Problems with Aeroflot

I know, I know. You’re thinking “If you’re going to rant about Aeroflot, you only have yourself to blame. I mean, come on, Aeroflot???!” Well, that’s not fair. Several friends have flown Aeroflot and had only good things to say. So, when Aeroflot recently had an airfare sale and we booked several trips. The short haul trips were fine. But, after giving them two chances with long haul flights, I’ve given up on them. The last straw was on our return flight from New York.

First, I called Aeroflot to ask about special meals for children. I had asked a few weeks before, and seemed to recall the description made it sound more appropriate for an infant, not a toddler. But I wasn’t sure. So, I asked the Aeroflot representative, “What does the child’s meal have?” The response was comical, first giving me suggestions, followed immediately by rude comments like “How should I know what’s in there? We don’t know that information.” When I tried to tell her that a previous Aeroflot representative had known the information, she basically told me I was lying. Way to go, lady. But, that was a minor thing. No real worries.

No, the real problem was the two hours we stood on the tarmac. While unfortunate, it’s not so bad – if they tell you what’s going on. We settled in, got out our books and things and prepared for take-off. The plane backed away and then stopped. Still, pretty normal. An hour passed. Some people asked a passing flight attendant what was going on and I think I overheard that we had missed our departure slot so we had to wait until another slot was available. What I do know is that neither the pilot nor the purser nor any flight attendant made any effort to inform all the passengers why were waiting or how much longer we would be expected to wait. With other airlines, you get regular updates from the pilot, who even urges people to stretch their legs, go to the bathroom, get things out of the overhead bin, etc. Not this time. Nope. Just sit and wait. Well, like all good Russians, people eventually ignored the “Fasten Seatbelt” sign and started to stand up and go to the restroom, stretch their legs, etc. even though we weren’t explicitly told we could. But, if the engines are shut off, it seems pretty safe, no? I guess not, because it didn’t take long for a flight attendant to make a bilingual “Please remain seated” announcement. But, does that mean we took off in the next 5-10 minutes? No, we sat there for another hour, without comment, as if it were the most normal thing in the world.

Now, you might ask me if I asked the flight attendant myself. Well, I tried several times. First, I pressed the call button, while they were still walking around the cabin. I waited a full 5 minutes. I pressed it again. 3 minutes. Again. 1 minute. Repeatedly. Over and over and over again. You know what they did? Instead of firmly but politely telling me to knock it off and/or actually respond to my calls and/or answer my question, they actually turned the entire armrest button system off. Yup. All the call buttons stopped working. All the volume control buttons stopped working. And, with all the cabin lights off, all the individual seat lights stopped working. So, we were not only sitting there forever, but in the dark. I’d hate to think that someone actually had an urgent situation that needed to be addressed. But, I didn’t stop there. Later, when flight attendants were walking by (remember, we were there over two hours), I tried to ask what was going on. Without breaking stride, she said she didn’t know. I raised my voice (she was receding) and told her that perhaps she could ask. She just kept on walking.

Comically, shortly after take-off a flight attendant handed out head phones. I asked if they were going to turn on the audio system so we could actually hear something. Even that took them 10 minutes.

Aeroflot recently joined the SkyTeam airline alliance. I don’t know what they bring to the table. Seems like a pretty one-sided thing to me. But, unless Aeroflot changes their ways, focuses on quality and providing good service, they may find themselves being politely shown to the door. They are not quite ready for prime time. Not for the long haul, at least.

Have you flown Aeroflot in Economy? What was your experience? Same? Better? Worse (shudder)? Let me know.

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6 Comments on “Problems with Aeroflot”

  1. W. Shedd Says:

    Actually, I flew Aeroflot twice on a trip to and from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. I was expecting something terrible, but was pleasantly surprised. About the worst thing I can say is the flight was rather crowded and passengers had all sorts of various small bags and packages with them.

    On my return flight, the airline people in Bishkek were very helpful actually. The only thing that went wrong on the entire trip was my suitcase become lost on the return flight. I blame that more on SVO personnel, however. It was delivered at my home, north of Boston, a day later. It wasn’t a big deal, I had prepared myself by bringing some basic items on my carryon.

    However, even among Russians, Aeroflot has a bad reputation. My lack of problems could well be uncommon.

