After 11 hours onboard a Ukraine International Airlines flight from Kiev to New York, I am happy to report that I am still alive and well.
Lucky wrote a hilarious post entitled, “6 Reasons You’ll LOVE Ukraine Airlines Business Class” and I considered an identical title, but will stick with “strangely satisfied”. This is actually not facetious: in a strange way, I loved Ukraine International Airlines (like I strangely loved Pakistan Airlines). Gary Leff might call this simply “the soft bigotry of low expectations”, but there was something great about the flight.
First off, a warming. If you are in any of the Kiev lounges prior to your flight, avoid the coffee at all costs. Although this cappuccino looks pretty darn good, it was putrid:
Imagine a cocktail of kerosine and turpentine mixed with moth balls and sprinkled with dust.
Anyway, on to the flight.
Yes, the product overall is woefully uncompetitive — until you factor in price. The 12-seat business class cabin on UIA’s flagship is 767-300 is dated:
Seats are narrow, pillow and blanket thin, and in-seat power/USB inoperative. No wi-fi or even personal screens.
Food was okay. Prior to the first meal FAs offered a “salty” or “sweet” snack. I chose salty and enjoyed it, even though it contained primarily peanuts:
The appetizers and salads were not great but both main courses (steak for the first meal, fish for the second) were reasonably tasty.
Desserts were also fine, though I did not waste the calories:
I am still avoiding alcohol on airplanes to minimize jet lag so I cannot report on the quality of the wines. I did notice that the man across the aisle from me asked for champagne and was offered sparkling wine.
But there are two reasons why this flight actually earns a high mark in my book–
First, I slept for seven hours. Granted, flying from LAX-LHR-CAI-BEY-IST-KBP without stopping makes one tired…but I still slept much better than I expected.
Two, the service was warm and kind and that is always a vitally important element to a good flight. Anastasia and Viktoria were charming and patient (with my seatmate, who in addition to chatting my ear off concerning religion was also rude to them). They greeted me by name throughout the flight and thanked me for flying UIA.
The bottom line is that Ukraine Airlines business class is at best a premium economy product, but at its price point that is not unexpected. Service was great, food acceptable, and I slept for 3/4 of the flight.
A full report is coming, but you have the gist of it now.