Ukraine International Airlines uses new Boeing 737-800 for many of its shorthaul routes in Europe. Unfortunately, it looks west rather than east for guidance on how to configure its business class on short-haul flights. While Aeroflot and Turkish have “real” business class seats in their narrowbody fleet, Ukraine only has economy class seats with the middle blocked. Still, that is manageable for short flights.
Ukraine International Airlines 716
Istanbul (IST) – Kiev (KBP)
Friday, November 30, 2016
Depart: 06:55 AM
Arrive: 08:00 AM
Duration: 2hr, 5min
Seat: 2A (Business Class)
I arrived from Beirut on Turkish Airlines at 5:55 AM but somehow made it to the gate in under 10 minutes, despite having to re-clear security. I would have missed the check-in cutoff had I not been able to successfully check-in online the day before. Be warned that the Ukraine Airlines website is very finicky — in order to retrieve my PNR I had to type my name as MATTHEW JONATHAN (with a space), not MATTHEW or MATTHEWJONATHAN. But it worked and I already had a printed boarding pass in hand.
Boarding began moments later and I was first to board. A very, very junior FA (possibly a teenager) greeted passengers upon boarding and served as the main attendant in business class. Service by both her and her older colleague was very professional and though she attempted to speak to me in Ukrainian first, her English proved strong.
Ukraine Airlines 737-800 Business Class Seat
As I mentioned above, the business class cabin is simply economy class with a blocked middle seat. Like many intra-europe business classes, the middle seat had a fold down seat back that served as a tray table between seats. Legroom was terrible: I’d guess 30″ and I sure felt it.
Each seat had a thin pillow and blanket, the same set that would be available on the connecting longhaul flight to New York.
A pre-departure beverage was offered in glass. Newspapers were also offered including the International New York Times printed on copy paper.
Business Class was full, but the back of the plane was only about half full. We took off on time and the Captain made a welcome announcement in both English and Ukrainian.
Ukraine Airlines 737-800 Business Class Food
Just moments after takeoff, meal orders were taken. The choice was a plain omelet or a cheese blintz. I chose the omelet and it was served immediately with a hot towel. A drink (tea) was served after the meals were distributed.
The omelet looked more like quiche or an au gratin potatoes, but was indeed just plain eggs. Breakfast included rather tasty bircher muesli, a croissant, and tasteless fruit.
And just like that, not more than 40 minutes after takeoff, the meal service was finished. Talk about efficient!
I ordered coffee after breakfast and it was powdered and nasty.
For the rest of the flight I tried to sleep. I was too tired to work. Just before landing FAs passed out circular plastic containers that contained a moist towelette. You push down on them and a thin towel pops out then somehow chemically expands into a full size paper towel. I thought the scent was pungent (in a bad way) and do not recommend you use it…
We landed on time to a cold, dark, snowy morning in Ukraine. Oddly (because many gates were unoccupied), we parked at remote stand and had to take a bus to the terminal. While it was freezing outside, the bus was pleasantly warm.
Good meal and good service for a 2hr flight. The seat is bad – there is just no other way to describe it — but it is what it is. My ticket to New York was under 400EUR. For that price, it is difficult to complain.