In February 2012 I was surfing the web when it came to my attention that Aeroflot were selling some special fares to Japan. After more research it appeared these fares were only available on certain routings departing Paris or Rome. I got in contact with a friend and we decided to go for it!
As Paris would be easier to get to, it was chosen as the departure airport and we would be flying back into London Heathrow Airport. The dates were selected and we booked up for a total of £250 each for a return fare! The routing was to be CDG
with Aeroflot and we would be taking easyJet’s morning service from GLA
the day before, so we would have a few hours to spend in Paris.
At the time of booking September seemed a long time away but after all the planning of booking accommodation, deciding how to spend the 11 days we had in Japan and booking a JR
Pass for the Shinkansen (Bullet Train), it soon came around. I had also spent 3 months in America doing voluntary work between March and June 2012 which made the time go even faster!
On Tuesday 4th September I took a Virgin Cross Country train from Newcastle to Glasgow Central to meet up with my friend who lives there.
We got a taxi from my friends flat at 6am and arrived at Glasgow airport at 6.30am. We had to wait a couple of minutes before we could check in and we made it through security by 6.50am.
Once airside we got some breakfast from Starbucks and waited around for an hour or so. I was obviously taking some photos however there wasn’t much to see this dull morning, just a few Jet2 and Flybe aircraft. Glasgow airport is also a lot bigger than I had expected it to be.
The time was now 8.15am and it was time for boarding for our flight to Paris CDG
Wednesday 5th September 2012
Glasgow International Airport (GLA
/EGPF) – Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG
Departure time – 0840
Arrival Time – 1135
Duration – 1 hour 55 mins
Aircraft – Airbus A319-111 / G-EZUN / Built in 2003 – Delivered to easyJet on 22nd September 2004
Seat No. – 7A
In seat 7A
The captain announced on the intercom that flight time today would be around 1 hour 40 minutes and weather was good en-route and also in Paris.
Pushback was on time and we stopped behind a US Airways B752 getting ready for its flight back to PHL
We taxied to runway 23 for a rolling takeoff into the dull morning sky. However, once above the clouds it was a different story and as we got further south in England the weather became clear with no clouds at all – typical Scotland! I was quite tired this morning so I slept for a bit and then got woken up by the intercom. It was the captain again pointing out London on the left hand side of the aircraft. Luckily I was on the left and got a fantastic view over London, and you could even make out the Olympic park in the distance. We then flew over Gatwick Airport before crossing the English Channel where I saw this flying parallel to us.
Air Transat A330 that I later found out was also heading for Paris CDG
We started our descent and had a smooth touchdown on CDG
’s runway 09L.
After landing we had to hold while a Delta A330 was taking off on runway 09R heading back to the US.
Turns out the TS
A330 had landed before us and was crossing runway 09R at the same time.
F-GFKJ in the retro livery!
We arrived at Terminal 2E and then got a taxi to our hotel at CDG
for the night – Premiere Classe Roissy. It was quite a small room but for the price (50eur) it was good value for money! We then got the shuttle bus back to CDG
and got the train into Paris where we spend around 5 hours, touring all the sights. We went up the Eiffel tower and went to the Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysees. Around 6.30pm we headed back to CDG
and had dinner at the hotel.
A couple of photos from Paris
Air India B77L parked up at CDG
The next morning we got up at 8am in time for our 11.45am departure from Paris to Moscow. We got breakfast at the hotel and got the shuttle bus back to Terminal 2C. Sadly I couldn’t check in online as Aeroflot does not offer OLCI from CDG
for some reason. We checked in and I was assigned seat 17A for the CDG
leg. On the boarding pass the flight was just stated as CDG
with no mention of the transfer in SVO
so I enquired whether we would receive the boarding passes for the SVO
leg which the check in agent replied abruptly ‘No, you get them in Moscow.’ I also asked whether she could book our seats for the SVO
flight to which she responded ‘They are the same seats, you do not change aircraft in Moscow.’ I corrected her saying that there was in fact a change of aircraft in Moscow but she wouldn’t accept that I was correct. She obviously didn’t know her stuff! I decided to just leave it and just accept whatever seat I was given on SVO
, I wasn’t too worried as the majority of the flight would be at night anyway.
So we passed security easily and were airside in CDG
where we had something to east and just waited at the gate for our aircraft to arrive from Moscow. I was quite looking forward to flying on Aeroflot! After check in we passed through security and went upstairs to departures where I spotted this:
A343 going to LAX
We headed to the gate where our flight was departing from but the aircraft wasn't there yet. A quick check of Flight Radar 24 showed it was descending into CDG
and would be arriving soon. We went to get some snacks before I spotted our plane taxing into the gate area.
Spotting our Aeroflot A320 turning into the parking area
arriving from SVO
, one of SU
’s newer A320’s.
