I’ve never booked a flight more than a month or two in advance, however, I’d been wanting to visit Japan for years so when flights from Rome to Tokyo back to London appeared for less than £250 each in September 2018 I simply had to book.
I’d never flown Aeroflot the Russian flag carrier previously and had little knowledge about its background. Instead, to me, a cheap flight is a cheap flight. Little did I realise until we took the flight exactly how cheap that could be.
Date: Monday, 24th September 2018
Depart: 12:00 (12:26)
Arrive: 16:05 (16:05)
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
Seat: 36H & 36K (Economy)
Aeroflot is part of the Sky Team Alliance and is rated as a 4-star member. I’ve not a clue how it got that rating, at least not based on the quality of the aircraft or the service we received. This flight connected onto our flight from Moscow to London, you can read about the airport lounges at SVO Moscow Airport here.
To minimise our wait time in Narita Airport and due to the fact we were only travelling with hand luggage and therefore had no luggage to drop off. I chose to check-in online using the Aeroflot mobile application which was relatively simple and straightforward.
At least, that’s what I thought… I added the boarding passes for both flights to my Apple wallet but was flagged by security when I found we didn’t have a QR code for this flight. I was then directed over to the Aeroflot desk to be given paper tickets instead.
I’m still glad we checked in online. We got the last two seats together in a two on the aircraft and I fear had we waited any longer we’d have been stuck in the middle of a four, or worse separated from each other on a flight of nearly 10 hours.
Luckily, however, the queue at the Aeroflot desk was empty and we managed to get to the counter and be served straight away. As we’re not frequent flyers on the Star Alliance programme we had to use our Priority Pass to gain access to the KAL airport lounge inside Narita Airport.
We boarded the aircraft from gate 24 at the far end of the north wing of terminal 1 at Narita Airport. As we approached the gate we were directed to a large queue. I’m not one to stand and wait to board the aircraft so instead, we went and sat down nearby and waited for the queue to clear.
Boarding was set to be from 11:20 until 11:40, however, we didn’t board until around 11:55 and was one of the last people to board the aircraft. We slowly but surely made our way to the back of the aircraft navigating past people putting their mini-suitcases into the overhead lockers. Aeroflot branded slippers, blankets and a small pillow were waiting for us on our seat.
According to Airfleets, this particular aircraft was just 6 years old, yet the interior made it feel 16… My seat in particular (when compared to Helens) had very worn buttons on the TV and significant wear to the seatback pocket.
There were six seats for Economy passengers on the Aeroflot flight to choose from, two at the back, two in the middle of the aircraft between rows 29 and 28 and two at the very front. I visited the toilet at the middle of the aircraft around three hours into the flight (directly after lunch). I found that it was spacious but very untidy with toilet paper sticking out from the bins and ripped from the dispenser.
We took off from Narita Airport at 12:26, 26 minutes later than planned as according to the pilot we were waiting for approval to taxi from the control tower.
Despite some low cloud in Tokyo, we climbed with very little turbulence up to our cruising altitude of 33,000ft. The seatbelt signs came off around 30 minutes after takeoff, and then back on again for around 20 minutes, one hour later due to turbulence.
The flight, particularly in the last two hours, included some terrible turbulence with the pilot instructing the cabin crew to take their seats. Coming into land, the passenger in front of us was sick and Helen became very queasy and pale. Luckily, we managed to land on time and I must admit I was relieved. We waited for all the passengers to get off before packing up and departing the plane ourselves heading to the transfers area where we’d be connecting to our onward flight to London.
Menu & Meals
Both lunch and dinner were set to be served on this 10-hour flight between Tokyo and Moscow. The service started two hours after take off with lunch. By the time the staff had made it to our row, they’d run out of the chicken option and instead we were limited to seafood and mash potato.
Just the idea of seafood and mash potato was off-putting enough, but in case you’re not entirely convinced, here’s the photo.
The main meal was served alongside a bread roll and butter, a small set of sushi and a tiramisu dessert. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to eat much, as none of it was quite to my taste. The trays were removed 45 minutes after the dinner had been served – which felt like forever for someone who was left staring at seafood and mash potato.
Dinner was much improved compared to lunch and featured a choice of chicken or beef pasta. We both chose chicken. This came with a side of sweet potato and some form of meat, a bread roll and a milky way!
Around 50 minutes after takeoff we had our first round of drinks. Economy passengers didn’t have a choice of any alcohol instead it was limited to;
– Still water
– Sparkling water
– Diet Pepsi
– A range of juices
The drinks didn’t come with any ice or lemon and were served from plastic bottles into paper cups. Unchilled and flat by the time the open bottle made it to our row, I was less than impressed.
The cabin crew came around shortly after serving lunch (around 2 and a half hours into the flight) with another round of drinks. However, this time the service was limited to water, coffee or tea. I opted for a still water, and Helen the tea.
We received another two sets of drinks after the ‘sleep’ time in the flight. One 30 minutes before dinner and one 30 minutes after. Both services included the complete range of drinks highlighted above.
WIFI was available on the flight from Tokyo to Moscow for economy passengers at an additional cost.
The problem with the WIFI wasn’t the timing or price which I figured was relatively reasonable. Instead, it was the limited capacity on data downloads. We all know that aircraft WIFI is ridiculously slow. However, I knew I was still very likely to cap the data allowance well within the time given so putting this limit on the amount of data seemed unnecessary and simply frustrating.￼
I purchased the 1-hour package and managed to use up my 30mb allowance within 15 minutes simply by checking my emails, replying to one and browsing 4 or 5 articles from various websites. I tried to complete a speed test to share but it struggled to complete (which I realise used some of my data however I wanted it for this review predominantly)
Aeroflot failed to impress us on this flight and failed to demonstrate it’s four-star level of service. While the staff were relatively helpful when we needed them, it was the plane (and food) itself that brought the quality down significantly.
Luckily for Aeroflot, I’d like to think that these are things that can be improved on quickly and easily. Have you flown Aeroflot? We’d love to know what you thought down in the comments below.