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.