Flight report on Pobedas Inaugural Flight VKO-VOG-VKO

    eielef

    Новичок
    Hello everyone. Nice to meet you. I'm living now in Moscow, i'm an aviation enthusiast and I write in some other forums. I wanted to share my experience on the first flight of Pobeda, between Moscow Vnukovo and Volgograd, and the return the following day.
    Sorry I can't write in Russian. I can't even speak it!
    Flight: Pobeda DR-181
    Route: Moscow Vnukovo – Volgograd Gumrak (VKO-VOG)
    Date: 01DEC2014
    Scheduled time: 1050-1240. Scheduled duration: 1h50m
    RDT: 1219 (Take Off UUWW RWY 24).
    RAT: 1240 (Landing URWW RWW 11). Real Duration: 1h21m
    Aircraft: Boeing 737-8MA(WL) (MSN 43662 / LN 5119 / First Flight 03OCT2014) VQ-BTC
    Seat: 10F – Economy
    Pobeda is the new Dobrolët, which was Russia’s first Low Cost airline. Dobrolët had a brief existence mainly because of political problems.
    Pobeda, that means "Victory", first appeared in the market on Nov. 11th. Airlineroutes publish this information two days later in its useful daily e-mails, and 5 minutes after the e-mail I had already bought a ticket on the maiden flight.
    Pobeda’s website is only in Russian, and is quite incomplete, though buying my ticket was easy. As being a Low Cost they were offering me at all moments to pay in advance for luggage. I had no luggage (as I was flying only for one night).
    The ticket costed 999p (20USD) each way, and plus taxes the total amount paid was 2800p (about 56USD).
    Flight departs from Vnukovo Airport, and I found a bus (45M) that goes from my house to the airport for less just 100p (2USD). It took the bus about 30 mins to reach the Airport, but I arrived quite early.
    The flight was to Volgograd, a very important historical and cultural city. The only thing I regret was that I went for just 24hs, and there were many things that I would have done if I had more time.
    As being an inaugural flight of an airline I thought it would be somehow different. It wasn’t. There was no celebration, no diploma, no welcome by firefighters, nothing interesting really. I felt like an ordinary flight actually.
    Though I saw a big number of reporters in both airports and even on the plane. Plus some spotters!.
    Route between MOW and VOG is just 900km (1h45m block time). There are many airlines offer the same route, from all Moscow Airports (DME, SVO and VKO). Volgograd is not a touristic destination, as Sochi or Anapa, but it is a fine and nice one-day destination.

    I love Vnukovo, mainly because it is small and has some order (lacking in DME) and you don’t have to walk that much (as in SVO). Things work and fast. VKO is the smallest of Moscow Airports. Most of the airlines there are russian, though there are a few flights from LH, TK and even RB. There are also some flights from former USSR countries, as Air Armenia, Air Baltic or Georgian Airways.


    Check in was really fast, and I immediately went through security, but it was also fast. I had 90 minutes to kill so I visited Burger King. 11am is a bad time, because its late for breakfast and early for lunch. Just ordered a meal, and kept waiting until boarding was announced.

    I turned on my computer, without wifi connection, and first page that opened (it was left so from earlier that day) had a nice advertisement:

    Some journalists in the airport.

    Boarding was smartly organised (for Russian standards). Two lines, Row 1 to 16 and Row 17 to 32. The first line boarded one bus, the second line another. Both buses together to a remote position, and the first bus was parked close to the front door and the other to the rear door. It was easier boarding (because Russians have a tradition for taking too many pictures, and taking too long for taking out their coats, organising their hand luggage, meanwhile normal passengers are waiting in the apron during a snow storm…).
    We arrived to the VQ-BTC, a one month old B738WL. It might be its maiden flight!.


    I wanted to be the FIRST to board, and I managed it running from the apron to the stairs. I was the first passenger to board this airline!
    A male flight attendant was surprised as he saw me entering running!

    Lately, the aircraft was filled with 140 passengers. My row (10) was completely full.


