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Aeroflot review - J class WAW - ICN

Aeroflot review - J class WAW - ICN

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Old Jun 28, 19, 9:20 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Jan 2019
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Aeroflot review - J class WAW - ICN

Just thought i'd share a recent flight on Aeroflot. Pix of cabin/seat/aircraft/food on Instagram:
planejayds


LEG 1
Warsaw - Moscow SVO

Sukhoi Superjet 100
2hr duration



Check in

We arrived at Warsaw Airport around one hour and forty minutes before our flight departed. Aeroflot had three desks open – economy, Sky Priority and Business. We had a very brief wait before being tended to at the desk. The line for economy was quite long. It took us a little while to get checked in as we seemed to have a trainee being trained but we were soon given our boarding passes and advised of the fast track available.

Pre boarding/boarding

There was no wait at all for security and we were through quickly. We stopped briefly at the contract lounge which was fine for a quick coffee. Boarding started exactly on time, thirty minutes before departure. Priority boarding for Business Class/Sky Priority was enforced.

Lounge:

There are two contract lounges Aeroflot passengers have access to. Fantazja lounge which is after security but before passport control. And Bolero lounge which is closer to the Aeroflot gates. If you have arrived early I HIGHLY recommend the Fantazja lounge. It is 100% better than Bolero. Just ensure you allow time to pass through immigration prior to boarding.

Onboard

We were greeted by immaculately presented crew in striking Aeroflot uniforms and directed to our seats which were 3A and 3C, the last row of the twelve-seat business cabin. At the seat was a small pillow and light blanket. Once settled in we were offered a choice of juice, water or sparkling wine followed by the menu.

The crew spoke very good English and it seemed they would have to. There didn’t seem to be many Russian passengers at all on the flight. Most seemed to be from Asian countries in transit as well as people heading to India and a lot of other European nationalities. I don’t think I heard the crew speak Russian with a single customer.

The Cabin Chief made her welcome onboard announcement and it was quite something. She took the cabin intercom and positioned herself in the front of the cabin and made her announcement in Russian and English without reading from a script and while making eye contact with customers. It very much made the welcome feel genuine.

We pushed back exactly on time although we weren’t airborne for around thirty minutes as Warsaw Airport was using the one runway for take offs and landings so there was quite a queue.

The Aircraft/seat:

I was excited to try both Aeroflot and a Sukhoi Superjet for the first time. The sad crash landing and fire of the Aeroflot Sukhoi happened a couple months after I booked and there was a lot of media reports of the aircraft having a ‘questionable safety record’ with the 737MAX joining soon after.

I’d noticed on Flightradar24.com that the Sukhoi flight I was travelling on had been cancelled more often than I was comfortable with. It was also subbed quite a lot to a 737 or A320. I was relieved to see on the Aeroflot app that our Sukhoi had left Moscow on time to come collect us for her return journey.

The Sukhoi Superjet is a modern Russian built regional jet that Sukhoi was hoping to export around the well, but the aircraft never really became a success internationally. A few airlines took on the type but due to serviceability issues (I’ve read mainly involving availability of spare parts) and most non-Russian airlines no longer operate the type.

Aeroflot configures the aircraft in a two class Business/Economy arrangement. There are twelve Business Class seats arrange over three rows in a standard 2 x 2 arrangement. The economy cabin has 75 seats in a roomy 2 x 3 configuration. The aircraft interior was bright and modern and if you weren’t an avgeek you’d think you were on any modern Boeing or airbus aircraft.

With nearly all the other European airlines offering an economy seat with the middle seat blocked off and flogging it as business class on sectors of up to 4 hours it was a delight to walk on a small regional jet and see a ‘proper’ short haul business class seat. Few bells and whistles however the product is a clear differentiator between economy and business. The seats were very comfortable with plenty of legroom (36 inches) for an aircraft who typically flies routes of under 2.5hrs. There are few other features to mention – no leg rest, seat power, Wi-Fi, drop down screens. But these will be missed by few on a short hop.

Inflight service, Food/beverage:

Hot towels were distributed after take off and an announcement was made promoting the awards Aeroflot had recently attained from Skytrax (I think it was best airline in Eastern Europe) as well as their Skytrax four-star rating.

