Trip Report – Ukraine International Airlines – Kiev (KBP) to Tel Aviv (TLV)

This is part seven of a twelve part trip report from my current travels to Kiev, Vienna, Tel Aviv, and Kraków. This trip report covers my first flight ever on Ukraine International Airlines. I flew roundtrip from Kiev to Tel Aviv and wasn’t expecting much…however I was quite pleasantly surprised.

The Kiev to Tel Aviv route is quite popular with three flights per day in the spring and summer (2 on Ukraine International and 1 on El Al). Ukraine’s fares were much more reasonable than El Al, so we booked with them. My flight was about $320 roundtrip in economy. Better yet, Ukraine International is a KLM and Air France Flying Blue partner and I would earn miles for the flights (a classic award was also available for 30,000 points). I found their description of Ukraine International to be entertaining…safe and reliable transport for the last 21 years!

KLM UI

KBP Airport

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The terminal area was comfortable with ample seating and strong free wifi. Boarding was quick and orderly as the flight was about half empty.

I must be honest, even after checking out the Ukraine International fleet on their webpage, I expected some old Aeroflot 737s and a little wear and tear. The plane we boarded was anything but that! It was a 737-800 that was in great condition and had all leather seats, expanded overhead bins, and mood lighting.

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As the flight was so empty, most people (especially near the back) had their own row. The strange thing about this was that I was originally in row 7. As I boarded, a red light flashed and I was told that I had been moved to the final row of the plane. No explanation was provided at all. Upon boarding, I saw that the last ten rows were open so I moved a few rows up and stretched out (armrests went retractable!).

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Dinner wasn’t bad, though it was slightly different for each passenger. The strangest thing about meal service is that the flight attendants mixed and matched the first and economy class food, creating a meal with whatever was left. The first picture below is the standard economy class meal which was presented to me – some pasta, chicken, string beans, bread, and a brownie.

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My friend across from me received the same economy chicken dish, but with the first class salad and chocolate bar. You can see by the paper towels that they ran out of place mats as well. The service was “semi-friendly” and I was even offered another meal.  We left 20 minutes late and arrived in Tel Aviv twenty minutes late. The flight was uneventful and included dinner service and then drink service again prior to landing. Duty free was also offered.

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The return was much the same, though our plane was an older 737-400 without the mood lighting and an interesting seat-belt. We left 3 minute early and arrived 39 minutes early in Kiev.

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Again, amenities not used in first class were then dispensed to economy – like this pillow/blanket combo.
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Comments

  1. Love the new airport – a big improvement on the old. Guess you will be collecting Panorama Miles now!

  2. Being originally from Russia I can totally understand you. Customer service in Former USSR does not exist and it will take a while before it will develops. This is typical to be serviced wrong stuff and wrong things without any explanation why. For me reading your post was like visiting homeland.

  3. Wasn’t Ukraine International Airlines ranked in top 5 worst airlines in a row?!

    I stopped flying Ukrainian carriers after 2008, when service noticeably went down.

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