yak42
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What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sat Apr 22, 2006 12:11 pm

I know this is the time that Aeroflot earned its unsavoury image. But apparently they had an OK safety record.
Does anyone here know what they were actually like to fly during the seventies and eighties?
What was service like? Were they reliable? What meals were served? Could you connect between flights OK? Did they lose your bags? etc..

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[Edited 2006-04-22 05:46:46]
 
planespotting
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sat Apr 22, 2006 1:32 pm

I can't vouch personally for their service or safety record, but some books I have read (most notably, the book written by the MiG-29 pilot who defected in the 80's) showed Aeroflot as a cheap, relatively dependable means of travel to get around the Soviet Union.
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scalebuilder
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sat Apr 22, 2006 1:55 pm

I have flown with Aeroflot on shorter flights in Europe. I have always found them perfectly acceptable. Always felt safe and well taken care of. This was 20 years back in time.

My former boss once flew with Aeroflot on a charter back in the 70's. Just before landing when all the meal trays were collected and all the trash was disposed of, it was discovered by the crew that two pieces of real silverware were unaccounted for. The concern for these missing pieces was so great that all of the passengers got involved in the search until they were found. My former boss suspected that the cabin crew would be held liable for anything that would be missing or unaccounted for at the end of the flight.
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SFOMEX
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sat Apr 22, 2006 2:01 pm

I've never flown them, but I remember that during the years they came to MEX, they were one of the cheapest ways to go to Europe. Maybe somebody could confirm this.
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yak42
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sat Apr 22, 2006 2:16 pm

Quoting Scalebuilder (Reply 2):
, it was discovered by the crew that two pieces of real silverware were unaccounted for. The concern for these missing pieces was so great that all of the passengers got involved in the search until they were found.

Suppose you shouldnt provide silverware on flights if your not prepared to lose bits of it.
 
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Aeroflot777
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sat Apr 22, 2006 3:09 pm

Aeroflot was by far the world's largest airline back them. This is because Aeroflot literally means "air fleet". Because there was never any competition in the Soviet Union, every single flying aircraft was operating under Aeroflot titles. Therefore the fleet, consisting of thousands of aircraft, ranged from little 2 passenger crop dusters to large passenger aircraft. Each region of Russia had it's main airport. Because of this it could be said that Aeroflot had many hubs. For instance, Moscow was in charge of the Moscow division of Aeroflot. Leningrad had its own Aeroflot division, as did many other airports nation-wide. Because of the vast variety of aircraft, Aeroflot planes served thousands of airports and airfields around the nation. Many aircraft were even made to land on unpaved surfaces, thus increasing the number of destinations Aeroflot flew into. The service was normal. The FA's did their job. Aeroflot planes were safe, and performed well. Soviet citizens always flew Aeroflot because there was no alternative, nor were they looking for any either. Aeroflot got them where they wanted to go, and that was that. Prices were cheap and service was reliable. No one was looking for anything else. Bottom line is that the Soviets were proud of Aeroflot, and the Russians are proud of them now!


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cedars747
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sat Apr 22, 2006 5:05 pm

I flew SU IL-62 in 1994 ,i was surprised by their excellent service and comfortable airplanes......far better than many western airlines.
Alex!!!

[Edited 2006-04-22 10:05:39]
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LTU932
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sat Apr 22, 2006 5:51 pm

Quoting Aeroflot777 (Reply 5):
Aeroflot was by far the world's largest airline back them. This is because Aeroflot literally means "air fleet". Because there was never any competition in the Soviet Union, every single flying aircraft was operating under Aeroflot titles. Therefore the fleet, consisting of thousands of aircraft, ranged from little 2 passenger crop dusters to large passenger aircraft. Each region of Russia had it's main airport. Because of this it could be said that Aeroflot had many hubs. For instance, Moscow was in charge of the Moscow division of Aeroflot. Leningrad had its own Aeroflot division, as did many other airports nation-wide. Because of the vast variety of aircraft, Aeroflot planes served thousands of airports and airfields around the nation. Many aircraft were even made to land on unpaved surfaces, thus increasing the number of destinations Aeroflot flew into. The service was normal. The FA's did their job. Aeroflot planes were safe, and performed well. Soviet citizens always flew Aeroflot because there was no alternative, nor were they looking for any either. Aeroflot got them where they wanted to go, and that was that. Prices were cheap and service was reliable. No one was looking for anything else. Bottom line is that the Soviets were proud of Aeroflot, and the Russians are proud of them now!

