UAE flight delays: Why travellers should not go to Dubai Airport and what to do instead

Emirates extends check-in suspension for passengers following storms

Authorities have told travellers not to come to Dubai International Airport unless absolutely necessary. AFP
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Travellers in the UAE are continuing to face severe disruptions after record-breaking storms battered the country on Monday and Tuesday.

Emirates Airline has resumed check-in for some flights at Dubai Airport, but advised travellers not to go to the world's busiest air hub unless their flight has been confirmed.

The move came after the airline cancelled check-in for all Dubai passengers until 9am on Thursday due to severely restricted access because of flooding.

“Customers departing Dubai are requested to head to the airport only if they hold a confirmed flight booking, and only after 9am on April 18,” an airline representative told The National.

“While some customers have been able to return home or reach their destination, we are aware that many are still waiting to get on flights. Our teams are working hard to restore our scheduled operations, as well as secure accommodation and other amenities for affected customers at the airport.”

On Wednesday, Dubai International Airports advised travellers not to go to the airport “unless absolutely necessary”, with flights continuing to be delayed and diverted.

The same message is being pushed by flydubai. “Passengers are advised to only make their way to Dubai International (DXB) after confirming that their flight will operate,” a representative from the airline said.

Flydubai has extended a flight cancellation policy implemented on Monday. The Dubai airline resumed partial operations at 10am on Wednesday, with more flights set to resume from Terminal 2 at 8pm. From Terminal 3, the airline will resume flights after midnight.

“Due to the impact of the severe weather in the UAE on our operations and the continuing challenging road conditions, there have been further flight cancellations,” said an airline representative. “We are working very hard to restore our operating schedule and minimise the disruption to our passengers’ travel itineraries to get them to their final destination safely. We apologise for the inconvenience caused as a result of the adverse weather.”

Dubai International Airport has suspended operations at Terminal 2 and some operations at Terminal 1. A representative for the airport authority said it would “take some time until normal operations resume”.

Air Arabia – which operates mostly from Sharjah International Airport – has also advised passengers that flights are being cancelled or rescheduled.

Have the storms also affected Abu Dhabi's airport?

In Abu Dhabi, the situation is better, but travellers flying from Zayed International Airport could still face possible delays and cancellations.

“Etihad Airways flights are operating as usual after the adverse weather witnessed yesterday, although some might still be subject to minor delays,” a representative from the airline told The National. “Guests are still required to allow plenty of time to travel to the airport, and to check to check the status of their flight.”

It was business as usual at the capital's airport on Wednesday morning, with no major delays reported on departure boards and passengers able to easily check in for flights. The airport is also accepting flights that have been diverted from Dubai.

“Within the last 24 hours, 21 flights, including one freighter and the remaining being passenger flights, were diverted from Dubai International Airport to Zayed International Airport,” a representative for Abu Dhabi Airports told The National on Wednesday.

Can passengers still check in for an Emirates flight?

Passengers arriving in Dubai with Emirates who are already in transit will continue to be processed for their flights.

This means that passengers can still check in for Emirates flights that are only connecting in Dubai. Travellers who have Dubai as a final destination face delays and disruption to travel plans.

What to do if your flight has been cancelled?

Affected customers are advised to contact the airline that they are flying with, or the travel agent that they booked flights through. Different airlines have different policies in place for flights but travellers should be able to rebook their flights or claim a full refund.

Passengers trying to contact Dubai Airports for the latest updates are unlikely to be able to do so on the phone as the airport has reported technical problems. Instead, travellers can WhatsApp the airport authority on +971 422 45555; use live chat on the Dubai Airports website; or reach out to the authority on social media.

Airlines are expected to provide travellers with refreshments when flights are delayed. If flights are cancelled overnight, it depends on the airline's policy whether or not they provide accommodation, but most major airlines will offer travellers lodging.

Dubai Airport has compiled answers to some common traveller questions on X.

Travel insurance policies also typically cover emergency accommodation costs associated with flight delays and disruption; however, travellers may need to arrange and pay for these up front, then reclaim costs from their insurer.

In Dubai airport, food and refreshments are being distributed but the airport is facing supply challenges. By Thursday morning, food had been distributed across Terminal 1, with more on the way. Food was being handed out in Terminal 2 and restaurants in Terminal 3 were open and accepting meal vouchers that passengers have been given.

Airport hotels in Dubai are full – where can travellers stay instead?

With many travellers stranded in Dubai, airport hotels are experiencing high capacity.

The Holiday Inn Express Dubai Airport is fully booked, as is the Premier Inn Dubai International Airport Hotel, which suffered minor storm damage.

“The nearest hotel to the airport that still has availability is Premier Inn Dubai Dragon Mart,” a spokesperson for the hotel brand told The National.

Several areas around the airport are waterlogged or obstructed, so travellers looking to book a hotel would be advised to opt for a property on the airport side of town, but not so close to be caught up in flooding and the aftermath of the storms.

Reasonably priced options with room availability at the time of writing include the Swissotel Al Ghurair Dubai and Ramada by Wyndham Dubai Deira, both of which are close to a metro station. Al Jaddaf Rotana also has rooms available and is located within a short drive of the airport, traffic permitting.

Is public transport in operation at Dubai International Airport?

Travellers can also use the Dubai Metro to arrive at or leave the airport. The Red Line operates from Dubai International Airport and the city's Roads and Transport Authority confirmed on Wednesday that it is operational.

Is it possible to drive to Dubai International Airport?

The roads getting to and from the airport are exceptionally busy and drivers should expect major delays when making the journey. However, access is possible, and easiest in a 4x4 vehicle and by following diversions and using Google Maps or Waze for updates on road closures.

If you have friends or family stranded at the airport – picking them up might be a better option than asking them to take taxis or use ride-sharing cars as these are in very short supply with some people waiting hours to leave.

Updated: May 08, 2024, 8:58 AM