    Flight attendants gave a short welcome message. They are all young and pretty, and they looked excited on their first day of work. They were friendly at all times.

    Pitch on this aircraft is regular, though reclination is not available. Also no IFE is offered, nor in-flight magazine. Just a safety card. Not even a sick bag.


    The aircraft had been the whole night in the apron so it had some snow over it. As safety measures require, it was washed with ice-removal liquids prior to start taxing.


    Transero is the queen of this airport, with a quite diverse fleet.


    VKOs take offs are mostly done from RWY 24, and landings are done at RWY 01. Is not a bright idea to have two runways in an X shape (but it’s Russia!).

    Took off was almost 30 minutes late, but we arrived on time, as the block time is a bit exagerated (they say 1h50 for 1h20 flight).
    After leaving Moscow we saw the normal clouds that never leave the city. Clouds filled of toxic gasses if I may add (being a heavy smoker, Moscow air is worse than smoker lounges).

    Rows 1 and 2 were full of journalists. They stood up and started filming, interviewing the crew and passengers. They asked questions such as: What you think of this airline? Would you flight with them again? Are you afraid of flying? What are you going to do in Volgograd? How do you like that city? I can’t answer those questions after 10 minutes in the air! Let me first arrive to the destination.


    Pobeda allows you to have all electronic equipment on while onboard, even during take off (if they are switched to Airplane Mode).
    Life vests are stored close to the lights command. Haven’t seen that before.

    Being a Low Cost Airline no food is offered, not even as in the Buy on Board regime. Though, water was offered free of charge.

    Landscape changed and become a bit greener. Soon, we were flying to Volga River, the longest in Europe, that reaches the Caspian Sea next to Astrakhan.


    Soon, we landed at Volgograd’s 2300m/7580ft runway 11.

    Long taxi in TXY “C” and we saw some old trucks at the JetFuel station.


    And finally we arrived to Gumrak Airport, in the Город-герой Волгоград (Heroic City of Volgograd).

    Gumrak airport has three building. The oldest is the international terminal, the smallest (yellow) is the domestic arrivals terminal, and the grey (biggest) is the domestic departures terminal. In the old building there were many journalists waiting for our flight.

    We left the plane using only one stair, and it took a while to get to the bus and later to drive those 50m to the terminal (again: why don’t we just WALK!?). No jetways are available in the airport. This small terminal has some taxi stands
    and a rental car office.

    Few seconds later I was already in the street, looking for the bust to Volgograd Downtown. Bus number 6 drives you in less than 40 minutes for just 15p (0,30USD).

    Volgograd

    Volgograd is a mid sized city (1Mio), and is the 12th biggest of Russia. It was previously called Stalingrad, and it was where the biggest battle on 2WW took place. There are two important museums which are considered as must see.
    My hotel was in Профсоюзная (Profsoyuznaya street), just 2 minutes walk from the MetroTram station with the same name.

    As soon as I arrived, just took the MetroTram to Mamaev Kurgan, a small hill downtown with a beautiful view of the city, and some impressive monuments to those fallen on the 2WW, which were 850,000 nazis (Germans, Romanian, Hungarians and Italians) and 500,000 soviets. May this be offered to those people who died in a very unfair war.
    PS: Not all this photos belong to me.



    The following morning I visited the Stalingrad Museum, impressive one. For just 2USD you can rent the audioguide in English or German.