It would then be like what I heard was the case, that is that SU had internally different names. The Leningrad division was Aeroflot Pulkovo, the Moscow division was separated between Aeroflot Sheremetyevo and Aeroflot Domodedovo. Isn't the current SU what used to be Aeroflot Sheremetyevo because they're based almost exclusively in SVO? Please correct me if I'm wrong.
 
Feroze
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sat Apr 22, 2006 6:03 pm

I flew LHR-SVO-CCU back in 1991. I had to fly at very short notice and SU's was the cheapest fare available. Heathrow to Sheremtyevo was fine, it was the long haul from there to Calcutta (as was) that was the painful bit. The seven hour transit didn't help either.

Service was non-existent on the plane; not one smile emanated from the cabin crew and the food was just plain awful. Try explaining that one of my co-passengers was vegetarian and language became a huge barrier! In addition, the aircraft made a stop in Sharjah which we had not been told about. I think it was just a tech stop, but if you look at the Circle Mapper, SHJ is a little out of the way! It was after this trip that I resolved not to fly SU again - they've stopped the route now anyway.

It could have been worse: at the time SU also had a flight scheduled SVO-TAS-KHI-CCU.

On a side note, it is interesting that the fare in 1991 was £415. In 2006, one can get a flight for around the same amount, non-stop, on an airline with great service. Isn't competition great?!


Regards,

Feroze
 
MOW
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sat Apr 22, 2006 6:17 pm

Here is what I remember about the times when SU was the biggest airline in the world.

I cannot agree that prices were cheap. For example, KHV-MOW one-way (8 hours flying time) was about 125 RUB which meant almost a monthly salary of each of my parent back then (civil job). Flying was heavily subsidised for many Soviets. For example, Soviet social security system entitled many to spend one month at a Black Sea resort with 90% discount which included air travel as well - once every two to three years.

I was flying a lot with my parents when I was a kid. I liked it very much. Ilyushins, tupolevs... Simply exciting! Of course, irregularities happened - mostly flight delays which meant some overnights at airports if my parents could not get an airport hotel room. I do not remember even a single case of baggage loss, though. Inflight catering was OK - all passengers were served with chicken and rice - "chicken a la Aeroflot" as it was always known. Some trunk lines had flights like SU 25/26 MOW-KHV which had a bit better catering with caviar and alcoholic drinks onboard. MOW-KHV was served by up to 10 dailies during peak times of the year, but in order to get tickets to that coveted 25/26 flight you had to have connections in Aeroflot (= airline / airport / ticket office / corresponding department in local government).

I remember clearly one particular inflight announcement back then. It forbid use of all photo and motion picture equipment onboard. Surely it was supposed to protect secret objects of soviet defence system from being photographed while overflown. Everybody thought it was ridiculous, because everybody knew that American surveillance satellites were able to capture even the smallest objects on the earth with great detail.

Connections did not exist. You simply had to wait with all your baggage for the next flight at transit airport. In MOW you had to transfer from one airport to another, because MOW airports were serving different line groups - DME - all long hauls to Siberia / Far East and Middle East, VKO - southern destinations (including Black Sea resort towns), SVO - northwest in addition to international destinations. Now defunct Bykovo airport served Ukraine and some short hauls. At least I flew to UA a couple of times from that airport.

Want to know anything else about soviet Aeroflot? Just ask me, I'll be glad to share with you my memories.
 
SFO2SVO
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sat Apr 22, 2006 6:24 pm

Quoting LTU932 (Reply 7):
It would then be like what I heard was the case, that is that SU had internally different names. The Leningrad division was Aeroflot Pulkovo, the Moscow division was separated between Aeroflot Sheremetyevo and Aeroflot Domodedovo. Isn't the current SU what used to be Aeroflot Sheremetyevo because they're based almost exclusively in SVO? Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Not during Soviet times. "Pulkovo", "Samara", etc were born after Aeroflot split in the beginning of 90s.
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AirAmericaC46
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sat Apr 22, 2006 8:35 pm

Anybody knows sample routings of each aircraft types of Aeroflot and year or decade of service? Thanks for the info.
 
