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GUIDE TO RUSSIA

GETTING THERE & AWAY


With land borders with nine other Countries and flight connections to many more around the world, there are plenty of options for get­ting to and from European Russia.

Unless you have a transit visa, you can enter the country on a one-way ticket (even if your visa is only good for one day, it's un­likely anyone will ask to see your outgoing ticket), so you have a great deal of flexibility once inside Russia to determine the best way of getting out again.

Information on travel between European Russia and Belarus is given in the Belarus Getting There & Away chapter; information on travel between European Russia and Siberia , the Russian Far East, Mongolia and China is given in the Siberia & the Russian Far East Getting There & Away chapter.

AIR

It's most likely you will fly into Moscow's tihcremetevo-2 or Domodedovo airports, but there are also daily services from several Euro­Ix•an cities to St Petersburg . Other entry op­lions include Yekaterinburg, Perm , Krasnodar and Mineralnye Vody all served by direct flights from Germany , the last two with occasional flights to Istanbul . Note there aren't any direct services to European Russia from Australasia ; go to an Asian, European or US gateway and proceed from there. If you are flying to another city in Euro­pean Russia or elsewhere in the nation your best connection will be through Moscow , which has the bulk of domestic flights. How­ever, this will inevitably require a change of airports, which can mean a potentially costly, inconvenient and time-consuming adventure.

Airplanes

It's most likely you will fly into Moscow's tihcremetevo-2 or Domodedovo airports, but there are also daily services from several Euro­Ix•an cities to St Petersburg . Other entry op­lions include Yekaterinburg, Perm , Krasnodar and Mineralnye Vody all served by direct flights from Germany , the last two with occasional flights to Istanbul . Note there aren't any direct services to European Russia from Australasia ; go to an Asian, European or US gateway and proceed from there. If you are flying to another city in Euro­pean Russia or elsewhere in the nation your best connection will be through Moscow , which has the bulk of domestic flights. How­ever, this will inevitably require a change of airports, which can mean a potentially costly, inconvenient and time-consuming adventure.

Buying Tickets

The plane ticket will probably be the single most expensive item in your budget, and buy­ing it can be an intimidating business. There is likely to be a multitude of airlines and travel agencies hoping to separate you from your money and you're going to want to get the best deal possible, so it's always worth putting aside time to research the current state of the market.

Use the fares quoted in this book as a guide only. They are approximate and based on the rates advertised by travel agencies at the time of going to press. Quoted airfares do not necessarily constitute a recommendation for the carrier.

Once you have your ticket, write its num­ber down, together with the flight number and other details, and keep the information sepa­rate from your ticket. If the ticket is lost or stolen, this will help you get a replacement.

Open-Jaw Tickets These are return tickets that allow you to fly out to one destination but return from another, and can save you back­tracking to your arrival point. Even if the same airline doesn't fly into, for example, both Moscow and Yekaterinburg, travel agen­cies will certainly be able to put together two one-way tickets with different airlines.

While open-jaw tickets may give you peace of mind and something to show immi­gration officials, they can sacrifice flexibil­ity. You'll have to be at the other end on a certain date, or go through the hassle of changing your flight en route. Also, it un­likely to be any cheaper to do it this way as one-way tickets to major destinations can be purchased reasonably cheaply and at short notice in Moscow , St Petersburg , and else­where. Generally, you will be better off buy­ing a one-way ticket into your destination and another one-way ticket out when you finish the trip.

Travelers with Special Needs

Most international airlines can cater for peo­ple with special needs - travelers with dis­abilities, people with young children and even children traveling alone.

Special dietary preferences (vegetarian. kosher etc) can be catered for with advance notice. If you are traveling in a wheelchair, most international airports can provide an escort from check-in desk to plane where needed, and ramps, lifts, toilets and phone, are generally available.

Airlines usually carry babies up to two years of age at 10% of the adult fare, al­though a few may carry them free of charge. Reputable international airlines usually pro­vide nappies (diapers), tissues, talcum pow­der and all the other paraphernalia needed to keep babies clean, dry and at least hall happy. For children between the ages of two and 12, the fare on international flights is usually 50% of the regular fare or 67% of a discounted fare.

Departure Tax

Russian departure taxes are usually included in the price of the ticket.

The USA

Discount travel agencies in the USA are known as consolidators (although you won't see a sign on the door saying 'Consolidator'), and they can be found in the Yellow Pages or the travel sections of major daily newspapers such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Examiner. Good deals can generally be found at agen­cies in San Francisco , Los Angeles , New York and other big cities. A good place to start is STA Travel (Tel:800-781 4040; www.statravel.com), which has a wide net­work of offices.

Economy class air fares from New York to Moscow can go as low as one-way/return US$450/550 with Aeroflot. From Los An­geles you're looking at one-way/return fares to Moscow of US$550/960.