TRIP REPORT: Air Serbia, New York - Belgrade

TRIP REPORT


Submitted by Tom Janković

I took flight JU501 from New York to Belgrade in April. Air Serbia is based at JFK's Terminal 4 where Etihad is also located and it does check-in procedures near the Etihad check-in desks. Today's flight to Belgrade was full and I would say some 60% of passengers were transferring onwards from Belgrade. There were passengers from literally everywhere - Greece, Israel, Russia, Albania and Turkey. While I was waiting for check-in near the gate, I was sitting next to two older Croatian couples who were connecting onto Zagreb. I was particularly surprised by the number of Montenegrins onboard. They must have made up the absolute majority of the connecting passengers. It was easy to spot them since the entire plane seemed to know each other. I was seated next to one Montenegrin guy heading to Podgorica who seemed to know half of the passengers onboard since he was chatting with everyone.

Long lines at check-in, even longer at security

Air Serbia ticketing desk

I found it amusing how JFK staff lined up Air Serbia's wheelchair passengers for boarding. However, business and Etihad Gold member passengers were invited to board first. The flight from New York to Belgrade is also codeshared by Etihad, Montenegro Airlines and Atlasglobal. Boarding for economy passengers was done based on rows. 

Wheelchair passengers lined up for boarding

Air Serbia gate

Air Serbia A330 at the gate

I was seated next to the window, with the seating in standard A330 2-4-2 configuration. Waiting at the seat was a pillow, blanket and small headphones. Each seat has a personal TV screen but there are no USB or power sockets.





After we departed an unseasonably cold New York I decided to watch some TV but realised that my headphone jack, which is in the armrest, wasn't working properly. The headphone plug could not go into the jack. I realized that for the next 10 or so hours I would be unable to watch anything with audio since I also forgot to charge my ipad. The flight was packed to the very last seat so there was no point in asking to move somewhere else, although I noticed many passengers didn't even turn on their screens seeing as a large majority were over the age of 70 and probably didn't know how to use the screens anyway. I resigned myself to reading.

After departure we were distributed with menus which read as follows.



I ordered the beef which was quite good, even though it does not look too appealing in the photo. Interestingly, Air Serbia uses metal cutlery and glassware in economy.


The seat pitch is around 32'' though I can't say I was too comfortable. With a full flight, a Russian girl behind me constantly coughing, sneezing and obviously suffering from the flu, the guy next to me chatting with the person in front of him, with the lady across the aisle, and trying to engage me numerous times in his conversation about migrating to New York 30 years ago, interrogating me when my parents emigrated to the States and whether I was interested in him introducing me to a nice Serbian girl, being unable to watch anything on TV and my phone low on battery I was counting down till touchdown in Belgrade.

I have to give full credit to the crew which really did a great job. As I was unable to sleep I saw them pass through the cabin numerous times, and I really mean numerous times, at least once per hour with drinks, snacks, chocolate bars and fruit. It was a nice touch. Also, since the lavatory was very close to my seat, I saw the crew go in and clean it every hour (and noticed the numerous passengers who failed to realize that you have to lock the door when you enter the lavatory so there were several surprise walk-ins).


Before landing, passengers were offered sandwiches (which I didn't take a photo of). I think they used to serve a full breakfast once upon a time but I guess their cost cutting measures have also been extended to the New York flight.

We touched down in Belgrade on time at around 5 AM. The Russian girl behind me finally stopped blowing her nose and asked the lady next to her, which I assume was her mother, if they are in Siberia to which the lady answered back something in Russian.

Overall, the flight was just OK. Nothing better or nothing worse than other airlines operating the transatlantic run to Europe. Having a nonstop flight and avoiding London, Paris or Frankfurt is definitely a plus though. Special mention goes to the crew which was polite, hard working and very patient and courteous to the numerous number of senior passengers. The passengers were very colourful characters

Comments

  1. Great trip report, thanks. It's nice to see at least one JU route retaining some style and class.

    Actually, breakfast was removed as it wasn't popular, too many passengers decided not to take it. So it was one of the rare moments when cost cutting wasn't the primary concern.

    TGD and TIV are some of the most popular connecting destinations. At times almost a full flight to Montenegro is filled with connecting passengers from JFK. I guess OS was the most impacted when JU launched JFK.

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  2. There is power outlet , close to your feet, on the floor. I used in Air Serbia 330.

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  3. Hvala puno za ovaj trip report!

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  4. Oh I know these ethno passengers, they certainly are colorful :D Very similar to what you would find here in Australia but very different from your standard yugo European diaspora.

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  5. This TR goes to show that the "Air Serbia dessert" which made the rounds on social media last month and was laughed at by people because it looked disgusting wasn't from Air Serbia at all. The person that posted it and it got retweeted and shared a thousand times said it was from Air Serbia's flight from New York to Belgrade. Obviously not since it wasn't in the same dishware, the colour of the tray tables wasn't the same etc.

    Nice TR though.

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    1. Do you have a picture of it?