Lumberton
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sat Apr 22, 2006 10:23 pm

Well I hate to put a damper on all the adulation, but as for safety, their record wasn't all that great in the "glory" days of the Soviet Union:

Quote:
The AirDisaster.com Accident Data reports that since 1953 there have been 127 accidents involving Aeroflot aircraft and 6875 fatalities (plus 20 people killed on the ground). There have been no fatal accidents since 23 March 1994 (when 75 people were killed after an Aeroflot Airbus crashed in Siberia after the pilot allowed his 15-year-old son to take the controls (see Aeroflot Flight 593)). Since the early 1990s Aeroflot has considerably improved its safety record (see "A Face Lift for Down-at-Heel Aeroflot", New York Times, 7 April 2003).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeroflot

Aeroflot is a much safer airline these days.
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3MilesToWRO
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sat Apr 22, 2006 10:40 pm

Quoting MOW (Reply 9):
I cannot agree that prices were cheap. For example, KHV-MOW one-way (8 hours flying time) was about 125 RUB which meant almost a monthly salary of each of my parent back then (civil job). Flying was heavily subsidised for many Soviets.

For us flying was expensive, for others cheap. It's a matter of currency (ant total economy) relations, mostly east-west, that were quite diferent those times than now.

One of my friends who begun studying in Leningrad and ended in Petersburg  Wink told me, that when he was coming back home to Gliwice, he paid less for the plane Leningrad-Warsaw than for two hours in train from Warsaw to Gliwice  Smile
 
MOW
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sat Apr 22, 2006 10:45 pm

Quoting AirAmericaC46 (Reply 11):
Anybody knows sample routings of each aircraft types of Aeroflot and year or decade of service? Thanks for the info.

Domestically, Ilyushin-62 and Ilyushin-62M were flying on the Far Eastern long-hauls - KHV, PKC and VVO among others. It's first revenue flight dates back to 1967. You can still get a chance to fly one with Domodedovo airlines, Dalavia or KrasAir.
 
adriaticus
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sat Apr 22, 2006 11:33 pm

I guess you cannot issue one opinion, as I found the service to be not standardized at all, ranging from the best to the worst in a single airline... I had the distinct and interesting pleasure to fly SU back in 1991 on a 31,616 Km- trip involving 13 different legs... MEX-HAV-SNN-SVO / DME-SKD-TAS-TBS-SIP-KBP-LED-SVO / SVO-SNN-HAV-MEX.

On this periple I got to fly from Yak-40, Tu 134, TU 154, IL-62 to IL-96.

Services (which was the original question) ranged from exquisite food, including caviar and discretionary booze crossing the pond on a IL62, to the technical marvel of boarding a brand-new IL96 from the ground to a hall in the belly and on to the main cabin by an internal staircase, to crappy cold "chicken á la Aerflot" hurled at us inside plastic bags at 4AM by a disgruntled f/a on board a crowded TU154 with a broken, overflooded toilet which smelled like hell, to a cold walk on a freezing apron at DME at 2AM...

Bags were never lost. All in all, it was a very interesting and fun set of flights... I guess all of that now belongs to the past...

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komododx
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sat Apr 22, 2006 11:35 pm

What's up with the KLM/Aeroflot aircraft? Never seen anything like that! Can anyone fill me in?

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yak42
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 12:17 am

Quoting Komododx (Reply 16):
What's up with the KLM/Aeroflot aircraft? Never seen anything like that! Can anyone fill me in?

Looks like some early form of code share.
 
Scorpio
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 1:10 am

Quoting Lumberton (Reply 12):
Well I hate to put a damper on all the adulation, but as for safety, their record wasn't all that great in the "glory" days of the Soviet Union:

Taking the enrmous size of Aeroflot into mind (they had literally thousands of aircraft), 127 accidents in 40 years doesn't seem all that bad...
 
yak42
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 1:16 am

Quoting Scorpio (Reply 18):
Taking the enrmous size of Aeroflot into mind (they had literally thousands of aircraft), 127 accidents in 40 years doesn't seem all that bad...

Yes, event though there were these accidents you have to take into account that around a fifth of the worlds flights were Aeroflot.
 
ChiGB1973
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 1:42 am

I was playing an old Trivial Pursuit game. One question is the largest airline in the world. Aeroflot. I was quite surprise and came home and read up on it a little.

This was the original Trivial Pursuit, the blue one. Interesting to me, to say the least.

