TRIP REPORT: Air Serbia, Amsterdam - Tirana via Belgrade

TRIP REPORT | INDEX


Written by Chris Matteo

I recently flew Air Serbia from Amsterdam to Belgrade, connecting onward to Tirana, Albania.

I purchased a very reasonable economy class ticket last minute (discount economy - hand luggage only) but opted to bid for an upgrade to business class on the outbound segment. I submitted a bid (the minimum amount) of $75 USD roughly 4 days before departure, and my offer was accepted within 24 hours. I found that to be a very reasonable price, especially since I had always wanted to try out Air Serbia's business class. Do note, the bid upgrade does not entitle you to an additional baggage allowance. Nevertheless, it seems Air Serbia is pretty liberal with what they allow you to bring on board (officially 8 kg of hand luggage plus a small personal item), and as I was only traveling for 2 nights, I had no need to take a checked bag anyway.

Additionally, the bid was only for one segment. The segment from BEG-TIA was not offered for an upgrade as it was operated on a ATR-72 aircraft, an all economy class aircraft. With the upgrade, you are now allowed to choose your seat online in business class. Otherwise with the basic economy fare, a seat is automatically assigned to you at check-in, and you must pay if you would like to change it (even to an aisle or middle seat) during online check-in.

I was able to check-in for my flight online 36 hours prior to departure, thus being able to proceed directly to the security checkpoint at Schiphol with my mobile boarding pass. As I was traveling in business class, I was also granted access to the priority security lane, saving a great deal of time as Schiphol can be quite hectic in the mornings due to all of the Transatlantic departures. After roughly 20 minutes to get through security and passport control, I proceeded directly to the lounge that Air Serbia utilises at Schiphol, Aspire Lounge 41. This lounge can get quite crowded as it is open to all non-SkyTeam business class travelers plus Priority Pass card holders. However, Priority Pass card holders were not being accepted this particular morning, only business class travelers, and I was able to gain access. The lounge is nothing over the top, and again, can be quite congested, but I found the food/drink offerings to be sufficient. Additionally, there is a nice view over the D & E aprons.


After a coffee and a small snack, I proceeded to the gate. It was located all the way at the end of the D pier so it can be quite a hike if you are not prepared! Upon my arrival, boarding was ready to commence, and I proceeded to queue in the priority lane. I was the first to board the aircraft and immediately found my seat, 1A. I was greeted by a very friendly purser and a young steward who would be taking care of me for the rest of my flight.


Boarding took roughly 25 minutes, and the cabin crew was very helpful in assisting passengers in placing their hand luggage into the overhead bins as the flight was quite full this morning. Business class consisted of 3 rows with the middle seat blocked and was about 75% full this morning. The legroom was sufficient and with the middle seat blocked (and no one in 1C), it made for a comfortable flight.




After boarding was completed, the young steward came around to distribute menus and ask us for our choice of meal and drink for the 2.25 hour flight to Belgrade. I opted for the sunny side up eggs with bacon along with a glass of orange juice and some rakia to mix with it (it was Saturday after all!). Luckily, we had a quick taxi and were off to Belgrade.






About 15 minutes after takeoff, the flight crew began their service to business class passengers. The service was quite personalized, and their were no carts used during the entire flight; each meal and beverage was served directly to the passengers by the young steward and purser. I found this a nice touch as many airlines, even KLM, use their carts for the business class service on short haul routes.

The food was quite delicious. The eggs were cooked nicely, the bacon was not greasy, and the fruit was fresh. The orange juice and rakia proved to be a nice combination as well. After finishing my meal, I asked for a coffee and sparkling water which was promptly served to me.





I found the aircraft to be in overall good condition; it was incredibly clean and did not really seem to show its age minus a few small details. The lavatory was clean and tidy with a few additional items that I assume were not present in the aft ones. There was no WiFi available on this aircraft.



The flight progressed quickly and before I knew it, we had begun our decent into Belgrade. After landing, we had a quick taxi and pulled up next to the Air Serbia A330 bound for JFK. Within 5 minutes, I was in the terminal and off to the Air Serbia Premium Lounge.


Overall, I was very impressed with Air Serbia and its business class. The bid upgrade was incredibly reasonable (especially since the ticket was so cheap), and I found the amenities offered (priority security & boarding, lounge access, and catering) to be quite generous. The crew was incredibly friendly, professional, and efficient, constantly smiling and coming around to see if passengers needed anything. The only downsides, I would say, are that the bid upgrade does not entitle you to additional baggage (checked or hand) nor additional mileage; you earn the initial booking class mileage. I would definitely try Air Serbia again in the future, especially in business class.


