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Aeroflot

Over the past two years I have repeatedly heard from people that Aeroflot is one of the better options while flying to Moscow, given that it’s a direct flight and that it’s the main Russian carrier- naturally making it the most logical choice. In an attempt to dodge layovers and going by the price of a return ticket (a whooping 60,000 INR when I booked- and a price it tends to touch during the summer months/peak season time) I was fairly certain that a comfortable flight was in order. Given that it’s the only direct flight from Delhi to Moscow, a 7 hour flight didn’t sound bad at all. Not until I stepped into the plane, that is.

Seating and entertainment:

Aeroflot is Russia’s national carrier, and yet the Aeroflot experience is a royal disgrace. Aeroflot is not a low cost carrier, but it may as well have been. If you can believe it, I had picked a window seat- and lo and behold- there was no window. The seats behind mine had windows and the ones ahead of me had windows. All except mine, and I was shocked to discover that there are two window seats on the plane that don’t have windows! The lack of a window was only made worse by the lack of leg space, which was far too inadequate for a domestic flight even. In fact I’ll say this- domestic flights have about the same leg space as Aeroflot. The aisle is so thin, barely two people can pass through at the same time. The air-conditioning didn’t work until the flight had taken off and was well into the air. 

Aeroflot flight Delhi to Moscow

There is no entertainment system on Aeroflot. A 7 hour flight with no movies, music or in-flight entertainment of any sort. Even the flight safety instructions are demonstrated in-person.

Personal experience:

Due to the cramped environment and lack of air, the entire cabin became a little too stuffy. This led to a lot of complaints attended to by an extremely rude staff that brushed them off saying there’s nothing they can do. My mother who suffers from Claustrophobia, began getting a panic attack and we called the staff for help. They brushed us off and disappeared; and when they hadn’t returned 20 minutes later, we called for help again. This happened twice before the third person we called was able to shift my mother to a different seat- thankfully, to an emergency exit seat with a little more space. A while later as my mother slept in her new seat, a different crew member came up to her, shook her violently and started yelling at her, saying “this isn’t your seat. This is a higher category seat and you haven’t paid for it so get up and move NOW.”

Extremely humiliated, my mother began collecting her things to move back to the original seat when I saw this and finally called the other crew member (who had given her that seat) for help. He told me that (in an attempt to cover up for his colleague) she should move to her seat again since she was better now. We explained that she was getting the attack due to the cramped space, and going back would reinstate it. A war of words ensued and eventually with a little help from co-passengers, she was allowed to sit there.

Customer Service:

There’s no other way to describe it, but that the staff at Aeroflot is obnoxious at best. Initially I felt it was simply a language (and cultural) barrier, but was soon forced to change my mind. They watched a lot of customers suffer due to low cabin pressure and did as little as possible. Even on humanitarian grounds, they refused to budge.

I wrote to their team on twitter, and after mentioning everything we went through- and our apprehensions on boarding our return flight- instead of offering any help, we were asked to “Visit the website and fill out a form. We don’t help customers through Twitter and social media”

The return journey was no better. When we arrived at the SVO airport for our flight back, we noticed an entire section of the airport is purely dedicated to Aeroflot, and not a single person from their staff was around. After waiting 20 minutes we finally walked into the managers’ room and was abruptly asked to wait outside. Another 15 minutes passed before one person finally sat at the check-in counter, for a flight that was running full.

Food:

Aeroflot food

The food is barely tolerable, they don’t serve alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages are limited. The food is disappointing and almost tasteless. No snacks are served on the plane.

Value for money:

It’s shocking how expensive Aeroflot is, for the service they offer. The staff is rude and unhelpful- you’re effectively on your own should you feel discomfort of any kind during the flight; there is no entertainment system and no alcohol on the flight. The food is terrible and they don’t serve snacks. The only thing that comes remotely close to justifying that price is that it’s a direct flight to Moscow. After this experience though, I would gladly travel on Uzbekistan Airways with a halt than a direct flight on Aeroflot.

Nikita Butalia is a solo 20-something traveler who documents her experiences around India and the rest of the world in witty narratives and travel tales that are best read curling up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate on a winter evening.

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