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    2. Chocolate mousse apparently :D
      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DmPnAzwXcAABsVT.jpg:large

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    3. That looks disgusting and I doubt JU would stoop that low. :D

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    4. @An. 12.15 & 13.25

      Air Serbia logo on the fork, and Air Serbia written on the napkin under the fork close to the plastic cup with coke. And you still try to convince us that we don't see what we see?

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    5. @anon 18:23

      The photo from the link was discussed here and not photo from the article

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    6. Ah, ok, but this meal looks so unappealing and unattractive to me as well, that I thought you were discussed this, but sorry haven't read carefuly enough my bad

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    7. So many jelous trolls on here today.

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    8. Thanks dear God we have you to enlighten us and explain once again that all those who dare saying absolutely anything not in favour of JU are trolls. Now I will sleep calmly as I know there are people like you not letting us domestic and foreign enemies commenting on the dogma called Air Serbia

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    9. Dogma je tvoja mrznja prema ErSrbiji.

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  6. Serbian specialty dish Banana Cream Cake. Hahahaha can't stop laughing. Serbia so famous of growing and exporting bananas and even making cakes out of it hahahahaha

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    1. Exactly!!! :))))

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    2. immature comment, since when airlines have to serve only those products that are grown in the country. emirates/qatar serve food that doesn't grow in the uae. air serbia also serves coffee, but coffee beans are not from serbia. grow up.

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    3. The only immature comment here is yours as you are not able to make difference between the food served generally, and food served and announced as national specialty. Emirates and Qatar do serve smoked salmon but don't announce it as national, arabic or middle eastern specialty. If you are not capable of understanding this difference I am sorry. And enjoy your sandwich.

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    4. @18:30

      The fact that you have to laugh and comment such things proves who is really immature here, neighbor :)

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    5. Of course, when there are no more facts left, then it's "neighbor" (spelled with "u" btw) , and shows how seriously you should be taken. Sandwiches extra rich today?

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    6. And also, people who laugh a lot live longer, are healthier, and have much better quality of life compared to those bitter apparatchiks who call neighbors all people who don't share their illusion of grandeur

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    7. There used to be traditional Serbian veal gnocchi at one point if I remember correctly :)

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    8. Actually I was trying to be correct and not to mention chicken in pepper sauce with polenta which has absolutely nothing to do with serbian cuisine as well, but now when I was called to seek help, here I go pointing at another Air Serbia nonsense, not at one point but in this trip report. And this time I will not be laughing as we obviously discuss very serious matter hahahahaha hahahaha

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    9. Kao neko ko ovde dolazi godinama, ja nemam ni trunke sumnje da ovde ima ljudi koji su placeni da profesionalno troluju protiv ErSrbije i to u mnogo vecim iznosima nego sto je jedan sendvic. Neki rade za konkurenciju i dobijaju pare za to, neki dobijaju besplatne letove da promovisu druge kompanije a truju protiv ErSrbije. Jedan pogresno pozicioniran logo na irelevantnom meniju sad sluzi kao povod za napad? Ne verujem da su time uspeli da sprece ni jednog putnika od letenja ErSrbijom. Ko god da ih placa, nisu zavredeli danasnju platu.

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  7. The meal looks like the one I had on my Lufthansa flight from YYZ - FRA this year

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    1. This looks better than my recent Air Canada (not Rouge) economy class transatlantic meal. Instead of breakfast before landing at LHR, AC served what they call a spiced bread. Not even a sandwinch, it was literally one thin slice of a sweet bread in a vacuum bag.

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  8. Overall, average service on ageing plane leased from India. Surprised it was full in April, not the feedback we are getting from frequent travellers. JU probably managed to attract people with very low prices in economy. Tnx for the report.

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    1. Low price in economy was probably the reason why JU introduced 6th weekly flight during the summer.
      YU-ARA is 11 years old and it is still very far from being "in age". It was leased from Etihad and first owner was Jet Airways.

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    2. Of course, LH for example flies much older planes. However, A330 needs updated cabin to compete with contemporary products offered around Europe. Especially JU business class is lagging behind. Hopefully, they do not invest enormous amount of money to revamp plane leased from Jet.

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    3. Well, in addition to age, there is one more very important thing which contributes to aircraft condition :maintenance. And you can say whatever you want but you will never convince me that maintenance in Germany, especially with LH, and in India, are the same Cheers!

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    4. Aircraft was and still is maintained in Italy FYI.

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    5. Makes sense to do maintenance at FCO.

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    6. You are absolutely right. Air Serbia is not capable to do maintenance of its planes in Belgrade, so they go to Rome. Convenient and cheap. For the last 2 years. But I was talking of 9 years of maintenance in India before it became ARA. And you know it but "sell fog" again

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    7. Once Jet Airways collapses will JU take some more A330?

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    8. Heavy maintenance is done in Rome because Jat Tehnika has no certification for that type or any long haul aircraft. But you don't care. You ARE here to troll. Everything you have written today, very obvious.

      From menu, maintenance, everything. Give us a break.

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    9. Trolling is a problem only where there is no active moderation. There is absolutely no reason moderator of a respectable aviation site would allow comments with lies about "ageing" aircraft, questionable maintenance etc to be allowed.

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