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When you are departing Abu Dhabi, you should plan on arriving at the airport at least two to three hours prior to departure. Etihad Airlines allows passengers to check in four hours prior to their flights, and all other airlines begin check-in three hours ahead of time. These are general guidelines for Abu Dhabi airport departures, so you should still double-check with your carrier for their Abu Dhabi airport departure information. Many carriers offer online or remote check-in that allows you to print your boarding pass before you arrive at the airport. If you have checked in prior to arriving at the airport, you won't need to get there quite as early.
Abu Dhabi airport offers several facilities for travelers both before and after Passport Control. Before Passport Control, travelers may grab a bite to eat at the French or Italian café; or try the cuisine at the Persian restaurant. Once you get through Passport Control, you may take advantage of duty-free shopping. You will find pharmacy shops and places to buy fashion watches and jewelry as well as many luxury retailers. For local flavors and souvenirs, you can visit the airport's souk and food market. After Passport Control, you will also find several lounges and a children's play area where you can relax before your flight departs. The specifics depend on which terminal you are departing from, but you will find no shortage of places to shop, dine, and relax in any terminal.
You can experience friendly Arab hospitality by taking advantage of Abu Dhabi airport's Meet and Assist Service. A representative will meet you and anyone who is traveling with you and escort you to a nearby lounge. You can relax after your flight while your Golden Class Services agent takes care of immigration, Passport Control, and customs clearance. Your agent will help you locate your baggage and escort your receiving party to the arrivals area. The Meet and Assist service isn't available only for Abu Dhabi arrivals; it's also possible to book these services for Abu Dhabi airport departures.
Your Abu Dhabi arrival provides you with the same access to dining and relaxing options as departing passengers have. You will find several banks and opportunities to exchange your currency before and after Passport Control. Abu Dhabi airport also provides a Fast Track immigration service for some airlines. Check with your airline to see if they participate in this program, which will save you some time on your arrival.
Passengers departing from Terminal 2 or 3 at Abu Dhabi airport should be dropped off in the outer lane in front of their departure terminal. If you are traveling with Etihad Airlines, you will be departing from Terminal 1. Economy class passengers should be dropped off in the outer lane in front of Terminal 1 between entrances 2 and 4 or lower curbside. Business and first-class passengers should be dropped off in front of entrance 4 of Terminal 1. If your host wishes to park, they may follow the signs to the short-term parking area when they approach the airport.
Passengers arriving at Terminal 2 may be picked up at the Arrivals Hall in Terminal 2. Those travelers who are arriving at Terminal 1 or Terminal 3 can be picked up at the Main Arrivals Hall. It can be found opposite the short-term parking area that's located on the lower level of the Abu Dhabi airport.
Transportation options in between Abu Dhabi airport and the city are abundant. Those who wish for an inexpensive travel choice should use Abu Dhabi's public bus system to go to the city. The green-and-white A1 buses leave from the lower curbside in front of all the terminals and outside the cargo building and police complex. It will take you approximately 45 minutes to reach the city.
Taxis are another reliable way for Abu Dhabi arrival passengers to travel to the city. The Abu Dhabi airport has luxury six-seater Mercedes taxis that are available 24 hours a day for passengers arriving at Terminals 1 and 3. You'll find them at the clearly marked taxi pickup area at the lower curbside outside Arrivals Hall for Terminals 1 and 3. Travelers who are arriving at Terminal 2 can take one of the plentiful metered Toyota Camry taxis to get wherever they want to go. Taxi fares begin at approximately $10 and go up based on the distance traveled. If you hold a discount card from the UAE Ministry of Social Affairs, you will receive a 25 to 50 percent discount on your taxi fare.
Perhaps you prefer to rent a car and have the experience of driving yourself around in the United Arab Emirates. If so, you will find all of the car rental agencies in the Skypark Plaza across from Terminal 3. Budget, Dollar, Europcar, Hertz, Thrifty, Avis, Fast, and Payless serve the Abu Dhabi airport. Make sure that you obtain an international driver's license before your trip.