Aeroflot sells very cheap flights on its website in Comfort Class, which is its Premium Economy product. I needed to book a flight from New York to Vilnius, Lithuania, and this was the most optimal routing to take. The fare was $690, all-in, which is a pretty good deal for Premium Economy class.
Aeroflot is a Group 3 carrier for Delta SkyMiles. Most of Aeroflot’s Economy Class fares earn 75% or fewer base miles with Delta, but Premium Economy fares booked in W, S and A class earn 100% miles, along with 75% Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 20% Medallion Qualifying Dollars (based on distance flown). Subsequently, for a 4,661-mile journey, I would earn 3,496 MQMs, 4,661 Base Miles, and $932 MQDs.
Aeroflot’s website is very easy to use and intuitive. The user interface isn’t the most modern, but it has all of the basic necessities that one needs to complete the booking process in one easy flow. I was satisfied with this purchase and then waited for my flight several months later.
Day of Departure
Comfort Class is only available on Aeroflot’s 777-300ERs, of which it has 15 in service. I would be flying VP-BGB, MSN 41679, built on December 15, 2012, and loaded with two GE90-115B engines. Aeroflot’s 777-300ERs offer 30 seats in Business Class, 48 seats in Comfort and 324 seats in Economy.
My flight was scheduled to leave at 14:25 PM, which, for all intents and purposes, is pretty much a day flight that operates into Moscow: at roughly 8.5 hours of flying time, one reaches SVO slightly prior to midnight New York time. I arrived at JFK slightly after 12 pm, and the check-in lines were already fairly long for the Aeroflot flight. There was no signage for Comfort Class check-in, but I proceeded to the SkyTeam elite and Business Class line and the queue manager happily obliged this. There are also no check-in kiosks available for Aeroflot passengers, but I presume this is because most travelers to Russia from the States must have their documents verified by an agent.
Post-security, I proceeded to the Air France Lounge, which as available for Priority Pass holders.
The Comfort class seat is oriented around two things: the seat and the meal service. In Economy class on Aeroflot’s 777-300ER flights, seating is your standard 3 x 4 x 3 ten abreast. In comfort, however, it is 2 x 4 x 2, offering increased seat width and pitch. Each seat comes with a footrest, leg rest, a “slide-forward” recline thanks to Shell technology, as well as electrical outlets and USB ports. The meal service features the hot menu items that are served in Business class, which is a really nice perk. However, the beverages selection is fairly limited, as only complimentary wine and beer is served in Comfort class.
Finally, each seat comes with the standard 10.6 inch Audio Video on Demand (AVOD) screen, an individual reading lamp and a coat hook. Comfort class passengers can also enjoy increased baggage allowance (2 pieces of checked luggage up to 23KG each, and 1 piece of hand luggage up to 10KG). There are no special headsets (noise canceling or noise-reducing) which I’ve been told is something that is available on other airlines’ Premium Economy classes.
We were offered pre-departure beverages in real glassware, including orange juice or water. I thought it was interesting though that in-flight, all beverages were served in paper cups.
Taxi and take-off were smooth and afforded gorgeous views of New York as we lifted off. The nice thing about the 2 PM departure is that one likely avoids the JFK rush-hour mania that is common in late afternoon evening banks. It was an absolutely perfect day for flying as our route took us straight over Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, with a perfect view of Boston from the right side of the aircraft.
I had chosen seat 12K, which is the second row from the galley on the right side of the aircraft, facing forward. My seat mate had chosen to move to an open seat on the aisle, which was nice, allowing me to use their vacated personal TV screen to keep tabs on the moving map while I perused the in-flight entertainment options on Aeroflot’s system.
I settled in and created a music video playlist on the In-flight Entertainment (IFE) system, which is very intuitive and super easy to use. The crew handed out the headsets once we were at cruising altitude, which I thought as a bit odd and should have been done on the ground. However, because they weren’t great quality, I used my own instead. As I worked, I reclined in my seat and listened to the videos I had created on my customized jukebox on the IFE screen as I worked.
The first thing that I noticed as I reclined was how comfortable I felt. The footrest and the leg rest were awesome, and the legroom felt just fantastic. Of course, having an empty seat next to me is always a plus, but truthfully speaking, I could see why Economy comfort is absolutely the way to go on a flight that goes Eastbound over the Atlantic.
