Airport review: Why this award winning Aussie airport impresses

AIRPORT

Brisbane BNE

THE FLIGHT

PR 222 (Philippine Airlines to Manila). Five flights a week.

THE ARRIVAL

A five minute taxi from the five star Pullman Brisbane Airport (voted Australia's best airport hotel by Skytrax). But parking is just $10 a day with transfer included to the international terminal. Brisbane has separate domestic and international terminals connected by a free bus service.

THE LOOK

In a word, it is spacious. The $45 million transformation of the international terminal was unveiled in 2015. Since then, the airport (BNE) has won Skytrax's Best Airport (Australia/Pacific) in three of the past four years. This year (2019) it was the only Australian airport to make it into the first 20 of Skytrax's World's Top 100. Surprised? In 2018, 24 million passengers travelled through BNE (6 million to/from 33 international destinations and 18 million to/from 84 domestic airports – making it Australia's most connected airport for domestic flights). That is predicted to reach 50 million per annum by 2034, once BNE's new $1.3 billion parallel runway opens next year (2020), allowing  simultaneous take-offs and landings for the first time.

CHECK-IN

Simple, speedy and stressless.

SECURITY

Seamless and uncrowded, even at 9am.

FOOD AND DRINK

The international terminal is designed around two local eateries featuring Queensland cuisine: Windmill & Co Bar and Grill (with runway view, serving healthy food at reasonable prices) and Brisbane River Grill (directly opposite, more sport and music orientated).

RETAIL THERAPY

Most shops tempt departing foreign tourists with "a final taste of Queensland". So expect RM Williams, Billabong, indigenous art and merino products. If you're looking for a tanned cowhide, there's a special offer when you buy two. Meanwhile the labyrinthine Lotte Duty Free (opened in March) is packed with global brands at competitive prices.

PASSING TIME

Want a lesson in single malt whiskies? Then ask for Shane at Whisky Journey (in duty free) with its free taste-before-you-buy service of 100 whiskies from Scotland, Ireland, the US, Japan, etc. Try Dalmore Valour (from the Highlands), with its distinctive Christmas pudding flavour.

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ONE MORE THING

Though Sydney's airport is named after Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, he was Brisbane born. He and co-pilot Charles Ulm landed in Brisbane to complete their historic 1928 trans-Pacific flight. Their Southern Cross airplane is preserved in the museum opposite the international terminal.

THE VERDICT

Compared to Sydney or Melbourne international airports, BNE feels relaxing as soon as you arrive. Its relevance to those of us living on the east coast of Australia will become more apparent once the new runway opens next year. Then the number of flights able to take-off or land in a single hour will increase from 55 to 100. Sydney, meanwhile, is capped at 80 "movements" per hour and has a curfew.

RATING

4.5 out of 5

Steve Meacham was a guest of Brisbane Airport Corporation, Fairmont Makati, Manila and Philippine Airways.

See also: Airport review: The worst thing about London's Heathrow

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