Hello all and welcome to my first flight report! I have been reading many amazing reviews on this website and so I thought that I would try to chip in with my opinions as well. (I apologize in advance for the size and quality of my images)
With the end of a brutal college quarter in sight, I decided that it was time to spend some of the money I had earned during my internship on a small trip to Europe over the winter break. I decided on visiting Vienna, Bratislava, and Prague, as I had wanted to visit these places for quite some time now. After booking my accommodations, I started the equally exciting part, the flight search. Aeroflot had been on the top of my list of airlines to fly, and I found a perfect opportunity to fly them this trip. Looking through a series of combinations to find the cheapest flight (LAX-VIE-LAX, LAX-PRG,LAX, etc.) I settled on flying LAX-VIE, going to Bratislava, and then flying back to Los Angeles out of Prague. The only thing left was to plan my excursions and eagerly wait for my trip!
Online check-in opened 24 hours prior to the scheduled departure time. One thing to note is that I booked in the lowest fare class (college student budget LOL) and so I was not able to select my seats until 24 hours before the flight. When I went to check-in, I found out that all of the window seats on SU 107 were either taken or blocked off and so I completed the check-in process online and planned to go to the airport as early as possible to snag a window seat. Otherwise, online check-in was smooth and hassle-free, and I was definitely surprised by the sleekness of Aeroflot's website. Funnily enough, while the Aeroflot app on the iPhone is compatible with Apple Wallet, I only received a receipt for my itinerary rather than a mobile boarding pass. Nevertheless, I was excited for the flight and anxious to see if I got a window seat on SU 107!
Airport Check-In and Security
Aeroflot's check-in counters open 4 hours prior to the scheduled departure time and so I reached the airport 4.5 hours before departure (just in case! :)) This was the first time I had flown out of the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at LAX, and I was excited to be able to experience it on this trip. After walking around the check-in islands for a little bit, I stood in line at the Aeroflot check-in counter. We were then informed that the check-in process for SU 107 had been delayed due to the rescheduling of the previous day's flight to this day. A technical issue had caused Aeroflot to cancel the previous day's service and had it moved to this day. As such, priority for check-in was given to the passengers of the previous day's flight, which was understandable. After about half an hour of waiting, they started checking in passengers for the scheduled service and sure enough, I was the first person in line :).
The Aeroflot check-in counter
The agent handled my request to move me to a window seat kindly and efficiently, and within no time, I was assigned seat 23A, the last window seat available in Economy Class and one that was right in front of the lavatory. I would be able to witness my first landing into Russia!
I was awed at how speedily the security check was conducted, especially with the vast number of flights departing around that time. I spent less than 20 minutes in the security line and went airside without a hassle.
A view of the check-in area post-security
Airside and Boarding
I had a good 3 hours left before boarding and so I used every bit of this time to go plane spotting. I must say, TBIT is a very spotter friendly terminal, and I was happy that now more than half of LAX is connected airside. I was able to stretch my legs and walk from TBIT all the way to the United terminal, to the point where I was even more excited to sit on the plane since my legs became quite tired!
Airside at TBIT
A sampling of the various planes at LAX
TBIT also has a lot to offer in terms of dining. While I did not make any purchases, the options were both expensive and extensive!
Boarding time was getting close and so I made my way to Gate 135, where we would be departing from. The gate was at the very end of TBIT, where the old section of the terminal was still in use. I walked into the boarding area to find out that boarding had been delayed due to the late arrival of the aircraft from SVO. I just took that as an opportunity to get more spotting done! I returned in some time to watch my plane pulling in gracefully to the gate.
The agents at the desk signaled that it was time for boarding, and the process was conducted with utmost organization and professionalism (which was countered by the unorganized boarding process at Moscow Sheremetyevo on my flight back to LAX!) Curiously, after the standard boarding procedure for Business Class, Skyteam Elite Members, those with difficulty boarding, and etc. was conducted, economy was boarded by filling up the rear section of the plane first, the front economy section second, and finally the middle section of economy (my section). At last, it was time to fly Aeroflot!
In the jetway
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200 Registration: VQ-BBE (I. Brodsky) Scheduled Departure: 15:40 (LAX Time) Actual Departure: 16:38 (LAX Time) Scheduled Arrival: 14:50 (SVO Time) Actual Arrival: 15:34 (SVO Time) Scheduled Duration: 12h 10m Actual Duration: 11h 56m
First Impressions and Departure
I was greeted by a "Privyet" from two cheery flight attendants who pointed me to my seat. Looking in the cabin for the first time, I saw a spacious, 2-4-2 layout in economy (definitely courtesy of Airbus) which was a very welcome sight. While the seats looked slightly worn down through some years of use, the blue color scheme was still very inviting and the seats were actually quite comfortable. I got a perfect, ergonomic view out of my window and was happy to know that even though the lavatory was right behind me (which ended up did not providing any nuisance at all during the flight) I could recline whenever I wanted without it affecting anyone.
An image taken from the boarding process
The seat had a blue blanket and pillow placed on it before boarding. Once the passengers had settled in, the flight attendants proceeded to hand out menu cards (completely unexpected for me but kudos to SU) and an amenity kit that contained a pair of socks, a toothbrush, an eye mask, and even a tube of lip balm. In the mean time, I began to explore the features of the seat, which turned out to be pretty standard. The seat back had a nine-inch touchscreen along with a remote, a large tray table with a cupholder attached to the back, and the headphone jack, which was actually located in the armrest. The seat also came with a nonfunctional ethernet port and a USB port to charge electronic devices. An extra point to note here is that although the headphone jack is a two-prong jack, the headphones that Aeroflot provides come with a single jack adapter that allows you to connect any single-prong headphone device, which was much needed as I like to travel with my over-ear headphones.
