One of the benefits of flying through Dubai is the ease of exploring the city during a long layover! We tried to get an extra day in Dubai but could not without tacking on an extra $500 for the flights, so we opted to do a long layover on the return. Little did we know, we also would miss our flight to Mauritius on the way there, meaning we had two 12-hour layovers in Dubai! While I would have preferred to be in Mauritius on the beach, there are worse places to be stuck, that is for sure. I mean, the tallest building in the world is pretty neat.
So we got to experience Dubai Connect twice: on the way there, we got the “economy version” and on the way home, we got the “business class” version since we had upgraded our flights. No surprise, business class Dubai Connect is way better, but the economy version gets the job done and is just fine (even for someone terrified of grubby airport hotels). Dubai Connect is available on economy flight layovers over between 8 and 24 hours, and business class layovers between 6 and 24 hours. Dubai Connect is free of charge and already built into the price of your ticket, so it is silly not to take advantage! You do need to request the service after you purchase your ticket–but it’s very easy to do with a couple of quick clicks on Emirate’s website from your existing booking.
The UAE makes it extraordinarily easy to go through customs as a transfer–we waited all of 15 minutes as an economy passenger and all of 5 when we were in business class. No visa fees and no prior paperwork required for U.S. citizens.
The Economy Version: We stayed at the Copthorne Airport Hotel, lobby is sort of weird, food is passable but not good, rooms are simple but are very clean. You take a minibus from the airport to the hotel and back for your flight. Super duper close to the metro, though!
The Business Class Version: We were put up at the Roda al Bustan which was lovely (room pictured below), food was quite amazing (huge brunch buffet spread), and you have a private driver to and from the airport. In fact, business class for Emirates has an entirely separate terminal for check-in, customs, and security, so we made it from hotel door to lounge in about 15 minutes.
I actually have a college friend living and working in Dubai, so we figured out (with some diligent wifi hunting–thankfully not hard to find in Dubai) how to meet up both on our way there and on our return! It was lovely to see her and meet her boyfriend as it’s been a few years. We also laughed about some things just so typical of the UAE–like administrative/paperwork processes, such as having to stop at 4 people to get a wifi password, which was free for us, when we were staying at the Copthorne. It literally took 25 minutes. Things were much smoother at Roda al Bustan, and everyone at both hotels were very helpful giving us directions to the metro, etc.
In either place, it’s easy to pick up a taxi or Uber to get downtown. We opted for the metro, as it is super clean, super safe, and an easy 15 minute ride to the Burj Khalifa (for example). In fact, this applies to all of Dubai: it is super clean, very safe (for women and children too–they have their own car on the metro where men are not allowed, which is strictly followed), and very accessible. Even at night. However, Dubai is a bit sprawling, and it does take some time to get from point A to point B. Not to mention, metro stations are a good walk from everywhere, particularly from the Burj Khalifa/Dubia Mall metro stop. We easily got in about 20,000 steps from just 6-7 hours in Dubai!
What you want to do in Dubai depends on you! There is lots to see, and part of the fun of Dubai (at least for us) is gawking at Dubai. Everything is bigger, brighter, faster, whatever. The novelty factor is definitely there. Certainly some of the highlights are the Burj Khalifa, the Burj Al Arab, as well as old Dubai. I’ll be sharing more of what we did (err where we walked and walked and walked) in a future post.
Dubai Connect is a great reason to choose Emirates, and it really does run very smoothly in either economy or business class. It’s always nice to have a place to shower (hint: bring a change of clothes for your next flight…since we weren’t prepared to stop in Dubai on the way, we didn’t have one and so badly wished we had) before a long flight. It’s even better to have such a fascinating city in the United Arab Emirates at your door step to explore while you are waiting for your next destination.