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STUDENT GUIDE TO RUSSIA  / AT THE AIRPORT IN RUSSIA
03.08.2015


Russian Airports
Int'l Arrivals, Departures & Domestic Travel

 

Air travel in Russia for students
Come understand Russia with SRAS!

In This Guide

1. Russian Airports 101     back to top

    In Moscow
Sheremetyevo II (SVO II – terminals D, E, and F), Domodedovo (DME), and Vnukovo (VKO) process most of Russia's incoming international flights. Most domestic flights go through Sheremetyevo I (SVO I – terminals A and B; terminal C is for international flights) and Domodedovo.  Vnukovo airport also hosts some domestic flights in Moscow, although we have never heard of anyone actually going there.

Sheremetyevo is currently in the process of changing its designations. Formally known as SVO I and SVO II, there will now be SVO A through SVO F. However, the changeover has been piecemeal and poorly communicated. Just know that both designations are used and that A, B, and C are "the terminal formally known as SVO I" and D, E, and F equate to "SVOII." You should know what letter and numeral you will need to find your flight.

Vnukovo airport consist of Vnukovo I, Vnukovo II, and Vnukovo III. Only Vnukovo I is open for general crowds.

Warning: If you will be transfering between SVOI and SVOII (e.g. for a flight to Central Asia) and do not otherwise have a Russian visa, you will need a transit visa. Find out which terminal your connecting flight is in and plan accordingly well in advance.

    In St. Petersburg
Previously international flights came through Pulkovo II and domestic flights were handled at Pulkovo I. However, Pulkovo II was closed and now all flights go through one terminal.

2. Entering Russia by Air      back to top

You can roughly expect the following sequence of events upon arrival:

  1. Disembark and follow the flow of passengers to passport control. Usually one line is for Russian citizens, but all others are for foreign nationals.
  2. Passport control will take your passport (where the visa is glued in) and your migration card. Both will be stamped and returned to you. SRAS requires that you read our ESSENTIAL Visa Information before departing for our programs.
  3. Baggage claim. Carousels are usually not marked - but there are not many and everyone just figures out where their bags are. Collect them and head toward customs (indicated by red and green signs). Have your luggage tickets handy (usually in sticker form on your ticket holder) because airport officials may check them against the tags on the bags you are are bringing out of baggage claim to make sure they are yours
    3a. If your luggage is lost. Go to the booth inside the luggage area and fill out a claim slip. You can also try to look around the booth – sometimes lost luggage can be found there. Ask the person at the booth for a phone (they will generally let you use theirs) and call SRAS if you need help.
  4. Customs. If you have less than $10,000 in cash/travelers checks or goods, you may go through the "Nothing to Declare" GREEN line. We highly discourage anyone from traveling with large sums of cash. If you need to travel with large sums, please consult with your SRAS representative before leaving.
  5. Arrivals hall. If you have requested a transfer, look for someone holding a sign with your name. If you do not see someone right away, do not go far. If your flight has arrived early, wait near the exit from customs. Drivers usually plan to arrive no earlier than one hour after your flight is scheduled to land since it usually takes that long to exit customs. In case of emergency, purchase a phone card from the bookshop and use it to call SRAS.
    5a. Rubles. It is not a bad idea to change a bit of money ($50-100) or withdraw rubles (1500-3000 RUR) from the ATM at the airport. The exchange and ATMs are located near the customs exit. Generally, we recommend bringing a small amount of dollars as emergency funds, but relying mostly on your debit card. See our page on Budgets and Finances for more information.

 


Sample Fares
as of June, 2015
train and air
fare compared

Moscow - SPB
1 class –  from USD 345
2 class – from USD 50
3 class – from USD 30
Air ticket – USD 90

SPB - Helsinki
1 class – from USD 630
2 class – from USD 115 Air ticket - USD 200
Moscow - Irkutsk
2 class – from USD 250
3 class – from USD 140  Air ticket - USD 310
Moscow - Nizhny Novgorod
2 class – from USD 40
3 class – from USD 30
Air ticket - USD 115
Moscow - Kiev
2 class – from USD 125
3 class – from USD 70
Air ticket - USD 115
Moscow - Odessa
2 class – from USD 165
3 class – from USD 100 Air ticket - USD 115
Irkutsk - Vladivostok
2 class - USD 215
3 class - USD 125
Air ticket - USD 330
Irkutsk - Ulan-Baatar
Air ticket – USD 570
Irkutsk - Beijing
Air ticket - USD 365
Moscow - Yerevan
Air ticket - USD 190
Moscow - Tbilisi
Air ticket - USD 190
Moscow - Tashkent
1 class - USD 620
2 class - USD 460
3 class - USD 290
Air ticket - USD 285

3. Domestic Flights in Russia      back to top

The major domestic carriers in Russia are Aeroflot, Transaero, UTair, and S7.

