despite the lack of travellators, we found our passage through the airport, coming and going, to be smooth and certainly much less stressful than earlier visits. We look forward to our next visit to Queensland’s beautiful Gold Coast and the on-going improvements at Gold Coast Airport Coolangatta OOL.

Gold Coast Airport Coolangatta
The entrance to the airport


# Airport Review, Gold Coast, Gold Coast Airport
Share this Article
Further Reading
Trending Articles

No Comments

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back To Top