Oops, I missed my flight

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You’ve researched, planned and spent up big to secure your overseas holiday or even a domestic trip to the Margaret River or Broome. What happens then if it all begins to fall apart right at the start because you failed to meet a three-hour international check-in deadline at the airport? Even top travel insurance won’t compensate for the horror of rebooking flights, hotels or tours. You’re upset, plans have to be rejigged and you might be forced to find last-minute overnight accommodation close by and unravel carefully packed luggage to find pyjamas and fresh clothes.

Even capital city dwellers can be reluctant to return home and start the whole process over again, given the uncertainty of traffic delays that possibly caused your late arrival in the first place, and the chaos of current massive roadworks around Sydney Airport. For those setting out from a regional area the possibility of delayed or failed connections is a greater risk. A recent transport survey reported that flights from, for example, Port Macquarie, an important hub for the NSW North Coast, topped the chart for being late to arrive at their destination 27 per cent of the time. A further 2.3 per cent of flights were cancelled before they’d even left Sydney to collect regional passengers.

Starting out badly can only lead to misery, hence my top tip for a successful trip: get to (the vicinity of) the airport early, leaving no room for error. Increasing numbers of savvy travellers are doing just this: hence the growth at Sydney’s Mascot of various new airport hotels. I’ve tried quite a few, but none matches my choice pre- and post- a long-haul trip to South Africa last month for its facilities and efficiency of Pullman Sydney Airport, minutes from both international and domestic terminals. It’s simply the best, recognised by its status as the only five-star hotel in the precinct.

Pullman’s rooms are not the generic style of hotels worldwide. Sure, they offer bed, bathroom, tea-coffee making, mini fridge and so on as guests expect, but the architect has done away with internal walls that waste space, rendering rooms with an uncramped open-plan appeal. Modesty is preserved via a tall smoked crazy-glass designer panel separating the sleeping area from the luxurious free-standing tub, its plumbing cleverly concealed under-floor, and a frosted glass slider offers privacy for the shower and loo. An advantage of the relatively small premium one pays for five-star lodging – and here it’s way less than at five-star CBD hotels – are the points of distinction that make a “feel good” difference: comfy king bed; sleek bedsheets and feather-light duvet; pristine thick towels; top quality tea and other supplies; good acoustic sound-proofing; and dual adjustable handheld and rain shower heads with plentiful flows of piping hot water. As one who prefers to drive to the airport when travelling overseas, I love the parking garage, its space, cleanliness and excellent security, at more than competitive rates. I hope revealing this “find” doesn’t mean there’s no room for me next time!

Pullman hotels are the high-end international brand named for American George Pullman’s luxury passenger railcars with carpeted sleeper berths, white-linen restaurants and even libraries, and superior service. And so it is here with all modern services including WiFi, fitness centre, excellent breakfast (with all egg dishes to order created right in front of you), and bar. There’s a ground-floor restaurant as well, also offering room service meals, but having checked in just 600m from the domestic terminal and 3km from international, I prefer to go out on the town and enjoy the many dining options in the nearby inner-city or even a show in the CBD. During daytime hours, you’re close to O’Riordan Street’s designer-store enclave. If you’re merely killing time between 9 and 5 and prefer to avoid the crush of terminals and airport lounges: Pullman offers Day Room rates to relax, dine, snooze, work out or attend to last-minute details. Auto checkout and frequent airport shuttle service at the door. 

On my return from South Africa at 11pm after some 24 hours on the go I was tucked up in bed around 30 minutes after landing.

If travelling by road on O’Riordan Street from the city call the hotel first for easy access directions to avoid the median strip blocking right-turn entry. Tel: 8398 4600.

Travel Editor, Susie Boswell.

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