If you switch flights in Moscow or St. Petersburg (as is needed to get to Irkutsk, for example) and change airlines, the domestic airline will hold you to domestic regulations. We strongly advise you purchase your international tickets together with the domestic ticket from an airline such as Aeroflot which offers both domestic and international service. Domestic flights in Russia are generally only 20-25kg of checked luggage and 10kg (22lb) of carry on. International flights on Aeroflot are allowed 46kg.

  1. For domestic flights, arrive at the airport no later than one hour and a half before departure.
  2. Ensure that you have all of your documents - tickets, passport, visa.
  3. Make sure you have informed SRAS and your university of your travel plans - this is essential for maintaining your registration and keeping you legal!  
  4. When checking your bags, ensure you receive a receipt (tag) for it. 
  5. Some airports require that your luggage be locked and/or "wrapped." There is usually a window where you can have your luggage wrapped in plastic (commonly done by Russians to increase luggage life expectancy).
  6. Domestic flights with layovers often require you disembark. If you do not speak Russian, follow what everyone else is doing closely and try to clarify the reboarding time with either a flight attendant, fellow passenger, or the information booth.
  7. At many airports you will be brought to the plane by bus.

 

4. Arranging Transfers     back to top

It takes a minimum of one hour at international airports to clear customs and passport control. In nearly all cases, transferring between airports (or even between terminals) is time consuming. Budget at least an hour and a half if you are transferring between terminals. Transferring between airports can take two to eight hours depending on traffic. We highly recommend planning a layover of one or two days in Moscow or St. Petersburg if you'll be passing through. See the sites, get some rest, then head to your next journey.

"Left luggage" is a service offered at most Russian airports and train stations where you can leave your bags for limited amounts of time. They are usually indicated on airport maps and signs with a picture of a suitcase. They are handy if you will have a layover, will depart from the same airport, and do not need all your luggage during the layover. In SVO, terminal C, the service can be found on the right wing’s third floor and charges 400 RUR per day. In terminal E it’s on the first floor and charges 500 RUR, while in terminal F the service is on the first floor, left wing and charges 500 RUR per day. There’s also a service in the Aeroexpress terminal, on the second floorthat will will cost you 350 RUR for clothes and shoes and 500 to 700 RUR to leave your luggage there (it depends on the size of your bags). In DME, the service is temporarily not working in international flights area. In VKO the service is situated in terminal A (near the place where the Aeroexpress station is situated) in the basement. In Pulkovo it’s on the first floor and costs approximately 400 RUR per day (depending on the size of your bags).

 

SVO I or II <---> Moscow

You have two options to get to the metro. The metro has maps posted in each station and in each wagon of every train. Make sure you get on a train heading in the right direction.  

    Option 1: Aeroexpress      schedule online
Aeroexpress runs a high-speed train from SVO II to the Belorusskaya metro station (on the ring line where green meets brown in the north). Follow the signs at SVO II that say “Exit to Aeroexpress” – you have to go to terminal E from which then you can then exit to the Aeroexpress station. From SVO I, you can take a shuttle to SVO II (terminal E), then follow the signs.

Purchase a ticket at the ticket window or from one of the many automated machines you will see on the way there. As of summer, 2015, the cost is 470 RUR or 530 RUR with a one-trip metro ticket (there is always a huge line of people for metro tickets at Belorusskaya). The ride on Aeroexpress will take about 35 minutes and is non-stop to the Belorusskaya metro station.

Tickets can also be purchased online for 420 RUR up to 30 days before departure. Be sure to hold onto your ticket for the duration of the trip.

