What It Costs To Flee Russia

It’s obvious why many people are leaving Ukraine: the Russian invasion is demolishing homes, bombing cities, risking basic utilities (including by attacking Europe’s largest nuclear reactor). But many Russians are also fleeing their homes.

Inside Russia things are getting difficult for those who learn of what Putin is doing. There’s a crackdown on media and social media, but there are also anti-war protestors. And they’re being rounded up and imprisoned. Over 7500 people have been detained. The Russian economy is suffering under sanctions. Those with dollar-denominated debts but income in rubles are especially hard hit.

But there’s tremendous fear for the future. Already cracking down on civil liberties at home, it’s not clear what’s to come. There’s fear of martial law, and of potential border closures. If people don’t get out quickly will they be able to leave?

There are few flights, and most that are running are sold out. Want to fly from Moscow to Dubai? that’s run as much as $4000 in coach though Emirates pricing is a bit below that. Low cost carrier Nordic Wind will get you out on Saturday for $1000.

Air routes are limited, but they’re not the only way in and out of the country. Fleeing by train has gotten exceptionally pricey, too. Book further out and you’ll see lower prices, but you may not be able to wait!

There’s unprecedented demand for these trips – up ten-fold – and capacity is at half of pre-pandemic levels. However in a great example of price discrimination tickets issued in Finland are still normal price.

Here’s a hint for any Russians reading this blog and looking to flee. Pegasus has flights to Istanbul Sabiha airport cheap still, though a US$100 flight now costs 12,400 rubles.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] In which case, arming Ukraine and heavy sanctions on Russia makes Ukraine relatively stronger and Russia relatively weaker. It means devastation of Ukraine in the meantime as Russians slowly advance. They will take some cities. We’ll see trench warfare and civilian casualties. Until Russia’s hand becomes sufficiently bad that they’ll agree to more reasonable terms. Already they’re cracking down on their own people. Betting markets give a 61% chance Russia closes its borders. (Anyone you know in Russia should flee.) […]


  1. People united in the plight of Ukraine should boycott carriers serving Russia. Yes, that means Emirates, Air Maroc… Do not fly anywhere with them please!

  2. Did quick search flights to Dubai can be had in $700 to $800 range one way for the next couple days on some Pobeda airlines and from Moscow Vnukovo (Not Sheremetyevo) airport.

  3. One might want to add that if any of the aircraft serving these remaining routes encounter a mechanical issue while inside Russia, it may be well nigh impossible to obtain a replacement part, thereby further reducing the international flights–resulting in even higher prices.

  4. Unfortunately I bet parts will enter Russia via China or could be ferried by airlines that do choose to serve Russia.

  5. There are many foreigners that are still in Russia and many of these flights and trains are filled with them trying to leave. There are reports of bare shelves and less and less internet within Russia so foreigners esp. could become very isolated and vulnerable. The reduction of freedoms and the deterioration of the economic situation for all in Russia makes it less likely they can do what they were there to do anyway.
    Russian airlines are cancelling virtually all of their international flights to avoid having their aircraft repossessed so there is every less capacity.
    Foreign airlines can still serve Russia but they either have to be prepared to send their own mechanic and a fly away box of common parts (happens when airlines serve remote locations) or be prepared to send a backup aircraft quickly to evacuate crew and passengers if a problem occurs.
    With Ukraine complaining that Russians are bombing even formerly approved evacuation routes, this will go on for quite some time.

  6. Kazakhstan still has good relations with Russia, as it’s a client state of sorts, but not under sanctions. Not sure of the visa and security restrictions, but there are still flights from Moscow to Almaty (ALA) or Nur-Sultan (NQZ) at somewhat reasonable prices, and from there to Europe or anywhere else in the world.

    As I mentioned in another thread, this is why the haven’t collapsed Sabre yet – too many people would lose these ways out. A brain drain is just as effective as sanctions, if not more so in the long run. As long as people can still get out, they should let them get out.

  7. Sabiha Gökçen was a famed Turkish female aviator. Surely she deserves her surname to be mentioned when referred to her namesake airport.

  8. How much of that train ticket price from St Petersburg to Helsinki is due to the rapidly changed currency dynamic for the Russian Ruble? Has a pricing glitch related to the sudden major changes in currency valuation contributed to this displayed pricing being as extreme as it appears?

    With the Russian currency in free-fall and sanctions biting, Russians are going to value those Euros more, not less.

    This has me wondering if there has been a massive spike in passengers at Finnish ports declaring cash to Finnish customs this month.

  9. There has been a surge of Ukrainians and Russians buying junker cars in Mexico to drive from Mexico to the US in order to claim asylum at the US ports of entry. It’s a way to try to avoid getting the “pedestrian” or “commercial vehicle” treatment that has been happening to most asylum seekers trying to come into the US by surface crossings from Mexico.

  10. Seriously Guwonder? Have any proof? Video? Government reports? You don’t “wonder” how they got to Mexico? If they had that much money they would have flown to the US directly.
    Reading some of the “reports” you so expertly skipped over in your haste to file this “scoop,” I heard (from family) that they used Jewish space lasers to blast past border guards and are now, as we speak,
    overthrowing Laredo city Government. The feds are keeping everything quiet, hush hush, on the down low, in order to avoid embarrassment. My family is quite concerned that the local bars have all been stripped of their Budweiser supplies in favor of vodky. What happens in the morning to all breakfast tacos, no one knows but nerves are on edge. More reports to come soon, I’m sure, as soon as Granpa finds his internet password…..

  11. Oh, and guw? You might cut back on the alcohol. I know it’s Saturday night, but really…..

  12. Here in Georgia we have a large influx of Russians. It’s not costing them much to come here. But the ones leaving do have plenty of money. They are already buying up real estate here and prices and rents for apartments are skyrocketing quickly. What we will get from this here in Georgia is massive inflation. As if we did not have enough already from the slower but steady influx of “digital nomads”. Russians are welcome here with no visa requirement even though Georgians need a visa to go there. They can stay here a year at a time, renewable simply by crossing the border and coming back again.

  13. @Jorge Paez – From what I’ve read, it’s true that Russians are coming to the US via Mexico for a very simple reason – they can travel to Mexico without a visa (or easily get one), while to fly directly to the US, they would need to apply for a visa first. When you’re in a hurry to get out, you go to the easy place first, then travel to your final destination.

    The story @GUWonder was obviously referring to appeared in Business Insider, not Fox News.

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