All posts by mike

Arrival in Sydney, border control, australian money, baggage checks – part 1

Jan 14, 2011:
We were again around 8 hours in the air. The pilot of the Boeing 747-400 landed the plane butter-softly on the runway, you could feel hardly anything. The weather was a bit gray at 22 °C. The captain announced, that it’s going to be even more beautiful and we had to reckon with 30 °C.
I relaxingly pulled out my backpack from under the seat and moved toward the aisle. After several minutes I could move towards the exit in the aircraft. After I left the gangway, I went first to a restroom. Incidentally, they advertise proudly there, that the toilets flush with recycled water 😉

Free Sydney Guide book and Duty-Free

After some meters you landed in an elongated area of “duty free” items. Before it, there was a shelf: Free “Sydney Guide books”! Everybody can take a free travel guide book for Sydney. In addition to to English there are also Japanese and other languages. Of course I took an English copy.

Wait lines at border, customs and immigration

Directly behind the duty free shopping area then the Border Control (“Immigration”). I decided to go directly to the Border Control. First I had to find the right wait line. There are wait lines for flight personnel, the default wait line, an express line, and another, but apparently you need for it a special electronic passport .

Border control / Immigration desk

At the end of the wait line they distributed people by hand on different counter.
With a friendly “Good morning” and my charming smile, I greeted the lady at the counter and handed her my passport, my ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) confirmation, as well as the “Incoming passenger card”, which I already filled out during flight. She looked at my passport and compared the photo with me. Then she looked at the “Incoming passenger card” and entered something into her computer. As a next step, she asked me what kind of medicine I have with me. If you’ve read my previous post, you know that I have stated that I checked “medicine” at the incoming passenger card. I told her that I only have “standard travel medicine against headache and those stuff” with me. I told her that I was not sure if I had to declare”standard travel medicine”, therefore I ticked it on the incoming passenger card for safety’s sake. She said that would be a good thing, because Australia is very strict about it. She wrote a letter on the card, then she put a stamp in my passport and wished me a nice day.


Immediately after the border control, I saw lots of baggage belts. A few moments later I saw a variety of flat screens, and on them were flight numbers, baggage carousels and related numbers. I walked straight to the correct baggage claim and saw my bag in less than 30 seconds. “That’s fast!” was my first thought.

Australian money / ATM at Sydney International Airport

I looked around and saw an ATM with the label “Travelex”. The name “Travelex”, I already knew the famous traveller checks, as an alternative to cash.
It’s time for the inaugural use of my new Mastercard Gold abroad!

A few moments later, the most beautiful money in the world came from the machine.
Okay, maybe not the most beautiful, but it is very unique. It feels like plastic (not like paper) and has a small “window” (transparent surface) on the bill. All bills are extremely colorful and each face of it has a face of celebrity. The bigger the bill, the higher the value. Easy to understand.
The system works completely different with coins , more about that later …

Import baggage check

to the next wait line! I moved with my trolley and my backpack from the luggage belt in direction to the import baggage wait line. At half way I was approached by a woman, I think she had a British accent. She asked me if I could raise her two heavy bags on the baggage car. Of course I helped her. Then I continue my way to the next wait line. 10 minutes later we arrived in a room with several exits and numbers of 1-10. An employee of the airport took my “incoming passenger card” and pointed to one of the exits. Yippee! Another wait line. After a few minutes I hit a fork in the queue at an employee of airport. She also took the “incoming pasgener card”. She asked me what kind of medicine I carry. I gave her the same answer, then she wrote something on the card and showed me the way to the next wait line. Yippie! Let’s wait a bit! : D More minutes went by, another employee took the “Incoming passenger card” (which she kept), then my luggage was got scanned. After a few meters I left the security area and arrived at the arrival hall. So it took me over an hour from plane to the arrivals area. Is the ordered hotel shuttle still there? … you can imagine the answer.

Where’s my  shuttle driver?! Alone at Sydney International Airport

I “scanned” all the  name badges. My driver was already gone. Great…

What happened next? You can read it in the next post.