M
 
An-225
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 1:45 am

I've flown Aeroflot since I was 6 months old up until 1990. Every year my family would go to Ukraine, and most of the time we'd go to Bykovo and catch one of Aeroflot's An-24s for a 2 hour hop to Zhitomir (anyone have the code?). I remember the planes having that distinct smell and An-24s were very loud. I've also flown An-2, Tu-154 and IL-86 and always enjoyed every second of the flight. I also remember boarding IL-86 from the ground via the special stairs and leaving carryon baggage on the first level. As for checked bags, we never had a problem getting them back.

I'd gladly pay for my tickets on Aeroflot again.

Alex.
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Aeroflot777
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 1:47 am

Quoting LTU932 (Reply 7):
It would then be like what I heard was the case, that is that SU had internally different names. The Leningrad division was Aeroflot Pulkovo, the Moscow division was separated between Aeroflot Sheremetyevo and Aeroflot Domodedovo. Isn't the current SU what used to be Aeroflot Sheremetyevo because they're based almost exclusively in SVO? Please correct me if I'm wrong.
You are right. That's is exactly what I meant. The main airports of the region were in charge of the division. Thus you were right Aeroflot Pulkovo was based in Leningrad, Aeroflot Sheremetyevo - in Moscow. And the Aeroflot that exists now is indeed the leftover of Aeroflot Sheremetyevo. The rest of the Aeroflot based around the nation turned into separate airlines i.e. Pulkovo, Kras Air, Samarskie Avialinii. That is the reason why most post-Soviet airlines have the same color scheme with one blue line across the fuselage. It's all because it used to be Aeroflot and they never bothered to change it, they just changed the titles.

Quoting SFO2SVO (Reply 10):
Not during Soviet times. "Pulkovo", "Samara", etc were born after Aeroflot split in the beginning of 90s.
Aeroflot Pulkovo and Aeroflot Samara did exist, they were names of the Aeroflot divisions and crew bases.

Quoting Lumberton (Reply 12):
Aeroflot is a much safer airline these days.
Again, take into account the number of aircraft Aeroflot had. Absolutely every flying a/c was Aeroflot. So when you are talking about fatalities and accidents you are also taking into account every single little crop duster and field plane as well as majors. So when you have a fleet of many thousands of aircraft, 6875 fatalities is not that much. And also please keep into account that the accident in March of 1994 was not operated by Aeroflot! It's a common misconception. I have read in numerous Russian aviation magazines that the aircraft was rented for a charter. It was the aircraft that had the experimental Aeroflot colors on it.

Aeroflot777

[Edited 2006-04-22 18:48:50]
 
cs03
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 2:31 am

During the summer of 1979, while on a school trip to the USSR, we used Aeroflot for 8 flights within the country. We used: AN-26, TU 134,TU154, and a long trip from Samarkand to MOW on a IL 18. The in flight meal on this 7 hour trip was a cup of warm mineral water! One real "treat", was waiting to board our aircraft at DME. We waited under the wing, as it was raining!
 
OV735
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 2:32 am

Quoting LTU932 (Reply 7):
It would then be like what I heard was the case, that is that SU had internally different names. The Leningrad division was Aeroflot Pulkovo, the Moscow division was separated between Aeroflot Sheremetyevo and Aeroflot Domodedovo. Isn't the current SU what used to be Aeroflot Sheremetyevo because they're based almost exclusively in SVO? Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Basically, this is true. However, the names of these units were mostly [put region name here] Civil Aviation Directorates, which were divided into Air Detatchments, which in turn were divided into Flights, with each flight operating a certain type of aircraft (sometimes two types or even three). For example, there was Latvian Civil Aviation Directorate, which was based in the then-Latvian SSR. Riga Air Detatchment operated flights out of Riga's airport, and the 280th Flight operated Tupolev Tu-134 aircraft.

Now, there were such directorates in each of the Soviet Republics, and several in Russian SSR. Each was responsible for covering their region with civil air services, and linking the main city(cities) in the region to the main cities of other regions. Sometimes there was even a little competition between the directorates - although minimal, as the units could not manipulate with ticket prices or service levels.

The present day Aeroflot is mostly based on the former Central Directorate of International Sercives, which was indeed based in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and operated the majority of flights to and from outside the USSR. Some other directorates, however, operated international services too, though only to the other Warsaw Pact countries, as far as I know. These included the Leningrad and Ukrainian CAD, to name a few.

Now, the name Aeroflot itself was tied to the directorates quite loosely. Basically, as it has been pointed out above, the word itself means 'air fleet', and thus every civil aircraft (and many military ones, too) were painted with those titles. Of course it said so on all the tickets too.