Menu’s were presented before take off along with an Aeroflot branded pen. The menu had the two meal choices listed, as well as the list of hot and cold beverages. You ticked the box of the options you preferred and a few minutes later the flight attendant came and retrieved it. The choices were 1) Scallops with cucumber and greens served with Japanese dressing (Cold). Or 2) Chicken with Cashew and oriental styled rice (hot). Both meals were accompanied with a warm bread roll and lemon cake dessert. We both chose the scallops as we’d both had a big buffet breakfast in the hotel, and it was perfect for the short flight. The meal was all served together on one tray which was suitable for the flight duration.

The trays were cleared away and we were surprised to have the PA to ‘prepare for landing’ thirty minutes before landing. I thought it was a little unnecessary to have our seatbacks upright etc at this stage on such a small aircraft.

We circled in the holding pattern for a few laps before making our final approach into a very warm and sunny SVO airport. We taxied to a remote stand and disembarked by steps onto a small dedicated van for Business Class passengers. I thought I’d brave asking the other half to take a quick snap of me coming down the stairs with the Sukhoi in the background (an image I’m unlikely to encounter again) and was expecting a terse ‘no photo’ being yelled from one of the ground staff (which is the norm in most airports) but they weren’t bothered at all. Yay.

Transit –

I’d read online that transit at Moscow SVO can be a pretty horrendous experience. There is a cursory passport check by immigration for all transiting customers and apparently it can be an absolute zoo with hundreds of people and one or two immigration officers, no discernible queues and people jumping the cursory ones that exist. Thankfully we had a good four hours before our flight to Seoul so although I braced myself for something stressful and not appealing, I at least didn’t have the time pressure. However, we got to the transit check area and it was deserted. We were through within minutes, then a quick security check (no need for laptops/liquids out) and we emerged in Terminal D of SVO. I’d never been to SVO and expected it to be a little grim, but it was actually quite a nice airport. Terminals A&B are on the other side of the runway and serve domestic flights. Terminal D, E and F are all interlinked with D appearing to be the most modern. Aeroflot has several lounges at the airport across the various terminals and while none of them were ‘wow’ they were pleasant for a few hours with the St Petersburg Lounge appearing to be the best of the two we visited. There was a tended bar, coffee machines, a buffet of cold and hot items, pleasant seating areas and a massage chair. Wi-Fi access has some government regulations with the easiest option involving having to activate the global roaming on your mobile initially. There was a second option though which involved entering your passport details then taking your passport to show the lounge reception staff which we did.


Leg 2

Moscow - Seoul
777-300
8hrs duration

Boarding:


Like our inbound flight from Warsaw our 777-300 to Seoul was also parked at a remote stand. While this method of boarding isn’t to everyone’s preference, I love being able to see the various planes up close on the bus on the journey to the remote stand and once again had no problem snapping away pictures on the tarmac once we arrived at our aircraft. We climbed the stairs and again were greeted by a friendly and immaculately groomed group of crew. We were directed left into the J class cabin and made our way to seats 3A and 3C.

The cabin seemed very clean, modern and bright. The use of the Aeroflot colours (orange and blue) make it feel fresh. A washbag, slippers and noise reducing headphones were already at the seat as well as the bedding which comprised a nice duvet but terrible pillow. It was tiny. The flight had a couple of empty seats and a I managed to nab a second pillow. Pre take off drinks (water, OJ, sparkling wine) were then offered. A trolley with newspapers in Russian or Korean was then presented, along with the menu.

All the crew working in business were female, young and immaculately groomed. The cabin senior made her welcome onboard announcement in Russian and English again standing right in front of the cabin making eye contact. Announcements were also made in Korean. At first, I thought they may have had a Korean crew member on board but by the second announcement which was very broken and pronounced I was guessing it was a Russian crew member that spoke some Korean. There was obviously something mis-pronounced as during one of the Korean announcements several of the Korean passengers laughed.

The previous sector from Warsaw had no IFE screens so this was the first Aeroflot safety video we saw. The video centres around an Aeroflot crew (all female except for the pilots of course whom are male) each looking like they’ve stepped straight off a fashion runway in Milan. Just as you are thinking to yourself ‘oh these are OBVIOUSLY models’ a little message appears at the bottom of the screen ‘these are ACTUAL Aeroflot crew’. Lol.

