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United IAH-SYD connecting to seperately ticketed domestic flight - a few questions

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Old Sep 13, 17, 11:00 am
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United IAH-SYD connecting to seperately ticketed domestic flight - a few questions

I was able to book a business saver award last Thursday within a few hours of the new route being announced. Currently it shows 8pm departure on Wed 1/24/18 from IAH and 6:30am arrival on 1/26 in SYD.

I need to book another ticket to Melbourne that day, as I want to be at the Australian Open by about 3pm.

My plan was to book a 10am flight from SYD to MEL, giving me enough time for the flight to be late an hour and for it to take 2 hours to get through immigration, customs, quarantine, transfer terminals, etc. But if United changes the schedule and suddenly I'm arriving at 7:30, I could be in a tight spot.

Question 1 - How likely is it that United changes the schedule by more than an hour?

Question 2 - Is my only option for lounge access (other than business class domestic) to book Virgin Australian domestic and buy a one day pass for $65/passenger? I think I'll want to take a shower before continuing on.

Advise is greatly appreciated. I've been getting great info from Flyertalk for over a decade, this is the first time I've posted.
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Old Sep 13, 17, 11:04 am
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Originally Posted by j_flowers View Post
Question 1 - How likely is it that United changes the schedule by more than an hour?
Low at this point.
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Old Sep 13, 17, 11:08 am
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1) It's unlikely that UA is going to change the schedule since they just announced it and presumably had all their ducks in a row before announcing it with time slots.

2) It looks like there are public access showers (you have to provide towel + toiletries) but I'll defer to those who have far more experience with SYD (https://www.sydneyairport.com.au/inf...ide-showers-t1)

Why not take the 1030am Qantas flight to give yourself an extra 30 minute buffer just in case?
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Old Sep 13, 17, 1:12 pm
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I flew United Business Class out of Sydney in March and was not offered any lounge access. If you just want a shower, I'd save the $65 and just go with the free public ones, As I recall, they are pretty decent. A little private changing area attached to the shower. You lock the door from the inside. Just get a cheap beach towel from WalMart and throw it in your bag along with some toiletries.

Note that to transfer from international to domestic cost $6 by train (2 minutes) or bus (10 minutes). You need to buy tickets ahead of time, I believe.

I wasn't very impressed with SYD this time around, the airport. Not horrible but not great. They are building a new one out in the suburbs because this original has outgrown it's space.

Is that route served by the Dreamliner?
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Old Sep 13, 17, 2:49 pm
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Originally Posted by WheelsUpGal View Post
I flew United Business Class out of Sydney in March and was not offered any lounge access.
That's not how it is supposed to be. You have access to the SQ and NZ lounges. But that's separate from the OP's desire of a shower/lounge access upon arrival.
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Old Sep 13, 17, 2:56 pm
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Originally Posted by WheelsUpGal View Post

Is that route served by the Dreamliner?
Yes. All United flights to Australia are on the 787-900.

Thanks for the tips!
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Old Sep 13, 17, 3:42 pm
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Originally Posted by WheelsUpGal View Post
I flew United Business Class out of Sydney in March and was not offered any lounge access. If you just want a shower, I'd save the $65 and just go with the free public ones, As I recall, they are pretty decent. A little private changing area attached to the shower. You lock the door from the inside. Just get a cheap beach towel from WalMart and throw it in your bag along with some toiletries.

Note that to transfer from international to domestic cost $6 by train (2 minutes) or bus (10 minutes). You need to buy tickets ahead of time, I believe.

I wasn't very impressed with SYD this time around, the airport. Not horrible but not great. They are building a new one out in the suburbs because this original has outgrown it's space.

Is that route served by the Dreamliner?
If you're connecting to Virgin Australia you don't need to pay for the bus. Just head over to the VA transit counter(turn left after leaving customs). They will check your bags in and give you a pass for the VA bus.
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Old Sep 13, 17, 3:46 pm
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Originally Posted by j_flowers View Post
Yes. All United flights to Australia are on the 787-900.

Thanks for the tips!
Almost right. 787-9.
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Old Sep 13, 17, 3:58 pm
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"If you are transferring between Virgin Australia and one of Virgin’s international partner airlines or Virgin Samoa - or vice versa - you may be eligible to use Virgin’s transfer service"

You're right, I guess you "may be eligible" to transfer for free.

