SQueeze
Topic Author
Posts: 282
Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:33 pm

Throwback to USSR: Ukraine Int'l to Kyiv and the State Aviation Museum

Sat May 26, 2018 10:02 am

Background:

As some readers might be aware, I have been quite intrigued by the history of the USSR and the post-Soviet era of the states that have emerged since then. Last year, I had made a trip to progressive Kazakhstan, oil-wealthy Azerbaijan, and the Silkroad crossroad of Georgia - all of which are peripheral states with their own rich and unique identities. The trip reports can still be re-visited below

From the Heart of Eurasia: Air Astana in J and Y To Kazakhstan Expo 2017 https://www.airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1373919
Hopping across Eurasia: Azerbaijan and Georgia with AZALjet https://www.airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1378475

Recently, I had the opportunity to go to Ukraine to partake in a dance festival, and I couldn’t resist seeking out the Soviet era nostalgia both in aviation and architecture, both of which are in ‘endangered state’ and are in the point of extinction. There are beauties in these aspects which sadly not too many appreciate for both economic and aesthetic reasons.

I am dividing the report in 4 parts because there are so many that I would like to share with respect to the unusual region and I believe this would be the first time most readers would have heard of the places I visited.

Part 1: Ukraine International Airlines to Kyiv with plenty of Soviet-era nostalgia at the State Aviation Museum

Part 2: Time-travelling back to USSR: Antonov-24 to Odesa and overlanding through Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic

Part 3: Throwback to 1990s: TAROM old school economy service from Moldova to Rome

Part 4: Saudia business class experience (FCO-RUH-CGK)



Chapter 1: The Flight

Airline: Ukraine International Airlines
Flight: PS716
Route: IST-KBP
Aircraft: 737-800
Registration: **-PSV
Age: 9 years
Seat: 8A
Load: Business (0/12) Economy (Full)

I would like to start this trip report in the Turkish Airlines Arrival Lounge at Istanbul.

I had earlier arrived with TK in J class from BKK at 4am local time. I had decided not to start the trip report in BKK because I would like to focus on Soviet-era themes and TK is fairly regularly reported and there is plenty of information available. Just a short summary: TK 65 was booked solid full in business class. Aircraft was A330-300 (TC-LNF). Seats are in 2-2-2 configuration with plenty of legroom but little privacy. Food was great and well-presented as expected and usual. Service was friendly above average for the crew who was serving my section. I slept really well onboard and woke up fresh. My only complaint was cabin felt too warm but I asked for temperature reduction and the crew obliged.

TK Arrival Lounge is a small lounge for arrivals located after customs and just opposite of the TK free tour / free hotel counter. It’s very handy for extra early arrivals like TK65 which usually arrive just before 4am. The lounge seems to open by 4am.

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The modern interior design is of the same theme as the famous airside main lounge.

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My favourite corner is the very comfortable day bed.

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Shower facilities are available and prove handy for me who has come a long way since I started by journey in Singapore (early morning SQ 787 to BKK) more than 24 hours prior. Ironing facility is also available.

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Food selection is fairly simple but sufficient. I was in any way still full from breakfast onboard.

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I just had a quick juice and proceeded upstairs to departure area to drop my luggage for the UIA flight to Kyiv.

UIA has a very professional and easy-to-use website. http://www.flyuia.com.
Booking and check-in were done online, and interestingly they are making it mandatory to print your own boarding pass or else there will be an additional charge at the airport. This is truly a Low cost model and indeed UIA is targeting this segment.

As such, there is minimal personnel required at the airport. And I had trouble finding it due to it being so quiet and discreet!

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Airside, the hive of activity was through the roof. 5-6am would have been one of the peaks. It’s like stepping into a different world from the ghostly landslide.

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IST has turned to be a bit like a theme park in parts which could be interesting. Such as this ice cream parlour crewed by a person in costume.

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I proceeded to the gate directly due to the relatively tight connection of 2 hours between STA and STD. Boarding had just commenced and I was confused on which lane was which. Apparently, there was no lane (Ukrainian style). The lanes were for TK. For our flight, boarding was ‘as one wish’

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Down the jetbridge, excited to fly a little known airline.