  2. mm Says:

    I’m writing to complain about my experience with Aeroflot flight from JFK, NY to New Delhi, India

    Our troubles started at JFK where we were initially told that the flight was delayed for one hour. Then, the next hour came, we were told the same, and then the same in the subsequent hours. This went on until around one o’clock, five hours after the scheduled departure. After the first hours, there were no information given, no announcements made or posted. Each individual person had to go up to the desk only to be told that no information is available for us. There was a rumor that something in the engine had fallen, and would required fixing. We were told repeatedly by the persons at the desk that they could not get in touch with people from Aeroflot for information. We were extremely frustrated at this point.
    At around midnight, Aeroflot officers arrived. They spoke a lot of Russians, again made no other announcements. Through words of mouth, we heard that they are giving away hotel vouchers, and that the plane would not leave that night. I went up to the desk to confirm the situation, and to request that we be put on a different carrier to Delhi so that we would not miss our train and our tour. However, I was told repeatly that I would have to wait until the officers have dealt with hotel vouchers for the other passengers. My requests to speak to the manager were of no avail. He could not be contacted.
    There were a group of ten people who has Delhi as final destination in that flight. Finally at around 3:30 am, after all the vouchers were given, an officer told us that she would take us down to see if her manager could put us on a different flight. She went into the office to speak to her manager. Her manager would not come out. When she came out, she spoke with a couple of individuals in the group and told them that arranging an alternate flight would not be possible. She gave a couple of vouchers and left saying that the taxi driver would know where the hotel will be. I was away from the group at that time, and missed the quick discussion. I tried calling the manager, but the phone was either busy or would not answered. A couple of people who got the vouchers left for the hotel. At that point, we were stranded at the airport, we did not get the hotel vouchers, and we could not get in touch with anyone else from Aeroflot. My Aunt is a 52 years old, diabetic female. Does Aeroflot felt no responsibility for its passengers? She could not stay up in an airport all night. The time was now 5:00 am.
    We tried desperately to search for an alternate flight, but could not afford the prices at short notice. The Aeroflot plane left the next day around 1:00 pm. We were exhausted at say the least. With the short time that we had in the morning, I had to cancel our original train ride to get a partial refund, try to arrange our tour group to notify them that we would be delayed, and try to arrange for an alternative train ride. Could you imagine trying to plan an international trip from an airport without a computer, and using a cell phone?
    We arrived at Delhi on Monday morning, Feb 4th. There was no train until the evening, and we missed our tour.

    At the end, we cut our trip short, and left India early . This was also another problem. It took us the whole day just to have the date changed. We went into the office as soon as it opens at 10:00 am, and requested that our penalty to change the dates be waived since we did not even receive hotel accommodations NYC. However, we were told that the manager was not available that we should come back at 2:00 pm. When we returned we were told that the manager had not made his decision, and were told to wait. After waiting for one hour, we were told that they have contacted Russia, and waiting for a reply. We then waited some more. After which I was asked to write a letter, and after this letter was presented to the manager who never had the courtesy to speak to me personally, said through his staff that I would have to deal with NYC office for issues. The whole process took us until 4 pm. Why did I have to waste a whole day just to find out that they cannot waive the penalty fee?
    This is a complete disaster of a trip, and I blamed it completely on Aeroflot airline. I have never experienced such disregard for customer service from an airline where information was not given to the passenger on whether or not flight was delayed until after such time. No announcements were made for all the passengers on the status of the plane. There was no responsible party available, i.e. a manager, who can make a decision. If only he had come and explain the situation, we may have felt slightly better. Also, I felt discriminated since hotel vouchers were given to those either who speaks Russian or have final destination in Moscow.

    Yes. many people told me not to fly with aeroflot, but I had bought the tickets already. However, if I had known, I would have cancel them way before.

    So, beware fellow passengers. Please, please do not fly with them for your own sake.

