TRIP REPORT: Belgrade - Auckland

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Route: Belgrade Airport - Ataturk Airport Istanbul - Hong Kong International Airport - Auckland International Airport
Trip Taken: December 2018
Scheduled Time: 32 hours

It is hard to believe that you can travel much farther from Belgrade than Auckland. Finding the appropriate ticket was equally an adventure – the right balance between price and flight time was important when making a choice. The combined ticket of Turkish and Hong Kong Airlines turned out to offer quite a good option, especially with convenient times for the long haul flights. At Belgrade Airport, which has been just taken over by Vinci, I was issued boarding passes for the first two flights – to Istanbul and Hong Kong, while the luggage was checked-in until the end of the trip, to Auckland.

Check-in lines at Belgrade Airport were not too long

Christmas spirit in front of the departures terminal at Belgrade Airport

New branding at Belgrade Airport after Vinci takeover

The flight TK1084 to Istanbul was 30 minutes late, as the earlier flight from Istanbul was late on its arrival into Belgrade. At that point, it seemed possible to make up the time during the flight.

Turkish Airlines offers a selection of Turkish papers to all passengers upon boarding

The in-flight entertainment system was available on this short flight

The refreshing dinner consisted of a sandwich, a salad and a cake

The smooth flight to Turkey’s largest city lasted longer than expected. Although the scheduled time was 1h 45 minutes, the Airbus touched down after 2 hours and 15 minutes, spending at least 30 minutes in the air above the city. Combined with a 30-minute delay at departure, that meant less than an hour available to find the connecting flight to Hong Kong. The security procedure at Ataturk Airport required another scan in between, and the gate was as remote as possible. However, the flight TK70 was also delayed – for a much needed hour – not just for passengers but also for the luggage.

Turkish Airlines aircraft named Istanbul at the gate

Large puddles at the runway at Ataturk Airport

Boeing 777-300

Restrooms on board were equipped with refined cosmetics

The on-board service was quick and well timed. Turkish Airlines’ standards remained high on the 10-hour long flight with two meals served after take-off and before landing. A wide selection of drinks was available after both meals.

Dinner served under the blue cabin lights of the Boeing 777-300

Breakfast was served during the last two hours of the flight

Menus in Turkish, English and Chinese

The in-flight entertainment system was working, but the USB charger was not

Landing at Hong Kong Airport is almost like descending into the sea

Hong Kong International Airport offers some spectacular views

The layover of almost six hours provided enough time to obtain the boarding pass for the final flight to Auckland, roam around Hong Kong’s giant airport and recharge the devices.

Hong Kong Airlines counter offered quick and easy service

The gate for the flight to Auckland was assigned three hours before the flight

Halls at the Departures gates of Hong Kong International Airport

Shopping area of Hong Kong International Airport

Hong Kong Airlines pilots and flight attendants boarding the aircraft

Airbus A330-200 at the gate


HX27 was scheduled to fly to Auckland for slightly over 11.5 hours. It left Hong Kong on time with the flight mostly calm. On several ocassions, the seat-belt sign was turned on but there were no major turbulence. That made it possible for the crew to serve two meals – at the beginning and at the end of the flight. The selection of drinks was a bit different, with the Pepsi range of products dominating the offer. The fruit juices were produced in Greece – a surprise to see on a Hong Kong Airlines flight. The flight attendant was a bit surprised when I asked for sparkling water – it was not a part of the general offer, but she went back to the galley to bring a glass.

Hong Kong Airlines A330 provided a slightly smaller screen than Turkish

Chicken and pasta offered for dinner; the other selection was the Chinese menu

A pale sausage and scrambled eggs were offered for breakfast

Safety card on Hong Kong Airlines' A330


Not too many details decorating the cabin



HX27 landed in Auckland as planned, but was then kept waiting for almost thirty minutes at the end of the runway – waiting for the gate to be assigned. After this excuse from the cockpit, it was surprising that the airport was not crowded. However, services on the ground was very efficient and fast – and the luggage made it to New Zealand all the way from Belgrade, despite the delayed flights in Istanbul.

Airbus A330-200 at the gate at Auckland International Airport

All of this made this long experience a much more pleasant one. It turned out the six-hour layover at Hong Kong Airport was crucial for recuperating for the second long haul, so this was not an overly exhausting adventure – despite being as long as it can be from Belgrade.

Comments

  1. Interesting report. TK is very stylish for offering glassware in economy.

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    Replies
    1. That's not glassware, it is transparent plastic cups.

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  2. Judging by the livery, I assume Hong Kong Airlines is owned by the HNA group.

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  3. Great report. Cheers.

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  4. Nice report. I took almost the exact same routing in 2013, except that my flight from HKG to AKL was on Air New Zealand. However, I also had a layover of 3 days in HKG in both directions - best decision I ever made.

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  5. Peter from Sydney27 January 2019 at 10:07

    Would it not add to customer usability if the display boards were also in English or even the Latin script? Yay/nay?

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    Replies
    1. They are also in English. They change every few seconds.

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  6. I'm flying to New Zealand in May, but via Dubai and Sydney. And with a stops for a few days in each city.

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  7. This trip report shows how poorly connected our region is....2 stopover is a norm. And while its not something uncommon for flying to New Zealand, its a commonplace even on intra-continental routes. People often use multiple flights even if direct ones are available, because of insane pricing. We lack competition and everything is too inclined for government-owned airlines. There passenger is of the lowest importance. State-owned monopolies and interests of suspiciously privatized airports make us a very limited region.

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    Replies
    1. You have problems with both state and private entities?

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    2. You can actually take Qatar Airways or Emirates (FlyDubai) from anywhere in the Balkans to anywhere in Australia, New Zealand, and any country in the far east. With EK you can fly to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth (+Canberra with QR) in AUS, and then Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland in NZ with only one stopover. Needless to say they all fly to multiple destinations in Japan, Korea, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, all over SE Asia, and the Indian sub-continent.

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  8. Hey author, could you share the cost of the air ticket with us? And, if possible, the cost for a one-stop connection via DXB, DOH or other hubs?

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    Replies
    1. The cost of the return ticket BEG-IST-HKG-AKL and AKL-NRT-IST-BEGl was 1395 EUR.

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  9. Пасуљ за доручак ��

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