TRIP REPORT: Remembering JAT

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Written by Veljko Marinković

Flying JAT’s widebody DC-10 on a 30-minute flight

Flight: JU 691, Tivat - Belgrade
Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30, YU-AMB, named "City of Belgrade"
Age: 24 years

It was a Sunday, mid-august 2002, and I was returning from a family summer vacation from Tivat to Belgrade. Our usual routine each summer was to fly JAT’s last flight of the day on the weekend and we usually arrived some three hours prior to departure, because of the usual traffic jam on the Montenegrin coast, as well as to check which aircraft was operating. Back in those days it was possible to change your flight to an earlier one if there were empty seats, and since I am great fan of the Boeing 737 we usually changed our flight if that aircraft type was operating. When I asked the ground staff which plane was flying, she told me it was the big one - the DC-10. I asked again if she was sure, because at the time I thought Tivat Airport did not have the sufficient runway length to handle the DC-10. So, we decided to give the B737 a miss even though there were empty seats on the flight at 6:05 pm.


I liked Tivat Airport because you could see aircraft from a very close distance. It was very spectacular to see the mighty DC-10 arriving. I still regret that I didn't have a mobile phone back then. The airport was pretty crowded, since there was an ATR72 scheduled to arrive at 6:40 pm arrival and the DC-10 at 6:55 pm. The DC-10 was almost full, meaning around 280 passengers or more and there were some 60 passengers on the ATR. It looked as if everyone possible was flying that evening: musicians, actors, politicians and of course Džej (the singer).


Back then, the airports in TIV and TGD did not have automatic baggage sorting, so every passenger had to identify their luggage in front of the aircraft upon boarding. As a result, there was a long line of suitcases in every possible colour and dimension. The seats were not assigned at Tivat Airport, so after I showed our suitcase, I ran with my mother’s plant in hands to get the good seats by the window. Yes, back then it was possible to carry a lot of personal luggage with you, so we even carried on board the DC-10 our sun umbrella, because it was damaged on our flight the year before.

It was my first and only flight on the wide-body aircraft so I still remember so many violet and blue coloured seats on the DC-10, with a 2-5-2 configuration. It was the first time I didn't have to be careful not too hit my head somewhere on the plane. While final preparations were conducted, the ATR took off and was climbing over Boka-Kotor’s bay. As an unwritten rule, passengers did not always identify their bag before boarding, so the flight attendant made an announcement for passengers who had not done so to do it, otherwise their luggage would remain in Tivat. Then half of the passengers on the plane got up to see if it might be their bag.


The DC-10 took off straight over Budva old town, then made a left bank and we were over Golubovci Airport in Podgorica, then on the route over Mojkovci and Valjevo and we were approaching in Belgrade less than 30 minutes. The take off was really spectacular. You could feel the power from the engines. It made for a totally different experience of flying. The cabin service consisted of hot and cold beverages, and the crew was in real rush to serve all passengers on such a short flight. It seemed that the flight lasted for just a few seconds. Everything was so smooth, that I didn't even finish my drink by the time the fasten seat belt sign was turned on.

After landing at Belgrade Airport, we disembarked through the rear door, since we were sitting in the rear of the aircraft. We exited straight onto the platform, and then we were transferred to the terminal building by bus. It was an Ikarbus bus very similar with those that GSP Belgrade was using at the time, but in a blue and white colour and with leather seats. It was pretty crowded, and I was protecting my mother’s plant, so we waited for the next bus, and while we were waiting, the ATR which took off before us, was taxing to its parking position.




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Comments

  1. Aэrologic09:17

    Those were the days. Best livery ever.

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  2. Anonymous09:32

    thats is a boeing 727 in the second pic, or?

