In this review, we will take an Aeroflot business class flight from Paris to Moscow on the Airbus A320.
First time flying Aeroflot
Today would mark my first time flying Aeroflot and I was rather thrilled to review the airline. I had heard some great things about Aeroflot’s great in-flight service so I was eager to find out how the product would held up when compared to other European airline companies.
The fact that I was flying in the front of the cabin in business class made me even more excited about my flight to Mother Russia, a country which I had already visited three times before. Today’s flight would be operated by an Airbus A320, which looked beautiful in its Aeroflot livery as seen from the gate.
Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) to Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO) on Aeroflot
Flight SU2459 (booked as AF4916) – Airbus A320-200 – Business class, seat 2A
Departure: 5.45pm – Arrival: 11.20pm
Flight time: 3h35m – Distance: 1,529 miles
Costs: 800 EUR, as part of a ticket including 12 flights in business class
Priority boarding was strictly enforced by the gate agents, with business class passengers and Sky Team elite passengers being asked to step forward to board first. I was the first to board and was warmly welcomed by the crew.
It was especially great to finally see some real business class seats on an intra-European flight. Most European airlines do not have special business class seats on their short and mid-haul flights, but rather have the same seats as back in economy class, with the sole difference that the middle seat is being blocked off.
No such thing on Aeroflot, which has proper leather recliner seats in business class in a roomy 2-2 configuration. Of all European airlines, Aeroflot is the only airline to have recliner seats on all short-haul flights in business class (Turkish Airlines follows in second place, having recliner seats on most of their narrow-body planes).
A blanket and pillow was already put on each seat for business class passengers. After I stowed away my trolley and rucksack and took my seat, a flight attendant immediately came over to bring an amenity kit and some slippers. I was already quite impressed at this moment.
Even though the amenity kit wasn’t really much to write home about and did not contain any branded goods, the sheer novelty of being given one on a short-haul flight is rather unique (even in business class!) as most airlines only do so on long-haul flights.
I did also like the Aeroflot-branded pouch, which had an image of a flight attendant dressed in a retro 1980s uniform on it, and could even easily see myself using it again when going on a camping trip at home or so.
Menu and pre-departure beverage service
Often, you can immediately see how great (or how bad!) a business class flight will be by solely looking at the first impressions you have of the cabin crew. While this cabin crew was far from refined and sophisticated, they were genuinely friendly, hard-working, eager to please and proud of their job. At any day of the week I take such a crew over a superbly trained yet grumpy crew which does not give a damn about their passengers.
One of the two flight attendants who would serve the business class cabin, Sergey, immediately came up to my seat when he saw that I was snapping some pictures of the business class cabin, asking me if I might want my picture taken in the seat, something to which I gladly obliged. We ended up having a short chat about Aeroflot and about my upcoming trip to Russia, with Sergey happy to hear that my previous trips to his country have all been great.
After a short while, Sergey distributed the menu and drinks list. The drinks menu on Aeroflot is the same for intra-European flights as it is for long intercontinental flights. The sole difference is that some drinks (port for example) and all of the cocktails are only available on flights longer than five hours in length. Sergey also asked what I would like as a pre-departure beverage. Naturally, I opted for a glass of shampanskoe (champagne).
While sipping the champagne I watched all the other people board the plane. As I expected, the load was very light. Business class had two other individuals travelling alone, as well as a German couple in their mid 50s and a Russian couple in their 40s with a small dog which the woman kept on her lap the entire flight.
As business class stretched five rows deep it meant that none of the single passengers had a seat mate, which was a blessing. I guess that economy might not have had more than 30 to 40 passengers in the entire cabin, which means that hardly a third of the seats were occupied.
It never bores to depart from a big airport hub and look at all those planes from exotic airliners arrive and take-off. After what seemed again an eternity of taxiing in the maze that is Charles de Gaulle Airport, our plane took off on time from a runway near Terminal 1. The sunset views over the airport, Paris and the surrounding countryside were absolutely gorgeous.
Pre-meal drinks service
Once above the clouds the service started, with the crew first distributing hot towels and coming to each seat asking for drink and meal choices. When I inquired about the nelma as starter, flight attendant Tatiana answered that unfortunately they did not have the dish loaded on the plane.
She said that instead of the nelma they now had “French salmon” – whatever that may be! As I never tasted nelma before (an arctic fish which belongs to the family of salmons) it was a bit of a pity, although Tatiana said the salmon dish was actually “much better”.
Soon after, Sergey came by with the bottle champagne to pour in my aperitif. I like it that Aeroflot flight attendants bring out the actual bottle and then pour in the drink in full sight of you instead of just preparing the drink in the galley. My only slight complaint is that the bottles were shown in a rather brusque way.
