‘Dubai Connect’ Returns: Fly Emirates, Receive Free Transportation, Hotel, And Food

It’s no secret that I find the Middle East an extremely fascinating region.

Personally, if transiting though the region, I prefer to route through Doha Hamad Airport as you’ve probably seen many times on my Instagram.

But with the return of ‘Dubai Connect,’ Emirates Airlines makes me reconsider my options.


The gulf carriers are the embodiment of a hub-and-spoke model. In other words, traffic planners organize routes as a series of “spokes” that connect outlying points to a central “hub” (in this case Dubai).

Emirates Rouite Map; Screenshot provided by flightconnections.com

The ultimate goal is to provide passengers with a seamless transit. However, serving as a major connection point between “east” and “west,” scheduling requires efficiency. Recognizing that flights are arriving 24 hours a day, transiting passengers often find they have upwards of 24 hours to explore Dubai before continuing on to their destinations.

This is where Emirates excels with ‘Dubai Connect‘ a program that, as Emirates describes it:

…enhances convenience for customers with longer layovers in Dubai providing complimentary hotel stay for passengers with a minimum transit time of over 10 hours.

This strategy is genius not only because passengers are able to fly the popular airline but they also have the opportunity to visit the much discussed and world famous Dubai. And when passengers visit the city, they spend money.

I venture to say that Dubai (or Abu Dhabi and Doha) would not be the global travel hub city that it is today without Emirates (or Etihad and Qatar Airways, respectively).


Dubai Connect” had been on a pandemic-related hiatus but the program has returned.

This is great news if you’re a passenger on Emirates AND your layover is greater than 10 hours. With this program you can now enjoy a complimentary hotel stay in Dubai (of course, only in 4 and 5 star hotels).

The offer is available to passengers in all classes of service and includes a visa to enter Dubai, ground transportation to and from your hotel (if required), and meals.

If this sounds appealing, you’ll be happy to know that if you can present a negative COVID-19 test, Dubai is waiting with open arms for visitors from around the world.

I think it’s also worth mentioning that Emirates also offers a multi-risk travel insurance and COVID-19 cover on all tickets purchased on or after 1 December 2020, at no cost to customers. In addition to COVID-19 medical cover, it has provisions for personal accidents during travel, winter sports cover, loss of personal belongings, and trip disruptions due to unexpected air space closure, travel recommendations or advisories. You can read all about it HERE.


There is one caveat…all layovers DO NOT qualify. Emirates says:

To book a Dubai Connect service, the connecting flight on your itinerary must be the best available connection. This means that the stopover time in Dubai between your two flights must be the shortest one available.

In other words, let’s say that you were traveling from New York to Maldives (via Dubai) and there are two available connections:

  1. 4-hour layover in Dubai or;
  2. 23-hour layover in Dubai

You choose the 23-hour layover because you want to take advantage of the free hotel. Well, your ticket will not qualify for the Dubai Connect program because you deliberately chose to not to fly “the shortest one available.”

Clearly, this “free hotel” requires a bit of research for best routes but if you’re planning to transit the Middle East, here is how you secure it:

  1. Book your flights
  2. After booking, Log In using your last name and reference number
  3. Click on the “Manage” tab
  4. Choose “Dubai Connect” and;
  5. Add the service, at least, 24 hours before your departure to Dubai


The “Dubai Connect” program has returned and is only open to passengers that have layovers of at least 10 hours.

Dubai International Airport is one of the best airports in the world but a 10+ hour layover in ANY airport is never fun. So if you have an option, check out the program.

Registration is very straightforward and I’ve, personally, never had any challenges when I actually took advantage of my long layover.

A great airline (with amazing food) + a free hotel + a chance to explore a vibrant city = a solid deal!

In addition, Emirates launched their completely contactless travel initiative last month. Does it get much better?

And the view from their partner hotel (Le Meridien Dubai) overlooking the airport, doesn’t look so bad…

Has anyone else taken advantage of this program in the past? How was your experience? Is anyone planning to take advantage of the program for the first time?

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