"First come, first served."


Sheremetyevo Airport is the main airport serving the city of Moscow. Others include Zukhovsky, Domodedovo, Vnukovo and Bykovo. Sheremetyevo has 2 terminals, with terminal 1 serving domestic flights, and terminal 2 serving international flights. Sheremetyevo-2 is the only airport in Moscow with flights to non-CIS countries. Until the USSR was disbanded, Sheremetyevo was the only airport in Moscow that non-Soviet citizens were allowed to use.

Being Moscow's international gateway, Sheremetyevo is the greeting that most tourists encounter when visiting Russia. It does a pretty poor (or good, depending on your point of view) job of this. The airport was built in 1959, given a minor update for the 1980 Olympics and has not changed much since then. It is old, dilapidated and offers few creature comforts, save for numerous vodka dispensing machines. There are 19 gates in the International Terminal, and space for 31 more aircraft on the apron.

Western-style crowd control measures are rarely used, and so migrating through the terminal becomes an exercise in lemming-emulation. This process is best approached as one would tackle a decathalon. First out of the plane means first to the customs desk. This is good as there may only be one desk open, even though five planes have landed in the past half hour. Here, numerous bureaucratic hoops must be jumped through, many of which are not documented. Customs officials rarely stamp the papers they are supposed to, so the prepared tourist must be both observant and insistent. Once past customs, being first is again important to ensure that one's bags are not stolen off the carousel before one can reach them. Luckily this is rarely an issue, as bags may take several hours to traverse the mysterious belly of the terminal. Hopefully, if / when bags have been collected, the tourist will have enough stamina to run the gauntlet of the taxi stand.

Fittingly enough, my most poignant memory of my sojourn to Sheremetyevo is being crushed against the wall by a raging horde of passengers when they threw open the door to the departure gate, and called the Russian equivalent of "All aboard!"

Sheremetyevo's Airport Code is SVO. It is situated about 18 miles northwest of Moscow city center on the Leningradsky Prospekt (also called the M-10).

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