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Flying 8,000 Miles In Economy From The City Of Gold To Sin City

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Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Links in this post may provide us with a commission.

Planespotting in Moscow, image of snowy runway and planes

Review of Economy Flights and Lounges, Flying Dubai to Las Vegas

This is a guest review of economy flights and lounges flying on an award ticket from Dubai to Las Vegas. It comes from John Ryan, The Vegas Teenager, and this is the return leg of his recent trip to Dubai, and you can read the first leg here for the flights from Vegas to Dubai. This post covers the whole travel experience along the way.


This was overall a very long and tough journey, and I thought it was way easier on the way there. This was likely due to the strange 2 AM Dubai departure time, as well as the 7-hour layover in Moscow. We had already spent our day in Dubai at Palm Jumeirah, and then we had another long day ahead of us to head home.

COVID Testing

In order to reenter the US, we had to get tested within 1 day of departure . We were planning on using an antigen test, but Russia requires a PCR test, which made it a bit harder to find a good option. We asked our hotel concierge, and the agent recommended a service provided by the hotel. It cost $100 a person. The other options in Dubai were about $40, so this was significantly more expensive. However, it ended up being great in the end. The nurse came at 8 am and we got our results by 3 pm, so I would highly recommend this kind of service if it is available.


As I stated in the outbound flight installment, I booked this flight using 75,000 SkyMiles for my mom and I. This itinerary was the only option when we booked it, and there are way better flights if you book in advance with cash or points.

The cash price for this flight was about $2,000, since Dubai has the EXPO and since we were there around New Year’s Eve. Prices were higher because of that as well. 


We arrived three hours before departure and went to check in. Luckily, the line was very short, but, when we got to the agent, he told us that we could not check in, because we hadn’t flown the portion of our ticket from Paris to Dubai. My mom and I were both very confused: how else would we have been standing there?!

The only reason why this probably happened was that we flew Air France and the Air France and Aeroflot computers did not “sync up” properly. The agent then called his supervisor and they got it fixed. Luckily, this time our tests were sufficient to transit through Moscow. We went to the smart gates at passport control, and this only took a matter of seconds. After that, we headed to the Ahlan Business Class Lounge.

Lounge in Dubai

There are 3 Priority Pass lounge options in Concourse D at DXB. There is the Marhaba Lounge, the SkyTeam Lounge, and the Ahlan Lounge.

Entrance to SkyTeam lounge at DXB airport

The SkyTeam lounge wasn’t an option, since they only accept Priority Pass members from 8 am to 10 pm. I read different reviews online, and it sounded like the Marhaba Lounge isn’t very good. The main issues with the Marhaba Lounge are that it is very crowded and the food options aren’t good.

Entrance sign to Ahlan Lounge showing who has access

The Ahlan Business Class Lounge was a great choice. For anyone who is visiting or transiting through Concourse D at DXB, I would highly recommend you go here. The lounge accepts Priority Pass and about twenty other airlines’ elites, as well as Diners Club, Lounge Key, DragonPass, and DreamFolks. The friendly agent asked for our boarding passes as well as our Priority Pass card, then we were allowed in. 


The lounge was very empty. I was amazed to see this, because this is peak time at the airport. Most of the flights must have already left. The lounge had many of the typical lounge food options, such as finger sandwiches, and also had small soda cans, which are very helpful in case you are boarding a long-haul flight. I took one, and I highly recommend doing this, as there is a chance there will only be one service on your flight. 

There was also a slushie machine available and an ice cream machine with vanilla ice cream available, and it was very good. There was also a bar area. It looked like you could order entrees, such as a burger, but I wasn’t hungry enough to try one. And finally, there were also some hot food options, which were being changed out while we were there. There was also a shower available, which you could use by asking the reception desk.

I really couldn’t have been more impressed with this lounge, and the attendant there couldn’t be nicer. The only thing this lounge lacks is airplane views, but you do get a nice view of the terminal. Personally, better food is more important than views. 

Image of concourse D in DXB airport, not very busy

Aeroflot Flight from Dubai to Moscow

After hanging out in the lounge for about half an hour, we headed over to Gate B8. The gate area wasn’t very busy. I expected this, since we were flying a 737, which only seats about 180 people. Boarding was a bit disorganized: basically, someone just got up, and everyone else followed. We still had about 30 minutes until departure, so we just hung out in the gate area for about 10 minutes before going to board.

