**** Please see bottom for update.
At the end of last year (Nov. 2017) my wife and I flew from Munich to Moscow Domodedovo Airport on S7 Airlines in Business Class. I wasn’t going to review that flight as I thought there wouldn’t be enough interest in S7. However, I flew them again earlier this month (May 2018) from Larnaca, Cyprus (LCA) to Moscow (DME) and as I was booking the tickets (used miles) with American Airlines (S7 is a member of the oneworld Alliance) the agent told me she had never even heard of S7 prior to this year, but because of the World Cup being in Russia this year, she had received several inquiries. So one month before the World Cup begins I thought it was worthwhile to review S7’s Business Class.
S7 is Russia’s largest domestic carrier. It was formally known as Siberian Airlines, but changed their name around 2005. They are headquartered in Novosibirsk, which is their main hub (Tolmachevo Airport, OVB) and also have hubs at Moscow’s DME Airport and Irkutsk IKT Airport (much smaller operation). Their fleet consists of all Western aircraft. Airbus A319’s 320’s, A321’s (a few), Boeing 737-800’s and Embraer 170’s. The A319’s and E-170’s are all Economy Class while the other aircraft (A320, A321, and B737) all have eight seats in Business Class in a 2×2 configuration with two rows. The MUC – DME flight was on an A320 and the LCA – DME flight was a B737. Not to make things confusing, but the flight from Larnaca was operated by Globus Airlines. Globus is a subsidiary of S7 and operates flights to their leisure destinations. Both flights I flew had the same seats and same service. So I do not think there isany difference flying a Globus operated flight compared to S7. This is much like an airline having another company operate some routes and branding it under their name – all commuter airlines in the US operate this way.
Check-in on both flights was uneventful. There was a separate line for Business Class/Priority. The agents were pleasant and we had access to a Business Class Lounge. In Munich we used the unimpressive Atlantic Lounge and in Larnaca, the Aspire Lounge, which was nice. It had an outside patio and good selection of food and drinks. Boarding was more chaotic in Munich without a priority lane, than LCA, which had one. I will say that I have flown on S7 (in Economy) from DME to Krasnodar and I was taken out to the plane in a private vehicle (I am oneworld Emerald) and the same happened on arrival in DME from LCA. All Business Class passengers were driven separately to the terminal.
The flight from Munich was empty. My wife and I were the only passengers in Business Class. The flight from LCA was full. The flight attendants on the MUC flight were very professional, engaging and helpful. The other flight was more what people would expect from a Russian Airline. But I am not sure that is the norm (although it was same on Krasnodar flight). I will say having flown Aeroflot several times that the service on Russian Airlines (and hotels too) has improved greatly over the past ten years. To the point where Aeroflot along with Turkish Airlines may have the best flight attendants in Europe (at least in Business Class). And it is not just because SU has great uniforms 😉 I will say the more friendly flight attendant had a much better command of English than on this latest flight. There was a nice blanket and pillow at the seat as you arrived and a pre-departure drink of either Water or Orange Juice was offered. A bottle of water was handed out with a menu and a surprisingly nice amenity kit (L’occitane products) while we were on the ground.
Unlike most European Airlines, whose Business Class seats are the same as Economy with the middle seat blocked, S7’s Business Class seats are actually wider and more plush. Much like US Airline’s Domestic First Class seats or Asian/Middle Eastern Airline’s Business Class seats on narrow-bodies. I sat in the bulkhead on both flights. The A320 had a little more legroom than the B737. In fact, the B737 was slightly cramped. There was a generous amount of seat recline so if you were sitting in row 2 the seat would infringe on your space. The seats are leather with a unique color scheme of purple with florescent green accents. There is a small headrest, but there is no power port, footrest, or seat-back entertainment. Because there are only eight seats overhead space is not an issue.. Both planes were relatively new.
