Sleeping in Airports

Cairns Airport Guide

Whether you have a layover, overnight sleepover or you are just quickly passing through, our Cairns Airport Guide is a great place to start planning your visit.  Here, you’ll find information on services and facilities available inside the airport – including details about airport lounges, WiFi, mobile charging points, lockers, 24-hour food options, nearby hotels, and everything in between.

It was disappointing that 10 people in total were evicted at 1:50am. We were forced to sit outside in the cold and wait until 3:30 for the airport to open. – guest reviewer

It is not possible to stay overnight inside the airport. You will be evicted!

CNS Airport Overview

cairns airport guideTo help you plan your layover or overnight sleepover, here is a quick run-down about what to expect during your time at Cairns Airport (code: CNS).

What to Expect

Cairns Airport consists of two terminals (T1 International and T2 Domestic) with a combined 27 gates. The terminals are connected via a covered walkway. Both terminals contain a dozen or so eateries and shops, though almost all are on the airside. Reviewers report that the newer T2 Domestic building has better shopping and dining options. WiFi is available to help pass the time, and additional comforts—including showers—can be found through fee-based access to one of the airport’s first class lounges. See Airport Lounges below for locations and rates.

Where to Sleep

The airport closes at night, and all passengers are evicted from the terminal buildings, so you can forget about trying to get an overnight sleep inside Cairns airport. Daytime napping may also prove problematic, as the seating is described as being hard, single chairs. For uninterrupted sleep, there are hotels near the airport. See Airport Hotels in the guide below or read some traveller reviews for more tips.

Coronavirus Update

Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, all services and times listed below are subject to change. Some services and facilities may remain closed or operate with reduced hours.  Airport tips and suggestions in this guide and elsewhere on the site were written before March 2020 and may no longer be valid. If you are planning to sleep in the public area of the terminal overnight, have a back-up plan! We’ve heard from a few travellers at other airports and they were not permitted to stay overnight. We’re not sure if that will apply to this airport, until a reader lets us know the current situation. If you have some time to spare please write a review, send a tip or share photos to help future travellers.

For more airport information continue scrolling down to explore more in our Cairns Airport Guide.

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.  For more information on Europe’s Schengen Area, click here.

Airport Hotels

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

  • Why Not Backpackers – (5 minutes from the airport) Free airport, bus, and city transfers available. » Check Rates
  • The Lakes Cairns Resort & Spa – (5 minutes from the airport) Airport transfers are available ($). » Check Rates
  • Coral Towers Holiday Suites– (8 minutes from the airport) Airport transfers are not available. » Check Rates

To see more options there is a list of hotels near Cairns Airport on Tripadvisor that can be sorted by price, distance, traveller rating and popularity.

Airport Lounges

Pay-per-use, Single Visit Passes & Lounge Memberships

Regardless of what class of service you are flying, there are lounges that you can enter by paying at the door or through a lounge membership program. Visit the individual lounge page for more details about the lounge itself and to also find out how you can gain lounge access with just an economy class ticket!

  • Qantas Club – Location: Second level, via escalators. Showers are available. Lounge Access: Lounge membership programs.
  • Reef Lounge – Location: Airside, near Gate 2. Showers are available. Lounge Access: Lounge membership programs.
  • Virgin Australia Lounge – Location: Domestic Terminal, Airside, Level 1. Showers are available. Lounge Access: Pay at the Door with proof of Virgin Australia Airlines ticket • Lounge membership programs.

Airport WiFi/Internet

Free WiFi is available at Cairns Airport. Passengers in T1 (International) can access the internet free for up to 1 hour per 12-hour period, while passengers in T2 (Domestic) can access the internet free for up to 30 minutes per 12-hour period. Additional time/data can be purchased at the following rates (in AUD): $3 per hour/60MB, $6 per 24 hr/160MB or $30 per 7 days/1.2GB. If you don’t have a device for connecting to the internet, you can use one of the airport’s internet kiosks at the same rates listed above.

