Travel to and within Kazakhstan

Most people find it more convenient when adopting to fly directly into Almaty from somewhere other than Moscow. If you first fly into Moscow, then on to Almaty, you must obtain a double-entry visa for Russia unless you manage to stay within the same airport. You will also have to make arrangements for someone to help you transfer between the airports in Moscow, and you will probably have at least 8-10 hours between flights. Flying directly means that you need a single-entry visa, which is cheaper. Depending upon where your child is located in Kazakhstan, your agency may recommend that you fly into an airport other than Almaty and even to somewhere in Russia close to the border. If you had to do that, please let me know [e-mail link] so that I can add that information here.

If you plan to travel through Russia, please see the Moscow page.

Also check out the Cities page for information about each city, which may include information about hotels, transportation, and restaurants.

Skytrax external link has airline and airport rankings, etc.

Airlines and Airports

Each airline and associated foreign airport are followed by their two (for airline) and three (for airport) letter abbreviation. The airline sites generally allow you to search for flights and book on-line. They also have baggage allowance information, which is crucial to know when you are traveling to adopt. The airport sites may have maps, lists of services available, lists of airlines, and tourist information. Flights directly into Almaty (except from Moscow) do not operate daily, so be sure to double check. Try to get the bulkhead seats on the return trip; they will give you a little more leg room and a place for your child to play on the floor. If you are traveling with an infant, they have bassinets that fasten on to the wall that your child can sit and sleep in; the bassinets can not be used during take-off, landing, or turbulence.

The information on the flights is provided for your information only. Days and times can change frequently without warning, and are seasonal. If you want to overnight or stay longer in one of the European hubs, check with their Embassy/Consulate in either Almaty or the US. To find ones in the US, go to Foreign Consular Offices in the United States external link on the US Department of State website.

The Schengen Accord affects travel to Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. An intergovermental treaty initially signed in 1985, it abolished passport controls when traveling between these countries and increased restrictions on visas for people from other countries. Britain and Ireland are the only EU members not to have signed up. It does not affect US citizens, but will make travel with your adopted child a little more complicated. Prior to its enforcement, you could easily get a visa at the airport for your child to stay overnight. Currently, you may be able to get a visa at the airport, but it certaintly isn't guarenteed, so I recommend that you check with that country's officials to find out what is required and how the process can be expedited for you.

Travelocity link in new window, Expedia.com link in new window and Kayak.com [link in new window] are sites to check on airfares and hotels.

KLM (KL)

  • Leave Amsterdam around 6 pm, arrive Almaty around 5-6 am +1 day, 4 times weekly; 6 hours, 30 min.
  • Leave Almaty around 7-8 am, arrive Amsterdam around 10-11 am, 4 times weekly; 7 hrs. 25 min.

  • Schiphol Airport external link (AMS) in Amsterdam
  • Northwest Airlines external link is a partner airline of KLM. They have a special airfare external link for international adoptions; be aware that the "discount" is off of a full price fare and thus may not be cheaper, but it does allow you to book at the last minute and change dates without penalty.
  • Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Almaty: Ul. Nauryzbai Batyr 103, phone 7 3272 203773, 638654, email alm@minbuza.nl.
  • Flying on KLM may require on overnight stay in Amsterdam because of the timing of the flights. Hotels in or near Schiphol Airport: Mercure Hotel Schiphol Terminal external link, Sheraton Amsterdam Airport external link (in airport), Crowne Plaza external link, the Hilton external link and Yotel external link (in airport). The Schiphol Airport website lists other hotels as well in the airport information section.

British Airways external link (BA)

  • Leave Heathrow around 1-3 pm, arrive Almaty around 3-5 am +1 day, 3 times weekly; 9 hours, 45 min.; stops in Ekaterinburg for an hour
  • Leave Almaty around 6-9 am, arrive Heathrow around 11 am to 2 pm, 3 times weekly; 10 hours 50 min.; stops in Ekaterinburg for an hour
  • Flights are operated by bmi (BD) airlines.

  • Heathrow Airport external link (LHR) in London
  • Gatwick Airport external link (LGW) in London
  • To transfer between these 2 airports, it takes from 45 minutes by train to 1.5 hours by bus.
  • The Embassy of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Astana, Almaty and Atyrau external link. Generally, in traveling to the US, your adopted child does not need a visa for the UK as long as you are in transit for less than 24 hours; if you plan on staying longer than that, contact the Embassy for a visa.

