I have three “problem airlines” at Award Expert, airlines that clients are very hesitant to fly.
The first is Turkish Airlines. I have made the case for why Turkish is safe and a slam-dunk choice, but the resistance continues. The second is EgyptAir. I went out of my way to fly EgyptAir recently, ready to either stop even proposing it to clients or start making a stronger case for it. It turned out that I had an excellent experience.
The third airlines is Aeroflot Russian Airlines. I get that the reputation of the airline in its Soviet days was rightfully poor. Nevertheless, the Aeroflot of today is nothing like the Aeroflot of the past. I flew Aeroflot a decade ago from Moscow to Hong Kong in business class and had a great experience. Lucky and Tiffany recently flew Aeroflot and also had a good experience. With lie-flat seats in business class, modern aircraft, tremendous food, and great service, there is no rational reason to avoid Aeroflot.
But that “modern aircraft” concern continues to be a roadblock for many. Just last week, we received an Award Expert trip request from a client for a trip to Russia. The instructions were crystal clear: No Russian airlines because “I don’t trust their airplanes”. After I explained that Aeroflot has modern Boeing and Airbus aircraft, the client was happy to book on Aeroflot and fly non-stop. But the client’s confusion is something I hear a lot. So let’s discuss it.
Does Aeroflot Still Use Russian Planes?
Yes, it does. BUT not for any long-haul flights and not for the shuttle between St. Petersburg and Moscow. Unless you are going deeper into Russia, you’ll find yourself on modern American or European planes. If you do go deeper into Russia, you’ll find yourself on brand-new, modern Russian jets.
Aeroflot boasts that is has “one of the youngest in the world”. As of March 1, 2017 Aeroflot includes 190 passenger aircraft, with an average age of 4.3 years.
The Aeroflot fleets consists of:
- 15 Boeing 777
- 21 Boeing 737
- 22 Airbus A330
- 33 Airbus A321
- 69 Airbus A320
- 30 Sukhoi SuperJet-100
Yes, that is a brand new Russian aircraft. With the retirement of the Ilyushin-96 last year and the Tuplolev-154 many years earlier, the Soviet-era fleet is retired. The SSJ-100 carriers 12 passengers in business class and 75 in economy class. With a range of 4000KM, it can cover a fair distance but the Russians are pragmatic—they understand that people do not like flying “Russian” planes and so keep this model off most European routes. Then again, you’ll find this airplane on CityJet, Brussels, and bmi regional as well.
Aeroflot has a stellar safety record, a great onboard product, and one of the youngest fleets in the world. With both great pricing and award availability, there is no rational reason to avoid flying Aeroflot.