Flight Review: Ukraine International Airlines Economy Class B737-800
Flight #: PS177
From: Kyiv Borispol (KBP)
To: Vilnius (VNO)
Flight time: 1h 15min approx.
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
It had been a while (and a lot has happened in the geopolitical front on this part of the World) since last time I flew on Ukraine International Airlines.
Although the conflict with Russia, and the mutual airline ban over the respective air spaces, has complicated some of the long term strategic growth options such as the expansion into Far East markets, quite a lot of what I explained in this 2013 interview with UIA’s management is still valid.
This time, though, I got to try the product on a short haul flight. The slightly longer than an hour hop to Vilnius would give me the chance to write a flight review of Ukraine International Boeing 737-800 in economy class.
As a starter, let me just say that Kyiv Borispol (KBP) is a rather nice airport to fly through: modern and efficient (barely 10 minutes from gate to the street, including passport control). It has also great panoramic views of the runway and fast free wifi.
UKraine International operates a two-class cabin, with business and economy.
The business class section is physically segregated, but the seating arrangements (below) were barely distinguishable from the economy class ones (just the empty seat next to you and of course, the service and frills, that in economy are no longer free)
Although technically a full service carrier (or at least it doesn’t market itself as low cost), UIA’s passenger experience shows signs of hybridisation.
For example, you can purchase seats with extra space. That are marked with the nice touch of colour brought by the yellow pillows you can see below.
Below is a standard economy class seat on UIA’s Boeing 737-800. Still kind of “old-school” seats, rather than the slim ones that are becoming more and more common.
I had a window seat on row 31 on a full aircraft, not exactly the most comfortable place on the plane, but it was not a long flight after all.
You can see the seat pitch below (31inch).
Ukraine International is no frills for economy class passengers (at least on routes operated by narrow body aircraft). The menu has some interesting options, though.
Prices are in line with the European average, although on the upper side compared to Ukrainian levels, since Kyiv is not a particularly expensive city.
Comparable to many other airlines in Europe that have transitioned from full service to a sort of hybrid model, with no frills economy. It’s ok for short and medium haul flights if this helps offer better fares to passengers.
Would be interesting to see how the long haul product is like, particularly now that UIA got B777s.