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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Aeroflot Overhauls Its Image

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As part of an ongoing revamp of its image, Aeroflot said Monday that passengers will now get many of the same amenities offered by Western airlines.

Waiting lines at the check-in counter will be kept short, and passengers stuck in flight delays will be offered beverages and meals.

"Every solid airline has its standards of quality, and we have come to the stage in our development when we have to adjust to the changes that have happened since," said Alexander Ivanov, deputy head of Aeroflot's department for ground services.

Aeroflot, which had not updated its passenger service rules since 1985, put the new services in effect Feb. 1, Ivanov said in a telephone interview. The new standards apply to both international and domestic flights.

First-class passengers now will not have to wait more than two minutes to get checked in, and no more than one person will be in line at the desk, Ivanov said. Business class will not have to wait more than six minutes with only three people in line, while economy class will not wait longer than 20 minutes with no more than 10 people in line.

In case of flight delays, Aeroflot is promising to provide soft drinks after 1 1/2 hours and breakfast, lunch or dinner after three hours, which a passenger can buy with a $10 voucher.

If the plane is delayed by more than six hours at night or eight hours during the day, the airline will provide for accommodation at hotels at its own expense.

Staff are being required to have "a benevolent and polite attitude and give timely and qualified help," according to a copy of the standards document obtained by The Moscow Times. When communicating with passengers, "voices should not be raised, and arguments are not allowed."

Ivanov said that ensuring passengers get speedy passage through passport and customs controls — a major grouch among travelers — would be difficult to achieve since Aeroflot has no control over those services. But the airline is looking to ease the discomfort, he said.

The official conceded that the standardization of services will not spread quickly to all of its 109 destinations, particularly the 26 in the regions.

"Not everything that we have standardized can be provided straight away since much depends on the airport itself, but we will try our best to institute them in due course," Ivanov said.

Meanwhile, Aeroflot said Monday that it has managed to get a waiver on a smoking ban for flights into the United States from the U.S. Transportation Department. Aeroflot had been allowing smoking on such flights despite the ban.