One of the best airlines in the world is one you’ve probably never heard of — here’s what it’s like to fly Air Astana

7 AirAstana (2 of 23)Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Air Astana is the flag carrier of Kazakhstan, operating in 60+ destinations primarily in Asia, Eastern Europe, and Russia.
Though the airline is only 16 years old, it has won a ton of awards. For the last six years, consumer aviation website Skytrax has given it a 4-star rating and named it the best airline in India/Central Asia.
I decided to fly Air Astana Economy-class cabin on a flight, from Seoul, South Korea to Almaty, Kazakhstan and Almaty to Moscow, Russia, to see what the experience was like.

Chances are, unless you’re an airline junkie, you’ve probably never heard of Air Astana.

Only launched in 2002, Kazakhstan’s flag carrier is relatively unknown to most Americans and Europeans, unless they happen to have taken a trip to Russia. But that may soon change.

In just 16 years, Air Astana has built a reputation for friendly staff, new, well-kept planes, and great service. For the last six years, consumer aviation website Skytrax has given it a 4-star rating and named it the best airline in India/Central Asia. In 2014, Business Insider named it the 12th best airline in the world.

The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation said in 2012 that Air Astana had “performed better in its first decade than just about any other start-up carrier.”

Add in the fact that the list of best airlines these days is dominated by flag carriers like Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Emirates Airlines, and Etihad Airways, and I was very excited to give Air Astana a try.

I got my chance recently when booking a long-haul trip from Seoul to Moscow for the World Cup. I am pleased to say that Air Astana did not disappoint.

Read on to see what I thought of my flight on Air Astana, departing from Almaty International Airport to Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport, operated on a 767-300ER.

For a recent flight from Seoul to Russia, I decided to book Air Astana, the national carrier of Kazakhstan. I was little bit nervous because the flight required a connection in Almaty, the former capital of the country. The first flight went off without a hitch and I landed at Almaty International Airport. It was a bit dinky.
To get on my second flight from Almaty to Moscow, I had to go through the transit desk in Almaty. Everyone on my flight was transferring to Moscow, as we were all heading to the World Cup. Because Almaty requires passengers to pass through security at the transit desk, I had to wait in line for an hour during my layover.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider
My flight was on time. After checking our passports at a small gate inside the airport, we boarded a bus that drove us to the plane on the tarmac. There’s something about boarding a plane from the airstair rather than the gate that makes me feel like a celebrity.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider
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