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Endangered Species - A Weekend Trip To Russia (P1)  
User currently offlinezolagola From Germany, joined Jan 2013, 21 posts, RR: 0
Posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 8564 times:

Endangered species - a weekend trip to Russia
At the end of last year, I started contemplating a trip to Russia. My first flights ever were onboard IL18 and Tu154 20 years ago, but since then I had not flown on Russian aircraft anymore. Not knowing how long some of the Soviet built masterpieces would still be operated in d2d business; I decided I would rather sooner than later need to log those.

My wife wasn´t overly happy but in the end she did contribute to this idea by making Sam Chui’s Air2 book my Christmas present  So inspired by the book and some very good trip reports here on A.net I started planning my trip. The following websites helped me get together an itinerary (it helps at least being able to read Cyrillic but an increasing number of Russian airlines have English websites now as well):

http://booking.ast-agent.ru/schedule/
http://www.agent.ru
http://russianplanes.net/airlist
http://russianplanes.net/registr

And I should also mention some really good TRs which were a great source of information, not only the reports but also their authors:
Goodbye Lenin! An-24, Tu-134, Yak-42 Etc, Russia (by MEA-707 Sep 10 2011 in Trip Reports)
Yak-42D Saravia (Saratov Airlines): HAJ-RTW-DME (by Loran Mar 20 2011 in Trip Reports)
Il-96-300 Aeroflot SU552/551 BKK-SVO-BKK (by Loran May 19 2010 in Trip Reports)
Epic Trip To Russia Part 1 - Tu-154 & Yak-42 (by Hywel Sep 22 2012 in Trip Reports)

I only had a weekend for the trip, so would definitely base myself in Moscow to get the best connection options, also because I was keen to see the city. After hours, day, almost weeks of planning, the following route emerged – unfortunately I didn´t find any option to include a Tu134 anymore:
• spending LH miles to get to Istanbul and take an open jaw flight back from Moscow
• fly the Aeroflot IL96 from Istanbul to Moscow
• take a same-day trip from Moscow to Saratov onboard a Saravia Yak42
• overnight in Tambov to be able to fly the UTAir Express An24

All flights were booked in January and I was looking forward to mid April to start my Russian adventure. 2 days before departure I checked schedules only to find out that UTAir had replaced the An24 with a boring ATR72 on the Tambov route. Various phone calls with UTAir and visits to their websites followed, I was considering all sorts of itinerary changes as UTAir kept operating the An24 on other routes. The problem was that you could only change your ticket if going to a booking office within Russia, which wasn´t possible for me - but in the end they provided great customer service, a clear sign that Soviet time service attitudes have gone. I paid some bucks more for a new ticket and was now not going to Tambov anymore but would be overnighting in Kursk, 500km south of Moscow:


Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

So on a sunny Saturday morning this A321 was waiting at Pier B at Frankfurt airport to take me to Istanbul:



Lufthansa flight LH 1298 from Frankfurt Rhein-Main (FRA) to Istanbul Atatürk (IST)
Date: 16mar13
STD: 09:00 local (AOBT: 09:02 local)
STA: 12:55 local (AIBT: 12:47 local)
Equipment: 321
Reg: D-AISU "Nördlingen"
Personal flight #185
Seat 23A

Great weather to cross the Alps:




Different situation upon touchdown in Istanbul but who minds the rain when this beauty enters stage:




Built in 1991, this ist he oldest IL96 currently operated by SU:




Next stop SVO – I had been concerned that a 65min layover at IST would be tight, but in this case SU proofed ‘reliable’, arriving a good hour later than scheduled:




The aircraft was named in honour of Valery Chkalov, a famous test pilot of the Soviet pre-WWII era who also participated in a 63-hour-flight from Moscow to Vancouver (WA) via the North Pole:



Aeroflot flight SU 2131 from Istanbul Atatürk (IST) to Moscow Scheremtevo (SVO)
Date: 16mar13
STD: 14:05 local (AOBT: 15:29 local)
STA: 19:20 local (AIBT: 19:25 local)
Equipment: Il 96-300
Reg: RA-96005 "V. Chkalov"
Personal flight #186
Seat 6J

I settled down at my bulk head window seat in a small section of the forward cabin:




Not long after taking my seat we started taxing and shortly afterwards were able to enjoy the distinct sound of the four mighty PS-90 engines as the IL96 started it's infamously long take off run:
http://youtu.be/VKPT6DuI3PU

Climbout from RWY 35L:



Not long and lunch was served – the Russian sweets were the best of the lot:




America meets Russia - two of the biggest brands some 25 years ago one would have never guessed to see together:




Time to take a look at the cabin – the lack of overhead compartments gives the rear cabin a spacious feel:




Rest rooms are found at the very rear, as usual heavily frequented after trays had been collected:






Approaching Moscow as the sun sets and clouds remain thick:




After landing in snowy Moscow, the captain kindly invited me to take a brief look at the cockpit whilst he filled in my flight log (to which I had added a separate section in basic Russian specifically for this trip):






Time to make my way to the city, and a trip to the Russian capital wouldn´t be complete without a stop at Red Square:




An early start the next morning, 6am at Paveletsky station:




The Aeroexpress train takes only 40mins to DME:




The modern DME terminal as seen from the Aeroexpress station:




After passing through security (first time use of a full body scanner) I made my way to the gate – 1st destination of the day was Saratov, a city southest of Moscow on the banks of the mighty Volga river. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was born here and local airline Saravia would take me there.




