I ended 2019 with 23 flights in 20 weeks. There’s probably a longer post about how I manage my flying, especially long-haul; but given many of those flights were Brisbane International Airport departures I wanted to share some specifics on how to walk through the terminal we call BNE!
1) Find your Check-in counter.
The big electronic boards will have the relevant letters, next to each flight ordered by departure time. In my experience, it’s rare for all the rows of counters to be full at the same time, so you can also just look for which counters are clearly open.
2) Do you want to hang around before or after immigration?
If people have come to see you off at the airport, and you have time, there are cafes and restaurants upstairs at Brisbane International where you can have a coffee etc. This is definitely not my preference – I’m too nervous about the length of airport queues – but give yourself an hour before your flight to get through security and customs and then board, and you’ll probably be alright.
3) Once checked in at Brisbane International Airport, it’s time to head for security and customers.
Go down the escalators at the Yellow Departures Portal, and keep going left towards security. This is where you have to farewell the people who came to the airport with you.
Departure Cards are no longer required.
There will be several different queue options – Crew Travel, Express Pass (for Business Class etc). Most likely you will need to join the far right queue (up against the wall) for regular security – my track-suited brethren.
4) There will be people helping move everyone through the metal detectors.
Take laptops and tablets out of your bags and put them in a tray. All liquids have to be less than 100mL – put them together in a clear plastic bag (some are available there; a normal ziplock back is fine, and actually I put all my toiletries in a clear wet bag these days which also meets conditions) and also put them separately on a tray.
Empty your pockets as well – into a tray, or I normally put everything into my jacket pockets and put my jacket through on a tray. This saves time at the other end of the metal detector – remember, I’m all about throughput and getting through the queues at Brisbane International Airport as quickly as I can.
Remove shoes / belt if asked – and only if asked. No point taking the extra time if you don’t need to.
You DON’T have to be subjected to the 360 degree scanners. I ALWAYS ask for the optional pat down instead, because I feel those scanners are an unnecessary privacy intrusion that doesn’t add to safety. I appreciate new travellers may not feel comfortable with that. Some of the lines at Brisbane International have regular airport metal detectors anyway.
The staff here are really helpful and polite, especially given they must get asked the same questions a thousand times every shift. Indeed, my experience of security agents at airports all around the world is that they are almost always helpful and have a sense of humour. Not something to test, just something to remember if you’re having a bad day (ie, don’t take it out on them).
5) Once through security, repack your bags and pockets.
You MAY be randomly selected for a bomb residue check – this is normal, again the staff are really polite and helpful with instructions so don’t be worried by it.
6) After security, you go through Immigration.
Assuming you’re travelling on a recent Australian passport, you go through the automatic gates. Put your passport photo page down in the scanner; gates will open to let you into a pen where you look at the camera and don’t smile too much. When those gates open, you are through immigration – you can walk straight past the people at the desk unless they want to ask you anything (unlikely).
As always, helpful staff are on hand at the gates to help. For other nationalities, review the signs and make sure you know whether you have an Electronic Passport or not as this often makes a difference.
7) Duty Free! Once past the officers at the immigration desk, turn right and walk into duty free.
Note that since the introduction of the GST in 2000, most consumables are taxed at 10% not extortionate luxury tax rates, so Duty Free is usually more expensive than Woolworths / Dan Murphy’s / eBay Electronics.
So don’t bother buying anything – the horseshoe-shaped walk through Duty Free is just Australia’s equivalent of exiting via the gift shop.
8) Some basics on the other side.
Make sure you know which gate is yours, and in which direction. It’s a big terminal and can easily take 5-10 mins to reach a gate so don’t leave it until the last minute.
Toilets are located near the Coffee Club (so are the Brisbane International Airport Lounges, except the new Virgin Lounge which is further down).
In the corridor towards the toilets there are hot and cold water taps. Take an empty water bottle through security and fill it up here – flights are dehydrating. In theory, you could take some pot noodles for a quick meal here as well.
When I get through Immigration, I always head straight for my gate (so I don’t miss any announcements) and then set my phone / watch to the timezone of my ultimate destination. If it’s night-time in Brisbane but lunchtime in Europe, I start acting as if it’s lunchtime for me – stay awake longer, time meals and sleep if you can etc. This all helps with jet lag.