Whatever that means “a normal life”? But most definitely it is time to go back to Austria and today I will take my flights out of Irkutsk and via Moscow back to Vienna… I don’t know if many of you know, but I actually was afraid to fly not long ago… every little hiccup made me grab my seat, clinching into it and being on high alert for the next five minutes, I really didn’t like flying… the first thing that helped was a colleague from university in Krems… she, used to be a flight attendant and told me that turbulences are normal on every flight and that she had plenty of which but that she wouldn’t get nervous until this one flight when turbulences got so strong that the shaking of the plane caused the overhead compartments to open up and all the hand luggage was falling out… back then I decided for myself that until this happens there is no reason to be really worried, because she apparently survived even that. Another thing that really made me lose the last bit of my flight troubles was when I had a project in Germany and was flying in and out every week… now I am already so far that I won’t get tensed until flight attendants are getting scared 😉
The Aeroflot experiences… now given my past fear of flying it doesn’t help that I once read that Aeroflot is the one airline with the most crashes in history… I don’t know if this is still true or if there are some restrictions to this statement but being or having been afraid of flights it doesn’t give you the best feeling of all 😉 well, no way around Aeroflot if I wanted reasonable flight times in Russia for that day…
Bernie had warned me via Whatsapp that the runway in Irkutsk was similar to the streets… I didn’t know if he referred to Russian streets, which were actually quite good, or to Kyrgyz mountain streets, or to the absence of streets at all, like in Mongolia 😉 …turned out he probably meant Kazakh streets, not as good as the Russian ones but also not a real headache. The take-off hence was a bit bumpy and when this happens I still ask myself if wheels that get damaged during take-off can withstand the landing which, I assume, is much more demanding for wheels… more interesting than the runway was the descend to Moscow. The captain was flying a zigzag course… left, right, left, right… I almost felt like on one of the bad roads again, when we were trying to avoid potholes, but I’m quite sure there weren’t any 😉
The annoying thing on Russian airports are not the streets but… it is the information provided for your flights, or to be more precisely, the lack of info provided: in Irkutsk for example, when I was checking the screen for my flight to Moscow I couldn’t find it… I think it was even all written in Cyrillic, but that was not a problem anymore, I just couldn’t find any flight to Moscow… I went to the information desk and asked, she pointed at some “Sherem-something“, and I said “No, I fly to Moscow”. But apparently sometimes they put the name of the city and sometimes they put the name of the airport, without any indication of the city… hm… well, again I must say that the requests to the information desk could probably be reduced drastically if they found at least some consistency in their info, ideally with a focus of the destination city, as an airport’s name in Moscow might not be known to many of the passengers departing from Central or East Russia… I mean, not that the two ladies at the helpdesk had had apparent time constraints to answer requests but… well, non-efficiency hurts a bit from time to time and today I will go back to “normal life”, which is supposed to be more efficient than holiday life 😉 …but a real info-deficiency I experienced in Moscow, Sherem-something, which is supposed to be the biggest airport in Russia… usually in transit you have an info screen on several points on your transit-journey on the airport… in Sherem-something I found one screen sometime in between, but didn’t really pay attention because I could walk in one direction only, anyway… at the first junction I had to decide between gates DEF and ABC… hm… no idea! No screen, no information desk, nothing L …out of my stomach I decided to try DEF… after 5min walk and one train that brought me to the terminals I had the second decision to take D or EF? At first I couldn’t find a screen either but then I saw one a little down the floor and went there… my excitement was too early as the screen was turned off or was not working, in any case it was black… I had passed a security check and didn’t even know if I would be able to go back if I had taken a wrong decision, I also got the exit stamp in my passport so what if I had to make a detour and walk back? …do immigration again? Well, I decided that if the directional info is so bad on such a big airport it cannot be my fault and they should deal with it… although statistics would suggest to take the direction with more gates, i.e. EF, to increase chances, I opted for gate D… and to my surprise, I was right 😉 …all in all it was a 28min journey to get to Terminal D, so people who do not take the right decisions by chance would really lose time here, and that can be fatal if you wanna catch a transit flight with time constraints!
But what Aeroflot really does in a exemplary manner is giving you the feeling that they really care… one could also think that they don’t really believe a lot in their passengers’ capabilities in terms of logic and common sense… but as much as Bernie is the diplomat, I’m the optimist and thus want to believe that they just care very much about our safety… the following statements will accompany you on your way to, from and between the aircrafts: “Please be careful when walking down the air stairs” or “If you step out from the bus that brings you to your aircraft you will find yourself in an area of increased danger, please be especially careful” or “Don’t leave your children unattended!” => not your luggage, your children 😉
Well, 14h of travelling, two flights, 8h on the plane, one border… I arrived back home 😉