Recently, I traveled to an academic conference in Helsinki, Finland. The least expensive flight was via Aeroflot, a Russian airline. That was the flight I booked. In order to get to Helsinki, I had a layover in Sheremetyevo International Airport, or SVO, which is located in Russia. Although many online reviewers claim that SVO is “the worst airport in the world,” I beg to differ. Although some aspects of the airport surprised me, I found my layover to be a rather pleasant experience.

One surprise was the fact that the most popular restaurant in the “D” terminal of SVO was none other than TGI Friday’s. Both restaurants that I saw were consistently buzzing, with all of the tables and the bar being relatively full. I had hoped to find some traditional Russian foods to nosh on during my time in SVO, but seemingly, the people have spoken, and the people wanted TGI Friday’s.

There was admittedly not a large variety of duty free shops, but as a traveler solely focused on getting to my destination, that did not bother me. I found every Russian I interacted with to be polite and pleasant, and interested in my research when they found that I was traveling to a conference in Helsinki. There was also free wifi that I was able to easily access.

Those who complain about a lack of customer service in SVO may not be in tune to the “do it yourself” attitude that prevails in SVO. The terminals for flights do change (mine certainly did) but as a flyer, one simply had to look at the board to ascertain where your flight would be an hour before boarding. The customer service agents said as much to the travelers inquiring there. As someone who worked in customer service, I found this refreshing. The customer is not always right, the customer sometimes needs to figure something out for themselves.

All in all, I feel as if SVO gets an unfair bad rep. I would not rank it the best airport I have been to (that honor is given to Helsinki Airport), but it is certainly not the worst.