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Travel from Kiev to Moscow with possible layover in Riga

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Dec 10th, 2012, 08:50 AM
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Travel from Kiev to Moscow with possible layover in Riga

Also posted this on Europe forum, but it requests mostly info about airlines and airports, so posting it here as well. Thanks for any help you can provide.

Three of us are going on the Viking cruise of the Black sea from Odessa to Kiev. From there we want to make a stop in Moscow. Need to figure out which of many options to select.

Orbitz lists 4 carriers with direct flights on that route--Aeroflot, Aerosvit, S7, and Ukraine. Does anyone have experience with any of these carriers in general and particularly on this route to give me advice on which to choose? My research on some airline review websites suggests that Aerosvit is the worst of the bunch, Ukraine a bit better, especially on this route, S7 and Aeroflot best of the options. Does that comport with any personal experiences out there?

Another search turned up Air Baltic, the Latvian carrier, which is not rated highly (opinions on that also desired) but has lower rates for your misery and offers us a very interesting possibility--an 8 and 1/2 hour layover in Riga. DH was born in Riga and we've recently begun to think of going there. Could be a golden opportunity. Problem with this is determining how much time we could actually spend in the city with such a layover. Looks like a cab ride to city might take as little as 15 min. each way/ If that's really true and we arrive on time (again, opinions on Air Baltic performance sought) it sounds like we could work it out. Does anyone know of any restrictions the airline might put on such layovers? We used to do it a lot out of AMS, but AMS and Riga may have different rules on such things. Would there be anything prohibiting us from leaving the airport during the layover? Is security at the airport awful such that we might not be able to get through in an hour or so, further cutting into our tour time?

Finally if flying proves problematic, there is a 14+ hour train ride without changes between the two cities. Has anyone here done that? The bahn.de site seems to say that it's only 2nd class and doesn't show any info about sleeping arrangements. Do you actually sit up the entire night? Is there another site I should consult? Raileurope provides no info at all.

Sorry, lots of questions but answers to any of them would be very much appreciated. Thanks.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
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Dec 10th, 2012, 02:44 PM
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For rail info check www.seat61.com
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Dec 11th, 2012, 03:47 AM
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I would not hesitate to book S7 as first choice, followed by Aeroflot.

I've been to Riga twice from Moscow, the taxi transfer is really about 15 mins and the city is pretty compact and easy to walk around.
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Dec 11th, 2012, 11:28 AM
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Thanks Kathie, the seat61 info is so much more informative.

Odin, thanks for the rec on S7 and Aeroflot. The on-line recs I read for S7 were quite high as well. Could be the winner. Also appreciate the confirmation that it is only about 15 min airport to city center in Riga. I'd sure like to convince DH that that is the real ticket for us.
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Dec 14th, 2012, 11:08 AM
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We've flown Air Baltic from Berlin to Vilnius and it was fine. No problems.
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Dec 15th, 2012, 03:43 AM
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Thanks Marija. Score another point for me in my uphill battle here.
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Dec 15th, 2012, 01:32 PM
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I flew Air Baltic last year from Riga to Belgrade with no problems. Highly recommend taking a look at Riga. Start here for my TR with photos: http://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com/...a-art-nouveau/

I also traveled Vilnius to St. Petersburg by train in 2004. The train was fine, but crossing the border was a bit of a pain.
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Dec 15th, 2012, 06:19 PM
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One more +1 on Air Baltic. Flew them from Tallinn to Riga a couple years back -- perfectly fine. Nothing remarkable. Of course, a few anecdotal data points isn't definitive.

I don't have my detailed notes, but I also recall getting to/from the center of Riga was fast and inexpensive, with plenty of taxis waiting at the airport. Riga itself has a lot of beauty -- you might even choose to stay an extra night?

So, I guess I'm just echoing Odin and thursdaysd...
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Dec 16th, 2012, 02:38 AM
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SelfPropelled, Not just echoing, helping to reach critical mass. Thanks.
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Dec 21st, 2012, 11:13 AM
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Joining the chorus for a positive experience on Air Baltic. Wouldn't hesitate to fly them again if the opportunity presented itself.
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Feb 24th, 2013, 02:11 AM
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I'm not sure if you already went on your trip but I just ran into this, either way I will post for anyone's future reference. I work every 6 weeks in Russia and travel extensively through their former republics.
I have flown all these carriers you mention extensively.
From Kiev to Moscow is an easy flight so no need to worry about a horrible airline since it is a very short flight. Some tips to consider:
Aeroflot offers 23kg free weight as opposed to everyone else's standard 20kg. They are modernizing their fleet and are better than just a few years ago.

Air Baltic is a low cost carrier and they nickel and dime you to no end including check in baggage, weight limit on carry ons most of the time and most of the time they check the number of pieces you are carrying on at the gate and sometimes weigh them. They usually tag your carry on luggage at check in. They also charge for priority check in and even web check in. If you are fine with all this nickel and dime stuff then it is a good carrier, very modern fleet and friendly staff. The transfer through Riga airport is a cinch. It is a small airport and can easily make it with a one hour connection time or even less.

S7 is not bad at all, very efficient, however there is no leg room in their seat configuration but still offer a free meal. Most of their fleet are Airbus 319/320 on the short routes. I fly them all the time to Siberia. 20kg weight allowance and they'll turn a blind eye up to 22kg for free. No probs with carry ons.

Aerosvit/Ukraine International are usually doing code/share for the same route. They are ok not great but not bad at all. So my best advice is to get the lowest price available and take Aeroflot if you have baggage weight issues. Be aware of how much your ticket will cost you in the end if you do decide to fly on Air Baltic.
Aeroflot only flies into Sheremetyevo Airport while the other carriers mainly fly to Domodedovo and a few flights to Vnukobo. Aerosvit had a lot of flights into Sheremetyevo but they got banned for a while. I find the most convenient airport to fly into is Domodedovo as they have fast immigration and aeroexpress train is the closest to the terminal. Vnukobo the forever to go through their bureaucratic procedures and may get stuck in line for up to an hour or more. Aeroexpress is close but need to do the most walking out of the 3 airports.
I hope this helps and if you already took your trip I hope you enjoyed it and maybe post your feeback on what you did.

Cheers
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