Monday, February 11, 2013

Emirates - Dubai Connect

Before you read this, note:
I do NOT work for Emirates or Dubai Airport.
I have NOT done a Phd on Emirates or Dubai Airport.
I am ONLY sharing my experience as a traveler.
Please read at your own risk.
Do the rest of the research on your own.


Here is something all travelers would find useful. I have been a Skywards member for about four years now and I never knew about this. Recently, for my trip to India, we booked my return trip flights from Emirates.com. It wasn't the best option because it had a nine hour stopover in Dubai on my way back but I was more interested in getting a cheaper ticket. All other tickets were crazy expensive and my trip was a last minute decision. 

I have traveled by Emirates several times before when I was studying in England but I never actually bothered booking it on their website and this is probably why I didn't know about their Dubai Connect program. Emirates will provide free transit visa for 96 hours, a complimentary hotel room with a free meal IF you have a stopover in Dubai for more than eight hours (and less than 24 hours) and have paid more than $1,100 for your trip. 

If you book on their website, it will mention it on the itinerary whether you are eligible for the complimentary visa and hotel or not and it will give you an option to book for the room as soon as you purchase the ticket (you have to make sure you book a room otherwise you might not get one when you get to Dubai). If you didn't book from the website then call your travel agent and make sure they hook you up. 

I experienced it this time. I had an 8 hours and 45 minutes long halt in Dubai before my flight to New York. So here it is; I'll explain everything step by step and hope this will help anyone who gets stuck for this long in Dubai.

1. New Delhi:

My origin destination was New Delhi. From there, I had a flight to Dubai (8.75 hours stopover) and then a flight to New York. During check-in at Delhi Airport, I was given STPC (Stopover Paid by Carrier) vouchers for the Dubai Connect program along with all my other boarding passes. They give you a bunch of vouchers which all look the same but you need to make sure you keep all of them.

2. Dubai

Once you get off at Dubai airport, follow the signs for arrival. Once you reach the arrivals level, proceed to the semi-circular Customer service desk in the middle of the hall where they will look through the vouchers and your passport and validate everything. 

Then they will ask you to go to the bank on the right of the immigration hall (which looks like a small booth for currency exchange). On a good day, there shouldn't be much of a line. I only had to wait about five minutes. Give all your vouchers to them and they will affix a UAE revenue stamp behind one of the vouchers (no charge to you) and hand it back. 

From here, turn back and proceed on the right; there will be huge lines for immigration. If you're lucky, you won't have to wait much. I waited less than ten minutes for this. Here they will scan your eyes (mandatory for all Indian citizens) and stamp you with a transit visa. If you're a gold card holder, you can use the fast track lane but it doesn't necessarily have to be the fastest option. I'm not sure how it works for non-Indians but this is how I did it. 

Once you get done with immigration, keep walking your way out. If you have an economy class ticket, you'll need to get to Exit 1 and I'm not sure about first/business class passengers. Before getting out, you'll need to clear customs. This is pretty simple; just put your handbags through the scanner and you're done. You don't need to worry about your luggage because it would be checked in all the way to New York (or wherever your final destination is).

At Exit 1, you'll find a desk for Copthorne Hotel (Airport hotel) where they will ask you to wait until the shuttle arrives. Once the shuttle is there, they'll board everyone onto the bus. It is a 5-10 minutes drive from the airport. This bus leaves from Exit 1 to the hotel every ten minutes so don't worry if you miss it once; it'll come around. You'll be surprised how many people know about this Dubai Connect thing. The bus that I got on was super crowded.

Once you reach the hotel, you'll check in, they don't charge you anything or ask for your credit card. They will just see the vouchers and give you the room keys. They will also mention the time they will give you a wake-up call and what time your check-out is. The wake up call will be 2.5 hours before your next flight and the pick-up is two hours before the flight. This should give you enough time to do some duty-free shopping before boarding.

If you reach the hotel sometime during the day then there is a mall close to the hotel where you can go and hangout if you don't feel like resting. I reached pretty late at night and my eyes were drooping when I got to the hotel.

This is the kind of room you get.
The room isn't anything great but comfortable enough to get some sleep and shower. There is no mini-bar or free wi-fi and internet charges are super expensive so don't even bother. The TV has very limited channels so that is pointless, too. There are two bottles of mineral water with glasses. The bathroom has clean towels, two sachets of shampoo, two shower caps and two bars of soap. There isn't any hairdryer and I was way too tired to call room service, so I never bothered to check if I could have one. The bed doesn't have any bed bugs. Trust me, that's the first thing I checked for. I slept quite comfortably.

If you have an early flight, remember that complimentary breakfast is at 5:30 AM. My pick-up was at 5:30 AM because my flight was at 8:30 AM so I didn't get time to eat at the hotel. But I had enough time to eat breakfast at the airport. 

