Generally speaking, you should plan to arrive at Dubai International Airport at least 90 minutes before your departure. However, it's widely recommended to arrive three hours ahead of time. As of 2016, Dubai is considered the world's busiest airport in terms of international travel. If you don't check in online, most airlines will allow you to check in three hours prior to your Dubai departure. If you arrive early, you will find several ways to spend your extra time. Check out our guide to the do's and don't of Dubai Duty Free to make the most of your time in the airport. If you want to grab a bite to eat, you will find almost any kind of cuisine you desire including Chinese, Japanese, Indian, American, French, and local fare. You can spend your time at enjoyable sit-down restaurants or familiar fast food favorites. If you want to relax before your flight, you can visit one of the airport's spas or consider purchasing a day pass to rest in one of the several lounges at the Dubai airport. You may also visit the Zen Garden and health clubs or catch a few hours of sleep in a "SnoozeCube." If you love to shop when you travel, Dubai International Airport has no shortage of retail stores. Find the perfect souvenir at the duty-free shops that contain fine fragrances, alcohol, tobacco, and various confections. Do you know all the public holidays in the UAE? Add extra time to get to the airport, and to get to your gate during public holidays as it will be very busy.
Most of Dubai airport's arrivals head to Terminal 1 and 3. Regardless of where in the airport your flight arrives, you'll need to follow the signs to the baggage collection area and then through customs. If you prefer assistance navigating Dubai's busy airport, consider using Marhaba, the airport's meet-and-greet service. Marhaba provides meet-and-greet packages for solo travelers and families on Dubai flight arrivals. Packages are available for all budgets. An agent will meet you after you enter the terminal or right before the immigration area. They will quickly escort you through immigration, customs, and the rest of the airport and arrange whatever form of transportation you are taking to the city. You should expect to spend a minimum of 30 minutes from the time you arrive until you are ready to leave the airport. Marhaba meet-and-greet packages are also available for Dubai departures. If you have had a really long flight and are too tired to deal with traveling through the airport right away, you may also consider using a SnoozeCube when you arrive.
Those who are picking up or dropping off passengers at Dubai airport can do so in front of the terminal from which they'll be arriving or departing. Make sure to ask your airline about Dubai airport's arrivals procedures before you travel. If your host prefers to meet you inside of the airport after you pass through customs, they can park in one of the short-term parking areas by each terminal. Valet parking is available at Terminals 1 and 3.
You have several options for traveling to and from Dubai airport. Public transportation and taxis serve Dubai airport arrivals and departures. The Dubai Metro offers two lines that leave every 10 minutes to take you to the city during business hours on Saturday through Thursday. Dubai Metro service begins Friday after 2:00 p.m. You can also connect with buses or taxis if necessary. Buy a "Nol" card before you leave the airport to pay for public transportation.
You may prefer taking a bus or taxi directly from the airport. Buses depart from and arrive across from each terminal. If you choose to take a taxi, they are available outside of each terminal. Dubai taxis are cream colored, and those with pink trim are driven by females. If you have obtained an international drivers' license prior to your departure, consider renting a car when you arrive in Dubai. Hertz, Dollar, Europcar, Fast, Payless, and Sixt car rental agencies serve Dubai International Airport.
Be advised that shuttle buses are available to transport you in between the terminals. Also, most upscale hotels offer free airport shuttles to transport you between your hotel and Dubai International Airport.