levg79
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Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:04 pm

Hi all,

I know that back in the day the original PA used to fly to SVO from JFK on a regular passenger service with a B747. Since travel between the two countries was extremely limited during those years, such as Soviets not allowed to leave the Soviet Union except for certain Eastern bloc countries and Americans considering the USSR an evil empire, the question is who were the people that actually flew PA on that route and what were the loads. Since PA did not operate a hub in SVO I would assume that most of it had to be O&D traffic. I'm hoping that anyone with knowledge of this subject could share it.

Leo.
A mile of runway takes you to the world. A mile of highway takes you a mile.
 
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eta unknown
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:54 pm

Just because it was "an evil empire" didn't stop the more adventurous/educated American tourists from visiting.
 
jfk777
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sat Nov 12, 2011 10:36 pm

The JFK to SVO route was Pan AM going where other dare not go. PA European routes were getting invaded by all the US airlines from their hubs. AA, DL, CO, NW and US were still just building up their European systems, Moscow was a long way off. It may have remained that way had the USSR not ended to exist and Russia becoming free. Today DElta is the only US airline flying there from JFK and ATL. AA tried Chicago to DMO but that lasted about 0ne year.
 
sulley
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sat Nov 12, 2011 10:55 pm

UA also serves DME from IAD, for what it's worth.
In thrust we trust!
 
rutankrd
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:05 pm

Chipper 30/31 was an IATA pool flight with Aeroflot for many years.

Much diplomatic traffic and some business traffic oh and spies !

Back in the day Moscow SVO and Leningrad were just about the only regular entry points from the west !

Note Delta still use the 30/31 number for Moscow today !
 
SP90
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:06 pm

Quoting levg79 (Thread starter):
who were the people that actually flew PA on that route

If I had to guess probably low level diplomatic types, business people and the more adventurous tourists. Curious to know if this was a one a day flight?
 
rutankrd
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:11 pm

Quoting SP90 (Reply 5):
If I had to guess probably low level diplomatic types, business people and the more adventurous tourists. Curious to know if this was a one a day fligh

The route was daily shared with Aeroflot if memory serves.
Aeroflot via Shannon , Pan Am via Frankfurt
 
levg79
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:12 pm

Quoting rutankrd (Reply 4):
Much diplomatic traffic and some business traffic oh and spies !

So how were the loads on those 747s then? Nowadays when Russia is accessible to Americans and wise versa we have one daily 767 (DL) and one daily 330 (SU) on this same route. So the capacity nearly doubled on this route now since the time it wasn't travelled that well. Was that route even profitable for PA or it wasn't a daily flight back then?
A mile of runway takes you to the world. A mile of highway takes you a mile.
 
rutankrd
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:14 pm

By the way it was normally a B707 -321B Not 747-121 route
 
jfk777
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:45 pm

Quoting rutankrd (Reply 6):
The route was daily shared with Aeroflot if memory serves.
Aeroflot via Shannon , Pan Am via Frankfurt

When Pan AM re-started Moscow in the 1980's its was with a 727 from FRA then replaced by a 747 from JFK.

Quoting rutankrd (Reply 8):
By the way it was normally a B707 -321B Not 747-121 route

It was a 707 in the early 1970's, then Moscow was off the PA route map for years. When Gorbachev became Premier and the ice thinned a bit Pan AM returned via FRA.
 
rutankrd
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:57 pm

Quoting jfk777 (Reply 9):
When Pan AM re-started Moscow in the 1980's its was with a 727 from FRA then replaced by a 747 from JFK.

Quoting rutankrd (Reply 8):
By the way it was normally a B707 -321B Not 747-121 route

It was a 707 in the early 1970's, then Moscow was off the PA route map for years. When Gorbachev became Premier and the ice thinned a bit Pan AM returned via FRA.


In later years i believe that is quite right *
! have to confess that during period of the early eighties my mind and spirit were elsewhere - Uni, booze clubbing and women ! rather than aeroplanes.

I also remember that for a period of time both the US and UK actually banned Aeroflot completely with the UK traffic having to route via Prague !

Interesting times
 
747buff
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sun Nov 13, 2011 12:03 am

Quoting levg79 (Reply 7):
Was that route even profitable for PA or it wasn't a daily flight back then?

I'm not sure if it was daily, but in the in the late 80s and early 90s, the 747 flew nonstop on certain days. On the other days it was a 747 to FRA, then a 727 to SVO. From what I have read, the 747 nonstop was always packed, since at the time it was the only USA-Russia nonstop. Aeroflot didn't have the equipment to fly nonstop, hence the stop at Shannon. I found a Time magazine article from 1989 that said the lowest fare was about $2000, so if that was true I'm pretty sure it was a moneymaker.

