What to do in a Russian Airport at 01:30 in the night

I was on route to work with INTERACT partners at Yugra State University and had the misfortune to book a Lufthansa flight which did not run to schedule.  I was routed from Edinburgh via  Heathrow-Frukfurt, –Vnukovo, Moscow- Khanty-Mansiysk. My flight from London to Frankfurt was delayed and I missed the connection to Moscow. Lufthansa booked me onto the next flight to Vnukovo but it did not arrive until 01:10 the following morning. They said after that I was on my own. What to do in a Russian Airport at 01:30 in the night, when you are exhausted, speak no local language and know the next flight to your destination leaves 20:15 the following evening!

Well on arrival in Moscow- Vnukovo airport I eventually found people at the Airport Administration desk (second floor furthest left hand corner opposite wall from main doors into terminal).  They were very friendly but did not speak much English. When they understood that I needed a bed they arranged for me a hotel with a mini-bus pick-up and drop-off at the airport. They took me personally to the pick-up point and made sure the driver was there and that I was save.  I was very tired and very grateful for their help.

The hotel was good (basic clean – en-suite – 3100 rouble ~ 90 euro). It is very close to airport ~10 min on major highways located within a secure compound (you turn off at petrol station and go up a dark lane which does not look like a road to a hotel at 2:30 in the middle of the night – mild panic was followed by great relieve after the doors were opened!).

Just to continue my story in case you were wondering what happened next. Well, the following morning I took the hotel mini-bus to the airport and paid (had to be cash) a re-booking fee (1125 rouble ~35 euro). UTair staff were very friendly and helpful one spoke very good English – Mr Ruslan Avleev. He was great and helped me make contact with the hotel which picked me up again and allowed me to stay in the room until 17:00 before taking me back again to the airport for my 20:15 flight (no charge and the hotel has free internet). The airport is small, clean and well run so I did not need to be so quick at the airport but I was sure I was not going to miss that flight!!.

I arrived safely and was picked up at 01:30 in Khanty-Mansiysk by Evgeny Zarov, an excellent English speaking young Russian who drove me swiftly to Shapsha field station where  I gratefully fell asleep!

I am here to work with Prof. Dr. Elena D. Lapshina on INTERACT work package 8 Outreach activities combining with the TA grants of BORFOR and Eco-SEE, but that is a story for another night!

-Dr Jan Dick, Centre for Ecology and Hydrolo (CEH) Cairngorms, Scotland, UK

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