Russia’s Ploy for Grounded Travel Industry Is Security Lines, Airplane Food, and No Flight for $24

It’s all of the fun of flying, without the flight. Did we say fun? We meant aggravation.

byAaron Cole| PUBLISHED Oct 27, 2022 5:25 PM
Russia’s Ploy for Grounded Travel Industry Is Security Lines, Airplane Food, and No Flight for $24
Pobeda Airlines LCC Boeing 737-800 commercial aircraft as seen on the tarmac at Antalya International Airport AYT LTAI in Turkey. Pobeda PBD DP is a Russian low cost airline owned by Aeroflot, the flag carrier of Russia. The Boeing B737NG has the registration VP-BQM and is powered by 2x CFMI jet engines. Antalya is Turkey’s biggest international sea resort, located on the Turkish Riviera popular for vacations with millions of tourists visiting every year. April 12, 2020 (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images).

Reeling from international sanctions after the country invaded Ukraine earlier this year, the Russian airline industry has an idea for the next best thing after flights to nowhere: Letting people go through the motions of leaving for a trip without actually taking off. That means security lines and boarding passes, airplane food, and then going home. Just show us where to point our credit cards for that first-class excitement. 

Yep, for $24 you can get security-screening tickles and a gate agent to roll their eyes at you. What’s more, you can sit in the cockpit and twist the wheel around like a good junior pilot would, before sitting in a seat without much legroom to eat reheated food from your lap. 

According to Business Insider, it’s part of a plan to remind Russian travelers what normal life was like in the before times, when the rest of the world only barely tolerated its leader. Of course, invading a neighboring nation wreaks all kinds of havoc on an economy, so Russian citizens are left to do what they can. 

These mostly depressing airport tours are hosted at Anapa Airport, near Russian-annexed Crimea and across the Sea of Azov from Ukraine. According to various reports, it’s one of the top 10 busiest passenger airports in Russia—or at least it was. Now, on its Russian social media pages, it’s mostly a source for non-stop no-fly order updates and some cat pictures.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the country’s domestic airline industry has been reeling from international sanctions that have grounded its planes and stopped the supply of Western-made aircraft and parts from entering the country. In response, the country has effectively stolen billions of dollars in aircraft and stripped many for spare parts, keeping planes in flight that really have nowhere to go. 

The Russian airline industry has promised domestically sourced planes to help the travel industry recover, although analysts say those promises—building 1,000 planes in the country that aren't subject to international sanctions by 2030—are “basically impossible,” according to Reuters.

At least forlorn travelers in Russia can pretend by boarding a plane, getting in a seat, then getting dual water cannon blasts before going back to the gate. 

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