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Cairns Airport Guide

cairns airport guide

In this section you will find traveller airport reviews as well as our Cairns Airport Guide with info on WiFi, lounges, facilities and services....and yes, even the names of nearby airport hotels in case you decide that sleeping in the airport is not for you!

Plenty of big comfy sofas! If you put 3 of them in a row you end up having a bed.
- Enrico

Featured Review

cairns airport
photo credit: LecomteB / Wikimedia

by guest
September 2014 - I feel the need to submit a complaint about the poor service situation at Cairns airport. We have arrived here after 0030 from Brisbane for a connecting flight later in the morning to Alice Springs.

Un be-known to us we have been locked  out of the entire terminal building!  Both the arrival and departure as are closed and there are 4 people including ourselves having to sit outside for another 2 hours until it opens again. After speaking to an available overnight airport staff this is a common occurrence and a cause of much dissatisfaction for travellers.

The airport does actually advertise as being an international airport and open 24 hours a day on its website. This is false and Cairns airport should make his clearly known. There are not even signs here that state this.

I am her with my child and we have found ourselves in a most uncomfortable and potentially unsafe situation, extremely tired and unprepared without food or snacks. At no point was I told by Qantas when booking flights even as a qantas club members that  this would be the case and needed to book accommodation. Given the few hours stop over we felt their was no point in booking a hotel for a short period when we could wait in a lounge area until check in.

Why a lounge or sitting area is not available is beyond belief. Not good enough and very disappointing Cairns airport lift your game.

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Cairns Airport Information

In this guide we may refer to locations as "landside" and "airside". Landside is the public area of the terminal located in the non-secure zone, before security. Airside is the secure area of the terminal that you must reach by going through security.

Airport Lounges

If you are an economy class traveller, you can enter these lounges at Cairns airport either by purchasing a lounge pass or through a membership program. Visit the individual lounge page for more details (ie. facilities, hours, pass and membership information):

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Airport WiFi / Internet

Free WiFi is available at Cairns Airport. In the International Terminal passengers can access one hour free per 12 hours and passengers in the Domestic Terminal can access 30 minutes free WiFi per 12 hours. Plans beyond that time are available: from $3:00 per hour/60MB, $6:00 per 24 hr/160MB or $30 per 7 days/1.2GB.

Internet kiosks are also available which offer WiFi connection at the same paid rates as above.

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Airport Hotels

If sleeping in Cairns Airport does not appeal to you, there are hotels near the airport:

To find a cheap room, there is a list of hotels near Cairns Airport on Tripadvisor that can be sorted by price.

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More Services, Facilities & Things To Do On A Layover At The Airport

  • Airport Tours - available on request. Reservations must be made in advance.
  • ATMs / Cash Machines - ATMs are available in the International Terminal (arrivals area) and Domestic Terminal (departure lounge).
  • Baggage Trolley - Free of charge for passengers arriving on International flights. If you are arriving on a Domestic flight or departing on International/Domestic, there is a AU$3.50 fee to use.
  • Currency Exchange - International Currency Exchange has offices in the following locations: International Terminal, Airside, Departure Lounge (Hours: according to flight schedule) • Domestic Terminal, Airside, Departure Lounge (Hours: 5:00AM - 8:00PM). Select ATMs dispense foreign currency.
  • Food & Drinks - There are no 24 hour food and/or beverage concessions at the airport. While there are few options that are open according to flight schedules the majority of restaurants are open 5:00AM - 8:00PM.
  • Luggage Storage & Lockers - Luggage Lockers are located adjacent to the T2 Car Park Service Kiosk, self serve/pay, prices range from $5.00 - $13.00 depending on size and length of rental.
  • Showers - Showers are available in the Qantas Lounge [ see Airport Lounges above ].

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Airport Hours

The doors to the International and Domestic terminals are closed at night. An employee told us on our Facebook page: "Every night I see people resorting to sleeping on the hard metal benches outside the terminals getting eaten my mosquitos. On Thursday and Sunday nights you can get to stay inside the International until 2:00AM but once the Guam flight departs it's all shut down. The only exception is Intl to Intl transit pax who stay airside inside the departures lounge."

Terminal 1 Hours: 3:00AM - last flight

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Airport Transportation: Getting To/From The Airport

Car Rentals

Car rental desks are located in the Arrivals area at the northern end of T2 (Domestic) and the Arrivals Hall at T1 (International). The following agencies are located onsite in both terminals: Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Redspot and Thrifty.


Sun Palm operates a shared-ride door-to-door shuttle service between the airport and Cairns city center, including major hotels. Service is also offered to Northern Beaches, Port Douglas and areas even further north. Fares start at AU$15 per person, with discounted rates available through arrangements made with select backpacker hostels. Sun Palm also offers Airport Connect shuttle service, which runs between the airport and Tobruk Pool Bus Stop on the southbound side of Sheridan Street. Connection to the Translink public transportation system is available here, where passengers can take the bus to/from Cairns city center and the Northern Beaches for a single-trip ticket price of AU$2.20. Passengers heading to the airport can hail an Airport Connect bus from the C9 bus stop on the northbound side of Sheridan Street. Airport Connect costs AU$4 for a one-way fare or AU$6 for return-trip fare.

To book a ride, go to the Sun Palm welcome desks located in the Arrivals area of either terminal. No reservation is required. Shuttles pick-up and drop-off at designated stops in front of each airport terminal.


Cairns Taxi is the office taxi service provider for the airport. You can pre-book their services, or hail a taxi from the sheltered taxi ranks located in front of each terminal. Taxis operate within the Cairns Taxi District, which includes the CBD and destinations as far north as Ellis Beach and as far south as Wrights Creek, Edmonton. Maxi taxis (capacity 10 passengers) and wheelchair-accessible taxis are available, and all taxis accept credit cards. From 7:00AM - 7:00PM on weekdays, flag drop is AU$2.90 with AU$2.26 per km charge. Flag drop increases at all other times, and can go as high as AU$6.30 plus AU$2.26 per km charge for late night runs. An AU$4 surcharge is added to fares for trips from the airport.

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Last Updated: 14 March 2016

The information in this Airport Guide is based on information collected and/or received from the airport's and their web sites. The information above is subject to change without notice. Use it for informational purposes only to help you during your stay. To report errors, or to add/change any items mentioned in the guide, please email us at guides@sleepinginairports.com.

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