EDITORIAL: The Pathetic Failure of Putinomics

EDITORIAL

The Pathetic Failure of Putinomics

In the annals of “signs of the Russian economic apocalypse,” we can’t think of many more jolting revelations than the report last week that Aeroflot — yes, Aeroflot — was planning to open a “budget carrier” subsidiary.

Do you dare, dear reader, imagine what it might be like to fly on a version of Aeroflot that openly cut corners?  Aeroflot itself is already world famous as one of the cheesiest, most offensive, revolting and dangerous airlines in world history.  What will it be like when Aeroflot starts cutting back on services?  It’s not something we care to contemplate and as for boarding such a plan, even if bound for Vladivostok from Murmansk in winter, we’d rather walk. Or crawl.

A recent economic analysis of Putin’s Russia by the British website WhatInvestment pulls no punches in echoing the dark warnings of economic doom echoed by Aeroflot’s decision.

Just for starters, it calls the overall Russian economy “shockingly imbalanced.”

On Russia’s manufacturing economy:  “Its innovation culture is non-existent, its marketing is bad and its products are worse.  Nothing there to interest an investor, then. And especially not in an age when China does all those consumer things so well.”

On Russia’s banking system:  “There was a time when Russian banks looked like a good bet, or when government bonds were all the rage but,  when inflation is nudging 8 per cent and the government’s bailout is driving the official overspend above 9 per cent of gross domestic product, finance suddenly doesn’t seem like such a great idea any more.”

On Russia’s stock market: “The RTS stock exchange index soared from around 540 at the start of February 2009 to nearly 1,600 in mid-January 2010. Marvellous, except that it then crashed by almost 15 per cent in the space of three short weeks – more than twice as fast as the Footsie and the American S&P 500.  You’ll receive an average dividend of 1.7 per cent, which sounds OK until you hear that Russia’s inflation is running at 9 per cent and that its government bonds are paying about the same.”

The ultimate conclusion? The Russian economy is a wonderful gambling casino “if you have the nerve.”  As in any casino, the vast majority of punters will lose their shirts, but a tiny sliver will become instant millionaires, if they can not only make the right bets but pull their chips off the table at exactly the right moment.

But Russia isn’t a casino, it’s a country.  And no country can long survive being thought of as a casino, no more that a business like General Electric could do.  Russia must reform, or perish.

35 responses to “EDITORIAL: The Pathetic Failure of Putinomics

  1. Going from 540 to nearly 1600 in under a year does seem great even if there was a 15 percent fall during a three week period. That is a nearly three fold increase! Even if inflation is nine percent that would still be a very good performance I believe. I’m not sure what dividends Russian companies pay but to have your stocks increase in value by three times in a year sounds good. Also it really is no surprise to me that the Russian market is considerably more volatile than its Western counterparts but if a 300% increase might be in the works then it may be worth the risk. Are stocks adjusted for inflation when they are sold? As a total novice in economics here some enlightenment will be welcomed.

    • I can answer how this works in the normal marketplace in the West. Stocks are not adjusted to inflation when sold and bought. The price is whatever a willing buyer is prepared to pay to a willing seller. In other words, supply and demand; plus a broker’s commission, if any, on top of that.

      I have no idea if this applies to Russia. I was surprised they even have a stock exchange. Probably, rigged like everything else

  2. I love it when LR crawls out of the woodwork coughing up a story about how horrible it must be to ride a Russia train or fly on a Russia airline. It’s both hilarious and piteous to see the writers hyperventilate and contort themselves all over the place as they try and lambast something they don’t know the slightest thing about. I suspect that not one of the staff at LR have ever been near a Russian aircraft, let alone flown on one. Nevertheless, I shouldn’t be surprised, as truth is not the currency of LR.

    • I have flown on Aeroflot as recently as 2004.

      I can categorically state that it was the most unprofessional service I have ever used.

      They have a terrible safety record, including crashes cause by drunk pilots, and one where a plane crashed because the pilot let his child take the controls, putting the aircraft into an unrecoverable spin.

