Flight Review: Rossiya Boeing 777-300 Economy Class

rossyia b777 at sakhalin.JPG

Flight #: SU6283

From: Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO)

To: Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (UUS)

Flight time: 7h 45min approx.

Aircraft: Boeing 777-300

Class: Economy

This was, certainly, an interesting flight. It is over 4,000nm from Moscow to the island of Sakhalin in Russia’s Far East, just 40km from the Japanese coast (a destination well worth a visit, as you can see on my piece for CNN), which makes this one of the longest domestic flights in the World (to find out which one is the longest, check out this other piece I write some time ago).

Rossiya is a fully-owned subsidiary of Aeroflot (this is the reason the flight has a “SU” code), although originally focused on serving the Saint Petersburg market, it later became the “middle-market” brand of Aeroflot (between the more “premium” Aeroflot and the low cost brand Pobeda) and took over several ex-Transaero wide-body aircraft to serve destinations in Russia’s Far Eastern provinces.

Although flying on a Boeing 777, unfortunately this flight was not to be on Rossiya’s impressive Leopardlyot aircraft, a B777 whose front has been painted to resemble the face of a Siberian Leopard.

What follows is the flight reports from this rather unusual long haul domestic route (for a flight review of Rossiya’s narrow-body product check out this post from last year)

The Cabin

The aircraft I flew in was an ex-Emirates B777 and has been operating with Rossiya since last June.

The first thing that caught my eye is this sort of half-wall separation at the front of the cabin, not sure if this is a standard feature of Emirate’s B777s. My guess is that it probably was (haven’t flown on EK’s triple seven yet) but that this area has been adapted to fit more economy class seats, as it would correspond to the traffic profile of flights that seem to be somehow subsidised (you can get return tickets between Moscow and some destinations in Russia’s Far East, roughly the same distance as between Paris and Chicago, for as low as €250!)

rossyia b777 front cabin.JPG

The layout was 3-4-3. The seats did not appear to be particularly comfortable, with not much recline to speak of. The seat pitch also nothing to write home about (the 30-34 range, according to Seatguru, would put it on a par with several European airlines)

rossiya airlines economy cabin.JPG

Quite anecdotical and I guess rather irrelevant for inflight comfort, but I found interesting the way some of the rows were staggered, not forming a perfect line across the width of the cabin (as you can see below)

rossiya airlines seats.JPG

Just a blanket…crew passed by later, after take-off offering pillows to those that wished to get them.

rossiya airlines economy.JPG
rossyia backseat screen.JPG

All economy class seats were fitted with back-seat screens, however, they were quite old and some of them had terrible image quality. Only the moving map was available. Although the aircraft was also fitted with a streaming BYOD system as we will soon see…

rossyia safety card.JPG

The inflight magazine (below) was of rather good quality. Interesting how Rossiya produces its own, rather than relying on Aeroflot’s one.

rossiya inflight magazine.JPG

They finally brought me a pillow!

rossiya airlines pillow.JPG

Although the backseat screen was not really state-of-the-art and the image could be sometimes a bit grainy, it had some cool points of view,. Here as the airline flew over the vast expanses of Siberia at night.

rossiya moving map.JPG
rossiya inflight screen.JPG

The Food

This is one of the aspects were there is scope to improve: possibly one of the poorest gastronomic experiences I have had up in the air lately and certainly the worse on a long haul flight.

Maybe it is just a matter of personal preferences, and but you can judge from this picture, I am sure some hospital canteens serve more appetizing food.

And, just like on the rest of Aeroflot group airlines, no wine or other alcoholic drink. In fact the choice on this flight was restricted to water, two flavours of fruit juice, tea and coffee.

rossiya airlines inflight meal.JPG

Inflight Entertainment

As mentioned earlier, this aircraft was equipped with a streaming BYOD system that gave you access to quite a broad range of movies, games, music and other multi-media content.

The only “if” is that in order to enjoy it, you need to download a dedicated app first, and no warning of this is given in communications before the flight, so crew ends up going around the cabin explaining this fact to those passengers that noticed that there is such an entertainment option. What follows is a rush to download the app before the flight takes off (which for passengers without a Russian mobile internet connection may be a non-option after all). Some contents are available without downloading the app, but just a few.

(Disclaimer: I have worked as a consultant in some IFE-related projects)

rossiya ife.PNG

Second meal of the evening

Not much to add to my first comment above. More of the same.

I know you can not expect wonders on economy class nowadays, but, but…

On a positive note, it is good that they serve two “dinners” (the plane departs Moscow in the early afternoon and most of the flight is during night hours)

rossyia inflight food.JPG

And we arrive at Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in the early hours of the morning (more like mid-night for passengers, as Sakhalin is 8 hours ahead of Moscow) and it is freeeeezing outside!

yuzhno-sakhalinsk airport uus.JPG

And here is the airport terminal at Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.

Like many airport terminals in the Russian provinces, it is a rather simple structure. In fact, this building is showing its age, its interior resembling a time-capsule of Soviet times. However, a brand new terminal is being built next to it and it is already near completion stage, with its inauguration expected this year.

yuzhno-sakhalinsk airport.JPG

Our take: a rather Spartan experience for an almost 8h flight, however you can pick up really cheap flights if booking off-season (and thanks to this flight report you now also know that you need to download the IFE app before boarding the flight, which would definitely help make the long flight more enjoyable!)

And, again, the trip to Sakhalin is well worth it!