TRIP REPORT: Air Serbia, Podgorica - Belgrade

TRIP REPORT


Route: Podgorica Airport – Nikola Tesla Airport
Trip taken: October 2018
Scheduled Time: 1 hour

Traveling from Podgorica to Belgrade should be one of the least adventurous trips in the region. A 45-minute long flight with an ATR72. Together with reasonable check-in and baggage collection time, the whole journey should not take more than three hours. However, this one took double the time needed to travel from the Montenegrin to Serbian capital.

Podgorica Airport was a good place to spend a rainy evening

Flight JU175 was scheduled to depart at 22:25 and the assigned gates were 3 and 4. Since Air Serbia does not have the online check-in option from Podgorica, my boarding pass was printed and everything seemed to be completely in order. The only thing that was missing was – the plane. Air Serbia’s JU174 was supposed to come from Belgrade and pick up passengers for the return flight.

When the time for gate opening came close, instead of the precise time, the boards showed – the time for new information. The info-desk provided just the basics – the flight from Belgrade is late “due to operational reasons” and that new information should follow. This was repeated for exactly an hour and a half, during which passengers were provided with no opportunities to get more details as the ground staff simply disappeared from their posts at the airport.



The two cafes and the Duty Free Shop at Podgorica Airport stayed open longer as passengers remained in the building.


The Business Lounge at Podgorica Airport was left open and unattended, a unique opportunity for everyone who wanted to try slightly more comfortable arm-chairs

The only way to get more information was thanks to friends browsing Belgrade Airport's website, as well as flight tracking websites. JU174 left Belgrade at 23.05 – almost 2,5 hours later than scheduled. A dozen minutes later, it was officially announced that the security check would start and the boarding procedure could finally commence for JU175.

The new time for JU175 – two hours late for a 45-minute flight

Ground staff at Podgorica Airport worked some extra hours

All passengers of the ATR were packed into one airport bus – it kept raining, so this slightly unusual procedure for Podgorica Airport, where walking on the apron is often a preferred method for boarding, was used.

One bus for a packed flight – definitely not enough space

A clever way to avoid the rain – opening just one door of the bus and keeping as many people on the bus until the crowd moves from the aisle

YU-ALN at Podgorica Airport

Still, that was not the end to our surprises. The aircraft was boarded from the back, and it meant a short walk for me, as I was assigned seat 18A. But the real surprise came when I saw that the last row was number 16. I immediately addressed the purser and he kindly informed me that this is the substitute aircraft, smaller than the original one – and told me to sit at the only empty seat in the last row, next to the aisle. He was very kind to take my hand luggage to the crew luggage compartment as all the overhead bins were full.


The ticket shows the seat number 18A – which does not exist on YU-ALN

Finally, at 00.50 – almost 2,5 hours later than scheduled, JU175 began the take-off procedure. Reaching cruising altitude was accompanied by mild to strong turbulence, especially above Podgorica - probably due to strong winds and rainy clouds. During the whole flight, the lights on board remained switched off and the seat-belt sign was on, even though the turbulence was becoming milder as we left the mountainous regions of Montenegro. There was no service or service announcements of any kind during the flight, as the crew remained fastened throughout the entire flight.

YU-ALN finally in Belgrade

After almost one hour of flying, touch down was quite smooth, especially having in mind the winds at Belgrade Airport. Upon arrival, the crew offered an apology for the delay, explaining that it was caused by problems with the original aircraft.

The notorious blue screens dominating the baggage hall at Nikola Tesla Airport

Afterwards, it took more than 30 minutes to deliver the bags at the empty Nikola Tesla Airport. Calling up a taxi that offers credit card payment options was another challenge. This all added up to a total of seven hours from door-to-door in Podgorica and Belgrade, almost the time it would take to travel by car. For a 45-minute flight, that's quite an effort.


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

Comments

  1. "Calling up a taxi that offers credit card payment options was another challenge."

    Next time just call (or tweet to) Naxis Taxi when you land, all their vehicles have POS terminals. They never take more than 2-3 mins to the airport.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pink also I think, maybe not 100% but most of them for sure.

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  2. I have impressions that this article would have never been written if everything had been ok with the flight or especially if the flight had been on time as 85% of all JU flights are...

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    Replies
    1. Than you should write some 10 positive reports :)))

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    2. Well this is the first Air Serbia trip report on this website to describe a delayed flight. And in all cases, including this, passengers reported that flights were full and the crew was very friendly.

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    3. Of course it was full. Last flight of a day from Podgorica on a working day and operated with downgraded equipment.

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  3. I think you had an unlucky day, that's it. TGD airport services obviously need to improve significantly.
    JU is still considered one of the most punctual airlines in the region and Eastern Europe after Air Baltic.

    ReplyDelete
  4. And I have impression that there is no need to convince us that black is white...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 85 % of white and 15% of black. Very light grey, far from black...

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  5. Thank you for the interesting report! I travel a lot and face problems quite often with many different airlines. People should be aware of these things. If your arrival was overall more than 3h after schedule do ask for compensation.

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    Replies
    1. I DID ASK IN JANUARY AND STILL AWAITING RESPONSE!! AIR SERBIA @LAITALIA

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    2. Was the flight delayed/canceled operated by JU? Or by AZ? If it is JU, they were obliged to respond in 60 days according to Serbian Law. Send them "upozorenje" (I suppose you speak the language) that you will report the case to Serbian aviation directorate. I had a similar case this year, no response after which I have send a warning and immediately got 250 eur compensation in dinars. Fight for your rights and good luck!

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  6. I just don't fly with AirSerbia or sizter companies. They are terible, full stop.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not that we have much choice especially to Montenegro. I personally had bad experience with numerous companies. I am just bit more passionate about JU as it is being heavily subsidised from my tax money.

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  7. Interesting report. Not signed, even without nickname, date of the flight shadowed...
    These thigns are quite normal and are happing every day. The most important is that you had a safe ride.

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  8. I ja mislim da je bilo bolje da vam posalju neispravan avion,pa dokle stignete.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even though we have a complete moral erosion in Serbian society, aviation safety is a positive example of professionalism. If something is wrong with the JU plane, it will just not take off. I have witnessed it several time and I praise engineers and mechanics for that.

      Delete

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