TRIP REPORT: Air Serbia, Belgrade

TRIP REPORT

This flight took place about a month ago from Belgrade to New York on an Air Serbia A330-200 registered YU-ARB. This was my first time flying this aircraft, although I have flown this route before on the airline’s previous A330, registered YU-ARA.

I arrived at Belgrade airport about 3 hours early, taking into account the traffic in front of the terminal due to all the construction going on and the traffic being regulated differently than usual. I went to the check-in desks and noticed that Air Serbia had “pimped” their business class check-in desks. They are now red, unlike the others which are blue, there is a divider between the business and economy check-in counters and they even put a sofa. The process was quick. I checked in my bag, got my boarding pass and was told I could use the Air Serbia premium lounge.

Centralized security check was fast. There is a dedicated lane for business class passengers, although this defeats its purpose when you go through security as there is no dedicated passport control lane for first class passengers and the airport was quite busy. Although there was a line at passport control, it moved relatively quickly.

After getting your passport stamped you enter the duty free shop and strangely enough I spotted this Air Serbia branded shirt on sale.

I headed to the salon. The area around the lounge is now a large construction site and it is quite dark in this part of the airport as the windows are blocked. So, I noticed that Air Serbia put up a huge glowing sign to direct people to the lounge. The salon was quite busy. This is because it is now used by several airlines. Even the front desk agent helped clear the dishes.

The buffet is now back post-Covid, but they also seem to have removed the a la carte dining menu that was available before. The lounge is still good with good facilities including showers. I had a drink and a sandwich and went to the gate.

Boarding began about 40 minutes before the scheduled departure time. The plane was full to capacity, which was not surprising given that it was September and most of the American diaspora, having spent the summer in Serbia and the wider Balkans, was beginning to return home. Two air bridges were connected to the plane, so business class passengers had a special entrance.

All cabin seats are occupied

I chose a window seat that is closer to the window. The seats rotate, with those closer to the window having more privacy than those closer to the aisle. The crew greeted each passenger upon boarding and later at their seat. Interestingly, all the crew wore face masks, although this is not a requirement for passengers.

On the seat was a bottle of water, a menu, a blanket, a pillow and headphones. It was a mid-day flight and the crew came relatively quickly to introduce themselves and offer a welcome drink of champagne, water or orange juice. Once that was done, the crew came to ask for the meal order and noted that you could eat any time you wanted.

The menu was as follows. I chose Serbian salad for starter and stuffed zucchini for main, and also decided to do it outdoors. I had fruit and coffee before landing.

We were 45 minutes late for departure. The pilot apologized and informed us that this was due to a late connecting flight that was carrying passengers. In any case, time was made up for en route and we arrived only 5 minutes behind schedule. I appreciate that the pilot gave us detailed information about the flight route and details.

After take off, the crew first served drinks, mixed nuts and handed out a sanitizing wipe. The food followed, which was good. All meals are served on individual plates (no tray) and are carried out by the crew. The dish is served with olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar.

The toilet was in good condition and had a few amenities like face spray, hand cream and antibacterial gel. However, Air Serbia no longer offers an amenity kit or PJs with slippers as it used to. I asked about it and the crew just told me it was gone.

The entertainment system is fine. Nothing special, but there is a mix of Serbian and American movies and TV shows. These were some of the options offered for my flight.

A huge minus in my opinion is that the plane does not have Wi-Fi. I know the airline has removed Wi-Fi from all planes, but I think they should at least consider it for their widebody aircraft. It’s a real shame.

The seats are comfortable, well padded and have a lie-flat option.

Overall the crew was good, although I can’t say they went above and beyond. I also noticed some things like they didn’t have ice with the drinks because they ran out in the middle of the flight and little details like that.

I would say their catering was above European carrier standards for a transatlantic flight. On the other hand, they need to do more to improve the IFE, try to introduce Wi-Fi, better charge their flights and bring back amenity kits and PJs.


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