Last weekend I had a look at a post on one Facebook group related to flight tickets. A young woman has found an inexpensive ticket Istanbul-Warsaw led by Ukrainian International Airlines with a short transfer in Kyiv. It caused a big discussion, because many members strongly advised against this travel option. Others, however, said, this flight is pretty fair and they have good memories. They gave other air carriers, which, according to them, are much worse than Ukrainian airlines.
I reminded myself our last flight from Istanbul to Warsaw, we just experienced with МАУ (ukr. Міжнародні Авіалінії України). The journey wasn’t without adventures 🙂 It took place this year, on Tuesday 19th September. That month, beside urgent flight to Poland, we had plenty of expenses. We had to consider lower prices. Ukrainian Airlines seemed to be the most logical choice for us – one-way ticket for three people (me, Bibi and my Husband) with checked luggages up to 23kg costed us not much above 250 EUR and the waiting wime in Kyiv was less than three hours. Here I will write my thoughts from the young mom’s point of view.
7:30 AM – we are waiting in a big queue for check-in at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul. The customer service is asking how old our daughter is. Bibi was already after her 1st birthday, so the man is informing us, the stroller will be waiting for us in Warsaw and we don’t have to take it in Kyiv. Boarding passes are given to us, label hanged on a seat-stroller… They just didn’t give us the confirmation with the stroller’s number we used to receive on previous journeys.
9:35 AM – we’re departing on time. When we are in the sky, I want to change Bibi’s diaper in the restroom. Unfortunately, I couldn’t wash my hands, because there was no running water at the tap. I needed to use antibacterial gel 🙂 Stewardesses are diverse – mostly kind and helpful (especially mrs Olena I wanted to send warm greetings to 🙂 ), just one of them was a shrew. Fortunately, Bibi falls sleep straight after toilet, because it’s tight between the seats. She sleeps the whole flight. The only thing from „catering” involved in the price of ticket is a water (my Husband is adding, they’re giving chocolates on Vallentines ). The cup of tea costs 2 euro, and sandwiches 5-6€.
11:50 AM – we’re at the BORYSPIL AIRPORT IN KYIV. Just in case, we had a look at the jet bridge to check if our stroller isn’t there. Probably the staff of Ataturk airport was right and we are really going to receive it in Warsaw. Ukrainian airport made a very good impression on us and I can admit, this place is friendly to parents. There is a playground full of pillows, there’s a TV with cartoons, there are cafes with delicious desserts (in one of them I heated the jar for Bibi), but I liked the most the nursery room 🙂 Look how cozy!
Furthermore, we took a part in a competition for Ukrainian-speaking passengers organized by Tickets.ua. I needed to answer three questions related to travels (eg. What would you take going to uninhabited island?), take a photo from a machine and then put on FB with a proper hashtag. The main prize was 3000UAH for any flight ticket. We didn’t win anything, but anyway it’s a nice initiative 😉
More facilities of the airport you can find on their official webpage.
2:50 PM – we’re flying from Kyiv to Warsaw. Bibi sleeps the whole journey again. Everything is the same as the flight from Istanbul. The only difference – clogging ears are more and more disturbing me. As we can see, my Husband (who already has an experience with this airline) didn’t exaggerate saying, in case of UIA pressure changes are more acute, than in other airlines. We’re landing in Poland on time.
4:00 PM – Chopin Airport in Warsaw. We want to take stroller and get into passport control as soon as possible. We’re looking at the jet bridge – there’s only navy blue seat stroller which doesn’t belong to us! We’re reporting problem to kind stewardesses, who are asking the baggage officer to check, if the lost item isn’t inside the plane. Unfortunately, he didn’t find. We’re passing through passport control quickly (comparing to previous ones, in an express way ) and we’re going to the luggage belt – as the cabin crew recommended. Luggages came, stroller didn’t. We’re looking at the tape with excess baggage – baby car didn’t appear. When Kyiv disappears from the screen, we’re going to report the problem to the complaint office. The employee, although he’s surprised, doesn’t make problems due to the lack of a trolley order number. He’s giving a form to us – we must write our personal data, weight and a visual description of our Bibi’s vehicle. He’s also saying, it’s been already the third problem, reported by the passengers of МАУ. This is the end of search and the journey! We’re coming back home.
Fortunately, our stroller has been found in Kyiv the very next day 🙂 On Thursday morning it came home by courier.
TO SUM UP:
Who is Ukrainian International Airlines for?:
+ For Parents, who have at least crawling babies. The airport in Kyiv is very well adapted for infants in this age. Only a few of these facilities are useful for newborns, who are much less tolerant of air pressure changes (in case of babies younger than 6 months old I definitely prefer direct flights).
+ For people living in Ukraine. UIA has a big offer of inexpensive direct flights to many destinations in the world.
+ For passengers, who need to concern on price while booking and they take a checked luggage.
What should you pay attention to?:
– Unfortunately, the opinions of passengers about the frequent loss of luggage is true. The way from airport to car with two suitcases, baby’s bag and infant on your arm is more than challenging.
– Cabin crew from our flights didn’t speak English fluently. There was even one stewardess communicating only in Russian! (sic)
– It’s not the airline for exclusively breastfeeding moms. Firstly, these women need valuable food and at least one hot meal per day (I’m talking about the comments, that they can make sandwiches for themselves before journey). A transfer flight may be inconvenient for them, because brunches and lunches at this airline are small and quite expensive. Secondly, narrow spaces make a childcare (such as breastfeeding in a sling or changing clothes) even more difficult. In this case, I have better experience with Greek or Serbian airlines.
What is your experience with Ukrainian Airlines? Share your thoughts in a comment 🙂