When we flew to Greece, we went a rather unconventional route.
When we were searching high and low for airline tickets, trying to find the best deal, we discovered Aeroflot. Aeroflot is the official airline of Russia. No one we knew had flown it before and the review online were quite mixed. We read about many people having horrible experiences, but you can find those about US airlines as well. But the savings were so much that we decided to risk it.
Our flight there was pretty good! We flew to Moscow with only a slight delay and we (and our luggage) managed to catch our flight to Athens with only 30 minutes between flights! It required an all-out dash through the Moscow airport, but we made it!
The flight home was rough. We left Athens at 1AM and flew 3 hours to Moscow. That flight wasn’t too bad. The kids all fell asleep before take-off and slept the entire flight. My husband and I were not so lucky, but we did manage to catch a few zzzzzzzs. Then we had a layover in Moscow. Where we crashed.
Then came the extra fun part. We went to our gate to leave. Everyone was there, waiting to go on.
And we all just stood there. For like AN HOUR.
Every now and then, someone would go up to the people working behind the desk at the gate to ask what was going on. They all shook their heads and claimed they didn’t know anything.
IT WAS SO FRUSTRATING. They were talking to people on walkie-talkies and phones, CLEARLY something was going on. But they refused to tell the passengers anything. The flight time changed on the outbound flight board – NO announcement from the Aeroflot employees at the gate. At one point, our flight completely disappeared off the outbound flights board. The Aeroflot workers still claimed not to know anything. It was insane – obviously something was going on. WHY NOT TELL US? So frustrating. Then – I loved this part – the Aeroflot employees were getting annoyed at passengers asking questions. Because they were clearly out of line or something. Finally someone told a passenger that we wouldn’t be leaving for another 2 hours and possibly not at all. But they didn’t know anything and we had to find the Aeroflot information desk to get any information.
So we found the Aeroflot info desk, which was located in another terminal. Where the employees had to… wait for it… call the GATE to get information on what was going on. They assured us that the flight was not canceled, but we obviously didn’t believe them. They gave us vouchers for lunch, which was terrific, as even a bottle of water in the Moscow airport was $3.
Finally… FINALLY… they announced boarding. Quietly. I truly wonder if everyone ended up on the plane. Somehow, the flight left 3 hours late, but we arrived in DC 4 hours late. But whatever. We got there 10 hours later in one piece, so I guess that’s a successful trip.
But some tips for traveling Aeroflot:
1. Bring food. Yes, airline food is gross. But the food we were served on Aeroflot was exceptionally horrible. Our kids refused to eat it – and so did we. And they will wake you up to feed you, so next time I will put a post-it note on my sleep shade that says “Do not wake me up!”
2. Bring earplugs. Every flight we were on had very loud children, including one baby who cried for about 9 hours straight. Lots of kids running around the plane, climbing on seats and such. And both flights to and from Greece had HUGE school groups of kids ages 10-14 who had only like 3 chaperones. It was VERY loud.
3. Bring entertainment. Most of the movies are in Russian. The newspapers and magazines are Russian. So if you don’t speak Russian, you need to bring a book and an iPad or something.
4. Be flexible. You will have delays with no explanation. Someone will be sitting at the check-in desk chatting with a co-worker and refuse to check you in because “its not time yet”, even though it wasn’t listed anywhere what the check-in time is. Pack a carry-on with your toothbrushes, change of clothes and other essentials in case your luggage doesn’t make it.
5. Pad your schedule. Do NOT arrange for your flight to arrive a few hours before your cruise ship leaves. Don’t do that to yourself. Add a day to your trip so you don’t have to worry if there is a delay or cancellation!
Overall, if you want to save money, Aeroflot is a good option. Its bare-bones service, old planes and disorganized. But you get there for cheap. We would definitely consider it again for a long flight. I mean, long flights in coach pretty much stink regardless of what airline you’re on, so why not save some cash? Almost all of the flight attendants are very nice and the bathrooms stayed pretty clean the whole flight. You can order a kids meal or a special meal if you do it 3 days before (HIGHLY recommend this).