Dubai has two main airports: Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC). Dubai International Airport is the primary airport of Dubai, handling over 78 million passengers in 2015. The Al Maktoum International Airport is located in Jebel Ali and serves a smaller number of airlines than the Dubai International Airport.
Dubai International Airport
Dubai International Airport, located in the Al Garhoud district, is the world’s busiest airport for international passenger traffic. The airport officially opened in 1960. Since then it has massively expanded, and now has three terminals, with the capacity of 90 million passengers per year. The three terminals are: Terminal 1, Terminal 2 and Terminal 3.
Terminal 1 and 3 are connected with a transit area, allowing passengers to move between the two terminals. Terminal 1 and 3 are for international passengers, and Terminal 2 is mostly used for passengers flying to the Persian Gulf region or the sub-continent.
Terminal 1: All international airlines except for Emirates and Qantas
- Air Blue
- Aeroflot Russian Int. Airl.
- Air China
- Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd.
- Safi Airways
- Jet Airways
- KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
- Air India
- British Airways
- Royal Brunei Airlines
- China Southern Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Kenya Airways
- Libyan Airlines
- Mahan Air
- Malaysia Airlines
- Air Algerie
- Air France
- Azerbaijan Airlines
- Biman Bangladesh Airlines
- China Eastern Airlines
- Egypt Air
- Ethiopian Airlines
- Finn Air
- Gulf Air
- Iran Air
- Jazeera Airways
- Korean Airlines
- Kuwait Airways
- Middle East Airlines
- Norwegian Air Shuttle
- Oman Air
- Pakistan International Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Jordanian
- Saudi Arabian Airlines
- Shaheen Air International
- Siberia Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- Spice Jet
- Srilankan Airlines
- Swiss International Airlines
- Syrian Arab Airlines
- TAAG Linhas Aereas de Angola Airlines
- Thai Airways Int. Ltd.
- Tunis Air
- Turkish Airlines
- Ukranian International Airlines
- United Airlines
- Ural Airlines
- Uzbekistan Airways
- Virgin Atlantic Airways
- Yemenia Yemen Airways
- Air Astana
- Philippine Airlines
- CEBU Pacific Air
- Air Canada
- Sichuan Airlines
- Equatorial Congo Airlines SA
Terminal 2: Flydubai, regional and low-cost carriers
- Eritrean Airlines
- Ariana Afgham Airlines
- Iran Asseman Airlines
- Iraqi Airways
- Pegasus Airlines
- Air India Express
- Caspian Airlines
- Daallo Airlines
- Kish Air
- Qeshm Air
- Rwand Air Express
- Taban Airlines
- Turkmenistan Airlines
- United Airways Bangladesh
- Naft Airlnes – Safiran Airlines
- Kam Air
- Transavia Airlines
- Travel Servis Airlines
- Taimyr Airlines Russian Federation
- Jubba Airways
- Somon Air – Tajikistan
- Taban Airlines
Terminal 3: Emirates and Qantas flights
Major airlines based at Dubai International Airport
Emirates: Emirates is the largest airline operating at the airport, handling about 65 % of the passenger traffic. Operates from Terminal 3 with flights going to and from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Australia and New Zealand.
Qantas: Qantas operates daily flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London via Dubai. It also uses Dubai International Airport as a secondary hub.
Flydubai: The air carrier operates from Terminal 2, with passenger services to destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and South Asia.
Getting to/from the airport
By taxi, to the airport
You can hail a taxi from the road, or call ahead using the number +971 4 208 0808. Taxis are cream colored. There are also pink trimmed taxis, which have female drivers.
By taxi, from the airport
Follow the signs within the airport to the taxi stands located outside. There are taxis waiting 24/7. The charge for getting a taxi at the airport is AED 25.
There are buses that arrive and leave from opposite Terminal 1, 2 and 3. Please note, you cannot pay cash to the driver. A Nol card must be purchased in advance. You can purchase a Nol card at any ticket office, ticket vending machines, RTA customer service centers or from authorized sales agents. You can also apply for a Nol Blue Card online.
The Dubai Metro is a convenient option to get to and from the Dubai International Airport. Many major tourist destinations and hotels have metros located quite close to them. You can buy tickets directly at the metro stop, and the cost will depend on the number of zones you travel through.
The first carriage of the metro is the gold class, which costs a little more money than a standard fare. There is also a carriage for women and children only, which is clearly marked with a sign.
Metro service starts at 5:50 am (5:30 am on Thursday), and stop running at midnight (1 am on Thursday and Friday). Metro service on Friday starts after 1 pm.
Both short-term and long-term parking is available at the Dubai International Airport. Short-term parking is located very close to the terminal entrance. If you plan on leaving your car for more than a few hours, long-term parking is also available with a bus transfer taking you to the terminals.
Renting a car
There are twelve rental car agencies with the Dubai International Airport. You can reserve your car ahead of time here. Or you can reserve your car at any of the terminals as well.
Getting through security and customs in Dubai
Loose items like phones, keys and watches will need to be put away before you are allowed through security. You will also need to get your laptop or tablet scanned in a separate tray, so make sure it is easily accessible before going through security.
Liquids in carry on cannot exceed 100ml per container. A maximum of 1 liter is allowed, which equals out to 10 100ml containers. They must be placed in a clear, resealable bag.
Allowances for customs
- Gifts not exceeding AED 3,000
- Cash above AED 100,000 must be declared
- Maximum of 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 500 grams of tobacco
- Maximum of 4 liters alcohol, 48 cans of beer
- Medication— a maximum of a three-month supply may be brought with you. The medication must be accompanied with an original prescription from a medical practitioner. No psychotropic like Ambien, Prozac, Xanax or Zoloft can be brought with you unless you have prior approval from the Ministry of Health.
