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 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 has airline and airport rankings, etc.
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 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.
British Airways (BA)
Turkish Airlines (TK)
Austrian Airlines (OS)
International Airport Astana (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 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 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 , 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 (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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
If you don't want to fly within Kazakhstan, or you simply desire another mode of transportation, go to the Kazakhstan Railways map and timetable. This site tends to come and go; sometimes there is an English version.
Flystar Astraeus (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.