Ural Airlines is one of the smaller Russian airlines and I wanted to try them during my time in Russia. The airline has an interesting route network on an all narrow-body fleet. Their A319, A320 and A321 planes go all the way to Beijing and Bangkok from their main hub in Yekaterinburg. The company runs many tag-on flights all over Russia and to neighboring countries.
From the time I had used an OTA until a few days before departure, my booking had been changed at least five times. I ignored the constant changes and was curious what it would settle into. I did not like the new flight times and simply called the call center a day before. A friendly agent (who spoke fluent English) picked up right away and connected me to a specialist to change my booking. However, that specialist didn’t speak a word of English – bummer! I recruited some local help and seconds later I got an email with my new e-ticket. Wow!
Before heading out to the airport, I checked in online and selected my seat on this flight that was completely full. I was surprised how fast the website worked; the English isn’t perfect, but it’s clear enough to understand.
Russian airports aren’t filled with friendly people, but everything is just so efficient and there are never any lines.
The check-in counter was pretty empty despite two full flights leaving at almost the same time – and there were only two agents. Seconds after approaching the counter, I was handed a boarding pass and my bag was tagged. Ural allows just 5kg for a carry-on, but a free 20kg checked bag for any booking.
Security was super-fast (although a confused lady wanted to steal my laptop which clearly wasn’t hers).
The Priority Pass Lounge at St. Petersburg Airport is called ‘Business Lounge’ and has a good selection of drinks and decent food. The WiFi is tough to connect to, but once done it is fast.
Boarding started exactly on time and went quickly; 15 minutes later and everyone was seated. This gave us 15 minutes of waiting time before takeoff.
The seat pitch isn’t great on this flight; the rather tired leather seats have just 28 or 29 inches of legroom. This is OK for a short flight, but for a 6 to 8-hour haul to Bangkok it would be miserable!
Takeoff was exactly on time, too (most Russian airlines are extremely punctual!) and we went into the very rainy and cold winter skies over St. Petersburg. The plane was very hot on the ground and I blamed it on the AC on a restricted capacity. However, it was equally hot during the flight, but keep in mind that everyone was dressed for the Russian winter.
Ural Airlines includes a free non-alcoholic drink and a small sandwich. I was glad I wasn’t hungry and did not eat it, though. Don’t count on this food!
Landing in Yekaterinburg was right on time – no surprise there.