Passengers revolt and refuse to fly without a new pilot

Last month, two passengers heading through airport security thought a pilot was drunk and called the authorities. Last May, a pilot was found drunk and naked in the woods. In this latest what-is-wrong-with-the-pilot episode, more than 100 passengers on a Boeing 767 jet bound for New York from Moscow signed a paper saying they thought the pilot was three sheets to the wind.

This happened after the pilot sounded inebriated when he slurred the preflight announcements. According to this article in The Moscow Times, when he switched to English, the passengers had enough and refused to allow Aeroflot Flight 315 to take off.

It didn’t matter one bit that the flight attendants told the passengers to “stop making trouble,” and if the passengers didn’t like it, they could get off the plane. The passengers called for reinforcement from Aeroflot’s home office, but the talking heads wouldn’t pay any attention to the passengers either–at least not until a Russian TV personality and socialite, who happened to be on the plane, stepped in.

Finally, the pilot, along with the other three pilots on board, were switched out so new pilots could get the passengers air bound.

As absurd as this story sounds, consider this. An Aeroflot representative later said that it wasn’t that big a deal if a pilot is drunk because the plane flies itself with a press of a button. Kent?

Russian man has a few too many, dies on airplane

Last month, Iva told us about a Russian man who was too drunk to notice he’d been stabbed in the back with a knife.

Now, add this one to the list of bad things that happen to Russians when they booze: A Russian man on an Aeroflot flight from Moscow to Toronto didn’t quite make it, dying before the plane touched down yesterday.

Passengers say he had been drinking heavily and had picked fights with several male passengers. Flight attendants reportedly broke up these scuffles by moving the man to the front of the plane, where he died.

Police are now looking into whether alcohol contributed to his death.

What strange things have been found on planes?

Click the image to read the bizarre story…

Happy Birthday Aeroflot — Russian nostalgia revisited

Aeroflot (SU) turns 85 this month and has come a long, long way. Not long ago, the thought of flying on Russia’s national carrier meant the fear of flying on ancient, broken down Tupolev aircraft, crummy inflight service and questionable schedules. Now, the airline is up in the ranks of any ol’ international carrier and with numerous flights departing from New York every day we don’t give a second thought to boarding an Aeroflot Jet. I’ve flown SU a few times over the past years and have to agree — they’re in decent shape.

As part of their celebration/advertising campaign for the event, Aeroflot has created a website highlighting some of their ads and images over the last century. While the site is in Russian, the scrolling bar at the bottom of the page links to some of the old images, many of which hearken back to the days of Communism. It’s really interesting to see how the advertising developed.

As a note to the domestic carriers, Aeroflot handed out frequent flyer miles like candy to their passengers as a birthday gift. Take a hint.

Why Everyone Should Fly Aeroflot Once in Their Life

Russia‘s national carrier, Aeroflot, has made a lot of progress in the last few years. Once abhorred by the general public as a “dangerous” carrier (although their record is no more tarnished than any domestic airline), a few new Airbus aircraft, superjets and an international advertising campaign have surged the company into the present. Now you too can enjoy the paltry legroom in coach, paper-thin seats and an indifferent, completely hostile ground crew.

But Aeroflot has one juicy perk that most other carriers don’t have: a delightful communist past. And though most of the crew and staff are tight lipped about the Soviet days, some of their aircraft ooze it.

Enter the Tupolev Tu-154.

The first time you see a Tu-154, your first thought is that you’re getting onto a Russian bomber. Perhaps because its got that glass nose cone, slightly reminiscent of the B-17 (think Memphis Belle) or the tri-engine superjet configuration– something about the design makes you think that you’re going to be flying through some heavy flak over the English Channel, need to strap your double seatbelt across your chest and put on your aviator goggles.

On the inside of the plane you’ll initially think that you’re on any old domestic carrier. Closer inspection to the finer details reveals the beauty though: tarnished metal air vents, operational ash trays that aren’t screwed shut and old worn upholstery make one wonder how long its been since this bird has had an overhaul.

Why does this make you want to fly Aeroflot? Because its a living piece of history. As you hear the three engines rev up on Pulkovo’s 10R runway and the aluminum starts to strain as the Tupolev gains speed, you think of how this ancient piece of machinery was once built. Through the cold war, through the end of the Gorbachev and the demise of the USSR, Russia was not too long ago a forlorn and desolate place. How much change in the communist landscape has this aircraft seen? How has the political climate matured as flight 54 flew back and forth between St. Petersburg and Moscow?

Landing in Sheremetyevo outside of Moscow, you see the IKEA just outside of the airport grounds and will soon be among the oil tycoons, their 7 dollar espressos and their sports cars now common in this cosmopolitan city. In the society that’s quickly leaving the dark days of Communism behind, its nice to have a brief look into what Russia once was. Strange that it’s from 30,000 feet.

Russia’s Own Superjet Unveiled

It seems that everyone who has flown Aeroflot, the Russian airline, has some sort of crazy story, either from takeoff (pilot sitting on a crate of beers), landing (wheels falling off), or mid-air (the doors not being completely closed causing the cabin to get freezing cold). Those could all be urban legends, but the truth is, their planes tend to be old. All this could change very soon.

Russia just introduced their brand new plane: Sukhoi’s Superjet 100, the first Russian commercial airliner designed since the end of the Soviet Union. As a mid-range passenger liner with 75 or 95 seats, it will compete directly with Brazil’s Embraer and Canada’s Bombardier. Good news, folks.

Flying Aeroflot, assuming they will purchase these planes, might just become as boring as flying any other airline!