Review: Emirates Dubai Connect Experience

Have an extended layover with Emirates? Dubai Connect gives you a hotel, meals and two-way airport transfer- all for free.

After arriving in Dubai, I had a 13 hours 40 minutes layover until my flight to Geneva. 

That would normally be a huge pain, even with First Class lounge access, but fortunately Emirates doesn’t leave its transit passengers high and dry. Thanks to the Dubai Connect programme, you can enjoy a hotel room, transport and meals, all paid for by Emirates.

💦🚿 Golden Showers

Who is eligible for Dubai Connect?

Dubai Connect

Dubai Connect is available to Emirates passengers in any cabin who have an itinerary with a connecting time of 8-26 hours. These are hard-coded limits dictated by a computer system; if you’re just shy of 8 hours or just over 26 hours, you won’t be able to book this service.

In addition to this, the connecting flight on your itinerary must be the best available connection. That’s to say, if a shorter connection of <8 hours exists and you do not choose it, you will not be eligible for Dubai Connect on your longer layover.

Fortunately, the system is forgiving enough to take into account award availability. For instance, my itinerary from Singapore to Geneva was as follows: 

 DepartArrive
SIN-DXB (EK355)21000100 (+1)
Layover: 13h 40m
DXB-GVA (EK83)14401845

There was an alternative flight from Dubai to Geneva (EK89) that departs at 0840 hours. This means that theoretically, I could book this itinerary with a layover of 7h 40m (had I been willing to pay cash), below the 8-hour threshold for Dubai Connect. But since there was no First Class award space on EK89, the system allowed me to book Dubai Connect regardless.

Finally, do note that Dubai Connect requires all tickets be booked on a single PNR. If you book two separate tickets, you will not be eligible. 

What does Dubai Connect cover?

Dubai Connect covers:

  • Hotel accommodation
  • Meals (the number of which depends on the duration; you’ll receive breakfast, lunch and dinner during the traditional windows)
  • A temporary entry visa into Dubai (not required for Singaporeans)
  • Two-way transfers between airport and hotel

Any additional charges incurred at the hotel e.g. spa, tours, must be covered by the passenger. 

What hotel will I receive?

Le Meridien Dubai

The hotel you receive depends on the cabin you’re flying in.

The general rule is:

  • First Class: JW Marriott Marquis Dubai
  • Business Class: Le Meridien Dubai
  • Premium Economy and Economy Class: Copthorne Hotel Dubai

Quite frankly, First Class passengers might prefer the Business Class hotel, since the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai is down in Business Bay (15 minutes from the airport), compared to the Le Meridien Dubai (5 minutes). It may not sound like a lot, but every minute counts when you’re tired and cranky!

How do I book Dubai Connect?

Dubai Connect is not processed automatically; you must submit a request at least 24 hours prior to departure. This can be done under Manage My Booking. 

You’ll know your request is confirmed once you see “Room 1” and your name next to it. 

Dubai Connect process

On check-in at your first port of departure, you should receive two additional vouchers (or three, if you need a visa) printed on boarding pass cardstock. 

I checked-in at Changi Jewel’s Early Check In facility and the automated kiosk did not issue me the vouchers. Fortunately, there was a manned Emirates desk where the staff member managed to print them out. 

Jewel early check-in
Dubai Connect vouchers

If you don’t get your vouchers at the first port of departure however, it’s not the end of the world. You can still claim them on arrival in Dubai, at the immigration hall. Simply look out for the signs for “Emirates Arrival Services”, and later “Dubai Connect”. It’s impossible to miss. 

Dubai arrival hall
Dubai arrival hall
Dubai Connect desk

There are separate counters for First and Business Class passengers, as well as for Economy Class. 

Emirates Connect: First and Business Class
Emirates Connect: Premium Economy and Economy Class

Once you’ve received your vouchers (or if you already hold them from your first port of departure), clear immigration as per normal and exit the secure area.

Exiting secure area

If you’re travelling in First or Business Class, follow the signs for Chauffer-driver service. Premium Economy or Economy Class passengers will look for the bus pick-up area. 

Chauffer-drive lounge

There’s a lounge area with seats and bottled water, but you won’t spend very long here (nor would you want to, if it’s 1 in the morning!). Go up to the counter and claim your chauffer-drive voucher…

Chauffeur-drive pick up voucher

…then head outside to the pick-up area. 