      • I recently spent an evening in the company that included a Georgian ex-military pilot. He told me that several days prior to the Georgian attack on in 2008, they were given instructions on how to bomb Tskhinval’s civilians. He also categorically stated that Saakashvili murdered Prime Minister Zhvania.

        • Now RTR, it was the Russian air force that bomber Tshkinvali for 3 days.

          Russia used cluster munitions against numerous Georgian towns and villages, facilitated and in some cases led the ethnic cleansing of Georgians from Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

          Russia was slammed for EVERY SINGLE ONE of its actions.

          By the way, the Georgians only have a very few pilots, I would be interested to know this chaps name, as I know several of them myself.

      • @where a plane crashed because the pilot let his child take the controls, putting the aircraft into an unrecoverable spin.

        Cool story, bro !
        I just reeks a little much of oh-I-need-something-big-here-to-shore-up-my-argument-but- I- have-nothing-so-i’ll make-up-the-most-far-fetched-thing-that-comes-to-mind. Actually, that’s exactly what it is, since the aircraft was flying on auto-pilot and all the child was allowed to do was sit in the seat. But, I admire your effort nevertheless

  3. Putin depended on energy. The price willing to be paid by buyers is in continuous decline because of new shale gas technology.

    No one will locate a business in Russia because of the demand for bribes and the threat of being jailed.

    The safety record of Russian air transport is one of the worst in the world.

    Russia desperately needs competent government.

    • Ron wrote:
      Putin depended on energy. The price willing to be paid by buyers is in continuous decline because of new shale gas technology.

      No one will locate a business in Russia because of the demand for bribes and the threat of being jailed.

      The safety record of Russian air transport is one of the worst in the world.

      Russia desperately needs competent government.

      the answer;
      Ron,
      I agree on the shale gas, by the way, Poland has the shale gas resources that will last for 200 years – American, British, Polish and Hungarians already created the join venture and started working. This will make Poland the main provider of the gas in Europe – Poland, to the Russia’s horror will be able to provide the cheeper gas to all her neighbors, including Belarus and Ukraine, Baltic states etc. After the boom of amearican shale gas the prices of the russian gas went down abouat 40%, Poland’s shale gas will push those prices down for another 30%, according to the russian sources.

      I don’t agree on the competent government in Russia in order to survive. Russia is in the process of desintegration – Russia is fighting three wars; in Georgia, Norther Caucasus and Kyrgyzstan. Let Russia desintagrate first and then we can think about a competent government for Russia.

  4. I’m happy to see Putin’s economic bastardy collapsing because sooner it collapses,sooner the people will once again regain control over their economy,and Russia will flourish again,controlled by the people.
    Long live the dictatorship of the proletariat!
    Long live the great Soviet Union!
    Slava!

    • To flourish “again” implies something had flourished sometime in the past. When exactly did Russia “flourish” in the past?

      • Roughly…from 1955-1975

        • If there are Russians here who remember those years 1955-1975, let’s ask them if they “flourished” or were prosperous.

          I, however, vividly remember Khruschev-Nixon kitchen debate even though I was a small child then. That was around 1960 or so. One thing that stuck in my mind how the adults were amazed that a refrigerator was a luxury item unavailable to most Russians then. Right, “flourishing.”

          • It’s not material goods that matter the most(buy you’re a westerner,so i guess it would be better for me to talk to my wall)
            but a vivid society,freedom from worries about surviving,friendship and socialist zeal.

            • I am certain that in 1955-1975 Russians being humans worried a lot more about all those evil capitalist “material goods,” i.e., how to feed, house and clothe themselves and their children than they did about “a vivid society” (I am not sure what that is) or about “socialist zeal.”

              But let have some Russians here chime in. Let’s ask them if they want socialism as it existed in 1955-1975.

        • Between 1880 and 1914.

          In 1914 Russia was the 5th economic global power, pushing it’s way to be the 4th.

          The day Lenin arrived to St. Petersburg in his sealed wagon, all prosperity was done away with for good!

