TRIP REPORT: Air Serbia, Belgrade - London

TRIP REPORT


Submitted by Luka Ratić

Few weeks ago, I flew to London and back on Air Serbia. My departure date was one day before the airline started implementing their new fare system, hence the price I paid for my flight gave me a bit less on return.

I arrived at the airport at about 8:15 am. Check in went smooth and the queue wasn’t long. After passport control, I went on to buy a few things in the duty free, and managed to spend a bit too much since I somehow forgot half of the gadgets home. For example, the power adapter was around 22 euros or around 20 pounds, whereas the same thing costs 4 times less at LHR. Ending up spending much more than what I could have spent in London made me pretty frustrated in the end. But yeah, I am sure I’m going to forget something sooner or later again.

The gate opened at about 9:25 am. I headed out there 15 minutes before boarding. Our aircraft was YU-APC, returning from Moscow that morning. There were 103 people on board in economy and only 3 were in Business class, leaving with a total of 106 pax.

Boarding started at about 9:40. After 20 minutes and a spray of hot green liquid, also known as deicing fluid, we were on our way to runway 30. We took off at 10:15 leaving a cold and snowy Belgrade.



First country on our route was Hungary, then followed by Austria, Czechia, Germany, Netherlands, a slight chunk of Belgium and finally, the United Kingdom.


Cabin crew begun serving us drinks at first, followed by a sandwich (either ham and cheese or veggie mix). I choose ham/cheese and some apple juice with water. We were also giver their signature cookie, 'Orasnica'.


There’s the sandwich. I took a bite as you can see. It wasn’t so big nor small.

As I mentioned, Air Serbia had started implementing their new fare system right after my departue flight. On return, we were given out menus. Here’s a glimpse of what passangers could expect to be given.




I think this move was unfair, since the return ticket on my date was quite expensive (around 108.000 RSD or 801 EUR for 2 adult passengers). Return ticket after the implementation of the new tariff system was 308 EUR / pax return or thereabouts. That price included one sandwich along with a drink by choice. [Note : This was handed out only in the first week. Later that month, passengers were only allowed to buy food. Also, this does not apply on JFK route, but the menu is available there as well.]

To be honest, they could’ve included a 20 euro meal combo for such high ticket price.

Talking about comfort, there was enough of it. I stand at 6’1” or 185m, which is something in between the sizes, and fit quite comfortably. Seats are made out of faux leather (of course) and do not feature a headrest, unlike the old ones.

At half way, we were handed out landing cards, used when entering the UK. Since I’m an EU citizen, i didn’t need one.

Enthertainment wasn’t working for me on this flight. When using a laptop (a mac in my case), you have to install a driver, which didn’t work quite well. Internet was working well though, but data was not cheap, and there was not plenty of it.

After 2 hours, we started descending towards London. If you ever looked at a flightpath on FR24 or have flown there, you know the drill, circling for quite a bit of time. We were given clearance to land at about 12:30 and landed shortly afterwards.



Here’s a view of Air Canada’s 787 in the new livery.

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Final thoughts:

After not flying with Air Serbia for a bit, I finally got to experience a smooth landings again.

The flight itself was nice overall. Crew was polite, experienced and professional as always. I was not happy about the new fares and catering options, but hey, at least they serve LHR and bunch of famous hubs. All in all, I am pretty satisfied and recommend anyone flying Air Serbia.


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Comments

  1. Good thing I read this. Until now, all JU trip reports spoke about full planes and zero delays. glad to hear this now, as I started thinkings its bots writing Aor Serbia trip reporte.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't get me wrong. Air Serbia has some experienced employees and they're very professional in their jobs. Their business strategy may not be in favor of many but that did not change the professionalism that the employees possess. I've flown on Air Serbia many many times and always felt good with their staff.
      Cheers! :)

      Delete
  2. I'm sorry to ask, but why on earth would you pay 400 EUR with Air Serbia?

