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Old Dec 29, 2018, 10:20 pm
  #327  
moa999
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Sydney, Australia
Programs: QF Gold LTG (ow Saph), HHon Silver, Marriot Gold
Posts: 2,928
Originally Posted by FLYMSY
Looking at the Opal website, it seems like I can buy a card at several shops in the International terminal. That airport access fee is sort of pricey comparatively speaking.
You can also get the Opal card at the train station itself (with minimum topup of $35 which basically covers a return - put in place to stop a rort of putting cards into negative balance - something that will stop at the airport in early Jan)
However as of early December 2018, if only wanting to take the train - you can just tap on and off with any contactless Mastercard, Visa or Amex (although recognise some US banks are a bit behind on this front) for the same price as a trip using Opal.

Still worth getting the Opal if you plan on taking buses in Sydney (contactless rollout still a few months away) as there are a few more transfer and weekly cap benefits available.

Airport gate fee is a function of funding. When built in the late 90s prior to the Olympics the two airport station (and two regular stations) were privately funded under a 30-year concession. Some talk of it being reduced, but the line itself is at capacity at peak periods so there is some reluctance to induce more demand. (Can be avoided if you've got a bit of time by taking the 400 or 420 bus to Mascot / Rockdale stations instead and transferring to train)

As for the lounges over holiday period - always packed, the ratio of leisure - business travellers changes, so the usage of lounges increases substantially, even if the same number of rooms that notionally have access.
Definitely recommended to get to the lounge before 6 and stake out a table, or after 7 when the rush subsides somewhat.
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