Transfer @ DXB

As mentioned earlier on in this report, a large part of my excitement for this trip would come from visiting DXB’s brand new Terminal 3. I would have just about enough time to explore and enjoy Emirates’ new home base as we had an eight hour transfer time in DXB (and another nine and a half on the return flight)!

My first impression when entering T3 was that it was a lot more “civilized” than my memories of the over-crowded and busy Terminal 1. T3 was also built less “spectacularly” than T1 was back in the day (with gold adornments and a massive duty free area). Still, I preferred this less extravagant and kitsch approach to the design of the building. The pointed windows gave a very glamorous feeling to the open space, but were absolutely horrible for spotting. In fact, it was pretty much impossible to do any spotting in T3 (the best view I got was seeing the nose of an A380 after hunting it down at 2AM!) I don’t know whether Paul Andreu designed the terminal like this intentionally – perhaps to focus the transferring passenger’s attention on the duty free shopping area. Whatever the case, I made the best of the situation at hand and avoided sleeping for a long time to explore the airport and do the limited spotting I could. One tip is to walk to the Terminal 1 food court if you have time when transiting in Dubai – this is about the closest you can get to a full window with some descent views over the runway. My explorations through the terminal are documented both in images and in video.

Dubai Terminal 3 transfer video. 


First glimpse of DXB's brand new Terminal 3!

What would DXB be without a bunch of luxury cars on display?!

The duty free area, while large, was somewhat limited in terms of choice. This is especially apparent in comparison to Changi’s Terminal 3, which has a multitude of speciality stores. For example, we weren’t able to find a bag for our new Sony HDR-TG7VE video camera – Changi had a number of electronic stores I remember, including an official Sony Style store where I am sure we would have found the bag. Walking through the duty free area a number of times also made me realize how cramped it seemed – especially during the DXB “rush hour”. I think that a number of airports are built unnecessarily large nowadays, including Bangkok Suvarnabhumi and Beijing’s Terminal 3. I will mention Changi’s T3 again as an example of airport design, which in my opinion, strikes a good balance in size, making it large enough to feel open and airy and not with a load of unnecessary empty space. Heathrow’s Terminal 5 strikes the same balance, in my opinion.

The more civilized-looking but cramped duty free area in DXB T3.

Subtle but classy window pattern.

DXB T1 still looks the same, however, it has become a tad less hectic after most EK flights moved to T3.

People buying gold (or at least looking like they are doing so!)

The infamous DXB lounge chairs that so many transfer passengers on EK have become accustomed to. Changi's lounge chairs were more comfortable for sleeping than DXB's.

As many of you know, Nakheel is the government owned real estate developer responsible for a lot of the land reclamation projects in Dubai like the Palm and the World islands.

I found the A380! This one was going to Bangkok and was parked at Gate 203.

The airport was relatively empty when we arrived at around 23:00. We passed through a very relaxed security check to get into the transfer area and walked around a bit to find some of the famous DXB lounge chairs that we could sleep on for the next few hours. We quickly found a large number of these chairs and, as they were still empty, we decided to carry on exploring and get a hold of our complementary food vouchers from EK for the transfer restaurant. Within about 40 minutes, the entire airport filled up to the rim and soon there was not a single lounge chair (or normal chair for that matter) left. We had to look for quite a while to find some to sleep on. This sudden influx of transfer passengers must have coincided with the arrival of a number of European flights. Things started to die down again at around 2AM, which is when a lot of the Asian flights departed.

We got our vouchers at the transfer restaurant, which only served hot snacks between 23:00 and 06:00. We decided to wait and use our vouchers for breakfast which wasn’t half that bad – a selection of warm food including eggs, oriental rice, chicken sausage was on offer, in addition, to croissants, fruit and juices. 0.5 L water bottles were also available and we each took one with us for the upcoming flight.

View from the transfer restaurant. I really like this picture of the terminal.

View over the new duty free area. You can really see how cramped it is from this perspective.

All-in-all I believe that DXB’s Terminal 3 is miles behind Changi’s Terminal 3, which I had the pleasure of transferring in last year. Our transfer time in SIN was around three hours and I remember this being much too short to allow for exploring of all the exciting things the terminal had to offer. I imagine that our eight hour transfer would have been a lot more comfortable in SIN in a number of respects. In addition, SIN wins on shopping possibilities, general passenger amenities (e.g. movie cinemas, game rooms, free internet terminals), general space and spotting opportunities. In addition, I found SIN to be a lot cleaner with the bathrooms looking like something out of a five star hotel. DXB’s bathrooms were not as spotless, even though each of them had an (Indian) cleaning staff member cleaning after each person’s use of a toilet cubicle – this was one of the many hints at exploitation of Indians, Pakistanis and others that Dubai is becoming famous for. On a side note, DXB’s toilets flushed with boiling hot water! This made the whole bathroom seem more like a steam room! I was wondering whether there is anyone who could elaborate on this? Do all toilets in Dubai (or the UAE, or the Middle East) flush with hot water? Also, is this water hot because of the outdoor temperature or is it heated for some other cultural reason? I would be very interested in finding out more about this!

Our plane to ADD and EBB.

Gate 215 where our next flight, EK 723, would be departing from.