Getting to the airport in Sydney by train is efficient, but not particularly cheap. Is it worthwhile to get off one stop early and walk to save a bit over $10? Lifehacker decided to find out.
A bit of background: Sydney's Airport Link train line was originally built with private funding, which meant that there was an additional access charge if you got out at one of the four stations on the line (International, Domestic, Mascot and Green Square). From March 7, that policy changed slightly: access fees were no longer charges at the non-airport stations, Mascot and Green Square. That means that a single ticket from the city to Green Square now costs $3.20, while a single ticket from the city to Domestic Airport costs $15. If you're on a weekly MyZone ticket, you won't pay anything extra at all to get out at Mascot.
Given that Mascot is about 20 minutes walk from the domestic airport, there's a potential cheapskate approach here: taking the train to Mascot and then walking to the airport itself. Is that feasible, and is it worthwhile? Last Saturday, I decided to make the journey and find out. I travel to the domestic airport a lot, so there's the potential to save quite a lot of money if it's an acceptable route.
The good bits
It's a straightforward trip. I have a lousy sense of direction, but even I would struggle to get lost on this journey. You turn left when you exit Mascot, follow Bourke St to the end, and then turn right and follow O'Riordan Street to the airport. This took me about 20 minutes to get to Terminal 3; Terminal 2 would take perhaps 5 minutes longer.
The footpaths are traveller-friendly. There's only one intersection I spotted that doesn't have proper ramps for easy suitcase wheeling, so it would be possible, if slightly tedious, with luggage. (There's also a lift at Mascot Station itself.) Every major intersection has traffic lights, so you don't need to fight unduly with Sydney drivers.
It's entirely flat. No hills to conquer here.
The bad bits
If it's raining, you'll get soaked. Last Saturday was a bad choice for testing this route weather-wise; halfway there, the heavens opened and I was entirely saturated by the time I hit the airport. My fault for not taking an umbrella, but then again, who wants to board a plane carrying a wet umbrella?
It will take 20 minutes longer. If you're going to sit on a plane, getting some exercise beforehand isn't a terrible idea -- but you will need to allocate extra time for travel, which won't suit let's-arrrive-at-the-last-minute types.
If I had a large suitcase, the weather was nasty or I had a busy working day, I'm sure I'd suck it up and pay the extra $10 or sofor airport train access. But for backpack-only travel on a non-rainy day where the pressures are less, the thought of walking from Mascot is quite appealing.
For public transport airport connections in other Australian cities, check out our 2010 Airport transfers guide. (As the date suggests, we'll be publishing an update to that list soon.)