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Old Feb 18, 13, 11:34 am   #1
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1
DXB stopover experience (DubaiConnect)

I was scheduled for a 8.5 hours of layover yesterday - my flight from MAA landed in Dubai close to midnight, and my connection from DXB to Houston was not until 9:30 in the morning.

I had called up Emirates the day before departure and asked about my eligibility for DubaiConnect - the program under which Emirates arranges free hotel stay + meals for travelers. The rep had explained me the rules which included a minimum basic fare (total basic roundtrip fare less taxes and levies should be >$900 for economy, and stopover time should be 8+ hours). I was of course eligible, and I was glad to have called them up to enquire about it.

Now after having landed in DXB, and took a lengthly walk down to the immigration area. There were close to 50 queues, with each queue having 50-60 people, and I was not sure what I should do next. I approached the main information counter next to this area and told them that I had a coupon for the hotel, and enquired where I can collect my visa and what should I be doing next. I was told to join the immigration queue. There were 8 meant for visitors requiring visa-on-arrival (lines # 34 to 42). I joined one of the lines with ~50 people, but the line was barely moving. I thought if I am going to wait this long, I better double check if the line was meant for me.

Someone on the line then told me that I had to collect my visa before joining this line. I then reached out to a couple of folks with 'May I help you' tags, but they were not able to provide clear instructions. I then went back to the main desk, and they directed me to another counter far off this time. It took me a couple of hops before I could find the right counter. I was to collect it from Emirates NBD, a small bank counter that looks more like a forex desk - and not the counter for immigration, and not the counter meant for 'Visa Collection'. I hope you now get why it was confusing ... I finally collected my free visa.

I then joined the Immigration line once again. And there the wait started. It took more than 1.45 hrs before my turn came. When I cleared immigration, it was already 3 AM.

Then I went searching for the hotel booth (Copthorne hotel) within the airport. I found it close to the exit gate, and a gentleman asked us to wait for a bus. After 20-30 minutes, the bus came, and I boarded with 20+ passengers. The hotel was thankfully just a 4-5 minutes away. It was already 3:40 in the morning, but at least I thought 2 hours of staying in a room would be better than nothing.

But that was not how it was supposed to be, To my horror I found another 50-60 people standing in a line at the hotel waiting to be checked in. Some folks couldnt take it any further, and slumped in the couches. There was a gentleman with his aged parents who opted to go back to the airport.

There were four members from the hotel staff handling check-ins. They were quick enough, but the process still took time. By the time I got my room keys it was 4:40 AM. I was told I'll be given a wake up call at 6 AM (a little over an hour and 15 mins), and I had to check out by 6:30 (3 hrs before my flight). But then my main attention now was the breakfast - i thought at least I should catch it right to avoid any unnecessary waits.

I was told the restaurant will open at 5:30 AM for breakfast. I considered going to the restaurant at opening time. But first things first - so I walked up to my room - but wait, the pain was not yet over. The staff was there still cleaning my room. Someone from the staff had flagged the room available even before it was cleaned. I considered going back to the lobby to enquire, but I was too tired and jetlagged at that time. Since I was told that they'll get it ready in 5 mins, I decided to wait. I was fully sapped. Thankfully the wait time was the smallest (10 mins) and I got into the room at 5 AM.

I took a quick shower, stretched my legs, and went to breakfast at 5:35 AM.. There were already 8 people standing in line to enter.. but there was no wait time for this. Nice. I chugged down some heavy breakfast (it was decent with plentiful eggs, pancakes, bread, sausages, fruits, etc. no hash browns though. decent coffee & orange juice too.).

I then went back to my room and checked out at 6:15 AM. When I came out, about 15 people were already waiting for the mini-bus. I had to skip the first one and got on to the second bus some 20 mins later.

Upon arrival at the airport, I counted some 100-120 cars in the departure area alone. It was too much busy at that time, even for a airline hub. I havent seen even so many cars in JFK, supposedly one of the busiest. I decided I wouldnt take the stopover option next time - and that I would rather pay up some $$$ and spend my time peacefully in one of the lounges.

But all was not over. It took another hour to clear immigration (again many lines, but each line having 35-40 people). I was finally in at the gate by 7:45.

So all in all, I waited for about 5+ hours in various lines, to stay in a hotel room for 30-45 minutes. It would have been a terrible experience save for the copious food I had. But still, looking back, it was not worth it. A hotel would be welcome if you stay for 24+ hours, and next time, I'll just catch a quick connection and if it comes to 8+ hours just like I had this time, I'll just spend some money or get priority pass to use one of the lounges. 6 hours of slouching in a chair with free food & drinks anyday would beat 5+ hours wait-time & 30 minutes of stay in a hotel.