None of this entire process is confusing if you have read everything that I just wrote and will be able to figure it out fast enough. You'll be surprised how easy it all is. Just make sure your handbags don't have any of the items that are illegal in the UAE and you're good to go. 

Hope this information will be helpful!

Best of luck!
x

P.S. Please do not advertise anything under the comments section. I will delete every single one of them if you try to promote any services of any kind here. This post is purely factual and is not for the purposes of selling anything. Thank you for your cooperation.

62 comments:

  1. Hi Akriti,
    Thanks - How easy was it to around shopping - Transportation etc?

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    1. I reached late at night so couldn't go out shopping. I just slept for whatever time I had in the hotel. But I've heard it's really not hard to go around. Go to the reception and ask them to call a cab for you and from there you can go around. People in Dubai are all nice so you can probably ask the driver to take you to the malls or souks.

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  2. Thanks for such a detailed post. I wasn't having much luck locating Dubai Connect visa information, so your post definitely helped. I'm also an Indian citizen making a connection, and it's not usual to find easy visa procedures. Your post clarified things, but I confirmed with Emirates as well.

    BTW, do you realize that most of the comments on your post are 'link spam'? The comments aren't from real people - they are either from comment bots or people paid to post comments to blogs. Look up 'Spam in blogs' on wikipedia.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yeah, I figured it was spam. I have deleted way too many fake comments in the past. I don't actually bother anymore. Glad the post helped you, though. Take care and have a safe trip :)

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    2. Hi, thanks for this post. I would also like to confirm with you if you just got the visa on arrival, and did not have to worry about it at all earlier.

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  3. is the minimum $1.050 is compulsory to get a free hotel?
    I cannot find this information in the website.
    Thanks

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    1. It says "Eligibility to ‘Dubai Connect’ will be determined against a minimum fare type paid for your Emirates flight. This is indicated during the booking process." ... If you book through their website, they will indicate whether you are eligible or not. If you book through the means of a travel agent or travel website, make sure you ask them if you qualify or not.

      While I was doing my research about this, I read on one of the travel forums that the minimum fare is $1,100 ... Now this may be wrong. The best way to find out is to just ask.

      Hope this helps.

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  4. Thanks for your post I found it informative as I'll be using the service tomorrow. I wonder how close the metro is, I arrive in the evening so I'd like to hop on and visit the Dubai Mall.

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    1. The Deira City Centre mall is a five minute walk from the hotel. The metro should be about a 15 minute walk. The hotel is far from the major Dubai attractions but you can always rent a cab to get to the places. Or ask the staff at the reception about traveling within the city; they are friendly and would be happy to assist you.

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  5. I just booked a return ticket AMS-DXB-AMS but after asked to the service centre, I am not eligilble for the free hotel.. too bad as my stopover is 20 hours in Dubai I should looking for a hotel to layover

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    1. Go to the Dubai Airport website and I'm sure they'll list a bunch of hotel options for you to book.

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    2. The other pre-requisite is that you should NOT have any earlier connections that what you have chosen. Supposing you are at transit in Dubai and you have an earlier flight scheduled to AMS that what you have chose, you would not be eligible for the Dubai Connect option. If you are eligible, the Emirates website would mention this in Manage your booking.

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  6. A very well written blog piece - Thanks Akriti

    I was actually looking for a city tour and what will be a few low-cost options. I've 9 hours layover starting early morning and want to use the visa to see around - any suggestions?

    Ciao
    Shashi

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    Replies
    1. 9 hours are way too little to get a tour of the city (I think). You spend an hour at the airport getting out. If you're lucky and the airport is not busy, you could spend less. If you don't plan to check into a hotel then that can save you a lot of time. You could just get into a taxi or the metro and go around the city. Most malls usually open at around 10 am, I think.

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  7. Thanks for the informative write-up. I'm planning to take Emirates next month and will try to take advantage of the Dubai Connect program as well. Do you know how much the hotel charges for the internet? I think the airport has free wi-fi though, does it?

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    1. I think the wifi charge is AED 20.00 per hour at the hotel. I might be wrong. Wifi at the airport is free.

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  8. Hi ive booked the flight ticket to kuala lumpur from riyadh
    And my ticket is eligible for the dubai connect service. Ive booked the service in the manage my booking section. So i dont have to do anything else now

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  9. Will it say anything on my e ticket after i booked the connect service

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    1. It won't say anything on your e-ticket. They will have your booking information in their system. You must take the vouchers before leaving for Dubai from your origin destination.

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  10. The Minimum fare is USD900 which is the base fare excluding the taxes.

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    1. It must've changed then. It was $1,100 last year. In any case, whether you are eligible or not will be indicated during the time of booking on emirates.com. So let emirates do the thinking.

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    2. Actually, the minimum fare depends on whether your ticket is one way or return and where you are starting/finishing your journey.

