October to April is the best time to visit Dubai. Booking Emirates flights to India or USA this holiday season or for the upcoming summer travel is a good opportunity to see Dubai during a layover and, that too within your budget. Additionally, Emirates Airlines’ flights with a long transit time cost lesser than itineraries with short layovers. If you are traveling alone or with a family, you can make the most of your connection time at Dubai Airport or in downtown Dubai. Hope this guide on what to do at Dubai DXB Airport or things to do in Dubai during a transit layover comes in handy to you.
My Emirates Pass for passengers of Emirates flights
My Emirates Pass is a key to unlock the deals and offers at tourist attractions in Dubai and the UAE for international passengers of Emirates flights. You can use ‘My Emirates Pass’ to experience the best of Dubai Airport, Dubai City, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Palm Jumeirah, or All Emirates availing attractive discounts on dining, shopping, and leisure activities during your long connective time in Dubai. For instance, you will get 20% discount on general admission to Burj Khalifa.
My Emirates Pass is valid from November 1 until March 31, 2024, irrespective of your travel class on Emirates flights between India and USA. To be precise, your Emirates boarding pass will work as ‘My Emirates Pass’ at the restaurants, stores, brands, and tourist sites participating in the program during this period. Your photo ID may be required along with the boarding pass, printed or digital.
Dubai Connect Service for international transit passengers
Emirate Airlines’ Dubai Connect Service is a complimentary package for international transit passengers with a stopover of 8 to 26 hours in itineraries booked on or after October 11, 2022. The Dubai Connect Service for Emirates flights between USA and India comes with complimentary hotel stay, meals, airport transfers, and a complimentary visa to Dubai. Travelers under 18 years are also eligible for Dubai Connect as long as they are accompanied by an adult traveler over 18. This complimentary transit service must be booked at least 24 hours prior to your flight to Dubai from India or the USA. A representative of Emirates Airlines will guide you at the Dubai Connect desk in Arrivals at the airport.
A complimentary visa that the Dubai Connect booking provides can be a visa on arrival or a prearranged visa prior to arrival. If you have a normal Indian passport with a US visitor visa or a Green Card valid for minimum 6 months, you are eligible for Dubai’s visa on arrival. If you are on a US student visa or H1B/H4/any other US visa, you need to apply for a transit visa to Dubai in advance. The UAE’s visa on arrival allows Indian passport holders to stay 14 days in or outside Dubai, whereas a prearranged transit visa can be used for up to 96 hours of a stopover in Dubai. The US passport holders traveling to/from India via Dubai or Abu Dhabi are eligible for the free UAE visa on arrival.
What to do at Dubai Airport during a layover
If the connection time in your itinerary via Dubai does not permit a city sightseeing tour, you can spend the layover exploring the airport. We must say Dubai International Airport itself is a very happening place sans the city center. Being one of the world’s busiest transit hubs, DXB has entertainment options and recreational facilities aplenty. There are fine-dining restaurants to duty-free shopping zones. Dubai Airport lounges including the Plaza Premium Lounge indulge travelers in a lagoon of luxuries.
Saddled with jet lag? You can take a refreshing shower during the layover. Terminals 1 and 3 have free shower facilities, according to the Dubai Airport layover guide. Since the connection between two Emirates flights takes place at T3, you can locate a complimentary shower facility between the gates B13 and B19 in T3. If you have doubts about the hygiene of free showers, there are paid facilities offering shower-only packages.
Dubai being a shoppers’ paradise, the airport has vibrant retail areas across its three terminals. Emirates Airlines’ T3 has tens of duty-free brand outlets that operate round the clock. You can buy a box of chocolates or dry fruits as a souvenir for your family in the US. Dubai Airport Duty Free is a dedicated area for international transit passengers to on a shopping spree. You can browse product categories and check prices on the Dubai Duty Free website before you actually travel to or transit through Dubai Airport.
