inside DXB airport

Ultimate Guide of Things to do in Dubai Airport DXB

by Dubai Travel Planner

Where to stay, rest, play & dine in the world’s busiest passenger airport

Are you looking at a layover in Dubai International Airport (DXB) and trying to weigh up your options?

The good news is there’s a lot to see and do within the airport itself, there are definitely worse airports in the world you could be stuck in than Dubai International Aiport!

If you are looking at a layover of longer than 10 hours though, there are a few other options we recommend you look at:

  • Passengers travelling with Emirates or on a Qantas codeshare may be eligible to use the Dubai Connect complimentary layover service. We have a detailed guide here to Dubai Connect, click over to see if you are eligible and what you can get!
  • Use your layover time to explore the city of Dubai – we talk you through all of your Dubai Stopover options in this post here to suit a limited timeframe.
  • Book yourself a stay in a nearby airport hotel to freshen up and use pool, fitness & dining facilities.

In this guide, we are ghoing to focus specifically on staying airside at DXB during a layover.

NB – always allow AT LEAST 2 hours before changing flights in Dubai.  The airport is huge and if your flights take off from different parts of the terminal you will need every minute to clear through transit and get to your next flight, as well as enough time for baggage to move and accounting for any small delays you may encounter.

Staying at Dubai Airport during a long layover

Our suggestions is anything under 5 hours, you are best staying at the airport to prevent the hassles of checking in and out through immigration and risk missing your flight. 

International flights require checking in a minimum 2 hours beforehand, we’d strongly suggest even longer during peak travel periods (more so for congestion getting into the airport than how quickly you are processed through the check-in counters).

Note that all Emirates & Qantas codeshare flights depart from Terminal 3, but Terminal 3 is divided into concourse A, B, & C. Concourse B & C are connected, whilst A requires you to take an airport transit train, so you need another 5 to 10 minutes. Other international airlines operate from Terminal 1 which is called concourse D.

Airport Lounges at Dubai International Airport

This can be a great option for short to medium-length layovers (1 to 4 hours).  There are several options, some you may be able to get for “free” via loyalty programs, others you’d need to pay for.  

If you are flying Business class, you will of course automatically be given access to a lounge through your airlines own dedicated team, or there is the Dubai International Business Class lounge in Terminal 1, Concourse D for all other airlines.

If you don’t have a business class seat but do have a loyalty card such as Lounge Pass or Priority Pass, you can access several full services lounges including the Marhaba Lounges at all 3 terminals and Ahlan Business Lounges. 

Non-cardholders can also pay cash on arrival if there is space or prebook to guarantee a spot.  Check for any lounge entitlements with your credit cards too.

You can see all your Dubai Airport lounge options here.

A business class lounge at Dubai International Airport
Example of a Dubai business class lounge in Terminal 3

Sleeping at Dubai International Airport

Staying airside, there are currently only two sleeping options on offer (it appears the SnoozeCubs that used to operate in Terminal 1 are no longer operating).

Dubai International Terminal Hotel

Dubai International Terminal Hotel is the only hotel actually in the airport, Terminal 3.  Including full hotel facilities with restaurants, gym, spa, swimming pool this is your best luxury option without needing to actually leave the airport.  They do not offer family rooms but you can add up to one extra bed / cot with charge.  Room rates start from 650AED.

sleep ‘n fly Sleep Lounge

The other alternative is Sleep ‘n Fly, Terminal 3 who offer hourly rate YAWN Cabins & Igloo Pods, some minimum hour restrictions apply overnight to single and double cabins (usual in 4, 6, 8 & 10-hour blocks). Do note, these do not come with changing and washing facilities. Maximum height to add a child 115cm. Check carefully what you are booking as they are available for A. B & C concourse.

(Did you know Priority Pass cardholders can use this option instead of a lounge?!)

Washing & Care Facilities at Dubai International Airport

Complimentary shower facilities are located in Terminal 3 between gates B13 and B19.

Be Relax customers can also make use of shower facilities at the spa near Gate A1, A23, B10, B13, B18, B23 Terminal 3 and Gate D9 Terminal 1.

Families will find Baby Care rooms throughout all terminals of the airport.

Interesting things to do in Dubai Airport

  • Zen Gardens – the airport’s little slice of indoor nature is not a bad place to chill out for a while. Located in Terminal 3 between gates B7 and B27.  It also includes a children’s area with play equipment, TV’s, interactive games zone and baby change facilities.
  • Family Zone – found in Terminal 3 Concourse B between gates B26 and B32 this is a free playground area with comfortable seating for parents.
  • Bounce – Trampolining during your layover? Why not!  The internationally renowned free jump revolution can now be hired by 30 minute or hour blocks.  This is the perfect way to exhaust your little ones bewteen flights (ideally 3 years+ toilet trained).  50AED for 30 minutes of 80AED for one hour.  Located in Terminal 3 near gate B27
  • Surf the net – Well, what else do we all actually do these days?  Ultra-fast, free internet WOW-fi is only free for the first 60 minutes.  If you need longer than this you’ll need to move to the paid service offered by Boingo
  • Shopping and eating – not always ideal with little ones in tow but there are literally dozens of choices from fine dining to family favourites like Giraffe or simple fast food and cafe takeouts.

Transiting around Dubai International Airport DXB

We will reiterate again Dubai Airport is huge (so huge it is the second-largest building in the world by floor space and the world’s largest passenger terminal)! If you’re looking to simply stretch your legs between flights you won’t be disappointed.

Those who struggle with walking though may need assisted transfer services. These should be booked in advance with Emirates or Qantas codeshare.

Young families will also be pleased to know there are complimentary strollers available at Dubai Airport.  They’re not always available in every rack, but you should eventually find one!

In Terminal 3, passengers can walk between B-Gates and C-Gates and take a short airport train to A-Gates.

If you are transferring to Terminal 1 for another airline, “D-Gates” are reachable via a short trip on an airport train, these are well signposted or concourse staff can help you find your way.

Dubai World Central (DWC)

Dubai’s second airport, DWC Al Maktoum International Airport, is approximately 40km away from DXB. If your next flight is from DWC, you will need to clear immigration and collect your baggage before taking a taxi or Dubai Metro to Ibn Battuta station where you will be able to take a dedicated bus to DWC. Please allow yourself several hours between flights for a DXB to DWC connection, we’d recommend 3.5 to 4 hours.

Dubai Airport Layover

We hope this helps prepare you for what to expect at Dubai International Airport. Remember to check your eligibility for Dubai Connect or check out some of the transit tour options suggested here, especially if you’re visiting in the cooler winter months.

You may even decide to stay a little longer next time! You can start your journey to exploring Dubai 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

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