  5. Since we are talking about planes I’m just waiting for the LR editorial about how Putin wiped out most of the Polish government. That should make some entertaining reading.

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

    It’s sad that

    (1) You would rudely SPAM our blog (do you claim Aeroflot is a quality airline?)
    (2) You would prejudge our content before you’ve seen it (is that your standard of fairness and accuracy?)
    (3) You would think it entertaining to read about mass fatalities (are you a homicidal maniac?)

  6. Since we are talking about airplanes, as a pilot, I want to tell you something of how it works. A pilot does not just need to pass the tests to achieve a rating, the pilot needs recent hard experience.

    In U.S. if a pilot goes on vacation for a week that pilot needs to go through the grueling task of getting recertified. Skills atrophy that fast.

    When I flew my family I went out at night and flew tough, heavy weather flights to make sure I was ready for tomorrow. It is that difficult to be competent when the chips are down.

    I suspect that the polish pilots had not suffered grueling sessions in a simulator to get ready for this flight.

    • Oh please, stop blaming the poor pilot. It ws Kaczinski who ordered him to take the hoarrible risk. Let me post an interesting exchange:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/politics-obituaries/7575982/Lech-Kaczynski.html

      #
      It is not a plane. When politicians start running complex machinery, instead of trained professionals – that’s when trouble comes. After firing the gutsy military pilot who refused to land in Tbilisi with five (5) presidents on his plane without flight plan and clear understanding who controls Georgia’s airspace despite Kaczynski’s heroics – the new pilot had less testicles and crashed plane in foggy conditions on the 5th attempt to land on a crappy airstrip in Smalensk. This time Kaczynski heroics costed lives of 87 people.
      Alex on April 10, 2010 at 11:34 PM

      #
      Would the President of Poland have allowed the Polish delegation to miss a memorial service for the thousands of Polish prisoners who were murdered at Katyn? And yet, that is what would have happened if the Tupolev Tu-154 had been diverted to Moscow as requested by air traffic control. On Russian roads it would probably have taken an extra twelve hours to get to Katyn. As over all chief in command of the armed forces, would he not have ordered the airforce pilot to land at Smolensk airport rather than his political party being hugely humiliated for missing one of the most important Polish memorial services, especially at a time when Russia had just admitted responsibility for the Katyn massacre. In such a situation, any real man, would have weighed up such risks, and chanced it.
      Clivenio on April 10, 2010 at 11:23 PM

  7. Your ideas are untrue. The pilot of an aircraft is like the captain of a ship. The pilot has absolute authority in regards to the safety of the flight until the aircraft is actually on the runway.

    • RTR is wrong about most things.

    • Ron,

      Imagine the King orders the army to risk their lives by, say, jumping over a wide ravine, but the Army Commander wants them to go around. But the King orders him to order his army to jump. So, they jump and all die.

      Whose fault is it? The Commander’s? Or the King’s?

      Now imagine that the King orders the pilot to land in unsafe conditions. Whose fault is it? The pilot’s? Or the King’s?

  8. Hmm well a few things to answer.

    1. I flew Aeroflot a few times and no worse than BA
    2. Given that is how you judge anything that comes out of Russia before it happens I am applying those same standards to your blog.
    3. I’m not a psychopath I just find how you write stuff with such vitriol a start to my day.

    To Ron, what you say generally does hold true, however (and this came from a Polish publication) Kaczynski had during the 2008 Georgian war wanted to fly to Tblisi and the pilot refused, Kaczynski wanted him prosecuted. Therefore it is not unreasonable to assume at the moment that possible pressure from the late president was a contributing factor. Now I know I will be vilified and accused of being a Kremlin shill but hey I have a thick skin.

    • Perfect counterplea! And, in general, whole site is a offensive compilation of insolent lying sentences mixed with a bit of true facts. Glad to see adequate comments

    • Welcome (?) to Aeroflot

      Although the winged hammer and sickle logo has been preserved as a dubious reminder of its Soviet past, today’s Aeroflot is struggling – with varying degrees of success – to reinvent itself along western lines.

