Pobeda is an Aeroflot subsidiary that was launched as a 100% LCC in the Russian and European markets last year. The company relies on a brand new Boeing 737-800 fleet from its hub in Yekaterinburg.
While Yekaterinburg is a bit of a sleepy city, the location is excellent – right in-between Asia and Europe. Think of it as a Middle East up north. You can reach most of Europe and North Asia from Yekaterinburg with a 737 single-aisle plane.
Airfares in the domestic Russian market are generally cheap and priced at under $25 per flying hour, but Pobeda often has sales that push this to under $5 per flying hour.
Of course I wanted to try the airline and bought a ticket through the excellent website. The website is fast and works in English as well as in Russian. It came with all the reminder emails and I also had no issue using my American credit card. I only read through the luggage policy, which mentioned 10kg, while half -asleep. Now S7 just a few days earlier had accepted carry-ons up to 10 kg and I assumed that this was now a Russian model.
I went to the airport early and lined up and the friendly (but stern) check-in agent told me that I could check my carry-on but I had to pay 1,500 RUB for my small backpack. I thought there was an error in translation and stepped out of line for a bit (just physically, not literally!)
I re-read the signs and indeed 10kg checked baggage is included, but NO carry-on besides a small purse. Bummer! I had a 12kg carry-on and a 6kg backpack – so what to do? However, this is Russia and everyone (including yours truly) was wearing a warm winter coat with tons of pockets. So this is where most of my backpack items went. I also took out my laptop to carry on-board and consolidated my backpack into my carry-on bag. And – voila – at 10.2 kg, I was good to go just a few minutes later.
Yekaterinburg Airport is brand new and polished and so is the Koltsovo Priority Pass Lounge here. The food is edible too, but the interior design blows most lounges out of the water.
Being Russia, it was no surprise that boarding would be on the minute and given that nobody had any bags to stow, it was also super-fast; a whole 737 was filled to capacity in less than 10 minutes.
The new leather seat and decent seat pitch were much better than on my flight a few days earlier with Ural Airlines.
I found the Pobeda flight attendants to be very pleasant – no bossing over my headphones or even my mobile phone. I’m not sure that they spoke any English, but since there was no service (including no free water) there was precious little chance to interact.
Takeoff and landing were both 5 minutes early. Moscow‘s Vnukovo Airport welcomed us with dark rain and a rather long wait for our bags.
But once this is done, the Aeroexpress gets you into the western part of town in just 30 minutes.