THE FLIGHT: Ukraine International Airlines flight PS501 from Kiev Boryspil Airport to London Gatwick, departing 10am, arriving 11.20am local time. The flight was operated by a B737-300 with a duration of 3hrs 20mins.
THE AIRPORT: Our group made tracks for UIA's premium check-in desk where there was just a short queue. After an initial problem with the tickets, we were each checked in successfully while passengers in the queue that had formed behind us were prioritised by staff behind the economy counters. Progress through security and passport control was swift. Just five departure gates, a TGI Fridays restaurant and bar, a Costa Coffee outlet and an obligatory duty free shop comprised the airport's smart Terminal F which opened last year.
THE SEAT: Business class was configured 2x2 across a row of six seats – in dark blue leather upholstery – where the middle seat is not sold. A moveable curtain separates business from economy, hence it was comprised of three rows on the way out and six rows on this return leg.
THE SERVICE: The affable cabin attendants came round before take-off with a choice of drinks and newspapers, followed by a refreshing towel once in the air. A breakfast of warm croissants, fruit, cheese and a choice of omelette or pancakes was served soon afterwards. By way of distractions, there was an inflight magazine, but no audio/video options – but the flight is only three hours.
THE ARRIVAL: Time lost on the ground in Kiev – due to four UIA departures scheduled within five minutes of each other – was clawed back in the air and the flight landed at London Gatwick bang on time.
THE DETAILS: UIA operates a daily service between London Gatwick and Kiev Boryspil airports. Lead-in return economy fares start from around £168 including taxes. Business class fares are from around £435. UIA offers onward connections from Kiev to Moscow, Samara, Tbilisi, Almaty, Astana and destinations across the Ukraine.
A smooth, comfortable and hassle-free service in both directions, from airport check-in through to arrival at the
other end. While Gatwick might not be everyone's preferred departure point, it does at least present a more serene airport experience than Heathrow. Business class passengers have access to a good Servisair lounge at Gatwick.
Deputy Editor, The Business Travel Magazine