There’s good news and bad news. And more bad news. The bad news is that my Transaero overnight flight from JFK to Moscow was delayed five hours. We didn’t board until 1:45 am. The good news, for me, was that I was upgraded. Way upgraded – to first class. My first first-class experience ever. (The flight was basically empty – I counted the business-class seats: 5 out of 60 were occupied.) The other bad news? Because we departed so late, I was asleep for most of my first first-class adventure. But I put up a good fight to experience some of the amenities on Transaero, a Russian airline that launched a direct-service flight from JFK to Moscow on October 29th. Transaero also made waves this month by introducing the first-ever direct Miami-Moscow service. So I was eager to see what the airline was all about – and a little bit nervous about my first trip to the Motherland.
My experience began nicely enough. There are only 11 pod-like seats and tons of space in “Imperial Class”—a staggering amount of space actually—and each passenger is given a Transaero zip-up fleece and slippers, which was sort of like Christmas. Upon boarding, I was offered a glass of Veuve and the most delicious fruit tart I have ever put in my mouth. Then the whole experience sort of plateaued.
On the Boeing 747-400 jet, the individual movie screens did not work, even though flight attendants passed out personal multimedia players. Because it was so late, I opted for a braindead movie, Did You Hear About the Morgans?, which then did not play (the message I received: Copy Protected Video File). So I thought I would just go to bed. The fully-flat seat wasn’t—I’m not really complaining—the most comfortable. The ornately designed pillows were flat and lacking cushion. I woke up in the middle of the night, deciding to have some dinner. The menu was extensive. I went with beef, and when my flight attendant said, “Enjoy your meal,” he curtsied and walked away. Yeah, he curtsied. Cute. Considering I hadn’t eaten in 8 hours, I devoured the food and dreamed of fruit tarts in a land far away.
I can’t blame the airline for trying. It’s muscling its way into the international scene, competing with favorites like Emirates, Continental, and the ever-so-popular Aeroflot. But if the only thing worth the first-class ride was the fruit tart, Transaero may need to step up fast. At least the service was memorable.
And then we landed in Russia…