In this review we will transit from an international flight to a domestic flight at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport (SVO) and take a look at the Aeroflot domestic business class lounge.
Changing terminals at SVO
Once we had landed, our inbound plane from Paris was connected to an airbridge and I was one of the first to disembark. Even though I have been at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport before (on a departure to Copenhagen) it was actually my first time arriving at this airport.
To catch my onward flight to Irkutsk, I had to make way from one of the international terminals (SVO has many of them!) to the sole domestic terminal.
I followed the signs for domestic transfer and after a short walk I found myself at Russian immigration. Luckily, there were no queues at passport control whatsoever. That said, not everything moves fast in Russia – and anything which has to do with government bureaucracy certainly doesn’t.
Don’t get me wrong on this. I like Russia (as a tourist, not in a Donald Trump kind of way) and I like the Russian people, counting many of them as good friends. Russians might have the reputation of being stern-faced, cold people, but believe me, that is only so on the outside. Once you have befriended them, they can be the most warm and fantastic people you will meet.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t count for anyone working behind a glass window or counter of some sorts. Cashiers, ticket clerks at train stations, government officials – with very little exceptions Russians working at a counter turn into self-entitled pricks trying to make your life as miserable as possible. Compared to Russian officials, TSA agents and US Customs and Border Protection are like amicable theme park entertainers in a Mickey Mouse costume.
Of course, my Russian boarder guard didn’t speak a word of English. He did manage to shout the word “passport” and “visa” followed by “where” (no idea if it meant from where I came from or where I was heading to). Even though my passport was brand new and didn’t have that much stamps and visas in it yet it took him ages to inspect literally every single page.
At one point he even took an old-fashioned magnifying glass to inspect it! Only after 15 minutes did he finally decide to scan my biometric passport – which somehow did not work. After ten more minutes trying to scan it and looking downright angry he started to shout “njet” and “no” to me.
I’m not easily intimidated or scared but at this moment I really didn’t know what he meant. Did he refuse me entry? Was my passport unreadable for some reasons? Only five minutes later did the answer somewhat came when he closed down his entire passport booth! My final guess was that his scanner and computer software just malfunctioned and that he simply gave up and went home.
I asked the officer what to do, after which he shrugged his shoulders. Given that all lines were getting pretty long at this time and that I had a short layover, I politely sneaked in front of the queue at the next booth while apologising profoundly to the first persons in line. Fortunately, the lady manning this booth was a bit more welcoming! She managed to scan my passport and stamped me into Russia within a minute. Phew!
I’m not sure if at that point I might have missed a turn, but as I followed the signs to domestic connections I ended up in Sheremetyevo’s landside arrival hall in international terminal D.
From there I had to take up the elevator back to departures and still walk a fair bit to the domestic part of terminal D, where I had to go through security again. To my best knowledge, there was no airside connection to make the transfer from my international to my domestic flight.
It took me more than an hour from the moment I deplaned to the moment I finally cleared security at the domestic terminal. As I still had about an hour left until the departure of my flight, I quickly headed for the domestic business class lounge for a short peak inside before boarding would start.
Domestic business lounge
My first impressions of the Aeroflot lounge were not too good. The lounge was dark and grubby, it was super crowded, and the toilets were outright disgusting and looked like they weren’t cleaned in a while. The fact that the men’s bathroom had only two toilets (of which one was broken) and just a single urinal for such a crowded lounge didn’t help either.
Whether it was waiting to use the toilet or to find a seat somewhere in the lounge, it seemed like an eternal wait! It was so crowded that a lot of people were even standing around somewhere in the lounge with a drink in their hands, waiting for a seat to become available.
Late night flights
As it was so crowded I did not manage to snap many pictures as I felt a bit uncomfortable doing so in such a crowded lounge. As Russia is such a vast country, there are lots of late night Aeroflot flights departing to destinations in the eastern extremes of Russia.
Between 10pm and 1.30am, the departure board is full of flights to all kinds of exotic destinations such as Vladivostok, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Tomsk or Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.
The lounge did start to empty out a while later when the last series of late night flights began to board. Only at this moment did I manage to find an empty seat in the part of the lounge furthest away from the exit, which was a lot brighter than the dark area around the lounge entrance.
When it comes to food, the spread in the lounge was rather disappointing too. There were some sweets, pastries and cold cuts – and that was about it. As I wasn’t hungry after the great meal on my previous flight, I did not indulge in them and therefore cannot comment on the quality.
I would just say that you should not count on getting a full meal in this lounge – unless a dozen or so mini chocolate cakes constitutes a full meal for you.
Domestic lounge drinks
The booze selection seemed to be decent enough – there were a few bottles of red and white wines, a sparkling wine as well as the ubiquitous hard alcohol brands. Of course, there were some coffee machines too and the fridges were well-stocked with soft drinks and different beer brands.
As even the lounge WiFi was barely functioning, I decided to leave the place after a quick beer and head to my boarding gate, where to my surprise they had just started with boarding even though it was still ten minutes to the announced boarding time. Even though I was starting to feel the tiredness after the long day of travelling, I was extremely excited that I was about to fly to Siberia!
The transfer at Moscow Sheremetyevo from the international to the domestic terminal was not the smoothest ever. Considering it’s Russia which is infamous for its bureaucracy and strict entry requirements it wasn’t bad either – but Sheremetyevo is clearly not in the same league as the two other main airports (Domodedovo and Vnukovo) when it comes to transiting.
The Aeroflot domestic business class lounge was dirty, dark and crowded. Only towards midnight did it finally empty out and did seats became available, making it bearable and adequate enough.
When it comes to food and beverages, the lounge is decidedly mediocre too – don’t expect too much from it. Unfortunately, the poor lounge situation at Moscow SVO is a sharp contrast to the quality which Aeroflot certainly puts in its great in-flight product.
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 Paris to Moscow (Airbus A320)
13. Review: Aeroflot Domestic Business Class Lounge Moscow Sheremetyevo (current chapter)
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)