Russia Travels

Aeroflot and SVO Reviews

The very name of Aeroflot often fills people with dread and not for no reason. Aeroflot had earned the reputation of being one of the worst airlines of the world during the Soviet era but has since, after the fall of the USSR, caught up with its rivals. The Russian flag carrier, officially known as Aeroflot Russian Airlines, is now amongst the safest things in the sky and also boasts of an extensive network across Asia and Europe with the Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow as its hub.

I recently flew Aeroflot from New Delhi to Moscow and then back from Riga to New Delhi. From India Aeroflot is the only direct flight option and after several enquiries with fellow travelers and reading multiple reviews I decided to book the tickets. The ticket booking process is no different as I had used travel aggregators and not the official Aeroflot website. Things can get slightly tricky with the Aeroflot website and pages donot often translate well or translate at all in English. I faced this problem particularly while web checkin – if you try to checkin by landing on their website you are most likely to get stuck on the second page as it doesn’t translate itself into English. It is best to use the link that you get in your email to check in.

Since the dismantling of the Soviet Union, Aeroflot has invested in newer Airbuses and Boeings ditching its earlier Russian make aircrafts. However on our flight from Riga to Moscow we did board the Sukhoi Superjet and boy, weren’t we excited. Only in Russia can an ordinary civilian like myself boast of flying (in) a Sukhoi (cheeky cheeky smile), although as an airplane it is no different to any other Airbus or  Boeing. The Aeroflot crew has mastered the art of swift boarding. In all my 3 flights plus the 2 flights that my sister flew, they started their boarding atleast 20 mins after the boarding time and just about 20 mins or less before flight take off. And just as you have adjusted your behind in the plane seat the crew would callout “Boarding completed” and within minutes you would be ready to airborne. Thats no mean feat when you are filling in a jumbo jet. And we reached our destination before time all the instances.

Now to inflight comfort – well the Economy leg space is better than average and definitely better than the Emirates DXB-BLR leg, pun intended. Food served is good however the desserts and the beverages can definitely be improved upon. You are left dazed and fazed when at 3am they serve you ice-creams and your request for a hot beverage is as bluntly turned down. Aeroflot however has a great in-flight entertainment catalogue, their selection of movies was the best that I have seen in a while (I have flown various sectors on the Emirates, Royal Jordanian, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines recently). Probably in view of the recent incidents around ‘clear sky’ turbulences, the pilot had the fasten seat belt sign on even during mild turbulences and the signs remained on for much after the turbulence was over. An indication of how Aeroflot is taking passenger safety seriously.

Once at the Moscow airport, we had a harrowing experience with Passport control, the worst in my life. There was no well defined queue and it was taking awfully long at the counters although there wasn’t almost any questioning being done. It took us 1.5 hrs to clear passport control which is by far the longest at any airport. So if you have a connection at short notice, be weary of this delay. And point to remember – the immigration slip that you receive after you get your passport stamped at Passport Control is super important. It will be asked for when you check in to hotels in Russia and will need to be handed over when you are exiting Russia. So DO NOT LOSE IT for the life of you. If you are traveling from India your Aeroflot flight will arrive and depart from Terminal F and if you are traveling from the Middle East it will arrive and depart from Terminal E. To board the Aeroexpress you have to take the lift up from Terminal F arrival to Terminal D. You will have clear signs telling you which way to go to and will take you about 15 mins to reach the Aeroexpress counter from after you have picked your bags from the terminal. There are coffee shops including a Starbucks just before you enter the Aeroexpress platform and right in front of the Aeroexpress ticket counter. There is also a Tele2 shop from where you can buy your Russian SIM card if you wish too. Read more about traveler tips in my blog Moscow – A 24 hour guide.

Happy Travels !

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