How To Get Free Shuttle Rides Between Abu Dhabi And Dubai

Abu Dhabi and Dubai are only about an hour apart from each other but in my experience traveling the United Arab Emirates I have found that Abu Dhabi is always the cheaper airport to fly through. I saved $350 just on this flight alone by landing in Abu Dhabi instead of Dubai. Of course my final destination is always Dubai, so what now?

Etihad Shuttle: A free shuttle Abu Dhabi to Dubai

Enter: The Etihad Express Shuttle.

This bad boy runs between the two cities multiple times a day. It is quick, comfortable and even includes free bottled water and snack. But here’s the travel hacking beauty of it: there are no tickets for this shuttle. As such it is possible to catch a free ride if you know what to do. (Taking a taxi will cost you 300 AED — over $80 USD.)

Get A Free Shuttle Abu Dhabi To Dubai

Needed For This Hack:

1   An Etihad Airlines boarding pass
2   A fake email / PDF reservation

Alternative Option Abu Dhabi Airport Sleeper Pods

It should be noted that the easiest way to pull hack off is by actually flying Etihad into the country. Showing your Etihad Airlines ticket stub from just a few minutes or few hours earlier will get you on the shuttle, simple as that. It doesn’t matter whether you reserved a spot on the shuttle when purchasing your flight or not, just say that you did. They have no way of checking this in the waiting area or aboard the shuttle.

Inside the Etihad Shuttle, a free shuttle Abu Dhabi to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates

Of course if you are like me and have a tendency to leave your boarding passes aboard the plane in the pocket on the seat in front of you, there is another way — and it doesn’t even require that you fly Etihad.

Not Flying Etihad? Do This:

Simply look up the shuttle schedule for the day in question and then make yourself a fake email confirmation letter (a common practice among long-term travelers for a variety of reasons) with that shuttle information included. Here is the one I made:

Travel Hacking 101 with fake plane tickets

Next either save it as a PDF to your phone/tablet or even email it to yourself. (After all no one checks the from address when looking at email confirmations.)

Armed with your free shuttle ticket exit out Terminal 1 of Abu Dhabi airport, bypass the touts and head right over and across the drop-off lanes. Here is the designated shuttle area. Now simply flash your tablet at the driver as you get on and voila, you’ve gotten yourself a free ride to Dubai. The shuttle will drop you off at the Etihad Mall, a 24/7 airport waiting area with check-in counters and couches for sleeping. In fact there are dozens of passed out people all around me as I type this.

This trick will in theory also work headed the opposite direction, from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. However as the shuttle departs from the Etihad Mall and not Dubai International Airport, it is not quite as convenient.

Additional travel hacking posts will be a regular feature here at The HoliDaze. In anticipation of that, I’m curious: how far are you willing to take your travel hacking?

Are you willing to do morally and/or legally dubious things to hack your trip?

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About Derek Freal

"Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel." ย  Cultural enthusiast. Adrenaline junkie. Eater of strange foods. Chasing unique and offbeat adventures around the world since 2008. Derek loves going to new destinations where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, or places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo -- supposedly its healthier and more efficient. For more information (about Derek, not squat pooing) including popular posts and videos, check out his bio.

48 thoughts on “How To Get Free Shuttle Rides Between Abu Dhabi And Dubai”

  1. Neat trick! Just kidding. Teaching travelers to create fake paperwork in order to score a free is unethical and plain wrong. There is a right way to save money on a trip and this is not one of them.

  2. If you fly with Etihad, yes it is Kerwin, but if not you can just use a fake email or PDF as a boarding pass….that was where the real “hack” is. Of course the more important part of this post (at least to me) is he final question: Are you willing to use morally and or legally dubious travel hacks while on the road?

  3. I am flying to dubai then I have to get a coach to abu dhabi. Can you help please. Will I get my luggage off as normal and where do I go for the coach. I am travelling alone and a little apprehensive. Thank you.

  4. still don’t have an do you get a free ride from Dubai International Airport to Abu Dubai Crown Plaza hotel? I am traveling with 4 people plus our luggage.I would rather not pay for a taxi.

    • Just take the Etihad shuttle — it’s free with an Etihad ticket stub. Didn’t fly Etihad? Just make a fake ticket email, send it to yourself, and show your phone to the driver. Voila, you are on the way!

      • Well yes, they are a thrifty people ๐Ÿ˜‰ However a family traveling to pay the UAE on vacation should be able to cover the relatively nominal costs of a taxi (at least when compared to the price of EVERYTHING else in that region). This was article was more geared towards cheap backpackers who find themselves passing through the UAE and want to make the most of it without breaking the bank. I would never have been able to survive seven years restlessly wandering the planet without finding a few way to save a few bucks — without hurting anyone, of course.