Quoting rutankrd (Reply 8):
By the way it was normally a B707 -321B Not 747-121 route

Yes, I believe someone on here said PA flew a 707 to Moscow in the 70s, maybe even in the 60s as well.
My earliest PA timetable is from 1979 and doesn't show any Moscow flights. However, service resumed in 1986 (and just as PA's luck would have it, Chernobyl happened a day or two before the inaugural flight). This was the aforementioned JFK-FRA-SVO 747/727 combo.

In mid 1988, Aeroflot and PA agreed to start a joint nonstop JFK-SVO flight with a PA 747 and cockpit crew. Cabin crew was from both carriers.
At Eastern, we earn our wings every day!
 
ORDJOE
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sun Nov 13, 2011 12:26 am

It was exactly that, a cold war. We still had diplomatic relations and a good deal of trade (comparatively, the USSR was not a major exporter of much other than commodities). Relations between the countries, while not perfect, where not as tense as hollywood portrayed.
 
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longhauler
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sun Nov 13, 2011 12:44 am

Air Canada was the "other" North American airline with regular service into the USSR in the 1960s.

It too was pooled with Aeroflot. AC flew YYZ-YUL-CPH-SVO with a DC-8, while SU flew YUL-SNN-SVO with a TU-114 to start, then an IL-62.

The loads were abysmal. I remember joining my father who was a DC-8 Captain, on a layover in Moscow. There could have been no more than 10 people on the CPH-SVO leg. But ... as the Canadian flag carrier, the route was required.

Interestingly enough, we were to deadhead home on an SU IL-62 two days later, but the flight was subbed with a TU-114. I was the only one that was overjoyed! (And stole every safety card I could find!)
Just because I stopped arguing, doesn't mean I think you are right. It just means I gave up!
 
N49WA
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sun Nov 13, 2011 12:52 am

Quoting 747buff (Reply 11):
Cabin crew was from both carriers.

I wonder what what went through the minds of the Russian crews when working a Pan Am 747 flight. The atmosphere must have been unbelievably luxurious compared to Aeroflot at the time. Curious if there were any attempted defections, although that would probably have put an end to the PA flights. Maybe they had KGB "minders" on each flight to keep an eye on them? Or have I watched too many movies from that era?

[Edited 2011-11-12 16:54:36]
If it's new and quiet, I don't want to fly it.
 
jfk777
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sun Nov 13, 2011 1:14 am

Quoting N49WA (Reply 14):
Maybe they had KGB "minders" on each flight to keep an eye on them? Or have I watched too many movies from that era?

Probably, KGB were probably on every flight the same way El AL has "Air Marshalls" for obvious reasons.
 
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falstaff
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sun Nov 13, 2011 2:37 am

Quoting eta unknown (Reply 1):
Just because it was "an evil empire" didn't stop the more adventurous/educated American tourists from visiting.

A friend of mine went there on his honeymoon in 1970. He went there for some sort of piano music conference and since he got married right before the conference he turned it into a honeymoon. He isn't the political type, just a music lover.

I know he flew out of STL to JFK and then on to Moscow. I never asked him about the flight there before. Next time I see him I will ask.
My mug slaketh over on Falstaff N503
 
jmbweeboy
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sun Nov 13, 2011 3:05 am

My mom flew a Pan Am 707 from JFK in the 1970's and recall so well her speaking of the up and down type landing for the last hour on final approach into SVO. Soviet air traffic controllers would taunt the Pan Am pilot by constantly having him decrease altitude on final approach then increasing it. And SVO air traffic controller would keep sending the plane down, then up, then down, etc. You get the picture. So bad that many pax were sick on arrival from all the up and down.

JMBWEEBOY
 
RIXrat
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sun Nov 13, 2011 4:27 am

As an American journalist stationed both in Moscow and Leningrad between 1976-78, I have a few points I'd like to add. During these Soviet times, the PA flight from FRA to SVO had to pick up an SU navigator for this leg. The reason being is that once the flight crossed the border most radio coms were in Russian and this navigator would be the translator. In those days, you can't imagine how poor radio coms were.

The other reason was that the Soviets were paranoid that a foreign flight would get "lost" -- that being that it would deviate from the strictly set up approach corridor so the flight crew would not snap some unwanted photos. Once inside Soviet territory, pax were forbidden to take photographs of the terrain and on some flights, for unknown reasons, cabin crew demanded that the window shades be drawn.

