Travel blog by a global nomad

21 Sep

Mother Russia relaxes her embrace relunctantly

Well I got the call at 9am – the driver was coming at 11am to pick me up. I had been rebooked out on an Interavia flight that was scheduled to leave at 12.30pm – but it had been delayed an hour or two. But I should still get to Moscow around 3pm, Moscow time which gave me about 6 hours to do the legendary dash from Domodedovo Airport to Sheremyevo Airport….

In the end, the car came for me at 11.30am. Checkin was smooth and I was called to get on the plane at 1.30pm so we left at 2pm. Should be in Moscow by 3.30pm – a little tight, but still doable.

I got to my seat – and was almost forceably shoved into another seat a row behind by the air steward. I sat there, bewildered – and eventually realised no one else was going to sit there, so I cautiously moved over to the window seat – very leery about giving up my aisle seat as the seats were very cramped! But no one moved to take the seats.  Good! I was going to be able to get some pics of the glorious golden landscape as we took off!

However, as we taxi’d down the runway, I heard a word which struck fear in my hear and made my blood run cold. Ikurtsk. What?? We were detouring and not flying directly to Moscow??? They repeated the announcement in English, 1 hour 5 minutes in Ikurtsk. I began to do the calculations and realised it was going to get VERY tight in Moscow, but still doable…

But it took 4 hours to fly to Ikurtsk. My mental clock was ticking. Ikurtsk was surprisingly large and very industrialised and even had modern apartment complexes amongst the Stalin concrete blocks!

We weren’t allowed off the plane, but I was bemused to see them refueling while we sat on the plane – I am sure that doesn’t happen in the western world!

1 hour and 5 minutes passed. No one had even boarded yet! 1 hour 30 minutes… Nothing.

Suddenly around the 2 hour mark, I was rudely bumped as some lady sat down. Clearly it was free for all on seats and !I had just lost my aisle seat…

Around the 2 hour 15 minutes, some ‘officials’ got on the plane and the Russians all began yelling angrily at them. Then another 15 minutes, another official, even more heckling…

Finally at 2.40pm, the plane lurched and we began taxiing. I was fumbling frantically on my GPS and finally worked out the time difference between Magadan and Moscow – and where we were. And then I heard some frightening news. It was going to take 5 hours and 40 minutes!


I glanced at my GPS. My PDA. I broke out Pocket Earth . I glanced at our velocity. About 900km/hr. Could we sustain that for the next 5 hours? We’d be in Moscow in 4 hours? Or had the extended delay in Irkurtsk been because we lost our landing slot at Moscow due to the delay in leaving Magadan so we had to take our time?

But anyway I looked at it, I was not going t arrive in Moscow before 5.30pm at the earliest – and then it about 50 minutes waiting for bags and another 3 hours to do the legendary drive to Sheremeytevo Airport, and my flight left at 8.45pm. And it was Friday night – the traffic was undoubtedly worse. I was going to miss it.

Would the company realise this and rebook me onto a British Airways flight from Domodedovo? Would there be space on a Friday night??? Well, there wasn’t much I could do – just sit back and wait until we get to Moscow…

So for the next 5 hours, I watched as we inched our way across Russia on my GPS, rather tickled when we got to within 200km of Moscow as I figured apart from the pilots, I was probably the only person on the plane who knew exactly how far out we were! I could get to like travelling with a GPS on planes… It was a very geekish thing for me to do, but addictive!

My fears we had been held up at Ikurtsk by our missed landing slot seemed to be confirmed as we got into Moscow – the plane began to do a lazy loop around the airport, then another, and then finally on the 3rd one (all faithfully recorded on the GPS), we lost altitude and landed.

It was 6.40pm. I was supposed to be checking in now in an airport 3 hours away, and I was just getting off the plane to go and get my bags…

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