Flight Reviews

Gold Coast Airport – a Review

by on May 16, 2016

The single floor layout is easy to get around and all services are well signposted.
Toilets are clean and in working order.
Signage is clear and easy to follow.
The increasing number of traffic options makes getting there easier than it was.


Departing international passengers must pass through the domestic departure lounge to reach a second security check and immigration.
Passengers with mobility issues may have difficulty with the lack of aerobridges.
If you are staying in Brisbane or other than close by, catching an early morning flight may be difficult.

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Bottom Line

If you don't have to spend most of your time queueing this is a good airport to use. It will be even easier once Immigration facilities are upgraded to speed processing.
The provision of across the board self check-in and bag drop facilities would be helpful.


The Gold Coast Airport designated OOL, (also known as the Coolangatta Airport) is located right at the bottom end of the Gold Coast, just off the M1 highway. Though part of the airport, including a section of the runway, is in the state of New South Wales, the Passenger Terminal is in Queensland.

The airport is a single storey facility catering to domestic flights and a number of international airlines, principally low cost carriers. Work on an extension to the airport is in progress, at the southern end of the existing terminal.

Getting to and from the airport

There are currently three main methods of getting yourself you the airport and recent reports indicate that the new Gold Coast tram service will include a link to the airport in a future phase. However, construction will probably not commence until after the Commonwealth Games to be held in Gold Coast in 2017.

By car (self-drive / drop off or collect)

Driving yourself to the Gold Coast airport is not difficult (remember though, to allow extra time during peaks hours) as the routes from the highway and nearly roads are multi lane and are well made. If you are travelling from Brisbane (in the north) or from the south, the M1 highway is the quickest route. This is not a tolled road and the directions are well signposted.

There is a designated drop-off / pick-up area just outside the check-in area just past the main entrance of the terminal.

The Taxi Rank is located in the same area as the Bus Stop, just outside the doors to the Domestic Arrival Baggage Collection area.

Rental car counters are located opposite the Tourist Information counter between the Domestic Arrival Baggage area and the Departure Security entrance.

If you are returning a rental car, there are large signs directing you to the correct car parking area, but you can do a loop first to drop passengers and luggage and fill up with petrol as there is an internal road which makes this possible without going back on to the highway.

Public Train and Bus

There are two buses servicing the Gold Coast airport. Buses (Route 777 to Broadbeach Stop and Route 760 to Varsity Lakes train station) leave from and pick-up at the Bus Stop just outside the Domestic Arrivals Baggage Collection area.

Please note that these are public transport buses and at certain times of the day and week may also have a number of other passengers, including school children.

If you decide to catch the train from Brisbane, the first service of the day leaves from Brisbane around 5.30am, arriving at the airport just under two hours later.

You can purchase a single trip ticket for these services, but it is much less expensive to purchase a Go card (the Translink stored value card), which will allow you to travel on these services as well as trains, buses and City Cat services within Brisbane.

Dedicated bus services

Tourist Shuttle to Gold Coast

If you are flying into and out of this airport and staying in the area, a Gold Coast Tourist Shuttle ticket may be what you are looking for. The Gold Coast Tourist Shuttle offers door to door transfers to the Gold Coast Airport and Gold Coast theme parks by coach with the one ticket.

Airport bus from Brisbane

Although it’s more expensive than the public transport option above, the dedicated Link Transfers Bus Service offers the traveller a number of advantages, especially if you are not staying near a railway station.

This pre-booked service offers door-to-door service to residential addresses, hotel/motel accommodation, airport and cruise ship terminals.

If you’re in a group of four or more, they offer discounts for groups of 4 or more. They’ll also carry long items like surfboards.

If you’re travelling on AirAsia and Flyscoot flights, either arriving or departing the Gold Coast Airport the schedule is designed to accommodate check-in and arrival times for both airlines.

They do have a comprehensive list of conditions so it’s a good idea to read through their FAQs. The company is currently running (while stocks last) a Facebook campaign, so like them on Facebook and when you book your seat you stand to receive a special travel pack.

Using the Airport facilities and services


Gold Coast Airport

Airport trolleys

If you arrive with lots of luggage and need a trolley, have your money handy. A trolley will cost you AU$4, paid by feeding your coins into a slot on the stand. 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.


Baggage services

There is also a bag wrapping service located opposite the check-in counters.

The check-in counters are located between the Departure Security entrance and the International Arrival area. Although none of the airlines currently offer completely self-service check-in and bag drop, all except Scoot have bag drop counters for passengers who have used either the self check-in kiosks or done a web check-in.