Menu’s were distributed after the safety video and again each meal had a box next to it that I at first assumed you ticked to indicate your choice. On further reading however the boxes were to ‘rate’ the meal you had from one to five. Each dish also contained all the dietary values of protein, fats, carbs etc. The crew member serving our side, Svetlana (the third Svetlana we’d been tended to on Aeroflot that day) came to take our meal and drink orders for dinner noting that I had made a Special Meal order (more on that later).

We soon took off into the Moscow sunset on time at 21:00.

The seat/facilities.

The seats are identical to what you will find on the Qatar A330’s and American Airlines transcontinental A321’s. They are arranged in a conventional 2x2x2 configuration and are certainly not near one of the better products out there, although at least full flat. They are lacking in three ways for me: there is no direct aisle access from the window seats, there is virtually no storage apart from the overhead lockers, and the footwells are quite small and narrow. The stepping over the person didn’t bother me (as it was the other half) and the small footwell wasn’t a major issue on a flight of 8 hours and given I’m only 5’10. Saying that if I was travelling solo, on a ten-hour flight and 6ft I’d probably want to avoid this product. The IFE screen is fixed in the seatback in front of you and can be controlled by touching the screen or using the touchscreen remote. Bedding was poor down to the economy-esque pillow. Wi-Fi was available from USD5 for fifteen minutes. The table was quite small and came out from the side armrest but conveniently slid forwards and backwards.

Inflight service, food/beverage:

Again, Aeroflot impressed in this area. After take off table cloths were laid and we were presented by our drink choice and an amuse bouche. When I booked the ticket, I had discovered that Aeroflot offers the ability to pre-order a ‘Russian’ special meal and as the saying goes ‘when in Rome….’ so I decided to try it out. My amuse bouche was a cold pastry with cheese and spinach, my partners some cheese and ham.

The amuse bouche plates were cleared away and a trolley came down the aisle laying each table individually with the side plate, cutlery, butter, salt and pepper. Drinks were topped up and starters presented. My ‘Russian’ meal starter was mushrooms (which was actually delicious). The normal menu starter was ‘assorted salmon, halibut and scallop, spinach pancakes with cream cheese’. This was the only option. The mains were: 1) beef in red wine with mushrooms, carrots and bell peppers served with meat sauce. 2) Sea bass with potato, zucchini and eggplant. 3) Teriyaki roasted eggplants served with pumpkin mash. There was also the option of a ‘Korean set’ although I figured I’d be eating enough Korean food in Seoul. I’m pretty sure my Russian special meal main course was the same seabass as on the main menu. Regardless, it did not disappoint. The fish was cooked perfectly, still moist. Hubby had the beef and I tried some, again perfectly cooked instead of dry and overcooked. Taste and presentation of both were excellent.

Dessert was a choice of Pistachio cake or vanilla ice cream with almond flakes. This is where the listed dietary values come in handy and seeing the calories and considering what I had already eaten that day I passed. If there was a cheese course, I probably would have gone for that though,

Lights were dimmed and I slept for a few hours. I don’t think it ever actually got completely dark outside having taken off from Moscow at 21:00 and flying an eastbound route so far north. I was woken up an hour and a half before landing by a PA being made about landing cards for South Korea. The forms were distributed and very soon after Svetlana was at our seats asking us if she could get us some wake up drinks. I asked for a coffee and she asked if I had a preference of espresso, American, latte etc which I though was kind. Once she delivered our drinks along with a hot towel she then asked if we’d like to eat breakfast. Again, she laid our tables with a tablecloth and we were presented with our food. The main menu was: 1) Plain yogurt. Savoury pancake with turkey and cheese sauce. Assorted cheese with crackers. Caramel sponge cake. 2) Corn porridge with pear. My partner had the first option which he said was excellent. My Russian special meal comprised the yogurt along with a cold plate of meats and cheese as well as an apple based sweet.

It was impressive that breakfast was served individually as passengers woke up.

Once everything was cleared away the seatbelt sign came on and the cabin was prepared for landing.

The Cabin Chief (another Svetlana) then came to each seat and personally thanked each customer for flying Aeroflot and presented them with a little gift of boxed Russian tea. This was SUCH a sweet gesture. Not for the tea gift obviously but it was the intention. She seemed genuine and said she hoped to see us again at Aeroflot soon.



