TRIP REPORT: Air Serbia, Belgrade - London

TRIP REPORT


Route: Belgrade - London Heathrow
Trip taken: April 2018
Scheduled time: 3 hours 5 minutes

Air Serbia's route Belgrade Nikola Tesla - London Heathrow is one of the premier routes in its network. Flights to this top European airport with 78 million annual passengers are operated nine times a week in the summer season. Due to slot restrictions at Heathrow, this flight does not depart during Air Serbia morning departure wave from Belgrade. At late morning, Belgrade Airport doesn’t seem very busy and Terminal 1 looks downright deserted. Terminal 1 has been renovated and expanded with new landside window section directly facing aircraft at A gates.



This flight was operated by the Airbus A319 YU-APJ named Dejan Stanković. The aircraft is eighteen years old but feels much younger, with new seats and a clean, maintained interior. Surprisingly, boarding was conducted by staff wearing airport logos and not by staff wearing Air Serbia logos. Boarding was generally controlled and orderly but not to the same high standards as with large airlines. Flight seemed full or with only one empty seat.




With Air Serbia following global trends and introducing choice to consumers by offering seat selection and buy on board food and drink selection, I have opted to select exit row seating with additional legroom for 12 EUR. It was a great value as it provides plenty of comfortable legroom on this almost 3 hour gate-to-gate flight.


Air Serbia offers 5 EUR combo deal for a sandwich and a soft drink. Compared to London prices that seemed like a great deal. At the time of my trip, only cash payments were accepted on board and that process slowed down the service. It is my understanding Air Serbia now also offers credit card payments but that was not the case during my trip. My chicken wrap had fresh ingredients but like most BoB it’s a fairly basic food experience.


Service on this flight was professional and attentive, with a smile even when dealing with a lack of cash change or under pressure.

Wi-Fi service was available during this flight but I didn’t need to use it. Air Serbia has Elevate Play smartphone app that allows free access to media content. Unfortunately, my Android based app was broken and while movies where listed on the screen they were unable to play.


We didn’t spend too much time in notorious LHR holding stacks, making it to Heathrow on time. Air Serbia at London Heathrow uses Terminal 4 which is a decent facility but not as spectacular as the newer LHR Terminals 5 or 2.

Less known fact: Air Serbia has a bizarre requirement for exit row passengers to be at least 18 years of age.

Summary: Pleasant flight and enjoyable service, with broken IFE app as the only negative.


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

Comments

  1. Tnx for the report. Surprisingly full cabin to LHR as it was April!
    Shame they do not offer any snacks and drinks on 3h flight. Boarding was done by airport people - probably former AirSerbia employees transferred to the airport.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many airlines will switch to buy on board model in the future. I already got used to it and I like the choice. Most passengers are not buying snacks or food anyway.

      Delete
    2. They should have avoided that at any cost, especially after "boutique" concept of 2014. LH model could have worked good for them.

      Delete
    3. I disagree.
      Although some of the flights have very low sales, others have sales through the roof.
      All of western and northern europe is buying like crazy.

      Delete
    4. I also disagree with LH model. That ship has sailed. Passengers are getting used to this and in a couple of years this will seem completely normal.

      I have also noticed more sales on longer flights. On shorter flights it"s mostly water and coffee sales.

      Delete
    5. I have not witnessed strong sales on any of 8 flights I took since they introduced the system. They usually have no more than 4 orasnica to sell me, even though I want to buy 10. :)
      The prosciutto sandwich is quite good.

      Delete
  2. Nice report. On my last flight the Elevate Play app was not functioning properly either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never used it. SMS messages work quite fine. Is wireless offered free of charge to business passangers? I never checked

      Delete
    2. Air Serbia discontinued the entertainment system. Only WiFi is available as a service now.

      Delete
    3. So it was discontinued? Last few times I flew I just did not check it but I think it is still offered. Will have to check in couple of days when I take my next flight with them.

      Delete
    4. I don't think it was officially discontinued. You can still use the app to get the flight info, destination weather and news. Media section is broken.

      Delete
  3. 9 flights during summer. Why not double daily? Did Jat or ASL sold five slots at LHR? Or they never had them. Anybody familiar with this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They never had them. They have had 7 slots in winter and 9 in summer for the past 20 years.

      Delete
    2. Some say they asked for additional slot pairs 3-4 years ago but were turned down.