B744’s in one photo!
Soon it was time to board our A320 to Moscow.
Thursday 6th September 2012
Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG
/LFPG) – Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport (SVO
Departure Time (she/act) – 1145/1150
Arrival time (she/act) – 1720/1710
Duration – 3 hours 20 mins
Aircraft – Airbus A320-214 / VQ
/ Built in 2009 – Delivered to Aeroflot on 19th February 2009
Seat No. – 17A
After a friendly welcome from the Aeroflot flight attendants dressed in their unmistakable orange/red uniforms I took my seat in 17A.
There was no welcome from the captain, only from the purser. Everything was said first in Russian and then French and finally English. Pushback occurred on time and we were soon taxiing to runway 08L for takeoff. There was two planes to take off before us, an Air France A320 and an Air France Cargo B744. It was then our turn and we made a smooth takeoff. Around 45 minutes after takeoff the drinks and meal service started. First was the drink service where I got an orange juice from the friendly FA
. This was served with a napkin and refreshing towel.
Then came the meal which was either beef or Fish. I went for the beef.
The beef was a sort of casserole served with rice and carrots with a smoked salmon salad with a bread roll, half a slice of brown bread which was quite stale and chocolate pralines for dessert.
We got served lunch over this unidentified airport
And the mayonnaise was out of date!
The meal was pretty average. The beef was quite fatty however was edible and could have been worse! The bread roll and bread slice were quite stale and I didn’t eat these.
Unidentified aircraft near us
Once the meal service was over I just spent the remainder of the flight looking out the window and listening to some music as well as chatting with my friend.
Soon it was time to descend into Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport which is located to the north of the city of Moscow itself.
Descending with speed brakes deployed
Final approach into Moscow on an overcast afternoon
Transaero B744 about to takeoff on runway 25L
We made a firm touchdown on runway 25R and after vacating the runway, we had to hold short of runway 25L for the Transaero B744 to takeoff, which rotated right in front of us and I managed to get a good photo!
We continued for the short taxi to Terminal D, passing some well known Russian metal on the way.
-96005, at the gate
Aeroflot B763, VP
-BDI, which was formerly with the UK Charter airline, Air 2000
Orenair B772, VQ
-BNU, which has previously served with Air Europe Italy and Air Austral before going to Orenair in 2011.
We parked next to VQ
It didn’t take long for us to be heading to flight connections in Terminal D at SVO
, which has a very pleasant atmosphere. It is very clean and was actually much better than I was expecting it to be.
We went to the transfer desk and had to show our passport and boarding pass for the CDG
leg and we were issued with our boarding passes for SVO
along with a red card saying TRANSIT. I noticed however that my seat had been allocated as 17F which was in the middle section of the A330. I asked if it could be changed to a window but the agent said it couldn’t, so I just had to accept it. I wasn’t too worried though because the flight was mainly at night anyway.
We then made our way through security which was quite quick and were back in departures by around 5.50pm. All in all the transfer at SVO
was easy and quick with lots of signs.
Security area in SVO
Terminal D departures (could have done with a few more seating areas)
I then made my way to gate 30 which was where our flight to Tokyo was going to be leaving from. Our aircraft was already there getting ready for the flight. It was M.Sholohov, an Airbus A330-300 delivered to Aeroflot in 2011. This was going to be my first flight on an A330-300, my 11th A330 flight overall.
M.Sholohov parked at gate 30
Air One A320, EI
-DSV, next door
M. Sholohov from another angle
Aeroflot Sukhoi Superjet parked over the apron
Alitalia A320 EI
We looked around a few of the shops, but mainly just sat around gate 30 and waited for 7.20pm which was the scheduled boarding time. As it turned out boarding didn’t actually begin until 7.30pm.
Russian Doll shop
Models of Aeroflot Tupolev and Air France Concorde!
Last view before boarding
Boarding commenced and I took my seat in 17F
Thursday 6th September 2012
Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO
/UUEE) – Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT
Departure Time (she/act) – 2000/2005
Arrival Time (she/act) – 1020/1015 +1day
Duration – 9 hours 10 mins
Aircraft – Airbus A330-343X / VQ
-BQY / Built in 2011 – Delivered to Aeroflot on 31st August 2011
Seat No. – 17F
Once onboard, first impressions of the A330 cabin were excellent. This was one of the older A333’s in Aeroflot’s fleet, compared to some newer ones, so it had the orange seat interior, as opposed to the newer blue leather interior. The cabin was clean, the seats were comfortable (as a first impression, I later found them to be a bit uncomfortable after a long haul flight) with a pillow and blanket, and the IFE system looked to be good with a good sized screen. Hopefully the IFE would be just as good when using it as how it looked!