Forbidden items in the UAE
- All narcotic drugs.
- Gambling tools, machines
- Ivory and rhinoceros’ horns
- Forged or duplicate currency
- Any printed material that contradicts Islamic teachings and/or decency, or that deliberately implies immorality or turmoil
- Cooked and homemade foods
- Radios, self-defense equipment, sharp-edged knives and swords
- Pets and skins of endangered animals subject to CITES convention
- Weapons, ammunition and military equipment
- Fireworks and explosives
- Trees, plants and soil
Connecting to your flight
If you are connecting to a flight in Dubai, you will get your boarding pass from transfer desks located within the terminals.
Where to find the transfer desks
Transfer desk A: flying with Emirates or Qantas
Transfer desk B or C: for all other airlines
Transfer desk E: for passengers transferring from Terminal 2
Located in the arrival hall before passport control
Transfer desks G, H and J can be used by all passengers
Porters can be hired for 25 AED.
Trolleys are located throughout the airport and are free of charge
This can be done at Terminal 1, 2 and DWC for a price of 25 AED per item.
At Terminal 3 the price is 30 AED per item.
Terminals 1 and 3 have 24/7 baggage storage facilities. The cost is between 20-25 AED for every 12 hours.
Each airline will have a specific limit on how many bags and the weight of them. Check your airline before you fly. Usually two pieces of baggage are allowed for international travel, and one piece of hand luggage. Excess baggage will incur a fee.
Baggage lost and found
Any damaged, lost, misplaced or delayed baggage should be reported to the Emirates or Dnata baggage desks located in the arrivals hall. To report items lost in the airport or on an aircraft use the number 042245555.
Inside the airport
Dubai International Airport offers a variety of things to do before you board your flight. There are many restaurants, places to shop and even spa areas to relax.
Dubai Duty Free
Dubai Duty Free, known as DDF, is the company in charge of all duty-free operations within the Dubai International Airport. The company began its duty-free selling in 1983. In 2014 the company have revenues of $1.91 billion USD. These are the DDF stores located within the Dubai International Airport:
- DDF Confectionary—selling sweets, chocolate and candy from around the world
- DDF Electronics—selling various electronic items
- DDF Fashion—selling clothes, shoes, handbags and other accessories
- DDF Fragrances & Cosmetics—selling different perfumes, colognes and makeup & skincare items
- DDF Jewelry—selling various items of jewelry
- DDF Watches—selling watches and watch accessories
- DDF Pharmacy—selling various pharmacy items
- DDF News and Book—selling books, newspapers and magazines
- DDF Liquor & Tobacco—selling wine, beer, spirits and tobacco products from around the globe
- DDF Souvenirs—selling various souvenir items, including specialty products from Dubai
- DDF Sunglasses—selling sunglasses and sunglass accessories
Other stores available
- Le Clos—selling luxury spirits and wines
- Boots—selling healthcare and beauty items
- Gifts from Dubai—selling various souvenir items
Restaurants located within Dubai International Airport
- Baskin Robbins
- Bombay Chowpatty
- Bricco Pizza & Pasta
- Brioche Doree
- Burger King
- Butler’s Chocolate Café
- Café Nero
- Camden Food Co.
- Caviar House
- Charley's Grill & Sub
- Cho Gao
- Chowking Orient Restaurant
- CNN Traveller’s Café
- Cold Stone
- Giraffe Stop
- Haagen Dazs
- Heineken Lounge
- Hot & roll
- Jack’s Bar & Grill
- Le Pain Quotidien
- Masale - Taste of India
- Ocean Basket
- Paul Bakery and Restaurant
- Pret A Manger
- Pulp Juice Bars
- Red Carpet Café and Seafood Bar
- Shake Shack
- Sweet Factory
- Taste of India
- Texas Chicken
- Thai Express
- The Draft House Sports Bar and Grill
- The Noodle House
- The rupee room Express
- Wafi Gourmet Restaurant
- Yo! Sushi
- Children’s play areas
- Baby care rooms
- Baggage storage at Terminal 1 and 3
- Prayer rooms
- Smoking areas
- Banks, currency exchange and post office
- One hour free WiFi
- Complimentary showers: Terminal 1 is between gates C18 and C22, Terminal 3 is between gates B13 and B19/ gates A1 and A24.
- Emergency and medical services
Spa and relaxation area
Snoozecubes: These are ideal for transiting passengers who need to take a nap in-between connecting flights. There are Snoozecubes available in Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 of Dubai International Airport, and they are available to rent by the hour. You can book your snoozecube ahead of time here.
Be Relax: Offering massages and beauty services like manicure and pedicures.
O2 Spa & Salon: Offering massages, body treatments and facials.
Many airline specific lounges are available for business and first-class passengers. All passengers can pay to enter the Marhaba lounge.
- Al Ansari Exchange
- ENBD Money Exchange
- Sharaf Exchange
Al Maktoum International Airport
The Al Maktoum International Airport is named after the former ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Since 2010 the airport has been serving cargo flights. The airlines that operate from here are: Flydubai, Gulf Air, Jazeera Airways, Qatar Airways, Rotana Jet, TUI Airlines Nederland and Wizzair. The airport is still under construction and will eventually be able to have a passenger capacity of 160 million people per year. The airport will also serve as a hub for cargo flights from all over the world—with the capacity for 12 million tons of cargo.
Al Maktoum International Airport will have the capacity for all types of aircrafts to land, including the A380. The airport will eventually be connected to Dubai International Airport with a high-speed rail system, via the Dubai Metro and a Dubai World Central light railway.