Cairns Airport Shuttle Transfers - frequently asked questions
See also our new Blogs page - with info on late night shuttles and early morning departures, Cairns Holiday Dollars program, and split departures
- All CairnsAirportShuttle.net transfers can seek assistance from the Cairns Domestic shuttle desk by carousel 1.
- Please use our online book and pay form to make a seat in shared shuttle booking between Cairns Airport and Port Douglas or use other forms from the book + pay menu
- Once booked online your confirmation is sent instantly to you by email with your unique booking number and all pick up and transfer instructions.
- All arrival transfers from Cairns are confirmed when you have received your confirmation. There is no need to re-confirm before arrival.
- Meet your shuttle at carousel 1 beside the airport shuttle desk: Drivers meet you at carousel 1 with your name on a sign.
- For transfers less than 24 hours before first travel time you must call during office hours on 0481 755 740 to check availability.
- Standard hours for all shared shuttle and private transfer service is 6am to 7pm.
- After hours service between 7pm and 6am delivered as private transfer + $50 driver surcharge.
- We transfer direct from Cairns Airport to the door of your accommodation Port Douglas no stops in between.
- Usual wait is 20 minutes or less after all checked bags are collected from your flight's baggage carousel, which has arrived on time. This departure window applies to carry on and checked baggage passengers. The 20 minutes target is our usual practice, and our clear goal, but not a binding term of carriage. See our T&Cs.
- The direct journey usually takes 60-70 minutes.
- Usual departure is 3 hours from Port Douglas before your scheduled flight from Cairns. Exact time is confirmed day before departure by email OR text to the mobile phone number OR email address on your booking.
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- COVID Travel Plan and Refund Information - updated Feb 2021
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What is the pick up time from Port Douglas to Cairns Airport?
3 hours before your flight.
When you have booked we supply a CAS reference (eg CAS11526 or CASE2315) shuttle confirmation doc. All shuttle contact details are on this confirmation. For your return transfer to the airport the shuttle will automatically text the mobile on your booking OR email the email address associated with your booking the day before your departure around midday with your exact pick up time. Refer to your confirmation for more details once booked.
The usual pick up window is 3 hours before domestic flights depart, and we make additional allowances for international flights. Three hours before domestic departures is needed because of roadworks and traffic conditions on the Captain Cook highway, around Smithfield due to bypass construction, and Yule Point for landslip protection and remediation. To save you multiple check ins please only contact your shuttle after midday on the day before your departure because small tweaks to times are often made to schedules around our intimate knowledge of road conditions. Please use your CAS reference when contacting the shuttle. Sometimes on a shuttle shared with others you might need to go a little earlier or a little later, but we will communicate with you and provide options. Between 6.45am - 7.15am we add 15 mins for traffic. If you only have carry on we might try and minimise your wait. DON'T WORRY :) We factor all this in - just tell us your flight departure time and flight number on your shuttle booking form - and we will work it all out and confirm your departure time automatically via text or email to your phone the day before you leave Port Douglas :)
When I arrive in Cairns when will I be picked up?
Around 20 mins after all bags removed from baggage carousel.
CairnsAirportShuttle.net promotes a service with a usual wait time at Cairns Airport of 20 minutes or less after all bags are cleared from your arrival baggage carousel, and we deliver on this in line with Airline arrivals. We schedule airport pick ups according to airline flight arrival times. Approx. 84.9% of planes (eg SYD to CNS, MEL to CNS, BNE to CNS) arrive on time: Australian Government Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities. Flights are on time if they arrive within 15 minutes of their scheduled arrival. Every effort is made to have passengers on the way to Port Douglas within 20 minutes of all bags being cleared from your arrival baggage carousel. This means if you arrive at 2.50pm, and are off the plane and at your carousel at 3.00pm, and all bags are collected by all passengers by 3.15pm, you will be on the way to Port Douglas by 3.35pm. In many cases this will be quicker. In some cases there may be small delays and we ask passengers for understanding when we deal with airline arrivals beyond our control which impact booked services. We aim to be responsive to you, and your fellow passengers, if you or they are affected by small delays.
