the view of a highway in Dubai from the wing of a plane

Free airline transit buses Dubai to Abu Dhabi explained

by Dubai Travel Planner

What do you mean something for free in Dubai?! Yes, a city with a reputation for being costly, this little piece of advice might just surprise you.

One of the great perks for tourists who want to cross between the country’s biggest cities is the free airline buses offered by both Emirates and Etihad. Here we are going to talk you through exactly how these services work.

(There are plenty of catches though, so read on for the fine print!!)

PLEASE NOTE: Since COVID, these free transfers have become much more limited services. Domestic border restrictions may be present between Dubai and Abu Dhabi emirates at the time of your journey. You can read the full Dubai-Abu Dhabi border crossing rules here to understand how your journey may be affected.

You may also be interested in:

Emirates free transit bus from Dubai to Abu Dhabi

If you are landing at Dubai International Airport (DXB), but want to travel to Abu Dhabi, you can book your airline ticket to actually end in Abu Dhabi and cover off the last 160kms or so by ground transportation.

When booking your airline ticket with Emirates, you simply need to enter your end destination as ZVJ. (Emirates does not fly directly to AUH airport).

You’re Abu Dhabi arrival point is outside the Emirates Abu Dhabi office in Khalidiya, on the Corniche.

The bus runs 3 times a day (as at January 2022) and you will be allocated a seat at the same time you are issued your airline ticket.  You can call Emirates to add this service later, but it MUST be pre-booked.

Departing fromDepartureArrival
Dubai to Abu Dhabi03.0005.15
Dubai to Abu Dhabi10.0012.15
Dubai to Abu Dhabi15.0017.15

There are a few catches to be aware of when booking this “FREE” option:

  • You have to transfer straight from your Emirates flight, to the bus stop at Terminal 3 and onwards to Abu Dhabi – no stopping for sightseeing a day or two in Dubai before you transit onwards!
  • The Emirates office in Khalaydia, whilst in a great spot for Abu Dhabi sightseeing and staying along the Corniche, is nowhere near Abu Dhabi International Airport AUH. If you are after a connecting to a flight at AUH, you then need to take a taxi back to AUH, about 80AED / $22USD.
Dubai weather in August: Dubai's hottest month explained

Emirates bus from Abu Dhabi to DXB

You can also use the Emirates free transit bus in reverse.  If you have been spending some time in Abu Dhabi but will fly back out of DXB with Emirates, you simply book your return ticket to start from ZVJ and catch the bus from the Emirates Abu Dhabi office in Khalaydia back to DXB Terminal 3 (you’ll be dropped at Arrivals, opposite Exit 4)

This service operates 3 times a day as follows:

Departing FromDeparture Arrival
Abu Dhabi to Dubai03.0005.00
Abu Dhabi to Dubai09.4511.45
Abu Dhabi to Dubai22.0023.59

Flying Etihad? Free transit service from Dubai to AUH

If you have been visiting Dubai, but ultimately need to fly out from Abu Dhabi International Aiport (AUH) with Etihad, then you can use the Etihad free coach transfer service.

This leaves from Etihad Travel Mall (Mazaya Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Safa 2).  You can check the exact schedule here.

You must pre-book this service using your departure airport as XNB.

Flying Etihad

Landed in AUH but want to end in Dubai?

The free transit bus system also works in reverse with Etihad. The Etihad Coach departs from outside Terminal 3 AUH and drops passengers to Etihad Travel Mall, Al Safa Dubai with daily services you can see here.

If you are connecting onward to DXB, you can catch the Metro from Noor Bank station (Red Line) and chase to the Green Line for DXB at Union Station. For this, you will need to buy a Nol card.

Again your seat on the free coach must be pre-booked (either with your ticket or by phoning an Etihad call centre at least 24 hours in advance), with your final destination as XNB.

This free coach service between Abu Dhabi and Dubai is only available to passengers who have flown with Etihad.

If you’re not sure whether the free airline transit bus is the right transport option for you, pop back over to see all Dubai to Abu Dhabi transport options here.

Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai

Up-to-date COVID Rules in Dubai - A guide for tourists in 2022

Take me back to the Dubai Essential Planning Information

Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE and transit passengers self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our recommendation links.

Dubai Travel Planner

You may also like


Dan April 28, 2022 - 5:17 pm

Can you use Eithad’s bus service from Dubai to AUH if you fly with another airline? I’d be happy yo pay them.

Dubai Travel Planner April 28, 2022 - 6:41 pm

Hi Dan, our understanding is this service is only available to Etihad ticket holders. You would need to contact the airline but I don’t believe there’s a paid option for other AUH passengers, unfortunately.


Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Learn More