I love free plane tickets. They encourage me to spend time in places I wouldn’t make it to so easily otherwise. I don’t love not being able to decide any details about my travel plans though, which was exactly the case with my latest trip to the Middle East. See, I came over with a group, which meant that the group booked my flights. New York JFK to Tel Aviv via…Kiev? That could only mean one thing…we were flying AeroSvit Ukranian Airlines…
AeroSvit? I’d never heard of AeroSvit before. So I took to the internet to read reviews. And that’s where I saw the horror stories. “Great…,” I thought. Well maybe I’ll have an interesting story to tell about it. And boy, do I ever.
It began at JFK Airport, where I was excited to have arbitrarily been assigned a window seat. My favorite! The Boeing 767 aircraft had a nice 2-3-2 seating arrangement, but I wouldn’t find this out till after we were supposed to have left. Why? Delays. Once on the plane? More delays. In fact, we were delayed for 2 hours before leaving JFK with no explanation. My seatmate fell asleep when they closed the plane door and woke up only to ask, “Are we in the air yet?” Nope.
And remember that window seat I was excited about? Well the window shade was glued shut with a sign that read “Do Not Open.” Of course, I’d get a window that doesn’t open. Of course!
It was 9 hours of flying time from JFK to Kiev, during which there was no movie. Or music. Or entertainment of any kind. I mean, it’s painful enough to not have Audio-Video On-Demand (AVOD) at your seat these days but to have nothing at all? Well at least I could wander the plane with my seat mate. And try and sleep (unsuccessfully).
Speaking of seat mate, my reading light was aimed at her lap. And her reading lap was aimed at the armrest, which means I had to lean over her to read anything!
And then, there was the meal service…
As I was traveling as part of group of young Jews, Kosher meals had been requested on our behalf. (which was totally unexpected at the time). Here’s the thing. The flight attendants didn’t bother to heat them properly. In fact, it came with two sections. The hot portion that was still wrapped in foil and then cool portion that was shrink wrapped. The hot portion was, of course, hot (sometimes excessively so) and the cool portion was, at times, completely frozen!
This implies that they were even worth eating. Dinner was flavorless “Asian chicken,” with pureed eggplant and still-frozen mystery red sauce, bread and water. Breakfast was a plain omelet with some potatoes that seem to have exploded in the oven. The flight attendants literally flung the meals at us (and were quite rude in general).
On the second flight from Kiev to Tel Aviv, while everyone else received hot meals, we received…3 pieces of shrink wrapped fruit. It was absurd!
All the while, the drink selection consisted of water, apple juice, tomato juice, Coke and coffee. That’s it. No other sodas. No booze. All served out of cups that were roughly the size of those tiny Dixie cups you remember from school. What’s more? On that 9 hour flight, they came by with drinks ONCE between meals.
And the drink service was done in the most illogical way. They came around with drinks. Then came around to collect the cups. And then they came around with the meals, once you no longer have anything to drink! Then after the meal, they come around offering water or coffee.
We collectively came up with a new nickname for AeroSvit…AeroShit! I think that sums it up pretty well…
NOTE: My return flight was a considerably better experience, perhaps because I expected it to be just as bad. But we had movies and the food was edible, but we received the same Kosher meal twice! It also seems that AeroSvit has since suspended operations in January 2013 due to bankruptcy.
What’s your worst flight experience?