Unwinding in a quality lounge is one of the best things to do at Dubai International Airport during a transit layover. Located on Level 4 Concourse A of Terminal 3, Plaza Premium Lounge Dubai offers free Wi-Fi, cozy seating, quality food, relaxing showers, and USB charging stations at hourly rates. There are private family suites, a kids’ play area, a prayer room, a bar, and a smoking zone in the lounge. A family suite is spacious enough for 6 guests including children who prefer to relax in privacy, and comes with butler service. You can grab economical deals for the Dubai Plaza Premium Lounge service while booking Emirates Airlines’ cheap business class flights or economy class travel through IndianEagle.com.
You can relax at Zen Gardens while in transit at Dubai Airport DXB. Located near gates B7 and B27 in T3, Zen Gardens offer an indoor retreat to lush greenery and tranquility. You can do meditation, read a book, take a leisurely walk, soak in the sun, or connect with the virtual world on your mobile device using free Wi-Fi available at the airport.
You can take a power nap while in transit at Dubai Airport Terminal 3. Among various facilities for quality sleeping at DXB, the Sleep n Fly Lounge in T3 has igloo-style pods and double-bed cabins which you can rent on hourly basis. This lounge offers showers too. You can check in at Dubai International Hotel, a world-class transit hotel in T3, and relax for up to 18 hours during a layover. The Dubai Airport layover guide includes other hotels with free shuttle service between the terminals.
Dubai Airport layover sightseeing: Things to do and see
There is no dearth of things to do and see during a layover at Dubai International Airport. The longer the layover or connection time at DXB Airport, the more you get to explore the city. You can choose to buy one of the Dubai Airport transit layover tour packages from Emirates Airlines, according to your itinerary. The guided Dubai sightseeing tours are meticulously planned and organized by the airline for varying lengths of airport layover. You can spend the long connection time without worrying about your connecting international flight.
Having a layover of 5 to 8 hours in Dubai? With a little homework on how to commute between the airport and the city center, you can make the most of this time. DXB Airport Terminal 1 and 3 have Dubai Metro stations. The Metro provides seamless connection from the airport to the city center nearly every 10 minutes. Downtown Dubai where the most popular tourist attractions including the world’s tallest building – Burj Khalifa – is located is 3 miles from the airport.
Undoubtedly, you can tick Burj Khalifa and the nearby Dubai Fountain on your list of the best things to see during a transit layover in Dubai. It is an adrenalin-pumping thrill to ride the high-speed elevator to the 124th, 125th and 148th floors where there are observation decks to give you breath-taking views of the city landscape sprawling from the desert to the ocean. A twilight view from that stupendous height of the world’s tallest building is more wonderful. A visit to Burj Khalifa takes 1.5 to 2 hours including the commute from and to the airport, according to our customers who recently travelled on Emirates flights booked by Indian Eagle, a most trusted air-ticketing partner of Indians in USA.
You can easily extend your Dubai Airport layover sightseeing tour to Dubai Fountain at a stone’s throw from Burj Khalifa. Among the world’s largest and most expensive choreographed fountains, this tourist site evokes awe with the vertical shooting of water up to 125 meters. 6600 lights and 25 color projectors make it a must-see extravaganza during a light and sound show that plays every five minutes during peak hours of the day.
If you are a shopping freak or brand connoisseur and wondering what to do during a Dubai Airport transit layover as short as 5 hours, you can visit the Dubai Mall located near the base of Burj Khalifa. Spread over 13 million square feet equal to the total area of 50 football grounds, the mall has 1200 shops, 22 multiplex screens, 120 restaurants and cafes. The Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo housing over 300 species of marine animals, is a must see at the mall. There is an indoor amusement park with an array of thrill rides and games. With 84 million visitors in 2019, the Dubai Mall is one of the few most visited manmade wonders in the world. The best thing is that Dubai Metro connects the airport to the mall.
Is shopping not your cup of tea? You can spend time in Dubai Miracle Garden, among the tourist places to visit during a layover of 5 hours or more at Dubai International Airport. One of the options to travel to Dubai Miracle Garden from the airport is the Metro that halts at the Mall of Emirates; from there you can take a public or private transport to reach the garden in 15 minutes. Spread over 72,000 sqm, this is the world’s biggest natural garden featuring more than 250 million plants and 50 million flowers. Dubai Miracle Garden holds three Guinness World Records, including the one for an Airbus 380 flower structure. You can visit this place only from October to April.