In this review, we will take an domestic Aeroflot flight from Irkutsk to Moscow Sheremetyevo in business class on a Boeing 737-800.
As detailed in the previous chapter, we were driven directly from the Irkutsk Airport business lounge to the aircraft by a special VIP bus. As all other passengers had already boarded by the time our bus arrived at the plane, we were the last to get on board.
While this was not a problem for us in business class as there was still plenty of storage space in the overhead bins, it might have been a small problem for the few passengers on our bus who had their seats in the back of the plane in economy class, which seemed to be pretty full on this flight. Business class had an occupancy rate of about two thirds. I lucked out again by having an empty seat next to me.
Irkutsk (IKT) to Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO) on Aeroflot
Flight SU1563 (booked as AF4885) – Boeing 737-800 – Business class, seat 5A
Departure: 1.05pm – Arrival: 2.20pm
Flight time: 6h15m – Distance: 2,625 miles
Costs: 800 EUR, as part of a ticket including 12 flights in business class
Business class seats
The plane which would fly me from Irkutsk to Moscow was the same type (Boeing 737-800) as the plane which brought me from Moscow to Irkutsk on my outbound journey. I was seated in seat 5A, the window seat in the last row of business class.
To recap, Aeroflot’s Boeing 737-800’s feature comfortable leather recliner seats with in-flight entertainment screens built into the back of the seat in front of you. Although the content of the IFE system was not exhaustive, the movies and series loaded in the system were not bad either. Altogether it was a decent selection. There was no WiFi on the plane, although each seat did feature a power socket and USB port.
Headphones were distributed as well by the crew. A pillow and a blanket were already put on each seat before I got on board of the aircraft.
There were some small signs that this flight would not be as good as the two previous Aeroflot flights I had taken on this trip. The flight attendants seemed to be a little bit more cold and grumpy compared to the great crews I had on my other flights. Even though the aeroplane itself was relatively new and smelled fresh, it was not in a clean state. The small table in between the two seats for example was enormously sticky – like so sticky that it hasn’t been properly cleaned in weeks.
All of this is however quickly forgotten when you receive another nice Aeroflot amenity kit (the same as on my two previous flights) and a pre-departure beverage of Lanson Black Label champagne.
Just moments after I finished my champagne glasses were collected and a brief safety instruction was held by the crew. After a quick ride across the airport tarmac we lined up at the runway for our take-off. With fond memories I looked back at the amazing time I spent in Irkutsk and Lake Baikal while admiring the gorgeous window views as we ascended slowly into the clouds. Apologies in advance for the overkill of pictures which follows as I just loved these last snowy views of Irkutsk.
Start of service
The in-flight service kicked off immediately after the fasten seat belt sign went off. The crew only distributed a drinks list – which was exactly the same as on the previous flight. For whatever reason to food menu was available.
Soon after, hot refreshment towels were delivered to each passenger and drink orders taken. I ordered a second glass of the excellent Lanson Black Label champagne. Views during the first part of the flight were quite spectacular and I was perfectly happy just sipping my glass of champagne, listening to some music and staring out of the window.
When meal service finally started it turned out that everyone on the plane would just receive the same meal. This was in stark contrast to my domestic flight originating in Moscow, which did feature proper menus and a choice for both starter and main dish.
The starter on today’s flight consisted of some salmon, one sad-looking salad leaf, two olives, one piece of cucumber and a very watery sauce which tasted appalling. The salmon was edible – but nowhere near close as good as the salmon I ate on my previous Paris-Moscow Aeroflot flight.
Unfortunately, the main which was served was even worse than the starter. It contained of some unidentified meat (beef?) which was as chewy as a leather shoe, some bits of broccoli and a few paprika pieces. Also a sad-looking, stale bread bun was offered.
I ended up eating most of the meal given the fact I didn’t have breakfast and I was starving by now – but it did require some effort. Overall it was a hugely disappointing meal service both in food quality and in terms of presentation. It was something which I frankly did not expect after two great meals on my two previous Aeroflot flights. I guess it has to do with this meal being catered in Irkutsk instead of the normal Aeroflot catering facilities in Moscow? It definitely looked like something which would be served in a provincial school canteen.
At least the both reds which I tried (Chateau de Graves from Bordeaux and a Domini Veneti Valpolicella Ripasso from Northern Italy) were fine, with my preference going to the Italian one as it was more flavourful and better suited for consumption on high altitude.
To conclude the meal, we were given a small dessert and some coffee or tea. I went for a cup of coffee, which was presented with a small chocolate. Just like the other dishes the dessert was very basic. Fortunately it didn’t taste foul, but it was rather uninspiring and bland.
Time seemed to pass by much slower than I thought. When the meal was finished, we were still only flying above Krasnoyarsk in Siberia and still had a long, long time to go until Moscow. This probably tells a lot how unmemorable the meal service was!
As I was getting a bit bored I decided to ask for another glass of champagne thinking that the flight would go by a lot faster and the pain of a bad meal service would magically disappear with the consumption of a wee bit of alcohol.