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:33

      Yes

      Delete
    2. Anonymous10:25

      Yes, and with tail stairs disembarking. I still remember when YU-AKI as a white ghost was taking off to Sharm or Hurghada charters back in 2005 or 4, all windows on NBG blocks were shaking

      Delete
    3. Anonymous10:34

      wow the stairs. just noticed them

      Delete
    4. Anonymous10:43

      Fun fact about JATs 727s. Since they have the same fuelselage as the 737s a few years ago when flying on a i think by then Aviolet charter on a 733, i got seated next to the overwing emergency exit and noticed that it said "Boeing 727". Talk about part comonality!

      Delete
    5. Anonymous14:18

      It is an emergency exit sunshade handle with Boeing 737/727 letters on it.. It is made of plastic and is easy to break so we changed it a lot.. When we had no 737 lettered handles on stock, there were 727's found on stock so we used them instead. The same thing just different letters, nothing important :)

      Delete
  3. Anonymous10:23

    Fantastic report, fantastic plane and the best part for me is this one for Dzej and the plant, hahahahahahahahah Bravo. those were days

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  4. Really nice and nostalgic! Pity that there are no photos, I could only imagine the umbrella and the mother's plant :)

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous10:38

      was there smoking ban in 2002 ?

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    2. Anonymous10:49

      There was for the passengers, but for the pilots, I do not think so https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwqNb63aznM

      Delete
    3. Anonymous11:18

      sta ga luljas m.. t.. j... :D

      Delete
  5. Anonymous11:12

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNV6fQv-4hw

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  6. BA88811:33

    Great story! Thank you.

    I think smoking got banned aerly 00s. Prob not before 2002/2003.

    I remember having a fag in the last few rows of B727 on LHR-BEG route.
    (Also remeber odd seat configuration on it at the back. Was it a single seat or one facing backwards...)

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  7. Anonymous13:18

    If I recall we'll, identifying luggage before boarding was a standard practice at JAT in every airport, especially for DC9, B737 and B727 aircraft. This was done for security reasons after a JAT plane blew up (Stockholm flight, I believe), with a single stewardess surviving.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous13:30

      It was not standard procedure on all flights and that took place 30 years before this trip report.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous15:15

      Thank you Veljko for your interesting report! It made me think about my time working on the DC-10 in the 1980s .... Maybe you've noticed the rather voluminous bulkhead over the overwing exits in the middle of the cabin pic, this was a special feature of this aircraft, which I still remember vividly! As the original cabin of the DC-10 had NO center bins forhand luggage, but only very small overhead-compartments running along each side of the cabin, Douglas had to install a central wardrobe for passengers in Economy-class in-between doors 3L/3R. It operated electrically like a "pater noster" elevator! You had to put every single coat or jacket with the appropriate boarding pass on a separate hanger and after the first rows were full – rotate them upwards into the ceiling, to go to the next empty coat hooks ... You can imagine, what kind of mess it was, when all passengers wanted to regain their wardrobe in a hurry to get out of the plane after landing .... a nightmare for crews and passengers alike! Fortunately, most airlines reconfigured their DC-10s later with large overhead bins over the center seats, like shown in your vintage photo.. But this was just one of the very particular features of this special plane!

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    3. Anonymous17:10

      Very interesting, and unknown facts of this aircraft. Please share with us more

      Delete
  8. Anonymous14:39

    That livery was so beautiful.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous15:52

      I agree. A lot of people call it the "flame" livery but it's actually a stylised bird wing :)

      Delete
  9. One of the BEST trip reports I have read to date! I imagine that such flights with large airplanes (and seats) between TIV and BEG were more profitable than using smaller airplane.

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  10. Anonymous17:00

    Thank you for wonderful report :) I'm sorry I hadn't chance to fly on this beauty. But my first flight ever was in 1997 on JAT"s B727 to Tivat :)

    Here is one more video of the DC-10: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8GbJKmJ3FI

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  11. Nemjee17:35

    This is indeed a wonderful trip report, thank you. In the 1990s we used to get the DC-10 in LCA as well. It was during the time when there were close to 30.000 Serbs in Cyprus so there was more than enough demand. I remember flying on those beauties from the old LCA airport. I remember they used to air promo videos of Belgrade on the big screen.

