Eid Al Adha 2023: Travel tips for passengers using Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports

Passengers are advised to check in early and arrive at the airport at least four hours before departure

Many UAE residents are preparing to travel during the Eid Al Adha holiday. EPA
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A travel rush is expected before Eid Al Adha and the summer holidays, and airlines and authorities have started sharing advice.

About 3.5 million passengers are expected to fly in or out of Dubai International Airport (DXB) over the next two weeks.

Etihad Airways expects more than four million passengers at Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) between now and September 30.

A high volume of passengers will depart from the airport at the weekend, with the peak day for outbound travel on Saturday, when about 100,000 are expected to fly out from Dubai.

If you are travelling through Abu Dhabi or Dubai this Eid break, The National has everything you need to know about navigating peak times and ensuring you and your family have a smooth and safe trip.

Dubai International Airport is geared up for a busy summer period. AFP

Check the latest travel guidelines

Abu Dhabi Airport's website advises that before planning your holiday, you should ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months. You should also check the visa and entry requirements of the destination you are travelling to.

Check in early

During peak times, airlines are advising passengers to check in online to avoid queues at the airport. Online check-in usually opens up to 48 hours before departure, enabling passengers to upload all the necessary documents ahead of time.

“DXB will remain quite busy over the weekend and throughout the next week and we urge our guests who are flying out of Dubai to plan enough time to get to the airport, as the roads will get busy,” a Dubai Airports representative told The National.

“Also, using online, early or self-check-in options, wherever available, will help them beat the rush to ensure a smooth start to their holiday.”

Etihad Airways has upgraded its online check-in, which allows passengers to complete passport and visa checks before reaching the airport.

Economy check-in for non-US flights opens four hours before departure and closes an hour before departure. Business and First Class check-in closes 45 minutes before departure.

For US flights, Etihad reminds passengers that check-in closes two hours before flights depart. Travellers can use Etihad's pre-clearance system to clear US immigration requirements before leaving the UAE, leading to a smoother arrival process at destinations in the world's biggest economy.

Pilgrims heading to Saudi Arabia for Hajj can use special check-in counters in Abu Dhabi.

Checking in online, at home or at centres at Mina Zayed and the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre can help speed up the process for travellers too. These are available from 24 hours to four hours before flights.

If you are flying with Emirates in Dubai, you can arrive early and use the self-service check-in system, as well as the newly opened City Check-in and Travel Store in ICD Brookfield Place in the Dubai International Financial Centre.

Passengers are required to arrive at least three hours before their flight and to pay careful attention to boarding times as gates close 20 minutes before departure.

Flydubai passengers are advised to arrive at the airport at least four hours before departure. The airline also allows travellers to check in and drop off any checked baggage from 24 hours before departure at the car park check-in desk at Dubai International Airport's Terminal 3.

Passengers using other airlines should arrive no earlier than three hours before the scheduled departure time of their flights, according to Dubai Airports, adding that they should check in online to save time.

Those travelling with families, including children over the age of 12, can use Smart Gates to speed up the passport control process.

Weigh your bags in advance

Dubai Airports is advising travellers to weigh their luggage at home to minimise stress at the airport.

If you are flying with Emirates, you must check what your bag allowance is for your flight. You can check in as many bags as you like, up to the weight allowance for your travel class. However, each bag must not weigh more than 32kg.

During peak times, the airline advises travellers to weigh and prepare documents before arriving at the airport to avoid long queues. However, the airline does provide bag-weighing services at the check-in desk and at self check-in desks in the terminals.

Etihad has a self-service bag drop facility which provides a quicker and more efficient check-in process.

Once travellers have checked in, the self-service facilities allow them to seamlessly retrieve their booking, print the bag-tag and process their bags in less than two minutes.

Travellers flying with flydubai can check in up to three pieces of baggage as long as their combined weight doesn't exceed the baggage allowance in their booking confirmation.

Each piece of baggage has to weigh less than 32kg and should not exceed the maximum dimensions.

For hand luggage, all liquids must be in containers with a maximum capacity of 100ml. They should also be packed in clear, translucent bags. These are often provided at the airports in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi before you enter security.

Use the e-gates

To save time at the airport and avoid the summer queues, you can take advantage of the e-gates in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi's main airports.

In order to complete the process seamlessly, you will have to remove anything covering your face – such as masks, glasses and hats – and keep your passport and boarding pass ready in case they are needed.

According to Abu Dhabi Airport's website, you can complete the airport's E-Border Gate process in only seven seconds.

Over at Dubai International Airport, the same contactless process using the smart gates takes seconds to complete.

UAE and GCC citizens, UAE residents, visa-on-arrival guests with biometric passports and those who have used the smart gates previously can all use them again.

If you are unsure of your eligibility to use the smart gates in Dubai, you can check the website of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs and follow instructions to register.

Park your car at the airport

If you are travelling abroad for a short break, you can travel and park your car at the airport in Abu Dhabi. According to the airport's website, you can leave your car at the airport while you travel or pick and drop off a passenger. The prices may vary depending on the terminal you are using.

At Dubai International Airport, Terminals 1 and 2 offer economy and premium parking options while disabled people get complimentary parking for two hours at all terminals.

Parking at Car Park A, which serves Terminal 1 and 2, costs Dh125 a day and Dh100 for each additional day. The prices are the same for Terminal 3, while free parking is available at DWC at both the arrivals and departure terminals.

Use public transport

For those using the Dubai Metro to get to and from the airport, the operating times are usually extended during Eid holidays.

According to the emirate's Road and Transport Authority, these times will be released on Sunday June 25.

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Updated: June 23, 2023, 11:52 AM