    Had you flown with OS for example, you could've probably even upgraded yourself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. dito lol :D

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    2. I just like to take advantage of a direct flight whenever possible. :)

      Delete
  3. So basically, JU is becoming the new Vueling or Transavia. BoB and flying to primary airports. But yes, it's now a low cost carrier.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Coming to BEG on W6 in August. Still dwelling on idea to go to BUD on return to LON on FR (£60) or cash out £150 for a ‘luxury’ called Air Srbia.

    It has become greedy airline with lack if low cost.

    Shame!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is it 150 Pounds one way or return? I guess Air Serbia can't match Ryanair given JU's much higher costs on the route.

      By the way, I suppose you noticed LTN schedule changed so the flight arrives at around 00.55.

      Delete
    2. Its £150 one way. To return to LON.
      I just cant justify that price.
      And there is no penalizing for not taking rtn flight or having Saturday stay.
      Just checked W6 and my flight still lands 23.55 on Thurs.
      I agree- W6 is taking a piss! I can have rtn to LTN on Sat or Tue (!!??)

      Delete
    3. BA888, no offense mate but you are complaining about the busiest month in the year. You cannot expect airlines to charge you regular fares. Airlines are made to make money and not charity. If you check on Skyscanner flights to many EU capitals + BEG from London, you will see that the rates start from £170 with either longer transfer times or lousy hours. I still think JU's price is not bad at all.

      Delete
    4. I am talking about 10th September when UK and Serbian school holidays are over.

      Interestingly, the W6 and JU price are matched on the days both fly.

      And how come that BUD is so cheap on the same day? Busy time of the year? This is what I call monopoly and taking a piss by both airlines hence thinkng on being on 15.30 FR BUD-STN.

      Delete
    5. You cannot compare BUD with BEG. There are at least 10 daily flights from/to BUD. Also BUD is now connected not to 4 but 5 London airports: LHR, LGW, STN, LTN and SEN. BEG is only connected to LHR (expensive airport and you know it) and LTN but only 3 flights. While W6 flies LTN-BUD at least 5 daily. There you go.

      Delete
    6. Indeed. And you just explained in a lot of words what I see as a monoply of (mainly) JU.

      You are not giving up on thinking that £150 single leg is fair. I think this is disgrace for service offered.

      Lets agree we disagree ;-)

      Delete
    7. Have you tried flights to neighbouring TSR? I checked for instance LTN-TSR on 04SEP and the price is £56. TSR is much closer to BEG compared to BUD.

      Delete
    8. Depends how you look at it. JU has a monopoly to LHR but when it comes to LON it's a duopoly. That said, no one is preventing BA or U2 to enter the market. They chose not to, maybe because most passengers would end up flying via BUD to save 40 Pounds.

      Funnily enough, AF is transferring BUD to Joon. I guess yields over there are not as great.

      Delete
    9. I would not fuss for £40. But £150 vs £60 is a significant difference (actually £180 with luggage which makes it triple...)

      It is clear that BA stopped this route due to visa restrictions and low yields in business class and U2 not interested due to visa rules.

      TSR with W6 and FR are an option indeed ;-)

      Delete
    10. £56 is the public price, so if you get their annual membership, the return ticket will definitely be drastically cheaper compared to JU. I mean if JU will charge £350 return like I checked in some dates, then that's definitely a lot. LHR-BEG is not LHR-JFK. This BEG-LON route definitely needs a price revolution soon!

      Delete
    11. BA888
      Well you also have to get to STN which for many is quite far. On top of that, once you land in BUD you need to take into consideration the cost of getting to Serbia. Also, this option of flying from BUD takes a lot more time than flying into Belgrade.

      In my personal opinion, we can't compare JU to BEG with FR/W6 to BUD. Heathrow is among the most expensive airports in the world. Air Serbia's costs are incomprably higher and they are after higher yielding passengers. They have to, there is no other way for them.

      Mind you, LHR is packed for JU. It's one of their best performing destination in the network.
      If we are going to speak about Ryanair's fares to Budapest then we can only compare them to Wizz Air's flights from Luton.

