BOOKED: Aeroflot, Air Serbia, AZAL Azerbaijan, And Ukraine!

My obsession this year has been reviewing new airlines, and it’s something I’ve found to be indescribably enjoyable. We all have weird hobbies, and trying new airlines has become my latest obsession.

I’ve reviewed a lot of new airlines so far this year, and on Sunday shared the next 13 airlines I want to review.

Well, Tiffany and I have been working on planning a trip, and I’m happy to report that we’ve now ticketed one that will check four of those airlines off the list.

Are you ready to hear about some craziness? To start, here’s the trip on a map:

Crazy-Trip

Details of our upcoming trip

What I love about this trip is that it lets us experience new airlines while also visiting some cool cities we might not otherwise get to. Here’s our routing, and how we booked:

  • Los Angeles to Moscow to Belgrade in Aeroflot in business class for 62,500 Delta SkyMiles
  • Belgrade to New York in Air Serbia business class for 64,000 Etihad Guest miles
  • New York to Baku in AZAL Azerbaijan business class for ~$1,400
  • Baku to Kiev to New York in Ukraine business class for ~$900

Azerbaijan-787

To say I’m excited about this trip would be a severe understatement, as all of these airlines have fascinated me for a while. Typically when I take a trip I have one flight I’m most looking forward to, but I don’t even know which one I’m most excited about on this trip. Based on my perception of things, I suspect Air Serbia will offer the best experience, followed by either AZAL or Aeroflot, and then Ukraine will likely score last. However, I’d love to be surprised.

We’re both also excited to spend some time in Belgrade and Baku. Now here’s to hoping the Azerbaijan visa exemption for passengers flying from New York to Baku is actually a thing, or else we’re in trouble…

Bottom line

I’m super excited about this trip, as it’s in addition to the upcoming flights I have booked in Swiss first class from Zurich to Los Angeles, and in Xiamen Air business class from Seattle to Shenzhen.

Stay tuned, as I have another new airline trip I’m in the process of booking, that I’ll be writing about shortly.

So, which airline are you most excited to read about — Aeroflot, Air Serbia, AZAL, or Ukraine?

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

More articles by lucky »

Comments

  1. Please tell me how it’s possible to fly LAX>DME in business class for 65,000 Delta Skymiles. I don’t see that fare on Delta.com. I look often.

  2. Hopefully you actually spend quality time in the cities (doing non chain-hotel and local food/museums/markets stuff). The last few trip reports both you and Tiffany basically stayed at Sheratons etc and ate at their lounges.

  3. I share Ben’s infectious excitement, even though I am just a spectator on this odyssey. I shall especially be looking forward to reading Tiffany’s impressions.

    A tip for Tiff (and Ben): I really enjoyed wandering around Baku’s old Jewish quarter.

    So no stopover in Kiev?

  4. @Rob The flight is not to DME, it is to Belgrade. I often see flights on Aeroflot to Europe for 62,500 DL miles–only catch is they have higher fuel surcharges relative to other Skyteam carriers.

  5. @Rob — have you tried searching LAX-SVO? Delta, Aeroflot, and other Skyteam members generally serve SVO, not DME, so if you search DME you will likely see few to no options.

  6. I know your goal is to try new airlines, but PLEASE try and spend some time in Belgrade. Amazing city.

  7. i booked Air Serbia JFK-BEG-OTP for $214 RT a.i. Econ sux, but for that price, I’ll deal with it.

  8. In Baku stay at the Four Seasons. It’s close to Fountain Square and the Old City. It’s also close to Little Venice, which is too funny.

  9. Make sure you have not visited Armenia or else Azerbaijan will deny you entry. They take this case very seriously and flipped my passport four times (front to back and back to front x2) just to see if there’s any stamps/visa from Armenia. I came by foot from Georgia to Azerbaijan.

    That was last year.

  10. I’ve head nothing but amazing things about Belgrade as a city (and indeed, the New York Times profiled it in its travel section this past weekend) so hope to see a post about your experience there.

    Try Aerolineas Argentinas J next!

  11. will you just be staying in the lounges and business class or take heed of the “holier than thou” and visit some of the places?

  12. Hi Lucky, cheers on booking UIA. Big fan of your blog. What is your layover time in Kiev?, I’m a local, would be glad to show you our nice (in some ways) city during your layover if it’s long enough. Feel free to reach out!

