With the world of budget airlines growing, the cost to go to airport has sometimes already more expensive than the airline ticket itself. Sound funny, but it could give you a little bit frustration as little you can do about it – something that you don’t want to start with for your holiday. So better be prepare and laughing on the way to airport as sometimes hiring a stretch limousine to the airport a la celebrity is not that expensive at all !!

[Airport Transfer: Starting and Ending The Journey]

Airport Transfer: Starting and Ending The Journey

Last time I and my extended family went to Melbourne from Sydney, 6 of us spent $25 each way flying Tiger.  And how much we pay for taxi to the airport 1 way? $170 or $28 each ! Yes, we could just take the train for $15 each way, but the key here is  how much you want to value inconvenience with a dollar figure?

With value for money in mind, I would think at least 4 main considerations below:

  1. Who you traveling with ?  Any children or elderly on your group?
  2. Luggage: the less luggage the mobile you are…
  3. Time available: do you have that extra 2-3 hour, for example, to travel with normal city bus ?
  4. Convenience factor: how much comfort you want to enjoy to start/finish your holiday?

Remember, traveling with family, just yourself -or- with your extended family could spell totally different decision in term of the best airport transfer you can choose – even from the same address..

Take The Bus[Take The Bus]

The cheapest of all, but the most hassle and inconvenient of all. You probably spend less than $10 for each person each way but the inconvenience at least 3 fold:

  1. It usually involves multiple bus ride: for Sydney Airport there is only bus route 400 that you can hop in/hop out at the airport terminal.
  2. No baggage/luggage area on the bus
  3. The time needed is enormous: 2-3 hours is not unusual as the bus can stop in all those bus stop.

Furthermore, it will not always be available at odd hour. For example your flight is 6am in the morning, how do you catch a bus at 2am?

Take The Train[Take Taxi]

Train supposed to be the best alternative in and out from the airport as it’s not only much faster (dedicated rail, no jam, reliable time schedule) but also can carry thousands of people at once. If train is fully accessible for you, by all mean, this will be the best alternative. Train got enough space even if you travel with big luggage.

However the fare will not be as cheap that you would think. At the moment the far is $15 one way. It will take around 1-1.5 hour from Parramatta station to the international airport.

Take Taxi[Take The Train]

From Parramatta, expect to pay $70-$90 one way on normal traffic. That’s $35 per person if there are only 2 passenger.

For family of 4, $80 taxi ride will cost $20 for each – not that so much difference compare to train ride, but very big difference (better) when comparing any other factor. So for family of 4, Taxi is one of the good alternative. Just beware if traveling on peak hour – the meter will eat your money by the seconds…..

For more than 5 person, there will be some kind of surcharge even if you got the mini-van taxi. So for $80 ride, you will need to pay say $120 (1.5 x) and so on.

Traveling with children? taxi that has 2 booster seat for 2 or more child-passenger will be hard to get. You need to specially book it.

Shuttle Bus[Shuttle Bus]

Shuttle bus can be regarded as “cheap taxi”. As you will be picked-up/dropped-off at your address with small fraction of the cost. It’s flat rate at about $20 each person (depends on the address). However the annoying difference compare to the taxi: you might happened to be the first patron to be picked up, so you will do merry-go-round around the town to pick up all other 30 patrons from many addresses. Ouch… better watch out.

So as long as you have plenty of time, this method of transportation is good for 1 or 2 people (value for money) -or- group more than 6 (who need to get 2 taxis) – but for family of 4, taxi will be still better.

Drive and Park[Drive and Park/Park and Fly]

You can just take your card with you and your family to the airport and the car is just waiting for you on the way back. Convenient!, but it really depends on the parking scheme that you need to pay. For example: some parking company (park and fly) charge $50 for up to 3 days, then a weekend trip to Gold Coast will cost you $50 and you just have to pay the petrol you consume. This is the cracker deal. But imagine if you need to go for 26 days. At $10 per day, you will be looking at $260 – better catch a taxi isn’t it ?

With more and more competition, a few weeks from your departure, especially in holiday season, check the website of these company if they offer a “cap deal”. For example at this moment (Dec 2010), Park ‘n Fly offer $148 cap (maximum that have to be paid) for travelling on this holiday season (between Dec 2010 and Jan 2010) – with that price, why bother paying taxi?

1 way Rent a Car[Car Rental]

Other alternative is to just rent -a-car for 1 day. Do this with big company: Hertz, Avis, Budget, Europcar, etc where you can pickup the car on the nearest branch and drop it off at the airport. Some charge “1-way rental” fee (as you did not return it to where it get picked) but some are not – check your shop. With this you probably can get away with around $60 (including petrol top up) one way for 4-5 people. That’s cheap! ($10-$15 each one way). You can get even cheaper by denying to pay the increased insurance – as the risk is low (no overnight, just 1 drive, etc) but nobody could predict the unexpected.

Driven By Limo[Driven By Limo]

I guess the word “limo” or “limousine” here is a little bit misleading as it’s not always meant a stretch limo (as pictured) – it could be as simple as  a chartered car with the driver (but not taxi).

Perhaps for your surprise, hiring a limo sometimes is even cheaper than taxi.

A luxurious Holden Caprice from Parramatta to Airport can be hired as little as $89 and this is flat rate (taxi will cost you fortune if there is traffic jam, while airport transfer limousine hire is point to point contract). For family of four this is better alternative than taxi – not only it’s flat rate, but the level of comfort and “cool” factor is high.

The stretch limo costs at around $230 one way from Parramatta to airport. Compare this with “maxi taxi” of $170 that I took . I would bet $60 is very cheap as a cost to impress your in-law!! Also, if you are traveling at peak hour, not only it will unleash your joy with those spacious leg room, TV, and leather upholstery, you probably save a little fortune that you will spent inside those crammed taxi ride with the meter. And what will be more bang to kick-start or finish your holiday compare to fully stretch limo ride? (for only a mere $60!??)

Driven By Friend/Family[Driven By Friend]

On dollar value, if you have a friend or family that will drive you to the airport (and even pay for the petrol themselves) then you are the luckiest air-traveler on earth! Especially if they are the one who offer and insist the service – But consider several courtesy/etiquette for the favor:

  • offer to at least to reimburse the petrol cost: estimate the distance (use Google Map!), divide by 8 (assuming 8km per liter) and multiply by price of petrol on the day and don’t forget multiply again by 2. Remember he/she need to go back home :-) So, if the distance is 40km, it will consume 5 liter of petrol one way, so you need to reimburse at least 10 liters x price of petrol.
  • pay all the add on cost on the way: toll road, parking cost, fine (if he/she got booked), the meal (if involve one)
  • you need to buy him/her a souvenir/give of significant value as token of appreciation during your holiday


In the nutshell: (excluding driven by friend/family) – if you travel by yourself or just with your wife/husband – shuttle bus will be your best alternative. For family a rental car would be the best alternative. For extended family or group, rental car or even hiring a limo could be your best alternative rather than mediocre crammed taxi with nothing special.

Note for those travel with kids: a child seat/booster is usually extra cost.

Bon Voyage !!

p.s: what is you favorite airport transfer? Share it with us below…