      Replacing old Russian planes with modern western planes was easy. Replacing old staff attitudes with new customer-friendly ones is not so easy. Whereas too many staff at US airlines now seem to greet their customers with open hostility, the Aeroflot staff simply greet customers with complete neutral apathy – or perhaps, they just ignore them completely!

      I was checking in at Seattle for a flight last year, and there were three Aeroflot agents working the counters. One was taking customers, one was reading a magazine, and the third was ignoring everyone. The line of waiting customers continued to grow, with only one of the three staff members struggling to serve the passengers. And on a recent Aeroflot flight, the flight attendants scolded passengers for not closing overhead bins and refused to help passengers to put their carry-on items into the bins.

      Aeroflot also has a very lackadaisical approach to on time performance. What I find particularly inexcusable is being told that a flight is expect to arrive in Seattle shortly when it hasn’t even taken off from San Francisco, two hours flying time away! Most flights have at least a one hour delay, with 2 – 4 hour delays being sadly more common than on-time departures and arrivals.

      The staff in the local Aeroflot office always urge passengers to phone them on the day of the flight to try and get an updated understanding of when the flight might actually depart.

      Pre-flight

      Checking in for a flight from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport is a nightmarish undertaking in an ugly and inadequate building. Interminably long lines for everything are made worse by aggressive queue jumping. In the US we typically have two lines – one to check in and one for security. At Moscow, you have five – customs, baggage x-ray, checkin counters, immigration, and lastly security – and it can easily take a full two hours or more to slowly make your way through all of these.

      Some of the disorder and chaos infects the Seattle checkin procedures, too, with no clear separate lines for business and coach class checkin, and people suddenly appearing in line in front of you and daring you to complain about it, and/or offering elaborate justifications why they should cut in front. Of course, if you do complain, they suddenly become ‘very Russian’ and pretend not to understand what you’re saying.

      Although in theory business class buys you a shorter checkin line, this doesn’t always work reliably, and on my flight in August 03, there was no separate checkin line or counter for business class in Seattle. On the return flight from Moscow, there was a priority line for First Class, but no priority line for Business Class.

      There is no priority baggage service offered to business class passengers.

      In Seattle (and in Los Angeles) there is also no lounge. I’ve been told that Aeroflot tried to negotiate a deal with BA to rent their lounge, but refused to pay the fee that BA asked. This was rumored to be $50 per person – certainly not inexpensive, but in the context of Aeroflot earning an extra $1000 and up per business or first class passenger, surely it is something that Aeroflot can afford to pay. (BA is not the only airline with a nearby lounge, either.) Not offering a lounge is a serious omission by today’s international business class travel standards.

      There was no priority boarding offered for business or first class passengers, but it was a lightly loaded flight and perhaps they didn’t feel the need for this. So the pre-flight experiences were all indistinguishable for a business class passenger as for a coach class passenger.

      Seat and Amenities

      On board the 777, there was a small first class cabin, with not very special looking seats in a 2 – 2 – 2 configuration with lots of legroom. The business class cabin was next, with seats in a 2 – 3 – 2 configuration, and the coach class cabin was behind that with its 2 – 5 – 2 seating.

      The business class seat was reminiscent of those on other airlines, twenty years ago. The few seat adjustments that were present were all manually operated, nothing was electric/electronic. One could recline the seat, swing the leg rest up and out, and there was a mystery third button that might have perhaps been lumbar support, but which did not appear to do anything at all.

      I’d guess the seats to have about a 48″ pitch, with a moderate amount of seat recline, and good seat width. Tray tables come out of the side of the seats, and each seat has its own video monitor. There is one overhead light per seat, and (as is increasingly common) no personal air vent.

      There was no computer power supply at the seat, although using the computer (on the tray table) was comfortable and convenient, even when the seat in front was reclined. A very small blanket and a small airline sized pillow were provided, along with cheap headphones and a typical amenities kit, notable only for an unusually sturdy pair of slippers.

