Done so, I decided to get another Aeroflot ticket from Shanghai to Vienna, this time business class. I usually don’t fly business class, because the investment seems to be too high compared to the added value. Lufthansa offers economy tickets at around EUR 1200 return, business at around EUR 3500. Aeroflot changed my mind tough, economy EUR 800, business EUR 1500 for early birds, EUR 1800 if you book just in time.
I am disappointed in many perspectives, but acknowledge the that flying is anyway a tedious, hassle some, irritating and time wasting necessity of modern life, and its by no means easy to make the traveler feel comfortable. Read why:
1. Flight time: between 10 and 30% longer on the road.
A direct economy flight from Shanghai to Munich lasts 11 hours, including a 1 hour journey to the airport and a 2 hour (security) check-in and a 2 hour drive to Linz, that sums up to approximately 16 hours from door to door.
A flight from Shanghai to Moscow lasts about 8 hours, transfer time and a second (security) check-in between 3 and 6 hours, 3 hours from Moscow to Vienna, everything else as above, that sums up to approximately 19 to 22 hours from door to door.
2. Newspapers: apart from a single Moscow Daily English newspaper only Russian print is offered to passengers. It just feels not right to have no paper for the take off period. I enjoy musing about news when high in the air.
3. Business lounge: both business lounges in terminal F and E of Moscow airport are rather Chinese preposterous in style and badly maintained compared to Lufthansa lounges in Frankfurt or Munich. The food selection is poor, WIFI doesn’t work, but PC terminals are provided.
4. Vienna Airport: it has always been a national disgrace, this airport. Guests, who landed in Vienna during the last few years, thought they had arrived in Moldavia, if they would have not seen the landscape passing beneath them some minutes before stepping into a building that can only be compared with Vienna’s old southern train station, which looks like an Albanian hospital. Desolate in maintenance, outdated in style and depressing in mood. Compared to Munich airport the new Vienna sky link terminal, that wasted 900 million Euros taxpayer’s money for its construction is still no match. Although the expensive facelift created a quite pleasing look and feel, it seems that only a mask has been put on an ugly face. Beneath all remains the same. Staff as a matter of fact reminds me of Moscow, with such a poor work ethic, the client is left irritated; people get lost due to poor indication of pathways and corridors; I followed the indications and ended up at a staircase and a closed elevator with a trolley full of bags, before me another group of business people changing direction like hunted rabbits, unable to find their check in counters; the walking distance from the rental car return to the terminal is too long; it seems that everything has been done to avoid the traveler’s convenience.
5. Vienna airport business lounge: guess what? the business lounge closes 22:30. I was close to ask the Austrian Aeroflot ground staff, if we were at the amateur airfield in some provincial backwater or in the 10th largest city of Europe. I got a voucher for the NH hotel across the parking lot. So I had to walk back all the way I had come to find a flight crew waiting room, in similar shape as a Moscow airport lounge, where a couple of South African passengers were boozing on their self-brought whiskey.
6. Hygiene: Aeroflot business class seats are not cleaned after a long haul flight. In the gaps between seat and armrest, in the slits between remote control buttons and armrest, everywhere you find the remains of prior meals and most likely dried human body fluid.
7. Shape of planes: if flush buttons in toilets or business class head rests come off their designated position, the LOST brainwashed traveler hears a red alert siren and takes an imaginative journey through the engine, where screws and bolts are coming off, too. An emergency landing in Moscow on the route from Shanghai to Vienna, where we had to be pulled in by a truck due to front wheel suspension problems and lost more than an hour on the roll field surrounded by firemen and emergency vehicles doesn’t really put anything in contrary of this assumption.
8. Russian work ethics: tell me if you have found them. It seems that even though Russia has had 20 years to recover from a destructive socialist system and people thus had 20 years to pick up a different attitude towards life, nothing has changed. People are rude and surely not service oriented. Words like please or thank you come hard, if at all. People pick up their work, even if on duty, only if long queues have formed. Vienna airport has much in common with Moscow in this regard.
9. Passport control: the shutters are down, when people get of a plane and reach the passport control barriers. Only after some incomprehensible murmuring the staff from the transfer desk informs the border control officials, who then slowly get to their place to reluctantly, start to check passports from non-Russian nationals. Reluctance seems to be the main companion in Russian professional life. Alas you are an oligarch.
10. Smiling attendants: A lot to complain about, but then again, good value for my money. Business class flight attendants serve meals with an irresistible smile and the first thing they do when the client gets on board is serving a glass of champagne to ask for your name and introduce themselves as your private attendant.