The plane was about 75% full, and we luckily had a row to ourselves. I think that having a row to yourself can make a long flight in economy a lot easier to deal with. This flight was particularly rough, due to the lack of legroom. According to Google Flights, this aircraft has about 30” of legroom. There was someone in front of me, and luckily he did not recline.

While the flights I have taken on Frontier have been at most 2 hours, the leg room on this flight felt tighter.  There was also a coat hook, which is a bit strange, since there isn’t much room for your coat.

Image of coat hook on Aeroflot economy seat

The flight managed to leave about 10 minutes early, which I was happy to see. Out of the 6 long-haul flights I’ve taken recently, this was the first one that left on time. I’d also add that the crew wasn’t friendly, but this can be said on many flights I have taken within the US. 

Flight details:
  • Flight number: SU525
  • Flight time: 5:30
  • Departure: 2:30 AM
  • Arrival: 7:30 AM
  • Tail number: VP-BCD
  • Aircraft type: Boeing 737-800

The crew came by with drinks and service about 15 minutes after takeoff, which I was pretty impressed by. I declined the service. This ended up not being a good idea in the end, because my expectation of a second service turned out to be wrong. By the time I got to Moscow (SVO), I was super thirsty. 

Image of seat back with no entertainment system Aeroflot economy seat

There was no in-flight entertainment. They did have power outlets below the seat, but there was not a USB port. I would highly recommend adding in-flight entertainment. Until then, bring a power bank or have your devices fully charged. For example, over the summer, when I flew AirFrance, they didn’t have in-seat power and the plugs did not work. 

We landed at around 5:30 AM in Moscow, and I was glued to the window.  The closest I have been to Moscow is Malmo, Sweden, so this was a super interesting approach. There was also snow on the ground, which is something very rare for me to see living in Las Vegas. We had a relatively quick taxi to Concourse C at SVO, and we got off the plane. 

Transit in Moscow SVO

Planespotting in Moscow, image of snowy runway and planes

We found the connecting flights line, which was relatively short. You just needed to get your passport stamped by an immigration officer, and this went quickly. Note that my mom and I looked through our passports when we landed in JFK and didn’t see the stamps, which I found to be very interesting. 

Security was super easy, and they didn’t make us take our shoes off. Both of our bags got secondary screening, which was surprising, since they didn’t in Dubai. They just did a small inspection and handed the bags back to us. 

We passed through duty free, which was very expensive. We were thinking it would be cool to get something for my father, since he wasn’t with us, but the prices were probably the highest I’ve ever seen for Pringles.  It was about 6 or 7 Euros, so we passed.

Lounges in Moscow

Image of Kandinsky lounge entrance in Moscow

We walked to the Kandinsky lounge, which we got access to thanks to Priority Pass. We have this as a benefit of my mom’s American Express Platinum Card. That lounge was…interesting!

Image of Kandinsky lounge in SVO

The attendant scanned our boarding pass and smacked our boarding pass back on the table. It seemed many of the airport staff at SVO were very rude, but I definitely cannot judge the entire country just based on my airport experience.

Overall, I thought the lounge was super nice. It featured the normal breakfast options, but my appetite was very weird, due to the changes in time zones, so I didn’t eat anything other than a croissant. I also had orange juice, which tasted very watery. Also, the lounge was very crowded, and the people were drinking wine at 8 AM. My mom and I were very shocked by this!

I also took a shower, which was my first one in a lounge. Naturally, I forgot my camera.  It was a great shower, and the water was nice and hot! Concourse C only opened about 2 years ago, so things were very new. This lounge also featured very nice tarmac views, but again the lounge was very crowded. 

Since we had so much time to kill, we took the tram to the older Concourses, D, E, and F. We found a Burger King, so we went over there. It was very good, and I can now say I ate Burger King in Russia! These terminals were still in very good shape but were much emptier. 

I would also like to add that I don’t think I have ever used a Wi-Fi system that has been as bad as the one at SVO. The lounges don’t have Wi-Fi, so the only option is the airport’s network. However, the issue with it is signing in. To sign in, supposedly due to Russian law, they require you to take a selfie as well as a picture of your passport. This may sound easy, but I would rather not give SVO airport my passport information.

Luckily, there is another option, which is also quite strange: they have to call your phone, and you have to tell them the last four digits of the phone number that called you. When I first read the text, I thought it said that you would have to answer the phone, which I didn’t want to do, because T-Mobile (our cellular provider) charges 25 cents a minute overseas. Luckily, you don’t have to answer — just tell them the last four numbers of the phone number that called.