If you really want to serve a drink properly in an elegant way, you should first show the customer the label and hold the bottle by the bottom and not by its neck. Of course, this is just me being a wee bit snobbish now (personally I couldn’t give a damn about it, to be honest) but as this is a full business class review, it is something which I do have to mention as a slight point of improvement 😉
On this flight, Aeroflot served Ayala on its international business class flights. Even though it is a slightly uncommon choice for a business class champagne, Ayala is an excellent brand and it went down really well. The champagne, served in an Aeroflot-branded glass, came with a ramekin of warm nuts.
Sergey came back with a table cloth to set up my table and minutes later the newly loaded “French salmon” starter was brought out on a tray. The dish was presented on a glass plate and looked excellent. Much to my surprise, it even had a wee bit of caviar and a blini next the salmon – which is something you normally only see in first class.
The salmon did taste absolutely delicious and fresh, indeed it was an excellent starter! I might even had another glass of champagne to wash it all down 😉
Aeroflot main dish
For the main, I selected the grouper on a bed of rice with some veggies. The fish was moist and tender and did not disappoint. The honey-miso sauce went great with it, too. I went for the Chablis to accompany it, which wasn’t a very exciting wine. Just like the starter, I found the presentation of the food to be excellent.
Dessert and coffee
For dessert, I had the Esterhazy cake, which was quite good but nowhere near as great as the starter and main. I also ordered an espresso and some Delamain XO cognac to wash it away.
I adored the little chocolate which came with the coffee, which had not only a big Aeroflot logo on the front, but also dozens of minuscule Aeroflot logos imprinted at the backside. Talk about detail!
After the dinner service
After the dinner service I reclined my seat, listened to some music and just enjoyed the rest of the flight. Unfortunately, this Airbus A320 did not have any in-seat entertainment sets, so it is basically BYOE (bring-your-own-entertainment).
That said, on other Aeroflot flights I would take at a later point during this trip (including the Moscow-Paris flight on my return journey), the crew handed out iPads on the planes which did not have any in-seat IFE screens. These iPads which were pre-loaded with an acceptable selection of dozens of movies and TV series.
I’m not really sure why on this flight we were not offered them, although in the grand scheme of things this is another minor detail as no matter which airline I fly I always make sure to bring my own entertainment, whether it is a good book, some music, or some films downloaded on my laptop.
After the meal service the crew disappeared in the galley, although they would occasionally stroll through the cabin to check if we were still doing fine and might want a refill, although again the lack of refinement of the crew did show at times.
I know that Russians do like a tipple, but if I just ordered a cognac and a coffee, why would you come back a minute later and ask if at the same time I might also want another glass of champagne?
Don’t get me wrong – I liked this crew and their pro-active approach a lot – but in my opinion that question was just a bit weird and does not show a great deal of knowledge about eating and drinking etiquette. I also found the question whether or not I wanted a lemon for in my cognac a bit puzzling, although from what I know it is actually quite a common combination in Russian culture.
The hilarious Aeroflot magazine
For the remainder of the flight I mostly worked on my laptop. Even though there was no WiFi on the plane, there were sockets built into the business class seats to plug in and recharge your electronic equipment.
Besides doing a wee bit of work, I also had a look at Aeroflot’s in-flight magazine, which turned out to be hilarious and a good way to spend some time. I loved the picture of the Aeroflot CEO, who looked more like a 1980s German schlager singer with his coloured sunglasses than like the chief of a major airliner.
I also loved the article which claimed that “Russia’s skiing scene will soon trump the likes of France”. Well, I wonder what the French people on the plane might have thought about that – I hope they did not choke on their food out of laughter while reading it.
Don’t get me wrong here, the (Russian) Caucasus is absolutely stunning when it comes to mountain scenery, but I don’t think I will ever see the moment when Russian ski resorts trump the likes of Val Thorens. It all seemed to be a bit of old-school style Soviet propaganda akin to the ‘Pravda’ [the old official newspaper of the communist party of the Soviet Union – which ironically means ‘truth’ in Russian].
Arrival at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport
Shortly before landing, the crew came by to collect our glasses and handed each of us in business class a package of green tea as a small thank-you gift for flying with Aeroflot, which I thought was a really nice touch.
We landed on time in the darkness of Sheremetyevo Airport, Aeroflot’s main hub. After quite a long time taxiing on the vast premises of Sheremetyevo, we finally arrived at our gate. I thanked the crew for their excellent service on today’s flight and walked down the jet bridge to find my way to my connecting flight.
Aeroflot’s business class product is not as refined as the one you can find on Qatar Airways or Singapore, but it does outshine almost every other European airlines on short and medium haul routes.
