Flight Review: MIAT Mongolian Airlines (767-300ER) Business Class From Berlin to Moscow
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To The Point
While it’s not the best business class out there, MIAT’s product was more than adequate for the two-hour flight from Berlin to Moscow. The Pros: A clean, great-smelling bathroom; snack service despite the short hop; and impeccable service. The Cons: The seats do not lie flat, so head’s up for those with longer flights on this aircraft.
Part of my summer travels involved flying to Russia, where my husband and I would spend eight days in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In terms of nonstop flights between the two cities, I was limited to Aeroflot’s 737s or A320s, UTair’s 737s or MIAT Mongolian Airlines’ — wait for it — 767 wide-body with an actual business class. I couldn’t resist and just had to try out the 767-300ER to Moscow for our two hour and 15-minute flight from Berlin. Note that this particular flight occurs twice weekly during peak season and once a week otherwise.
Prior to searching on Google Flights, I had never heard of MIAT Mongolian Airlines. I found the website confusing and hard to use and instead decided to book our flights through The Platinum Card from American Express concierge service. After a few minutes on the phone, we were confirmed on MIAT’s flight to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO) from Berlin Tegel (TXL). Unfortunately, the Amex concierge rep was unable to confirm our seats online so he had to call MIAT directly — the airline’s automated system then hung up on him several times.
Google Flights showed tickets were priced at $378, but the total came to $441.58 each after taxes since I booked through Amex travel concierge due to my lack of faith in the carrier’s website. I was planning to use my Amex Platinum Card, but since MIAT doesn’t accept American Express, the concierge said he would simply pay by check and bill me the amount on my card. Because we were now paying by check, we were only able to earn 1x points on the purchase, whereas we otherwise would have earned 5x Membership Rewards points by booking directly through the airline — so we each ended up with 442 MR points instead of 2,207.
We arrived at Berlin Tegel Airport via Uber in a brand new Audi A8, paying about 17 euros (~$20) for the 25-minute, traffic-free drive from our hotel in Schöneberg. Once we got to Terminal C, I immediately thought that if New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA) is considered to be a third-world airport, then this would be a fourth-world airport.
Thankfully, the signs were clear and we were directed to the MIAT Mongolian Airlines counter. Check-in was quick — there was one family in front of us heading to Ulaanbaatar — and our bags were taken without issue once our visas were confirmed to be in order.
We were then told to proceed through security and head to Gate C89, which also happened to be the farthest from check-in. I inquired about lounge access and was told that we could use the British Airways Terraces Lounge, located about a seven-minute walk away in Terminal A, before going through security.
We were the only guests in the British Airways Terraces Lounge for the entire hour we stayed there. In fact, we only saw three employees.
There weren’t any restrooms — you had to exit the lounge, go two floors down to the basement and follow the signs — so I didn’t bother to ask about shower facilities.
The selection of alcoholic beverages included wine, beer and spirits. Everything was self-serve and sufficient, but nothing too special.
Particularly annoying was the amount of bending needed to access most drinks and sandwiches. As someone with a bad back, it was hard not to notice this.
As I was discreetly taking pictures of the lounge, I was abruptly greeted by an employee, who asked me to immediately stop taking photos — I did. She then asked to see my camera so she could delete my photos. When I did not hand over my camera, she said that the other lounge guests were very upset about this. I then pointed out that my husband and I were the only lounge guests. She asked for my name, which I gave her, and walked away in a huff. Another staff members came over a few minutes later, asked for my name and number, which I provided, and then walked away.
Upon leaving the lounge, we walked back to Terminal C and incorrectly assumed that we could go through the priority section of security — unfortunately, priority boarding is not offered for any MIAT customers at Berlin’s airport so we had to go through the regular security line, which only took about five minutes. After that, we went through passport control and ended up in a boring waiting area. Boarding began on time, but I had to ask if, as a business-class customer, I needed to get on the long line that had already formed. I was told I could start my own line and ended up being the first passenger to enter the plane. I walked up the stairs and had no fewer than four people greet me with a smile. I was smiling too, as this was the first time I was actually going to experience the 2-1-2 layout of the newer 767-300ER. I was escorted to my seat, 2K, but decided to give my husband the window seat and instead take 2H.
Cabin and Seat
As you can see, even the seating charts for this aircraft don’t show 2H and 2K, which is why picking them out was so difficult at the time of booking — I’m so glad we used the Amex concierge service for this one. MIAT’s configurations are not available on SeatGuru.com either but some pre-flight research all but ensured I was going to be on the newer of the two 767s — the 767-300ER with a 2-1-2 layout in business class. The other 767 flown by MIAT has a less appealing 2-2-2 configuration.
While the seat was not lie-flat, it was one of the more comfortable ones I’ve flown in, even at a slightly reclined angle.
There were various adjustments you could make as well as three pre-set reclining options to choose from.
Storage was ample and included a place for shoes, various cup holders and an electric movable armrest with a built-in tray table. There was also a divider between the seats that could be used for privacy, if needed.
Universal plugs were available so you could keep your devices charged up during the flight.
The in-flight entertainment system was simple to use and featured a 15-inch screen with games, music, movies — a variety of new releases and classic hits — and a flight map.
Noise-cancelling headphones were also provided.
At one point, I hit the call button by accident and before I could disable it, a flight attendant was by my side. In other words, the service on this flight was impeccable.
Food and Beverage
Champagne and orange juice were offered (and much appreciated) at boarding.
Even though we were in the air for just over two hours, there was a snack service. It was served cold, but was still a nice gesture.
What can I say, I love me some French wine!
Flight attendants handed out a simple amenity kit that contained three items in a pouch. The eye mask, earplugs and slippers were not needed on such a short flight, but had this been a longer flight, I would have been disappointed with what we were given.
The lavatory was pretty much your average domestic flight-style bathroom — air freshener was provided so it always smelled clean and looked spotless.
While I am pretty certain I will not be flying MIAT Mongolian Airlines again soon — only because I won’t be anywhere near where it flies — I really did enjoy my short experience with this carrier. It’s not the best business class out there, nor does it try to be, but the product is solid and the service was impeccable. I often fly between New York City and Miami, and wish other airlines had a similar product for such short routes.
Have you ever flown on Mongolian Airlines? Tell us about your experience, below.
All photos by the author.
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