TRIP REPORT: Air Serbia, Belgrade - Zurich

TRIP REPORT


Submitted by Liam Rothlisberger

I have been reading this site for a few years now since our company started work in Serbia. With half of the company already having travelled to Belgrade for meetings and what not, me and two more colleagues headed to Serbia for work-related purposes. After two days we were scheduled to return back on a Saturday morning with Air Serbia. I have mixed feelings about this airline because I think the product has been downgraded extensively in business class. I will admit that I didn't fly with them before when they seemed to have an exceptional business class product, but seeing photos online and listening to colleagues who have had the opportunity to fly with them back then and who raved about their great seats and food, this experience was a bit of a letdown.

Unfortunately, we only had Friday night to do some exploring through the city. I was really positively surprised by how lively and beautiful it is. Nice buildings, very cosmopolitan and with a great vibe.

The scene outside our hotel


Our pickup for the airport was quite early. We left the Marriott Hotel at the centre of the city at around 4.30 in the morning. We were at the airport within 20 minutes. There was little to no traffic. Completely in contrast to how busy it was at the airport. Air Serbia had some 20 check-in desks open, there were huge lines everywhere. There was just one person at the business class counter in front of us so we checked in within minutes. We were also invited to the Air Serbia lounge.

The scene at the Air Serbia check-in





After check-in there was a line to enter the line for passport control! Even though it was long this line was very quick and we were through passport control within minutes.


Just after passport control you enter the duty free. Since we had over two hours until our flight we walked a bit around the airport which was very busy. I liked the layout.










There was a nice area with reproduction of works from the National Museum.




This project is everywhere at the airport (and the city too). I picked up a magazine later in the lounge and sure enough saw an advertisement for it.





After this we headed to the lounge. I think it is very good for European standards and is probably a reflection of its overall former product. There were around 10 people in the lounge, although most were sitting in the lounge area, while we were in the restaurant/dining area.





Then we were off to our flight. Security is done at the gate but there was no line since everyone was already inside the gate waiting to commence boarding. It seemed like a full flight which turned out to be true. Business class was also full with two rows of seating. The seats were standard economy class with the middle seat blocked and separated from economy with the curtain. Business class passengers and Etihad guest members were invited to board first.




Upon boarding there were two cabin crew at the door. The purser was a middle aged female who had a big smile and spoke very good English. The crew member next to her was quite a young guy.


When we got seated we were offered a bottle of water (no glass/cup). Once boarding was completed we were quickly off. Afterwards we were given a menu which had two choices of meal - Cesar salad or Serbian mezze. I took the latter. I was really disappointed with the presentation. We got a box of food, prepackaged peanuts, plastic cutlery and drinks were served in plastic cups. Felt more like economy to be honest. Also, we got a prepackaged cookie as dessert.


There was internet onboard but I didn't have the need to use it. I flicked through the Air Serbia magazine which was good. There was a big spread about Croatia in the July edition.



The crew was very nice and polite and made some small talk. She also offered us coffee and tea, which I declined. The pilot was informative and spoke to us before takeoff informing us of all the flight details and again before descent.

Everything with this flight was fine. The ground experience with the lounge is very good but the on board business product just isn't worth the extra cost. Obviously, our company paid for the tickets but I don't think I would bother flying premium product Air Serbia on these intra-European flights. 


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Comments

  1. Everything was good except experience on board. I mean at least the food should be on porcelain... i think AS should maybe make a ” Economy Plus” product as Scandinavian SAS.

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  2. The food presentation really is disappointing. What did they do with all the china they had? Throw it in the bin? Sell it? Is it so difficult for them to assemble the food from the box on a plate? There are probably less than 30 passengers per day in business class in total.

    Nice report though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True! Then they have to decide to sell a real business class product or make it to economy premium...

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    2. They probably moved the china to the lounge. lol

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    3. If they have less staff in catering they can get the crew to put the contents from the box on the plate. That's the way they do it in most airlines anyway. And I can't believe they give out plastic cutlery in economy. From an airline that had metal cutlery in economy on flights over an hour...

      Delete
    4. Sorry I meant that I can't believe they give out plastic cutlery in business.

      Delete
  3. Nice trip report, thank you.
    Seems like JU went too far when it comes to cost cutting in 'business class.' Their current product is a disaster and as Philip wrote, it should be called Premium Economy in stead.

    I do like their new seats as they offer more legroom but God forbid you are flying on a night flight. It's impossible to sleep as the seatback is flat, like a plank of wood. I can't imagine how it was flying to AUH with those seats.

    I think Zurich is the only market where JU manages to dominate over its competitior. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw they will be increasing it from 14 to 17 this winter season.

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  4. That's got to be the worst business class experience of all the European carriers. No plates, plastic cutlery, horrible food all squashed together in a box - they'd do better to just stop offering business class seats if this is what you get for it, this actually harms their image.

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  5. And compare the product to what it used to look like on this exact route less than a year ago

    https://imgur.com/a/Nje5A0y

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's what Etihad initially set them up with. What we have today is what Dane created before he left.

      Delete
    2. And you can appreciate that the old set up was never going to make them any money, so they ditched the comfy seats, but who on earth signed off on that pathetic soft product? Food in a box, no glassware ... in business class? Makes you cringe.

      Delete
    3. Who signed it off? Dane did.

      Delete
  6. On a sidenote I have to mention that the airport and lounge look good.

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  7. This is how for example Malaysia airlines economy class on board service looks like on 1 hour flight. Can't believe this is happening.