      Aeroflot now operates all its flights as entirely non-smoking flights. An occasional suspicious odor from the toilets makes one suspect that not all passengers completely observe this edict, but before too long, the toilets usually mask any smoke odors with much stronger (and nastier) odors of their own.

      I’ve sometimes used a toilet shortly after getting on board in Seattle, before the plane takes off, and alas, even then, the toilet is often noticeably malodorous. By the time the ten hour flight to Moscow concludes, the toilets are usually awful. Happily, this flight was an exception (probably due to the light passenger load) and the spacious toilet remained clean throughout.

      Most of the cabin staff are bilingual and speak English as well as Russian. But the language they’ll use to address you is sometimes whimsical. On one flight, they spoke exclusively in English to the Russian gentleman seated next to me (he didn’t understand English) while preferring to communicate with me in Russian (my Russian is very limited)! All announcements are in both Russian and English.

      Food and Drink

      The service started pleasantly enough with a choice of water or orange juice being offered prior to takeoff, and a hot moist towel (cotton, not paper) being given immediately after takeoff.

      The food was acceptable, as it has been on other flights in the past. However, a colleague blames an attack of food poisoning on the business class food he ate during a Moscow to London Aeroflot flight (earlier this year), and also recounts with considerable emotion another flight where his hot chicken stew was still frozen in the middle (in 2002).

      In coach class, Aeroflot ration passengers to only two free drinks. They are slightly more generous in business class, but you wouldn’t think that Russia is a country noted for its love of drink, based on the miserly drinks offered onboard.

      Perhaps that is why some passengers conspicuously bring their own bottles of spirits on board (especially in coach class)!

      I was pleasantly surprised to see them serving (non-vintage) Veuve Clicquot champagne, and so asked for a glass. Alas, the champagne was warm. In addition to the champagne, there was a generic bottle of red wine and a generic bottle of (also warm) white wine – I couldn’t see the labels and they were not described in any way. Beer, juices, sodas, and spirits (in miniature bottles) were also available.

      For the main meal, shortly after takeoff, we had an appetizer, entree, dessert, and then cheese and grapes. There were no printed menus, and we were offered a choice of two entree choices, described solely (and in typical Russian fashion) as either ‘fish’ or ‘chicken’ with no additional information on type of fish or style of cooking.

      We were given metal cutlery, but only one each knife, fork, and spoon, meaning we had to re-use the knife and fork for the appetizer and entree. It used to be (on other airlines) that one would be given a dazzling profusion of cutlery and more than one could ever use, or, in some cases, one would be carefully given exactly the cutlery needed to reflect the food one had ordered, but not with Aeroflot.

      One loses one’s sensitivity to tastes at higher altitudes, and for this reason I tend to heavily pepper (and lightly salt) my food. But the little paper sachet of pepper contained less than 1/100th of an ounce of pepper – hardly enough to generate any excitement on a single slice of tomato, let alone an entire meal!

      A light ‘breakfast’ was also served shortly before arrival in Moscow, with a choice of either pancakes or omelet. I didn’t want any hot food, and so the flight attendant decided not to provide me with any food at all, and also did not offer me any tea, coffee or juice!

      Basically the business class service was reminiscent of other airlines’ international coach class service a couple of decades ago, and a pale shadow of business class service on a premium international airline today.

      Entertainment

      Aeroflot publish a massive 350 page in-flight magazine, but almost 90% of this is in Russian. There was also tantalizing reference to a second publication that would have movie details and a duty-free catalog, but none of the seven seats that I looked at had a copy of these elusive references.

      I subsequently secured from a flight attendant a copy of the duty free guide (very little on offer and not particularly good pricing), and perhaps I misunderstood about the movie guide, because there was not exactly a bewildering assortment of movies to choose from.

      Although blessed with individual seat video screens, which in theory suggested a capability for nine video channels, for most of the flight all they offered was an excellent version of the ‘moving map’ display, showing where the plane was and details of its speed, arrival time, etc. One movie was screened early in the 10.5 hour flight on a second channel, but for the rest of the flight, there was no additional in-flight entertainment offered.

