A little background to this review: I’ve been working in Sochi since last year, so I immediately noticed the increasing number of airlines and flights available to this city. Even excluding the summertime (with its busy lines of tourists and visitors), the frequency and number of offerings from various airlines kept increasing. Aeroflot was no exception, conducting flights to Sochi three times a day (round trips). In light of the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics the biggest demographic flying into Sochi at this point, outside the holiday season, are civil engineers involved with all the construction work going on.
This flight took place on a weekday, and was the first flight of the day (out of three). I happened to be on the same plane as my last review:
Airbus A321-211 “S. Korolev”. Tail number VQ-BEI. Courtesy of Dmitry Osipov / www.airliners.net.
The flight was operated jointly with Czech Airlines. Funny, I had no idea that Czech airlines operated domestic flights within Russia. What can I say about the plane this time around that I haven’t said previously? The cabin was clean, the back seat pockets were full of the airline magazines and airsickness bags. But, this time the flight was headed to Sochi on a tight schedule, and had to fly back less than an hour after landing at its destination. Therefore, how clean the cabin would be cleaned after the flight depended not only on the cleaning staff, but also in large part on the cabin crew and the passengers. So keeping it clean would be a tough job. And incidentally, no, I didn’t drop by the seat I had last time to check whether the upholstery had been repaired. We took off from Runway 07L/25LR into heavy cloud cover. The takeoff went smoothly but was overly drawn out, I thought the “fasten seatbelts” sign would never switch off. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled in that respect by SAS Airlines.
This time I got a seat right in front of the emergency exit behind the wing. This had numerous perks: there is plenty of room to stretch my legs while reading the newspaper, there is no danger of getting cramped by having the seat in front reclined onto your lap, there is a convenient foldable table in the right armrest (yes, there are still many people out there who are not aware of such a thing), and the stewardess sits directly in front of you during takeoff and landing. All in all, plenty of up-sides. Here are the best photographs:
The onboard meal was the standard for two-hour flights, exactly the same as on my previous trip in September.
One thing I’d like to note this time was how efficiently we were served. If you think about it, it’s no easy job having to run up and down the aisles for two (or three, or eight) hours on end. I made sure to note this on the feedback form you can fill out in the airline’s magazine. By the way, Aeroflot is the only company out of those I’ve flown with that provides such a form. Either all the other airlines are confident that their in-flight service is above reproach are perfect or they don’t care as much.
What else is there to say? This time, I used the restroom located near the wings. The sink was clogged and there were bits of toilet paper on the floor.
The landing in Sochi International airport was also smooth. We approached the runway from the direction of the sea, so there wasn’t much to look at during the descent. I wished the crew a safe trip home.
Now, service at the airport is an entirely different story. After touchdown, you disembark via stair-car and board a bus which takes you to the terminal. However, if all the buses are full you’re forced to wait for the next one, even though the terminal is only a minute’s walk away. Then we had the issue of luggage, which was delayed for at least half an hour (maybe more). Why? Turned out it was simply because another plane beat us to the terminal. Who knows how long it would’ve taken if the day was any busier?
As soon as I left the building, I was set upon by freelance taxi drivers, although the PA kept telling us not to use them. You can get to Sochi easily enough on a shuttle. On the other hand, getting to Adler and Krasnaya Polyana is a whole different matter. The schedule of shuttles “bound for Adler” is only there for show; experience has shown that only the first shuttle listed on it actually follows the route, returning every 3 hours. No shuttles bound for Krasnaya Polyana came by while I was waiting. Hope you find the photos helpful. Good luck!
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