The first beverage service commenced around 30 minutes in-flight. I had a red wine to start, which was served with some mixed nuts. I honestly had no idea which wine was served, as there were no details on the menu. The only other beverage available, as far as alcohol is concerned, was white wine and Zhiguli Barnoe beer. Non-alcoholic libations included still water, apple, orange and tomato juices, Coca Cola, coke-zero, sprite, coffee and tea.
Menus were distributed on the ground, and I immediately noticed that there would be two full meal services, but both of them would be essentially a lunch service followed by a dinner service. Unlike most transatlantic flights which feature an evening meal and then a continental breakfast affair prior to landing in Europe, this one was designed around the body clocks of Americans, I suppose.
This was the menu for the first meal service:
- Appetizer: Roast beef with cheddar cheese, cherry tomato, and cucumber
- Salad: romaine with cucumber, cherry tomato and cucumber with Caesar dressing
- Main courses: a choice between a beef fillet with truffle cream sauce and Linguine, or roast chicken breast with creamy spinach, celeriac puree, and Demi glacé sauce.
- Dessert: Raspberry cheesecake
The second meal service went as follows:
- Appetizer: smoked salmon, shrimp and cream cheese with caperberry
- Salad: fresh lettuce, cherry tomato and feta with olive oil and vinegar dressing
- Main course: choice between roasted lamb chop with rosemary and Demi glacé, served with pecorino polenta and medley herb vegetables, or grilled red snapper with mashed pumpkin and mixed vegetables served with café de Paris
- Dessert: Brownie with nuts
For the first meal service, I had the beef, which was a relatively small portion along with the linguine and broccoli. The beef itself was a tad overcooked, but the pasta was delicious. I thought the salad was very well presented in a nice Caesar wrap-style with all of the garnishes, and the dessert was absolutely fantastic.
The second meal was served roughly 2 and a half hours from landing in Moscow, and I ordered the fish. It was one of the best dishes I’ve ever had on an airplane. The fish was a bit on the oily side, but the vegetables complemented the pumpkin purée just perfectly. The red snapper itself was well-cooked and succulent. The shrimp and salmon appetizer was very tasty and the salad was incredibly fresh. I still found it interesting that they served us a second meal that was dinner, especially since the main cabin received breakfast: a choice between eggs and pancakes. Oh well!
The crews serving this flight consisted of about 50/50 male and female, and they were a fantastic group of people. They were very prompt, courteous and friendly – I chatted with a few of them in between trips to the galley to stretch my legs or use the lavatory. They would come by each hour with beverages and offered ice cream pops midway through the flight.
The restroom facilities were constantly clean and well-stocked with toothbrush kits. Though the Comfort class does not come with amenity kits, we were given eyeshades and slippers. Duty-free came by after the first meal, but I wasn’t too keen on the selection. Aeroflot doesn’t have much gear for #AvGeeks to purchase! That would be one area of improvement that I might recommend.
Since this was a day flight, I spent most of it catching up on movies. I watched Moonlight, Erin Brockovich, and Fight Club. The IFE selection was bountiful with quality films from the past and present, and across all age ranges and tastes.
I believe there was WiFi available for purchase, but I’d heard that the price was a bit steep.
Our routing took us north over Labrador, the southern tip of Greenland, north of Iceland and over the Norwegian Sea before we hit landfall around Trondheim, Norway. Then, we headed straight to the Scandinavian countries before approaching Russia. It being summertime, the external views afforded breathtaking scenery of Greenland’s glaciers and frozen rivers, as well as the coast of Iceland. I was not on the left side of the aircraft, so I did not get a chance to see the sun, but all-in-all, it was a relatively clear day for flying on both sides of the Atlantic.
We landed at Moscow shortly after 6:00 AM local time. The transit experience at Moscow is relatively seamless. International flights arrive into Terminal D, and we were de-boarded via stairs and bussed to the transit center (which took about 10 minutes). The lines for immigration were extremely short at this hour, and it was a simple division between terminating flights at Moscow (or domestic transfers) and international transfers. You need a visa in order to visit Russia, but if you’re transferring, you simply go through the transfer passport check, along with an additional security screening, and you’re on your way. The short-haul flights leave from Terminals E and F, and while there are about 10 to 15 minutes of walking, it is all relatively doable. For those with Priority Pass access, there are several lounges in this area to use.
The Aeroflot Comfort Class product is great value for the cost of the ticket. I was really impressed by the comfort level of the seat, the quality and quantity of the food, the in-flight entertainment, the attentiveness and service of the cabin crew and the timing of the flight to Moscow. This was my first true Premium Economy class experience on an international long-haul flight, and I would highly recommend it to anyone.