  3. Laura Drewet Says:

    Account of Events
    My husband and I and our two sons aged 12 and 14 were booked on an Aeroflot flight on the 11th of July 2010 from Heathrow London to Narita Tokyo with a planned plane change at Moscow. However, on arrival at the airport in Heathrow the computers had broken down delaying our flight by 2 hours. We left Heathrow just before 14:00 and were given lunch and a drink shortly after. On arrival at Moscow (approximately 17:30 UK time) we followed the people on our plane straight to a queue in the international transfers area where we waited to be processed. We grew more and more anxious as the queue did not reduce and we could see on the board overhead the words ‘Final Call’ next to our connecting flight. Other people were also getting frustrated and concerned about missing their flights (those we spoke to not going on the same flight as ours). After a little while (about 18:00 UK time), I went to the front desk to see if we could get some help. The man looked at my boarding pass and shouted at me ‘plane take off’. I was unsure what to do next until he yelled ‘Sit down’ and pointed to the floor in the corner. The family and I went and sat down on the floor for a little while. About half an hour later, with no further explanation we were growing more and more anxious about how we would arrange another flight, so I went back up to the counter to ask what would happen. I was again yelled at ‘Sit down!’ It was very intimidating and the children were frightened as we had no idea how long we had to sit down for and if there would be any resolution to our problem. The children wanted a drink but we could not access drinks as we were not yet allowed through passport control to get to the main airport to buy one. We told them to wait.
    After about an hour (about 19:30 UK time), the people in the line were processed and the number left in the room diminished. We were four of 18 people left. At this point, I went back up to the counter and was given a little bit more explanation. I was told ‘next flight tomorrow same time. We take you to Hotel and give you dinner, breakfast and lunch’. We were so relieved to hear this. It was so good to finally have an explanation. We were still concerned about our connecting flight we would have missed in Japan, but we were told to talk to Japan about this once we arrived. He told us to again sit down. We were all hungry and thirsty as it was well past dinner time and we last had a drink 5 hours before, but there was nothing we could do. We were comforted by the thought that we would be provided with dinner and a drink in the not so distant future.
    At approximately 20:30 (after 3 hours contained in a room without access to food or water), we were sent to a bus with the other 14 people. We were then taken to the Hotel. We arrived looking forward to a drink, meal and a good night’s sleep. We spent a further hour in the lobby surrounded by guards while they organised our rooms. One family asked if their young child could go to the toilet (which came directly off the lobby) but were rudely denied their request. We were then told to go to our rooms and there would be no dinner or drinks. We were all shocked to hear this as we were all desperate for food and water. So this was the breaking point for many in the group. Some men objected. They said ‘we need to have food and water – at least water. Our children and babies are thirsty’. Yet they said ‘No’. The group became angry as we needed water but were powerless to get it. We argued with the staff saying that the airport had told us we would be given dinner and drinks. They said we could not have water or food and then proceeded to threaten us that our alternative was to be locked without food or water in a room in the airport for the night. One man asked ‘Is that a threat?’ and the hotel man said ‘yes’. So one of our group asked to speak to his Spanish embassy but this request was not fulfilled. We argued with them for a further half an hour, demanding food and water as we had been promised. Eventually I said to the hotel man, ‘We do not want to stay at your hotel if you can’t provide us with food and water. Please phone the airline and ask them to arrange something else’. He told us this would take hours and we would have to sit in the lobby all that time. I said ‘Okay. Just phone our airline’. Another half an hour went by. Everyone was tired, angry, hungry and thirsty. Their were bottle fed babies in our group that could not be fed warm milk, children who couldn’t go to the toilet. We were all from different cultures but all shared the same expectations of a service that catered for our basic human needs.
    Half an hour later, a man brought out four 500ml bottles of water to be shared between the 18 of us. Although this was progress, I believe this was still an unreasonable amount of water for the number of people. Shortly after this, the man returned and said ‘We will give you salad.’ At 10:30pm UK time (8 hours after our last drink or meal), we were led into a room and given bread, water and a plate of bean sprout salad. It was not a great meal but it was something. We looked forward to breakfast in the morning (which we had been told would be served at 9).
    We awoke in the morning and could see from our window, a lovely buffet breakfast being served in the main restaurant below. We looked forward to breakfast. We went to the lift to go downstairs at the scheduled time, but were locked on the third floor. We were surrounded by guards at all times as we watched other hotel visitors walk freely around the hotel. We felt like prisoners. At 9:30 Russian time the guard appeared to escort us down to breakfast. He took us right past the lovely buffet breakfast to a room where we were served bread and water. We were treated like second rate citizens. We were then locked in our rooms for the rest of the day only being allowed out for lunch at 14:00. At lunch we were told ‘Bus come at 6 o’clock’. Our plane was meant to board at 7 o’clock so we were anxious about the time. We said to the man ‘Bus comes at 6 o’clock, Due on plane at 7 o’clock’ showing him our boarding pass. He just yelled ‘Bus comes at 6’oclock!’
    At 10 to 6 we were ready to go. We met all the other passengers at the top of the lift on the third floor and waited with security guards. At 6:30 when we were still locked on the third floor with no sign of being escorted down, we were all starting to panic. No explanation had been given. Eventually, they came and got us and spent another 10 minutes giving us back our passports, and finally took us to the airport to catch our plane. All went smoothly from there, but what a traumatic 24 hours it had been in Russia!
    A plane delay is a common problem and there should be processes in place to ease discomfort to travellers when inconvenienced by this. Regular refreshments including both food and water of a decent nutritional standard should be provided, as should facilities to go to the toilet. These are basic human rights. When an airline has already been responsible for delaying one’s travel plans, the airline should go to every effort to accommodate passengers to a decent standard.
    This experience was none of these.
    1. We were without food and water for 8 hours continuously, without the ability to access somewhere to buy some. If we had not entered into a serious argument with hotel staff, it would have been more like 19 hours. When we were provided with food and water it was not a satisfactory nutritional meal. Children were denied the ability to go to the toilet.
    2. We were not given an explanation for a long time about our situation, causing us much emotional stress. Any instructions given to us were yelled at us. Everyone was scared.
    3. We were not given access to methods of communication. We were only able to make 3 quick phone calls on my husband’s low battery cell phone (which has cost us a lot of money)
    4. We did not have access to our luggage for that entire 24 hours

    Our trip with Aeroflot was not a satisfactory experience.

