S7 Airlines are Russia’s largest domestic airline. With a route network expanding from Madrid in the west to Tokyo in the east, they cover almost half the globe using solely narrowbody aircraft.
Their head office is located on the grounds of Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, and it’s from here I’ll be flying with them for the shuttle flight up to St Petersburg.
Moscow to St Petersburg is one of the busiest air routes in the world, with over 120 flights a day between the two cities. The route’s also highly competitive, with eight airlines plying the skies between Moscow and St Petersburg, which has driven down prices such that it’s possible to fly the 415 mile route for just £20 on the cheapest tickets.
I arrived at Domodedovo early in the morning for the 8am flight. This is far from the first flight of the day – flights operate this route 24 hours a day.
There’s security in Russia to even get inside the terminal building. Once this is cleared I headed across to the S7 check in area. Even though I had a mobile boarding pass, a physical copy was needed to get through security, such that they have these boarding pass printers located just inside the check in hall.
Boarding pass in hand, I headed upstairs to departures to go through my second security screening.
I headed to the S7 lounge which is available to passengers travelling on an economy comfort fare.
The lounge is pretty small and basic, but it includes the usual amenities such as breakfast and coffee.
I took a couple of croissants and coffee.
It was soon time to head to the gate. Like many departures from Domodedovo, we were boarding via a remote stand requiring a bus across the airport.
After a short bus ride, I was barged out of the way by dozens of passengers who raced to the aircraft. After travelling in Russia for a while you get used to this mad rush and just stand to one side and let them go.
My ride today was an Airbus A319, originally delifvered to the American carrier Northwest Airlines back in 1999, before being leased to S7 Airlines in 2006.
I was welcomed onboard by the smiling cabin crew and headed for my seat.
S7’s cabin is very similar to most other short haul carriers. The seats are pretty comfortable although legroom is a little on the tight side.
Doors were closed and we fired up our engines for the taxi out to the runway.
We took off above a snowy Moscow, making a sharp left turn on track towards St Petersburg.
Once airborne, the snack service started. All passengers get a snack and a drink onboard. This morning it was a sandwich which was relatively edible compared to the fare on offer on most Russian flights.
As I mentioned earlier, S7’s route network is impressive. They have hubs at Moscow and Novosibirsk, and flights from Madrid to Tokyo.
S7’s fleet is a mix of Airbus, Boeing and Embraer short haul aircraft. They operate both the A320neo series and the 737-MAX8 – the latter currently grounded however.
After a flight time of just over an hour, we commenced our descent towards St Petersburg. The clouds broke up to reveal a beautiful morning in St Petersburg, if a little on the chilly side.
We touched down on the snow covered runway right on time, and taxied into the terminal at Pulkovo Airport.
Overall I was very impressed with S7 Airlines. They’re one of Russia’s larger players, and offer a perfectly acceptable standard in exchange for a fair price. Their membership of the OneWorld alliance cements that value – meaning it’s possible to earn in the BA Executive Club with them too.