Test: Aeroflot in economy class – Better than expected

I admit, this article will make you dream less thanBertrand’s last post about Singapore Airlines, but still.
The common man, of which we are (unfortunately) sometimes part, does not necessarily have the means to travel in the front cabin for his personal trips.
You can find the full report on Flight-Report.

The choice and the booking

In this case, I had to combine my vacation in Thailand with a business trip to India. The whole trip was planned in Business class and was paid for by my employer.
Nevertheless, a few days before the departure, the trip was postponed for a few months, and so I found myself without a plane ticket to reach my holiday destination, Bangkok.

Many Gulf companies offer routings, all more interesting, but not really direct and sometimes with long connections in airports where I would not have access to the lounge, not being a member of these companies’ loyalty programs.
On the other hand, some friends had pointed out to me what is called, in the jargon of Frequent Flyers, a Mistake Fare for my return from Bangkok (soon, the details of this return).

Also, the only airline that offered an affordable one-way fare from Paris was the Russian national airline, Aeroflot. In addition to being a member of SkyTeam, the schedules had the advantage of minimizing connection times and offering a decent travel time for an unbeatable price: €300.

I booked this trip through their website, very well done (as well as the mobile version of the same site and the iPhone application).

Check-in at CDG

Quelques heures avant le dA few hours before departure, I proceeded to my online check-in from the mobile application.épart, je procédai à mon enregistrement en ligne depuis l’application mobile. Despite a small bug (only the first boarding Pass for Moscow appeared initially), everything went well.
I arrived at Charles-de-Gaulle airport 2h30 before the flight to check in, at terminal 2C. Mistake: check-in counters only open 2 hours before the first flight of the day.
So I wait in front of the SkyPriority counter in pole position:
SkyPriority Aeroflot counter at CDG
My luggage is checked in to Bangkok, and I am invited to use the Bangkok lounge located in front of the scheduled boarding gate.
SkyPriority passengers don’t have access to priority immigration and security at CDG: so I wait (a little) with the plebs, and it’s done in less than 10 minutes.

The lounge and boarding at CDG

The Paris lounge is located in the boarding pier to the right of the Duty Free, in part 2C (the boarding pier of terminals 2A and 2C is now merged).
It is a former Air France lounge. In fact, everything has remained as it was, including the dishes, even though the lounge is now operated by City One on behalf of Aéroports de Paris.
Paris lounge atmosphere in terminal 2C, Paris CDG

Nothing fancy, even if everything is of good quality, especially the wines, much better than the Air France offer at CDG.
Boarding started 10 minutes late due to the late arrival of the feeder flight, but ended on time.
The priorities were scrupulously respected by the ground staff.

The CDG-SVO flight, on Airbus A320

What strikes you when you enter is firstly, the coldness of the crew and secondly, the bright blue of the seats. This blue is present everywhere, from floor to ceiling.
When you sit down, the pitch is just acceptable for a 3-hour flight. For a long haul, it’s really too small for my 1m89.
Pitch on the CDG-SVO Aeroflot flight, economy class

Fortunately, the middle seat will remain free on this first flight.
Push back almost on time and long drive to the north doublet.

The service starts with a drink and continues with a almost inedible hot meal. Difficult to do worse at the departure of CDG.
Meal in Y on CDG-SVO, Aeroflot
Only one drink will be served on the entire flight.

After the meal, the purser will come to greet me as a SkyTeam Elite Plus member and thank me for my loyalty… Without asking me if everything was going well or if I needed anything. I appreciate the intent though.

Arrival in Moscow on time.

Connection in SVO and what they call ” lounge “.

My plane from Paris arrived in the recent part of the airport.
Even though it was a completely international connection, a passport control takes place again at SVO (I don’t know why), before passing the security check. Everything is very badly organized: several passport controls but only one security control lane cause jostling and free-riding of all kinds.
In short, it will take me a good 30 minutes to go back airside.

Once in the duty free, or rather in the boarding area, I go to the terminal F from where my flight to Bangkok leaves. And here, moving from Terminal D to Terminal F is an incredible step back in time. Going from the modern era to the worst of the Soviet era, with a completely faded terminal, a cold cigarette smell that catches the nose and a totally dim light.

It took me 10 minutes to find the lounge, which does not say at the entrance what companies it hosts.
So I was greeted without a word, not out of rudeness but because in the lounge, almost no one spoke English among the staff.
Like the terminal, the lounge is stuck in the 60s. The problem is that the food also seems to date from the same period.
Aeroflot Business Lounge at SVO, Terminal F
I didn’t have much time for myself, I worked a lot in this salon and was on the phone most of the time.

Boarding at SVO and flight SVO-BKK

The boarding was announced directly in the lounge, in approximate English,one hour before the scheduled departure time. It was indeed underway, once it arrived at the gate, and the SkyPriority lane was completely empty. I was spotted immediately.
The cabin was still half deserted when I arrived in the plane, and I stayed for a long time without a neighbor, until 5 minutes before the departure time…
The cabin colors were more harmonious here, despite the presence of orange, and the pitch acceptable for a 9-hour flight.
Seat view in Y class on SVO-BKK, Aeroflot.
A mini comfort kit was offered, which is always nice and quite rare in economy class.
Long taxi to the runway, and take off in the sunset.
Taxiing at SVO, Aeroflot

After take-off, the menus were distributed and the meals served.
Dinner on SVO-BKK in Y class, Aeroflot
Rather good snack, nothing to do with the one served on the previous flight. Still only one drink served and that’s far too little.

This time, the seats were equipped with an IFE, but the selection offered was really too limited for me, so the IFE was pretty much limited to geovision.
I was able to rest for a few hours though.

On waking, the breakfast served was copious and rather good:
Breakfast served on SVO-BKK in Y class, Aeroflot.

During the descent, while the immigration cards for Bangkok were being distributed, the main cabin attendant came to thank me for my loyalty as an Elite Plus member, and to give me a priority immigration card for Bangkok. Excellent !

Arrival on time in Bangkok, and interminable walk towards the immigration, fortunately deserted with the priority lane. Baggage arrived in the middle of distribution despite the priority tag.

Conclusion

A good service for an acceptable price, here is a good way to reach Asia when you want to leave at the last minute and your budget is limited. Admittedly, the infrastructure is a bit dated at SVO, but if you don’t stay there long, you won’t care!
In short, we can expect worse, and we would be wrong!

Olivier Delestre-Levai
Olivier Delestre-Levai
Olivier has been into airline blogging since 2010. First a major contributor to the FlyerTalk forum, he created the FlyerPlan website in July 2012, and writes articles with a major echo among airline specialists. He now co-runs the TravelGuys blog with Bertrand, focusing on travel experience and loyalty programs.
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