Travellers, this is how early you should arrive at the airport ahead of your Christmas trip.

It’s coming up to the most wonderful time of the year, as the songs say, but it’s also a time when you need to be totally on top of your travel planning.

So take heed: ahead of Christmas Day on December 25, Dubai International Airport looks set to be swarming with travellers heading overseas for the holidays.

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And it’s not just the few days before Christmas that look set to be busy—in fact, traffic numbers will swell this weekend according to Emirates.

The Dubai-based airline estimates more than 420,000 travellers will pass through Terminal 3 this weekend, with Friday 15 December expected to be the busiest day.

To counteract queues (and roadworks en route), Emirates is recommending that passengers arrive at least three hours before their departure time to make sure they don’t miss their flight.

Think the three-hour rule only applies to those flying long-haul? Not at all – you can check in on Emirates flights up to six hours before departure (and you shouldn’t check in later than two hours before take-off, whatever class you’re flying).

Arrive at the check-in desk with fewer that 60 minutes left before departure? Sorry, you won’t be allowed to board (remember, you can check in online up to 90 minutes before take-off, however).

emirates winter wonderland

If you’ve arrived in good time, you’ll have a few hours to kill—but luckily Emirates has thought of that, and created a Winter Wonderland in Terminal 3 to put travellers in the festive mood.

The pop-up features kid-friendly Christmas entertainment, festive food, a Bounce trampoline park and a 14-metre replica of the Burj Khalifa crafted entirely from gingerbread.

If you are booked in for a flight around the busy periods, you can try to make your travel experience as seamless as possible by following a few top tips…

– Try to arrive to the airport as early as possible. Around three hours prior to departure should be alright (and that’s what Emirates are recommending too).

– Think three hours is still risky? Well, you can physically check in at Terminal 3 as early as six hours before departure (and then get a heck of a lot of duty-free shopping done).

– Double check which terminal you’re flying from to avoid any last-minute disasters.

– If you are flying Emirates, the airline has car park check-in facilities which operate around the clock at DXB. There’s 16 counters where fliers can check-in and drop their luggage between 24 hours and six hours prior to departure.

dubai international airport

– Can you check in online? That should shave off some time.

– Either remove all your liquids, aerosols and gels from your check-in baggage, or place them in a clear re-sealable plastic bag. Each item should be no larger than 100ml, with the combined total of all your items being no more than one litre.

– Prepare for the security screenings by removing all metal from your person beforehand. Take off your belt, hat, jacket in preparation, and be prepared to remove your laptop from its bag.

– Check in online if possible, it’ll save precious minutes at the airport.

– Make sure you’re there well ahead of 60 minutes before takeoff – if not, you won’t be allowed to check in.

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– Weigh your bags before leaving the house (and check your allowance), to avoid getting held up at check-in because you’re over your limit.

Stay entertained at the airport

So you’ve gotten to the airport super early in order to avoid the mayhem – well done you. Now you need to find some cool things to do to keep you sane, entertained and occupied. We’ve got you covered here with 12 amazing things you didn’t know you can do in Dubai airport.