To pick up area

Dubai Connect is a big thing for Emirates, so they have an entire fleet of vehicles always on standby. Never before have I seen so many Mercedes and BMWs in the same place!

Emirates car fleet
Emirates car fleet

This means there’s virtually zero wait for a car. The ground staff will assign you to one, then it’s off to the hotel. As mentioned, the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai used for First Class passengers is further from the airport than the Le Meridien Dubai and Copthorne Hotel Dubai, so it takes about 15 minutes. 

Regardless of which hotel you end up at, there’ll be a dedicated Emirates check-in desk at the lobby.

Emirates check-in desk

As an aside, I provided my Marriott Bonvoy membership number at check-in, expecting to only earn points on incidentals, but was surprised to receive points on the stay as well (based on a room rate of US$11), plus my Gold member welcome amenity. 

I was assigned to a room with two single beds and a roll-in shower. I certainly would have preferred a single king with a proper shower, but beggars, choosers, and the fact it was well after midnight were more than reason enough to zip it and hit the sack.

JW Marriott Marquis Dubai
JW Marriott Marquis Dubai
JW Marriott Marquis Dubai
JW Marriott Marquis Dubai
Welcome letter

The following morning, I had some time to explore the hotel. With 1,608 rooms, it’s actually pretty massive, and has all the usual facilities you’d expect like a pool, gym and spa. The Dubai Mall is also just a short car ride away. 

JW Marriott Marquis Dubai lobby
JW Marriott Marquis Dubai swimming pool

I had breakfast at the hotel restaurant, where the spread was pretty fantastic, with all the usual Western and Asian items, plus live cooking stations with noodles, eggs, and waffles. You could even get ice cream- the hallmark of a great breakfast. 

JW Marriott Marquis Dubai breakfast
JW Marriott Marquis Dubai breakfast
JW Marriott Marquis Dubai breakfast
JW Marriott Marquis Dubai breakfast

What about the return trip to the airport?

At check-in, I was asked to confirm the time I wanted to return to the airport. They’ll advise you leave two hours before your flight, but you’re free to propose whatever time you want.

Here’s the thing though: they can be very sticky about changes. Since I was half asleep when I arrived, I just took the default timing without thinking- then realised the following morning I’d need a lot more time to visit all three Emirates First Class lounges.

When I asked about a change at the Emirates desk, I was adamantly told: no dice. All car bookings could not be modified, and if I wanted to go to the airport earlier, I’d have to pay for my own taxi. I tried the physical equivalent of HUCA (i.e. head down again later and talk to a different associate), but was told the same.

I was about to check-out early and pay for my own cab, but then I got lucky with the third associate, who was more than willing to help. He called up Emirates, and within 20 minutes a car pulled up to take me to the airport. I guess this is a classic example of YMMV. 

Dropoff at DXB Terminal 3

Conclusion

Dubai Connect is a great little feature, and it runs like clockwork on arrival, turning what could have been a very painful layover into a virtual non-event. The best part is that it’s completely free, and Emirates will even cover the cost of a visa if your nationality requires it. 

My main issue is that the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai is a little too far from the airport for my liking, though if you’re on a longer layover and want to explore more of Dubai, then it works out in your favour. 

Any other experiences with Dubai Connect?

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Anon

Wish Economy class passengers were chauffeured as well 😀

JW19

Well on the upside you get a much larger vehicle chauffeuring you.

Last edited 1 year ago by JW19
Suning

Great you got points credited. Did you also get 1 night credited?

noli

Very informative and love the photos! Thank you 🙂

Craig

is there a late checkout for flights departing at 2100 ? I arrive around 2300 the day before.

Anu

can we go sight seeing on being DUBAI connect visa . We have 20 hrs layover.

emercycrite

Just to note Dubai Connect is only available on tickets issued by Emirates (176).

NP_TO

Thank you for a comprehensive review. You provided more info in this blogpost than anything I could find elsewhere, including at the official Dubai Connects site.

Armi

Thanks, very informative! Were you able to check your luggage through to the final destination or need to collect in DXB?

Martinus

You can check them through your final destination!

Martinus

I have used Dubai connect several times. To Totally agree that Meridian is much better and I have been out there most of the times when flying F and have also changed my pick-up time at no extra cost.

chris pilgrim

So does this mean you do not need to collect and checkout your luggages during transit for your Dubai Connect?

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