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Melbourne-Tullamarine Airport: 5 things to know

by on February 13, 2020
 

Melbourne-Tullamarine Airport has always been the international airport serving the city of Melbourne and the state of Victoria. However, the name differentiation is now necessary since the Avalon Airport in nearby Geelong since AirAsia X moved its flights from Kuala Lumpur into Avalon in December 2018. It’s now called Melbourne-Avalon and you can read about it HERE.

Melbourne-Tullamarine ‘must knows’

Our story is about T2, the International terminal. However some information is general in nature, especially Getting to and from the airport.

1. Airport layout

  • The airport has four terminals, three domestic and one international, Terminal 2. They are arranged in reverse order as you arrive by road.
    • T4 is for Domestic low cost Jetstar & Tiger
    • T3 is used by Virgin Domestic
    • T2 is the International terminal for all airlines
    • Qantas Domestic flights use T1.
  • All the terminals are connected either directly or via covered walkway.

Opening hours

  • All the terminals close check-in counters from midnight until 5.30am (check with your airline for their opening hours).
    • If you have an onward domestic flight following an international arrival after midnight:
      • You must exit immigration and collect your luggage before making your connection.
  • If your terminal/check-in counters/kiosks are closed, you have few alternatives.
    • There is no in-terminal, short stay transit hotel
      • Baggage services are closed between 12.30am and 5am
  • Food options are limited
    • There is a 24 hours MacDonalds before security (landside) in the T1/T2 walkway
  • There are no sleeping facilities in Airport lounges
    • The airport does not have short term sleeping options, including capsules etc.
  • Many people wait in the Qantas Domestic Departure Hall (Terminal 1)
    • It is well lit, with security guards patrolling.
      • You will need to take care of your own luggage.

2. Getting to and from the airport

Bus and train

There is no train service connecting Tullamarine Airport to Melbourne City. However the Skybus service to Southern Cross Station connects you to the extensive city and intercity rail service.

You have a choice of bus services offering either Express or Shuttle trips

  • Skybus is the most efficient bus service to connect you to the city, offering express services from Tullamarine to
    • Melbourne City (Southern Cross Station)
    • Melbourne (Southbank and Docklands)
    • St Kilda
  • From Southern Cross Station, you can also connect to Avalon Airport by Skybus.
    • Southern Cross is the main local and interstate train station
    • Catch trains across the city network, the wider state network, or Interstate.
  • There is a free shuttle bus from Southern Cross Station that services main hotels in the Melbourne CBD.
    • Both this bus and the Skybus offer free wifi on board.
  • Tickets are available online, or at their booths/kiosks near the Arrival area and the bus stop (Follow signage)
  • For drop-off, please listen carefully as there are two stops. You can easily become confused if you get off the bus at the wrong stop as you may have a long walk.
  • Starbus Shuttle offers Shuttle services to a wider variety of destinations in the greater Melbourne area.
    • This is helpful if your destination is none of the destinations offered by Skybus.
    • The pick-up point is one row over from the Skybus pick-up.
Public Transport
  • Public transport (trains, trams and public buses) uses a prepaid, stored value card called Myki.
    • You can buy a card and do top-up at most convenience stores and stations.
    • The card costs AU$6 and you can top up any amount.
  • Public Transport Victoria (PTV) operates 5 timetabled services from the T4 Ground Transport Hub.
    • You will need a Myki card for all public transport in the state of Victoria.

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

There are three options available for pick-up and drop-off.

  • use the 1 &10 minute pick-up zones
    • for quick dropping off of passengers
    • meeting passengers who are already waiting
  • Use the ‘Value’ Car Park
    • AUD$10 for 4 hours
    • use the free shuttle service (every 10 minutes)
  • Park close to the airport
    • from AU$12 per hour
Car Parks
  • There is plenty of car parking available, although this may be far from the terminal you need.
  • Long Term and ‘Value’ Car Parks are serviced by a fleet of free shuttle buses. 
  • Pick up and drop off  spots are in the forecourt opposite Terminals 1, 2 and 3.

Taxis/Ride share services

  • For taxis and Ride share services you must add an extra Airport access fee of AU$4.50 to the fare.
    • This should be included in the total paid.
  • Pre-booking is available and pick-up is from designated areas.
  • More information is available HERE.

Car Rental

Car rental companies are centrally located at Melbourne Airport directly opposite Terminal T2, International departures and arrivals. Access is via the walkways from each terminal, Return your car at the At Terminal T123 car park. Look for signage along Arrivals Drive as you approach the airport.

3. Melbourne-Tullamarine Departure

Checking-in

Different airlines offer different facilities. Some (e,g. Virgin Australia) offer complete self-service check-in.

  • If you can do an online check-in before going to the airport, this is the fastest way to beat the queues.
    • Look for the special bag-drop queue for on-line checked passengers.
  • For Self-service check-in make sure your documents are in order and your baggage is within the correct limits.
  • If you need assistance, approach the airline’s Service desk. Bag wrapping services are also available.