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Passed the business class cabin which is European-style. Costing about USD600 more than my USD82 ticket! Crazy.

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Economy seats are almost just like business class :) but with flatter headrest. Design is very generic and is probably from the Boeing catalogue.

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Legroom is fairly tight but not as bad as I had read from the few reports out there on UIA. I was expecting much worse like Air Asia.

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Plenty of reading materials.

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And a booklet full of menu. Very extensive just like Scoot. But prices are much cheaper. In Ukraine itself, as i later found out, prices are really low. It's really a very good value-for-money destination

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Looking out the window, it’s Turkish territory obviously.

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With some odd and unusual airlines such as Afriqiyah of Libya.

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Safety demonstration was manual.

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And then we pushed back to a sea of red. TK obviously has a very impressively extensive fleet and network.

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And then we were airborne on the cloudy cold Istanbul spring morning.

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We were travelling along the Bulgarian coast.

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I didn’t get anything but a glass of water.

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Recline is really poor.

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Checking out the contents of the reading materials.

Network map is quite decent with footprint mainly in Europe and the Near East but also covering Long hauls such as Bangkok, Beijing, Colombo, New York, Delhi (new), and Toronto (new).

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Fleet is modern and entirely western.

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The 777 is their newest and flagship.

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It’s just a short hop from Istanbul and less than 2 hours later we were descending over the Dniepr river, the main river of Ukraine.

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We overflew Boryspil Airport.

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Before making a sharp 180 degree turn to land.

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The terminal building is newish.

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And we docked next to another UIA aircraft.

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Transit connection was hectic. At least 60% or more of today’s load we’re making connections. UIA business model is on Low cost connecting traffic and they are geographically perfect for this and also they have Low wage costs. Noticeably there were a lot of Chinese honeymooners from Istanbul connecting to Beijing via Kiev. This is a big market (China-Europe). Of course they are also competing with Aeroflot and Air Astana.

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I had to first get my visa. It was an online pre-application. But paid at this counter (credit card only), and in 5 minutes, I was owner of Ukrainian visa. Very simple and transparent procedure.
 
SQueeze
Topic Author
Posts: 282
Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:33 pm

Re: Throwback to USSR: Ukraine Int'l to Kyiv and the State Aviation Museum

Sat May 26, 2018 10:05 am

Chapter 2: State Aviation Museum

The first thing I did that morning was to visit the State Aviation Museum. This is a must-visit for Aviation enthusiasts! They have a very informative website in English as well should readers would like to know in detail of the aircrafts presented

http://aviamuseum.com.ua/en/exposition

It was a good warm day, the first one after months of winter!

A 1956-vintage Aeroflot Tu-104 long haul jet straddling the walkway. So impressive. and you can touch the belly and the engines! So surreal!

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Further down, a row of Ilyushins.

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Starting with the Il-18 turboprop from 1957

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Followed by the Il-62 with its distinctive back-mounted 4 engines. I believe you still can fly one of these in North Korea but not elsewhere. Mẩy be Cuba too? On the museum’s website, apparently one could also go inside the preserved interiors for an additional fee. However, on this day I visited, it was not open. What a pity.

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My only reservation about this open-Air Museum is that in order to draw more crowds, they are also putting in vintage cars (more fan base for sure) and a fun fair. There is no professional curator so while I think it could be interesting to place a vintage car with an airplane, it is just so disruptive to put an children’s playground or a hotdog stand right under the wings. Here, in this forum, on airliners.net, someone also got really disappointed because there is no ‘purity’ or elegance in the aviation display. I was not as much feeling that way but I have to say that things could have been better.

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The alpha male of all the display here is the Il-86. It’s impressively huge, fat, heavy, 4-engined, and its belly hanging Low. I could barely imagine how this thing could have taken off.

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At every plane, there is a good amount of basic information.

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The Il-76 cargo plane was alongside the Il-86. How enormous it is too.

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Again, the vintage cars, fun fair atmosphere could be too distracting. But these are the ones that draw the crowds.

The next alley is occupied by Antonovs which are Ukrainian-made.

The An-71 steals the show with its unusual look! The cousin An-74 is still flying. More on that coming in the next episode.

