So, Day 3 of Saint Petersburg and the day we flew to Chelyabinsk Russia pretty much were one long day since we didn’t really sleep overnight. Our flight from Saint Petersburg was leaving at 5:30am and we had to be at the airport 2 hours early at 3:30am. The taxi ride was about 40 minutes, so we had to leave at 2:50am. We took showers, packed, and got everything ready and got to bed at 2:00am. We slept until about 2:30am, a half hour. Then we woke up feeling more tired than we did when we went to bed 30 minutes prior. We got the girls up and got them ready, we threw on some clothes and made our way outside with our heavy suitcases and met our same taxi driver Ivan.
Ivan was happy to see us again and he drove us to the Saint Petersburg Pulkovo airport where we would be catching our first flight to Moscow. He talked a lot with Irina asking about our visit and what we liked and didn’t like about Saint Petersburg. After about 35 or 40 minutes he dropped us off at the airport. It was 3:30am and the sun was just starting to rise in the north-northeast. Remember, it doesn’t get completely dark on summer nights this far north.
Saint Petersburg Airport
We made our way through the initial security that is literally at the entrance of the airport in all Russian airports. They x-rayed our luggage and had us walk through a metal detector. Once we got through, we went to ticketing and dropped off our checked luggage. Then we made our way to the second security, which was similar to what we have in USA airports, but not quite as strict. Once we got through security we walked to our gate. It wasn’t too far away and we were able to relax a little bit before boarding our plane.
We realized that we need to board soon, but nobody had called for boarding on our flight yet. So Irina checked with the desk and they notified her that the gate had changed. Lots of passengers had no idea this change was made since it was not announced. We almost missed our flight, but thankfully we barely made it.
Flight from Saint Petersburg to Moscow
We pushed back from the gate almost immediately after we took our seats. I sat by my daughter who sat by the window, while I sat in the middle seat and an older Russian gentleman sat in the aisle seat on my other side. The flight was short, a little less than 2 hours. The service was pretty good, but this was a domestic flight, so the flight attendants only spoke Russian. We were fed a small meal, which consisted of a half sandwich and a bottle of water or tea (my breakfast). I chose the bottle of water.
Of course I fell asleep during the flight and woke up when we started descending into Moscow. We experienced some turbulence why descending, once we broke through the clouds we were flying over a forest and field before approaching and touching down on the runway at Moscow Domodedovo (DME) airport.
Layover in Moscow
Once we deboarded the plane, we did not have to worry about picking up our luggage because it was on its way to our connecting flight that was taking off in 7 hours. We had some time to kill. We made our way out of the terminal to the main airport lobby. From there we dropped off our luggage at luggage sitting and went outside to catch the Aeroexpress train into the city. The train ride was about 45 minutes to one of the main train stations, the Paveletskaya station. We all slept pretty much the whole nonstop train ride. Once we arrived at our station, we stepped off the train and made our way to the metro train, which we only had to take one stop to get to Red Square.
Red Square and the Kremlin
Everything was beginning to look familiar to me as I had visited Red Square and Moscow 12 years earlier. We walked to the entrance of Red Square and lo and behold, the entrance was blocked off with barrier fences. We asked the guard why Red Square was closed, and he informed us that they were setting up for a World Cup Ceremony that Vladimir Putin himself would attend in 2 days.
To say we were disappointed was an epic understatement. We decided to walk around Red Square and the Kremlin to see if we could get to Saint Basil’s Cathedral from the other side. We took advantage of this detour by taking some photos and videos. It’s not everyday you get to walk around the Kremlin, so why not take advantage of it?
Finally, after some good walking, we arrived on the other side, and we were able to get in front of Saint Basil’s Cathedral. This was the main reason of wanting to visit Red Square, so this worked out pretty nicely.
There were a lot of tourists in this area from all over the world. We heard just about every language being spoken. Russia saw a record spike in tourists because of the World Cup.
It was very surreal and a very beautiful experience to be at Red Square again, where 12 years earlier I had officially proposed to my wife, and to be there with kids now was a marvelous experience that money could never buy.
Red Square Mall
After spending some time in Red Square, we were feeling hungry and decided to head into a shopping mall just east of the square. Once inside, I was surprised how similar it was to malls back at home, even many of the same stores. We ate a nice lunch there, and then we knew it was time to head back to the metro station to catch our train back to the airport.
Back to the Airport
We took the same metro, back to Paveletskaya station, and from there we took the Aeroexpress train back to Moscow Domodedovo Airport (DME). We slept again on the train ride and once we arrived at the airport, we grabbed our carry-on luggage from luggage-sitting and made our way to the terminals. We went through security, and then we headed to our gate. We had some time to kill, so we sat in the chairs and relaxed until they called boarding for our flight to Chelyabinsk.
Flight to Chelyabinsk
Our final flight was decent. We were served the same sandwiches that we were served on our first flight to Moscow. I ended up sleeping for most of the flight. I thought by now I would be caught up on the sleep I missed the night before. I woke up as we descended into Chelyabinsk. Once we touched down, I looked out the window at the terminal, and I noticed it was older and more run-down than the Saint Petersburg and Moscow Airports. Now we were in Chelyabinsk, the “real Russia”. (not the tourist version of Russia)
S7 Airlines Review
So, here is my review of S7 Siberia Airlines, or just S7. S7 airlines is part of the One World Alliance just like American Airlines and British Airways, so I was able to plug in my AA Advantage number to earn AA Advantage miles by flying on this flight. We flew on Airbus A319 planes, which are equivalent to the Boeing 737-700 in size.
The good: The airplane was modern and clean. The flight attendants were professional, polite, and well-groomed. We were served a small meal on both of our flights. Check in, and boarding was a breeze.
The bad: There were no business class or first class seats. It was all coach class and the seats were tight and very close with little legroom. There is also that nervousness of flying on a Russian Airliner as Russian airliners have some of the highest plane-crash rates in the world and you are reminded of that statistic every time you hit turbulence or even when the plane powers down its engines to land.
Above all, it was not a bad airliner, just the legroom and the nervousness of flying a Russian Airliner were the biggest issues for me. I would recommend this airline if you are looking to save some money, they are not the cheapest airline, but they are noticeably less expensive than Aeroflot Airlines.
Just be sure to get your affairs in order before flying a Russian Airliner as they do have one of the highest crash records……Just kidding.