  13. I read this blog because they REVIEW airlines, lounges and hotels. That is their job. If they have time to enjoy a city, then that is a perk. There are many other sites that review the actual destinations. I’m pretty sure they don’t build in several days in each arrival city.

  14. Wow Sergey, that does sound like outstanding service. I can’t say I’ve heard of that on any other airline!

  15. As I posted before, I was really impressed by Aeroflot service. Their hard product is not great (2x2x2, but lie flat seats), but FAs are amazing and attentive. Before the flight I wasn’t sure that Russians could deliver exceptional service, but many times during the flight I thought I was on SQ flight. For instance, I woke up in the middle of the night and drank a water and immediately FA appeared and offered something – water, tea or something to eat. Amazing.

  16. I just did the NY-Baku roundtrip on AZAL and highly recommend getting a transit visa ahead of time (assuming you’ll be staying for less than 3 days). Azeri visa requirements change frequently and are not very well communicated. Also, immigration takes a LONG time at Baku- they are very thorough. (ditto the above poster re: Armenia. They will not let you into the country if you’ve been.) The transit visa process was relatively straightforward using a third party agency based in DC. As an airline, AZAL was good but the service going from NY-Baku was much, much better than the service in the opposite direction. They fly brand-new Dreamliners, which was great.

  17. @Lucky & @Tiffany,

    Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to this Trip-report. Wondering in how may day you will be of this time.
    Seem to be obsessed with NYC/JFK.
    I find to some extent strange that all these carriers are in to NYC/JFK, as this is probably a high-cost airport to land and take off, or is this just the US melting pot ?

  18. Having lived and worked in Central Asia for many years, I would highly recommend that you arrange for your visa to enter and stay in Azerbaijan in advance as the process as the airport can be long and may result in you being denied entry. I even had a few problems with my diplomatic passport. That being said, Baku is an interesting city so do take a tour with a knowledgable guide – interesting background is that Azerbaijan produced over 50 percent of worlds oil in 1900 and the Nobel family made great wealth through oil and trade in Azerbaijan. The Four Seasons is nice.

    PS- Saw you are looking to take Air Astana – good hard product, soft just ok. Company is 49% owned by BAE Systems (British Aerospace). Would not suggest you plan on a short connection as weather and other conditions can cause problems. Almaty is nice for a short visit (when weather is good) but not a lot to do – lived there for 7 years.

  19. On a recent flight from VNO to KBP, I was Amazed at the newly constructed airport @ KBP..
    IF I didn’t know better, it felt like modern version of a recentLy built US field, some higher end shopping as well..
    Interesting note, spotted a bevy of Israeli 767’s about SIX parked on a side apron…
    UKE airlines was decent on my short trip, the flight attendants had a cute Russian, oops Ukrainian accent, in English and tried to be attentive and pleasant …..
    Kyiv was found to be an active living city, with beautiful Slavic women despite the conflict
    Some miles to the south…many memorials grace the central square of the fallen, some quite young…but seem determined to resist…..what ever happened to the MH 17 tragedy….
    Silence is deafening…..

  20. That’s great! I especially appreciate that you include the Aeroflot transfer experience in Moscow. Sometime Aeroflot has tempting business class offers Europe-Asia via Moscow, but I never had the courage to book it…

  21. Please let me know about the AZAL routing and visa issue! Im planning this trip in May 2017! I also want to hit Belgrade, so we will see. This trip sounds awesome!

  22. @ken
    Totally agree. These cookie cutter hotels they stay at are just hideous.
    Please try and spend at least two hours a day tiff exploring the sites and btw didnt an aeroflot plane crash years ago cause the captain let his son fly the plane??????

  23. I have only flown Ukraine in Y, but I was actually pretty impressed. Going in expecting the worst, I found the product, and the staff itself, to be excellent.

  24. Looking forward to the reports, and my only disappointment is there is no intra-europe Air Serbia Business Class review.

    Tiffany’s reporting will definitely add a different dimension, so I am looking forward to that as well.

  25. @claus There’s nothing to worry. I fly Aeroflot a lot (like 50 flights per year) and their service is always amazing and the staff is always friendly. The transfer experience is easy as could be. The airport is full of English signage and English speaking personal. Also terminals D and E are brand new and very well designed. You won’t have any problems.

  26. “On a recent flight from VNO to KBP”… not sure about this comment…
    They are no more Russia > ukraine and Ukraine > russia flights anymore since more than one year.

    Reach russia from ukraine is impossible now, need to transfer in minsk, chisinau, istanbul, baku or warsow (for the most convenient connections).

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