So, the following is a review of flight number 5N-253. Departure from Moscow Sheremetyevo airport at 10:25, arrival in Kaliningrad at 11:55.
1. Purchasing a ticket
I purchased the air ticket on the official website of the carrier flysmartavia.com Smartavia airline pleased me with fairly loyal transportation conditions. The cheapest fare, called "Smart Light", includes transportation of 10 kg of hand luggage measuring 40x30x20 cm. This is quite enough for a short trip of several days.
Smartavia air ticket from Moscow to Kaliningrad with hand luggage included, 10 kg costs less than 4,500 rubles. For an additional fee, you can purchase baggage transportation and in-flight meals, choose a seat in the cabin, as well as purchase insurance and a subscription to SMS alerts about the flight status.
Of all the additional services, I only used the choice of a window seat, which cost 399 rubles.
2. Aeroexpress to Sheremetyevo
Smartavia flights to Kaliningrad depart from Sheremetyevo Airport. After the construction of a new Aeroexpress station at the new terminals B and C, getting to Sheremetyevo has become even easier. It was on the Aeroexpress that I got to the airport.
Before arriving, the train window offers an excellent view of the Il-62M monument aircraft installed at Sheremetyevo Airport.
The large control tower and part of the platform are clearly visible.
The train arrives directly at terminal B From the window you can see the terminal sign.
The exit from the Aeroexpress platform is built into the passage between the terminal complex and the parking lot. To get to the airport faster, it is better to travel in the first carriages.
Queues at the exit from the railway station associated with luggage scanning create inconvenience. If you travel in the last carriages of the train, you can lose about 10 minutes here.
Terminal B is located exactly opposite the railway station.
Terminal C is also here , a little to the right.
This is what the Aeroexpress pavilion looks like from the terminal side:
3. Departure from Terminal B of Sheremetyevo Airport
Terminal B of Sheremetyevo Airport is new and beautiful. Its distinctive feature is given by bright panels on large LCD screens.
I I checked in for the flight online and didn’t have any luggage. Therefore, I simply passed by the check-in desk.
The entrance to the “clean” area is through the high-tech special control gates.
After special control, you are greeted by a large departure flight board :
Entrance to the Rublev business lounge:
В Sheremetyevo is dominated by the airline Aeroflot. The planes of this carrier are everywhere.
Boeing 737 is preparing to take off:
And this Airbus 320, on the contrary, has just arrived from somewhere.
An interesting aircraft was found in the distant parking lot. This is an Airbus A330-300 number B-5976 of China Eastern Airlines (China Eastern Airlines) in a custom livery with characters from the cartoon "Toy Story". Thus, the liner advertises Shanghai Disneyland.
4. Smartavia Boeing 737-800
Smartavia aircraft do not fly to the jet bridges. Passengers are transported by bus.
Landing on the apron through one ramp in the nose of the airliner.
For my flight to Kaliningrad, an aircraft with tail number RA-73659 (formerly VP-BEV) was delivered. The liner was built in 2005. First I flew in China, then in Thailand. Since 2019, it has been part of the Smartavia airline fleet.
Middle-aged aircraft. Not new, but looks pretty decent.
The interior has thin seats upholstered in blue eco-leather.
In general, it’s a bit cramped to sit . And legroom is small. In such cabins you can fly on short flights. On long ones it’s already a bit difficult.
Pockets for on-board “literature” are made in the upper part of the seat to add an extra 2-3 cm for the knees.
Each seat is equipped with a headrest with the "Smartavia" logo - the most noticeable element of the carrier's corporate identity in the cabin.
The luggage racks are still of the old type, before the restyling of Boeing's interiors.
My passenger seat number 28F:
5. On-board service
Currently, airlines do not pamper their passengers with any delights in service. Planes are becoming like buses. "Smartavia" also does not stand out from the crowd. Of the free services, only water is offered in ordinary non-branded cups.
Smartavia does not have an in-flight entertainment magazine. In the pocket of the seat in front you can find only safety instructions, rules of behavior on board the aircraft and the menu of the on-board Discovery Bar.
Assortment of light snacks and drinks can be seen in the following photographs. The menu consists of only one sheet of paper with double-sided printing.
A sandwich and a glass of Turkish coffee cost me 500 rubles (350+150 rubles) . You can pay for your purchase in cash or by credit card.
Airline flight attendants serve passengers:
The presence of an entertainment system and onboard Wi-Fi on the plane was a surprise.
