Flight review: flying on Pobeda, Russia's low cost airline
Flight #: DP905
From: Moscow Vnukovo (VKO)
To: Palermo (PMO)
Flight time: 3h 30min approx.
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Flying on Pobeda had a special significance for me, since, a few years ago, I had the chance to participate in the set up and roll out of its predecessor, an airline then called Dobrolet.
It was interesting to see that, although I stepped out of that project at a relatively early stage and quite a lot has happened since then, some of the basic elements of its marketing and customers experience remain the same or very similar to the ones we devised back then.
Pobeda has proved since then to be a formidable money-maker for its owner, the Aeroflot Group, and has seen great rates of growth in a market where the low cost airline concept is still relatively novel.
What follows is the flight report of my latest flight on Pobeda.
Passenger experience on Pobeda
So, how is it like to fly on Russia’s only “real” low cost airline?
(to be fair, there is quite a lot of competition on some Russian domestic routes, which means that it is possible to get relatively low fares on them on full service carriers, but Pobeda is the only self-defined low cost carrier in Russia, and the only one that sticks to the core tenets of the low cost no-frills airline industry)
Before starting this flight review, it is necessary to remind everyone that it would be more accurate to call Pobeda an ultra-low-cost-airline (ULCC), since it is an absolutely no frills airline that has unbundled all the elements of the passenger experience.
There are a couple of items in the traditional lcc toolbox that Pobeda has chosen to stay away from, though, which can be a quite puzzling to the traveller that has grown used to expect them.
One of these is the carry-on bag, that will only be allowed onboard a Pobeda flight if it does not surpass a rather restrictive size of 36x30x27 (basically the size of lady’s handbag). The traditional 56x45x25 bag won’t make it to Pobeda’s cabin, even if you are willing to pay for it.
The other one is inflight meals. Again, even if you are willing to pay extra for it, Pobeda won’t serve you any food onboard. So, you are warned, fill your stomach before boarding your flight! (particularly if it’s a long flight, like most of Pobeda’s routes into Western Europe are)
On the plus side, all of Pobeda’s planes are very new (it added 8 factory-new Boeing 737-800s in 2018 and has quite a few more on order that will take delivery of over the next couple of years).
The cabin is very clean (hence one of the reasons for the no-food-sales onboard policy!) and it has the trappings of the Boeing 737 NG aircraft cabin when it comes to ergonomics and lighting.
The seat pitch is ok too, at least for an ULCC.
You can also get some extra spacious seats (below) for some extra 1,500 rubles (about €20/$23).
No IFE onboard, but the inflight magazine is quite good. A rather think volume in Russian and English with lots of interesting pieces on destinations and lifestyle. I took it with me to finish reading it at the hotel.
With no food being sold onboard, there is little distraction or movement along the aisles during the flight., which was quite uneventful until we landed in sunny Palermo, Siciliy!
Our take: great good value if you can get one of their lowest-priced tickets, not so much when the prices go up (talking from previous experience, where I ended up flying mainline Aeroflot for roughly the same price but full service)
Disclaimer: in addition to having worked in the past for the airline that preceded Pobeda, in my work as a consultant I have interacted with companies that have done work or intended to do so for Pobeda