Summary

– My expectations were not low going in (I had read my fair share of reviews) but I have to say they were well exceeded. I genuinely think in terms of inflight service and soft product Aeroflot is amongst the best of the non-Asian/non ME carriers I’ve flown. The long haul hard product isn’t the best but it’s certainly adequate. The attention to detail and hospitality provided was unexpectedly high. I had expected their crew to be a little distant and stand off-ish (and to not smile much) but nothing could be further from the truth. They were smiley, friendly, polite, hard working. Just little things like constantly replacing our empty water bottles without asking or removing the small bits of wrapping that accumulates around the seat. They never seemed hurried or harassed. Everything they did was with patience and class and a smile. Aeroflot seems to use their crew (well female crew) in EVERYTHING they brand. Their safety video, their inflight magazine, their ads, the wrapping of their Aeroflot branded chocolate. Maybe they are trying to emulate SQ with the ‘Aeroflot girl’. Don’t get me wrong, if you are the type of traveller that really likes to engage with the crew and have them ask why you are travelling and share a cheeky joke with them you may be disappointed. They are very proactive and helpful but not quirky or engaging like you will find on some carriers. ALL we encountered spoke English to a good level.

Even before taking my flight I had an interaction with Aeroflot which left a positive impression. I had heard about their ‘Russian special meal’ but could find no information on what it comprised so thought I’d message Aeroflot via their Facebook page not really expecting much of an answer if any at all. However, within a couple hours I had all the info I asked. I replied ‘thanks’ and Aeroflot replied back ‘we look forward to having you fly with us’ along with a cute little Gif.

Food was great, the ‘proper’ business class seats on the short sector beats any other euro carrier’s hard product. Toilets were kept immaculate, lounges were fine. The only area I could really suggest for improvement is the bedding (better pillows) and baggage delivery (business class bags were among the last loaded onto the belt in Seoul. Apart from that I’ve got nothing other than good things to say and would highly recommend them.

Last edited by 108912; Jun 29, 19 at 2:51 am
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Old Jul 5, 19, 1:37 pm
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You were on one of those cheap tickets, one way from WAW to ICN, that came up a few months ago, right? Great review. I am going to be facing them in economy in October.
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Old Jul 5, 19, 6:35 pm
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Join Date: Jan 2015
Programs: Aeroflot Bonus - Gold
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@108912, great review and it matches mostly with my own experience.
For the sake of fairness to anyone considering to fly Aeroflot, I believe it necessary to refer to potential issues as well: Aeroflot - missed connection on a through ticket, forced to pay re-booking fee
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Old Jul 5, 19, 8:00 pm
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Join Date: Aug 2015
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Aeroflot's pillows are awful. The ones on my last J flight JFK-SVO basically I would throw in the garbage.
Compared to "the white company" which is BA's bedding or other airline offerings its awful.

Surely there is a Russian partner that can supply the luxury pillows? A partnership with TSUM ( the way Saks supplies United's pillows?)
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Old Jul 5, 19, 10:49 pm
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Originally Posted by OpenSky View Post
Aeroflot's pillows are awful. The ones on my last J flight JFK-SVO basically I would throw in the garbage.
Compared to "the white company" which is BA's bedding or other airline offerings its awful.

Surely there is a Russian partner that can supply the luxury pillows? A partnership with TSUM ( the way Saks supplies United's pillows?)
I understand what you mean - but I actually like very flat pillows.
What really annoyed me are the protruding headrest on the 77W. After a couple of flights I'm finally used to them.
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Old Jul 7, 19, 2:01 am
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Originally Posted by Concerto View Post
You were on one of those cheap tickets, one way from WAW to ICN, that came up a few months ago, right? Great review. I am going to be facing them in economy in October.
Correct! So glad I did it. Really enjoyed flying SU, loved ICN and thankfully had no issues with the transit.
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Old Jul 7, 19, 2:03 am
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Originally Posted by OpenSky View Post
Aeroflot's pillows are awful. The ones on my last J flight JFK-SVO basically I would throw in the garbage.
Compared to "the white company" which is BA's bedding or other airline offerings its awful.

Surely there is a Russian partner that can supply the luxury pillows? A partnership with TSUM ( the way Saks supplies United's pillows?)
So so bad. It's a shame because their product otherwise is really good. A decent pillow wouldn't be a huge investment yet would increase the customer experience massively. The ones they currently have aren't just small (what you'd expect to find in economy) but also filled with weird lumpy stuff.

Thankfully on my flight there were a few empty seats so I was quick to grab an extra one.
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