      For anyone travelling to/from Australia/New Zealand, there is no minimum fare.

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  11. Nice, helpful post. Travelled on 12th.May'13 from Mumbai to SF,had 20 hr.halt at Dubai.Enjoyed the Dubai Connect -could go around Dubai. Sight seeing by cab,3 persons, arranged at the hotel (Arabia Park Hotel) @USD40.00 each. WIFI is free, one can collect id & password at the helpdesk.

    Kishor.

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  12. Hi, I'm flying out on Thursday and have the Emirates stopover in Dubai. Can you tell me what the situation is with your checked in baggage? Does it go through or do you need to pick it up and check it in again in Dubai?
    Thanks for all of the information!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It will be checked all the way to your final destination so you can just walk out with your hand carry. Make sure you tell them to check it all the way, though (just to be safe), at your origin destination.

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  13. Hi Akriti Sharma, I saw on your picture that the room has two beds so if I go alone, will I have to stay with another passenger ?

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    Replies
    1. Oh no, not at all. They probably only had that room for me at the time I arrived. But you won't have to share with any stranger. They will give you a room just for you (all depends on what kind of room they have at the moment).

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  14. Thanks for the details. Can I take Dubai connect on both my outbound & returning flight if both have same layovers? Or is it offered for one way only even if I buy USA-India round trip through Emirates.com ?
    Can I get Dubai connect if I buy emirates tickets through kayak.com?
    Does the hotel offer any sightseeing options or free tours? If yes, do the tours pick up & drop off at the hotel on time?

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  15. Thanks for the informative post. Just to confirm - do you hold an Indian passport ? And did Emirates apply for the transit visa on your behalf ?

    My parents are traveling from India to US on Emirates and they have a 14 hour layover in Dubai. I want to avail of this service for them, but it is unclear from the website if they will have to apply for the transit visa themselves in advance or does Emirates arrange it for them ? Their website is unclear on this :

    "You must be successful in obtaining entry into the United Arab Emirates to be eligible for ‘Dubai Connect’. Certain nationalities do not require visas to enter the United Arab Emirates. For other nationalities Emirates offers to sponsor your application for a complimentary visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 24 hours. However, issuance of visas is purely at the discretion of the United Arab Emirates immigration authorities and Emirates takes no responsibility should your visa application be rejected. We note that for some passport holders the Emirates immigration authorities refuse to process visa applications. For these passport holders Emirates will not make an application and you will automatically not be eligible for ‘Dubai Connect’.

    It is your responsibility to obtain (for all travelers including infants and children) all required travel documents for obtaining an entry visa into the UAE at your own expense prior to making a booking with us."

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I have an Indian passport and Indians don't have issues getting a UAE visa. If your parents are eligible for Dubai connect and it says so on the website (when they book tickets on Emirates.com, it will say so if they are eligible for Dubai connect. Let me clarify that just because they have a 14 hr layover does not mean that they are automatically eligible for it. I have learned that it has something to do with the fare price as well. It will clearly mention on their e-tickets if they are eligible or not), then they don't need to do anything else.

      Also, they need to book a room in advance because even if they have Dubai connect but fail to book a room, they might not get the services. So before they leave, go on Emirates.com, sign in and go to the e-ticket. There will be an option to book a room. All this is free and they don't need to spend a penny to get this service.

      Just make sure that they pick up their vouchers from the security check-in counters in India and when they reach Dubai, they just need to validate the vouchers and on their way out, at immigration's, they will get a 24-hour transit visa stamped on their passports (along with finger prints and retina scans). All this will be done on their way out during immigration's.

      I hope this was helpful.

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    2. yeah its true..one wont be eligible for Dubai connect because they have long 8+ hour layover..your fare counts and need to book in advance..in my case i did it immediately after booking my emirates ticket.It took me 4hrs untill i clear my immigration.Dubai airport is huge and lots of passengers transit,so the time it took to get out of airport..

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  16. It it necessary that the ticket price should be more than 1100 one way to qualify for the dubai connect program? or can it be inbound and outbound combined. I have booked both ways through Emirates. Also i did it through a travel website.

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    Replies
    1. No, it can be return trip. Your entire trip should meet the base fare amount. And if you did it through a travel website and didn't see the option for Dubai Connect there, then call customer service and ask them to find out if you were eligible or not.

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  17. Thank you very much for detailed information, am travelling from India to Dallas with Emirates on 28th dec 2013 and my connection time in Dubai was 14 hrs...when booking ticket through emirates.com,it showed that i was eligible for "Dubai connect".Immediately after booking my ticket i got registered for Dubai connect and given a room..i was asked to collect vocher at time of check in at hyd
    I was searching for help about facilities offered and what to do,came across your blog and clarified..once again thanks for making my journey little easy

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  18. This post is real helpful. I am travelling to LA from india via dubai. I have booked a Dubai Connect hotel. Just had a question, do i have to apply for a visa before hand or they will take care of everything once i arrive in dubai?