      Delete
    3. I remember them flying additional flights to LGW some ten years ago. So there were no 14 slot pairs at any point in the past - 90s, 80s, 70s?

      Delete
    4. @Anonymous 9:58 AM
      You don't ask for slots at LHR. They are not free to give to anyone.
      You can only buy them from someone else.

      Delete
    5. There will be plenty of slots once they build a third runway. If that ever materialises. xD

      Delete
  4. London im je jedna od najboljih linija. Uprkos tome sto nisu dobre konekcije na ostale letove Air Serbie iz Beograda linija rastura.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Any concrete numbers for this claim? Loads, average price for O&D passengers, how much they get for feeding Virgin network, etc.
      Transfer passengers continue to Virgin and there are some crazy prices outside the main season, like JFK for 400 eur which means JU is really not making money out of it. Plus all those three and two lag connections offered by Etihad.

      Delete
  5. Were there any passengers in business?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cabin was completely full save for one empty seat, and that one could have been using the loo at the time. They keep sending A320 to LHR from time to time so loads are definitely there.

      Delete
    2. That is really strange for London outside of top season!
      Must have been some sizeable group that day.

      Delete
  6. I fail to understand what is so bizzare about not having children seated next to the emergency exit. A plane might have an emergency during taxi or take off when there is no time to resear the passengers and I’m not sure your six year old would be up for the task of opening the exit and helping people out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No one said 6 year old should be allowed. Check AC SFO-YYZ trip report, they allow 12 and older in the exit row. If that is safe with AC, why not with Air Serbia? Or at least something more reasonable like 14-15 year old?

      Delete
    2. Air Canada charged 41 EUR for exit row seat, Air Serbia only 12 EUR. Another big difference.

      Delete
    3. Airlines from across the pond have a slightly offset idea of what is safe to do and what is not.
      They also allow emotional support pigs, turkeys and pit bulls in the cabin, there are virtually no rules on where a disabled person must sit (because having them sit in a pre determined location where they can’t block anyone is discriminatory according to american courts) so they seat a completely imobile person on an isle seat and block the people behind them from having a clear path to exit on a narrow body plane.
      If it comes to an incident where an evacuation is needed I’d rather bet on a healthy adult then a 15 year old boy and most european airlines agree with me on this.

      Delete
    4. What you’re missing is that not every child is the same. There probably are mature and physycaly able teenagers that could be of much help in an evacuation and there are some that are not. Do you know that the emergency exit doors way around 16 - 22 kgs deppendig on the aircraft type.

      I’m willing to bet that there is a 15 year old boy that can lift 22 kgs easy - but I’m also willing to bet that there is a 15 year old that hasn’t got the physical ability to lift that much weight.
      Should the airline have a policy that says teenage boys can sit there and girls can’t? Should there be a “drop and give me 20” test for teenagers that want extra leg room?

      It’s just a lot more more logical for the area to be adults only

      Delete
    5. @anon 2:16
      "there are virtually no rules on where a disabled person must sit (because having them sit in a pre determined location where they can’t block anyone is discriminatory according to american courts)"
      This is very interesting! One can also make a case that his/her freedom of movement wa restricted by this measure. This happens when human rights are approached in a wrong way!

      Delete
    6. Drop and give me 20.

      Made my day!

      Delete
    7. Reasons for lower age are possibly of commercial nature. If Mr&Mrs Tall travel with their tall 15 year old kid and are all willing to pay for extra legroom, why not make extra money? Exit row is often the only extra legroom space available to economy passengers.

      Delete
    8. On LH flights they brief the there - sitting passengers on how to open the emergency exit.

      Delete
    9. Same briefing with with Air Canada. It is my understanding flight attendant can reorder passengers in the exit row, for example to place parent by the window (exit door) and teenager in the middle or aisle seat.

      Delete
  7. One off topic question. Which flights are affected by French ATC strike?

    ReplyDelete
  8. It is not bizzare rule it is the law.
    In the US and Canada they get emergency trainings as part of the education system. Traffic rules included. By the time they are up to get behind the vehicle they're being completely educated responsible drivers who have to bear in mind not to drink and drive due to the fact they become of legal drinking age as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ...with the US standing at 11 deaths in car accidents per 100.000 people, which is even worse than Serbia, let alone W. Europe...

      A third world country it is, by many criteria.

      Delete

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