I flew 19 hours on Emirates from Dubai to New York via Italy and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again over the 14-hour non-stop flight

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Emirates, the unofficial flag carrier of Dubai, offers two daily non-stop flights from its hub at Dubai International Airport to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, each with scheduled flight times exceeding 14 hours.

Emirates Airbus A380 Flight New York to Dubai — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Airbus A380 from New York to Dubai.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

But there are some Emirates routes that don’t touch Dubai at all. They’re called “fifth-freedom” routes and are when an airline flies between two countries other than its own, the UAE in Emiates’ case.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

The New York area sees two of these routes, namely between Milan, Italy and New York as well as between Athens, Greece and Newark. Both flights originate and ultimately terminate in Dubai after the European stops and passengers can get on or off at any point.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

The Dubai-Milan-New York route, as a result, is the option for those looking for an alternative to the 14-hour non-stop flights. And that’s exactly what I did on the way home from a trip to the Dubai Airshow in November.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Here’s what it was like flying the 19-hour journey from Dubai to New York via Milan on Emirates.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

I arrived at Dubai International Airport at 6:35 a.m. ready for a long day of travel starting with a 9:05 a.m. flight to Milan. The total journey time for this routing is 18 hours and 55 minutes so that meant more than 24 hours of total travel time when factoring in airport check-in and transfers.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Dubai International is Emirates’ main hub and consistently ranks as one of the best airports in the world. I was particularly excited to check it out after not spending much time there on my arrival.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

The check-in area is quite massive and little did I know that the arrivals and departure hall is located underneath the tarmac with aircraft taxing right above our heads. But check-in was the first hurdle of this day-long trip.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

I first went to the check-in area for US-bound flights as my flight was ultimately terminating in New York. After waiting in line for around 10 minutes, I was told that I couldn’t check in there because my first stop was Milan.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

I walked over to one of the other check-in lines and joined the queue at around 6:55 a.m. It took roughly 25 minutes to get to the front of the line when I departed from New York on the way out to Dubai and I was hoping this wouldn’t take much longer.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

I ultimately reached the front 45 minutes later then checked in my bags and received my boarding pass. The moral of that story is to arrive extra early when departing from Dubai, especially when checking bags.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Ticket in hand, I wasted no time in getting to the gate as I wanted to arrive before boarding began. The first stop was the automated passport control gates for leaving the UAE, in which all I had to do was scan my passport and boarding pass, as well as submit to a quick photograph.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

The security checkpoint was similarly easy to navigate and I was through all of the formalities in less than 10 minutes, if that. Now, all that was left to do was head to the gate.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

It’s not as modern-looking as newer airports in the region and lacked my favorite amenity, a moving walkway, as I headed to the far end of the concourse.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Boarding took quite longer than usual as gate agents once again checked COVID-19 tests and the required documents to enter Italy for those doing so.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Boarding a plane via a bus is never ideal, especially when the plane is located on the other side of the airport. And with a plane the size of ours, it was almost assuredly going to result in a delay.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Our bus left at 8:45 a.m. and took 15 minutes to get to the awaiting plane. We arrived five minutes before the scheduled departure time and we weren’t even the last bus to arrive.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

I was starting to regret taking the long way home but was delighted when I saw our awaiting aircraft, a Boeing 777-300ER. Emirates typically uses the Airbus A380 on this route but on this day, it was operated using the second-largest plane in the airline’s fleet.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

And the upside to boarding at a remote stand is climbing up the airstairs to board. It allows for a better look at the aircraft and one last look at Dubai from outside an airplane.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ER in this configuration seats 354 passengers including eight first class suites, 42 business class seats, and 304 economy class seats.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

First class suites are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration while the business class cabin has a peculiar 2-3-2 configuration with no direct aisle access for window or middle seats.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

The bulk of the seats, however, are in economy class that takes up two and a half sections of the airplane. Seats are arranged in a standard 10-abreast, 3-4-3 configuration across 32 rows.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

My seat for the flight was 42K, a window seat toward the back of the plane.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Advance seat selection was surprisingly not complimentary for my economy class fare and I paid $33 to reserve my seat. I normally object to paying for seat assignments but did not want to risk being assigned a middle seat for the long journey.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Standard economy class seats offer 32 inches of pitch and 17 inches of width, as well as an abundance of amenities.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Source: SeatGuru

Standard features at every seat include an adjustable headrest, USB charging port, seat-back entertainment screen, cup holder, and touch-screen remote, as well as a pair of headphones and pillow and blanket kit that’s left on top of each seat.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

We pushed back from the remote stand around 25 minutes after our scheduled departure time and made our way towards the runway. A short taxi of 20 minutes had us in the air just before 10 a.m. bound for Milan.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

The flight time to Milan was a reasonable six hours and 10 minutes, around the time it takes to fly from New York to Los Angeles. Although I’d have an eight-hour flight to contend with afterward, I preferred taking two shorter flights than one 14-hour flight.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Flight attendants began the meal service around an hour after departure and I was surprised to see Emirates taking a different approach than usual for the morning flight. On the menu, which was accessible via PDF through the in-flight WiFi, was a cold breakfast pastry accompanied by a selection of cold and hot beverages.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

The Danish strawberry roll was incredibly tasty and I wanted to ask for another one because I thoroughly enjoyed it. It does make sense to serve a simple cold option as it was quite early in the morning to be eating a full hot meal.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