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Lufthansa external link (LH)

  • Leave Frankfurt around noon, arrive Almaty around 11 pm, 4 days a week (2 other days with 1 stop); 6 hours 25 min. (8 hours with stop)
  • Leave Almaty around 3-4 am, arrive Frankfurt around 5-6 am, 5 days a week; 7 hours 5 min.
  • Leave Frankfurt around 1 pm, arrive Astana around 11 pm, twice a week; 5 hours 25 min.
  • Leave Astana around 4 am, arrive Frankfurt around 6 am, twice a week; 5 hours 55 min.

  • Frankfurt Airport external link (FRA) in Germany.
    Sheraton Frankfurt Hotel is within the airport.
  • The German Embassy external link in Almaty.
  • United & Lufthansa adoption fare external link.
  • It has been reported that Lufthansa is now charging an extreme amount of money for a one-way ticket for your child from Almaty to the US ($2400); I recommend looking into this before purchasing your own round trip tickets.

Turkish Airlines external link (TK)

  • US direct flights to Istanbul from JFK (daily) and Chicago (W, F, Sun); they code share with American Airlines.
  • Leave Istanbul around 4-8 pm, arrive Almaty around 2-5 am +1 day, daily; 5 hrs. 15 min.
  • Leave Almaty around 3-7 am, arrive Istanbul around 6-10 am; Monday, daily; 5 hrs. 55 min.
  • Leave Istanbul around 4:30 pm, arrive Astana around 1 am + 1 day, four times a week
  • Leave Astana around 3:30 am, arrive Istanbul around 6 am, four times a week

  • Ataturk Airport external link (IST) in Istanbul, Turkey.
  • Embassy of Turkey in Almaty, 29 Tole Bi St. near Pushikin St., Tel: 913932, 918153, Fax: 506208.

Austrian Airlines external link (OS)

  • This airline just started flying to Astana in September 2007. They belong to the Star Alliance, code share with Lufthansa, United, US Airways, Air Canada and others.
  • Leave Vienna around 8:30 pm, arrive Astana around 6 am, 3 days a week, 5.5 hour flight.
  • Leave Astana around 7-8 am, arrive Vienna 9 am, 3 days a week, 6 hour flight

  • Vienna Airport (VIE) in Austria.

Almaty International Airport external link (ALA) It has a small map of the airport, information about customs and visas, VIP service, etc.
Surviving entry into Almaty's airport external link from Almaty Expats.

International Airport Astana external link (TSE): timetable of flights, photo gallery. From the available information download: 17 KM to town, 15 KM to Comfort Hotel, 23 KM to Intercontinental Hotel; in the terminal: doctor, ATM and currency exchange, restaurant.

Agency for Customs Control external link in English, Kazakh and Russian.

Adoptive parents have reported various scams at airports in Kazakhstan (particularly Almaty) where they are told they don't have the correct paperwork, need to pay addtional fees, etc. Please read the US State Department external link Consular information sheet to inform yourself. I have created something for you to print out and carry with you in case of problems; it has the words US Embassy in English and Russian with the phone number. This is in a picture format link in new window, so you don't need to have a Cyrillic font installed in order to read and print it. If you do experience any problems, be sure to report it to the Embassy.

Air Astana external link (A7) is a newer airline that flies Boeing 737/757 aircraft domestically and internationally. They are now code-sharing with Turkish Air and KLM. International cities that they fly from: Amsterdam, Beijing, Frankfurt, Hanover (Germany), Istanbul, London, Moscow, and Seoul. Would you like more details about this airline? Order a DVD from World Air Routes external link and fly along in the cockpit on a variety of routes, with pilot commentary. At the end of December 2007 they opened an office in Jersey City, NJ; call toll-free 888-855-1557, e-mail usa.sales@airastana.com or usa.reservations@airastana.com.

If you don't want to fly within Kazakhstan, or you simply desire another mode of transportation, go to the Kazakhstan Railways external link map and timetable. This site tends to come and go; sometimes there is an English version.

Flystar Astraeus external link (AE) flies from London Gatwick to Uralsk on Wednesday, departing in the early evening and arriving around 3-4 am; the return flight leaves at 5:15 am from Uralsk and arrives at 6:30 am.

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Page last updated on 30 September 2009.

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