Earlier this month at the Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport (FLL) amidst great fanfare, a group of South Florida journalists, including myself, were (literally) on the ground to watch the landing of Emirates’ inaugural flight between Dubai and Fort Lauderdale. The new daily nonstop service marked Emirates’ 11th destination in the United States and the airline’s second destination in Florida, following the launch of an Orlando service in September 2015.

The Connection
“Emirates, one of the world’s premier airlines, recently voted and ranked the World’s Best Airline in 2016 by Skytrax…literally could have chosen any other city in any other country in the world as their next destination, as they are so highly sought after, but they chose our very own FLL as their next destination,” said Mark E. Gale, aviation department director for Broward County’s Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, during a press conference.

The decision to connect South Florida—West Palm, Fort Lauderdale and Miami—with Emirates’ more than 150 destinations worldwide through FLL was made, in part, because of the airline’s partnership with JetBlue. Emirates started placing its code on select JetBlue-operated flights back in April 2012.

Through this agreement, passengers are able to purchase single combined tickets for Emirates- and JetBlue-operated flight and receive one-stop check-in and baggage transfer. Members of Emirates’ Skywards reward program can also earn miles on JetBlue-operated flights and redeem miles for flights to any of JetBlue’s 77 destinations. In the same way, members of JetBlue’s TrueBlue loyalty program can earn and redeem points for Emirates-operated flights worldwide.

“Simply put, this a game changer. We are connected for business, we are connected for pleasure and vacationing, we are connected for visiting friends, family, and relatives. We are connected for attending educational institutions and so much more,” said Gale.

The Service
Emirates’ new service to Dubai will operate as flight EK213, departing from Dubai International Airport (DXB) at 3:30 a.m. local time and arriving at FLL at 10:55 a.m. The return flight, EK214, will depart Fort Lauderdale at 8:20 p.m. and arrive in Dubai at 7:40 p.m. the next day, with a flying time of 14 hours.

Hubert Frach, divisional senior v.p. commercial operations, West Americas, Europe & Russian Federation, at Emirates, hopped off the airline’s inaugural long-haul flight and, after the press conference, took a moment to chat with Recommend.

I reasoned that Frach must be exhausted from the trip, but on the contrary, he was quite buoyant. “I flew Emirates, how can I be jet-lagged?” he replied. This I had to hear more about.

The Emirates Experience
“When you are a customer here in Fort Lauderdale and let’s assume you fly Business Class, the travel experience starts first of all with a complimentary chauffeur drive service,” said Frach, “plus, you have special check-in areas for your Premium cabin passengers.

“On this specific plane, we have eight First Class suites, we have 42 lie-flat Business Class seats and we have gourmet food. When you arrive in Dubai, we have really, really big Business and First Class lounges so it’s a wonderful experience not only to travel to Dubai, because Dubai is a very interesting and global city with a lot of attractions, but also to go beyond Dubai and see how transferring in Dubai works and how easy it is.”

Without too much delay, I hurried home to pack for my own adventure to Dubai on board Emirates’ Boeing 777-200LR aircraft for a first-hand taste of the Emirates experience. Follow us on Instagram @Recommendmag to see Dubai through my eyes, and for a more in-depth account of my travels, stay tuned for my Onsite Review which will appear in the February 2017 print edition of Recommend.

For more information, visit emirates.com/us/english.