Long transits through Dubai have just gotten much easier, which is needed now more than ever since flying during the pandemic is not business as usual.
Many travelers are having a hard time finding direct flights due to the lack of global availability and are forced to make a few layovers in order to get to their destination.
Take my recent itinerary to Mexico for example. What usually can be done as a simple direct flight had me stopping in 3 different airports over 24 hours. Many other passengers flying during these unpredictable times are seeing their own lengthened itineraries, sometimes with an over-night stop.
For anyone that needs to transit through Dubai, your connection just got a little smoother thanks to Emirates.
Emirates has officially re-launched its layover program called “Dubai Connect” on December 1st, which provides flyers with a free hotel room, airport transfers, and even meals. The program makes flying with the airline more attractive since all the stresses and costs of having a layover are handled by them.
Of course, there is some fine-print travelers need to know about.
Everything You Need To Know About Dubai Connect
Do I Need To Fly With Emirates?
Yes. Both flights need to be booked on the same ticket with Emirates in order to qualify for Dubai Connect.
For example, you can’t be flying into Dubai on Emirates and then to your next destination with another airline.
How long can my layover be?
Dubai Connect is available for layovers between 10 and 24 hours
Can I purposely choose an extra-long layover so I can take advantage of Dubai Connect?
Emirates only offers the program for travelers who don’t have any better option.
Let’s say for example you are flying from London to Tanzania with a layover in Dubai. If the layover in Dubai is only 2 hours, and you purposely choose a later flight that day, Dubai Connect is not available to you, since Emirates offers a fast route. However, let’s say the next flight to Tanzania is 13 hours away, making it vital for you to get a hotel, Dubai Connect is available to you since Emirates doesn’t offer a faster route for your itinerary.
The terms and conditions read: “To qualify for the offer, the passenger must be booked on the best available connection, that being the one with the shortest transit time in Dubai, between the inbound flight into Dubai and the outbound flight from Dubai.”
What Hotels Are Included in Dubai Connect?
The two major hotels Emirates uses for the Dubai Connect program are the Copthorne Hotel Dubai and the Le Meridien Airport Hotel Dubai. The program terms state that if those hotels are not available, Emirates has the right to select an alternative hotel.
The type of room you get depends on the class you are flying with. Business and first-class passengers are likely to get nicer rooms than economy passengers, but both hotels are nice regardless.
Le Meridien Airport Hotel Dubai
The Le Meridien is definitely the nicer of the two properties. The hotel is a massive property with almost 600 guest rooms, 4 swimming pools, many on-site restaurants and an extensive spa menu.
Even the most basic of rooms here are over 300 sq ft and feature a lush garden view.
Copthorne Hotel Dubai
While not as fancy, the Copthorne is still a great hotel to get a free night in. It’s a 10-minute drive from the airport and within walking distance to the Deira Shopping Mall. It also features a pool and 2 on-site restaurants
What Meals Are Included?
Emirates will pick up the tab for 1 meal at the hotel you’re staying at, which is dictated by the time you arrive. For example, if your layover in Dubai starts around 3pm, then your dinner will be included. If you arrive in Dubai at 6am, you’ll likely have breakfast included.
How Do I Get To The Hotel?
When you arrive at the airport, a representative at the Dubai Connect help desk will show you where to board your complimentary shuttle.
How Do Visa’s Work With Dubai Connect?
Many nations, like the USA, Canada and members of the EU, can enter the UAE either Visa-free or with a free Visa on arrival. When you land into Dubai and you are taking advantage of the Dubai Connect hotel-stay, you will need to comply with all normal visa rules and regulations, as you are leaving the airport and officially entering the UAE.
Thankfully, the Dubai Connect program also acts as a concierge of sorts and will help facilitate travelers obtaining their free Visa on arrival.
Covid-19 Rules with Dubai Connect
Yes, these are strange times, so of course, this program also has some additional (and hopefully temporary) Covid-19 restrictions.
In order to enter the UAE during the pandemic, all passengers will need to show proof of a negative PCR test, taken no longer than 96 hours before arrival. Without showing proof of this test, a passenger is not permitted to take part in Dubai Connect and they will have to remain inside the airport terminal.
However, there still are some options to make a layover a little easier in Dubai.
Economy Travelers – Let’s say your final destination is a country that does not require a PCR test, and you couldn’t get one in time for your Dubai layover, so you need to stay inside the terminal. The Dubai Connect program has a terminal-side lounge that eligible travelers can get access to instead. The lounge has comfy chairs, snacks, drinks, outlets for charging devices, bathrooms, etc.
Business and First Class Travelers – Premium class passengers that need to stay inside the terminal have the option of visiting the Dubai Connect lounge, but may also qualify to stay at the ‘Dubai International Hotel’, which is inside the terminal.
Can You Leave Your Hotel With Dubai Connect?
Let’s say the program put you up at the Le Meridien on a 20-hour layover and you want to venture over to the nearby shopping mall or Gold Souk market. You are more than welcome to leave the hotel property, but any costs incurred will be your responsibility.
Be on your best behavior…
Emirates reserves the right to discontinue the program at any time or refuse the offer to any booking based on the fare paid or other criteria, but they also have a few clauses for naughty passengers. The fine print mentions that if any passenger uses indecent language, is obviously under the influence of alcohol, or fails to take health and safety measures seriously (like masks on the flight for example) it could immediately void all Dubai Connect perks.
How To Book Dubai Connect
Dubai Connect needs to be booked at least 24 hours in advance of your flight.
After your flights have already been booked/confirmed, you can log into Emirates with your last name and booking reference code. Once logged into your booking, click the ‘manage’ option in the menu and then choose ‘Dubai Connect’.
The Dubai Connect features will be available to book online for all eligible itineraries.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories