TRIP REPORT: Auckland - Belgrade


Route: Auckland International Airport - Narita International Airport - Istanbul Ataturk Airport - Belgrade Airport
Trip taken: January 2019
Scheduled Time: 32 hours

Traveling from New Zealand's summer to Serbia's winter required quite a significant detour, in order to make most of both price and timing. The ticket for this long haul was purchased online, and it was the combination of "Star Alliance" flights, which proved to be a good thing with luggage and boarding pass issuing procedures.

Check-in procedure at Air New Zealand self-operated counters could not be completed - the system notified me I should ask for assistance from the staff on the ground

Air New Zealand staff helped me get the boarding passes for all three flights at my first departure point

Luggage drop-off was completely managed without ground staff

Check-in hall at Auckland Airport

"Relax" - a message in English and Maori or other local language for all flights not imminently departing

Since my friend, a Premium customer of Air New Zealand, was travelling at approximately the same time, he invited me to the Air New Zealand Lounge. His ticket had the lounge included, while he asked the Lounge Manager to let me in on one of his previously obtained free passes. Despite the fact it was not in accordance with the rules as the passes should not be transferrable, the Lounge Manager decided to let me in.

Coffee type selection process is done through the screen

Variety of free food and drinks at Air New Zealand lounge

The flight from Auckland to Tokyo was operated by Air New Zealand's most advanced aircraft - the Dreamliner. The boarding procedure was around 10 minutes late, but it was completed on time as the plane was almost half-empty. With around 20 minutes delay, a very pleasant flight of almost 11 hours could start. I picked the aisle seat in the middle section in order to be free to walk around whenever possible - as part of my "tactics" for connecting the two long flights.

Boeing 787-9 at the tarmac at Auckland Airport

Standard long-haul seating

Lunch at Air New Zealand - a choice between the continental (this one) and the Japanese menu

A selection of New Zealand wines was available

Butterflies are a part of the design of the restrooms on board

Kitchenette on the Boeing Dreamliner

No window blinds - dimming options are available instead

Bookshelves as the interior of another restroom on board

A New Zealand original ice cream is served to passengers in the middle of the flight

Dinner before landing in Tokyo

Safety Information card for the B787-9

Purple mood lighting on the Dreamliner while landing

Landing in Narita on time was crucial as I had slightly over an hour to make my connection. Knowing the size of the airport, I thought that could be a problem. However, the gates were so conveniently located - arrival right above the departure gate - so I had more than enough time. The only issue was the fact that the ground staff of Narita International Airport spoke very poor English so communicating with them was challenging. At one point, the Turkish Airlines ground staff called my name over the speaker and re-issued the two boarding passes for the remaining flights to Istanbul and Belgrade.

Four boarding sections for quicker procedure at Narita

Turkish Airbus A330-300 at the tarmac

Branded headphones on board Turkish Airlines

Chicken for dinner on TK53

Kitchenette on the Airbus A330-300

Eggs and mushrooms before the night landing at Ataturk Airport

After slightly over 12 hours in the air, most of it in the dark, landing in Istanbul in the middle of the night brought me to the empty Ataturk Airport. Because of the delay in opening of the future Istanbul International Airport, the connection was made at the "old" airport of the Turkish capital. Overcrowded waiting halls, delayed and long-lasting boarding procedure, almost 45 minutes of waiting for the take-off time on the runway - this all showed how crucial it is for Istanbul to get the new capacity.

Long list of flights preparing to start the day in Istanbul

Gate for the flight to Belgrade was in the same hall with the similarly timed flights to Podgorica and Pristina

The typical situation at the gate at Istanbul

Boarding procedure for TK1081 was just through the front door which resulted in long queues at the tarmac; the stairs for the back door came too late

Boeing 737-9 was operating the morning flight from Istanbul to Belgrade on Sunday, while on most of other days it is the Boeing 737-8

Breakfast with the first rays of sun after almost 20 hours in the dark

TC-YUP in the air above Bulgaria

Avala Tower from the sky

Warm welcome in Belgrade. Right after disembarking the aircraft, a pair of police officers checked passports of randomly selected passengers

Christmas leftovers at the luggage hall at Belgrade Airport

After more than 32 hours, with a slight delay only because of the last flight from Istanbul to Belgrade, I finally reached the Serbian capital. Overall, it was a pleasant though tiring experience. The hardest part was connecting between the two long haul flights - the short layover time was not enough to stretch legs and relax in Tokyo. That was certainly one of the things to take into account for the future long trips.


  1. Anonymous09:04

    That's one loong trip. Nice report though.

  2. Mario09:26

    Why didn't you fly with one stop in Doha and then to Belgrade? Because of price?

    1. Anonymous12:55

      This was far best combination of price and time. The other options might seemed less complicated, but more expensive...

  3. Anonymous11:07

    OMFG, AKL airport looks spotless and so organised! NZ is simply another world.
    Trip report very nice indeed. The last picture kinda decepts of TK. Poor passengers look like cattle and the stairs are very small.

  4. Anonymous16:31

    Great trip report with abundance of photos to convey the travel experience, thank you.

    New Zealand is a fantastic place and should have a mandatory spot on a bucket list. I made my pilgrimage back in 1996 when there were no self service kiosks and AKL airport signage was not in Chinese but Kiwis were really friendly and sociable. Thanks for the awesome report, enjoyed it!

  5. Anonymous16:36

    Is that Vladimir Stimac in the second last photo lol? I once had the opportunity to travel with Boban Marijanovic to Amsterdam.

    1. Anonymous12:02

      Great spotting, indeed! That is Vladimir Stimac.

  6. Anonymous17:24

    Interesting combination of airlines. I love Turkish but Air New Zealand tops everything. When you fly back you could do Belgrade-Frankfurt-Los Angeles -Auckland on Lufthansa and Air New Zealand. I guess it would even be the same duration.

  7. Anonymous21:54

    I would like to see if moving the operation to the new Istanbul Airport will make changes and improvements in TK's operation quality or not as it is obvious TK is struggling at very overcrowded current Istanbul Airport.The date for moving the operation to the new Istanbul Airport has been postponed to early April now. Thank you for your report and pictures.

  8. Anonymous03:43

    Wow. The author is so lucky to have been in New Zealand. I am sure this makes the 32 hours worthwhile! The lounge looks so great you have a very good friend!


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