    Option 2: The Bus       more about public transport
Take either bus 817 to metro Rechnoi Vokzal (end of the green line), or bus 851 to metro Planernaya (end of the purple line). As of summer, 2010, the cost is 30 RUR. If you have a large bag, you will have to pay 25 RUR for the bag as well. There are many stops along the way, so you will need to pay attention in order to get out at the right stop. The duration of the trip depends on traffic, and can take anywhere from 40 minutes to two hours or more.

Small minibuses, called “marshrutkas,” and are usually faster, cost about twice as much (you will also still need to buy your bag a seat if it takes one). Look for one that lists ". Rechnoi Vokzal" or “M.Planernaya” (in Cyrillic) or numbers 949 and 948 accordingly on the side.

    --> Onward to a Train Station    more about train travel in Russia
Nearly all train stations are on the brown metro line that runs in a circle around the city center. Each stop on this line leads to a different train station that shares the name of the metro station (except for train stations Yaroslavsky, Leningradskaya, and Kazansky, which are all located at metro Komsomolskaya). In either case, make sure you know what metro station you need before leaving home, and feel free to contact your SRAS consultant with questions. 

    --> Getting back to the Airport

    Option 1: Aeroexpress      schedule online
Head back to Belorusskaya and exit the metro from the green line (the brown line at Belorusskaya also connects at this station, but you want the green line). Look for "Aeroexpress" listed on the signs inside the metro that read “Exit into the City” (signs are in Cyrillic). Once out of the metro, take the glass doors on your right, then hang another right, following the side of the building. Enter at the third entrance (it's marked "Aeroexpress"). Aeroexpress makes one stop (at metro station Savyolovskaya) before arriving at SVO-II. There is a free shuttle that runs between SVO-I and II. The bus stop is situated on the ground floor at the terminal entrance. Shuttles run every 15-25 minutes (less frequently in early morning or late evening), and traveling time is 20 minutes.

    Option 2: The Bus       more about public transport
We highly discourage use of the bus or marshrutkas to get back to the airport, as it is hard to gauge how long it will take and easy to miss your flight. Spend a little money on the train and save yourself the possible expense and hassle of having to change your tickets.

 

SVO I  <--->   SVO II 

Allow for at least 3-4 hrs between your flights when booking them for this transfer.

    Option 1: Airport Shuttle     official site for shuttles
Free shuttles run about once per hour and a half. The stop is by the entrance to the Aeroexpress terminal (the big orange building next to SVO II, connected to terminal E). Questions about these can be addressed to the Aeroflot booth in the arrivals hall or to the one next to it labled "TRANSIT." 

    Option 2: The Bus       more about public transport
You can take bus 851 (but not 817!) and vans that have "SVO-1" written as a destination on the placard on the side of the vehicle, but always confirm with the driver that the van is indeed going to SVO I (otherwise you will end up in Moscow). The ride will take about 15 minutes. Once at SVO-1, look for Domestic Departures - signs are in English. If you land late at SVO-II, ask the Aeroflot desk in the arrivals hall about what to do.

 

DME <---> Moscow

    Option I: Aeroexpress       schedule online
The high-speed Aeroexpress train can take you to the Paveletskaya metro station. Follow the signs at the airport that say "Exit to Aeroexpress." Purchase a ticket at the ticket window. As of summer, 2015, the cost is 470 RUR or 530 RUR with a one-trip metro ticket (there is always a huge line of people trying to buy metro tickets at Paveletskaya). Hold on to your ticket as you will need it to get through the turnstiles to exit Paveletskaya. The ride will take about 45 minutes and is non-stop.

Tickets can also be purchased online for 420 RUR up to 30 days before departure. Be sure to hold onto your ticket for the duration of the trip.

    Option 2: The Bus       official shuttle site
A fleet of specially marked busses and minivans (white, with "Domodedovo" wrtten on the side; or both with a number 308) runs to the metro station Domodedovo (green line, south). Wait for the bus outside of the airport, in front of the door 3 (100 meters away from the airport). It will cost about 100 RUR. You may be asked to buy another space if your bag takes up a seat. Note that between 12 pm and 6 am there are no buses.

