Looking for cheap flights to and from Europe? Then during your bargain hunting you have probably heard of Aeroflot. My first flight to Aeroflot was from Hong Kong to London and while admittedly I was a little scared after reading online reviews, I actually survived the flight.
I’ve flown quite a few times via Aeroflot and every time I say: Never Again. Still, a few days back I flew Aeroflot for the fifth time. So how bad is Aeroflot–or a better question, how can one survive Aeroflot?
Aeroflot is a Russian airline and one of the oldest in the world, founded on 1923.. During the Soviet era, it was the national airline and then the largest airline in the world. Following the USSR dissolution, it became semi-privatized with 51% still owned by the Russian government.
Aeroflot offer among the most competitive prices when it came to international flights to Europe and Asia. From HK, you can get to Europe for 25,ooo PHP to 30,000 PHP (around 500-600 USD) round trip.
While Aeroflot is known for having a poor safety record, it is worth noting that Aeroflot now has a modern fleet, with among the newest in London. Gone are the Soviet planes such as the Tupolev’s and Ilyuschin’s, as their fleet now consist mostly of Boeings and Airbuses.
A bulk of their fleet are Airbus 320s which they got in the last five years, making it among the youngest 320s in the world. Aeroflot also has brand new 777s and A330s to their fleet.
Aeroflot flies to 129 destinations and 49 countries worldwide covering all major continents except South America and Antarctica. Booking a flight on their website is very easy and convenient.
Their long-haul flights (HK-Moscow) often offer in-flight personal entertainment system with a decent media collection, but shorter flights (Moscow-London, Moscow-Paris) often don’t. The baggage allowance for Economy class flyers is 23 kg.
While I did say that booking a flight is very easy, changing or canceling your flight is a completely different story. Most of the time you don’t have the option to do this online. You will have to call them, which requires you to talk to a Russian call center agent and is almost useless.
The flight crew in Aeroflot are very attractive, with their seductive names Anastasia, Alicia, Olga…but being a Russian airline, Aeroflot is not best known for their customer care. Russians are culturally known to be rude, but they really don’t mean to–they are just abrupt and brief like that. They will tell you ‘no’ simply, without any hint of apology. It takes the flight attendants a while to attend to your requests and even take out the food after meals. Politeness is not part of their system, as is smiling.
Food is actually decent, although their bread always tastes a bit like cardboard–moldy and hard to chew on, but I suspect that that’s how the Russians prefer their bread.
If you don’t watch your flights carefully, you could end up like me: with a 16-hour layover to the Moscow Airport. It was probably one of the worst layovers of my life—As I am a Philippine passport holder, I needed a visa to leave the airport and explore Moscow (which I didn’t have).
Moscow Shermetyevo International Airport is the hub of Aeroflot, and is one of the three major airports in Moscow. In my opinion, this airport is just like a bigger NAIA. There is not much to do, wi-fi is slow and doesn’t work most of the time, and the terminals can get packed with people. Staff and crew in this airport can speak English, albeit limited. I did enjoy my vodka shopping at duty-free shops there, very cheap! (300PHP or 6 EUR for Russian vodka? Not bad!)
They do have a capsule hotel in Terminal D where you can sleep and shower while waiting for your flight. They charge you per hour use. Aside from long layovers, Aeroflot is also notorious for having almost always delayed flights. Not cool especially if you need to catch a connecting flight. I guess that’s why they have long layovers!
In fairness, Aeroflot always exceed my expectations.. mainly ’cause I don’t really keep my hopes up every time. Flying Aeroflot isn’t that bad, but it isn’t great either. I would actually fly Aeroflot again for their attractive rates.
If you have an option to fly an Asian airline with a less than 5,000 PHP (100 USD) price difference, I recommend you fly the latter. You will get much better customer service. Moreover, I would not mind a layover in Dubai International Airport.
I saw China Southern and Air China offering really cheap flights to Europe too! I tried to book a China Air flight but it seems a lot more complicated on their website than Aeroflot’s.