So, basically, Aeroflot itself wasn't an airline per se, but rather a name under which several organisations flew.

Cheers,
OV735
 
Vimanav
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:02 am

Hello Feroze

Quoting Feroze (Reply 8):
In addition, the aircraft made a stop in Sharjah which we had not been told about

In those days SU operated TU154s (on day 4 if I recall correctly) coming into CCU on scheduled flights. These aircraft did not have the range to do a SVO/CCU or v.v. non-stop with a full payload. Hence they always had a tech halt at SHJ on the way. I am surprised they never mentioned this because I remember CRSs showing this tech halt.

Quoting Feroze (Reply 8):
It could have been worse: at the time SU also had a flight scheduled SVO-TAS-KHI-CCU.

SU operated some 15-18 flights per week that went through CCU. Only the day 4 flight (with the TU154) had traffic rights. All the rest (operated by IL86s mainly and the rare IL62) if I recall correctly did the routing that you quote above and then went onto Hanoi and again returned to SVO via CCU and these other points.

Aeroflot at that time had a big presence in CCU.

brgds//Vimanav
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Boeing727flyer
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:03 am

I flew with them on the TU-134 AND TU-154 and I loved it. Service was good and I felt safe.
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AR385
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:06 am

Quoting Aeroflot777 (Reply 22):
And also please keep into account that the accident in March of 1994 was not operated by Aeroflot! It's a common misconception. I have read in numerous Russian aviation magazines that the aircraft was rented for a charter.

I have never heard that before. Would you mind sourcing your statement? Where did the crew come from? and who chartered this aircraft? I thought it was a regular aeroflot flight.
 
smokescreen
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:22 am

What was their commercial aviation fleet size at it's peak?
 
congaboy
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:23 am

I flew on SU from SVO to AMS...the service was an IL62, with training wheel and all. The plane was, well, spartan in terms of decor, the flight crew was stiff, and the pilots landed in AMS without any type of auto pilot, just an ILS beacon they stayed on using manual flight control. I am really glad I had the experience. Quite frankly, not a whole lot different than any other European carrier back in 1990.

This was at a time when my company was providing alot of services to SU, so we knew alot about their international route structure, equipment, operations, etc.

I do remember the FA's being larger than me, and I am 6 feet tall...dont mess with them.
"Joey, you like movies about gladiators?"
 
OV735
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:41 am

Quoting Smokescreen (Reply 28):
What was their commercial aviation fleet size at it's peak?

Well, first off, there was nothing commercial about their fleet. But for the size, here's my calculation:

around 15 000 An-2
around 1 000 An-24
around 2 000 Il-14
around 600 Il-18
around 150 Il-62
around 100 Il-86
around 1000 Yak-40
around 100 Yak-42
around 600 Tu-134
around 500 Tu-154
around 700 Let L-410

So the total of aircraft flying civil flights under the Aeroflot name might have been 22 000 +/- around 5000 perhaps, during the total period of 50 years. Not counting the helicopters, of course, which would probably add another 10 000 or so. By looking at this, I would say the peak was maybe in the late 1970's or beginning of 1980's with, say, 5 000-10 000 aircraft?

Corrections are welcome.

Cheers,
OV735

EDIT: spelling

[Edited 2006-04-22 20:43:18]
 
tmarch291
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:53 am

Did Aeroflot have 1st class during the Soviet times?

Seems a bit against their idealogy.
 
BoomBoom
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:59 am

I never flew Aeroflot, but I remember when this article appeard in the newspaper, Here are some select highlights:

Quote:
For years the word on Aeroflot was that it was not fit to transport cattle, much less people, which was untrue. It was quite fit to transport cattle.

Ask almost any Russian flier. He will say Aeroflot was the stone-faced dominatrix of the skies, a purgatory of execrable food, child-size seats, broken air-conditioning and scowling service, all doled out in dank broom-closet planes.

Aeroflot was the perfect metaphor for the sclerotic Soviet Union, and after that the chaotic, will-it-really-get-off-the-ground Russia of the 1990's
and offered a litany of indignities passengers forced to wait in snowstorms before glowering ticket-takers, reeking toilets, tattered, buckling carpet in the aisles, a meal service consisting of a cup of water.