    --> Onward to a Train Station    more about train travel in Russia
Nearly all train stations are on the brown metro line that runs in a circle around the city center. Each stop on this line leads to a different train station that shares the name of the metro station (except for train stations Yaroslavsky, Leningradskaya, and Kazansky, which are all located at metro Komsomolskaya). In either case, make sure you know what metro station you need before leaving home, and feel free to contact your SRAS consultant with questions. 

    --> Getting back to the Airport

    Option 1: Aeroexpress      schedule online
Head back to Paveletskaya and enter the train station. Look for "Aeroexpress" signs. See above for ticket information.

    Option 2: The Bus       more about public transport
We highly discourage use of the bus or marshrutkas to get back to the airport, as it is hard to gauge how long it will take and easy to miss your flight. Spend a little money on the train and save yourself the possible expense and hassle of having to change your tickets.

 

VKO <---> Moscow

    Option I: Aeroexpress        schedule online   
The high-speed Aeroexpress train can take you to the Kievskaya metro station. Follow the signs at the airport that say "Exit to Aeroexpress." Purchase a ticket at the ticket window or one of the many automated machines that you will pass on the way there. As of summer, 2015, the cost is 470 RUR or 530 RUR with a one-trip metro ticket (there is always a huge line of people trying to buy metro tickets at Kievskaya). Hold on to your ticket as you will need it to get through the turnstiles to exit Kievskaya. If you don't have it, you may need to pay again to get out. The ride will take about 40 minutes and is non-stop.

Tickets can also be purchased online for 420 RUR up to 30 days before departure. Be sure to hold onto your ticket for the duration of the trip.

    Option 2:  The Bus         official shuttle site
Take either bus #611 or #611; they go to both metro Yugo-Zapadnaya and Toparevo (red line). The bus stops at the airport are situated in 130 meters from the building exit behind the parking lot. The exit to the bus stop is from the right side of parking lot #1. The price is either 50 RUR (for the ticket “90 minutes” that works for all on-ground and underground transport but only for 90 minutes) or 100 RUR for the ticket with 4 passes (for on-ground transport only). Buses depart every 10-30 minutes. Please note that between 1 am and 5 am there are no buses.

    Onward to a Train Station    more about train travel in Russia
Nearly all train stations are on the brown metro line that runs in a circle around the city center. Each stop on this line leads to a different train station that shares the name of the metro station (except for train stations Yaroslavsky, Leningradskaya, and Kazansky, which are all located at metro Komsomolskaya). In either case, make sure you know what metro station you need before leaving home, and feel free to contact your SRAS consultant with questions. 

    --> Getting back to the Airport

    Option 1: Aeroexpress       schedule online  
Head back to Kievskaya, then exit to Kievskaya train station. When you are outside and near the train station there’s a special entrance to the station with “Aeroexpress” sign on it (right in front of Evropeisky shopping mall), enter there. See above for ticket information.

    Option 2:  The Bus       more about public transport
We highly discourage use of the bus or marshrutkas to get back to the airport, as it is hard to gauge how long it will take and easy to miss your flight. Spend a little money on the train and save yourself the possible expense and hassle of having to change your tickets.

 

SVO <---> VKO <---> DME

If using Aeroexpress as described above (transfer to city, then "back" to the second airport), this transfer will likely take you at least 5-6 hours. The bus (as described above) will likely take longer. We highly recommend staying a day or two in Moscow rather than trying to make this transfer in one day. A taxi may be faster, but with Moscow traffic, it's not for certain. 

 

Pulkovo  <--->  St. Petersburg

From Pulkovo you will need bus #39, #39 or marshrutka 39. Buses depart about every half an hour and marshrutkas depart every 5 minutes (just outside of the arrivals hall) but the exact schedule is not printed, followed, or apparently known. All routes will take you to the Moscovskaya metro station. It will cost about 30 RUR for a ticket. You can change money at the airport.

    --> Onward to a Train Station    more about train travel in Russia
St. Petersburg has several train stations, all of which have an associated metro station nearby (see list below). Make sure you know what metro station you need before leaving home, and feel free to contact your SRAS consultant with questions. 

  • Moscow Station: Ploshad Vosstaniya
  • Vitebsk Station: Pushkinskaya
  • Warsaw Station: Baltiiskaya
  • Finland Station: Ploshchad Lenina
  • Baltic Station: Baltiiskaya

 

See Also: International Airfare to and from Russia
See Also: Train Travel in Russia



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