Unfortunately I was too late to capture the arrival of ‘my’ Yak42 so only got a shot of the parked aircraft. Saravia operates a Yak42 only fleet which is why I had chosen them for this trip. Today´s flight was operated by RA-42550 which first flew in 1982 and is now the oldest Yak42 Saravia currently operates:



Saravia flight 6W 759 from Moscow Domedowo (DME) to Saratov (RTW)
Date: 17mar13
STD: 09:15 local (AOBT: 09:04 local)
STA: 10:50 local (AIBT: 10:40 local)
Equipment: Yak 42
Reg: RA-42550
Personal flight #187
Seat 19A


Aboard the Yak, business class seats:




… and standard Eco:




Looking at the massive door, this emergency row seat doesn´t look that comfy:




Comfort was definitely not the reason why I booked this flight:




The plane was about 2/3 full on this Sunday morning:




I managed to grab seat 19A, the window seat in the last row, offering great vista and the full sound experience of the Lotarev D-36 engines:




Taxiing past a parked Yak42 of the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations




Then it was time to hear the engines in action, takeoff from RWY 32R captured on video:
http://youtu.be/sFfEW0bBVho

Climb-out of DME




Above the clouds



The meal served was quite good – yet I still haven´t figured out how to put the 10 slices of salami into a single bun:




A cabin view from the rear




The rear exit could be seen from inside the cabin:




The cabin intercom




After 1.5 hours we touched down in rainy Saratov




Exiting the Yak through the rear stairs




Also this captain kindly filled in my flight log:




This concludes part I of my trip report, the second part will be added shortly so please stay tuned. In the meantime I appreciate your comments and feedback.


9 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineTUGMASTER From Northern Mariana Islands, joined Jul 2004, 699 posts, RR: 9
Reply 1, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 8438 times:

WOW...

Great TR...

Have just booked SVO-LCA to catch a 96, ..and seat 7J, so looking forward to it even more after your TR.

Here's to Part 2


rgds


User currently offlinedebonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2430 posts, RR: 4
Reply 2, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 7930 times:

Great TR! Always nice to read from so "exotic" airlines/airplanes...

User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 15
Reply 3, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 2 hours ago) and read 7399 times:

Hi

Great report; thanks for sharing! good to see some rare stuff along in it.

Quoting zolagola (Thread starter):
Also this captain kindly filled in my flight log:

Seems like i'm not the only one that does this.

Greetings
marc



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlinezolagola From Germany, joined Jan 2013, 21 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (1 year 1 month 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 6976 times:

Many thanks for your positive comments.


Quoting MSS658 (Reply 3):
Quoting zolagola (Thread starter):
Also this captain kindly filled in my flight log:

Seems like i'm not the only one that does this.

Looks like crews are getting used to it now. When I started my log in 2008, I often had to explain the background to the purser but nowadays it´s mostly quick one - which has also helped me on some occasions to get the jump seat 


User currently offlineRyanairGuru From Australia, joined Oct 2006, 5580 posts, RR: 5
Reply 5, posted (1 year 1 month 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 6623 times:

Great TR, it's fantastic to see that some Soviet-era aircraft are still flying. Unfortunately there is no chance of me getting to Russia in the foreseeable future, so reading about them is likely to be the best I'll get. Can't wait to read the next one!!!

Happy flying,
Alex



Worked Hard, Flew Right
User currently offlineknightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1826 posts, RR: 19
Reply 6, posted (1 year 1 month 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 6527 times:

Hi Zolagola

Thanks for the interesting report. The Il-96 looks pretty cool. With no overhead bins over the central set of seats it looks a bit like a cathedral with that high ceiling.

As for the Yak-42, I think you must be a very brave man to get on one of those.

Quoting zolagola (Thread starter):
My wife wasn´t overly happy but in the end she did contribute to this idea by making Sam Chui’s Air2 book my Christmas present So inspired by the book and some very good trip reports here on A.net I started planning my trip.

Well, I can appreciate that. But as you point out quite rightly, she has only herself to blame...

Thanks for posting.

Cheers,
William


User currently offlineCairnterriAIR From United States of America, joined Jun 2008, 404 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (1 year 1 month 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 6233 times:

Great trip on a couple of really neat airplanes. The IL-96 reminds me of the old Eastern L-1011 Whisperliners from back when....and the old retro-seats on the YAK are fantastic! With super-modern "all look the same" planes the norm...these jets you flew on takes some of us older folks back to the days when flying was part of the adventure of the journey..not just the transportation.

User currently offlineBrusselsSouth From Belgium, joined Aug 2001, 628 posts, RR: 5
Reply 8, posted (1 year 1 month 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 5950 times:

Fantastic report!

I saw a SarAvia Yak-42 in Antalya (AYT) no later than last week and wondered how it's like to fly on one: now I know!

Quoting zolagola (Thread starter):
I only had a weekend for the trip, so would definitely base myself in Moscow to get the best connection options, also because I was keen to see the city

Certainly a weekend well spent!

Looking forward to part 2.

Regards
BrusselsSouth


User currently offlinezolagola From Germany, joined Jan 2013, 21 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (1 year 1 week 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 4360 times:

Thank you for all your comments, really appreciate the positive feedback.

Quoting CairnterriAIR (Reply 7):
With super-modern "all look the same" planes the norm...these jets you flew on takes some of us older folks back to the days when flying was part of the adventure of the journey..not just the transportation.

How true. And despite still in my early thirties and therefore not having been able to enjoy a lot of these times, I greatly miss the time when flying was more adventure and less hassle. Today you have to search the opportunities to experience that, but it´s well worth it...

Quoting BrusselsSouth (Reply 8):

Looking forward to part 2.

Here we go (sorry, took a little while): Endangered Species - A Weekend Trip To Russia (P2) (by zolagola Sep 9 2013 in Trip Reports)


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