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As the most important transportation hub in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS, a quasi-confederation of states including most of the former Soviet Union), Moscow has several airports. Most international flights arrive at Sheremetyevo II, north of the city center. The Russian carrier Aeroflot operates flights from Moscow to just about every capital of Europe, as well as to Canada and the United States. The airline also serves numerous domestic destinations. Transaero, another Russian carrier, has a large network of domestic flights as well as several international routes. Among the international airlines with offices in Moscow are Air France, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Delta, Finnair, Japan Airlines, KLM, Lufthansa, Malev, SAS, and Swiss.
One of the most modern airports in Russia when it was built in 1979, Sheremetyevo II is inadequate and old-fashioned these days, although it is now being renovated and extended. Be prepared for lines everywhere and a wait of up to an hour or two at passport control. The baggage area is directly beyond passport control. Luggage carts are free, but they often go quickly. You can also hire a porter for about 130R per suitcase (agree on a price before you give your bags to the porter). There's a bank and an ATM in the waiting area where you can exchange money or traveler's checks while you're waiting for your luggage. Beyond the baggage area is customs. If you have nothing to declare, you can walk right through the green aisle to the waiting area, where you'll be greeted by mobs of eager gypsy cab drivers shouting,"Taksi! Taksi!"
In addition to its international airport, the city has four domestic terminals. Sheremetyevo I, some 30 km (19 mi) northwest of the city center, services domestic flights to St. Petersburg and the former Baltic republics (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania). It also handles the international flights of some of the newer Russian airlines. Domodedovo, one of the largest airports in the world (and perhaps the nicest in Russia), is some 48 km (30 mi) southeast of Moscow. British Airways, Swiss, and Transaero fly out of Domodedovo. Flights also depart from Domodedovo to the republics of Central Asia. Vnukovo, 29 km (18 mi) southwest of the city center, services flights to Georgia, the southern republics, and Ukraine. Bykovo, the smallest of the domestic terminals, generally handles flights within Russia and some flights to Ukraine.
For general information on arriving international flights, call the airline directly. Calling the airports usually takes longer and fewer people speak English.
Stalin's Eighth Sister?
You may notice a new stepsister to the Seven Gothic Sisters on the drive in from Sheremetyevo II airport. Triumph Palace, near the Sokol metro station, is a modern copy of the original skyscrapers. This expensive block of apartments, the tallest residential building in Europe at 866 feet, has been criticized by architects, but its huge size and similarity to the original Seven Sisters will likely make it another city symbol.
Air France. 495/937-3839.
Austrian Airlines. 495/995-0995.
British Airways. 495/363-2525.
Japan Airlines. 495/730-3070.
Swiss. 495/937-7760 or 495/937-7767.
Sheremetyevo Airport. 495/232-6565 or 800/100-6565.
Sheremetyevo II Airport. 495/956-4666, 495/578-9101, or 495/956-2372.
It's wise to make advance arrangements for your transfer from the airport. Most hotels will provide airport transfers (for a fee, usually about 1,000R) upon request by prior fax (which you should confirm).
There are plenty of gypsy cabs available, but there's always a risk of being swindled. If you do take one, bargain, bargain, bargain. The standard rate from Shermetyevo II to Moscow's city center is 1,500R. Gypsy cab drivers will try to persuade you to pay 2,000R, but this is too much. Remember, too, that you will likely travel in an old, small, Soviet car with no guarantee of a smooth or safe ride. And don't get out of the taxi while the driver is still at the wheel and your luggage is in the trunk—he might just drive off with your belongings. It's better to use the services offered on the airport's ground floor. These private firms are less risky, can provide a receipt, and you may find their prices more reasonable than the gypsy cabs' prices. Traveling to the airport from the city is cheaper. You can hail a taxi on the street for about 800R-900R or book a taxi in advance for 900R-1,000R.
All of the airports are served by municipal buses operating out of Aerovokzal (City Airport Terminal) at 37 Leningradsky prospekt, near the Aeroport metro station. Even more convenient are the buses and the faster marshrutka minibuses that go from just outside the airport to the Rechnoy Vokzal metro station. From here it's about 25 minutes to the city center. Service is not very convenient, especially if you have a lot of luggage, but it's very inexpensive. Buses leave for Rechnoy Vokzal metro station every 5 to 10 minutes but are more erratic to the City Airport Terminal; service to Domodedovo and Vnukovo airports is more frequent. Domodedovo is the easiest airport, with a fast train running from the airport to Paveletsky train station (where you can check in immediately with some airlines), although newly renovated Vnukovo also now has an express train service running from Kiev train station. Buses and marshrutka minibuses also run frequently from Domodedovo to the Domodedovskaya metro station. A train runs from Bykovo airport to Kazansky train station.
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