Flying time from North America to Dubai is around 12½ hours from New York and 15 hours from Houston. From cities in Western Europe it's around 6 hours, and around 7 hours from London. From Singapore or Hong Kong, flights are also around 7 hours.
Dubai International Airport (IATA designation: DXB) is a 10- to 15-minute drive from the Deira Creek front, and 30- to 40 minutes northeast from the Jumeirah Beach and Marina hotels. The newly opened Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) is gradually accepting more passenger planes, and is expected to overtake in passenger numbers DXB by 2020. It's positioned at the "New Dubai" end, around 20 minutes from the Dubai Marina, or 45 minutes from Abu Dhabi or the Dubai Creek. At the time of writing, only Qatar airways and Flydubai have regular passenger landing slots, with most activity being taken by cargo planes.
On-site Dubai International Airport Hotel has 78 rooms (singles and doubles) that can be rented by the hour. Prices for rooms start at US$42 for a double depending on the standard of the room and the time of day, with discounts accrued the longer you stay. The Holiday Inn and Millenium Airport hotels are not attached but offer a fast shuttle bus service. Major airlines have their own lounges, and passengers using the Marhaba service may avail of the lounge for a fee. The lounges offer showers, computers, and Internet access and there's a separate room for smokers. The airport is in a perpetual state of upgrade, and is one of the largest in the world. There are a plethora of shops, restaurants, cafés and bars, kids' play areas, rest zones and charging stations.
Although not within the city, Abu Dhabi airport (AUD) and Sharjah airport (SHJ) are also less than a 1-hour drive of the opposing ends of Dubai. However, you cannot obtain a temporary Dubai driving permit unless you have a Dubai entry stamp, so you would have to rent a car from the airport you arrive at.
Dubai International Airport. Airport Rd., Garhoud, The North Bank, Dubai, Dubai. 4/244--5555; www.dubaiairports.ae.
Dubai Municipality has a large fleet of buses that operate all over town, and it's possible to catch a Skybus from any terminal, across 12 routes that cover most hotel areas. Many, however, prefer to take the relatively modern metro (only one suitcase per person allowed though). There are stations at both passenger terminals, and two lines that cover most major areas, and meet with bus routes and taxi ranks at most stations. Note that you must have a "Nol card" to travel on, which can be purchased at kiosks and depots, but not on the vehicles.
Taxis are reasonably priced (by meter) in Dubai, and there are always many available at the airport. Even if the queues look long, they move fairly quickly. Many are seven-seaters, and there are women-only taxis and limousines also available. Check the approximate fare on the luxury cabs before getting in, however, as prices can be exorbitant.
Most hotels offer airport transfers but will charge a fee unless you have booked an executive floor room, in which case it will often be included.
Dubai International is a major hub for east-to-west travel, and more than 80 airlines offer flights here. It's an easy stopover halfway between the U.S. and Europe or Asia, or Australasia and Europe or the subcontinent. Emirates is now one of the largest international airlines out there, with daily direct flights from 11 airports in the U.S. and Canada, and 140 others all over the world. Dubai's budget carrier, Flydubai, operates to more than 85 destinations, with a focus on closer routes and niche destinations.
If you’d rather save money than time, it’s worth considering going through other hubs like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Western Europe with Airlines like British airways, KLM, Singapore, or Cathay Pacific. Qatar often offers excellent discount fares through Doha, and connects with Dubai several times a day, keeping layover times to a minimum.
Other close airports offer even more options. The national airline of the UAE, Etihad, offers flights from seven U.S. cities, and provides a 90-minute bus transfer to its office on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. Budget airline Air Arabia has its hub at Sharjah international airport, and flies direct to destinations in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Asia.
British Airways. British Airways. 800/247--9297; 4/307--5777; www.britishairways.com.
Cathay Pacific. Cathay Pacific. 800/233--2742; 4/204--2888; www.cathaypacific.com.
Emirates. Emirates. 800/777--3999; 600/555--5555; www.emirates.com.
Etihad Airways. 877/690--0767; 2/599--0000; www.etihad.com.
Flydubai. 600/544445; www.flydubai.com.
KLM. 800/618--0104; 800/556; www.klm.com.
Qatar Airways. 877/777--2827; 4/229--2229; www.qatarairways.com.
Singapore Airlines. 800/742--3333; 4/316--6888; www.singaporeair.com.