TRIP REPORT: Air Serbia, London - Belgrade

TRIP REPORT


Route: London Heathrow – Belgrade
Trip taken: July 2018
Scheduled Time: 2 hours 40 minutes

Flying to or from London Heathrow is one activity you get the most warnings beforehand. Those range from crowded roads that lead to the airport, busy terminals and especially long waiting for slots, either circling above London to land, or sitting on the runway for take off. For me, it turned out most of these warnings proved to be false, though there were some other things that did not go as planned.

Heathrow Express at Paddington Station

In order to be on time for Air Serbia JU381, I decided to take the Heathrow Express from Paddington Station in London. It takes around 15 minutes to get to the first stop - Heathrow Terminals 2 and 3. From the same platform, after a couple of minutes, another train takes you one stop further, to Terminal 4 - out of which Air Serbia flies from. Everything seems very easy, and it is exactly how it should be for the ticket price of 22 GBP one-way.

Air Serbia check-in counters at Terminal 4

Finding Air Serbia check-in counters was more than easy. I did the online check-in, a recommended activity in order to avoid extra charges. I was pleasantly surprised when I was automatically assigned the 3A seat - even without the seat-selection process – since these carry an extra charge. So there was nothing to change at the counter - I just had one piece of luggage to drop off. I was only surprised to get my boarding pass printed, since I had it already on my phone. That made me think of the web check-in procedure – and what has the company gained from this process. It still requires the same number of staff at the ground, as the whole check-in procedure is repeated at the airport. Even the same amount of paper is used to print the boarding passes that could be used in electronic form.

Nine minutes after scheduled take off time – “Take a Seat” notice
The scheduled time for take off was 13.30 London time and the first information at the airport was that the gate would be announced at 12.50. However, at 13.05 the status of the flight changed to “Please Wait”. By cross-checking the websites of Belgrade and London airports, I found out that the flight from Belgrade was delayed by an hour– so a significant delay was expected from London as well. It wasn’t until 13.25 when the gate was assigned.

Goran Bregovic at Heathrow Airport

Air Serbia’s YU-APD Goran Bregovic appeared at the gate at 13.32, needing some time to off-load the passengers and luggage from the flight from Belgrade.

Boarding procedure

It took another 25 minutes until the boarding procedure could start. It was conducted without any specific order as all passengers were invited to board the aircraft.

Priority Seat as a lucky upgrade

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that 3A is treated as a Priority Seat, the status not given on the ticket I purchased. Despite the chance to enjoy the window seat, it also provided slightly greater leg-room – a very useful thing on an almost three-hour flight.

With exactly an hour’s delay, the plane took off from Heathrow Airport. Despite missing its own slot, the waiting time was not too long – we spent only around 15 minutes waiting in line.

The flight was a very pleasant experience, as smooth as possible during the our time in the air. The flight deck provided passengers with all the necessary information, going into details of the route - a thing I really appreciate.

Priority Seat benefits the better leg-room


The service was according to the new Air Serbia standards. Those with higher-class tickets were served their meals first. Then the crew started selling items from the bar. Most of the regular travellers have gotten used to the new regime and are ready to make payments in smaller bills either in euros or Serbian Dinars, or with debit or credit cards. Some British passengers were a bit surprised they could not use the GBP. The crew was also much better equipped with smaller bills as there were no problems with handing back of change – a common practice on Air Serbia flights just a month ago, when the crew would wander around the plane, asking for passengers to help them with smaller banknotes.

With an hour’s delay, the plane landed safely at Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade. Flying on JU381 was a pleasant experience overall. However, it must be noted that this was the only flight at that time of day at Heathrow Terminal 4 that was late – not a thing to be proud of for AirSerbia.

Fun Fact: Branding of aircraft after the famous Serbs inspired some extra creativity among the friends and family of passengers. I received several messages quoting that “Goran Bregovic will not take off before the Moonlight” or that “Goran Bregovic landed in Belgrade before the Moonlight”, all inspired by Bregovic’s song “The Moonlight” (“Mesecina”).


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



Comments

  1. Nice report. Thanks.

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  2. Kaka je bila popunjenost?

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  3. Nice repor, mate. Was the ticket price expensive? How about the load factor?
    Ba888 told us that the prices from/to Belgrade London are extremely high...

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  4. I flew on flight JU387 from LHR to BEG on July 8. The flight was slightly delayed due to slot restrictions although it arrived to London a bit ahead of time. I initially purchased Economy Blue one way ticket for 234 €. With 12.086 miles I upgraded to Business Class. There were a total of 3 passengers in 2-row (8 seats) configuration of the Business class. Compared to last time I traveled in JU Business Class (August 2017 from AMS to BEG), things changed drastically, primarily in food and beverage choice (instead of full 3-course hot meal it is now pre-packaged cold Caesar salad with plastic cutlery and paper bowl) but also inflight amenities (pillow and blanket are not there anymore). The crew, however, was extremely pleasant and cordial. Overall, there is really no value for money in JU business class especially now that a priority seat can be purchased in front rows offering the same leg-room as rows 1 and 2 normally used for Business class in JU short-haul flights (JFK is of course something different). Other services offered for purchase by Air Serbia, such as priority boarding, fast track in BEG as well as priority baggage tagging, also have zero value-for money as Air Serbia seems unable to control their consistent implementation even at their home base in Belgrade, let alone other destinations. Perhaps the only add-on service which I experienced as Etihad Guest Gold-tier member (for free) that could be a good value for money is the priority check-in in BEG at peak hours. Recently Air Serbia was handing over 5€ nominal value vouchers on their flights, which are valid through end of December 2018 which can be exchanged for the above mentioned add-on services via Air Serbia call centers.
    on a different note, it seems that complementary water bottle has been reintroduced on Air Serbia flights, since I experienced it on the flight from Sarajevo to Belgrade on July 17th.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you very much for sharing this information with us.
      I know that the BEG-JFK business class is quite superior compared to the European one or short-haul.
      What I think Serbian Air is doing is trying to make cash from everything in order to keep surviving. We all know that that there is way too many competition in Europe. Which of course is a very good thing.
      Still 234€ is an abusive price for a less than 3 hour journey!!!

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  5. That flight Ju381 never lands on time on the return flight...patethic!

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  6. "Goran Bregovic" XD

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