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

ATMs / Cash Machines – Need cash? ATMs are available. Machines are operated by ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, and China Construction Bank. Fees may apply, so be sure to check your bank’s fee schedule and your daily withdrawal limit if you are travelling internationally. You may also want to notify your bank of your travel plans. Locations: throughout the airport. Travelex ATMs dispense foreign currency at these locations:
» Terminal 1: Departures Hall • Arrivals Hall • Pre-Immigration & Security
» Terminal 2: Check-In • Departures Hall • Arrivals Hall.

Baby Care Facilities – If you are travelling with an infant, parents rooms are available at most of the washrooms throughout the airport in both terminals.

Baggage Trolley – Need a hand with your luggage? Baggage trolleys are available free of charge in T1 Arrivals (pre-Customs). Elsewhere in the airport, there is a $3 fee.

Currency Exchange – Travelex currency exchange kiosks are open for all flights and can be found in these locations:
» Terminal 1: Departures lounge (airside) • Arrivals Hall (landside).
» Terminal 2: Departures lounge (airside).

Duty-Free & Shopping – Duty-free shopping is available (Location: International Terminal, Arrivals and Departures Lounge. Hours: Open according to all international flights), along with a variety of shops selling clothing, souvenirs, books, cosmetics and more! The Relay Shop (Airside) may come in handy for last minute drinks/snacks and is open for all flights.

Food & Drinks – At the time of this update, there are no 24-hour dining options. Food concessions are available both Landside and Airside and all are open according to the daily flight schedule.

Information Desk – It is not known if a dedicated Information Desk is available; however, the airport is staff with friendly ambassadors, look for their bright blue shirts if you need help.

Luggage Storage & Lockers – Self-service luggage lockers are available, cash payment only. Rates range from $6 – $10 for up to 3 hours or $10 – $14 for up to 24 hours (and per 24-hour period after). Locker sizes available are small (75cm x 33cm x 44cm) • medium (75cm x 33cm x 61cm) • large (75cm deep x 33cm wide x 93cm). Location: next to the T2 Car Park. Hours: Open 24 hours.  Luggage storage for larger items is also available at the same location. Hours: 4:00AM – 1:00AM. Rates: Unknown.

Mobile Charging – At the time of this update, we did not have any information about mobile charging availability. If you know, click here to update this airport guide.

Pharmacy – Over the counter medications (cold/flu, travel sickness, etc.) are available at the Health & Beauty Express. Location: Terminal 2, Departures. Hours: Open for all flights.

Rest Zones – There are no dedicated sleeping areas, quiet areas or rest zones. If this information has changed, click here to update this guide.

Showers – Showers are available in the airport lounges [ see Airport Lounges above ]

Airport Hours

The airport is open at 4:00AM, or two hours before first flight of the day, and closes after the last flight of the night. Overnight stays are not permitted in this airport. 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.”


Cairns airport is served by the following airlines: Air New Zealand • Air Niugini • Air North • Alliance Airlines • Cathay Pacific • China Southern • Hainan Airlines • Jetstar • Qantas • Regional Express • SilkAir • Skytrans • Virgin Australia.

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/Enterprise •Thrifty.

Hotel Shuttles

Several area hotels provide airport transportation service to their guests either for a fee or as a courtesy. Here are a few hotels offering airport shuttle service: Calypso Inn Backpackers Resort   •   Reef Palms   •   The Lakes Cairns Resort.

See also Airport Hotels above.


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.

Sun Palm also offers Airport Connect shuttle service ($6.00 one way/$8.00 return), which runs between the airport and Tobruk Pool Bus Stop on the southbound side of Sheridan Street (3km from the airport). 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

To book a ride, go to the Sun Palm welcome desks located in the Arrivals area of either 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. Maxi taxis (capacity 10 passengers) and wheelchair-accessible taxis are available, and all taxis accept credit cards. An AU$4.40 surcharge is added to fares for trips from the airport.

Last updated: 2020-10-19

This guide is for informational purposes only to assist with your planning.  All information, including rates and hours, are subject to change at any time without notice.   The information in this airport guide is based on information collected and/or received from the airports, lounges, hotels, transportation providers and their web sites. We are not representatives of any of the above mentioned service providers. To report errors or to add/update any items mentioned in the guide: update the airport guide or  write a review.