Thanks for your interest, Ilyushin96M, and I hope AngelAirways will forgive me for going off-topic. I believe Alaska Airlines started sevices to the Russian far east in about 1992. It appears from their website that these have now been discontinued. They used MD-83s, a small number of which had additional equipment added (for navigation, I believe). It is possible they also had undercarriage modifications, as Russian runways seem to be built from blocks of concrete with expansion gaps between, which make them a lot less smooth than elsewhere. The aircraft I flew on was N968AS, msn 53016.
I made the trip in May 1995. The outbound flight, AS201, routed Seattle-Anchorage-Magadan-Khabarovsk-Vladivostok. As I recall, the crew changed at ANC; for the international part of the flight there were 3 captains on the flight deck, 3 flight attendants, an interpreter, and a mechanic (Mike, aka Misha) who was responsible for supervising turnarounds and generally keeping order on board! Magadan (GDX) is at a similar latitude to ANC, but whereas in Alaska there had been blue skies and mild (60F) temperatures, GDX was 32F with blowing snow! Transit passengers were allowed into the terminal building, best described as austere. No other aircraft moved during our stop-over. Khabarovsk (KHV) had an impressive line-up of Il-62s (over 20 with at least 3 being broken up). I also counted about 15 Tu-154s. A B747F of Evergreen departed, and one of Kalitta landed during our 50min stay. The landing at VVO was at about 7:30pm local time, and the elapsed time since SEA was 15hr 22min with 10hr 53min airborne. The aircraft night-stopped before leaving the next day, I presume with the same crew.
The return flight 2 weeks later, AS206, was by the same route except without the stop at KHV. Misha was again on board. We were quite lightly laden initially, and the climbout from VVO was impressive (continuing my affection for the MD-80 family, which I had also flown with TWA and AA). At GDX (now a balmy 34F) a group of hunters boarded, returning to the US from a bear-hunting trip. There was a good deal of banter between them and the f/as, to which the crew were more than equal! Clearing customs at ANC at around midnight brought the interesting experience of seeing rifles going round on the baggage carousel, as well as irregularly shaped items wrapped in canvas, some leaving a trail of blood over the floor.
The onward flight to SEA was delayed waiting for passengers, and we didn't get in until 5am (yes, sleepless in Seattle). I then connected with a UA flight to SFO. Having crossed the dateline between GDX and ANC, I was able to record my VVO departure time as 09:01, 17-May-95, and my SFO arrival as 08:56, 17-May-95.
If anyone from Alaska Airlines reads this, thanks for a superb sevice and a trip I'll always remember. I would also be interested to read of anyone else's experiences (pax or crew) of flying in the Russian far east.