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  19. Hey there this post was very helpful and i have been there ...my connection was 14 hrs and really had a good time...you can also go for Dubai tours..At hotel they will arrange and i paid 30$ and went to city tour...very memorable experience had seen beautiful city Palm islands,5 star hotels,Burj Al Arab,Burj Khalifa Dubai and many shopping mallss.Really very memorable experience..if u get a chance, dont just sleep just check the city out..i will update about this on my blog and panoroma pictures of rooms in hotel and dubai city tour pics

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the info. I'll be sure to takethat tour. Did you use SunTour by any chance? Also what hotel did you stay in?

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  20. Hi just booked a ticket to Dubai and am eligible for dubai connect. As the one of the above comments from Akriti says that we can book a room also but i dont see that option when i goto manage booking. Can someone give me the steps to find it out in manage booking?

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  21. Hi,
    I booked using make my trip and i dont see option to book the hotel. Do i need to book hotel on my own in order for this dubai connect or will emirates provide the voucher for hotel at the time of check in. Please clarify this as i will travelling soon. Thanks for your detailed post.

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    Replies
    1. If you didn't see the option on the Emirates website after you booked your trip, then you are probably not eligible for Dubai connect. The Emirates website will clearly mention that you are eligible for Dubai connect and after you have booked the ticket, there will be an option to book for a hotel room. If you do not find this option, then you will not get the voucher. The vouchers are provided at your origin (wherever you take off from). You will not receive anything in Dubai and any hotel you book on your own, you have to pay for out of your pocket.

      Also know that if you don't have hotel vouchers, you will not receive the free transit visa, therefore you won't be allowed out of Dubai Airport to even make it to the hotel.

      If you still wish to visit Dubai, you will have to pay for transit visa and I'm not aware of its costs. Please check Dubai International Airport's website for further information.

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    2. I booked through Kayak.com, and also didn't see anything about qualifying for Dubai connect. I called the customer service number to check, and sure enough, I qualified for both directions on my trip from Seattle to Dar es Salaam. The rep booked it for me, it was very easy. Worth a phone call to check.

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    3. I'm glad it all worked out for you.

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  22. Thank you so much for all the information! I just finished reserving my room through Dubai Connect. Does Emirates use the same hotel for everyone? Or do they have a few hotels they use?

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    Replies
    1. I think they have just one because I don't remember different bus pick-ups. There was just one bus that came and everyone got on it and those who didn't get a seat were told that the same bus would come back for them in ten minutes. But then again, I wouldn't know. I'm only telling you my experience.

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  23. This is one of the best and well-written blogs. Amazing piece of information! Thank you!

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  24. Your blog makes it easy and time saving. Thank you

    A question

    Is Dubai connect subject to availability even if you are eligible and pre booked it? Say they are out of rooms.

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    Replies
    1. As I mentioned above, once you have booked your ticket on Emirates.com, you will be given an option to book a room (even if your trip is weeks away). If you book a room online, you are guaranteed a room. If you forget to book it, then you may not get one (depending on availability on that day).

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  25. Can you let me know how far was the hotel from the airport?

    My Parents are travelling from India to USA and have the exact stayover as you have mentioned. There ticket does mention about Dubai Connect

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    Replies
    1. It's a 10 minutes drive from the airport. The shuttle will pick them up.

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  26. Thank you so much. I am about to take a flight from DXB to Madrid with 14 hours of layover which as you said once i booked the ticket it appeared on my itinerary that i am eligible for dubai connect service. Hope i don't get lost once i get to dubai airport. lol

    So helpful article!

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  27. Thank you for this detailed and informative post!! I leave in Aug 5th DFW-DXB-ACC. After purchasing my tix I didn't see anything saying I was eligible for Dubai connect. So I called
    Emirates customer service n they told me me that I was eligible,right then n there I was booked for a hotel through the phone. The guy on the phn didnt tell me any other steps to take. They then sent me a new email of my iteranary which stated that my hotel booking has been confirmed. Now my question to you.. all I have to do now is ask for rmy vouchers at my departing airport right? I Dont need to call the hotel at all?

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    1. Yep, all you need to do is get the vouchers and that's it. Everything I explained is all you need to do.

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  28. Thank you so much for your I formative post Akriti! I have an 8.5 hour layover in Dubai and I was dreading those hard airport benches. Because of you I have booked my complementary hotel room. What a relief! :) maybe I will take a quick city tour too.
    Thanks!!!!

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    Replies
    1. Glad it helped you. Hope you had a nice trip.

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  29. We were not aware of this Dubai Connect visa information, so we missed this opportunity last time, even though we had more than 8 hours Dubai stopover. However, we will make use of this in our next journey. Thanks for this sharing this detailed post.

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