Free Airline Buses From Dubai to Abu Dhabi Explained


What do you mean something for free in Dubai?! Yes, this little piece of advice might surprise you in a city with a reputation for being costly.

One of the great perks for tourists who want to cross between the country’s biggest cities is the free airline buses that Emirates and Etihad offer.

Here, we are going to talk you through exactly how these complimentary airline services work. (There are plenty of catches, though, so read on for the fine print!!)

In this UAE airline transfer guide, we will cover:

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Emirates Bus to Abu Dhabi City (ZVJ)

If you are landing at Dubai International Airport (DXB), but want to travel to Abu Dhabi, you can book your airline ticket to actually end in Abu Dhabi and cover the last 160kms or so by ground transportation.

When booking your airline ticket with Emirates, you simply need to enter your end destination as ZVJ. (Emirates does not fly directly to AUH airport).

Your Abu Dhabi arrival point is outside the Emirates Abu Dhabi office in Khalidiya, on the Corniche.

The bus runs five times a day (as of September 2023), and you will be allocated a seat at the same time you are issued your airline ticket.  You can call Emirates to add this service later, but it MUST be pre-booked.

Departing from Departure Arrival
DXB to Abu Dhabi 03:00 05:15
DXB to Abu Dhabi 06:30 08:45
DXB to Abu Dhabi 10:00 12:15
DXB to Abu Dhabi 15:00 17:15
DXB to Abu Dhabi 23:00 01:15

There are a few catches to be aware of when booking this “FREE” option:

  • You have to transfer straight from your Emirates flight, to the bus stop at Terminal 3 and onwards to Abu Dhabi – no stopping for sightseeing a day or two in Dubai before you transit onwards!
  • The Emirates office in Khalaydia, whilst in a great spot for Abu Dhabi sightseeing and staying along the Corniche, is nowhere near Zayed International Airport AUH. If you are after connecting to a flight at AUH, you then need to take a taxi back to AUH from the Corniche, about 80 AED / $22 USD.

Emirates Free Bus from Abu Dhabi to DXB

You can also use the Emirates free transit bus in reverse. If you have been spending some time in Abu Dhabi but will fly back out of DXB with Emirates, you simply book your return ticket to start from ZVJ.

You catch the coach from the Emirates Abu Dhabi office in Khalaydia back to DXB Terminal 3 (you’ll be dropped at Arrivals, Check-in Area C)

This service operates five times a day as follows:

Departing From Departure Arrival
Abu Dhabi to DXB 03:00 05:15
Abu Dhabi to DXB 06:15 08:15
Abu Dhabi to DXB 09.30 11.45
Abu Dhabi to DXB 16:30 18.45
Abu Dhabi to DXB 22.00 23.59

Flying Etihad: Free Bus Dubai XNB to Abu Dhabi

If you have been visiting Dubai but ultimately need to fly out from Zayed International Airport (AUH) with Etihad, then you can use the Etihad free coach transfer service.

They are now back to a full service since COVID, offering 10 daily transfers from Dubai XNB to AUH.

This leaves from Etihad Travel Mall (Al Wasl Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Safa 2).  You can check the exact schedule here.

You must pre-book this service using your departure airport as XNB.

If you don’t pre-book, your seat is not guaranteed. You can still get a walk-in seat on the coach for 25 AED, if space is available.

zayed international airport in abu dhabi
New Terminal A at Zayed International Airport in Abu Dhabi

Landed in AUH but want to end in Dubai?

The free transit coach system also works in reverse with Etihad. The Etihad Coach departs from outside Terminal A at Zayed International Airport (AUH) and drops passengers at Etihad Travel Mall, Al Wasl Centre, Dubai, with daily services you can see here.

If you are connecting onward to DXB, you can catch the Metro from Etihad Travel Mall at Business Bay Metro Station (Red Line). For completing this journey, you will need to buy a Nol card.

Again, your seat on the Etihad coach is free but must be pre-booked (either with your ticket or by phoning an Etihad call centre at least 24 hours in advance), with your final destination noted as XNB.

This free coach service between Abu Dhabi and Dubai is only available to passengers who have flown with Etihad.

AirArabia AUH to Dubai

New to the complimentary transfer services game, AirArabia now also offers a twice-daily service for passengers arriving in AUH to their office in Karama, Dubai.

  • Departs AUH at 11:30, arrives Karama 14:00
  • Departs AUH 23:30, arrives Karama 02:00

Learn more about how to transfer from Sharjah International Airport to Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Paid Airport Coach Service

New in 2022, Abu Dhabi International Airport (now Zayed International Airport) has introduced “AUH Express” – offering a paid shuttle service from AUH to Ibn Battuta, Dubai.

From Ibn Battuta, passengers can transfer to Dubai’s Metro and local bus network – a Dubai Nol card would be required.

Tickets for the AUH Express can be bought at Ibn Battuta station to travel to Abu Dhabi or the airport terminal if you arrive in AUH. They cost 35 AED one way.

This is a little bit more than the Intercity bus service Dubai-Abu Dhabi (25 AED), but it is more point-to-point and faster, so can be the preferred option for many travellers.

NB – Passengers flying WizzAir are invited to use AUH Express for free as part of their airline ticket.

If you’re not sure whether the free airline transit bus is the right transport option for you, pop back over to see all Dubai to Abu Dhabi transport options here.

More FAQs on Dubai to Abu Dhabi airline coaches

Is XNB and DXB the same airport?

Both XNB and DXB are IATA airport codes for Dubai, but are not the same destination. DXB is the Dubai International Aiport, home to Emirates and servicing many airlines, whilst XNB airport code is exclusively used by Etihad, for coach services that terminate at their Dubai office – Etihad Travel Mall – after first flying into AUH.

Can I get a free shuttle from AUH to DXB?

There is no door-to-door coach service between Zayed International Airport in Abu Dhabi (AUH) and Dubai International Airport (DXB).

There is a paid shuttle from AUH to Ibn Battuta, or you can use a courtesy bus operated by Emirates or Etihad if you are flying with these airlines, but they will terminate at their airline offices, not the opposing airport.

What is ZVJ Airport code for?

If you have landed in Dubai with Emirates but ultimately want to finish your journey in Abu Dhabi, ZVJ is the airport code used for the Emirates office in Abu Dhabi, where the courtesy bus will terminate.

Is ZVJ the same as AUH airport?

No, ZVJ is Emirates office in Abu Dhabi, on the Croniche. It is approximately 30 minutes by road away from Zayed International Airport (AUH). ZVJ airport code is only used by Emirates.

Is Etihad different to Emirates?

Yes. Both are UAE airlines, but Emirates is owned by Dubai Emirate (using DXB airport) while Abu Dhabi Emirate owns Etihad (operating from AUH). Neither flies into the opposing airport, and you cannot fly between the two airports, your journey needs to be completed by road if you are using both airlines to complete your journey.

Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai

Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE and transit passengers self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our recommendation links.

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