Review: Aeroflot Domestic Business Class Irkutsk to Moscow (Boeing 737-800)

In this review, we will take an domestic Aeroflot flight from Irkutsk to Moscow Sheremetyevo in business class on a Boeing 737-800.

Boarding

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.

boeing 737 irkutsk airport
Boarding of economy passengers was well underway by the time our VIP bus arrived at the plane. ©Paliparan

Irkutsk (IKT) to Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO) on Aeroflot
Flight SU1563 (booked as AF4885) – Boeing 737-800 – Business class, seat 5A
Departure: 1.05p
m – Arrival: 2.20pm
Flight time: 6h15m – Distance: 2,625 miles
Costs: 800 EUR, as part of a ticket including 12 flights in business class

moscow irkutsk flight route
The flight time from Irkutsk to Moscow was just over six hours. ©Great Circle Mapper

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.

recliner seats boeing 737 aeroflot business class
Aeroflot’s Boeing 737’s feature comfortable leather recliner seats in business class. ©Paliparan
aeroflot boeing 737 interior business class review moscow irkutsk
The business class section of Aeroflot’s Boeing 737-800 consists out of 5 rows of seats in a 2-2 layout. ©Paliparan

Pre-departure service

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.

aeroflot pdb champagne review moscow irkutsk
A glass of champagne as pre-departure drink. ©Paliparan
aeroflot amenity kit
An Aeroflot business class amenity kit. ©Paliparan

Departure

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.

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Getting ready to depart from Irkutsk Airport. ©Paliparan
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Views of Irkutsk Airport while taxiing towards the runway. ©Paliparan
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Two windows! All for me! ©Paliparan
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Lining up on the runway for departure. ©Paliparan
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View on departure from Irkutsk Airport. ©Paliparan
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View on departure from Irkutsk Airport. ©Paliparan
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View from the plane window over the city of Irkutsk and the Angara river. ©Paliparan
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View from the plane window over the city of Irkutsk and the Angara river. ©Paliparan
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View from the plane window shortly after departure from Irkutsk. ©Paliparan
irkutsk airport departure view
View from the plane window shortly after departure from Irkutsk. ©Paliparan

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.

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View from the window. ©Paliparan
aeroflot refreshment towel
Refreshment towel service. ©Paliparan
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View from the window on my Irkutsk to Moscow flight. ©Paliparan
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View from the window on my Irkutsk to Moscow flight. ©Paliparan

Meal service

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.

starter food meal irkutsk moscow aeroflot business class flight review
The lacklustre salmon starter on my Irkutsk to Moscow flight. ©Paliparan

Main dish

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.

meal dinner aeroflot irkutsk moscow business class review
The disappointing meal on my Irkutsk to Moscow flight, which was downright poor both in quality and in terms of presentation. ©Paliparan

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.

dessert coffee aeroflot business class
Dessert and coffee. ©Paliparan

Long flight

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!

ife irkutsk moscow aeroflot
It’s a long flight from Irkutsk to Moscow.. ©Paliparan

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.

champagne lanson aeroflot business class review irkutsk moscow
Another glass of champagne, please? ©Paliparan

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.

aeroflot business class champagne lanson
The Lanson Black Label champagne tasted excellent. ©Paliparan

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.

aeroflot gin tonic business class review
Drinking a G&T on my Aeroflot flight to Moscow. ©Paliparan

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.

pre-landing snack aeroflot business class review irkutsk moscow
The pre-landing snack served shortly before our arrival in Moscow. ©Paliparan
aeroflot irkutsk moscow ife flight path
Two more hours to go until Moscow! ©Paliparan
sleepy tired passenger sleeping
A tired passenger in the row in front of me. ©Paliparan
ife route map ikt svo
This IFE route map screen was too much OCD for me – if we are flying from East to West – then Moscow should be on the left of the screen instead of the right. Aargh! ©Paliparan

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.

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Slowly descending towards Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport. ©Paliparan
moscow sheremetyevo svo
The iconic terminal building of Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport. ©Paliparan
aeroflot planes tarmac sheremetyevo svo
Aeroflot planes parked on the tarmac of Sheremetyevo Airport. ©Paliparan
aeroflot plane tarmac sheremetyevo svo
An Aeroflot plane being de-iced at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport. ©Paliparan

Disembarkation

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.

aeroflot remote gate stairs disembarking review irkutsk moscow flight
Disembarking our Aeroflot plane. ©Paliparan
vip business class bus ground service sheremetyevo moscow airport svo
A special VIP minibus was waiting for business class passengers to be driven toward the terminal building. ©Paliparan

In short

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 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
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 (Boeing 737-800) 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 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)

Koen

Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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