We pushed back on time and taxied out to runway 25L for takeoff. Although I didn’t have a window to look out of, the nose camera was turned on the IFE system. We took off into the ever fading daylight and turned on course for Tokyo.
Shortly after takeoff, the crew came round and handed out earphones and menus for the flight. On tonight's flight we would receive dinner and then breakfast before arriving into Tokyo.
Around an hour into the flight the dinner was served. The choices on this were either chicken or tilapia (fish). I went for the tilapia to try something different and to see what the infamous Aeroflot fish tasted like. It was served with rice, green beans and carrots and was accompanied by a BBQ chicken and cheese salad and for desert was chocolate with blueberry. It was also served with the bread roll and stale bread slice again which must be standard on all Aeroflot flights! This time the bread roll was fresher but the other was not!
This meal was better than the beef on the flight from CDG
but still was not up to standard with other scheduled airlines i’ve flown on.
2 hours 33 mins into the flight
I had been playing around with the IFE before we got our meal, and I was very impressed by it. There was a good selection of movies, TV
shows, music and games, aswell as a very nice moving map. I had watched ‘Fun with Dick and Jane’ during dinner and was now doing a bit of virtual gambling.
Roulette on board
The remainder of the flight was pretty uneventful, I was just drifting in and out of sleeping while watching the moving map inbetween. However, the crew did not come around during the whole night portion of the flight offering any drinks of anything which I didn’t think was very good. They did respond though when I rang the call bell asking for some water.
Before long, the sun was starting to rise and the cabin lights were turned on in time for breakfast. By now, we were around 2 hours from Tokyo. The choices were either Crepes with apples and cinnamon with vanilla and almond OR
Omelette with roasted potatoes, tomato and parsley. I went for the omelette and potatoes.
It tasted alright and it could have been a bit bigger.
Flying over Khabarovsk
It was time for our descent into Tokyo Narita airport, we made our approach into runway 34R. We made a good landing, but the brakes were applied extremely hard! I was slightly forced forward in my seat!
I was watching the nose camera for landing
After landing we had an extremely long taxi to our gate, which was made even longer by the fact I didn’t have a window to look after. In total, the taxi from the runway to gate was 20 minutes.
-BQY Parked up in Tokyo
A332 next door
Alitalia B772 further along
After passing through immigration and baggage reclaim, which was very easy, we headed for the JR
Centre in Narita airport to exchange our 7 day rail passes on the Shinkansen and then headed for the train station to get the Narita Express to Shinagawa, which took around an hour. We then headed straight to Kokura (a small city near Fukuoka on Kyushu Island) that afternoon, which took 6 hours on the Shinkansen and then worked our way back to Tokyo over the 10 days we had to spend in Japan. In total we visited Kokura, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Osaka and finally back to Tokyo.
A few photos from Japan
ANA office in Hiroshima
A-bomb dome in Hiroshima
Golden Temple in Kyoto
Osaka at night
Our Shinkansen to Tokyo
Sunset over Tokyo viewed from the Tokyo Skytree
Tokyo Skytree at night
Sushi in Shinjuku
Shinjuku at night
Are we in New York now??
After an absolutely fantastic 10 days in Japan it was time to head home. I managed to check in online this time and secure a window seat for the flight from Tokyo to Moscow, however I was unable to book seats for the SVO
leg of the journey.
We left our hostel at 8am which was located in Asakusa, in the north east of Tokyo. We got the subway to Ueno and then got the Keisei Skyliner back to Narita. One thing I noticed in the train station was that US Airways were listed on the airlines and terminal list
We arrived at around 9.30am and checked in for the flight back to London Heathrow via Moscow. We received our boarding passes with the booked seats. Also, this time we received the boarding passes for both legs of the journey instead of just NRT
and then having to pick up the SVO
passes in Moscow. Made the process a little bit easier.
Narita Airport Terminal 1 check in area
FIDS in T1
Right after I passed through passport control a LH
A380 was taxing by for takeoff.
Also had a walk over to the AF
A380 departing back to CDG
We spend our time spending the remainder of the yen we had left and I was snapping photos at most gates I walked past.
A330's with the AF
A380 in the background
Aeromexico B762 in Skyteam livery
Eva Air A330
Virgin Atlantic A346 shortly departing for LHR
We then just sat down at our gate which had a good view of departing aircraft taxiing by.
B772 next door heading to Milan
-BPJ arrived from SVO
slightly late. I was actually hoping for this aircraft as it is only 2 months old!
Dreamliner departing for Boston
An Airline I had never heard of -
‘SU263 to Moscow is ready for boarding’
Monday 17th September 2012
Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT
/RJAA) – Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO
Departure Time (shed/act) – 1205/1205
Arrival Time (she/act) – 1710/1640
Duration – 9 hours 35 mins
We have clearance, Clarence. Roger, Roger. What's our vector, Victor?