Travel Tip #2 ↠ surviving layovers in Dubai Airport

Obviously the first tip would be to book flights that don’t have unbelievably long layovers between your flights, however, sometimes these ridiculous connection times cannot be avoided.

When Jordan and I booked our flights from Melbourne-Vienna-Kenya-Melbourne, we unknowingly booked a flight that had a 12 hour layover in Dubai between our trip from Vienna to Kenya – joyous!

My first thought was ‘ok we can leave the airport and do a brief tour of Dubai’. Despite the numerous hours spent in Dubai airport on previous travels, I had actually explored Dubai itself on 2 trips and since Jordan had never been to Dubai I thought having this 12 hour layover wouldn’t be so bad because we could just explore the city for a few hours before heading back to the airport in time for our flight to Kenya. However, upon realising that we would be landing at almost 11pm and not leaving till 10am, the time frame of our layover just wasn’t appropriate for my intended explorations. So I thought ‘gee great we’re going to be stuck in the airport for 12 hours, that’ll be fun’.

Upon doing my research of where we could explore within our time frame I came across the Dubai Connect section on the Emirates website and hallelujah our tedious layover problem was solved.

I learnt that if you have a stopover in Dubai for over 8 hours and less than 24 hours you are entitled to a free hotel room – score! Even though we would only be able to catch a limited amount of zzz’s it was definitely a better option of getting some decent sleep in a proper bed than sleeping on the floor in the airport.

It was the easiest process organising the room. Since we had booked our flights through a travel agent, I just emailed her the Dubai Connect page and she got in touch with Emirates on our behalf and booked the room. Upon arriving in Dubai, it’s yet again a very simple process. Exit the airport as though you are actually staying in Dubai (ie. get your passport stamped at immigration – because we have Australian passports we did not require a visa), once you’re through there is a shuttle bus that takes you straight from the airport to your hotel (which was thankfully only 4 mins drive), check in and get some well needed rest. The other upside is that alongside catching some z’s is that 1. you can freshen up and treat yourself to a shower (which feels like heaven when you’ve been stuck on a plane for quite some time) and 2. we got free hotel breakfast as well (I assume you would be entitled to lunch or dinner depending on your arrival time), and then hop back on the shuttle bus and make your way to the airport.

Bottom line: always dedicate some time to researching what’s on offer and what you are entitled to when having layovers – I’m not sure what and if any other airlines offer a similar option but remember for next time if you’re flying Emirates check out their Dubai Connect services!

If it turns out you are not eligible for the free accommodation and you really do not want to spend your time sitting on uncomfortable chairs or the floor here are some other recommendations:

  1. Whenever my family and I had layovers in Dubai we immediately headed to The Hub located in terminal B. The reason we spent our hours here was because of the comfy chairs and sofas – now obviously it is a restaurant and you cannot expect them to let you lounge around without making a purchase so it also meant that we could grab a snack and some drinks before our next flight.
  2. Although I have never used these services the Snooze Cubes sound like a super rad idea if you really want to grab some rest.
  3. There’s also the option of booking a room at the Airport Hotel which is conveniently located within the airport itself so it doesn’t mean having to leave the airport and arrange transportation – again I have not used these services but it was on the cards for me and Jordan before we found out about the free hotel instead.

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