Reviews

Review: S7 Airlines business class lounge, Moscow Domodedovo Airport

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, February 1 2019
S7 Airlines business class lounge, Moscow Domodedovo Airport
Country

Russia

City

Moscow

Airport

Moscow - Domodedovo

Alliance

oneworld

Airline

S7 Airlines

Cabin-class

Business

Notes
The Good
  • Broad access list should have you covered
  • Natural light with tarmac views
  • Good variety of seating zones
The Bad
  • Difficult to find
  • Buffet food wasn't appetising
X-Factor
  • À la carte dining, if you're prepared to pay (spoiler: it's worth it!)
Location
Dining
Work
Overall

Introduction

Moscow's Domodedovo Airport serves as the home hub of S7 Airlines: Qantas' Oneworld alliance partner in Russia and the country's largest domestic airline, so it's fitting to have high expectations of S7's flagship domestic business class lounge, which is also shared by some S7 passengers travelling internationally.

After all, this is the go-to business class space for pointy-end passengers and elite frequent flyers jetting from the capital city of the world's largest country, so step inside as we show you what's on offer.

Location & Impressions

Finding S7's lounge in Moscow is a little tricky, not only because the check-in agent didn't mention that there was a lounge or where it was located, but also because there's no lounge signage immediately after security screening.

Fortunately, I knew I had lounge access and that a lounge was indeed available, courtesy of a quick search on the Oneworld website, but less experienced travellers could be left without, despite being eligible.

Having no clue whether to turn left or right after the security checkpoint with gates in either direction, I looked out the nearby windows towards the tarmac and spotted a group of S7 aircraft over to the right – easy to see even in the snow, as they're lime green – and so ventured right, and eventually found the lounge along the concourse.

As the terminal handles both domestic and international flights, this lounge is in the domestic departures area, but if you're flying S7 internationally, you can use this lounge before proceeding through passport control from the same airside area.

After a quick scan of my S7 business class boarding pass – no issues gaining access on a ticket booked using Qantas Points – I was straight inside, where I found high ceilings, tarmac views, and a variety of places to sit.

All food and beverage is served over near the entrance, where there's both a buffet and a cocktail bar...

... with most seats here being positioned around tables, to make dining (or working) easy.

As long stretches of sunlight are rare during Russian winters, the lounge lets you take in that natural light when it's available...

... with flight information screens at-hand to keep an eye on your departure, although boarding calls are still made:

Don't fret if you don't speak Russian: the screen alternates between Russian and English...

... and if you look closely, also shows whether the gate serving your flight is one with a direct aerobridge from the terminal, or a remote stand (bus gate):

When it's the latter, passengers with lounge access can jump on a dedicated 'lounge bus' to their aircraft, although my flight used a typical aerobridge, so didn't get to experience that.

Knowing ahead of time if you'll be taking a bus also helps with getting things like jackets ready, given Moscow regularly sees chills in the negative double digits, when you wouldn't want to be caught outside in the cold.

Access

  • S7 Airlines Business Flex passengers before domestic and international flights
  • S7 Airlines business class passengers on tickets booked using frequent flyer points or miles, including Qantas Points
  • Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge members prior to S7 Airlines flights
  • S7 Priority Gold and Platinum cardholders prior to S7 Airlines flights
  • Other Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald frequent flyers prior to S7 Airlines flights
  • Priority Pass, LoungeKey and DragonPass members travelling with any airline, except between 10am and 2pm daily when access is unavailable due to capacity constraints
  • Eligible Ural Airlines and Red Wings Airlines passengers, as offered
  • Paying guests who can purchase access at the door for ₽3,000 (A$64) per person

Note that passengers travelling on S7 Airlines' lower-cost Business Basic fares do not receive complimentary lounge access included as part of their fare. Access can either be purchased at the door or entry may be available via another method, such as through frequent flyer status or lounge membership as covered by the list above.

That's also true if you find yourself aboard one of S7's all-economy flights, which is where the right frequent flyer card or lounge membership can come in handy: or as a last resort, your credit card to pay the lounge entry fee.

Dining

On the dining front, there are two levels to the food and beverage experience here. While self-serve items are complimentary, orders placed at the cocktail bar, including food from a separate à la carte menu, are chargeable.

First, here's a look at what's included with every visit, whether flying business class, accessing the lounge as a frequent flyer or lounge program member, or buying entry at the door, and that begins with the main buffet counter.

Here, my mid-afternoon visit saw a selection of juices and cereals available, although I can't say I fancied Corn Flakes for afternoon tea...

