TRIP REPORT: Austrian, Prague - Belgrade via Vienna

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Written by Luke Fisher

Back at the start of March I flew from Prague to Belgrade for a friend's birthday party, as he was born on 29 February he can only have an official party every four years! For this trip I went via Vienna with Austrian. The direct flights with AirSerbia weren't terribly more expensive (€30-€40 or so), but the flight times didn't work for me. Back in the day we used to have two flights a day to Belgrade from Prague, now it's just one alternating between morning and evening on different days - landing late on the Friday was no good for me, nor did I want to leave at 7am on Monday morning.

Our ride from Prague to Vienna was the Dash Q400, and we got in early as the flight time really is only about 35 minutes but scheduled in for 50. There was the usual very quick drinks service on this one. When we got to Vienna, there were announcements about anyone who'd recently been China needing to go and report to a special desk, and while there were some people wearing masks it wasn't too many. 


The next leg to Belgrade was another Dash. I always find it funny on these sorts of connections in Vienna, you end up taking a 45-minute detour via bus, stairs, passport gate, walking, and then another bus to end up about 20 metres from where you parked originally! The ride to Belgrade was almost full, and the crew did their drinks and snack service pretty quickly for our hour flight. 




Coming in over Belgrade was very cloudy but eventually we got some nice views, coming in over the city before touching down about 10 minutes early. At passport control, there were information leaflets about Covid19 symptoms and what to do if you had any, a lot more literature and signs than I'd see in either Prague or Vienna.

After three and a bit days, it was home time. My CarGo ride to the airport ended up being a Lexus (on the regular tariff!) and took 30 minutes to get to the airport, we went a very odd way to avoid the traffic. With barely anyone at passport control I was through in no time and was going to head to the lounge using my Priority Pass, but then I noticed the Air Serbia one was doing it's "Happy Hour" promotion for only €15 so it seemed like a good chance to try that one out instead! The "restriction" on entering in happy hour was that I'd only be allowed one drink from the bar, but as I'm not an alcohol drinker anyway that didn't matter. The agent checked me in and took payment very smoothly and everyone inside was very friendly, in fact I was the only passenger in there for the first 40 minutes.

I thought the food selection was decent with three different types of hot dishes, some Serbian snacks as well (Proja was excellent) and the seats were very nice. There was power at the walls for any type of plug you had, and also USBs which I always like. I ordered a tea at the bar and the only thing I thought let the presentation down was when they showed me which types, they were all just in a regular box like you'd get at the supermarket - having a display case like in other lounges would have been a smarter touch. The bathrooms were nice and spacious and exceptionally clean, with actual towels to dry your hands with rather than paper things. Indeed after I'd gone to use it someone went in to give every a quick spot check and clean again. For €15, or perhaps it was €18, it was good value (a regular PP visit, if you're not on a higher tariff is €20 or so) and certainly the choice of food was better than the general Business Lounge in Belgrade. The only downside is there's no natural light in this one at all.



Power points in the floor

"Private Area" that was reserved for a group of women who were clearly very important. There were some nice books there about the airline and the airport's history

JU lounge bathroom


After about 90 minutes my flight was ready for boarding. I like Belgrade for doing security at the gate (and that you could turn up a lot later if you wanted to), but today was horrendous. An earlier Lufthansa flight was delayed until five minutes before our one to Vienna, and they were doing the flights from adjacent gates using the same security checkpoint. Considering how quiet most of the airport was, this made no sense whatsoever and took forever to complete for both flights, so much so that they were doing "Last Call" announcements for both of them with 30 or so passengers for each one still trying to get past security. I appreciate one plane was delayed, but it really made no logical sense to board them like this and share a screening point.

Our plane to Vienna was an Airbus A320 and had onboard wifi. I know it's only a 50-minute flight but I have lots of Miles to use up with Star Alliance so bought the wifi using those. To be fair to Austrian, the speed was great and kept me connected until very shortly before landing. We got into Vienna early again but thankfully parked up with a jetbridge to the terminal. The usual walk from the plane to almost outside and then re-joining the security check as if you've just entered the terminal followed, and for Prague we were bussed out to a remote stand again. This time however not for a Dash, but one of Austrian's E195 planes instead. I'd never actually been on one of theirs so this was quite exciting and very comfortable. For a tall guy like myself, I always find the legroom on these planes far better than the bigger Airbuses or Boeings on European short-haul. In 35 minutes we were back in Prague on a very uneventful flight!

I like Austrian, in fact I like the entire Lufthansa Group as you know what you're getting with them. It's generally very efficient, you get water/drink and a small snack (what else do you need for flights of under two hours?) and everything is very smooth most of the time. I do like going direct on Air Serbia as well, although 90-100 minutes on an ATR is just about the limit of how long I like to spend on them.


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Comments

  1. Anonymous09:35

    Nice report.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous10:28

    Interesting and nice report. I have a few questions:

    - how much did CarGo charge you to the airport?
    - How was the load on the A320 to VIE.

    Finally a small correction, there were never double daily flights to Prague, JU operated it as 10 weekly until Hainan introduced their own flights.They were supposed to go back to 10 this year but...corona.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous13:22

      Thanks for the questions:

      - 1,900 dinars from near Zira shopping mall. The traffic was also horrendous (1pm) socwe went quite a funky way to join the highway.

      - I think about 90%, it was very full although I didn’t see down the back

      - perhaps I’m wrong, but I’m sure I remember in around 2015/2016 we had a morning and evening departure on some days.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous15:19

      Yes, three times per week there were two flights per day. :D

      Delete
    3. Anonymous21:40

      I'm not sure why very few people use the Stari put via Ledine. It's often faster, especially from the Bloks while the distance is the same.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous21:48

      Because that drive takes forever if you get stuck behind a bus. The road is narrow and busy so you can't overtake it. There is also always a lot of police. It's easier and faster to reach the highway as soon as possible.

      Delete
  3. Anonymous11:09

    Love the report! I generally don’t like connecting in Europe - I’d always take the direct flight - with the exception of Prague. Flying for always 2 hr on ATR is a nightmare.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous11:10

      Flight time to Prague is 01.40, block time is 01.55/02.05

      Delete
    2. Anonymous11:17

      Wanted to type “almost” instead of “always.” Autocorrect :(

      Delete
    3. Nemjee11:21

      I remember some months ago when there was a massive storm in BEG, the ATR from Prague was the only one that managed to land that night. That said, total flight time was close to three hours. Now that must have been fun, circling over Serbia in an ATR for close to an hour.

      Delete
  4. Anonymous11:42

    Nice report! I checked online and OS still plans on increasing flights to BEG which is so great.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous13:15

    Good report. I was supposed to fly with OS TIA-VIE-PRG last April. My last chance to fly on Austrian Dash 8 gone, at least i kinda get to experience it on exyu aviation

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous13:35

    Love OS.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous03:05

    Slightly OT: Does anyone know the make and model of the lounge chairs found in Air Serbia's Premium Lounge, specifically the ones in the "Private Area" pictured above?

    Thanks in advance!

    ReplyDelete

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