Headed to Dubai on Qatar Airways? You may not land in the airport you expected

Apr 22, 2022

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Some big news if you’re flying to Dubai (DXB) on Qatar Airways soon: the airline giant has just announced that its flights will be diverted to Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) due to runway maintenance.

Between 9 May and 22 June, tens of services will instead touch down at an airport some 60km south (and roughly 40 minutes by car during peak traffic) when one of Dubai’s two runways closes for extensive refurbishments, the airline has said.

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Expect other carriers to be affected by the 45-day closure in due course. While airport bosses are calling it a ‘planned’ closure, it’s nonetheless hit Qatar’s passengers by surprise, with many taking to social media to ask what is going on.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

A Tweet from the airline about the diversion stated: ‘Passengers travelling with #QatarAirways into Dubai International Airport are advised that flights will be operating from Al Maktoum International Airport between 9 May-22 June, due to a runway closure at DXB. We apologise for any inconvenience to our passengers during this time.’

How will this affect passengers on connecting flights?

What about passengers with connecting flights at Dubai International Airport, you ask? So far the airline hasn’t said it plans to roll out any complimentary shuttle services, and has told passengers directly that they’ll need to sort transport out themselves.

When asked by a first-class flier if they would offer transportation between Al Maktoum International Airport and DXB, Qatar replied, ‘You will need to arrange your transfer from DWC to DXB. You may also approach a member of the airport staff to check whether airport shuttles are available to transport passengers.’

Related: The ultimate guide to Qatar Qsuite

Fingers crossed some sort of shuttle can be arranged. Either way, if you’re transiting through Dubai any time soon, it’s worth planning your connections accordingly as it can take around 40 minutes by car during rush hour to get between both airports which are approximately 60km apart.

Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) is Dubai’s newest major airport before, which first opened up in 2010 and has tended to serve low-cost carriers.

Taking its name from the late Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the former ruler of Dubai, who died in 2006, the airport was designed to serve Dubai World Central, AKA Dubai South, and is one of many projects in the area undergoing a rapid expansion.

Dubai Duty Free
Duty-Free shopping at Al Maktoum International Airport (Courtesy of Dubai Airports)

It was only back in January that Qatar Airways restarted flights to both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, following a pause after issues between Qatar and neighbouring states. 

How can I best use Avios when flying to Dubai with Qatar?

As a member of the oneworld alliance, Qatar recently replaced its Qmiles currency with Avios, allowing you to instantly transfer points from BA Executive Club straight to Qatar’s Privilege Club at a 1:1 rate. Flights to Dubai with Qatar can therefore be great redemptions while also allowing you to sample the delights of the legendary Qsuite.

Explained: When is it better to redeem Avios through BA Executive Club or Qatar Privilege Club?

While most Qatar Airways flights from the U.K. stop in Qatar for connections before going onto the rest of the Middle East, direct flights to Doha from a number of mainland Europe airports can be popular among keen point collectors looking to get great deals on Avios redemptions on trips to Dubai — especially if you put Qatar Airways at the forefront of that gateway.

By positioning to an airport in Europe that’s slightly closer to Dubai and flying with Qatar it’s possible to significantly reduce the amount of Avios you need to redeem compared to flying from London with British Airways.

For example, if you flew from Frankfurt to Doha, a business class redemption is just 38,750 Avios each way, while an economy connection from Doha to Dubai would work out at 6,000 Avios each way. All in all this would set you back 44,750 Avios each way. By comparison, if you were to redeem Avios with BA for a one-way flight from London to Dubai you’d be looking at 50,000 Avios on an off-peak date and 60,000 Avios on a peak date. With the Qatar, Frankfurt option you’d be making good savings on both off-peak and peak travel dates.

At present, Qatar currently operates three flights daily from Doha to Dubai — using an A350, B787, and B777 — with an average flight time of 45 minutes.

The silver lining if you find yourself flying into the second airport of your choice when you land in Dubai? You might be able to grumble in the comfort of one of Qatar’s Qsuites.

Featured image by Vytautas Kielaitis/Shutterstock

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