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UA (Intl) to Jetstar (Dom) in Sydney - short connection

Level Contributor
11,421 posts
73 reviews
UA (Intl) to Jetstar (Dom) in Sydney - short connection

I need some advice and insight to this please. We are booked on a connecting flight SFO-SYD-HOB with United as our international carrier and Jetstar the connection to Tasmania. My husband booked it using United points and we have business class upgrades.

I had a good look at the itinerary the other day and realized we only have an hour 40 minute layover in Sydney. It's all on one itinerary/ticket. Is this enough time? I realize they are in two different terminals and we need to take a shuttle (?) after clearing CQI. Our flight lands at 9:05a and Jetstar departs at 10:45am.

I called United and they told me minimum connecting time is 75 minutes at Sydney. I think they are out of their mind but I've never transferred in Sydney. They will allow me to change the Jetstar flight to 2pm for a $300USD fee per person. Thanks, but no thanks because I can book the later flight myself for far less and personally, I'd book the Virgin Australia flight that leaves at 2:05pm based on reputation and still save money.

Any advice? I realize if we miss the connection we would be put on the next available Jetstar flight - key word being "available". :/ What is the procedure to get from one terminal to the other and how long will it take?

7 replies to this topic
Liverpool, UK
Level Contributor
23,036 posts
36 reviews
1. Re: UA (Intl) to Jetstar (Dom) in Sydney - short connection

"Thanks, but no thanks because I can book the later flight myself for far less and personally, I'd book the Virgin Australia flight that leaves at 2:05pm based on reputation and still save money."

Assuming you have a return flight you cannot actually book a separate flight as missing any flight on your existing ticket will cancel all subsequent flights on that ticket.

Level Contributor
12,320 posts
17 reviews
2. Re: UA (Intl) to Jetstar (Dom) in Sydney - short connection

There are buses, trains and taxis for getting between terminals. Depends how much luggage you have? Train might be simple.

What is the cut off time for your bag drop with JetStar? I normally fly VA in Australia and inthinkmthere’s Is 49mims before departure. Domestic security in Australia is usally a breeze compared to other countries. I. Your shoes, I’d just let them sort you out if you miss the connection. As Tom says abandoning the JetStar flight will mean all other segments including your flight home will be cancelled.

I’ve cleared Sydney in 20minutes using the SMART gate and having nothing with me that needed to be declared. It’s also taken me an hour once when several planes landed at once and ours was last and I was near the back. Travelling in business, you should get off quickly. It’s not an impossible connection time.

Hope you’re aware of the cabin bag rules for JetStar! You won’t be able to haul the type of cabin bags typically used on US Airlines onboard.

Washington DC...
Level Contributor
15,715 posts
312 reviews
3. Re: UA (Intl) to Jetstar (Dom) in Sydney - short connection

I would try to be really nice and persuasive with United re a longer connection. Take heed of what happens if you do not take a flight ON an itinerary see #1.

Then as last resort I would pay the change fee, especially if I had checked bags to clear and recheck. We have the e chip passports and mine did not work in the SmartGate for mysterious reasons. It scanned fine elsewhere.

Byron Shire...
Level Contributor
1,328 posts
63 reviews
4. Re: UA (Intl) to Jetstar (Dom) in Sydney - short connection

It's definitely a tight connection seeing as unlike Qantas and Virgin Australia, UA doesn't provide their own inter-terminal shuttle meaning you need to grapple with the train, taxi or bus yourself. Allow 20-30 minutes after clearing customs and entering the arrivals hall of T1 to reaching the departure level of T2 by the time you find your train/cab/bus, etc. I'm not sure if you need cash for the $6 T-bus fare. Train and taxi fares can be paid by credit card. There are dozens of ATMs in the arrival hall. The cash exchange counters will rip you off.

As already reported, Sydney international arrival formalities can take anything from 15 - 60+ minutes. Flying business class definitely helps by beating the rush on your own flight and having priority tagged bags. Though depending what other flights have also just landed, that advantage may be lost once you hit immigration or customs. 9:15am is the tail end of peak hour for a big block of arriving flights from Asia. Customs will still be in full swing with their racial profiling. That's still a thing in Australia. :-(

Jetstar is a LCC. Their minimum bag drop is 45 minutes prior to departure. That's closing time, not reach-the-tail-end-of-a-long-queue time.

Good advice given above re not attempting to haul American proportioned carry on baggage with you and also about the much quicker domestic security checks in Australia (shoes, belts stay on unless they have a lot of metal. Liquids are fine to carry. Leave them in your bag. Aerosol cans and laptops come out of bags and go on a tray. iPads stay in your bag). I fly weekly and can't remember the last time security took more than 10 minutes to clear at any major airport. Usually less.

All this considered, I'd lean towards changing the connection. The odds are in your favour for making your current one, but if you miss it, I wouldn't count on Jeststar simply putting you on the next available flight without causing a stink, particularly if your UA flight landed on time and you were just held up by arrival formalities and transport between T1 and T2. So then you'll have to attempt to deal with UA on the phone (to an overseas based call centre, remember) to get a resolution. They might also attempt to blame you for missing the JQ flight if they fulfilled their obligation to get you to Sydney on time. It's that complication of dealing with two un-related airlines (with bad customer service reputations) and the awful infrastructure of Sydney Airport that makes me nervous about your trip, even though *technically* it is a protected connection. There's a difference between technically and practically!

Edited: 15 December 2017, 20:23
Level Contributor
11,421 posts
73 reviews
5. Re: UA (Intl) to Jetstar (Dom) in Sydney - short connection

I am aware of what happens if you miss your connecting flight with regards to subsequent flights being cancelled.

I am appalled by United's response and that I would have to pay $600 for the two of us to be assured of a connection that day. I think our chances are better by booking the Virgin Australia flight for later in the day and telling United we won't need the Jetstar flight at 10:45am. If I were to call them today and tell them we don't need the Jetstar flight they've booked, will they charge us the $600? Or will we end up paying the $600 plus end up paying the $400+ for the VA flight? If that's the case, I would just rebook for the Jetstar flight at 2pm and pay $600 and deal with Jetstar's crappy service.

I just want to feel confident we will get there that day. At this point, I don't.

Culburra Beach...
Level Contributor
3,516 posts
198 reviews
6. Re: UA (Intl) to Jetstar (Dom) in Sydney - short connection

9.05 arrival into International terminal, and a domestic terminal baggage check cutoff of 10am. That leaves 55 minutes to get off the plane, walk thru customs/immig, get bag off carousel, go thru quarantine, go down to train (our out to bus), wait for train/bus, transfer time (10mins bus, 5mins train), then join the back of the bag drop queue hoping to be at the front by 10am.

I see this as no chance myself.

I am unsure if Jetstar has bag drop at the international terminal like Qantas does, but being an LCC I can only assume not.

Washington DC...
Level Contributor
15,715 posts
312 reviews
7. Re: UA (Intl) to Jetstar (Dom) in Sydney - short connection

They are not going to give you money back if you say you are not using a leg. If a new flight costs you $400 outright, and the UA change fee is $600 then it really costs $200 net to let United get you a decent connection.

Pay the money, get a safe long connecrion, keep your itinerary secured. Write to United and complain asking for refund of the change fee. Persist. See what they will cough up.

Cautionary tale for others: pay attention to what connections you are offered and persist in getting a decent one for the circumstances. They have offered us 45 minute legal ones and 7 hour ones...you need not take what is first offered.

Edited: 16 December 2017, 14:46
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