      Delete
    12. Agreed with all Nemjee.

      After 20 years on LON-BEG route probably three to four times per year I’ve seen plenty! And have done plenty of variations on this journey.

      At present the prices are the highest ever. Trust me!

      STN like LHR, LGW and LTN are all one hour away from my home so actual airport does not really matter.

      I just cant get over that I never used to pay this amount for rtn to BEG. Since new JU fares were introduced. I can get to NYC for that money!

      So... BEG is likely to loose this passenger who is categorically refusing to pay that amount not due to lack of fund but due to principle and will take ‘mini bus’ to BUD.

      (Taxi from Novi Sad to BEG is 20eur. Same for transfer to BUD)

      Delete
    13. It is disgrace how JU is now offering cheap product for top prices. Real shame.

      Delete
    14. easyJet expanding in Belgrade is a good thing. We might see them add LGW flights in the future.
      To me the biggest disappointment is Wizz Air which is ripping people off when they were supposed to be affordable.

      Delete
    15. As one would say- Iz tvojih usta u božije uši!

      And let real competition begin... :-)

      Delete
    16. We've covered this topic before. BEG seems to be the only "badly connected capital or major city" from/to London. Even cities like KIV, KBP/IEV, SKP (all non-EU) have much more options and lower fares.
      At least London is the top destination in many airports in the region such as BUD, OTP, SOF, LJU....��������

      Delete
    17. Hm. Isn't ZAG the only EU capital without a lowcost link to LON?

      Delete
    18. ZAG is another exception yes. After the demise of ZB, OU slot reduction, ZAG-LON remains another expensive airport and thanks for reminding us.

      Delete
  5. You're right! Winter timetable on some days, arrival is at 01:20!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha yes, BSL arrives at 00.25 in summer. Hope they change it before easyJet launches flights otherwise they will majestically fail.

      Delete
    2. Don't get me wrong Nemjee, but I think W6 is not taking BEG seriously! They are quietly reducing frequencies, increasing rates and now schedule times are horrible. Do you know anything about LCA in winter?

      Delete
    3. No reason to get you wrong when I agree with you. Generally I think Wizz Air is a pretty horrible airline but they do serve a large part of the travelling public.

      As for LCA, I am not too worried as we are still some six months away from November. Basel was loaded just two, three days ago.

      Talking of Basel, I checked and it seems that the same plane will do an additional rotation before going back to Belgrade as the flight leave BEG at 15.30 but returns only at 00.25. This is unfortunate as a BEG based plane is not fully used for the needs of the local market. To me it seems as if their BEG base is operating by default.
      No wonder easyJet is attacking them.

      Delete
    4. Good points you pointed out there.

      We will see about LCA, there is still plenty of time until November.

      BSL is often used as a "ZRH alternative". I think they changed the schedule because there are fewer evening departures from ZRH-BEG and viceversa. I know that this route is working quite well for the rest of the destinations often deploying their A321!

      As for W6's presence, it is still very worrying. They are just passively focused on Germany and Sweden. The London schedule hasn't been "touched in years" - 3 weekly. We haven't seen intentions of stationing at least one A321.
      Just look at SKP or SOF for instance. They are doing really, really well. Not to mention TZL of course.
      Finally, while BEG-ATH is a popular I was hoping they included BEG in the list but they chose OTP and SOF (already served DAILY by FR). I know they are not stupid but it's so strange they are not growing enough in a big city such as BEG.

      Delete
    5. I absolutely agree with you but I think it might have to do with Wizz Air overextending themselves. They are expanding all over the place so I wouldn't be surprised if BEG is rather low on their list of priorities. I am not saying that's ok, just thinking out loud.

      Don't know how smart this is on their behalf as Air Serbia has a daily departure from Zurich at 21.00 and the flight arrives just before 23.00. This is a pretty convenient schedule so Wizz Air will need to attract customers by offering really low fares.

      Delete
  6. Thank you for the nice report.

    ReplyDelete

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