For much of the 90's. flying Aeroflot was indeed an act of bravado In 1991 there were 36 crashes, killing 252 people In 1994 the airline ran a spanking-new Airbus into the Siberian tundra, killing 75, after the pilot put his 15-year-old son at tlie controls.

The bureaucracy is confounding one flier seeking to upgrade his seat on a Vladivostok-to-Moscow flight, for example, was told that this would be possible only if he went to Moscow first to change his ticket.

This correspondent, saddled with a 31-hour layover after being bumped from a recent flight, was befuddled when other bumped passengers began boarding with ease - until another flier pointed out that the counter agent was taking bribes.

http://www.aeroflot.aero/eng/news.asp?ob_no=713&d_no=2499
Our eyes are open, our eyes are open--wide, wide, wide...
 
zvezda
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 4:13 am

Quoting Feroze (Reply 8):
Try explaining that one of my co-passengers was vegetarian and language became a huge barrier!

The word in Russian for a male vegetarian is вегетарианец (vegetarianets).

Quoting MOW (Reply 9):

I remember clearly one particular inflight announcement back then. It forbid use of all photo and motion picture equipment onboard. Surely it was supposed to protect secret objects of soviet defence system from being photographed while overflown. Everybody thought it was ridiculous, because everybody knew that American surveillance satellites were able to capture even the smallest objects on the earth with great detail.

The American spy satellites flew in predictable orbits. The first VAX the USSR was able to steal was used by N. V. Ogarkov (later Chief of Staff of the Soviet Army) to keep track of all the orbits and generate warnings to every Soviet military installation or ship at sea prior to a satellite overflight, with instructions on exactly what to show the satellite. Everything the American satellites photographed was theatre. The only exception was on each new satellite's first orbit, during which each one would see something never seen before or after.
 
RIXrat
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 4:18 am

OK, time to check in. As an American journalist stationed in at that time Leningrad, USSR, (1976-78) my beat was the western slice of the Soviet Union, ranging from Murmansk in the north to Lithuania in the south. Some memorable experiences:

-- Il18 from Moscow to Riga, Latvia (Spilve) no longer in use. The departing airport was an out of the way VIP field and the terminal looked more like a railroad station than an airport. About 75 people were crowded at the iron gate outside when I arrived and when my formalities were checked and re-checked, the Aeroflot rep guided me through the jostling crowd and led me through a side gate to the tarmac and quickly locked it behind me. At that moment a yellow "Ikarus" bus pulled up and I boarded. The doors were closed and I was driven to the plane. An air hostess ushered me inside and sat me down in the back and pulled the curtains closed. I looked out the window just in time to see now about 100 people charging across the tarmac to get on the plane. Most made it, but some did not. Seems Aeroflot had oversold a bit and they did not have any seat numbers. Service on this flight was a decent ham and chese open sandwich and wine in a glass. I don't know what those poor sods up front received. This trip to Riga was in 1971 before my assignment to Leningrad.

-- Hey, I bet I'm one of the few that's flown on a TU104 which stopped on landing using parachute drag. This is 1976-78 when I commuted from Leningrad to Moscow quite a lot. Upon landing the parachute was deployed and which at the end of the runway was unhooked and packed by a team from a special hut. Scary thing the first time around was that dry ice was used to air condition the plane through rectangular openings in the roof. Quite a few people gasped when visible "smoke" erupted from these openings driven by fans behind. Service: Hard candy upon landing to help your ears pop and don't you dare take more than one.

-- TU134 Leningrad, Pulkovo, to Murmansk. This was one of the first model 134s with the glass nose for the bombardier in case war broke out. Reasonably friendly flight crew and good seats up front, probably because my KGB nursmaid was with me, since at that time I was the first reporter to be allowed to visit Murmansk and all those nuke subs.

-- Il62 in 1972 Montreal (Dorval) to Moscow. First class (freebie ticket) as a reporter. The only other person seated in this 12 seat compartment was the wife of the Air Canada manager in Moscow. Teak wood all around. Imported seats wide enough for the mile-high club, and a perky personal F/A who I could have talked into taking home to that time Montreal if I was not married already with two 2.4 children (Brits will see the humor). Really excellent wine and food.

--AN24 in 1977 Leningrad to Riga, now RIX. The KGB booking agency booked me on the wrong freaking plane. This was for Soviets only. No foreigners allowed, because the AN24 didn't fly as high, or as fast, as the TU134. This meant we skirted the whole coast from Leningrad, passing through Estonia and then down the Baltic Sea coast again to Riga. The luggage was upfront and I could pick out my bag. On landing, the whole flight crew got a good chewing out from men in black coats, but they never accosted me. I was quickly led off to a "Chaika" for the short ride into town.

