Poor customer service and the inability of employees to problem solve make this a very frustrating airline to choose. The planes are comfortable and clean, but the customer service is so bad and unpredictable that you might not even be able to make it on the plane if you pick Ukraine International Airlines.
Ukraine International Airlines is part of a mileage program called the Panorama club. Currently, they have four partner airlines that you can transfer points from qualifying flights too. Their partners are AirFrance, Austrian Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and TAP Air Portugal.
Check-in Experience and Customer Service: 1
In-Flight Service: 2
Ranking System 1 – 6 (6 is the best)
Route 1: Yerevan, Armenia to Lviv, Ukraine
Flight Duration with layover in Kiev: 6h 5m
Route 2: Lviv Ukraine to Kiev, Ukraine
Flight Duration: 1h 10m
Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) has taken the first spot for airlines I don’t like. Closely followed by S7 airlines.
As Ukraine’s major national airline, for travel within Ukraine, you might not have a lot of other options.
Flying into Ukraine from another country does give you more airline options. However, the most direct (and least expensive) flights tend to be on UIA.
If you find that UIA is your only option, don’t panic, just prepare. The most important part of any airline is safety, and they do have that going for them.
Check-in Experience and Customer Service
UIA offers online check-in. I recommend doing as much of the check-in online as possible. Customer service at the airport is terrible. The representatives aren’t friendly, and several were outright rude.
They are VERY strict about luggage weight limits so be ready for them to be hard-lined about that. Do not waste a moment trying to argue, even if it is half a kilo over. You won’t get anywhere. The worst part about having overweight luggage was that they would not accept payment at the check-in counter. I had to go to another UIA counter on a different floor of the airport to pay. When I got to the counter, the representative informed me they ONLY accept payment in cash. They wouldn’t take any other payment. I had to find an ATM (on another floor) because I did not have any Ukrainian currency left. Once you have paid for the extra luggage, you need to get back in line at the check-in counter.
For Economy class tickets checked luggage is no more than 23kg. I recommend planning to be at least 1 kg under that. Sometimes scales are different. If you are at 23kg, you risk going over when the attendant at the check-in counter weights it. Carry-on is no more than 5kg/115cm, and they will check this too.
The agents at the airport follow the rules carefully and seem unable to deviate from them. If you don’t have any weight problems or questions, the check-in process will be easier.
The flight attendants were not much better than the customer service agents. They at least weren’t outright rude.
There were no meals offered on any of my flights. They do have an onboard menu, and there are a few items available to order, but some hot meals must be ordered several days in advance. Beverage service was offered on the Yerevan to Kiev route. Drinks aren’t free. When providing beverage service, they didn’t smile, nor did they display patience in answering questions.
I’ve noticed a lot of reviews that complained about comfort and seat pitch and overall maintenance of the planes. On all three of my flights, I found all three areas to be okay. Regarding comfort, S7 airlines are much worse. The one thing that UIA might have going for them is plenty of leg room and wide seats.
Regarding overall maintenance, I didn’t notice any issues, the planes seemed clean, and didn’t seem old. I found that the condition and cleanliness of the planes for Qatar Airways and AirFrance worse than UIA.
The most important part of a flight is safety, and I arrived at all my destinations without any problems. The flights were smooth, and there were no delays. However, terrible customer service makes this an airline I recommend avoiding. The lack of flexibility on the part of the customer service agents makes it likely that you might miss your flight due to their rules and all the steps you must complete for whatever it is that they are asking you to do.
UIA offers some of the most inexpensive flights, but there is a reason for that. For Yerevan, to Lviv route, UIA was the cheapest and fastest (by many hours) choice. Check out all your options by searching with CheapOair, and if you book a flight now you can use code AIR50 to get up to $50 off your next flight
Avoid if you can. Prepare if you must!