What is the pick up time from Palm Cove to the airport?
Around 2 to 2.5 hours before your flight.
While the journey from Palm Cove to Cairns Airport usually takes 35 mins once you are in the vehicle, roadworks and traffic conditions around the busy Smithfield shopping precinct often adds time. We will work out the best pick up time based on your flight and traffic conditions that we are constantly moving through. to have you comfortably at the airport. For your return transfer to the airport the shuttle will automatically text the mobile on your booking OR email the email address associated with your booking the day before your departure around midday with your exact pick up time. Refer to your confirmation for more details once booked.
What is the average wait time at Cairns Airport?
Around 20 mins. We only collect pre-booked passengers.
Meet your booked shuttle and leave 20 minutes or sooner after checked bags have been cleared from your arrival baggage carousel. We do not wait for the bus to 'fill' and are on the way as soon as booked passengers are on board. Your shuttle driver meets you at carousel 1 with your name on a sign. If you do not see your driver, please wait at carousel 1 as the driver may be taking another passenger to the shuttle, or is on their way after dropping passengers at departures . All our bookings can be managed by the domestic terminal shuttle desk beside carousel 1.
Cairns Airport to Cairns City shuttle transfer service?
We can also collect you from Cairns Esplanade or CBD accommodation and take you to Port Douglas & vice versa.
I have a very early flight out of Cairns. What time will I leave?
We recommend leave early.
To catch a 6am flight (or earlier) you would need to leave Port Douglas around 3:45am, which is our after hours time. The journey takes 60-70 mins if no problems on Captain Cook Highway (eg landslips on highway, accidents, diversions). Standard hours prices start at 6am, so please contact us for availability for transfers required before 6am. Note Virgin closes 45 mins before departure, Jetstar 40mins, Qantas 45 mins, so 3:45am is our latest recommended departure from Port Douglas for 6am flight. After hours departure when available start at $180 for 1-5 people, as it is a private transfer no other passengers. You can book that together with standard hours arrival on the booking form. EG. 2 adults standard hours arrival $80 + early morning $180 departure = $260.
My flight's been delayed! How will you pick us up?
We actively monitor flights for both early and late arrivals.
In addition to mobile apps and the Cairns Airport website information drivers waiting at the airport drivers' lounge have special screens to see exactly when flights have landed and when they are at the gate.
Are child seats available?
Yes. Child booster seats (B) and front (FFR) or rear facing (RFR) baby seats are available if requested at time of booking.
Child seats are available but are not compulsory on our Queensland buses over 13 seats. We usually use 13 seater Toyota HiAce or 20 seater Toyota Coaster. Cost is $5 each way per seat ($10 return transfer). If needed please add to your booking so they can be installed and ready for your departure. It is generally not possible to add child seats after you have arrived. These are usually Baby Love brand and 1-2 years old.
I've received a quote or made a payment. What happens next?
All quotes valid 24 hours. Quote requests are replied to within 2-3 hours between 8am - 5pm daily. Confirmations are usually sent within 2-4 hours of payment between 8am - 5pm daily.
Quotes include a payment link and a unique CAS reference number for you to pay with. Once we receive your payment we will usually send your shuttle confirmation doc within 2-4 hours. Quote requests and payments for quotes received after 5PM are processed the next morning when our office opens at 8am (Brisbane time) or sooner if we're still online.
When using our book and pay forms payments are processed by the CairnsAirportShuttle.net affiliate you are allocated to , OR when using our quote system payments are processed directly by CairnsAirportShuttle.net.
Either way you receive a CairnsAirportShuttle.net approved booking reference and at all times can contact CairnsAirportShuttle.net direct about your booking, or to organise a refund (subject to cancel fees), or to change travel dates. Every booking confirmation also provides direct contact details for your shuttle. All bookings with CairnsAirportShuttle.net may also approach the domestic airport shuttle desk beside the arrival baggage carousels. We work closely with this desk. Please always use your unique ID when contacting us.
How long does the transfer to Port Douglas take?