      Official Financial Issues

      Aeroflot claims to operate a three class service between Seattle and Moscow, and there are indeed three cabins on the 777s and 767s that fly between the two cities for First, Business and Coach class passengers. There are always people to be found seated in all three classes.

      But, strangely enough, neither Expedia, Orbitz nor Travelocity show any first class fares; just business and coach class fares! Aeroflot tell me that they do offer first class fares (ranging in price from $4080 up to $5252 roundtrip) and couldn’t explain why they didn’t appear on these websites, but said that travel agents would know about them.

      Business class fares start at $2500, and coach class fares range in price depending on the time of year. Lowest coach fares can be as little as $500, and sometimes as much as $1100.

      Now for the trick that few people know about. The Aeroflot business class cabin is usually fairly empty (and coach class is sometimes very full). You can purchase one way upgrades when checking in for your flight at the airport. If there is space in business class, they’ll immediately upgrade you into the business class cabin, in return for a $500 fee (each way).

      The flight is about ten hours, and so the extra $500 translates to a not ridiculously expensive $50/hour for greater comfort, privacy, better food and service.

      The extra $1000 for the roundtrip upgrade, when added to the $500-1100 coach class fare, comes to very much less than the starting cost of $2500 for a regular business class ticket. I always buy business class this way.

      Amazingly, neither Russia nor Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport charge any type of taxes or fees. That meant that in addition to the fare, there was ‘only’ the staggering $46 in US taxes to be added (not all that long ago, taxes on an international ticket were less than $10 – what extra are we getting in the way of airport services or convenience in return for the massive increase in air travel taxes?).

      Unofficial Financial Issues

      The Russian counter agent in Seattle recognized me when I was checking in for the flight, and when I asked to buy a $500 upgrade to business class and showed her my Visa, she asked me a curious question – ‘Do you have cash?’ I said I didn’t, so she took my Visa card and made a big show of laboriously and reluctantly charging it, and I wondered if perhaps I was missing an opportunity to get a ‘cash discount’, but didn’t test the issue any further.

      However, after boarding the plane, I noticed and listened to a fellow passenger ‘working his charm’ to get upgraded from coach to business class. He asked to be upgraded, and cited vague medical reasons. More convincing was his indicating that he had cash and was prepared to spend it to move into business class. A short while later he was seated in the largely empty business class!

      We spoke and he is apparently an old hand at this game. He told me that he paid $100 in cash to get his business class upgrade ‘under the table’, and interestingly said normally he does a similar transaction when checking in, but, alas, he wasn’t able to check in with the agent who he knows is most receptive to cash offers (not the same agent I checked in with).

      So, it would seem, for the more adventurous, there are opportunities for unofficial cash upgrades. I resolved to try for myself on my return flight.

      At the counter, I had an unexpected result. The ticket agent refused to accept any amount of cash, and refused to upgrade me officially, either. Although the fare rules specifically state that the upgrades can only be purchased when checking in, she refused to sell me an upgrade any which way!

      Undaunted, I tried on the plane. I was quickly and conspiratorially hustled into a galley, where two women stared at me and said, flatly, ‘the price is $200’. I protested, and said ‘the normal price that I paid on the way over is only $100’.

      Upon hearing this, one of the women fixed me with the most hateful stare I have ever experienced, and told me to get lost. I realized that they had made themselves vulnerable to me – by exposing their dishonesty, and not having me buy into it as a co-conspirator, they felt vulnerable and hated me for ‘tricking’ them. I have truly never seen such a malevolent stare on anyone’s face ever before, and hope I’ll never see it again in the future.

      Aeroflot Website(s) and Frequent Flier Program

      Aeroflot have an extraordinary number of different websites. The one with the main US focus is http://www.Aeroflot.com and in addition to this they have a Russian site at http://www.Aeroflot.ru that is available in both Russian and English. This second site has a completely different ‘look and feel’ and has different content. And then, various other regional offices also have their own independent sites – there is a list of them here (this list surprising doesn’t include the .com site!).

