Lonely Planet Writer

Australia's new premium fee scheme to allow passengers skip airport queues

Australia is planning to allow passengers skip queues at immigration and customs at airports by paying a special fee. The fast-track passage is proposed for those who buy into a ‘premium’ processing scheme.

Sydney airport
Sydney airport Image by Michael Coghlan / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Australian government announced the plan this week. The Age reports that a spokesperson believed the new system would prove an attraction for tourists and would bring extra travellers to the country. Margy Osmond, the Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive, denied that it was an opportunity for wealthy people to avoid having to queue. She told 774 ABC Melbourne that it is similar to economy, business and first class options. She claimed that in Australia’s growth markets like China, there is a section that wants to access premium processing.

Ms Osmond pointed to Heathrow and Singapore where such schemes are already in place. She added that currently there are exclusive lanes for business and first-class passengers in several airports in Australia. Research has shown that one of the biggest complaints reported to customs last year was the delays because of airport queues. These last up to one and a half hours across many of the country’s airports. Ms Osmond said the new services would be processed under normal clearance procedure. She stressed that passengers using the fast-track payment service would still have to be subject to security, customs and immigration screening.

It is envisaged that the new premium service will be a significant step ahead of anything in use at present, by allowing paying travellers an express route through departures and arrivals. At Melbourne Airport, a number of passengers told ABC News they would not buy into the proposed scheme. Those who were in favour said they would pay between $10-$50 depending if long queues formed.