It’s not unusual these days to have a few hours to spend between flight connections at an airport. I once spent seven hours in transit – in both directions – between flights to Europe but with access to a zen tea house in the airline lounge I basked in the quiet and calm – my two favourite things to find in an airport. But you don’t have to be travelling best in class to while away the hours at Brisbane Airport as there’s more than just free WiFi to keep you occupied between domestic and international connections.
Shop: At Brisbane Airport’s Domestic Terminal the options alone help time fly with some of my favourite women’s clothing retailers such as Mimco, Witchery, Peter Alexander, Seed Heritage and Victoria’s Secret to browse. It’s also good for spontaneous purchases, maybe a bargain from the sale rack, an extra pair of pyjamas or new sunnies for the trip and gifts from Typo for friends and family. The good news is shops are open from around 6am to at least 8pm most days.
Relax: After browsing and bargain hunting I like to escape the bustle with a great coffee and the soothing world of books at Watermark Books, opposite gate 23.
At International Terminal shopping is full of Australian gifts to share with friends and family abroad including Indigenous art from Dreamtime Journey, hand-made leather belts and boots (and more) from R.M.Williams, sheepskin and wool fashion from Merino Collection and great local chocolates, some infused with honey and macadamia, at the Australian Produce Store.
Explore: There’s plenty of time to sit on an international flight, so this is a good time to wander the terminal, view some of the public artwork on display – on my last visit Ben Craig’s BricksBNE models, made with LEGO bricks, including a mini replica of the airport terminal and a Qantas Dreamliner aircraft caught my eye.
Listen: In the early evening there’s a festive air, too, as local musicians play in the BNE Beats program from 4pm to 7pm, generally from Wednesday through Sunday, at various locations within each terminal.
Hop on a bus: Travelling between terminals is easy on free transfer buses that run between the terminals every 10 minutes (or 25 minutes in off peak hours).
Eat: More time at Domestic Terminal provides an ideal opportunity to enjoy a good meal before flying with a wide range of options in the food court and cafés. For example, it’s the only place in Brisbane you’ll find the famous American Carl’s Jr burgers, including the signature Angus beef thickburgers, hand-scooped ice cream milkshakes and my favourite, the guacamole bacon thickburger (minus onion).
Coffee stop: There’s a hidden favourite near gate 41 where you’ll find me stopping for coffee. Fonzie Abbott has been voted one of the best roasters in town, a locally-grown business that supplies many other cafés with what they call their ‘sweet F.A.’ carefully sourced and roasted coffee beans.
Lounge around: At International Terminal the independent Plaza Premium Lounge is open to passengers no matter what airline you are flying. Inside, there’s a comfortable and relaxed view over the airport concourse and entry cost includes a buffet with a range of meal options, barista coffee and workstations with connectivity.
Spa treat: There’s time, too, for the ultimate pre-travel pickup – a massage at the Wellness Spa, just behind Plaza Premium Lounge. Treatments range from a simple but relaxing hand massage to full body treatments. Afterwards, there is a quiet area where you can relax until your flight is called.
At International Terminal, too, there’s more time to indulge in a good meal at Brisbane River Grill and taste the flavours of the local region including free-range eggs from Tamborine Mountain, cheese from Woombye on the Sunshine Coast and Green Beacon beer from the Brisbane craft brewer. An early morning departure looks so much better after I’ve eaten a full ‘B.R.G Breakfast’.
Three Hours +
Go outdoors: Just a 10-minute walk from Domestic Terminal is the Pullman Brisbane Airport Hotel and a ground floor bar overlooking the pool where you can enjoy a drink and charge your phone simply by laying it on top of the counter. The hotel offers special day-use rates for passengers in transit at Brisbane Airport which allows access to facilities including the pool. In the Apron restaurant executive chef Justin Zammit has created a fine dining menu featuring locally sourced produce.
Outlet stores: There’s also plenty of time to hop on the Skygate Loop free bus which runs between both terminals and the Skygate shopping and dining precinct. I find it almost impossible to visit the DFO outlet stores without coming out with a bargain. There are now more than 160 stores, a good selection of cafés, a 24-hour Woolworths, gym, beauty salon, hairdresser and barber – there’s even putt-putt and a golf driving range across the road at Golf Central BNE.
Train to the city: Take the Airtrain from outside the terminals and be in Brisbane’s city centre in about 30 minutes where a whole lot more adventure awaits, with free city tours and fun ways to explore the city, river and parklands.
Baggage lockers: Store baggage for up to 24 hours in lockers available at both the Virgin and Qantas ends of the Domestic Terminal, at International Terminal and at Skygate.
- Originally Published: BNE Magazine
- Feature Image: Pullman Brisbane Airport Hotel