Security checks

Allow at least an hour to clear security and make it to your departure gate by the time on your boarding pass.

  • The queues may be very long, especially during holiday periods and busy times of day.
    • During busy periods extra staff are normally deployed
  • Only passengers with boarding passes will be allowed entry to the security area,
    • Say your goodbyes beforehand.
  • If you have a GST refund to claim, allow additional time.
    • You should allow at least half an hour just for this process.

Services and facilities

Once you have passed through security and the main duty free hall, the corridors divide.

  • Check your Departure Gate from the display boards above you.
  • Both corridors have a wide range of shops and cafes, to help you enjoy your wait.
  • Directions to Lounge facilities are also posted here.
Duty Free
  • You must pass through the main Duty Free Shop to reach the Departure Gates.
  • The prices may vary from those in the Arrival Duty Free store.
    • The Arrival and Departure Duty free stores are separate as Arriving and Departing passengers do not mix.
  • Some items, especially Australian snacks and popular sweets and biscuits may be more expensive than the prices of similar items in local stores.
  • Look for special packaging or sizes not available elsewhere.
    • These are often available for certain items, especially chocolates & sweets, wines and cosmetics.

***TIP As there are many stores selling different types of duty free items, check these out before you make your purchase.

Claiming your tax refund

The Claim Counter is the first counter after you clear Security, to the right of the Duty Free Store Entrance.

  • Make sure you have had any large items checked before you check-in and complete your claim forms before you reach the counter.
    • Using the TRS Mobile App allows you to complete this process beforehand and save time.
    • This article explains the process and gives links to the mobile app.
  • Allow plenty of time as the queues may be long, especially at busy times of day and during holiday periods.
Where to eat?

Grab a quick snack before you pass security

Landside the International Terminal does not offer a wide range of food options.

  • If you have access to an Airline Lounge, ask the directions when you check-in.
    • Some airlines and Public Access lounges offer both air and land-side facilities.
  • One good place to find food before you pass through security is the corridor between Terminal 1 and the International Terminal Departure Hall.
    • There’s not a lot of choice, but there are cafes and a 24 hour fast food outlet among them.

Airside you have more choice.

  • The International Departure Lounge is quite spread out, so check your Gate number after you pass security as the area splits into two corridors at this point.
  • There are no further security checks prior to boarding, except for the passport and boarding pass check at the boarding gate.
    • You can fill a water bottle to take on board.
  • Make sure you are at the gate by the time stated on your boarding pass.

Gates along from Gate 10, including those upstairs, have a good view of the runway, great for plane spotters.

4. Melbourne-Tullamarine Arrival

If you have a compatible passport (Check the list  on the kiosk) you can speed your immigration clearance by using one of the kiosks in the corridors en-route to the main Immigration area.

  • Insert your passport at the photo page, face down and you will receive a ticket.
    • Use this ticket at the gates where your identity is confirmed.
    • Follow the signs.
  • You will pass through an Arrival Duty Free store, which is useful for last minute purchases.
    • The store has a reasonable range of liquor and cosmetics in particular, with competitive prices.
  • Make sure you have completed the pink Border control card, one per family.
    • If you have any uneaten food items from your trip or other prohibited items, dump them in the bins provided
    • Pass the completed card to the officer after collecting your luggage
    • The officer will direct you to either a checking queue or the Exit
    • Ask the officer if you are unsure if you have items that may be prohibited
  • Trolleys in the Melbourne-Tullamarine International terminal are free.
    • There is a charge for trolleys in domestic terminals.
Arriving after midnight
  • All the terminals close from after midnight until 5.30am (check with your airline for their opening hours).
    • If you have an onward domestic flight following an international arrival after midnight:
      • You must exit immigration and collect your luggage before making your connection.
  • If your terminal/check-in counters/kiosks are closed, you have few alternatives.
    • There is no in-terminal, short stay transit hotel
      • Baggage services are closed between 12.30am and 5am
  • Food options are limited
    • There is a 24 hours MacDonalds before security (landside) in the T1/T2 walkway
  • Many people wait in the Qantas Domestic Departure Hall (Terminal 1)
    • It is well lit, with security guards patrolling.
      • You will need to take care of your own luggage as baggage services are closed.
      • Free wifi is available.
Getting to the City after midnight

Skybus operates from the bays just outside the terminal 24/7. Tickets may be purchased from the kiosks near the queue lines using major credit cards. There are 24 hour lockers available in the carpark opposite the terminal

5. Other useful info

  • Lost Property – The lost property counter is operated by Smartcare located in T2
  • Free WiFi is available in and around the airport precinct
    • Look for the ‘Airport Free Wi-Fi’ signs. Log in via your browser
  • Data and phone cards are sold from booths in the Arrival Hall.
    • Turn to your right when you exit the security area.
  • Pick up by pre-arranged cars (hotels etc) is opposite the exit.
    • Look for a card with your name.
If you have any tips you’d like to share, please feel free to leave them in the Comment section!
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