Shortly after take-off a hot towel was given (in a dish) and the meal order was taken. The meal service was identical on both flights. Drinks were served prior to the start of the meal. Then a good sized salad with bread. Either Russian brown bread or a white roll. The salad was ok and I remember the bread being better from Larnaca. Three entrée choices were available. On the MUC flight the choice was Caucasian Baked Chicken, Algerian Style Beef, or Roasted Edmond Vegetables. From LCA; Faustino Beef, Baked Salmon in Orange Sauce, or Hash Browns served with fried vegetables. The MUC flight was 2hr & 45min while the LCA flight was 3hr & 30min. So the meal was appropriate for time of day and flight time. I was happy with the menu as I had read S7 served cold meals in Business. I ordered the Beef on both flights and also ate the Chicken because my wife didn’t eat. After the first flight I thought maybe in fact they didn’t serve hot meals as both of the meals were barely warm. Now I like my food hotter than most, and while this is a pet peeve of mine (I have experienced this twice on Swiss recently as well) I did finish the Beef and most of the Chicken (portions were not that big). It was a shame, because they actually were appetizing and outside the temperature were quite good. The second flight was a little of the opposite. The Beef was very hot and also appealing, but the taste didn’t quite live up to the presentation. That said, I have had much worse in the air and would order the same meal again if on S7. My Mother-in-Law had the Salmon and said it was ok, but liked her meal on Aeroflot much more on the way to LCA. Maybe the most impressive aspect of the meal service was the quality of the silverware. After dinner, dessert was served with coffee or tea. Again, the presentation was impressive. Cheesecake was served from Germany and a Fruit Tart from Cyprus along with a Russian Chocolate Bar. Both were tasty and I really liked the Tea. I am not a fan of Russian Chocolate so did not eat the Candy Bar. A second hot towel was offered after the meal and on the most recent flight some kind of a Cucumber drink was served prior to landing. The one flight attendant assigned to Business Class was available throughout the flight for tea, coffee, or additional drinks.
Not only was there no seat-back entertainment there wasn’t any IFE at all. On the flight to LCA Aeroflot provided a personal tablet loaded with entertainment. S7 didn’t even have an overhead screen nor Wi-Fi. I could live with this on a 3 hour flight and as most European Airlines do not provide Wi-Fi within Europe I was not expecting it. The meal service lasted 45 minutes so I was actually able to do a little reading and took advantage of the nice pillow and blanket and slept a little on both flights.
I did see they were serving a hot meal in Economy on the flight from LCA which was certainly an upgrade from the meal I was served on the DME to KRR. The flight from Moscow to Krasnodar was a little over 2 hours and the meal service was quick. Boxed chicken or cheese sandwich with either juice, water, coffee or tea. The announcements are in both Russian and English (broken). There is one lavatory in the front of the plane for Business Class. The flight attendants are very protective of other passengers accessing this toilet.
While I think S7 has a ways to go to catch up to Aeroflot I will say that compared to most other European Airlines they are a favorable alternative. Outside of British Airways, Turkish & Aeroflot no other airline to Moscow will have this seat comfort. Their service may be inconsistent, but it is still more personal than most. Plus their oneworld Alliance participation makes them a good choice for American AAdvantage and British Airways Avios members. I must say while I was happy with S7, I asked my wife to ask her mother which of the two flights she liked more and she said most definitely the Aeroflot flight to LCA. Read here for a review of Aeroflot’s Business Class within Russia and Europe http://patstravelreviews.com/aeroflot-a320-premier-class-review-moscow-svo-to-budapest/
*** Here is an update to S7’s Business Class. I had the pleasure of flying S7 (A320) in Business Class from Moscow DME to Rome FCO in October of 2019. Most everything I noted here is exactly the same with one added improvement. S7 now has own device IFE (much like US Airlines and saw no sign of there being a cost). Unfortunately, I was unaware of this and did not download the S7 app prior to take off so I was unable to access the content. There appears to be a decent selection of movies (mostly Hollywood & some Russian), TV, and music. While there is Entertainment I could not find any Wi-Fi. I was only able to watch the moving map. Now that I know, I will download the app in advance and hopefully this will give a heads-up to those reading this and flying S7.