Around 60-70 minutes from Cairns Airport to Port Douglas.
Depending on traffic and which end of Port Douglas your accommodation is located. The drive is approx. 20-25 minutes through the northern suburbs of Cairns (past sugar cane fields) 30-35 minutes along the coast (a world heritage listed drive) and the last 10 minutes past sugar cane and into Port.
What vehicles do you use?
We generally use Hyundai iMax (7 pax), Toyota Hiace (13 pax), or Commuter (20 pax). For your comfort we also use luxury 53 seater coaches in peak times.
Our vehicles are popular with all shuttle companies here. Seats max 13 -20 passenger seats. Fully air conditioned, 100% seat belts, and reclining seats.
We're arriving together but leaving separately. How does that work?
Split bookings are not possible to have people departing at different times or different days on the same booking. Group discounts not eligible when attempting multiple departures on one booking.
Split arrivals or staggered departures require additional pick ups and drop offs for each booking. This means more shuttles, drivers and airport access fees are involved with any booking that requests split arrivals and staggered departures. Delays at any part of the process like planes from different cities scheduled to arrive together but actually arrive hours apart obviously impact your plans, and others travelling with you. The most common example of this is when flights from Sydney get delayed for many hours due to heavy storm activity at Sydney Airport.
All return bookings (eg Cairns Airport to Port Douglas to Cairns Airport) are only eligible for one airport pick up, and one accommodation drop off on arrival. On departure all bookings are eligible for one accommodation pick up and one airport drop off per booking. The best idea is to use our shuttle booking form and book each group separately. You will travel together with your friends or family if flights arrive as scheduled.
The only exception to this policy is if you're arriving at similar times and are prepared to wait for others in your group - let us know in the OTHER COMMENTS section of your booking. We will attempt to group your arrivals together if on time, and if a plane is significantly delayed we will transfer you and allocate the delayed group the next available shuttle or offer the delayed group alternatives.
Who are our drivers?
Paul and Vish are not drivers. We're a booking service offering a friendly service with local knowledge.
Paul has driven the beautiful coastal road between Cairns Airport and Port Douglas 100s of times as a shuttle bus driver and spent loads of time talking to different drivers of different services operating up here. With that experience and now with over 7 years creating, owning and operating CairnsAirportShuttle.net our service is all about taking the hassle out of the booking process, the multiple options, fare differences, different rules and importantly helping visitors avoid unwanted detours when you just want to go direct to your accommodation on arrival. You're in Far North Queensland! It's time to get to your accommodation, get by the pool or hit the beach, and find a cooling drink. We provide good prices, good information and connect you with the best Cairns to Port Douglas shuttle services so you can focus on anticipating and enjoying your Port Douglas holiday.
The team of drivers working for our affiliated services are all experienced locals with accredited passenger transport drivers authority issued by the Queensland Government Department of Transport and Main Roads.
Can I get help at the Cairns Airport shuttle desk in the domestic terminal?
Yes! On arrival you can contact the airport shuttle desk about any of our bookings: just quote the unique ID from your booking confirmation.
The airport desk has limited 'walk up' seats available in 2021 and basically after 6-7pm there are no next to no services available from any shuttles that haven't been pre-booked before your arrival. So for any arrivals it is now crucial that passengers book in advance both for price saving and avoiding long waits. Some passengers arriving at midday without a pre-booked shuttle may have to wait for hours for a bus - that goes via Palm Cove. Book ahead now.
I'm flying out of Australia so where do I leave from?
It's common for some international Air NZ flights from Cairns to leave from the Cairns domestic terminal.
International flights to NZ often go via Sydney or Brisbane, and so usual domestic check in time applies. Paul and Vish know from experience going to NZ from Cairns that you will usually go domestic to Brisbane or Sydney or Melbourne. Your luggage goes ahead of you having been checked in at Cairns. Then you will transit yourselves from the Brisbane or Sydney or Melbourne domestic airport to the International Airport and complete customs there. This is general advice only and so please look closely at your ticket and flight instructions.