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The Yakovlevs generally look more like western aircrafts.

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What I said earlier that it could be interesting to place vintage cars amidst vintage airplanes.

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The An-24. This is the workhorse of Soviet Aviation for decades. In the explanation, apparently more than 1000 had been manufactured. I would be flying on one of these even in 2018! How exciting.

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The Tupolevs are in another alley. Stairs lead to the preserved interior but was not open to public that day.

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There are some helicopters too and their blades droop from overhead.

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There are military aircrafts on display too, which in this case are overwhelmed by the vintage cars.

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Some has very interesting details.

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This is the poorest display. Completely overwhelmed by the fun fair activities.

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In some areas, strange activities take place. Barber service under vintage wings, anyone?

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Overall, I have mixed feelings about this museum. I think they have great displays. Unfortunately, aviation fan base is too small to draw crowds. And I would prefer a buzzy atmosphere to a sad deserted museum. But some of the vintage cars and funfair activities overwhelm. If only there were better and more sensitive planners, this could be a great attraction for everybody.
 
SQueeze
Topic Author
Posts: 282
Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:33 pm

Re: Throwback to USSR: Ukraine Int'l to Kyiv and the State Aviation Museum

Sat May 26, 2018 10:06 am

Chapter 3: Golden Spires of Kyiv

Kyiv is a stunningly beautiful city and most people don’t know. And that’s the best thing. I have been to ever popular and famous Prague, and also Vienna, Salzburg, Budapest, Bratislava, Warsaw etc. All gorgeous places. But crowded and touristed. In Prague especially, tourist traffic jam is everywhere. Horrible. Kyiv, in my opinion, is more beautiful than all of them, and there are practically no tourists. It’s Europe’s best kept secret and I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

A must-see is the Kiev Pechersk Lavra Monastery - a real living monastery with live-in orthodox monks and more pilgrims than tourists. It’s like a painting !

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Religion is actively resurging. In western and Central Europe, one will see more tourists and selfie-takers. Here, we have the devoted believers. And they are people of all ages.

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Golden spires grace the skies of Kyiv everywhere.

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And the interiors are mind blowing.

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I walked randomly into a church on the way to the airport (St Volodymyr) and I was totally in awe!

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Aside from the amazing beautiful heritage, Kyiv also has plenty of Soviet-era monuments which tend to get overlooked and neglected. While some deserves to be demolished for the betterment of humanity, there are some unique jewels which deserve better recognition (and renovation)

Ukrainian House in the city centre is now a concert hall and it has a beautiful atrium which is grand and light. It’s simply simple and beautiful.

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The ceiling is dramatic.

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Elsewhere near the monastery, the Motherland monument is a landmark nobody can miss when visiting Kiev.

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There are also some others which are lesser known and are sought out only by truly hardcore architecture fans. Like this ‘spaceship’ structure in a suburban district.

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Or a crematorium! The strangest thing I sought out in my years of travels.

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Taking the metro in the former Soviet Union is a must. It’s like time travelling.

Some of the stations are really beautiful.

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SQueeze
Topic Author
Posts: 282
Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:33 pm

Re: Throwback to USSR: Ukraine Int'l to Kyiv and the State Aviation Museum

Sat May 26, 2018 10:11 am

Verdict: I am happy with my experience in Ukraine Int'l. It's basic functional service and I am getting my money worth. I will not hesitate to fly with them again for short hauls. The State Aviation Museum is a must for any aviation enthusiast. The carnival atmosphere may not be appropriate in parts and I hope that some professional can curate it better but knowing how Ukraine runs, i doubt it will happen any time soon. Ukraine is a country that I now love. It is one of the most beautiful places I have been to and it is my current favourite in Europe. It is beautiful yet not overrun by tourists. I encourage readers to give Ukraine a chance and visit it some time.
 
debonair
Posts: 3182
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2004 10:50 pm

Re: Throwback to USSR: Ukraine Int'l to Kyiv and the State Aviation Museum

Sat May 26, 2018 9:39 pm

Passed the business class cabin which is European-style. Costing about USD600 more than my USD82 ticket! Crazy


Great TR as always!

