Christmas has come early for budget airline passengers flying out of Melbourne now that Melbourne Airport has opened new moving walkways in Terminal 4.
The $400 million budget airline terminal, which Jetstar and Tigerair use, was notorious for the extremely long walk from security to boarding gates 41 to 52.
Departure boards at the airport regularly advised passengers to anticipate a 10-minute walk to their gate. While most passengers could do this without issue, elderly travellers and families with young children could find it difficult.
Traveller columnist Ben Groundwater declared the lack of moving walkways, or travelators, the worst thing about the terminal in his review earlier this year.
"Seriously, you're looking at more than a kilometre of striding it out, with no help from a travelator, to get from the restaurants to the Jetstar gates at T4. It's almost worth packing rollerblades," he wrote.
Melbourne Airport did not shy away from the criticism, using complaints from passengers posted on social media as part of the walkways' opening announcement video, including comments labelling Terminal 4 "a shocker", "a joke" and "embarrassingly ableist".
Thankfully, the issue has now been addressed, four years after the terminal first opened.
"We admit it, we made a mistake," the airport stated in the video.
"We know a lot of our travellers feel the walk along Pier G is too long, so we have added the travelators to reduce stress on passengers that may have difficulty walking long distances," Melbourne Airport chief of aviation Andrew Gardiner said.
"Airports can be stressful environments and we are determined to invest in making the entire passenger journey from the freeway to runway as easy and comfortable as possible."
But the travelators, built at a cost of $3 million, are not as wide as those in other airports, meaning it will be difficult to pass other passengers if you're in a hurry and pulling a suitcase. They also only travel in one direction, though this can be reversed based on inbound or outbound passenger traffic volumes.
It's the second upgrade to the terminal in recent months, after T4 became Australia's first airport terminal to feature new security scanners, which mean passengers no longer have to remove laptops and other electronic devices from their carry-on bags when passing through security.
The introduction of four "smart lanes" follows a successful trial last year and aims to cut average waiting time by 50 per cent to about one minute.
Meanwhile, passengers flying this week will be treated to live music in the form of the Boarding Pass Music Festival, which involves daily performances from local artists across all terminals from 8am, finishing on Friday.
The airport has also launched a new valet parking service for its long-term carpark, where passengers can drop off their keys and have their car parked for an additional $20 fee. The valet service is only planned during the busy holiday period, but may become permanent if it proves popular.