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


Comments

  1. Anonymous09:09

    Glad you enjoyed it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous09:20

    Nice trip report. Glad to see that JU is is improving their service.
    Do you know the LF on economy?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:21

      From what I know AMS is a fantastic performer for JU so I wouldn't be surprised if it was a good load.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous10:14

      I think market is quite big as Transavia increased BEG this winter and they mostly send B738 here. Unfortunately there are no more slots at AMS so they can't really grow.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous13:50

      If the market is so big then how come Wizz isn't also increasing EIN-BEG? I think the last time they increased it was two years ago.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous18:44

      @13:50 perhaps because EIN and AMS do not serve the same market, even if you narrow it down to P2P traffic? The Netherlands may be a small and well connected country, but I still wouldn't consider EIN as an alternative if my destination is ultimately Amsterdam if I already have flying directly to AMS as a low-cost option

      Delete
    5. Anonymous07:39

      I think airlines like Lufthansa profit the most from this saturation on BEG-AMS. They have a lot of slots in AMS and they are right on the path between Serbia and The Netherlands. I am sure they carry a lot of transfers as well. I mean these days, mid February which is the slowest period, they are sending multiple A321s in a single day. Meanwhile from MUC they mostly send the CRJ. Just shows how much weaker MUC is as a hub for them.

      Delete
  3. Anonymous09:20

    Really nice trip report and I am happy you included pictures because many on here spread misinformation about JU and its product.

    I hope we will get to read about the rest of your trip!

    p.s. do you remember the registration of the aircraft? Was it YU-APK the latest one to join the fleet?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous09:36

    JU businesses class has been greatly improved since EY entered the scene. Even today, 6 years later it still is very good, the only draw back is the removal of those comfy business class seats. That would be my biggest minus, but I get the economical side of things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:46

      Actually there were ups and downs since EY came. Remember that during Dane's last days business class meals were served in cardboard boxes with plastic cutlery. After he was sacked the onboard product was revamped and improved.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous10:06

      Comparing to that product originally introduced by Etihad on JU, current one has lost few touches in addition to seats but it is still very good comparing to other airline in intra-Europe flights. Thumbs up for that.

      If they ask me I would say they could improve on coffee (currently using same as offered in BoB) and go easy with this "sataraš" thing, I think they have it in more than one meal, and its not my favorite :))

      Delete
    3. Anonymous10:16

      I think the EY business class didn't work because most of JU's flights are around 2hours so people don't need as much comfort. That's why Eurobusiness became such a success with many airlines. What I also like is the personalized service in business without a cart, that's a really nice touch.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous10:55

      You all suddenly forgot about the economy class in 2013 during the boutique airline days. Now that was decent. Pillows, metal cutlery. Now it is just a low cost interior.

      Delete
    5. Anonymous11:23

      Metal cutlery is still (or again, if you like) present on JU business class. For pillow I think you can ask.
      As I mentioned, there are few differences comparing to this "boutique" model, but I wouldn't call them essentials. Current model is product/price wise is very, very decent & much more suitable for current network, market conditions...

      Delete
    6. Anonymous11:40

      I think he was referring to economy class product, not business class. Back in 2013 JU had standard meals in economy with metal cutlery. It was a product people were not willing to pay for so it was soon dropped.

      Delete
  5. Anonymous09:48

    Nice report. If I understood correctly you also flew on the A319 to TIA? How was the load on that flight? A friend of mine flew about a month ago and there were 89 passengers in total.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous11:59

      Its clearly mentioned that the BEG-TIA segment was operated by an ATR-72.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous08:56

      How was the flight to TIA?

      Delete
  6. Anonymous12:00

    The title is a bit misleading. He only reviewed the AMS-BEG flight. I would really like to see an ATR review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous12:14

      Also, they never deploy their older jets to AMS because of the image of the company. So, I agree with you.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous14:41

      I think only FCO and MXP get the B733 these days. BRU and STR from time to time though rarely.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous17:46

      yu-and Flies to TXL too

      Manufacturer Serial Number (MSN) 23329
      Line Number 1134
      Aircraft Type Boeing 737-300
      Age 34.6 Years
      Production Site Renton (RNT)
      Airframe Status Active

      Australian Airlines from 30 Sep 1989 to 5 Jan 1989

      Delete
  7. Anonymous11:17

    I would love to see a trip report from the new negotiated line between BG & PR. :)

    ReplyDelete

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