The Virgin Australia site says:

Train passes are available for all connecting Virgin Australia flights and a bus service is available for all connecting Virgin Australia International flights.

And YES, I SHOULD have been offered a lounge but wasn't. Hmm, another reason I'm not fond of SYD. There are Star Alliance lounges but the website is unclear about using them upon ARRIVAL.

PS. I really did find that my jet lag was not nearly as laggy on the Dreamliner!

PS. #2 From the Star Alliance Lounge Access page:

International Business Class Customers

International Business Class Customers are entitled to access member airline Business Class Lounges. You will need to show your boarding pass in International Business Class on a Star Alliance member airline operated flight departing from the local airport. You are not entitled to bring any guests.

Last edited by WheelsUpGal; Sep 13, 17 at 4:25 pm
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Old Sep 13, 17, 4:36 pm
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Originally Posted by WheelsUpGal View Post
And YES, I SHOULD have been offered a lounge but wasn't. Hmm, another reason I'm not fond of SYD. There are Star Alliance lounges but the website is unclear about using them upon ARRIVAL.
Star Alliance lounges are departure lounges. If you were connecting on a *A flight through SYD to a non-*A flight, you would not have access based on *A rules.
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Old Sep 13, 17, 5:24 pm
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Originally Posted by WheelsUpGal View Post
I wasn't very impressed with SYD this time around, the airport. Not horrible but not great. They are building a new one out in the suburbs because this original has outgrown it's space.
SYD is a (slightly) more comfortable airport given that most of the building work has finished. The new Western Sydney airport will not be a viable alternate to SYD for decades to come - if ever.
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Old Sep 13, 17, 7:55 pm
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Originally Posted by MarylandGuy View Post
If you're connecting to Virgin Australia you don't need to pay for the bus. Just head over to the VA transit counter(turn left after leaving customs). They will check your bags in and give you a pass for the VA bus.
Our last transfer from UA to domestic Virgin, we did have to pay for the bus transfer, after checking our bags. Luckily, we had cash Australian dollars with us.
I think on line you can pay ahead for the service.
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Old Sep 13, 17, 9:18 pm
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Originally Posted by WheelsUpGal View Post
I flew United Business Class out of Sydney in March and was not offered any lounge access.
Flying OUT of Sydney in business you would have had access to either (or both) of the AirNZ and Singapore lounges. In my experience they are very good about telling you about that at check-in.

However the OP is asking about showers on the way INTO Sydney, not out.

As has been said above, there are "public" showers in the international terminal - BYO everything. Otherwise the only option as you've said is to either fly business class on either Qantas or Virgin, or pay for the one-time pass with Virgin (max 2 hours). Both QF and VA have showers in their Sydney lounges.

Some time back someone did claim the new-ish Rydges hotel at the International terminal was offering paid access to their gym/showers, but I don't know that it was ever confirmed. A call to them would probably get to the facts.
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Old Sep 13, 17, 9:58 pm
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Originally Posted by docbert View Post
Otherwise the only option as you've said is to either fly business class on either Qantas or Virgin, or pay for the one-time pass with Virgin (max 2 hours). Both QF and VA have showers in their Sydney lounges.
I don't think this is an option.

I don't know if things have changed in the last year, but after flying QF LAX-SYD in paid F class, I was denied entry into their SYD lounge on the basis that I had no departing flight on QF that day. Obviously I couldn't get to the int'l lounge due to passport security, but I made it over to their domestic lounge. I pleaded with them to just let me use the shower -- it was right there, I was an F pax, I even have a lifetime Admirals Club membership that includes QF lounges. The answer was no. Unless I was departing on QF, no access.

This is something I detest about QF at SYD airport. They have the facilities, you arrive in Australia far too early for your hotel to want to see you, you've just flown one of the longest flights in the world, and -- no shower for you.

If this has changed, I'd love to know about it.
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Old Sep 13, 17, 10:57 pm
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Originally Posted by mmack View Post
Our last transfer from UA to domestic Virgin, we did have to pay for the bus transfer, after checking our bags. Luckily, we had cash Australian dollars with us.
I think on line you can pay ahead for the service.
Odd. I've flown into Sydney and taken the Virgin transfer bus four times this year (3x from UA 1x from NZ) and they've never asked me to pay, they just handed me the little red transport pass. I've never paid the transfer fee directly. I was connecting on one PNR if that makes a difference.
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