UIA is now offering "last-minute" flatrate upgrades at the check-in or the gate (-4hrs before STD) - in your case IST to KBP will set you back 119€:

https://www.flyuia.com/ua/en/services/upgrade
 
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eastafspot
Posts: 1106
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2008 5:19 pm

Re: Throwback to USSR: Ukraine Int'l to Kyiv and the State Aviation Museum

Sun May 27, 2018 3:16 pm

Just splendid, from the narrative to the pictures!
Looks like UIA perform the bare minimum.

SQueeze wrote:
Part 4: Saudia business class experience (FCO-RUH-CGK)

You too took advantage of the rock bottom J fare :bigthumbsup:
Very curious to discover how was your RUH experience... (over the future ex-JED)!

Thanks for sharing this comprehensive TR.
Looking forward to more
Fly with Air Burundi, Air Tanzania, Air Uganda, Kenya Airways and Rwandair...Jumuiya ya Afrika mashariki
 
LondonCity
Posts: 1069
Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2008 12:57 pm

Re: Throwback to USSR: Ukraine Int'l to Kyiv and the State Aviation Museum

Sun May 27, 2018 9:27 pm

Kiev will soon be getting more tourists. Ryanair starts flights later this year.

https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/ ... 35896.html
 
FFlyerCDG
Posts: 27
Joined: Sat May 22, 2010 7:51 am

Re: Throwback to USSR: Ukraine Int'l to Kyiv and the State Aviation Museum

Sun May 27, 2018 9:39 pm

Thanks for this very informative report !!
Just a tricky question :-)
How did you get access to the TK Lounge while traveling on PS in Y class ?
 
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Ryan h
Posts: 1677
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2001 7:11 pm

Re: Throwback to USSR: Ukraine Int'l to Kyiv and the State Aviation Museum

Mon May 28, 2018 9:30 am

Great report and photos, especially the aviation museum.
South Australian Spotter www.ryanhothersall.net
 
SQueeze
Topic Author
Posts: 282
Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:33 pm

Re: Throwback to USSR: Ukraine Int'l to Kyiv and the State Aviation Museum

Fri Jun 01, 2018 7:30 am

debonair wrote:
Passed the business class cabin which is European-style. Costing about USD600 more than my USD82 ticket! Crazy


Great TR as always!

UIA is now offering "last-minute" flatrate upgrades at the check-in or the gate (-4hrs before STD) - in your case IST to KBP will set you back 119€:

https://www.flyuia.com/ua/en/services/upgrade


Yes, I am aware. Even for the long haul flights.
But for Euro Style business class, is not value for money even at that price.
 
SQueeze
Topic Author
Posts: 282
Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:33 pm

Re: Throwback to USSR: Ukraine Int'l to Kyiv and the State Aviation Museum

Fri Jun 01, 2018 7:34 am

FFlyerCDG wrote:
Thanks for this very informative report !!
Just a tricky question :-)
How did you get access to the TK Lounge while traveling on PS in Y class ?


I flew in with TK in J from BKK. I was on separate tickets.
That lounge was the Arrival lounge, so i had access to it.

LondonCity wrote:
Kiev will soon be getting more tourists. Ryanair starts flights later this year.

https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/ ... 35896.html


Good to know. they deserve more positive coverage.

Ryan h wrote:
Great report and photos, especially the aviation museum.


Thank you
 
GaryDay
Posts: 23
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2017 11:53 am

Re: Throwback to USSR: Ukraine Int'l to Kyiv and the State Aviation Museum

Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:27 pm

Excellent report, especially the section on the museum. Next time I go to Duxford I'm going to ask for a haircut under the wing of the Trident!!!!
 
vheca
Posts: 167
Joined: Wed May 30, 2007 9:20 pm

Re: Throwback to USSR: Ukraine Int'l to Kyiv and the State Aviation Museum

Sat Jun 23, 2018 7:34 am

SQueeze, thanks for the trip report.

Most informative for me as I will be in Kiev in 2 months.

I am flying UIA and also will be doing a couple of internal flights as well.

I am looking forward to my trip and your report has gotten me super keen!!

Thanks for taking the time to share

Cheers

VHECA
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