Travelling amid a pandemic from Belgrade to Zurich


Flight: Air Serbia JU 370, Belgrade- Zurich
Aircraft: Airbus A319
Date: 16 June 2020

The flight was the day after Austria decided to ban all flights from the EX-YU outside of the EU and the EU removing Serbia/Montenegro from the list of nationals allowed into the Schengen areas, due to a sharp increase of coronavirus cases in both in the last two weeks.

Usually a 7:20 am flight at Belgrade Airport is full of passengers waiting in line. This time the halls were almost empty and you could walk right up to the check in counters. The Air Serbia check-in staff were in high spirits and professional, and gave a lot of information on the new safety rules for travelling under Covid restrictions.

The ongoing construction works were noticeable all over the airport, with the play structure unfortunately being closed off, but then again, I don’t see how my kids would play wearing masks. Despite the low number of passengers, the airport staff were extremely attentive and helpful. Going through security and passport control was easier and faster than ever.

One thing I realized when going through security at the departure gate is that Belgrade Airport is one of the most convenient airports for transfer passengers, as they don’t need to go through customs or long lines of security when they arrive, only at the gate.

The load factor of the flight was approximately 20-25 people with passengers spread out for social distancing. It looks like the Schengen restrictions, coupled with Covid19 concerns, has made a huge impact on the number of people that are flying. The usual small bottle of water was given out, and nothing else.

The situation in Zurich was the same, mostly empty airport, short line ups but over there most of the shops were closed. It was interesting to notice that almost half of the passengers on our flight from Belgrade were also transferring to the Air Canada flight for Toronto, which served cold sandwiches for an 8 hour flight. Luckily, we picked up some food at Hleb & Kifle at Belgrade Airport and had that to snack on the flight, to the envy of the people sitting next to us.

The 4+ hour layover in Zurich was painfully boring. Looking forward to the day that there are JU direct flights from BEG to YYZ. Maybe summers for a start and then gradual year-round? Layovers are one of the main obstacles for people coming from Canada to Serbia, beyond the extra cost, lost time and hassle at EU airports.

Lessons learned; pack some snacks with you for the flights, if you don’t want just water bring some Cedevita powder. Air Canada does not give out blankets or pillows and the flight can get very cold, so bring a sweater. Your chances of being able to have an entire row to yourself is high, so you feel like you are travelling in first class 😉

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  1. Anonymous11:28

    How was the load to Canada? I suppose the flight wasn't full?

    I started avoiding AC at all cost because their service is really subpar. They are your typical national carrier that doesn't care because the government won't let them go bust no matter what.

    1. 55 people on the flight from ZRH to YYZ. Economy was better than Economy+ because you could take an entire row to sleep. Cold sandwiches and flight crew.

  2. Anonymous12:53

    Wow, that's remarkable.

  3. Anonymous13:00

    Really makes you think what's the point of these flights if they are carrying 55 people across the Atlantic.

    1. I took KLM YYZAMS on Aug 01st and on 787 only 78 people . I got upgraded to economy comfort but seems like everyone in economy had own row. In business only one single passenger . Transavia AMS BEG around 70 people . Way better load and they made sure all middle seats were empty . KLM serves hot meals and drinks over Atlantic flights . Avoid all canadian airlines, they are soo cheap and rude . You pay high prices and get 0 service . AirSerbia compare AirCanada or AirTransat is 5* airline .

    2. Anonymous14:46

      Simply flying did a trip report VIE-AMS-ZAG and KL flight to AMS looked very nice, standard level of service. OU to ZAG had no service and around 40 passengers on the A320. I think many are struggling to fill their planes but that's why they need good service to attract even more.

    3. Anonymous15:54

      Kad AS pokrene letove za YYZ biće to mnogo prijatnija putovanja. Usluga im je i više nego pristojna.

    4. Anonymous16:34

      A to se neće dogoditi još barem 5 godina.

    5. Anonymous18:25

      Нека буде кад буде, битно је да ће се десити.


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