Travel: Something To Declare

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The Independent Culture
Bargain of the week: Heathrow to Kathmandu for under pounds 350 - with the chance of meeting the star of a docu-soap.

The Russian airline Aeroflot has a fare of pounds 341 on its weekly flight to the Nepalese capital, via Moscow and Sharjah, through the discount agent IMS Travel (0171-224 4678). And before you shudder at the thought of travelling with one of the world's less celebrated airlines, you should know thatAeroflot has improved enormously in recent years.

On a recent flight, the clean and comfortable aircraft took off and landed on time. In-flight service included a free alcoholic drink (or drinks, in some cases), tasty food, efficient and obliging cabin staff and capable pilots whose skills produced a very gentle landing at Heathrow - a doddle after coping with the ice and snow at Moscow.

By taking a sleeping bag and crashing out until the arrival of the free breakfast, the necessary eight-hour wait in the transit lounge at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on the return leg passed very quickly.

The downside was a lack of in-flight entertainment, but a good book and people-watching compensated for this) - that, and failing to get an upgrade from Jeremy Sprake of BBC1's Airport fame; I met the star of the fly-on- the-wall documentary at his usual post, supervising Aeroflot check-in at Heathrow.