TRIP REPORT: Air Serbia, Helsinki - Athens via Belgrade


Written by Yualianna

It just so happened that it was most convenient to get from Helsinki to Athens by Air Serbia. We were quite satisfied with the price and the transfer time - 45 to 50 minutes. Tickets were purchased in advance - in May, 4 months before the trip through the official website. Being Russian, it was very convenient that the site also has a Russian version. Payment went through quickly and without a problem. I got two tickets for 417 euros round trip plus we purchase on top of that one piece of baggage and selected seats. The cost of carrying one suitcase was 85 euros for both directions. The choice of two seats - 32 euros for both directions.

On the official Air Serbia website there is no way to check-in for a flight from Helsinki. On the way back, from Athens, it is possible, but difficult to do. Therefore, we arrived in Vantaa Airport in advance, a couple of hours before departure. The check-in just opened as we arrived, we checked in for the flight and checked in our luggage.

The plane operating the flight was a Nordica CRJ900. It took off 20 minutes late. But we had a 50-minute transfer, so we did not worry too much. The flight was fine. The plane is small, with two seats on each side. The seats are comfortable, and the knees don’t hit the seat in front. The stewardesses were polite and smiling. After reaching cruising altitude, they began to distribute bottled water and chips. The snack surprised us. It was also possible to order food. Since the flight time was 2 hours 35 minutes, we decided to eat on the plane and save time in transfer. The prices were very affordable. A combo set for only 6 euros consists of a large sandwich, cookies and soda to choose from. The menu on all flights was the same.

We landed perfectly, no shaking or bouncing. When we left the plane we were surprised to have to go through the security check again at the gate so the two bottles of cola we bought on the plane, as well as the water we got went to the airport employees.

The flight to Athens was operated by the A320, which was full. This flight was also delayed by 20 minutes. The seats were comfortable. Chips and water were handed out again. According to the schedule, this flight should have taken 1 hour 30 minutes, but in fact we flew a little longer, because Athens Airport did not give us permission to land and we just flew in a circle for about 15 minutes, no less.

The return flight was more stressful. We were late again from Athens and a lot of passengers were concerned if they would make their connecting flights, despite reassurance from crew. When we landed, several of us continuing to Helsinki ran to the gate. Thankfully that flight was late as well so everyone managed to make it.

Some photos from return flight:

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  1. Anonymous09:08

    Really nice trip report! Glad you enjoyed it.

    How was the load to Helsinki? Was JU the cheapest option from Finland to Greece?

    1. Yuli19:36

      Thank you. Flight from Helsinki was relatively full, flight back there were less passengers but also I would say around 70-80% maybe (it was an Airbus on the way back). I think most people were coming from somewhere because on our way back when we got into the gate after some time we saw other people also running to the gate because their flight from somewhere was also delayed.

  2. Anonymous09:20

    The autor should know that layover scanning Is normal in many countries. But she says shes Russian so itd understandable, I did not have a layover scan at SVO through I went From one international flight to another. But in Dubai, Doha etc you normally go through security on layover. Big plus for BEG Is the gate based scanning which greatly reduces Risk of missing your flight on short layovers.

    1. Anonymous09:24

      Exactly because the flight will wait for you if you are waiting in line or they might get you to go through first if you are far back.

    2. Anonymous09:28

      Security at BEG gates is very quick because they use the new full body scanners which take a second so they process people much quicker.

    3. Anonymous10:09

      People who travel mostly inside Schengen area are used not to have security on layovers. So, they are surprised when are "in Europe" but need to go through security, like in Belgrade.

      Also, gate scanning is not so great because passenger are, as we can read in this article, not allowed to bring food & beverages they bought in secured zone to airplane. Again, it's becoming standard, especially for travels inside Europe.

      Belgrade airport will for sure move to centralized security once the reconstructions is started. There are other ways to handle passengers with short transfer time.

      Currently they have a nice practice to wait (delaying departures) for connecting passengers and sometimes there is ground staff waiting to redirect passengers.
      Although, because from time to time I'm witnessing confusion, as BEG wants to be like a regional hub, giving info to connecting passengers should be little bit improved both by flying & ground stuff.

