Dubai Airport sets bar high in passenger comfort, services

At Terminal 3 and Terminal 1, passengers who have a connecting flight with a couple of hours of layover can use swimming pools and Jacuzzis at health clubs in the terminals.
Sunday 16/12/2018
One of the lounges at Dubai International Airport.  (Dubai International Airport)
One of the lounges at Dubai International Airport. (Dubai International Airport)

DUBAI - When it comes to travel and tourism, Dubai is setting new standards and experiences. What applies to the city is reflected in the gleaming terminals at Dubai International Airport.

“While other airports have tried to play catchup, such as Singapore opening a new terminal this year and [London] Heathrow redeveloping slowly with T5, those cities have not embraced change on a wider basis that Dubai has. Dubai is the first city anyone wants to visit when they think of the [Gulf Cooperation Council] GCC” said Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research.

Dubai International Airport serves 90 airlines flying to more than 240 destinations across six continents. Nearly 90 million passengers are expected to pass through the airport this year. This will be the fifth consecutive year the international airport is ranked as the world’s busiest.

Airport officials have continuously added to its services and amenities.

“Our aim is to continue pushing the boundaries on experience and provide customers with the best possible service,” said Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths.

Along with shorter queue times, he mentioned food and beverage, retail and “other touches like spas, swimming pools and trampolines that help us stand out from the crowd.”

At Terminal 3 and Terminal 1, passengers who have a connecting flight with a couple of hours of layover can use swimming pools and Jacuzzis at health clubs in the terminals.

The airport also released WOW-Fi, the world’s fastest free airport Wi-Fi, followed by free streaming movies for passengers through the airport’s partnership with Icflix, a streaming and video-on-demand platform.

Passengers can use the latest technological facilities such as third-generation Smart Gates equipped with facial recognition and retina cameras, replacing traditional border gates. This gives passengers time to enjoy airport amenities, including duty-free shopping, dining and leisure facilities.

“Dubai International has made it a key objective to ensure passengers enjoy not just being in the city but the airport itself,” said Ahmad.

“With services and amenities from sleep pods to massage rooms, it can be argued that the airport itself is a city with food outlets galore as well as a highly vibrant shopping and retail experience, unlike any other airport. Even transit passengers love coming to Dubai.”

“The ironic thing is this: even a layover of several hours elapses really fast because you get so immersed in the experience of being at Dubai International. Not many airports can attest this attribute, let alone match it for quality,” he said.

There are approximately 150 dining outlets across all the concourses of the airport.

Lamiaa ElKholy, an Egyptian expat professional working at a Dubai telecoms company, recently travelled through Dubai International Airport. “Entering, exiting or transiting via Dubai International airport is definitely a memorable experience for global or even resident travellers,” ElKholy said. “Nowhere in the Middle East and possibly in the world can one pass through the gates within minutes and get their hair done and nails manicured while waiting for their flight!

“With the implementation of e-gates, holders of Emirates ID in the UAE can just pass through the automated gates and skip the hassle of long queues at the checkpoints.”

Dubai airport recently began offering hair styling, massage and manicure, pedicure services to complement their luxury duty-free shopping areas.

Process improvements and technology are the two touchstones by which the airport management has been enhancing its services and performance called the DXB Plus Programme, which aims to expand capacity to 118 million passengers by 2023.

Ahmad cited two key factors for Dubai International’s success: “The first is the open-door investment policy of the Dubai government that has allowed investors to come in and locate their enterprises in the city so that it becomes the nexus for investment when looking at the GCC.

“Second, the development and growth of Emirates (airline) over the last 30-plus years have allowed people to come to the city and connect to a gateway unlike any other.”

Dubai serves as a great getaway for people from Europe in particular, he said. “With almost 2.9 billion people within a 5-hour flight radius of Dubai, it’s not hard to see why the likes of Emirates has become an aviation powerhouse, sporting the biggest A380 fleet today and well on its way to replacing those when it becomes the biggest 777X operator,” he said.

Passengers walk at Dubai International Airport. (Dubai International Airport)
A swimming pool at Concourse C.(Dubai International Airport)