Conclusion: Aeroflot does its job, but during my time in the Soviet Union, all of their pilots came from the military and the job was to get the aircraft up there fast, fly, and then get it down fast again. The pilots didn't care about passenger comfort and sadly, nor did the F/As.
 
OV735
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 4:18 am

Quoting Tmarch291 (Reply 31):
Did Aeroflot have 1st class during the Soviet times?

Seems a bit against their idealogy.

As far as I know, they did on international services. On domestic services, though, there was only economy (or tourist) class. But of course the lower officials of the party nomenclature who were flying on scheduled flights did receive a little better service than the rest of the herd.
 
474218
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 4:38 am

Quoting Tmarch291 (Reply 31):
Did Aeroflot have 1st class during the Soviet times?

Remember they were Communists so all people were treated the same.
The Communist manifesto: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs".
So every seat was first class, if you could afford to fly, you got first class.
 
ealflyer
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 4:46 am

I flew an Il-62 from Hamburg to Leningrad in 1984, overnighted (connecting flight??) at the Pribaltiskaya Hotel, and then flew a Tu-134 to Riga (RIX) in Soviet occupied Latvia. Returned to Leningrad on a Tu-134, and then to Hamburg on a Tu-154. Very cool and classic looking birds, is my sentiment today, but back then I thought they were an evil-looking lot, with their scowly beady-eyed noses (especially the Tupolevs), intimidating ruggedness, and steely lines (in contrast to the graceful VC-10, the cool 727, and the utilitarian DC-9).

I believe there were two service levels and two pricing structures. Soviet Man, on domestic flights, probably bore the brunt of the horror stories described above, but service was heavily subsidized by the State, so prices were relatively low. On the other hand, international flights were a generator of hard ($$$) currency for the State, so they were pricier, and I think they attempted to improve service levels on these flights. In my experience, the stewardesses ranged from ambivalent, to disinterested to surly. I distinctly remember leaving the meals untouched. . . Interiors were spartan, and the seats flimsy. I remember the seats on the Tu-134 could be folded in either direction (you could flip it over so that it faced backward.

Another recollection is that when viewing the control surfaces on the wing during landing, I believe some of them were moved with mechanical screws rather than hydraulics, which seemed a bit scary, but I could be wrong on this technical issue.

And as an earlier poster indicated, the Soviet birds had a unique smell -- as soon as you encountered it you knew you were -- back in the U.S.S.R. . .
 
BA84
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 4:59 am

I flew Aeroflot many times during the 1980's.
Mostly domestic, from Moscow to Leningrad, Tallinn, Simferopal.
International to Frankfurt and Helsinki.
Il-86, Il-62, Tu-154, Tu-134.
International service was acceptable, with hot meals.
Domestic service was basic. No meals, juice only.
No safety demo. Hand luggage not stowed, even on table-tops (yes!) during take-off and landing! Often no de-icing during winter! Cabin not heated until airborne! I remember one flight on a Tu-134 (I was in row 2). The flight attendant stood in the cockpit doorway (no door, only curtain) chatting to the co-pilot during take-off!
I was very fatalistic in those days!
 
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Braybuddy
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 5:06 am

Aeroflot was an experience. I flew on an Il-86 from Shannon to Havana in 1991 (this would have been post-communist) and all the cabin crew disappeared before take-off. The flight was probably less than 20% full, and for take-off I wore my Walkman with my seat fully reclined with my table-top down, sipping on a drink.

Apart from serving food the crew never appeared during the flight, and somewhere over the Atlantic I took a stroll down the back of the plane, where there was a flight of stairs leading to a room below. Of course I had to investigate, and there were bags of mail there, as well as the engine dust-covers. Facing into the tail of the aircraft was a door with a glass window, where I could see wires and banks of trip switches. It was unlocked, and I was able to go inside. God only knows what would have happened had I knocked-off any of the switches.

Unbelieveable. Go on, call me irresponsible, but it was fun.
 
RIXrat
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 5:06 am

Oh yes, I forgot to add something to my already long post. When I was stationed in the Soviet Union my Russian government appointed assistant usually accompanied me on flights. She paid in rubles, but I had to pay in dollars. Same for hotel rooms. Ten rubles per night for her vs. $30 for me.