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  8. BEG airport looking very modern and European style. What a pity that our terminal in SOF looks like a s*ithole compared to BEG. Very well done!

    As for JU's serious downgrade, I do agree but this is one of the many massive changes done to reduce the losses made after EY takeover, back in 2013. I cannot really blame them as such radical changes are important.

    Anyway, nice report indeed and good to know the busiest BEG-ZRH route doing extremely well.

    Ciao.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Didn't Sofia get a brand new terminal some years ago?

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    2. In 2006 but it never looked any modern. And Terminal 1 is a disgrace used mainly by W6.
      The only really good thing about T2 is the new metro station right infront of the building and new airport road.
      The government has decided that the cincessionaire must build a new, 3rd terminal. So far only 8 companies have applied including Fraport and the English Manchester Airport Group.
      I do think the BEG concession was much more professional.

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    3. I remember reading somewhere, some years ago, that the facade of the terminal collapsed... or something like that. Was there anything like that?

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    4. Yes, but nothing significant.
      It was fixed. But anyway, the quality and design could be much better.
      Personally, I don't mind if Fraport win the concession. If you compare the coastal airports to the capital, it's like comparing apples with pears. Fraport did a super job, with both airports and are even currently trying to extend the winter season in both VAR and BOJ.
      I have discussed this with my friends, that the Belgrade concession was one of the best and the way it was carried out from the beginning to an end too.
      The current government is doing a lot for Serbia, when it comes to aviation at least. So thumbs up and can't wait to see what Vinci has prepared for BEG.

      Delete
  9. Hrana,hrana,hrana...Aman ljudi,nije sve u hrani. Biznis klasa podrazumeva i viose besplatnih milja,mogucnost refundacije novca 100% usled otkaza leta,prioritetno ukrcavanje na let,vise komfora u avionu,besplatno koriscenje premium salona. A kome je do zdranja u premijum salonu ima svedski sto i pozlaceni pribor,pa nek se nazdere pre leta.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ne budi prostak.

      Delete
    2. Слажем се са Анон 15.10, не буди примитиван. Храна је битан фактор јер њено служење и конзумирање одузме доста времена и тако скрати лет. Постоји разлог зашто све успешне авио-компанија стављају толики акценат на тај део лета.

      А о ком то додатном комфору причаш када је АСЛ у питању?

      Delete
    3. Vise prostora za noge i blokirano sediste pored. Ako letis za Nju Jork mozes da jedes i to 2 puta pa cak i da prilegnes u biznis klasi. Al za sat vremena leta dizati tolku frku ne vidim razloga.

      Delete
    4. Nego sta nego da dizes frku kada se karte prodaju po ceni od 500+ evra a kompanija sebe naziva vodecom u ovom delu evrope. Uzgred autor uopste ne dize frku. Napisao je u 2 rececenice iskustvo na samom avionu.

      Delete
    5. Autor ne dize al dizete vi komentarima. A ako se po tebi liderstvo meri hranom,onda imas veliki problem.

      Delete
    6. A sta, zabranjeno je da ti neko kritikuje firmu? Nije ovo severna koreja. Za razliku od tebe niko u svojim kritikama se nije prostacki izrazavao. Ako za 500 evra dobijes isto sediste kao i oni sto su platili 150 evra kartu plus kartonsku kutiju nabacanu narezscima i to predstavljas kao nesto najbolje, dok druge kompanije za manje para nude mnogo vise, onda ne treba lazno predstavljati svoju uslugu i ponudu.

      Delete
    7. Bolju uslugu neces dobiti ni Svisom za let od sat vremena. AS niti je moja kompanija niti imam veze sa njom. Samo navijam da Srpska kompanija bude uspesna i to ti je sva filozofija. A ti spakuj kofere i pravo na Swiss gde ces dobiti vrhunski tretman! Evo ti i primera
      http://www.telegraf.rs/vesti/beograd/2974238-srpski-hirurg-dobio-na-sudu-aviokompaniju-zbog-uvrede-da-je-srpska-svinja-i-gej-a-onda-je-presuda-objavljena-u-novinama-na-cak-12-strana

      Delete
    8. Pa vidis to je razlika izmedju tebe i mene. I ja navijam za srpsku kompaniju ali da bude sto bolja a ne da bude deo standardne "srpske price". A ti trazis opravdanje za to sto iz dana u dan postaje sve gora. Uzgred let za Cirih je 2 sata i da, na Swiss-u je mnogo bolji servis u biznis klasi na ovom letu.

      Delete
    9. Anon 15:51 very sad and negative comments.
      JU has a decent business class, it might have been downgraded as the author of the report said, but those measures are needed to bring the company back to profit.

      The BoB service has decent prices and looks very good:

      https://www.airserbia.com/Data/Files/Menu.pdf

      If you call this "aman od hrana" think twice.

      Delete
    10. This is shameful for a business class product. It should be providing feeling of premium product and this is worse then Alitalia.

      Delete
  10. Thank you for a nice report!

    ReplyDelete
  11. What a well illustrated trip report, woww and thank you !

    Shame to Air Serbia for their Inflight Business Class product. Theiroveravergaed Business class product was almost like a brand which made people flying with them who probably would never have flown JU. Judging the pictures from the food, its now definitely underaveraged Business class again. Thats how you kill the important factor of brand awareness with unnecessary cost cutting measures in no time.

    What a foolish decision!

    ReplyDelete
  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete

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