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For an upcoming trip, I have a layover of 2.5 hours in Dubai. Both flights are with Emirates, and arrive / leave from Terminal 3.

As the first flight is overnight, I'll want to freshen up, and a shower would be ideal. Through my credit card, I have access to a lounge in T3 which doesn't offer showers (plus apparently has really slow wifi), or a lounge in T1 which does have a shower (and apparently has both better wifi and better food). So, the lounge in T1 sounds better for more needs than the T3 one.

What I'm not sure of is if I can make it from T3 to T1 and back again, with enough time to spend in T1 to make it worth going?

(I guess I'll need to be at the gate 30 minutes before departure for the connecting flight, for an Emirates international departure? If so, that'd give me about 2 hours from stepping off the plane, assuming it's on time, until I need to be back in T3 at the gate)

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Do you spend a long time in the shower? –  Ankur Banerjee Feb 14 '12 at 22:52
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Nope! But if there's not really time for a shower, a spot of breakfast and checking out StackExchange, it's probably not worth switching terminals –  Gagravarr Feb 14 '12 at 23:19

3 Answers 3

I landed in terminal 3 and flew out of terminal 1 last year. I didn't have to leave the airside because Terminals 1 and 3 are joined. It took me about 20 minutes to walk from the Costa stand at the far end of terminal 3 to my gate in terminal 1 which was maybe half way down that terminal. So assuming your inbound flight arrives on time and you can walk for 20 minutes each way then it should be possible to spend at least half an hour in the T3 lounge (about half way down T3)

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

The answer is that it can be done, and without too much stress! There seem to only be a few places where you can get from the lower level of T3 to the transit security check, before you're allowed into the main bit of the terminal. This meant a bit of a walk, then a long queue at security. After that, you're in the middle of Concourse 2 of Terminal 3, bang in the middle of the shops and lots of people standing around looking gormless and getting in your way...

Once you finally escape (at snails pace!) from the middle of T3, you go passed a nice fountain / pond thing, down the escalators into Terminal 1 / Concourse 1, and then you should be able to walk at a sensible speed. It does seem that T3 is set up to slow you down and get you to shop, while T1 is set up to allow you to get quickly between gates. So, it took me about 3 times as long to get from the plane to the end of the T3 shops, as it did to walk the length of T1 to the lounge! On the plus side, there was plenty of time for shower + breakfast + wifi :)

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Well let's break it down.

Like you said, you have 2.5 hours. Assuming you need to be back with 30 min to spare, and you arrive on time, that's 2 hours (120 minutes).

First - is it possible? While you can't go to Terminal 2, it's evidently "possible airside to move freely from Terminal 1 to 3 and back, without going through immigration".

On the outside, a free shuttle bus takes 20 minutes to transfer between terminals. However, from the same link as before: "For transiting passengers, a shuttle service runs between the terminals, with a journey time of around 20 minutes from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1, and 30 minutes to Terminal 3".

So now we have a time - although it's ambiguous as to whether that was 30 min from T2 or from T1. We'll assume T1 (worst case) and this means an hour for transfer there and back.

This leaves you with an hour.

Could you perhaps walk it? It would appear so, but it would take much longer - the distance between Terminals 1 and 3 is about 8km!

Now, all this assumes that not only are your flights on time, but that the shuttle is leaving AS you arrive. You may have to wait a few minutes - even if it's only 5 min, that's 10 min off your total time, leaving you with 50 min. And it could be longer.

Add in time to find the lounge, set up, etc, it really doesn't seem worth it for a slightly better internet, a shower and food services. It would appear to be more sensible to remain in Terminal 3. You may even find if you DID go to get a shower, you'd start sweating in the shuttle on the way back, depending on how crowded and air-conditioned it is!

My vote: stay in Terminal 3, relax, unwind, and give your face a rinse to freshen up.

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I'm not sure if that 8km distance is correct - Google Maps seems to show them as being connected. On the wikipedia page, scroll to the end of the Concourse 2 section, and it says you can walk between them under the control tower... –  Gagravarr Feb 15 '12 at 10:30
    
At first it looked like you were right, but if you read the bigger heading, that is concourse 1 and 2 within Terminal 3, rather than Terminal 1 and 3. –  Mark Mayo Feb 15 '12 at 12:31
    
Are you sure? Only the maps on the airport website seem to show T1 and T3 joining together. Additionally, from wikipedia, I think Concourse 1 might well be the airside bit of T1, and Concourse 2 the current airside bit of T3, with Concourse 3 set to extend T3 when it opens. I'm not certain though... –  Gagravarr Feb 15 '12 at 13:42
    
Looking at Mat's answer, it sounds like 20 minutes is the correct time (walking). Perhaps the bus has to take a long roundabout way to get there. –  Mark Mayo Feb 15 '12 at 20:03
    
Yup, that's right. T1 and T3 are connected underground and are eminently walkable, there are travelators both ways. In fact, since all immigration is in T1, all passengers arriving in T3 have to go there. –  jpatokal Dec 15 '13 at 23:33

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