To begin with, Aeroflot has a great hard product as it has proper leather recliner seats, which is miles better than the “economy with a blocked middle seat” business class product which airlines like Lufthansa, British Airways, Air France and KLM offer within Europe. If solely looking at the seat and comfort, only Turkish Airlines scores in the same category as Aeroflot when comparing it to other European airliners.
The soft product of Aeroflot is great too, with quality champagne and tasty food being served in the air. Forget about communist-era stories of grumpy and disinterested flight crews as modern-day Aeroflot is a friendly and luxurious company.
Forget about ancient Antonov planes falling from the skies as well, as Aeroflot nowadays operates a modern fleet of Airbuses and Boeings, just like any other airline in Europe. If you compare the seat and service on this flight with the direct competition (Air France) on the Paris to Moscow route – it is clear that Aeroflot comes out as winner.
I would certainly not hesitate to fly Aeroflot again – and would actually seek them out above many other airlines if the price is right.
Trip report index
This review is part of the ‘Siberian Shuffle – A Crazy Winter Trip Around Eurasia‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:
1. Review: Wizz Air Bucharest to Oslo Sandefjord Torp (Airbus A321)
2. A Day in the Norwegian Capital of Oslo
3. Review: Norwegian Railways Night Train Oslo-Stavanger in a Private Sleeper
4. Review: Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Stavanger
5. Stavanger – A Great Norwegian City Trip Surprise
6. Review: North Sea Lounge Stavanger Airport
7. Review: KLM Cityhopper Business Class Stavanger to Amsterdam (Embraer RJ-175)
8. Guide to the Carnival Celebrations in the Netherlands
9. Review: KLM Crown Lounge (Schengen) Amsterdam Airport
10. Review: Air France Business Class Amsterdam to Paris (Airbus A319)
11. Review: ‘Salon Paris’ Business Class Lounge Paris CDG Terminal 2C
12. Review: Aeroflot Business Class (Airbus A320) Paris to Moscow (current chapter)
13. Review: Aeroflot Domestic Business Class Lounge Moscow Sheremetyevo
14. Review: Aeroflot Domestic Business Class Moscow to Irkutsk (Boeing 737-800)
15. Review: Matreshka Hotel, Irkutsk
16. Irkutsk Trip Report: Exploring the ‘Paris of Siberia’ in Winter
17. Review: Mayak Hotel, Listvyanka (Lake Baikal)
18. A Winter Trip to the Frozen Wonderland of Lake Baikal
19. Review: Ibis Irkutsk Center Hotel, Irkutsk
20. Review: Domestic Business Class Lounge Irkutsk Airport
21. Review: Aeroflot Domestic Business Class Irkutsk to Moscow (Boeing 737-800)
22. Review: Pushkin Hotel, Moscow
23. A 24 Hour Stopover in the Russian Capital of Moscow
24. Review: ‘Moscow’ and ‘Jazz’ Business Lounges Moscow Sheremetyevo Terminal D
25. Review: Aeroflot Business Class Moscow to Paris (Airbus A320)
26. Review: TAROM Business Class Paris to Bucharest (Airbus A318)
27. Review: TAROM Business Lounge Bucharest Otopeni Airport
28. Review: Air France Business Class Bucharest to Paris (Airbus A320)
29. A Short Overnight Stopover in Paris
30. Review: Sheltair Business Lounge Paris CDG Terminal 2D
31. Review: Azerbaijan Airlines Business Class Paris to Baku (Airbus A320)
32. Review: Old City Hotel and Apartments, Baku, Azerbaijan
33. Destination Baku: An Intriguing Mix Between Old and New
34. Guide: Train Travel in Azerbaijan
35. Sheki: Azerbaijan’s Most Lovely Town and Springboard to the Caucasus
36. Must Be the Ganja! A Visit to the City of Ganja in Azerbaijan
37. Review: Shah Palace Hotel, Baku, Azerbaijan
38. Review: Azerbaijan Airlines Business Lounge Baku Airport
39. Review: Azerbaijan Airlines Business Class Baku to Paris (Airbus A320)
40. Review: Air France Business Lounge Paris CDG Terminal 2F
41. Review: KLM Business Class Paris to Amsterdam (Boeing 737)
42. Review: KLM Business Class Amsterdam to Bergen (Boeing 737)
43. Blissful Bergen – Is It Really Norway’s Most Beautiful City?
44. Review: Bergen to Oslo on a Norwegian Intercity Train (Bergensbanen Railway)
45. The Flamsbana Railway – From the Myrdal Mountains to the Fjord at Flam
46. Review: SAS Economy Class Oslo to Brussels (Boeing 737-600)
47. Review: Diamond Lounge Brussels Airport Pier B Non-Schengen
48. Review: TAROM Economy Class Brussels to Bucharest (Boeing 737-800)