... continuing with a range of sweet local bites...

... ready-to-take portions of fresh salads, including a cucumber salad, beetroot mouse with cottage cheese and a typical Russian salad...

... and hot food, including mini burgers with beef, tomato sauce and cheddar cheese, Alpine beef sausages, Russian pancakes with matching condiments...

... "croissanwich" with salami, turkey on brioche, vegetable pizzetta, steamed vegetables, and baked potatoes.

I tried bites of all the hot food but wasn't particularly fond of any of it, except for the pancakes – the breads were hard to the point of being almost inedible, the beef in the mini burger was tough, and the vegetables tasted like what you'd get in a frozen supermarket packet back home in Australia.

Slightly more pleasing was the availability of espresso coffee via several self-serve machines...

... although the options are all in Russian, so I hope you've done your homework, or can at least decide what you want from the pictures!

(If not, from my limited Russian and Cyrillic skills, I can tell you that in the left-hand column, the sequence down from the top is Ristretto, Espresso, Double Espresso and Americano, while in the right-hand column, it's Cappuccino, Latte Macchiato, Milk... and my guess is as good as yours for the last one: hot chocolate, perhaps.)

There's also a drink fridge offering a variety of soft drinks and bottled water: I helped myself to a Pepsi Light, although would have preferred a bigger glass, as only relatively shot-sized cups were nearby:

Guests are also entitled to one complimentary bottle of beer per lounge visit, although I didn't indulge on this occasion.

Given I wasn't too impressed with the buffet, I was hesitant to order food from the à la carte menu, but I'm glad I did, as 'chalk and cheese' would be an apt comparison.

From the extensive eight-page menu offering breakfast to dessert and everything in between, I began with pancakes filled with beef, onion and spice, with sour cream on the side: in a word, delicious, and a must-try, at a fair price of 380 (A$8)...

... and had a few bites of my travel companion's home-made pork dumplings with broth and sour cream, which were also tender and tasty, and again reasonably-priced at 470 (A$10)...

... while sipping on an Aperol Spritz – a mix of Aperol and Champagne, plus soda water, ice and orange – although beverage prices are on the higher side: this one cocktail was 980 (A$21):

Having used Qantas Points to book my flight, that meant my pre-flight cocktail was actually more expensive than the journey itself – I'd paid a mere $14.25 in taxes, fees and charges for S7 Airlines business class from Moscow to St. Petersburg, plus 18,000 Qantas Points – which is still good value overall, and was good for a laugh.

I had to approach the bar to ask for the drink and food menus but was encouraged to take a seat anywhere in the lounge to peruse the menu and order, so I chose the colourful space nearby:

Payment is accepted by cash or credit card (Visa and Mastercard), but like most places in Russia, American Express isn't accepted here.

There's also a proper barista coffee machine tucked away behind the bar, but being the airline's home hub business class lounge serving domestic and international passengers, charging 350 (A$7.50) for a latte – or anything at all, for that matter – is frankly ridiculous, despite the other (machine-made) coffee options available here.

Work

Many of the lounge's seats provide easy access to both European AC and USB power.

It's good to have both, because some corporate and government travel policies suggest that public USB charging outlets be completely avoided in Russia for data security reasons, so I was pleased to find two AC sockets at my dining table...

... and it was nice to have a tarmac view, towards S7's iconic lime green aircraft. While these could look out of place at an Australian airport, the green actually makes them easy to see in heavy (white) snow, which is something Russia gets plenty of.

WiFi is also offered at the lounge, but I had no need to connect on this occasion – and generally avoid public WiFi networks in Russia at the best of times – so didn't test the speeds on offer.

Relax

With time to spare before your flight, there are plenty of places to kick back and relax...

... with my favourite being the multi-purpose seats over by the windows, which double as comfy chairs and dining tables...

... and even have games nearby, if you're travelling with a companion:

Otherwise, these higher-backed seats afford a little more privacy, almost doubling as a day bed...

... and there's a separate room hidden close to the entrance, through the frosted door just next to the flight screen:

As luck would have it, that room was sitting open when I stopped by, so I poked my head inside, but found only more of the same tables and chairs as were everywhere else – so don't think this is even close to being the Russian equivalent of a Qantas Chairman's Lounge... more akin to a quiet room or family space.