    • Just use an email…I’ve used both Expedia and Etihad confirmation emails as the template and then just updated the date and sent it back to myself. Works every time. I really don’t think the guy checking at the bus gives a damn either way, you just have to show him something…

  5. hey Derek,

    great post.. i am flying AUH by Etihad, but i need to travel Dubai another time.
    i’ve checked if i can get free shuttle from Abu Dhabi to Dubai another day, like 5days later,
    but the guy from Etihad service center told me that free shuttle is valid for only sameday travel.
    do you have any idea for me to get free shuttle for the trip another day? :):):)

    thanks in advance!

    • I would say just change the dates on the email with your ticket receipt and forward it back to yourself (or another email address) but they might notice if you walked up to the shuttle stand from outside the airport, instead of coming out the exit. Maybe just take your bags inside the arrival section and ask information to point you where the shuttle is? Then you can emerge looking like you just landed ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Hi There
    If i’m flying Ethiad i just show my boarding pass right? Ok now is there place for my luggage? One large case, hand luggage and my handbag? Where is this stored?

    • Yup, just show your boarding pass and you are good to go. And yes, there is room on the shuttle for your luggage, no worries — locking storage cabinets underneath the bus as well as a storage compartment over your seat. Have a fun trip ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Hi
    I am flying with Emirates ad they have booked my free shuttle from Dubai airport to Abu Dhabi but not back because I will not be flying on the the day I go back to Dubai. Any suggestions on getting a shuttle back to Dubai?

  8. May I ask where can I find pick up location of Etihad free bus from Abu Dhabi to Dubai? is it near Abu Dhabi airport terminal 3? or it is located in the center of city? I have booked free bus and comfirmed, but how can I amend the time of my booking? I did not find any place allow me to amend my bus booking on their wabsite, can you help me? Thank you!

    • It’s outside of Terminal 1 but I would assume there is also one outside of T3 as well. The buses run on a regularly basis, so no need to re-book (unless they have changed things since I last flew through there a few months back). Have a safe flight, cheers

  9. Could you explain me in details the proceedere of making fake bording pass? I don’t understand how to make a fake mail and what data are nessassery for that. Thanks in advance.

    • I have to do this a lot nowadays because I always fly one-way and increasingly airlines/immigration are checking for departure tickets as well.

      Step 1. Save all emails from airlines/booking sites when you purchase tickets. Expedia. Air Asia. Everything.
      Step 2. Pick an email that fits, hit “forward” and type in your email address.
      Step 3. Scroll down and change the previous flight information to new dates/cities/whatever, then hit send.

      The new email pops in your inbox. Open it and show it to airport staff instead of the original. Works every time.

  10. I was told if you are in Dubai and want to take the shuttle to Abu Dhabi airport you have to go to Chelsea hotel. Can some tell me if it is Chelsea hotel or Dubai mall?

    • Never heard of the official shuttles stopping at hotels — maybe that’s some intermediary van/taxi to take them to the shuttle bus, or something else that is completely new — but either way I wouldn’t put too much faith in this Chelsea Hotel that you speak of unless you call them in advance and confirm your intentions. Best of luck, let me know how it goes!

  11. Hi I am flying Qantas which is linked to Qantas code share or somthing. I fly into Dubai but need to go to Abu Dhabi. My question is can i use the Emirates bus, or maybe do an email like you explained Thanks for all your info.

    • Qantas or this Emirates code share (never heard of it) should have some sort of free transfer service between cities, especially if you bought the connecting flights at the same time. I’d look into that first. But if all else fails just use your booking receipt email, an old Expedia email or some other generic ticket booking site email, change the flights to Emirates and forward it back to yourself. Only takes a minute ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Hi I am going Toronto to Abu Dhabi, two days staying in abudhabi then Dhaka,
    My question is, If I arrive abudhabi on jun 8, can I take shuttle June 9 and same day come back abudhabi, then I am taking flight abudhabi to Dhaka, is that work like that? Going Dubai just to visit for one day.
    can u give me any idea that may work for me.

    • Did you use manage to use this recently?

      The format of Etihad booking confirmation emails / PDFs has changed, but just wondering if the concept still works?

      • Airlines change their templates all the time. I have to print fake tickets all the time to get into countries (ex: exit flight when I don’t have one booked because I plan nothing) or sometimes even at airline check-in. In certain cases (depending upon the destination country) you might even need to provide proof of exit plans before they will even issue your ticket. It’s been more than a year so who knows…..but what I do know is the worst that they can say is “no, please pay the XX dirham.”

  13. Just tried to take the Etihad shuttle from Abu Dhabi to Dubai. Because my travel agent booked the tickets through Virgin they wouldnโ€™t let us on. Even though we were on the Etihad vessel and everything. They had a list of names for people that had reservations. Seems like they are cracking down on this now.


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