Can you take me to my accommodation in the Cairns CBD or Cairns Esplanade?
Yes we can help.
Our primary service is direct Cairns Airport to Port Douglas to Cairns Airport with no stops. However, we can drop you into Cairns Esplanade/ CBD, and pick you up from Cairns Esplanade/ CBD for additional flat rate $20 to each booking. See the eligible drop off area. For drop offs into Cairns we will first quickly drop passengers to the airport at the north end of Cairns (takes 5-10 mins) , and then go into the City. For pick ups from Cairns Esplanade accommodation the reverse happens where we will pick you up, and then collect passengers from the airport as we head north. Pick ups usually take a little longer at 15-20mins, but you are welcome to stay seated in our air conditioned van. Sometimes the shuttle will just be Cairns accommodation drop off (like yourself) and will bypass the airport, or direct from the CBD to Port Douglas if no airport passengers are collected on that leg. As the airport is at the northern end of Cairns all shuttle companies will drop passengers to the airport before drop offs in Cairns CBD, and vice versa when heading north.
Where can I get dropped off in Port Douglas?
We drop you at, and collect you from, the door of your accommodation in almost every part of Port Douglas.
Our service does not provide option to wait while passengers collect keys from booking agencies and then transfer on to accommodation. Your single drop off can be one or the other. This saves others waiting in your shared shuttle undue delay in commencing their holidays. Accommodation drop-off exceptions due to access are: Beachfront Mirage as this is a gated community and we drop you at the gate, and Murphy Street (approx. 53-69 Murphy Street is very difficult for a shuttle + trailer to reverse out of - so we may drop you on the corner of Owen and Murphy - for the short 20-80m walk to your accommodation).
Can you take us to our Daintree, Cape Tribulation, Newell Beach, Sily Oaks, and Mossman accommodation?
Our standard airport service does not service Cape Tribulation, or anywhere north of Port Douglas.
We usually only offer service between Cairns Airport and Port Douglas. For any connections north of Port Douglas that do wish to use our shuttle service to Port Douglas, most welcome! We usually drop off and pick up from your Port Douglas accommodation, or Wildlife Habitat at the southern end of Port Douglas. Your Daintree accommodation or car hire then takes you further North: Daintree/ Cape Tribulation: CairnsAirportShuttle.net is not aware of any service that operates from Cairns Airport to Daintree, or from Port Douglas to Daintree accommodation. Hiring a rental car in Port Douglas is a common solution; Newell Beach: We can organise 1-5, 6-13, or 14-20 pax private transfer only from Port Douglas to Newell Beach; Silky Oaks: Ask the accommodation about transport options, which may include them picking you up from Port Douglas as above, or car hire; Mossman: There are some shuttles that can take you to Mossman Gorge and Mossman Township, and outside the local shuttle area. Ask your accommodation about whether a shuttle or taxi will best suit your needs.
Do you offer local or pensioner discounts?
Unfortunately not but we do have services that help.
This helps us reduce the price for every single passenger on our service. We do not charge extra for mobility aids or wheelchairs. We do operate a direct service between Cairns Airport and Cairns, with no stops in Palm Cove which saves every passenger approx. 30 minutes.
I'm arriving on Christmas Day. Is that an issue?
No problem, but we do add $20 extra per booking
As indicated on our booking form and to provide our drivers with a fair rate for working Christmas Day we apply $20 per booking (irrespective of how many people in the group) for that day. We welcome your Christmas Day booking, and thank you in advance for your support for our drivers.
I'm overseas and want to pay by online banking?
Yes, can do. It's a long way round to pay but note our Cairns Port Douglas Shuttle Bendigo Bank account SWIFT/BIC code is BENDAU3B
Bookings from outside Australia can use online banking and if asked by your bank for the swift code - our business name Cairns Port Douglas Shuttle Bendigo Bank account SWIFT/BIC code is BENDAU3B. (Please note that if any additional bank charges are incurred to receive international online banking - we must pass these on. Payments from UK and NZ have usually been OK no extra charges. Bank gives a definite 'maybe' so we don't know until it lands).