We made landfall over Kuwait and three countries came into view at once including Kuwait, Iraq, and Iran. It was quite the interesting routing and although it wasn’t the first time I’d flown over Iraq, I still find it interesting every time I do.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

We crossed Iraq and sidestepped briefly to avoid Syrian airspace. From there, it was pretty much a straight shot over Turkey, Bulgaria, and southeast Europe to Milan.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Lunch was served around an hour and a half before landing with choices including grilled chicken medallions with rosemary jus, broccoli, and mashed potatoes with mustard and beef with mushroom gravy with creamy polenta and green beans. Both were served with orzo salad as an appetizer and vanilla mousse for dessert.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

I opted for the grilled chicken medallions, which also came with a dinner roll and cheese and crackers. It was a highlight of the flight and I had no problem cleaning my tray.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

The last minutes of this flight were spent gazing out of the window at Northern Italy below, from Trieste all the way to Milan. It was aerial sightseeing at its best and sights that I probably would not have been able to see had I chosen the non-stop flight.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Milan itself was covered in clouds making the city center and nearby Lake Como completely hidden from view. We managed to land a few minutes early, making up for extra the time spent boarding in Dubai.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

With the first leg of the trip complete, I now only needed to conquer a layover of two hours and 30 minutes plus an eight-hour flight to New York. This was my first time at Milan Malpensa Airport and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

A sign directed passengers towards transfers and passport control. But my heart sank when I turned a corner and saw a seemingly never-ending line in the direction I needed to go.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

There was absolutely no guidance on connecting flights and I knew if I stuck around in the line, I would probably miss my flight. So, I started making my way towards the front using the high school-level Italian that I knew to explain the situation.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

But I wasn’t getting far and it wasn’t easy to convey that I was only looking to make a transfer and not cut the line to enter Italy.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

I was vindicated once I reached the end of the line and found an Emirates worker holding up a sign for the New York flight. There was, in fact, a separate area for transfer passengers but the airport did a terrible job of notifying passengers that they didn’t have to wait in the long line.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

All I had to do was go through another security screening and I was in the departures section of the terminal. Instead of going straight to the gate, however, I went to a lounge.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Malpensa Airport has quite a few premium lounges that are part of the Priority Pass program and the Sala Montale was the closest to my gate.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

The lounge menu didn’t have the Italian pizza and pasta offering for which I was secretly hoping. But there were some Italian favorites including Caprese salad, mozzarella and tomato paninis, focaccia bread, and more.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

I made myself a little Italian picnic and watched the arriving and departing planes as I got some work done before the flight to New York. The two-hour reprieve from flying made the stop in Milan all the more worth it compared to the non-stop flight home.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

I headed down to the gate around 45 minutes before the scheduled departure time of 3:40 p.m. It was a short walk through the terminal and I had enough time on the way to make a quick phone call home.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

But while I thought I was giving myself enough time to get to the gate before boarding began, the aircraft was pretty much ready to go when I arrived.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

A gate agent just needed to see my passport and ask me some security questions before issuing me a new boarding pass and sending me on my way. They didn’t quite close the door behind me but I was surprised at how efficiently the plane was boarded so early before departure.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Economy class was once again quite crowded, as was expected since this flight took place just two weeks after the US has opened its borders to European tourists.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

I had the same seat assignment as I did on the flight from Dubai but a flight attendant came over just before departure to ask if I wanted to move to an empty row on the other side of the plane. It did so with pleasure and it felt as if I had just been upgraded to first class.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

I got settled in my new seat, 43A, and prepared for the eight-hour and 10-minute flight to New York. Eight hours seemed like a milk run after the already 10 hours of traveling I conquered that day.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Departing from Milan’s Runway 35L started the clock on the last leg home. This was going to be the longest flight I’ve ever taken from Europe to New York in economy class.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

The first hour or so of the flight was spent gazing out of the window once more. The low layer of clouds gave the appearance of a blanket of snow that was made even more dramatic with the Italian Alps bursting through them.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Then, it was time to eat once again as flight attendants began the meal service. I was the furthest from hungry but had to at least try the Italian catering to see how it was different from New York and Dubai catering.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Selections on the dinner menu consisted of seared chicken with pepper butter served with orzo risotto and peperonata and braised beef with vegetables served with sliced potatoes, bechamel, and cheese. Both options came with an appetizer of sweetcorn and barley salad and dessert of chocolate delice.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

I opted for the beef dish and while I couldn’t finish everything, what I was able to eat tasted delicious nonetheless. Needless to say, I was full up for the rest of the flight.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

And while I expected a normal flight over to New York, flight attendants then came around and offered to take Polaroid pictures of passengers at their seats as souvenirs. It was a really nice treat that I’d never seen before in my travel.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

The flight attendants, who saw my camera, also called me over whenever they saw something interesting out of the window. The views of the Alps were particularly stunning.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

The French Atlantic Coast and the Bay of Biscay came into view with around seven hours left to go.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

I opted to purchase the in-flight WiFi for a generously inexpensive $19.99 and used it at the beginning of the flight to send texts, photos, and Slack messages to coworkers. But it quickly stopped working as we flew over the Atlantic and I wasn’t able to use it for the rest of the flight.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

By now, I was an expert in how to use the in-flight entertainment system and began to watch a movie while enjoying a post-meal cup of wine. This was the last stretch of a six-day trip to Dubai and I was intent on sitting back and relaxing all the way to New York.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Flight Dubai to New York via Milan — Dubai Airshow Trip 2021

Flying on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai to New York via Milan, Italy.
Thomas Pallini/Insider