When I lived in LED, the service out in addition to SU was SK to ARN and AY to HEL. Both station managers lived in the the same "diplomatic" apartment building so after a night of carousing it was easy to hit them of for a cheap ticked "out" for a weekend.

Loads were good most of the time, except in the dead of winter. At the time IBM had a pretty big presence in Moscow, there were 350 accredited journalists there and there were dozens of diplomatic missions, all of whose personnel wanted to go "out" on a foreign airline -- anything but SU. If I remember correctly, I think LH was also a player to FRA at the time.

And yes, there were plenty of spies. The SU cattle class usually carried home fishing crews from Canada, but that's another story.

[Edited 2011-11-12 20:45:35]
 
sulley
Posts: 389
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sun Nov 13, 2011 4:33 am

Quoting RIXrat (Reply 18):

As an American journalist stationed both in Moscow and Leningrad between 1976-78, I have a few points I'd like to add. During these Soviet times, the PA flight from FRA to SVO had to pick up an SU navigator for this leg. The reason being is that once the flight crossed the border most radio coms were in Russian and this navigator would be the translator. In those days, you can't imagine how poor radio coms were.

The other reason was that the Soviets were paranoid that a foreign flight would get "lost" -- that being that it would deviate from the strictly set up approach corridor so the flight crew would not snap some unwanted photos. Once inside Soviet territory, pax were forbidden to take photographs of the terrain and on some flights, for unknown reasons, cabin crew demanded that the window shades be drawn.

When I lived in LED, the service out in addition to SU was SK to ARN and OY to HEL. Both station managers lived in the the same "diplomatic" apartment building so after a night of carousing it was easy to hit them of for a cheap ticked "out" for a weekend.

Loads were good most of the time, except in the dead of winter. At the time IBM had a pretty big presence in Moscow, there were 350 accredited journalists there and there were dozens of diplomatic missions, all of whose personnel wanted to go "out" on a foreign airline -- anything but SU. If I remember correctly, I think LH was also a player to FRA at the time.

And yes, there were plenty of spies. The SU cattle class usually carried home fishing crews from Canada, but that's another story.

I know it's off topic, but what was it like living in the Soviet Union during the 70s?
In thrust we trust!
 
RIXrat
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sun Nov 13, 2011 4:51 am

Sulley, It was pure hell. The KGB beat me up several times and kidnapped my wife for six hours once. Other than that, if you are a masochist, it was a reporter's paradise. I have no regrets, but like you said, I don't want to get off subject. Cheers.

[Edited 2011-11-12 20:55:44]
 
LO231
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sun Nov 13, 2011 5:45 am

Quoting eta unknown (Reply 1):

Just because it was "an evil empire" didn't stop the more adventurous/educated American tourists from visiting.

Educated American tourists????????? I hope you meant travellers.......

Quoting longhauler (Reply 13):

Air Canada was the "other" North American airline with regular service into the USSR in the 1960s.

I still wonder how AC managed to keep their office in the center of WAW without touching the runway of the airport till now, and being a Star Alliance....

Rgds
Got both LO 788 frames already, next LO E95 and 734 BRU-WAW-BRU
 
connies4ever
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sun Nov 13, 2011 6:29 am

Quoting longhauler (Reply 13):
Air Canada was the "other" North American airline with regular service into the USSR in the 1960s.

It too was pooled with Aeroflot. AC flew YYZ-YUL-CPH-SVO with a DC-8, while SU flew YUL-SNN-SVO with a TU-114 to start, then an IL-62.

The loads were abysmal. I remember joining my father who was a DC-8 Captain, on a layover in Moscow. There could have been no more than 10 people on the CPH-SVO leg. But ... as the Canadian flag carrier, the route was required.

Interestingly enough, we were to deadhead home on an SU IL-62 two days later, but the flight was subbed with a TU-114. I was the only one that was overjoyed! (And stole every safety card I could find!)

There were safety cards on the Tu ??   Actually, though, how noisy was it ? I've read that submariners can actually detect the Bear ASW/recon version of the Tu-114 while submerged, merely from the noise.

I flew AC to SVO in 1972 and as I recall the CPH-SVO leg was quite empty, perhaps 20 pax. My week in the "workers paradise", courtesy Dad's AC pass. He thought I was nuts, but it was interesting. Went to Leningrad for a day and a half as well.
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
 
LO231
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sun Nov 13, 2011 6:35 am

Quoting connies4ever (Reply 22):
I flew AC to SVO in 1972 and as I recall the CPH-SVO leg was quite empty, perhaps 20 pax. My week in the "workers paradise", courtesy Dad's AC pass. He thought I was nuts, but it was interesting. Went to Leningrad for a day and a half as well.