If you are flying Scoot, neither web check-in nor a kiosk are available in this airport, so the queues may be long. Make sure you allow plenty of time to complete all formalities. AirAsia does make 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.

There is no 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. This can be an issue for international passengers who still have to complete immigration formalities and a second, more comprehensive security check.

Australian Immigration exit card

Australian Immigration exit card

The international security check is located just before Immigration and queues can be long. Be prepared  – allow plenty of time for this. It’s also a good idea to have your Departing passenger card filled in, ready for submitting before you join the immigration queue. All passengers must complete this form, including Australian Citizens. ** Note – upgrades in Australian Border control may change this requirement in future.

Passengers will be pleased to know that Immigration Card reader machines are now in place for passport holders of all countries. This speeds the process considerably. You do still need to complete your green departure cards at the time of writing – drop them in the box provided after you pass through the Immigration check.

The actual departure lounge is tiny. Two flights leaving together would be one too many. There is a newsstand, a cafe with a long queue for a fresh cuppa and a small duty free shop. The water fountain (so you can fill your water bottle prior to boarding) is located in the corridor to the toilets, beside the news stand.

The Tourist Refund counter is beside the duty free shop, opposite Gate 8. If you made a purchase in an outside duty free shop, there is a receipt (docket) verification counter just before you go through Immigration control. During our most recent visit, this counter was not manned. There is a box for you to drop your forms, with instructions, on a table in front of the counter.

This airport does not use aerobridges, so rain or shine, you need to walk to your aircraft. If you have mobility issues, please advise the ground staff when you check-in.


After entering the arrival area, International passengers must pass first through Immigration Have your Passenger arrival card completed if it was given to you on board, all passengers must have one, including Australian citizens. You will then have the opportunity to browse through the arrival area Duty Free shop on your way to the baggage collection carousel.

International passengers should note that Australian Customs and Quarantine laws are very strict so do not ignore the list of items you are not allowed to have with you. While the rules on bringing in food have been somewhat relaxed, you must still declare items you are not sure about. 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. It’s better to declare and have it taken than keep quiet and be caught. The penalties are heavy.

Domestic and International passengers exit at opposite ends of the terminal. 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.

There are counters at both arrival exits where you can purchase Shuttle tickets and get tourist information.

The Hire car (rental car) counters are located closer to the domestic arrival area. If you need an ATM (automatic teller machine) these are also located close to the Exit doors.

If you are meeting a passenger off a domestic flight you will need to wait near the Baggage claim area or time your arrival so you can collect them from the Pick-up point outside the International Arrivals doors.

Passengers with bookings on the Link Transfer service should look for the driver holding a signboard as they exit. Turn on your phone and don’t leave the terminal.

Anyone requiring a taxi or public bus, should proceed to the domestic Arrival area.


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, so you’ll need to either pay at the machine (inside the terminal building), or by credit card at the exit of the car park.

Services and facilities

Even though it’s a small facility, the Gold Coast Airport has an impressive range of services as it handles both domestic and international flights.

Claiming your tax refund

If you have anything big and bulky, make sure you advise your airline’s staff early, so it can be checked by customs officers before you check it in. You will still need to complete all the other requirements before you depart. Check out the details in our report HERE.

The Tax refund counter is located inside the departure lounge, opposite Gate 8. You need to allow enough time to complete the formalities before you board, remembering that there may be a queue.

Duty Free

Duty free shopping options in Gold Coast airport are limited. There’s more available at the Arrival Duty Free shop and they often have offers as well as the availability of small sizes of liquor to make up your ‘full allowance’. Most of the emphasis in both stores was on liquor, which is placed front and centre rather than other consumer items – electronics, cosmetics etc.

Where to eat?

There are a couple of small cafes opposite the check-in counters. However, there are more food options inside the domestic Departure Lounge, with cafe and fast food options available.

There are also plenty of washrooms clearly labelled. They are clean and large enough to cope with the current traffic.

Here’s a handy airport map to help you locate all the areas mentioned above.

Leave a reply »

  • Neil
    January 12, 2017 at 1:13 PM

    January 2017. No water fountain. She’d at the bar near gate 6 and they kindly filled my water bottle for me.


    • Neil
      January 12, 2017 at 1:14 PM

      Asked, not she’d…


    • January 12, 2017 at 1:48 PM

      Hi Neil, Thanks for your feedback. If you were travelling domestic (Gate 6 is the last of the domestic gates), you’d probably be right. We were passing through the international departure hall earlier this week and managed to fill our bottles, the water fountain is in the corridor to the toilets, opposite Gate 9.


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