Air Travel

Many international carriers have flights to Moscow and other Russian cities. Moscow is the most-widely used non-stop destination. To get to other Russian cities, you may have a layover, usually in Moscow or Helsinki. There are other options if you don't want to go through Moscow. Russia's national carrier is Aeroflot. The airline is the biggest and most dependable in Russia, with many Boeings and other world-class planes in its fleet.

It is best to use Aeroflot or one of the few dependable smaller national airlines for travel inside Russia. Small local carriers are not reliable and in many cases use old planes and improperly trained pilots. Luckily, the small airlines are being phased out in favor of the more famous and reliable ones.

Two airlines may operate a connecting flight jointly, so ask whether your airline operates every segment of the trip; you may find that the carrier you prefer flies you only part of the way.

If you're flying as an independent traveler within the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States, a quasi-confederation of states that includes most of the former Soviet Union), it's best to purchase your ticket with a credit card via an agent in your home country or a reputable one in Russia. This will allow you the best chance for refunds if your flight is canceled. Russian airlines have a habit of permitting refunds only at the office at which the ticket was purchased. If you book from abroad, you should reconfirm your reservation in person as soon as you arrive in the country. Buying tickets online could be problematic with a foreign credit card.

In Russia, check-in officially ends 40 minutes before departure. Most airlines allow you to register online now, however, so you can arrive less than 40 minutes before the plane leaves. At St. Petersburg's Pulkovo I, there is a separate check-in for flights to Moscow—take the entrance on the right-hand side of the upper floor of the building.

Smoking is prohibited on all international and domestic flights, but some smaller domestic carriers may flout this policy.

Within Russia, you do not normally need to reconfirm your outbound flight or intra-destination flights.

The major international airports are Sheremetyevo II Airport (SVO), which also handles some domestic flights, and Domodedovo (DME) in Moscow. Pulkovo II Airport (LED) is the international airport in St. Petersburg.

For domestic travel, Moscow has three airports in addition to Sheremetyevo II: Sheremetyevo I (for flights to the north and west), Domodedovo (for eastern destinations and for the carriers British Airways, United Airlines, and Transaero), and Vnukovo (VKO, for southern destinations). In St. Petersburg, there's one airport other than Pulkovo II: Pulkovo I, which handles domestic flights. Even though the departing or arriving airport may be printed on your ticket, double-check this information with your local travel agent.


Aeroflot 1 (888) 340-6400

Rossiya 8 (800) 333-3800

S7 8 (800) 200-0007

Transaero 8 (800) 200-2376

UTair 8 (800) 100-0808

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