Please tell me AC is considering WAW, their office was there forever, they cannot depend on LO all the time, can they????

If you know something bout the plans for WAW, please let me know..... LO has lost a plane, leased one from VV, but still, the spotters in WAW ( I'm in contact with them ) would love to see AC metal once.....

Rgds
Got both LO 788 frames already, next LO E95 and 734 BRU-WAW-BRU
 
dennys
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sun Nov 13, 2011 7:25 am

I remember a 707 service JFK FRA MOW , and a 747 NSTOP NYC SVO in 1988 .l

That seemed so huge capacity for such a route flown by almost only " diplomate people "
 
panamair
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:21 am

In the early '70s Pan Am flew a 707 from New York to Moscow via CPH.

Moscow then disappeared from the network until the '80s again, with the FRA connection via 727s. IIRC, Pan Am restarted 727 service to SVO in April 1986. The nonstop 747 JFK-SVO started in 1988 only 3x weekly, while the 727 flights via FRA continued on other days of the week.

The 747 service was a joint operation with SU, and SU even had 3 FAs work the flight together with the Pan Am cabin crew. My first trip to the former USSR was in 1989 on Pan Am (747 to FRA, then a 727 from FRA to LED via SVO). The return was on PA 31, the 747 nonstop, whch had three Economy sections, and IIRC, the second Y section was blocked off for SU passengers and worked by the SU crew, while the PA crew handled the rest of the pax.
 
thegoldenargosy
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:24 am

Didn't TWA briefly fly BRU-SVO on a 727 in the early 90's?
 
connies4ever
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sun Nov 13, 2011 10:19 am

Quoting LO231 (Reply 23):
Please tell me AC is considering WAW, their office was there forever, they cannot depend on LO all the time, can they????

My gut is AC are quite OK with the code-share arrangement with LO. I wouldn't think yield on the WAW service would be all that great. If LO wish to continue, possibly with a government subsidy, so much the better. For AC, the LO code-share and marketing over FRA probably make a lot more sense. Friend of mine visists WAW every 3rd year to see her family and goes LO all the time, fares are lower than AC via FRA, so I've got to believe they're getting some kind of government incentive.
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
 
antonovman
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sun Nov 13, 2011 11:05 am

I worked as a gate agent for PanAm in the 1980's. I remember working the first flight from FRA to SVO.
For some reason the airport authority would not post the flight on the information boards so half the passengers got lost in the terminal. When they were finally rounded up the german border police were at the gate checking everyones passports as they left the gate to get to the aircraft.
 
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longhauler
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sun Nov 13, 2011 2:15 pm

Quoting connies4ever (Reply 22):

There were safety cards on the Tu ??

I had scrounged up 5, (still have them) until the Stewardess' look told me that was enough.

Quoting connies4ever (Reply 22):
Actually, though, how noisy was it ?

We were in the aft cabin, of three. I remember it being noisier than a jet, but quieter than the front of the Vanguard. I wandered around the aircraft a lot. It was very noisy at the front, and almost unbearable near the middle where the galleys were located on a lower deck.

Quoting N49WA (Reply 14):
I wonder what what went through the minds of the Russian crews when working a Pan Am 747 flight. The atmosphere must have been unbelievably luxurious compared to Aeroflot at the time.

I am not so sure that Pan American, during its declining years at the end would have been representative of American "luxury". Aeroflot offered then, as they do now, a very decent product on their international routes.
Just because I stopped arguing, doesn't mean I think you are right. It just means I gave up!
 
PanAm1971
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sun Nov 13, 2011 6:41 pm

There used to be large tour groups that would go. The agency was Soviet Intourist if I remember. Leningrad was a big seasonal destination for Hermitage Museum. Besides diplomats and spies-there was a large pool of academics going back and forth. The loads-during the warmer months-were surprisingly good. BTW-rumor had it thatr Soviet officials liked to fly Pan Am instead of Aeroflot when flying to JFK.
 
Viscount724
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RE: Pan Am Into The Soviet Union

Sun Nov 13, 2011 11:53 pm

Quoting rutankrd (Reply 4):
Chipper 30/31 was an IATA pool flight with Aeroflot for many years.

IATA had nothing to do with pool operations. Those were strictly negotiated between the airlines concerned.

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