Handling a Short Layover in Dubai


I just had my first layover in Dubai a few weeks ago, en route from Hong Kong to Newcastle. Hong Kong’s airport regularly trades places with Singapore’s for the title of best in the world, but even so, I was more impressed with Dubai’s airport. It probably had to do with the fact that there’s so much space.

My layover wasn’t long enough to go see the city, so instead I decided to see what the airport had to offer. One of the best things is that if you have a layover of four hours or more, you’ll get a free meal voucher from any information desk. This voucher is good at several sit-down restaurants and McDonald’s. Eating without a voucher is pretty pricey.

If you have cash to splash, you could easily blow it all at one of the spa and massage kiosks, the pool and the private lounges. I skipped on all that, so I don’t know if they’re worth the money.

Unfortunately, DXB is lacking art installations that would take up a lot of time, but chilling out is a viable option. There is tons of open space and lots of comfortable chairs at the gates. I thought the airport was also very quiet in general. If you’re cheap and cheeky, relax in the gender-segregated prayer rooms, or instead try the women and children-only area.

A huge plus is that showers are free, but bring your own toiletries or you’ll have to pay for those. Bathrooms are clean, but there aren’t enough stalls. I spent a good hour trying to find a bathroom with more than four stalls and no line, to no avail. Smoking sections are plentiful, and infinitely nicer than Doha’s.

All in all, there isn’t a ton to do, but it’s one of the calmest airports I’ve ever visited. There are a lot of bookstores, free newspapers at the gates, and the duty-free is worth a look – several brands of cigarettes are slightly cheaper than Hong Kong, though I don’t know how it compares to prices in European or American airports.

With the huge diversity of airport employees, you’ll most likely find someone to speak English or whatever your first language may be. The security workers are also incredibly polite, which never fails to amaze me. Although it lacks the pizzazz of other airports, DXB is perfectly adequate for a short layover.

What do you like to do at DXB?


About Author

Maureen always knew she wanted to travel. In college, she studied and traveled through the Caribbean and Central America, and the first time she fell in love was with Mexico City. After graduating, she spent several years teaching EFL in Europe, the Americas and Southeast Asia and traveling in every spare moment. She's currently living in Hong Kong, and getting lost while traveling is her main hobby.

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