Dubai International Airport (DXB IATA) is the largest hub in the Middle East and the home base of Dubai's government-owned flag carrier Emirates and likewise government-owned low-cost airline FlyDubai. The airport has grown at such a furious pace that the present terminals are bursting at the seams, especially during the peak hours around midnight. The airport is one of the few that has non-stop flights to all inhabited continents, operated by Emirates, some of which are among the longest non-stop flights in the world.
Dubai Airport is in the Deira district in the northern part of Dubai. Originally established in the late 1930s, this giant airport is the premier air gateway to the United Arab Emirates, the busiest airport in the world for international passenger traffic and the Middle East's foremost hub airport. The national flag carrier Emirates is the main airline in Dubai and offers the best connections.
The airport has three terminals, as follows:
|Terminal 1 |
The main terminal (althought not the biggest), used by most major airlines and long-haul flights. Concourse D is part of this terminal.
|Terminal 2 |
Regional flights (mainly the Persian Gulf and South Asia region) and low-cost flights, including most FlyDubai flights.
|Terminal 3 |
The second largest building in the world by floor space, this terminal is only used by Emirates and some flydubai flights, speaking to the size of their hub.
Gates are usually labelled by the concourse number.
Most airlines have a designed area within their terminal. E.g. Lufthansa group (Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian) use Terminal 1F as check-in.
Getting between Dubai Airport and various parts of Dubai and Sharjah is relatively quick and easy. There are also options to travel to the capital Abu Dhabi, just an hour or so away by road.
Most visitors opt for public taxis from the airport, which use the meter and start at 25 dirham. They are readily available just outside arrivals. They are on the left when you come out of terminal 1. A trip to Dubai Marina may cost around 100 dirham, and a trip to the Abu Dhabi city centre costs 300 dirham. If you look rich or Western, the taxi dispatcher may steer you towards a line of black limousines beyond the main taxi rank. If so, decline politely and take one of the regular taxis.
Terminals 1 and 3 each have a station for the Dubai Metro Red Line; they are in Zone 5 of the line. Trains depart every 10 minutes between about 6AM and midnight, except Friday (between 1PM and 1AM).
Buses serves all three terminals. There are buses just opposite the exit gates after baggage claim, the most useful for visitors being lines 401 and 402 (3 dirham), which go to the Al Sabkha and Al Ghubaiba bus terminals respectively. Tickets cannot be bought from driver so you'll have to buy NOL card before stepping into the bus.
Emirates offers complementary coach services for its economy class passengers from T3 to Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.
All terminals have extensive parking lots.
Terminals 1 and 3 are directly connected to each other via the airside (no immigration needed for transfer) and are models of modern airport design. Terminal 2 is on the other side of the airport and is reminiscent of developing-world airports, with long check-in lines, queue jumping and every second passenger checking in 70 kg of luggage.
There is a poorly publicized connection airside service provided between Terminal 2 and the other two terminals as follows:
- Upon arriving off your flight at the hall, just before the immigration counters ask an official where is the connection to Terminal 1 or 3.
- They will direct you to the Marhaba counter.
- At the counter show your existing incoming ticket, ticket claim sticker, ongoing ticket and passport.
- They will request the baggage handling system to redirect your luggage to your outgoing flight. If the luggage has already passed through to the baggage claim then they will send someone to manually collect the luggage. They will give you a receipt with a new tracking number, which you will need if your luggage goes missing.
- They will then redirect you to the "Connections" counter. Here you will get a ticket for the shuttle bus.
- Go to the shuttle bus for the appropriate terminal. These run every 20 to minutes.
- Once in Terminal 1 or 3 follow the "Connections" arrows to and go through the security check.
- Once though the security check go to the "Connections" counter to check-in and obtain your boarding passes. This opens for your flight three hours before departure.
It takes approximately 60 minutes from landing until you reach the "Connections" desk in Terminal 1 or 3. There is no charge for the above service and at no stage do you go through immigration. The service also works in the other direction.
If you end up going through immigration to the landside it is believed that there are free shuttle buses running between the three terminals every 20 to 30 minutes. However a 30 min taxi ride may be your only option. A low-cost option for traveling to Terminal 2 is to catch the metro to a nearby station, such as Abu Hail metro station, and from there take a 5 minute taxi ride to Terminal 2.
Despite being one of the world's largest airports, DXB has relatively few amenities or things to see for economy class passengers. Waiting is an essential part of DXB. Due to its stellar growth, facilities and infrastructure are always stretched. Expect queues for pretty much everything during peak hours (around midnight) and uncomfortably crowded waiting areas. The upside is that many people sleep in corners and below the benches, so the atmosphere is not dominated by pushy business travellers. If you are tired and have to wait, ensure you have an alarm set to avoid missing your flight. That said, If you are a first or business class passenger with Emirates, the first and business class lounges are known for their opulent luxury, and take up entire floors, making Dubai one of the best airports in the world for premium passengers to transit.
There are a number of VIP lounges at the airport for the use of business and first class passengers, as well as holders of certain credit cards.
- Ahlan Lounge, Terminal 3 - Arrivals level prior to passport control.
- Al Majis Lounge.
- British Airways Lounge.
- Business Class Lounge.
- Dubai International Business Class.
- Dubai International First Class.
- Emirates Lounges.
- Emirates Business Lounge.
- Emirates First Class Lounge.
- First Class Lounge.
- Gulf Air Lounge.
- Lufthansa Lounge.
- Marhaba Lounge.
- SkyTeam Lounge.
- Special Handling Lounge.
- Unaccompanied Minor Lounge.
There are plenty of fast food and fine dining restaurants located in all three terminals of the airport.
- Chowking Orient Restaurant
- Mezze Express
- Nestle Toll House
- Taste of India
- Bombay Chopati.
- The rupee room Express
- Cho Gao
- Jack’s Bar & Grill
- Le Pain Quotidien
- Moet Champagne Bar
- Wafi Gourmet Restaurant
- Caviar House
- Heineken Lounge
- Ocean Basket
- Red Carpet Cafe & Seafood Bar
If you happen to be in a long layover at the terminal 2, the Food Castle Express Restaurant is located within 1 km of the arrivals section.
There are plenty of coffee shops and drink establishments located in all three terminals of the airport.
The airport is famous for its duty-free shopping. However, prices in the airport's duty-free stores are equal or higher than what you can find in the many malls of the city. Alcohol here is very cheap, though. Alcohol is also available at an inbound duty free store situated in the baggage reclaim area. The amount of alcoholic beverages and beers should not exceed 4 liters of alcohol beverages, or 2 cartons of beer (each consisting of 24 cans, not exceeding 355 ml for each can or its equivalent).
All three terminals have free of charge Wi-Fi access for unlimited time. Simply select the “DXB Free Wifi” and it connects without asking for any phone number details, although coverage and speed can be spotty at times. There are standalone computer terminals at all terminals with access to the Internet.
There are three hotels within the airport complex. A 300-room, five-star hotel in Concourse C of Terminal 1, a 4-star hotel and a 5-star hotel in Concourse A of Terminal 3. DXB is within the Deira district of Dubai which offers a wide range of hotels.
Dubai is home to a thriving aviation community, with private planes and business jets traveling between London, Moscow, and the United States on a daily basis. There are numerous FBOs to accommodate travelers separate from the commercial terminals, and companies such as PrivateFly and Dubai Private Jet Charter offer on-demand charter flights on a variety of planes, from Gulfstreams and VIP airliners to twin-engine pistons and helicopters for small groups and individuals.
- Dubai Creek Golf Club is 5-10 minutes by taxi or 15 minutes by Metro and walk.