«Летать Аэрофлотом» [Flying Aeroflot] Posted by on Feb 10, 2009 in Soviet Union, Traditions

Once onboard a «Аэрофлот» plane, as I clearly was when I took this picture a couple of days ago, there’s no turning back. One can only hope the pilot’s sober and that it won’t come tumbling down or, «шутки в сторону» [joking aside], down some whiskey and enjoy the ride… 

(Внимание! [Attention!] This post does not intend to serve any advertisement purposes whatsoever!) There are many airline companies in Russia, and even though this is the company that first comes to mind when thinking ‘flying in Russia’, not only «Русские авиалинии» [“The Russian Airlines”] «Аэрофлот» [Aeroflot; lit. ‘Air fleet’] serves a large number of cities within the Russian Federation. It is, however, a legendary company in many ways, especially considering that it was the first airline company in Russia (or the USSR, have it as you may), and to be able to say: «Я летал/а Аэрофлотом» [I flew Aeroflot] is of course an excellent way of showing that you’ve had the full and factual Russian experience while in the country. One could view it as one of the few clinging (in the sky) relics of the Soviet Union to be found almost intact in Russia still today: the service still lacks of charm and common courtesy, the stewardesses are rude and far too pretty to be pouring coffee, and if you make the slightest mistake you will get shouted at far too loud by someone who – if you’re really, really lucky – looks like a spot on «совок» [‘homo soveticus’; a person with Soviet mentality]. When I joined their ‘bonus club’ back in 2007, I thought to myself that this is it, now I have truly succumbed to that small yet evident masochistic trait in my character. This company has systematically treated me poorly, it has almost made it into an art to give insufficient service, and not only have I never received a smile from any of the staff ever, neither has my luggage survived a single journey with them entirely intact. So «почему, почему[why, why?] was I joining their bonus club? So that they could abuse me some more? No, the answer is not as romantic as might seem; my reason was purely rational for once in my life. Aeroflot has good deals on tickets from Europe to some ‘smaller’ (‘provincial’) Russian cities via Moscow, and since that’s the only way I fly being as it is that I live in Yekaterinburg, it was the natural choice for me. Also, if you collect enough miles you get to join the VIP club and if you’re VIP then you get to bring 30 kilos instead of 20 kilos. And that’s the reason, mainly, why I decided to join, though two years later it seems like I will only get enough miles once it is high time to leave the country…

It was not only last week that I thought that if hell was to look like some place on Earth, then it would very likely resemble this place a lot: «Москва Шереметьево Терминал 1 (один)» [Moscow Sheremet’evo Terminal 1]. Those of you who have gone through it in order to «летать внутренними рейсами» [fly on domestic flights] know the chaotic, almost infernal mess in this heavily overcrowded and far too small terminal, but to those who have yet to have the ‘pleasure’ I say – well, it IS part of the Russian experience… 

After I joined the bonus club Aeroflot started treating me much better. No longer was I the random foreigner one can step all over with one’s Soviet mentality. Now I can finally order that vegetarian meal they before always claimed they’d ‘never even heard of’, even though it’s written all over their site that passengers are allowed to order ‘whatever food they want’. The people in the Aeroflot office here, where I go to pick up my tickets on a regular basis, always smile (!) and are ready to help and give suggestions and tell me exactly how many miles I’ve collected so far (because the bonus club’s site is a mess that nobody – not even with a perfect knowledge of Russian – can comprehend). I even get to pick my own seat now!

And if this wasn’t clearly more than enough already, there’s even more good news of me and Aeroflot and our mutual love story (it kind of resembles the story of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, I’d like to imagine, with all that getting off on the wrong foot in the beginning and having plenty of both pride and prejudice involved, I mean). When flying out of Prague to Moscow last week, I as usually started flipping through Aeroflot’s in-flight magazine. I was reading through the ‘English summary’, as it is called, when I came across a section called “What do you think about Russia: Best quotes from expats’ blogs and sites”. And what do you know; one of those five quotes was from this blog! Between about Russian kids making toasts at birthdays, eating pasta in Moscow, relationships between men and women in Russia and waking up to no electricity was my «мудрость колготок» [wisdom of pantyhose; ‘pantyhose wisdom’]. This sounds like bragging, «разумеется» [of course], because that’s just what it is!

Here are a few words and phrases that can be useful when flying in Russia:

«аэропорт» – airport

«в аэропорту»loc. in the airport; at the airport

«аэродром» – airdrome; airfield (an older word – it is used in «Ирония судьбы» [“The Irony of Fate”, for example)

«самолёт» – airplane

«аэроплан» – airplane (an older word)

«рейс» – flight

«внутренний рейс» – domestic flight

«международный рейс» – international flight

«выход»(here) gate

«взлёт» – takeoff

«готовимся к взлёту»(often said on the speakers before takeoff) we’re getting ready for takeoff

«посадка» – landing

«мягкой посадки(this you wish someone about to fly somewhere) ‘have a soft landing!’

«счастливого пути(or you could use this standard wish) ‘have a nice trip!’

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  1. saint facetious:

    This bonus plan sounds absurd. And also like maybe they’re switching airlines on you. Everyone knows that you fly Aeroflot partly for the inexplicably poor customer service and the thrill of flying with a 20% chance of crash. Smiles? Nonsense!