    4. Anonymous10:13

      BEG is already a regional hub so it's not about wishing about becoming one.

    5. Anonymous10:27

      I do not think moving to centralized security is the way to go. It also benefits those who start journey and check in at BEG, they reach the airside in few minutes after checkin. It was late July morning and 20 flights departing at the same time, and although all were full , after check in it took me exactly 4 minutes to reach the airside hauling the cabin bag trolley. And once airside you need additional 3 minutes max to reach the most remote gates A10 or C6. Of course, the queue for scans at the gate let you wait for up to 10 minutes if the LF is 100% but once you are there it is certain you will not miss the flight.

    6. Anonymous10:47

      @Anon 10:13
      Jesus, out of all things, you felt the urge to comment semantics, relax my friend. I had more then enough flights from BEG to know where it fits.

      @Anon 10:27
      Centralized security is becoming standard around Europe, so there is no question where the BEG will be going, especially considering development direction of airport. Its really better, considering variety of factors, but it needs to be done properly & efficient (both security & passport control).
      Example of poor execution and hectic solution in relatively new airport would be Bucharest, for example.

    7. Anonymous12:37

      Obviously you didn't fly enough from BEG to know some other things or maybe you fly too much with Wizz.

    8. Anonymous14:17

      I'm sure I had more flights than you, none of them on Wizz :) Sorry mate :)

      But, please, do feel free and elaborate "other things" :)

    9. Anonymous15:31

      Yeah yeah so many flights that you didn't even know that BEG is a regional hub.

    10. Anonymous15:46

      Oh, so you don't really have anything to add, Mr. World Traveler :)
      But hey, you are following the guidelines without understanding essence of subject, good work! :)

    11. Anonymous16:04

      I don't see why it's so difficult for you to admit you were wrong?

    12. Anonymous18:06

      Gate security checks should have been removed at BEG ages ago. That is indeed legacy of times gone by. It is really a pain, plus airport looses money when many people just sit at gates 30+ minutes and spend zero.

    13. Anonymous19:39

      Actually Belgrade used to have two security checks until just a few years ago. In front of passport control and in front of the gate. They removed the one at passport control a few years ago. Because arriving and departing passengers in Belgrade mix (they all arrive at the same floor) it is required that BEG has check at gate.

    14. Anonymous19:47

      Yeah, it's pretty obvious now that most of JU haters haven't even been to BEG at all, since the gate security checks have been there since... forever?

    15. Anonymous22:58

      What does JU have with security gates at BEG? Non-related...

    16. Anonymous00:48

      There we go again with the "regional hub". Again, lets first reach Latvia's level and then we can speak...

    17. Anonymous01:00

      If BEG is not a hub it is the closest to a hub in Ex-YU.

    18. Anonymous08:19

      So why don't we say: Let Latvia reach Helsinki's level and then we can speak...

      Is it because foreign is always better? In two, three years BEG will overtake RIX without a single problem.

    19. Anonymous08:35

      Again with the "regional hub" BS.
      LOL, we are talking about an airport of only 6 million pax serving a country of almost 10 million.
      Hubs in our part of Europe are VIE, ATH, IST.
      BEG is not and neither is OTP, SOF or let alone ZAG!
      So just relax and try to stay on topic.

    20. Anonymous08:49

      Definition of hub:
      the effective centre of an activity, region, or network.

      So BEG is indeed a hub because it is the center of activity, region or network. BEG might not be a mega hub but it is still a hub, just look at its growing passenger numbers and network. Way more impressive list than the one in OTP which serves more passengers.

    21. Anonymous08:51

      Anonymous at 08:49
      Ha ha ha, OTP with 15 million passengers this year is less "impressive" than BEG!
      How old are you, 16?

    22. Anonymous08:53

      Their network is less impressive than BEG, their connectivity is not as good. I find it entertaining how obsessed you are with belittling BEG and Serbia. Really frustrated as sad. Also proportionally the two airports handle the same number of passengers, Romania is three times larger than Serbia, so if BEG handled 6 million, OTP should be at 18.

    23. Anonymous08:57

      LOL, their network serves 15 million pax!
      And OTP has to compete fort passengers with another 15 operational airports in Romania. Last year they handled 22+ million pax, this year it will be closer to 25!
      Now go and play with your Playstation kid.