During my interaction with one of the hotel handlers, I was told it was usually this crowded. I'm wondering why is Emirates even arranging for a hotel purpose if the very purpose of staying in the hotel (relax for a few hours) get defeated. On top, they are also wasting a ton of money on passengers that they could have otherwise saved. Just a special lounge for long layovers for Dubaiconnect passengers would solve a lot of issues. Is someone listening?...
bj20171 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 18, 13, 12:02 pm   #2
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: BOM
Programs: EK Plat
Posts: 2,151
OMG, that's horrible. I was thinking of taking a hotel for my upcoming flight but now I have second thoughts. I'll probably spend my time in the lounge and load a couple of movies on my iPad. Based on the OPs experience, it doesn't make sense unless you have close to a 15 hour wait until your next flight.
jackiedada is online now   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 18, 13, 12:16 pm   #3
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Cairo
Programs: Emirates Skywards Platinum
Posts: 166
I have signed up for the connect service a couple of times but always got scared of having the same experience as you, so in the end backed out and booked the hotel in the terminal. It's expensive (~760 Dhs with advance purchase, relative I guess) but I got a solid 7 or 8 hours sleep. You can check out 10 min before boarding and be at the gate directly in time.
UAworldwide is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 18, 13, 12:17 pm   #4
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Glasgow, UK
Programs: Skywards Silver
Posts: 367
Quote:
Originally Posted by jackiedada View Post
OMG, that's horrible. I was thinking of taking a hotel for my upcoming flight but now I have second thoughts. I'll probably spend my time in the lounge and load a couple of movies on my iPad. Based on the OPs experience, it doesn't make sense unless you have close to a 15 hour wait until your next flight.
Wow. Im due for a stopover too with just 6.5hours. Think I'll leave it and find a nice spot in the new J lounge.
marconess is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 18, 13, 12:18 pm   #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 3,164
Let Emirates know of your experience and please keep us posted with any feedback.
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Old Feb 18, 13, 1:16 pm   #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Solihull
Programs: Skywards Platinum
Posts: 46
Sorry to hear of your experience, but myself and my wife had a completely different one last week.

Arriving from JNB in J Class, we had already booked Dubai Connect as it proved a lot cheaper to Get EK762 on the 14th (arriving DXB at midnight), and then take advantage of free Dubai Connect before heading back to Birmingham on EK37 at 1455 on the 15th, rather than getting the more direct EK764/EK39 option.

The airport was certainly busy when we arrived, but we already had our vouchers which were printed out at checkin at JNB. We were given 'Fast Track' immigration cards, but it still took 20-25 minutes to get through - at least the luggage was there waiting.

As we exited, there are no signs indicating 'Dubai Connect' so I took the view that the best place to go would be the Chauffeur drive desk, which proved to be correct. After a 5 minute wait, we were escorted to a people carrier, which took us across the road to Le Meridien (or the old Dubai International hotel as we remembered it in the 1980s!!).

Emirates have a separate check in, which was quick and painless, so we were in our room less than an hour after landing despite the immigration wait.

The room was clean & looked like it had been refurbished, although the bathroom was a little tired. We were given breakfast & lunch vouchers, but didn't bother with lunch.

Friday morning there was time for a few hours by the pool before checking out at 1300 with a quick transfer back to the airport and a painless baggage drop.

Probably all rather different from the Y class Dubai Connect experience, but at least wanted to let people know what you get from J class Dubai Connect.
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Old Feb 18, 13, 1:33 pm   #7
Ambassador: Emirates Airlines
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Programs: EK Gold, EY Gold, BA Gold OW Emerald, A3 *G, SV Skyteam Elite
Posts: 969
First of all, Welcome to FT, bj20171, and thanks for this well-written rationale post of yours. This sounds like a bad customer experience and if this is institutionalized then it is even worse. Please let EK know about this and keep us updated on the progress. I am crossing my fingers!
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Old Feb 18, 13, 2:13 pm   #8
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: CBR
Posts: 2,718
This is precisely why it's better to layover at the airport hotel. Sure it might cost around $200 but it's worth it. Even in this case where the only queue to worry about is security, I barely get 5 hours of sleep on a 9 hour layover (after clearing security, checking in, showering and struggling to put my eyes to rest, and before checking out then having breakfast).
edy4eva is online now   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 18, 13, 2:47 pm   #9
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: FCO-ADD-ZRH
Programs: EK Gold, MM, BAEC, SPG, Sixt Plat
Posts: 39
In my experience it also depends on the time you get into Dubai.
For example, I had a Dubai connect this month where I arrived in Dubai on EK724 @ 9:30pm, short immigration queues, short check-in, was in my room by 10:45pm..
I think its a question of whether or not you arrive at peak times...
SimplyFCO is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 18, 13, 10:35 pm   #10
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 14
Next time consider taking an earlier flight out of MAA to DXB, (9:40 am ?) you should still be eligible for Dubai Connect, and a much more enjoyable stay.

You are lucky they don't have a separate retina check line anymore these days. Otherwise there would be another line

--
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Old Feb 19, 13, 12:06 am   #11
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: 10/28
Programs: EK, BA, TK
Posts: 515
That sounds like a terrible experience - I really can't see what the point is of offering that 'service' to Y passengers.

For contrast however, I used the service on a 16 hour layover in J recently and was impressed.

Booking: Flight ticket purchased by telephone, agent informed me of eligibility and sent e-mail confirming the hotel as part of the itinerary. Very straightforward even if booking on the 'phone is much slower than online.

Afternoon arrival in DXB = 5 minute wait at immigration. Hotel voucher had been provided at check in, so straight to limo desk. Small amount of negative marks for the wait for a people carrier of 5 minutes... plenty of cars outside and it felt like they were waiting for a few people to show up so they could group us. For reference, the normal waiting time there is about 1 minute in a queue to be provided with a voucher, then walk outside and get straight in the next car.

Check-in at hotel was another 5 minutes, vouchers for lunch and dinner provided. Room was one of the older ones at Le Meridien but clean, comfortable bed and good shower. Lunch at the Thai restaurant was good, dinner at the Italian poor. No free internet... this is a pet hate of mine.

Wake-up call 2.5 hours before flight - quick shower - transport 2 hours before flight. No wait for J check in and straight to the lounge for breakfast.

All in all, a great service and one I look forward to using again.
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