While in Concourse D, we went to another lounge: the Moscow Lounge. The lounge was much smaller than the other lounge (Kandinsky) and also featured a much smaller buffet spread. We had changed lounges since we could only spend 3 hours in the first lounge, and we did the same here. By then, it was time to take the train back and board our flight.

Inspection and Boarding

We took the train across the airport to our gate area. An airport employee called us over and somehow knew who I was. I was very surprised by this, and my mom and I were both a bit concerned. I discovered my boarding pass had SSSS on it. This meant I had to get a whole patdown and a full inspection of my bags.

I found this experience so weird, since they had a small area near the gate where they inspected people yet didn’t check my mom. This was the first time it has ever happened to me. The guy then escorted us over to the SkyPriority line, which was very nice of him. The line was relatively quick, we then boarded the plane.

Aeroflot Flight from Moscow to New York

Image of seat cover on Aeroflot flight

We got to our seats, and the 10-hour flight started. Again, we got an empty middle seat, and I couldn’t be happier. It seemed a lot of people had an empty seat, as well, since the load was about 75%. The plane left on time, we had a quick taxi to the runway, and we were off.

Flight details:
  • Flight number: SU124
  • Flight time: 10:25
  • Departure: 2:53 PM (2 minutes early)
  • Arrival: 4:58 PM (22 minutes early)
  • Tail number: VP-BQF
  • Aircraft type: Boeing 777-300ER

I fell asleep right before takeoff, which I kind of regret. My mother looked out the window and saw a very stunning takeoff out of Moscow, because of all the snow. The crew started service right away. This time, I did get a drink and ate the meal. They asked us if we wanted fish or beef, so I decided on beef. The food wasn’t very good, but I just ate what looked to be appealing. I was prepared for this but keep this in mind when flying on pretty much any carrier. In my experience, the best airlines I have flown for meals in economy are either KLM or Virgin Atlantic.

I wasn’t able to sleep, so I watched The Profit, which I had downloaded on my iPad. 

The legroom was much better on this flight — 32”. This is about what JetBlue has, and it was very good. There was plenty of space for my legs, and it made the flight much easier.

Image of economy seats and legroom space


There was also an IFE system. It wasn’t touchscreen but featured a limited amount of shows. There was also Wi-Fi, which was very expensive, so I didn’t use it. The crew also passed out amenity kits, which featured an eye mask, slippers, and earplugs. I was very surprised to see this, and I think it is very helpful to have. 

The crew came by again about an hour before landing and asked if we wanted any meals. I declined and just got something to drink. By the time they collected the meals, it was time to start our descent into JFK. 

We had a very long taxi at JFK. Instead of making the quick taxi to T1 from our runway, we had to go all the way around the airport. This made for some great planespotting, but by this point I was very tired. 

I was worried that the immigration lines would be long, but they weren’t bad at all. I recommend having the Mobile Passport app, in case the lines are long.

Transit in New York JFK

We collected our bags and took the AirTrain to T4. If you’re on a connecting international flight — even if it’s from another terminal — head downstairs, and you can check your bag down there. It probably saved us an hour, and I was really happy about that.

For security, I read that there is a “secret” checkpoint next to the arrivals area, but when I asked about it I was told that it has been closed due to COVID. We had to wait 30 minutes at the main checkpoint. 

Luckily, the Centurion Lounge is right next to security, so it is super close. There is also a Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse available to Amex Platinum cardholders, and I have heard very great things about this lounge. However, it is only open to Amex cardholders from 5 am to 8 am. I reviewed this lounge previously, which you can see here.

Delta Flight from New York to Las Vegas

Image of Delta planes at terminal at JFK

Next, we walked over to our gate, B26. They were already boarding Main Cabin 1, so we headed straight onto the plane. I also reviewed this same aircraft previously. This was again a quiet flight, and they came around twice to serve us. It was the same types of snacks and beverages as before, and the IFE was also the same.

The flight was 6 hours. By this point, it was becoming very tough to stay awake. The legroom was better than our Aeroflot flight from Dubai to Moscow but not as good as the flight from Moscow to JFK. 

Final Thoughts

This was really a brutal few days. We did travel 8,000 miles in economy between Dubai and Las Vegas, and my mother said if she were to do this again, she would only do it in business. I certainly agree. Suffice to say, Moscow isn’t the best transit point for these flights, and Paris/Amsterdam/Frankfurt are much better places to stop. In the end, this was a great trip, and I look forward to visiting Dubai again — but this time in Qsuites. 😉

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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