The instructions on the back of the seat in front of your eyes say that to connect to the in-flight entertainment system you need to connect to the flysmartavia.com Wi-Fi network, and then either scan the QR code available here...
...or touch the phone to a special NFC tag.
I haven't tried connecting to the entertainment system myself. Therefore, I cannot evaluate the quality of her work. Observing the earth from the porthole seemed to me a more interesting entertainment.
6. Views from the window
The EU airspace closed to Russian aircraft made flights from Moscow to Kaliningrad more interesting. Previously, planes flew a direct route through Lithuania, which took just over an hour. Now the flight has become longer, approximately 2.5 hours due to the fact that the plane first flies north to St. Petersburg, and then west along the Gulf of Finland and turns south when entering the Baltic Sea.
The flight time is an hour longer, but instead of dull forests, you can now observe picturesque seascapes during the flight. Below are a few pictures taken during the flight.
Kotlin Island in the Gulf of Finland, in the eastern part of which stands the city of Kronstadt.
The capital of Finland, the city of Helsinki, below clearly visible.
The southernmost city of Finland called Hanko:
Stockholm is visible in the distance. But, unfortunately, it’s a bit far from it.
Swedish island of Gotland:
The famous Curonian Spit near the village of Rybachy:
Kashirskoye village just before landing:
7. Arrival to Kaliningrad
When landing in Kaliningrad, an interesting aircraft came into view. Another flying Tu-154M with tail number RA-85084. The airliner is operated by Russian security forces.
General view of the Kaliningrad air terminal and apron:
Our airliner on the platform of Khrabrovo airport. In Kaliningrad, unlike Sheremetyevo, it is already docked to the telebridge.
8 . Khrabrovo Airport
Generally speaking, Khrabrovo Airport, known since Soviet times, is now called differently. Its new official name is Kaliningrad Airport named after Empress Elizaveta Petrovna. This is evidenced by the inscription that greets all arriving passengers. But I prefer to call the airport by the old name, because it’s shorter.
After disembarking from the plane, we pass by the departure hall. On the other side of the glass, passengers are waiting to board.
The boarding gates in Kaliningrad are designed with a claim to originality.
Next in the large arrivals hall in the corner you can find a transfer counter.
Once upon a time, the former base Kaliningrad airline KD-Avia tried to make the airport a large hub for flights from Russian cities to Europe. The airline has been gone for a long time. And recently all other flights to Europe were cancelled. Therefore, the transfer counter is currently unpopular.
You need to go downstairs to claim your luggage.
The baggage claim area is quite cramped.
Arriving passengers are greeted by advertisements for shuttle buses. You can get to the center of Kaliningrad from the airport in 40 minutes for only 100 rubles. Buses depart every 40 minutes.
Since I no longer planned to fly from Kaliningrad, I walked around the airport terminal to get an idea of
What surprised me most was the large number of souvenir shops. It is noticeable that Kaliningrad is a tourist city.
Amber is the main symbol of this region. Therefore, there are a huge number of products made from this stone on sale.
Another popular souvenir is clay houses. This is already an echo of the past of Kaliningrad, which was previously the German city of Kstand related to the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Several games of the final part of the championship took place in Kaliningrad. And now football balls with autographs of football players are on display at the airport.
For example, a ball with autographs of players of the Russian national team:
And these are autographs football players of Croatia (silver medalists of that championship), which played one championship match in Kaliningrad.
The check-in area for departing flights is located on the right side of the airport terminal building.
To get to the boarding gate, you need to take the escalator to the second floor.
At the exit from the building, which has an elongated rectangular shape, there is a long area waiting area with plenty of seating.
At the exit there is also a parking payment machine and several kiosks of local car rental companies.
The station area is large and spacious. At the same time, only taxi cars can drive closer to the airport terminal. The general parking lot is located a little further.
Finally, here are some general views of the passenger terminal from the station area.
In conclusion, I will say a few general impressions of the Smartavia airline and the Kaliningrad airport, which I met on this flight.
Smartavia in general is a typical second-tier airline. I didn’t have any high expectations from the carrier and the company neither pleased nor disappointed me with anything special. A moderately shaky plane, standard service without any frills. Departure on schedule and safe flight - this is exactly what you should expect from such carriers. The airline coped with this requirement.
Khrabrovo Airport is the same average, only among airports. An architecturally outdated terminal with low ceilings, creating the impression of cramped space despite its fairly large areas. At the same time, the terminal and the station area are well maintained and the prices for services at the airport are quite adequate.
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