Estreia em Russos- Ilyushin 96 e Yakovlev 42D da Cubana






We had decided to fly in russian airplanes, and our trip to Cubana was kind of a last chance to flyto the Western world in one of them. The best options for a portuguese to fly to Havana (HAV) are Air Europa (A330/B767) Cubana (IL96) and Iberia (A340). We decided to book with Cubanasince the price was about 580€. Cubana’s site does not allow bookings do we tried GOVOL andRUMBO. Both cancelled our reservation, GOVOL after chargin my credit card, alledegly becaiseCubana did not issue e-tickets. So we contacted Cubana’s Office in Madrid and purchased itdirecttly, without any major problems. We were afraid we’d fly a Boeing 763 from EuroatlanticAirways, whoe were doing ACMI to Cubana for that route. Nothing against them, but ourpurpose was to fly Russian, and the reservation websites stated IL96 was to be used for theroute, possibibly due to the summer being over by Octover.

Just 3 days before our trip, I was at Barajas in a business trip and was livid when I saw na EAA763 land overthere. Fortunately it was not for Cuba as it parked on T4 and not T1. We flewEasyjet to MAD on the 1st of October arriving by 9h30 am. We decided to check-in early, despitethe CU471 already being dealyed from 15 to 17h. A friend confirmed the plane had departedHAV so no worries. At 11h there was already a huge line for chec-in and we noticed more thanhalf of the passengers, 90% Cubans, had covered their hold baggae with plastic foil. Since we hadonly trolleyr we were not so worried, until we saw the 5kg hand bagagae limit and the bagmeasurer justy like Ryanair’s. Then it came to mind the IL96 does not have central overhead bins, inacceptable for a widebody carrying over 260 pax. A small desk was before the checkincounters validating the tickets and stiking a small sticker to the external cover of passports (ridiculous). The handling is done by Iberia, and they offered free move to Iberia flight, which webad-humored refused. The guy was shocked, and called his superior, and they asked again withthe same reply. By then we were already pissed off and asked if there was any major problem.They said nothing more than the delay was to be expected, so we managed to checkin with bothtrollyers over 10kg, in seats 33A and 33B. Funny to see the capitalist concept of businnes classwith own counter, wish I could have Fidel explaining that one.

The IL96 arrived at 15h allright and it was a beautifull sight seing it táxi all the way to the gate.The plane is simply elegant and a 4-holer is a classy machine. I had only seen Putin’s and it wasmy first sihjt ever of the airliner version. The registration was XXX, one of only 27 IL96 everordered, all versions accounted for.

Worth of notice is the 2 hour rotation wich were 2h30 in reality. Then we started to realize whythe surprise for nothing takeing Iberia. The boarding became a total disaster when it wasannounced that pax siting in rows above 16 would board first. The line was long bit hd beenestablished orderly, but then everyone started pushing and some people even assumed theywould be the first to board even if there were 100 people in front of them. Furthermore manyhad those small aiport baggage trolley that can be found in boarding lounges and simply left themin the middel of the croew and by the boarding gate counter, leading to major chaos.

We did the same, and not a single dirty look was given to us, and then entered the cabin. Total caos again, noone seemed to understant the seat are numbered, even when the IL96 is the mosteasy to see the numeration, with indicators in the bins and seats. The corridors are too narrowand tow people basically cannot cross, and they were moving in all directions. We had differentpeople sitting on 33C and then moved to the other side of the plane; one lady asked me towatchout for her purse, which she left unattedned for at least 15 minutes. The overhead bins areplaced too high and are totally bad designed in volume, basically barely fitiing a trolley. The crewdid not give a damn about the passengers and hardly helped even old people to put the bags onthe bins. My wife’s seat smelled of wine (they had almost 1h30 to clean the plane) and the carpetbelow my seat was not bound to the floor and slipped whenever I tried to get up. Boarding thewhole pax took ages and the Captain asked numerous times via the PA for people to sito on theirallocated seats. No one gave a damn, pax or cabin crew. All pax seemed to be in groups of 5, moving and chatting along the cabin and the cabin crew stayed at the rear just barking orders tothe pax.

The seat was very different from the western typical in Airbus/Boeing/fokker/embraer. Therewas no light, a/c out or O2 masks over our heads, even when the bin was high on the ceiling. Thelack of central bins gave a nice feel of space but the crossbars with the LCD screens made it looklike a warehouse. The seat itselg was of cheap fabric, and the table did not have a cup placer, notit opened if the front pax decied to lower his backseat. The O2 masks supposedly come out of theseat, from a panel in front on the pax face, and that is scary because of the ABC seats only the B’spanel opens. The A and C are simply a full piece of plastic coevring the whole back of the chair. Iguess the B pax should get 3 maks and give them to the side and pray the wires do not tangle up. 6 emergency exits for 260 pax and those narrow corridors spell for major disaster if anemergency evacuation happens to be necessary. The a/c exist is in front of the pax face andlights up a fancy blue light when turned on, like the A380 toilet flusher. You wonder why theywaste time on that stuff….There is no airline magazine, nor newspapers (coming from Havanathe political – and only existent – papers at least are good for laughing).

Each seat has its typical channel selector and the security vide was very nice with cartoons. Assoon as we approached the runway 15R, the nose camera was switched on, with very goodresolution and we saw the takeoff. The plane seems powerfull and it climbed weel. A couple ofminutes airborne and the IFE was swicthed off for good, music included, and we were told it wasinoperative. Why to they bother with cameras when the pax would really like to see even a Cuba promotion movie?


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