      Aeroflot also has a separate site for its Frequent Flier program, ‘Aeroflot Bonus’, in both Russian and English.

      Their frequent flier program is probably only of value to you if you plan on becoming a regular visitor to Russia. The program is not particularly generous, and awards are essentially limited to flights on Aeroflot itself. Similarly, you can’t earn credit for flights on other airlines. Worst of all, miles you earn quickly expire (between 2 and 3 years after each flight), making it difficult for occasional travelers to ever be able to cash in their miles.

      On the positive side of the ledger, they give a 100% bonus for business class travel (and 200% bonus for first class travel). On my Seattle-Moscow flight I earned 8341 points (one per kilometer) plus another 8341 bonus points, a total of 16,682 points. 80,000 points are required for a roundtrip coach class ticket and 120,000 points for business class. In other words, five paid roundtrip coach class fares get you one free; and four paid roundtrip business class fares get you one free.

      Summary

      The good news : The cost of Aeroflot’s business class fare is less than one third of that charged by other airlines between Seattle and Moscow.

      The bad news : Aeroflot’s business class service is barely tolerable. It is lacking in amenities and extras before, during, and after the flight.

      http://www.thetravelinsider.com/2003/0822.htm

  9. Since we are speculating about the cause of the accident, it is a possibility that they were short of fuel. They may not have had any option except to land.

    One of my rules was to arrive over the destination airport with two hours of fuel on board. When you are in trouble the last thing you need is lack of fuel. Some gas hog jets go critical on fuel immediately after take off.

    Fog at the destination airport is the worst thing that can happen to any pilot. Fog can develop over wide areas in only a few minutes. You must divert early to stay alive. Russia, with it’s lack of facilities, would be my idea of a nightmare place to fly.

    One time I flew over the center of Montana. I will never do that again.

  10. I rode Aeroflot many times. I’ve also flown on many other airlines around the world. Its about as no frills as you can get anywhere (so the idea of a budget version of it is pretty funny) – even first class which domestically, was simply joining two econoseats together and putting a big armrest between the seats – and getting slightly better food.

    On the regional flights sometimes the flight crew would come on drunk. Traveling without locked bags or knife-proof luggage was an invitation to theft. The Russian idea of plastic-wrapping the bags prior to flight supported 3 objectives – anti-theft (a slight moral barrier to slicing the the nearly impenetrable plastic shield), anti-dirt (yup – it was plenty dirty in them cargo holds), and keeping the normally crappy bags used from falling apart.

    One thing was for sure – post 9/11, any “black-skin” who would try to hold up a plane with box-cutters would have been mobbed, tarred and feathered if it happened on any Aeroflot flight. All the men, and a few women were frisky enough to take matters into their own hands (which is sort of the attitude you need to come through an Aeroflot flight with some dignity).

  11. Well Kavkaz watcher don’t know what flight you were on but the regional Aeroflot flights I went on were on shiny Boeings. Even the Il-62 I flew on was fine.

    As for wrapping up the bags in plastic, happens before you board any flight anywhere in and out of Russia from Russian airports…even if you are flying KLM or BA….

  12. Budget carrier proposals make sense to me. Just stack them in the isles and make sure all the engines are working when you try to take off.

    • Especially on the isle of Ireland:

      Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-1263905/Ryanair-toilet-charges-phased-in.html?ITO=1490#ixzz0lDhVIh6v

      RyanAir has confirmed that it is pushing ahead with its controversial scheme to charge passengers for use of toilets on its aircraft, meaning spending a penny on a flight will soon cost as much as a pound.

      The no-frills airline is working with Boeing to redesign the cabin and develop coin-operated toilets on 168 of its planes.

      To use the remaining toilet on board, passengers would be forced to part with either £1 or €1 for each visit.

      Stephen McNamara, spokesperson for the airline, told TravelMail: ‘By charging for the toilets we are hoping to change passenger behaviour so that they use the bathroom before or after the flight.

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