As soon as I received my booking confirmation via e-mail, Brazil felt so near, yet so far. The highlight of my itinerary, in bold letters say, “TRAVEL TIME: 30 h 00 m”. You can´t be serious! I was scheduled to fly from Casablanca to Dubai for 7 hours; stop in Dubai for another 7 hours and then fly to Sao Paulo for 13 hours. If you look at the map, Brazil is on the left side of Morocco and Dubai on the right. In technical terms, the travel direction from Morocco to Brazil is South-West and to Dubai, South-East. It´s like sweeping a number of countries going back and forth!
FLYING DISTANCE: Casablanca to Dubai – 3,773 miles; Dubai to Sao Paulo – 4,710 miles.
This is the longest flight it my travel history, on top of the 27 travel time from Manila to Doha to Milan. Layovers has always been awful for me (except in Asia). In Asia, I can go out of the Airport without any visa and can meet my friends even for just a few hours. In the middle east, no matter how many friends I have there, I need a visa to get out. That will be another tedious process so, no. I will stay in the airport.
The good thing is, I will be stopping in one of the best airports in the world. As we call Dubai an artificial city, I pitured Dubai International Airport like an arcade or a circus for kids where you can do anything and won´t notice the time.
On the plane, I was seated with a Filipina woman who´s on her way home. It was really a good flight because I have never spoken Filipino in a long time. When we landed, we were surprised to find a lot of Filipinos working there (I mean a lot!). You probably know this fact if you have visited Dubai. You can hear Tagalog blaring inside the waiting lounge. I killed two hours connecting with my kababayans — mostly OFW stories. The rest of the hours were spent wandering around the airport.
Here are things that you can do while waiting in Dubai International Airport.
1. Eat for free
If your layover is more than 3 hours, Emirates provides food for its passengers. All you have to do is claim it in the Emirates counter by presenting your boarding pass. After that, they will give you a food voucher which you can avail in the following food chains:
The Mezzanine – near gate A2
- Cosi – near gate B5
- Ocean Basket – near gate B28
- McDonald´s – near gate B28 and another one in between gates C13 and C15
- Taste of India – between gates C13 and C15
- Thai Express – between gates C13 and C15
Voila! You now killed at least an hour of your waiting time without spending anything. I was really amazed with this meal voucher because I didn´t experience this with other long grueling stopovers that I had in my life. Plus, Dubai is expensive so it will be really crazy to spend loads of money for food in the airport.
After a long flight (and more to come), you need to sleep. All airport that I have been to have sleeping chairs but Dubai International Airport has plenty! I never saw people sleeping on the floor because they have enough space for everyone. Their sleeping chairs are quite comfortable too. The airport is too big that you barely hear noise. No need for quiet rooms!
The biggest Duty Free Store is the biggest mall in an airport with 5,400 square meters of tariff-free goods. The products range from gadgets, wine, chocolates and many more! I believe that they offer cheaper goods compared to the city mall. Please take note of the currency: AED1 is equals to USD0.27
If you really want to have a very comfortable stop (and you have the money for it), Dubai International Airport also offers a luxury layover.
- Business Class Lounge is at gate C8. They accept business class passengers who´s flying with an airline without a private lounge. Just present your boarding pass upon entry. This lounge can cater up to 185 passengers and has state of the art facilities like a luggage area, free high speed internet connection, flight screens, shower, sleeping rooms, smoking area and quiet rooms.
- First Class Lounge has almost the same amenities with the business class lounge.
- Al Majlis is a specialized lounge designed for any type of passenger who are willing to spend for comfort. They offer limousine transfers, special check-in, immigration and travel paperwork assistance.
- Like Al Majlis, Ahlan is a luxurious area for passengers with highly experienced staff that will attend to your needs. It also comes with a price.
- Quiet Lounge is in Terminal 1, gates C23 and C9 can offer you a very peaceful rest with their comfortable reclining chairs. A prayer room is also available for both men and women, separately.
- Dubai International Hotel is a five-star hotel located in Terminals 1 and 3. It has 341 rooms, 2 health clubs with pools and a wide choice of bars and restaurants.
Having a really high currency, it´s not most likely that passengers will spend a fortune in a layover, unless you really have the money. Aside from luxury, here are some of the special features of Dubai International Airport:
- Women and children´s area
- There is also an area for unaccompanied minors where they take care and assist the minors very well.
- The airport is divided into terminals but you can take a fast train to transfer.
- Bookstores are everywhere!
Though I didn´t spend a fortune, I had a relaxing time with my 7 hour layover in Dubai. I think this was the first time that I ever felt comfortable with long flights. However, thinking of the 13-hour flight to Sao Paulo is really making my brains explode.
Have a great time stopping in Dubai!