The lounge also has an upper level, with stairs just behind reception: the real 'quiet area', with a few booths and a separate TV and movie viewing room, for those who can understand Russian:

Overall, I'd arrived rather early for my S7 Airlines domestic flight, not knowing how long check-in and security would take and how big the airport was, but in the end, got to spend a couple of hours here before boarding, on what was a relatively quiet day.

While the buffet food was far from impressive, I really enjoyed everything ordered from the menus, which also indicate how long each dish or drink takes to prepare: useful if you don't have a lot of time until boarding begins.

The atmosphere here was also quite nice, particularly from my seat with a view towards the snow outside, but again, it's unfortunate that all alcohol is chargeable in such a flagship business class lounge: and to ask travellers to cough up for a barista-made latte just feels cheap, in what's otherwise a nice and refined space.

Chris Chamberlin travelled at his own expense using frequent flyer points.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

danielrp

danielrp

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Jan 2019

Total posts 6

Hi Chris,
I'm heading to Moscow soon and am struggling to find currency exchanges/banks that deal with AUD. Do you have any suggestions if you used any? Cheers.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2951

Hi Daniel, can't help you there I'm afraid: I almost exclusively used credit cards – Visa and Mastercard are almost universally accepted (including with contactless: PIN required for 1,000 RUB or more), while AMEX is almost never accepted in Russia, except at major international hotels, Uber, and a few select restaurants.

The only time I really needed cash was for the St. Petersburg metro (the one in Moscow accepts cards, though), and for tips, such as for housekeepers, drivers, porters etc., or at some restaurants that couldn't add the tip through the credit card terminal (some could, though).

Even little market stalls had credit card machines, and I never encountered a credit card surcharge or minimum transaction amount the whole time I was in Russia: everybody just seemed happy to be making a sale.

vitorsyd

vitorsyd

04 Jun 2018

Total posts 11

Hi Chris, I think you might have accidentally swapped the cities where you can use card to pay for public transport. I went to both cities last May and was able to use my PayPass/PayWave card directly at the gates in St. Petersburg metro, as well as on board the busses. Interestingly, on the bus it’s best to wait until the ticket officer comes to sell the ticket and then taps the debit/credit card on the reader for you. This is because the machine doesn’t issue a receipt and therefore there would be no way to prove that the fare was already paid for. In Moscow, i remember having to stop by the ticket machines before going through the gates at the station. Maybe the system in Moscow has been updated since, but St Petesrburg had it before Sydney!

Cheers

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2951

Hi vitorsyd, we're getting a bit off-topic now, but no, in Moscow I was able to use credit card at the ticket machines, but in St. Petersburg (at least at what was my local station), it was only possible to pay by notes of a specific value in return for a ride token. Didn't notice any card readers at the barrier, but then again, I wasn't looking for them.

Rufus1

Rufus1

04 Dec 2013

Total posts 122

St Petes still had Soviet-era tokens last time I was there. Which was a while back.

Moscow has changed from the very funky art-deco style single-use magnetic cards, to the Troika card - similar to an Oyster card. Just watch the spikes which shoot out and stab you if you attempt walk through the gates without zapping the card first. Major trap for novices and stray dogs...

Rufus1

Rufus1

04 Dec 2013

Total posts 122

Daniel, there are money change offices everywhere, which generally give pretty similar rates for USD/EUR. They'll often post a rate for AUD but it may be pretty average. But I'd suggest you rely on your cards. Change a minimum into cash if you need. If you're really worried, pick up some EUR or USD before you go (I wouldn't be, having travelled to Moscow a lot).

Some ATMs in Moscow will give you USD in cash if you want that.

riskman

riskman

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Dec 2013

Total posts 8

Actually last drinks machine one is Hot Water

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2951

Problem solved, thanks riskman!

phyllisbird

phyllisbird

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 13

It’s not hot chocolate, it’s hot water 😂👍

born2fish

born2fish

01 Apr 2014

Total posts 53

Having also flown S7 between DME - LED I found the general ambience in the DME lounge was nice, including the views outside and plenty of room But the food and staff were below average. Had to get the bongo bus between lounge and the aircraft at a remote stand which was a bit chilly, and no priority given to Business Class, although the product is Y+ at best. Also allow plenty of time in the Moscow traffic to get to the airport.

Rufus1

Rufus1

04 Dec 2013

Total posts 122

As far as traffic to DME is concerned - I've done it to my office just near the Bolshoi in barely 45 minutes late at night - and 2+ hrs during the day in traffic.

If you're worried about timing, get the Aeroexpress to and from Paveletskaya, which reliably takes about 45 minutes and is pretty regular. Even has a drinks trolley...


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