Sunday, March 11, 2018

TRIP REPORT: Air Serbia, Sofia - Belgrade

TRIP REPORT


Submitted by Tomislav Ivanović

Having completed another weekend in Plovdiv (Bulgaria) judging at a wine competition, I started packing my suitcase because the moment has come to return home. Winelover’s luggage always contains a few bottles of local wines, so my greatest concern is always proper packing in order to keep those bottles intact. Wine competition organisers arranged transfer for me from Plovdiv to Sofia Airport.

I was returning on flight FB1819 (operated by Air Serbia JU123), departure from Terminal 2. As soon as we arrived at the check-in zone, I proceeded to the check-in counter. There was no queue. I looked at my suitcase once again with a worried face hoping that the bottles would eventually arrive without damage.

At the security check, I was a bit puzzled by the fact that most of the passengers have to take off their shoes. At most airports, only passengers wearing heavy boots or winter shoes are required to take off their footwear for scan, but in Sofia almost everyone seems to be doing it even in case of sports shoes. I have decided to try to go through without taking off my sports shoes. And it worked. Nobody stopped me or requested to take them off.

I was hoping to find a socket for plug-in to charge my laptop battery and work on a new article for my website while waiting for the flight. However, the seats at the terminal B have no sockets for laptop or mobile phone chargers. I went downstairs to the gates B1-B4. Luckily, I discovered stand-alone charger unit. However, it was too far away from the seats so I had to leave the laptop charging and sit and wait. Having charged it for half an hour, I managed to finish a couple of paragraphs for my new article on www.vinopedia.rs

The ground staff announced the flight to Belgrade. All passengers were transported by bus to the plane ATR72 (YU-ALV). The plane was almost full. I reached my seat 9A and started chatting with a Belgian lady who was travelling via Belgrade to Brussels. Around me, there were mostly foreigners (a British woman who was talking on the phone and complaining to someone about the small plane), a Danish family with 2 kids, an elderly Dutch couple.



Captain Dragan Glišić wished us welcome and informed that the flight will depart on time. I looked at the clock ... 16.00h sharp (Bulgarian time). The flight was smooth. Some ATRs in Air Serbia’s fleet can be too noisy, but this time the level of noise in the cabin was tolerable. At 16.22h, flight attendant brought a cup of water. I skipped it and started dozing a bit, since the monotonous sound of the plane made me feel sleepy. The baby from row 11 started crying at 16.38h, so her mother did her best to keep her busy with a toy. At 16.43h, the captain announced that we would soon start approaching the airport in Belgrade. Cloudy weather outside and temperature of 3 degrees Celsius. The flight attendant announced the option of buying premium lounge pass at Belgrade Airport for transit passengers. The baby started crying again so the flight attendant offered some water, but the mother replied in English that the baby wasn’t feeling thirsty. Altogether, it was a pleasant flight. We landed at 16.02h (Serbian time). While approaching the parking position, I noticed through the window that it’s raining outside. We are taken by bus to the airport building.


After passing the passport control, I reached luggage pick-up zone at 16.18h. There weren’t many passengers there waiting, which confirms that majority of passengers were in transit through Belgrade. I always hate this waiting for the luggage, so I was afraid that it will take ages to collect it. However, our luggage arrived at 16.30h ... but on the wrong luggage belt. Luggage from Sofia was announced on belt 2, but it actually arrived on belt 3 (where the screen was indicating luggage from Bucharest and Skopje). So, a bit of confusion among passengers but happy to be back home. And all of the bottles arrived safely.



Share your travel experience by submitting a trip report to exyu@exyuaviation.com

9 comments:

  1. Nice report. Interesting to see the passenger structure on this flight. I would never have thought there would be so many transfers from Sofia.

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  2. Seems that Air Serbia's downsizing project is well managed, helping them reach good load factors even in the peak low season (though the author did not disclose the time of year, but I suppose it was last week). However it wasn't summer but it still went full on a not so attractive route.

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  3. good to see an ex-yu airplane full. and so much for the existing O&D market Serbia-Bulgaria, its all foreigners :)

    i had the same feeling when observing the JU check in at OTP

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  4. When you took this flight?

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  5. YU-ALV Air Serbia ATR 72
    Airframe Details
    Manufacturer Serial Number (MSN) 727
    Aircraft Type ATR 72
    Age 12.0 Years
    Test registration F-WWEH
    Production Site France Toulouse (TLS)
    Airframe Status Active
    *****************************
    Thanks for sharing with us...pretty interesting that the flight was mainly foreigners and the Belgian lady was a bigger surprise. There are a 2-3 daily direct flights from/to Sofia - Brussels.
    Great pity that the route will be reduced to 6 weekly this summer. I guess JU is facing a fierce competion with the rest. LO, LH, TK have increased frequencies, JP is arriving this spring. W6/FR bloodbath, new charter destinations, so market is highly competitive. Good luck with JU this summer following the prestructuring and new business model.
    Greetings from Sofia!

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    Replies
    1. JU is reducing SOF because it doesn't have enough aircraft to operate daily flights.

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    2. How did SOF perform in February? Still no information on their website.

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    3. Unlike BEG, the SOF figures are usually published quite later. Should be almost 420000 because of ski charters from UK.

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  6. i'm sorry but this made me laugh: "The baby from row 11 started crying at 16.38h", i feel that baby from row 11 had his/her privacy violated. :)

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