    From the Museum I walked to Komsomolskaya Ave. where I took bus 6 back to the airport. It took about 25 minuted to reach the Airport Terminal.
    Flight: Pobeda DR-182
    Route: Volgograd Gumrak - Moscow Vnukovo (VOG-VKO)
    Date: 02DEC2014
    Scheduled time: 1320-1505. Scheduled duration: 1h45m
    RDT: 1332 (Take Off URWW RWY 29).
    RAT: 1503 (Landing UUWW RWW 01). Real Duration: 1h31m
    Aircraft: Boeing 737-8MA(WL) (MSN 43662 / LN 5119 / First Flight 03OCT2014) VQ-BTC
    Seat: 12A – Economy
    It was snowing when i entered the grey building of VOG Airport. Police was busy as another S7 flight was going to depart, and too many passengers were trying to get to the security controls at the same time. Check in took a while, as most of the people hadn’t paid for their luggage and they had to go to an office and pay, fulfil a form, and return to the check in desk to get their boarding pass.
    There are no computers in VOG Airport, so check-in is manually performed. There are 3 lists with passenger names, and three excel pieces of papers, that simulate the seating map of an aircraft.
    If you go to the first desk, seats offered will be between rows 1 and 11, if you go to the second desk rows 12 and 22 and in the last 23 to 32. It was a funny system. Boarding pass was also filled by hand, and it was a pretty small one.

    They told me that no announces where made, so I had to be on time at the gate. Check the screens for confirmation. That wouldn’t surprise me in LHR or LAX, but VOG has only one boarding gate, and the S7 flight had already left, so our flight was the only in the airport (and would be the only for the next 4 hours). It was quite strange.
    I mentioned in a previous reports of the shops on russian airports. In UUD i found a bookstore and a supermarket. VOG is not worse: TWO restaurants are offered, two souvenirs shops and, funny as it might sound, a barbershop.

    The barbershop was closed :(

    Souvenirs are a devil invention. In VOG airport they don’t sell VOG souvenirs but also from other cities. You can send Moscow postcards from VOG Airport. And you can buy also t-shirts, cuckoo clocks, and teddy bears. Another shop had delicatessen from Astrakhan, such as Caviar.

    I had lunch in the awful and overpriced restaurant of upstairs. I went later to Security Control where they pretended I was going to take my shoes on a dirty and wet carpet (wearing white socks). I didn’t (I can always pretend that I don’t understand russian). and they let me go. The boarding area is rather small, and busses were already waiting for taking us to the plane (the same B738 VQ-BTC from the day before, mostly because is the only plane of the company). Though the bus didn’t left for 10 long minutes, as they were refuelling the aircraft.
    Again waiting under the snow until everyone finds their place


    People actually reads safety cards. I thought they were for collection purposes only (hahaha).

    Two visitors next to us: P4-IKF (Dassault Falcon 2000) and a B737 of UTAir.

    Also to stored planes: Tu134A-3 RA-65086 belonging to ВолгаАвиаЭкспресс (VolgaAviaExpress). And the other a Yak42D RA-42382 (of the same airline).

    The Tupolev 134 was constructed in DEC1977, and has been stored since May 2010. It has 47895 hours and 28717 cycles (its life is 55k hours and 32k cycles). The Yak42was built in 1990, and also has been stored since 2010, with 17952 hours and 9112 cycles (life is 40k hours and 18k cycles). Both aircraft where constructed by Aeroflot Soviet Airlines - South Caucasus Filial - Volgograd Air Company). Photos from Internet


    Old 3400m/111545ft RWY 05/23. It will be soon reconstructed.

    After a short taxi, we performed a 180 turn on RWY 29 and took off just 10 minutes late.



    The flight was uneventful to Moscow. 50% of load factor, no journalists onboard. Again water was offered only. We landed on time in VKO 3060m/100039ft RWY 01.
    Boarded again overcrowded buses and went to Terminal C (the oldest) as the rest was full. No luggage so I was in the bus stop just 10 minutes later, and 40 minutes after landing already in classes.
    Nice trip, maybe a bit too short. But I was able to try a new airline, new airport a visit a new city.
    Comments and feedback are always welcomed.
    Cheers
    Eielef @MOW
     

    Mechanic

    Press F1 for help
    Eielef, thanks for a nice and detailed report.
    P.s.What is your native language?
     

    Mechanic

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    Gracias, amigo. A mi me ha gustado tu reporte. I'll read the report again on a big screen (only using a phone at the moment). Obviously tengo que aprender Español con regularidad.
    :)
     

    Mechanic

    Press F1 for help
    eielef, that's totally cool! I want a handwritten boarding pass!