And the fragrance of entering an Aeroflot plane, or any hotel in Moscow, Leningrad, Murmansk, etc. I don't know what flavor they used, but it is a disinfectant that will always stay in my mind, just like a railroad steam engine when I was a wee child. Dates me, doesn't it?
 
yak42
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 5:10 am

I am pretty surprised with the amount of north Americans who have had experience of Aeroflot. I would have thought it would mostly be Europeans east and west replying.
I would loved to have flown the old aeroflot myself but I was just a child. Balkan Bulgarian was the nearest thing.
Does anyone know anything about the KLM/Aeroflot joint thing?
 
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Aeroflot777
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 5:14 am

Quoting YAK42 (Reply 41):
Does anyone know anything about the KLM/Aeroflot joint thing?

What are you talking about? Did I miss something?

Aeroflot777
 
BA84
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 5:18 am

Quoting YAK42 (Reply 41):
Does anyone know anything about the KLM/Aeroflot joint thing?

KLM was my usual carrier YVR-SVO.
I insisted to the KLM phone agent (no internet then) no segments on SU.
It was always a KLM DC-9 AMS-SVO.
Once made a Technical stop at WAW.
 
yak42
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 5:33 am

Quote:
Quoting YAK42 (Reply 41):
Does anyone know anything about the KLM/Aeroflot joint thing?

What are you talking about? Did I miss something?

Aeroflot777



Quoting Komododx (Reply 16):
What's up with the KLM/Aeroflot aircraft? Never seen anything like that! Can anyone fill me in?


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © George W. Hamlin


[Edited 2006-04-22 22:35:27]
 
saturn5
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 5:45 am

Quoting BA84 (Reply 38):
Cabin not heated until airborne! I remember one flight on a Tu-134 (I was in row 2).

and also no emergency oxygen built into the aircraft - they just had portable oxygen bottles.
 
SR100
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 6:56 am

Quoting YAK42 (Reply 44):
Quoting Komododx (Reply 16):
What's up with the KLM/Aeroflot aircraft? Never seen anything like that! Can anyone fill me in?

This was the time, Western European airlines were not allowed to use the shortest route from Europe to Japan over the Soviet Union. They had to fly either over Anchorage or the Southeast Asian route, e.g. Europe - Karachi or Bombay - Hong Hong - Tokio, which was very time consuming.

KLM was the first Western European airline to operate a joint KLM/Aeroflot flight from Amsterdam to Moscow and Tokio using Aeroflot equipment. Next step was to use the own equipment, but with an additional Soviet Crew Member on the flightdeck!

My memories of Aeroflot flights in the 70's and 80's brings up first the different approach to security standards. No real introduction how to use it, "strange" slides, cheap seats, but great aircraft to fly. About the service, I would say it was like most US airlines are today, whereas today Aeroflot has a great service, they truly turned into a great airline from a customer perspective.
My favourite planes flown: Lockheed 188 Electra, Tridents, VC-10, B-707, L-1011, A330, E90 + Concorde
 
TakeOff
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 8:24 am

There are some really fascinating answers and insights on this post. A couple of questions: How hard was it to get a job as cockpit crew or a flight attendant with Aeroflot back in the Soviet days? Who actually got the jobs? Did connections matter? Did they have to belong to the Communist Party? Did they have to pass special security clearance? Were there any defections from crew members, especially from those who got to fly to Western Europe and North America? Any answers would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

TakeOff
 
ba747yyz
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 8:43 am

I have made fun of them so much I can not give you a saerious opinion. But my uncle who has flwon them many times, both pre and post USSR, said he would rather connect via LHR on BA, than take a direct flight, and that the service on International was 1000X better than domestic, he said that was an "experience" not to be repeted unless necessary!
 
spartanmjf
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RE: What Was Like Aeroflot During Soviet Times?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 8:51 am

I had a chance to fly them from CPH to Leningrad, Moscow to Leningrad, and Leningrad to CPH over ten days in 1988. The flights were all on TU154 aircraft and, with the exception of the first [which SU held at the gate to accomodate our late arriving trans-Atlantic flight on TW] left on time.

The aircraft seats were less than comfortable but the service was attentive and pleasant. The aircraft took off quickly, ascended rapidly, and [from where we were sitting in the front of the aircraft] were pleasantly quiet.

I enjoyed the flights!
"Nuts to the man in 21D!"

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