In the end, I might have even asked for another refill out of boredom – and somehow ended up being given the entire bottle altogether after a while.
Heck, I quietly started to enjoy myself so much on this flight listening to music and getting a bit tipsy that I might have even ordered a gin and tonic after the champagne – which was served with some more chocolates.
Second meal service
About two hours before landing in Moscow, a pre-landing snack was served. I decided I had enough drinking for the time being and switched back to coffee – although I could not resist ordering a cognac to go along with it. The meal itself consisted of a tasty sweet pastry, some grapes and low quality cold cuts.
Arrival into Moscow
I had another coffee and water to sober up a bit before we started our descent into Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. There were unfortunately no good views on landing due to the cloudy weather. Taxiing to our designated parking space took again forever – although it gave nice views of the iconic Sheremetyevo airport building and some of the remote stands which look like they are placed in the middle of a forest.
We had a remote stand as well and had to disembark the aircraft by stairs. Economy class passengers were hold back in the plane until all business class passengers had disembarked. A special VIP minibus was waiting for all business class passenger to drive us to the terminal building. Given that the ground service on my departure from Moscow to Irkutsk was quite bad, this was a pleasant surprise.
This Aeroflot flight really was the odd one out. While all my other Aeroflot flights I would take on this trip would turn out to be excellent – it wasn’t the case on this flight. Sure, the seats and overall hard product are comfortable for a domestic flight, even though I found the state of the otherwise brand new plane to be a bit dirty.
It is however the soft product which was absolutely lagging behind on this flight. While on my other Aeroflot flights I had excellent meals, the food on this flight was quite dismal. Also the service wasn’t as friendly as on my other Aeroflot flights. Take into account that when flying Aeroflot, the catering out of a provincial destination might not be as good as on flights out of Moscow or out of major international destinations.
Fortunately, I did manage to have a pleasant flight in the end. Everything is quickly forgotten when drinking a few glasses of champagne washed away by a few more G&T’s 😉
Trip report index
This article is part of the ‘Siberian Shuffle – A Crazy Winter Trip Around Eurasia‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:
1. Review: Wizz Air economy class from Bucharest to Oslo Sandefjord Torp (Airbus A321)
2. A day in the Norwegian capital of Oslo
3. Review: Norwegian Railways night train from Oslo to Stavanger in a private sleeper
4. Review: Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Stavanger
5. A day in the city of Stavanger, Norway
6. Review: Stavanger Airport North Sea Lounge
7. Review: KLM Cityhopper business class Stavanger to Amsterdam (Embraer RJ-175)
8. Celebrating carnival 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 Airport
14. Review: Aeroflot business class Moscow to Irkutsk (Boeing 737-800)
15. Review: Matreshka Hotel, Irkutsk
16. Exploring the Siberian city of Irkutsk
17. Review: Mayak Hotel, Listvyanka, Lake Baikal
18. A Winter Trip to the Frozen Wonderland of Lake Baikal
19. Review: Ibis Irkutsk Center Hotel
20. Review: Domestic business class lounge Irkutsk Airport
21. Review: Aeroflot Boeing 737-800 business class Irkutsk to Moscow (current chapter)
22. Review: Pushkin Hotel, Moscow
23. A 24-hour stopover in the Russian capital of Moscow
24. Review: ‘Moscow’ and ‘Jazz’ business class lounges Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport
25. Review: Aeroflot business class Moscow to Paris (Airbus A320)
26. Review: TAROM business class Paris to Bucharest (Airbus A318)
27. Review: TAROM business class lounge Bucharest Otopeni Airport
27. Review: Air France business class Bucharest to Paris (Airbus A320)
28. A short stopover in Paris
29. Review: ‘Sheltair’ business class lounge Paris CDG Terminal 2D
30. Review: Azerbaijan Airlines business class Paris to Baku (Airbus A320)
31. Review: Old City Hotel & Apartments, Baku
32. Baku: a captivating mix between old and new
33. Review: Azerbaijan Railways night train from Baku to Sheki in a private sleeper
34. Sheki and the Caucasus foothills
35. Visiting Azerbaijan’s second-biggest city of Ganja
36. Review: Shah Palace Hotel, Baku
37. Review: Azerbaijan Airlines business class lounge Baku Airport
38. Review: Azerbaijan Airlines business class Baku to Paris (Airbus A320)
39. Review: Air France business class lounge Paris CDG Terminal 2F
40. Review: KLM business class Paris to Amsterdam (Boeing 737-800)
41. Review: KLM business class Amsterdam to Bergen (Boeing 737-800)
42. Review: First Marin Hotel, Bergen
43. Visiting the Norwegian city of Bergen
44. The Bergen Railway from Bergen to Oslo
45. The scenic Flam Railway from Myrdal to Flam
46. Review: Saga Hotel Oslo Central
47. Review: SAS economy class Oslo to Brussels (Boeing 737-600)
48. Review: Diamond Lounge (non-Schengen) Brussels Airport
49. Review: TAROM economy class Brussels to Bucharest (Boeing 737-800)