Good morning from Kiev! Well, our crazy ~10 days of shuttling back and forth across the Atlantic on new airlines is slowly coming to an end, so I figured I’d share another “10 pictures” installment about our most recent flight.
I’ve already written about our experiences on Aeroflot, Air Serbia, and Azerbaijan. Unfortunately the last portion of our trip is probably the least glam, as we’re flying from Baku to Kiev to New York on UIA (Ukraine International Airlines).
I’ve been intrigued by Ukraine’s Kiev to New York flight for a while, so am excited to finally try it (when this post publishes we’ll hopefully be in the air between Kiev and New York).
But I figured I’d also report briefly on Ukraine’s 737 business class product.
Our flight from Baku to Kiev departed super early, at 6:15AM. While that might seem like an early departure, the plane actually comes from Aktau, Kazakstan, so the people starting there have an even earlier start.
This flight was operated by one of Ukraine’s fairly new 737-800 aircraft, which is one of the more modern planes in their fleet.
Business class was pretty standard for an intra-Europe flight, meaning it was simply economy with a blocked middle seat. On our recent Aeroflot 737 business class flight we were delighted to find they had “real” business class seats, but unfortunately that’s far from the industry standard within Europe.
Nonetheless the legroom was decent enough, and I was happy to see that the seats weren’t slimline, so they were actually comfortable to sit in.
Other than that, the experience exceeded my expectataions.
Ukraine offers pillows and blankets, as well as eyeshades and earplugs.
There were pre-departure beverages served in glassware.
What was a bit odd was that the flight attendant offered us “lunch” (as she described it), despite the flight departing at 6AM.
Service began with a drink of choice, and I selected a coffee. While I liked the coffee cup and cute chocolate that came with it, unfortunately the coffee itself was powdered. Bleh!
The food was quite good, though. Service began with mixed nuts, which is a bit odd at this hour of the morning.
Then there was a starter tray with fresh fruit, a plate with cold cuts and cheese, and some baklava. I was also offered a roll and a croissant.
Later the main course was brought out, which consisted of a pretty good omelet. The other option was chicken with vegetables.
The crew was friendly and attentive. All the flight attendants were women in their 20s, and they were all sweet and charismatic.
There was no in-flight entertainment, though the views out the window kept me occupied for much of the flight.
The one part of this flight that was unfortunate was how long it was. The distance between Baku and Kiev is ~1,150 miles, so even with headwinds, that’s ordinarily a flight that would take 2hr30min. However, this flight is blocked at 3hr50min, with a flight time of 3hr30min.
That’s primarily because of the airspace that UIA avoids, so our actual flown distance was more than 25% further than the direct distance. So when I booked the flight I was thinking to myself, “oh, it’s a quick ~1,100 mile hop,” and hadn’t thought “oh, I’ll be sitting on the plane for 4hr30min from boarding till deplaning.”
All things considered I enjoyed our flight on UIA though. Their shorthaul business class product is at least as good as what you’ll find on Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa, etc. However, the pre-flight service is virtually non-existent. There’s nowhere to pull up your itinerary online, no way to check-in online, it’s tough to get ahold of the airline, etc. The ground experience in Kiev is also quite unpleasant, but more on that later.
I’m excited to report back on our experience in Ukraine’s longhaul business class product!