    24. Anonymous09:02

      Aha and BEG doesn't compete with anyone? You are a moron. TSR competes with BEG, not with OTP, open an Atlas and you will see what I am talking about. Same like Iasi compete with Kishinev and not with OTP. Of course you hatred for Serbia and anything Serbian is truly disgusting. As for connectivity, BEG and OTP are more or less tied but BEG has better overall growth.

      Growth 2018-2019
      OTP: 4.5%
      BEG: 4.9%

      Growth 2009-2019:
      OTP: 29.6%
      BEG: 611%

      So while I am off playing with my playstation you go and weep in your corner. And btw next year BEG's results will be even better thanks to a new round of JU growth and expansion.

  3. Anonymous10:24

    Very interesting review. Bravo!

  4. Anonymous10:27

    Nice report, thank you.

  5. So you booked those tickets four months ago and costs you 267 euro return each, right? (included seats selection and one extra luggage). Well I think it's a little bit expensive. Why didn't you try direct flights? Norwegian flies for the 2019 summer season every Tuesday,Thursday and Saturday. Also Aegean flies every Monday, Tuesday and Friday direct .I bet the price would be much cheaper.

    1. Why do you think it's "a little bit expensive"? Actually it's cheapest and most convenient option. Direct flight is more expensive on Aegean, same for Norwegian. There are other options but with 6+ hours layover.

    2. Anonymous14:56

      They wanted to fly on the days they find most convinient and Air Serbia was the best choice, as they explained. Persuading someone to fly with different carriers is just absurd.

    3. Anonymous15:27

      It's because he is so called "Wiki-traveller" :)
      You see, he said "I bet the price would be much cheaper" - he doesn't have a clue, he didn't check the prices, he probably wasn't ever in situation to compare this kind of prices, he just "feels" that way. Force is strong within him :)
      If he just had a time to read that article about selling connecting vs. direct flights to seaside destinations during high season...

    4. Yuli19:31

      We looked at all options but for us Air Serbia this time worked best based on price and time. We don't live in Helsinki and have to take into account flight departure times because the train ride takes us 2 hours to Vantaa. So we have to be careful, especially with return so we don't miss our last train, otherwise we would have to spend the night in Helsinki or Vantaa. When we went to Greece in March we used Air Baltic and flew through Riga.

  6. Anonymous14:43

    Unique trip report, thank you! Looking at the pics, this trip report is not about airports, lounges or security, it is mostly about BoB food and drinks! Not the staged marketing photos of BoB but the real photos of onboard food without any filters or photoshop. And it looks quite okay in terms of quantity, quality and selection. Seems like a good value for money, too. Best of all, you get to pick what you want to eat and drink, not the airline. Thank you for those photos!

    1. Anonymous18:10

      Plus author said it was cheap so we are all very happy :))))

  7. Anonymous18:11

    Dear Yualianna

    Thank you for the nice report. Was the return leg to Helsinki also on Nordica's CRJ? Do you have any photos from that plane?

    1. Yuli19:26

      Thank you. No, return flight was on Airbus 319. Sorry I didn't take any photos of the Nordica plane. It was all white on the outside. Inside seats were similar to Airbus ones with blue leather but were not slim.

  8. Hey Yuli, great and detailed report!
    HEL is generally an expensive airport just like PRG or ZAG for instance. The price you paid for the tickets with the extras is brilliant.
    Plus, there are barely any LCCs in HEL so JU will be quite competitive. Does Vantaa have a direct rail?

    1. Anonymous08:21

      I was in Helsinki some years ago and back then they didn't have one, there is a bus line that takes you to the center where the railway station is. Don't know if something changed since then. I hope the new terminal extension at HEL is nicer than the older one because it was quite ugly.

    2. Yes there is direct rail extension (opened 2015, when I moved to Hel). It is one of the cheapest and most quality railway links to airport. For only 4,5€ you are in center in 30 mins and train goes every 10 mins. The airport itself is constantly expanding and especially beautiful is the part where are the flights to Asia. Also oldest T1 has gone through renovation and idea is to have more LCCs there. Laudamotion being the first one from next year...