Dubai Connect Hotel
Transitting Dubai Emirates offer STPC called Dubai Connect. While there are some fine print on eligibility you effectively get a free hotel for a involuntarily long transit. Need to be ticketed on Emirates or Qantas. In my case I had quite a long transit, arriving in the evening from Stockholm and departing the following mid-morning to LAX all in first class. Business and First class passengers get placed in the Le Méridien Dubai across the road with the limo service. This is not exactly the standard hotel but rather a smaller side wing with a private entrance. So you don’t get your SPG benefits here however EK will pay for food in the regular hotel’s downstairs buffet restaurant. If you do have a long transit it definitely saves a good amount on paying for a hotel but it is inconsistent with the Emirates first class experience.
I had a lot of difficulty pre-arranging my stay. It simply did not show as available in my booking through the airlines websites . Since it was ticketed on Qantas I had tried through their phone reservations and was told it would be manually processed. Even had reservations agents email me directly… but it didn’t work. In retrospect should have rang EK earlier but they told me it could be arranged at the airport. I did not have anyone greeting me at the gate however. My hunch is the problem stemmed from ARN-DXB-LAX is not a commercially published fare, it backtracks quite some distance and they just don’t sell it. So while I had the impossible the computer simply didn’t automatically recognise the flight combination as being eligible. Well that’s my hypothesis anyway.
So the Le Méridien Dubai is quite close to the airport, but because of traffic lights it might take a good 5 minutes to get there. Like I mentioned you use a side entrance with a separate check-in. Here they figure out what horrible hour to make you wake up and ship you back to the airport. I said I’d probably wake up earlier and have something to eat anyway so they provided me with a food voucher. The side wing has a small waiting area like an atrium near the front otherwise it’s just a corridor with a series of minimal rooms. The room itself is comfortable and of basic standard for this type of hotel. There’s actually a nice garden outside the window and glass door but in theory anyone could walk in so you keep it shut.
Finally I did get up early, have a shower and get fed, a little. The buffet was moderately sized and only acceptable quality. Coffee served was good. Honestly if you were in my situation you’d also definitely hold off until you get to the first class lounge for a decent meal. Oh and sorry I was half asleep, 4 am European time, so didn’t photograph much.
I didn’t hang around much longer, went back to the Emirates check-in desk and asked to go back to the Airport. Had to wait a few minutes for a driver but was swiftly on my way. If you do have a eligible transit and flying economy go for it and get some good rest. Personally in business it depends on your priorities. In first and if flying for leisure the experience is truly substandard to the actual emirates product but acceptable if you just want to sleep at night. During the day however I’d rather just get a free limo ride out to one of the large malls then get the Dubai Metro back in.