    After that we got the B727 and then the B737 in 2005. One of the best aviation memories I have is from, I think, 2004 when I flew in the cockpit of the B727 from around Izmir all the way to our remote stand in LCA. What an experience it was making the big circle over the Bay of Larnaca and then landing on the runway at night. I was so excited when the 727 was replaced by the 'new' and modern 737... if only I knew we were going to enjoy its charms for the next ten years.

    I have fond memories of JAT with the flame livery because to me that era symbolizes utmost dedication of the employees to keep the airline alive during such difficult times. Really impressive bunch of people. It's a shame no tv station made a documentary on this time. They should do it while these people are still alive.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous22:21

      That is good idea Nemjee, I bet that those people could say a lot of staff. I did not.know that Jat used DC10 to Larnaka

      Delete
    2. Anonymous23:32

      LCA, LCA...the centre of the universe :D
      Nemjee, there are other destinations as well..

      Delete
    3. Nemjee06:40

      Anon 23.32 well, JU did send the DC-10 to LCA so what am I supposed to do? Replace it with another airport so that your complexes can be satisfied?

      Anon 22.21 yup, not many people knew as it happened for a year or two. That's why I mentioned it.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous09:38

      Thanks for sharing Nemjee. What was in that time schedule, how many flights JAT had per week or month, since it send Dc10.

      Delete
  12. Anonymous18:16

    Since I used to fly JAT nonstop between America and Croatia before the Balkan War, I wish can use it again.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous18:19

      You can, JFK BEG connects to ZAG flights.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous18:26

      Balkan Wars were from 1912-1914, I guess JAT was not flying at the time :))

      The war is referred to as Yugoslav civil war in Serbia, and Homeland war in Croatia, depending which version of history fits your view better.

      Joke aside, awesome trip report :)

      Delete
    3. Anonymous21:59

      Yes, the Balkan War in the 1990's if that's what you're thinking

      Delete
  13. As my mum was JAT purser I was lucky enough to constantly travel with her. Highlight of my childhood was good old 20+ day tour BEG-DBX-SIN-SYD-MEL-SYD-SIN-DBX-BEG with DC-10. As one or two legs were completely booked, for one I spent majority of the flight in the cockpit and for the other one they "built" improvised bed for me in one of the galleys

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous03:37

      Fantastic!

      Delete
    2. Anonymous10:07

      indeed fantastic. That is probably the 80s from what i have seen on the web they had Kuwait as one of their stops, and dont know why one of the two weekly had a stop in SKP on the return flight: JU600/603 BEG-KWI-SIN-SYD-SIN-KWI-SKP-BEG

      Delete
  14. Anonymous22:18

    This report bring so many emotions back and even more today

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  15. Anonymous08:56

    Really nice report.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous09:34

    This is really like a good story, not just a trip report, very emotional. Thank you for sharing, keep going. I liked also your trip report about Wien airport. Also I have suggestion to EX Yu administrator, maybe to create list of trip reports by author like Aэrologic, Nemjee, Veljko .... because I was looking to read again their reports and they writing very good, but it was hard to find it. An also some trip report index, best rated trip reports of month, year...

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  17. Anonymous10:08

    Never understood how we went from this exquisite and catchy livery to those debilitated three dots that came after.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous12:11

      Probably because company was managed by professionals. As I recall they introduced this livery right after the sanctions were lifted, in '94. First two aircraft's wearing new livery were 727 AKG and 737 ANV, to Moscow and Athens. Also the Athenians greeted the plane with a banner in Serbian: dobrodošao JATe. What a history

      Delete
  18. Anonymous15:36

    My first flight was On a JAT B707 from YYZ to Dubrovnik

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  19. Anonymous21:38

    Lovely trip report, lovely livery and a beautiful plane. Makes you wanna say those were the days.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Anonymous05:14

    DC10-30 to Calcutta, Bombay(Mumbai), New Delhi,Johanesburgh?

    ReplyDelete

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