What do you mean something for free in Dubai?! Yes, this little piece of advice might just surprise you in a city with a reputation for being costly.
One of the great perks for tourists who want to cross between the country’s biggest cities is the free airline buses that Emirates and Etihad offer.
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!!)
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- Transport in Dubai
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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 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 five times a day (as of September 2023), 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.
|DXB to Abu Dhabi||03:00||05:15|
|DXB to Abu Dhabi||06:30||08:45|
|DXB to Abu Dhabi||10:00||12:15|
|DXB to Abu Dhabi||15:00||17:15|
|DXB to Abu Dhabi||23:00||01:15|
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 connecting to a flight at AUH, you then need to take a taxi back to AUH from the Corniche, about 80AED / $22 USD.
Emirates Free 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.
You catch the coach from the Emirates Abu Dhabi office in Khalaydia back to DXB Terminal 3 (you’ll be dropped at Arrivals, Check-in Area C)
This service operates five times a day as follows:
|Abu Dhabi to DXB||03:00||05:15|
|Abu Dhabi to DXB||06:15||08:15|
|Abu Dhabi to DXB||09.30||11.45|
|Abu Dhabi to DXB||16:30||18.45|
|Abu Dhabi to DXB||22.00||23.59|
Flying Etihad: Free coach from Dubai to AUH
If you have been visiting Dubai but ultimately need to fly out from Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) with Etihad, then you can use the Etihad free coach transfer service.
They are now back to a full service since COVID, offering 10 daily transfers from Dubai to AUH.
This leaves from Etihad Travel Mall (Al Wasl 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.
If you don’t pre-book, your seat is not guaranteed. You can still get a walk-in seat on the coach for 25AED if space is available
Landed in AUH but want to end in Dubai?
The free transit coach system also works in reverse with Etihad. The Etihad Coach departs from outside Terminal 3 AUH and drops passengers at 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.
AirArabia AUH to Dubai
New to the complimentary transfer services game, AirArabia now also offers a twice-daily service for passengers arriving in AUH to their office in Karama, Dubai.
- Departs AUH at 11:30, arrives Karama 14:00
- Departs AUH 23:30, arrives Karama 02:00
Paid Airport Coach Service
New in 2022, Abu Dhabi International Airport has introduced “AUH Express” – offering a paid shuttle service from AUH to Ibn Battuta, Dubai.
From Ibn Battuta, passengers can transfer to Dubai’s Metro and local bus network.
Tickets can be bought at either Ibn Battuta station to travel to Abu Dhabi or at the airport terminal if you arrive in AUH. They cost 35 AED one way.
This is a little bit more than the Intercity bus service Dubai-Abu Dhabi but is more point-to-point and faster, so may be the preferred option for many travellers.
NB – Passengers flying WizzAir are invited to use AUH Express for free as part of their airline ticket.
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
- Pop into our essential planning information page, it includes everything you need to know about getting around Dubai, a handy guide on what to pack, and top tips for first-timers on the do’s and don’ts, laws, and customs to be aware of.
- Check out this incredible list of 150+ places you should visit when you’re in Dubai.
- Pick up a Dubai Pass from iVenture or a Go City Dubai Pass to save up to 50% on top Dubai attractions.
- Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance!!!
- Discover the best areas to stay in Dubai, or bag a bargain on your accommodation here:
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