  4. Rod Reinchuk Says:

    I have had a number of problems with Aeroflot and one recent nightmare (кошмар). I would recommend that you avoid using them. Below is a list of problems:

    1. Last September I flew from Moscow to Rome on a code share with Alitalia and Aeroflot. I chose them since it was my understanding that both these airlines are members of the SkyTeam and I have a Delta frequent flyer account . I never got credit for my flight to Rome or the return flight to Moscow. I contacted Aeroflot, Alitalia and Delta but never got a clear answer why my Delta account was not credited. It was my opinion that I was getting the typical run around. Last night, I got the answer after calling Delta and insisting on talking to a supervisor (see # 3 below).
    2. Nightmare – I booked a business class ticket on Aeroflot (Moscow to Delhi) returning to Moscow on May 16th. This flight was delayed 10 hours, which began the nightmare. First I went to the Transfer desk in Terminal ‘F’ and was told to wait. After about 45 minutes, no announcement had been made, but I noticed some people were leaving the Transfer area. I went back to the desk and was told that Aeroflot would provide me with a hotel room and a meal at the Airport Novotel. Further I was told that I had to go back through Russian immigration. When I got to Immigration I was the last one in line. The line took 45 minutes to clear. However, my ordeal was not over. When I got through Immigration I was told to go to another line at the Aeroflot counter to get the hotel and food voucher. Obvious I was also the last one in line (same people from the previous line). It took another 45 minutes to get my name on a list. I was told to go outside and wait for the hotel shuttle bus. After 30 minutes it was obvious the bus was not working, so I walked to the hotel in the rain. What do you think awaited me at the hotel, another 45 minute line. By the time I got to the counter I was told there were no more rooms, but I should go eat and come back. I went to the restaurant with the voucher, but was told that the voucher was no good at the restaurant. Instead the hotel setup a special meal for the Aeroflot passengers (old frozen fish that tasted old and a few vegetables). I requested a second bottle of water and was told that I only would get one bottle. I went back to the desk at midnight to see if they found a room. They had found a room, but with a catch. I had to share the room with someone. a diplomat with the Canadian Embassy. After 2 hours of sleep we were called to go back to the airport. By the way there was no bus, so we had to walk back to the terminal in the rain. What an ending.
    3. On Monday, May 28th, I flew Aeroflot from Moscow to Amsterdam and then on to the UK. I returned to Moscow on Friday June 1st. I got Delta frequent flyer credits for all the flights accept the flight from Moscow to Amsterdam on May 28th. I waited 8 days and called Delta’s SkyMiles Customer Service. I stayed on the telephone until I got an answer. Here is the answer: If you book a flight with KLM, SkyTeam member and KLM code shares the flight with Aeroflot, you are out of luck if you expect Delta frequent flyer miles (i.e., the same goes if you book with Alitalia and the flight is code shared with Aeroflot). Aeroflot gets out of providing you miles because they claim the flight was booked through KLM and not Delta, even though they are all SkyTeam members. I guess the real answer is that Aeroflot is cheap.

    Here is what Singapore Airlines (a First Class Airline) did for me when I was rerouted to another city. Early January 2011 there was an ice storm in Moscow. I was flying business class from Houston to Moscow. Due to the ice, Singapore Air routed the flight to Copenhagen. When we arrived at Copenhagen, Singapore had an agent meet the plane. They explained all passengers would be taken to the terminal where we would clear immigration and customs. Another agent met us in the terminal and 15 minutes later had coordinated with immigration a special line. All passengers were cleared in 30 minutes. Then an agent met us at the luggage area where we could collect our luggage. This took about 20 minutes. The agent then escorted us to the airport hotel, which had already received a list of passengers. We formed two lines at the hotel. One for economy class and one for business class. Five minutes later I had my private room assigned on the hotel’s club level (business class passengers were provided this perk—no sharing of rooms). Also they provided all passengers with vouchers which could be used at the hotel restaurant (dinner and breakfast). The next morning the gate agent gave each passenger and box of chocolates as we boarded. Also, there was one more pleasant surprise. A month later I checked my United Account (United Code Shares with Singapore Airlines). I received double miles for my inconvenience.

  5. Hey just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
    I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same outcome.

  6. Hi everybody, here every one is sharing these kinds of experience, therefore it’s good to read this blog, and I used to visit this webpage everyday.

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