Takeoff at LAX is always a highlight, especially if you can see the terminals when you take off. It was a beautiful sight as the sun was just setting and we also took off on runway 24L, which meant that we climbed over Dockweiler beach into the Pacific, before making a U-turn and flying over the continental United States. The video of the takeoff can be seen below:
SU 107 Takeoff
A flight time of 11 hours and 56 minutes was announced by the captain and we were finally in the air on our way to Moscow. I found it very nice that the pilots were informative with the passengers by providing constant updates during the flight. It was also interesting when around 45 minutes into the flight, the pilot made an announcement for people to view the Las Vegas strip on the left side of the aircraft.
The northerly routing of our flight
A (grainy) view of Las Vegas during the flight
Around an hour into the flight, the cabin crew started the drinks service. An assortment of beverages were available including juices, sodas, and an array of alcoholic beverages. While the wines did look quite tempting, I settled in for a glass of nice and pulpy orange juice.
Pre-dinner beverage service
The beverage service was then followed by a great dinner service, which was definitely amazing for Economy class. There were two main choices for the meal which were an Asian style chicken with rice, and a beef goulash with vegetables. These were accompanied by a smoked tuna and vegetable salad with a french dressing, along with one bread roll, a slice of rye bread, and a heavenly mango cheesecake to end the meal. I chose the beef goulash and was not disappointed at all. The chunks of meat were succulent and flavorful while the sauce complemented the vegetables and mashed potatoes quite well. Overall, this was a very successful dinner run and I was very pleasantly surprised! During this time, the flight attendants also walked around the cabin smiling and provided beverage refills to those who wanted them.
Dinner: Beef goulash with buttered vegetables and mashed potatoes
As I would be reaching Vienna at 10 pm, my goal on these flights was to stay as awake as possible to adjust myself to Austria time. As such, I decided to explore the IFE system. The 9 inch touchscreen featured a large variety of tv, movies, games, and songs, in addition to the flight map channel. There was also inflight internet offered, yet I did not explore it as I was engrossed in the map and the touch screen already. While we were over northern Canada, we were treated to an amazing display of the northern lights. Any picture that I took of the Aurora Borealis on my phone did no justice to the sheer beauty that I was able to witness. The lights colored the sky and the wing in a bright blue-green hue that lasted for at least fifteen minutes. I guess I used up my energy watching outside the window and got slightly hungry as the flight hours passed by. I approached the galley and one of the flight attendants sprung into action by offering me snacks from a basket that was placed in the back of the galley. With a "spasibo," I walked back to my seat with a Russian granola bar and a traditional honey cake.
The cabin crew on this flight were very attentive to any requests and made frequent water runs in the cabin. When the call button was pressed, a flight attendant would appear at the seat within a minute or two to respond to any service call. All services were conducted with smiles and professionalism.
Inflight snack: Muesli granola bar and honey cake
The hours passed fairly quickly and while watching Baywatch (a pretty funny movie!), the cabin crew began the lunch service to prepare for the late afternoon arrival into Moscow. While I do not remember the other choice for the main meal, I chose the roasted chicken thigh with vegetables and rice, which came with a cold cut turkey salad, a dinner roll, a slice of rye bread, and a delicious chocolate crunch cake for dessert. While the textures of the main course were a slight let-down due to the the mushiness of the chicken skin, the dish was very flavorful and I finished it eagerly. The dessert, though, exceeded all expectations and was the highlight of both meals I had on the plane.
Lunch: Roasted chicken thigh
The view outside during the second meal service
With the lunch service completed, within the hour, the cabin crew began landing preparations. The cloud cover was thick above Moscow, which made for a nice transition during the descent between the clouds and the ground below. The arrival was smooth and it was exciting to see my first glimpse of Russia, a country that I am much eager to visit soon. I was quite bummed that I was not able to see any old, Soviet aircraft, as the airlines who still operate those only fly into Domodedovo and Vnukovo International Airports. Yet even then, the sights at Sheremetyevo airport were still a sweet ending to this flight.
Descent and arrival into Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport
Disembarkation did not take long and the friendly cabin crew thanked us for flying Aeroflot. Now all that waited was a 5.5 hour layover in Moscow and another wonderful flight to Vienna!
A last look at my Moscow Mule ;)
Los Angeles - LAX
Moscow - SVO
While Aeroflot has historically had a terrible reputation due to its accident rate, ailing (but cool!) aircraft, and erratic service, my long haul flight was an enjoyable one. The A330 was a very comfortable aircraft, and the friendly cabin crew kept the aircraft clean throughout the entire flight. The inflight entertainment system and the quality of the meals made this flight quite delightful. Aeroflot has done a serious job in reversing its image into one that is a strong contender in the European market. In the end, all four of my flights with Aeroflot turned out to be outstanding, with the cabin crew clearly shining on all sectors. Given the chance, I will definitely fly Aeroflot again to Europe.
Thank you for reading my first flight report plus any and all feedback is definitely appreciated. Спасибо тебе!
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