TRIP REPORT: Belgrade - Las Vegas via Istanbul and Boston


Written by Nemjee

Greetings everyone and welcome to my trip report.

Even though 2020 was disastrous for civil aviation and its fans, 2021 seems to be more promising with more and more countries dropping various restrictions and finding ways to actually live with the virus. This trend has also increased demand for air travel and that was especially felt in Belgrade over the last couple of months.

I was invited for a business meeting at a congress that was taking place in Las Vegas. Getting there became an extremely complicated matter since I am not allowed to transfer anywhere in the Schengen Zone, Switzerland included. That meant that I had two choices, first on Air Serbia and jetBlue via JFK or on Turkish Airlines via Istanbul.

Initially I wanted to go on Air Serbia but waiting times in New York were really long and their split schedule to JFK offered little flexibility. In the end I chose to fly on Turkish Airlines which wasn't so bad since I've never flown on them before and I haven't been to the new IST airport.

This was my itinerary: BEG-IST-BOS-LAS and on the way back LAS-LAX-IST-BEG.

We were off to a bad start. I arrived at the airport 2 hours and 15 minutes before take off ... just to be safe ... and I was right. Online check-in didn't work so BEG decided to process an entire A333 with just two regular check-in desks and one for business class passengers. It was a total disaster. As you can see, the line went from the desks all the way to the terminal exit and then took a turn to eventually reach terminal entrance doors past the Air Serbia office. I was in line for over an hour. When people started complaining that it was taking too long they decided to open another two check-in desks but one useless airport employee literally stood up and told her colleague she was going on a break to have coffee.

I think BEG staff is some of the worst there is, not only in our region but in the Euro-Mediterranean one for sure. They are rude, they rarely smile and a lot of them don't even speak proper English. Anyway, check-in was done and it was time to move on.

Once you pass the passport control and the duty free shop, you come to a temporary set up called Tesla's Square. Here you have some restaurants, cafes and so on and from there you can access C gates.

Here she is parked at gate C3 ready for her flight back home.

Cabin of the A333, our flight today was around 85% full. I was told that the flight to BEG was almost full.

Inserted runway

Meal wasn't actually that bad especially when you take into consideration our flight lasted 67 minutes. In the box you had a small cup of water and juice. There was no drink service.

Our plane at the gate. Taxi time was around 25 minutes.

The new airport is huge, gate to gate I took 6.600 steps. That said, I really like it. It's huge so it doesn't feel crowded, there is a lot of natural light which is nice and most importantly it's very clean even with all this traffic. There is a really nice sports bar that serves a good selection of beer. Among other things they have 0.7 L pints of Efes.

I found the TK A333 to be rather uncomfortable on these longer flights. Luckily the load factor was around 60% so that helped. Also, the IFE they have on is older and definitely a downgrade compared to what they have on their A350 and B787.

After take off the crew provides you with two kits. One has all the basic things you might need during the flight like slippers, toothbrush, eye plugs... and the other has the sanitary things like hand sanitizer, masks...

During this 10 hour flight two meals were served. Both were actually really good.

Final approach at BOS

From what I read online, BOS is still struggling to get its numbers up so many shops remain closed. Personally I found Boston airport to be one of the ugliest airports in the Western world. It just feels claustrophobic with its narrow hallways, low ceilings and generally ugly interior design. On top of that, you don't have many dining options and all shops that sell coffee were closed by 21.00. This was odd as there were quite a few flights after so parts of the airport were still busy.

Our gate for tonight.

B6 has a tv screen in each seat and offers a wide selection of films, tv shows and even live tv. Personally I was exhausted from all the flying so I spent most of the flight sleeping.

Our 05 hour and 45 minute flight tonight was operated by this 3 year old A321. Load factor was around 75%. After take off the crew went around offering a selection of free snacks followed by a drinks service.

I found jetBlue to be a fantastic airline in many different ways. Their crew is friendly and they look tidy and clean, their planes are new and shiny and the legroom was more than generous. I think JU is lucky to have them as an interline partner.

After close to 22 hours I have arrived at my final destination: Las Vegas. Our flight from Boston was very bumpy especially over Ohio and Missouri. We landed some 15 minutes ahead of schedule but we had to sit for another 20 minutes in the plane since our gate was occupied. In the end they just assigned us a new gate at a terminal that is used by Delta and United.

Flight back took me via LAX where I flew on UA's E75. Flight was full to the last seat (in both classes) and there was no service on this 36 minute flight as we spent the whole time flying through a storm. LAX-IST was onboard TK's B789 which proved to be a fantastic experience. Once again TK did not do well in terms of LF which was around 60%.

Final leg of this journey was on good old Air Serbia and its A319 registered YU-APD. Flight time was around 01.15 and the LF was around 90% with 4 passengers in business class. What I found really interesting is that it was a Tuesday and there were very few onward connections from BEG that afternoon. Most passengers on this flight were young Turks and many Arab families. Serbs made up maybe 20% of the passengers.

Hope you enjoyed reading this trip report!

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  1. Anonymous09:09

    This was a lovely report start to finish! It was a pleasure reading it.

    Being pedantic as I am, I just have to correct you - there's no such thing as a 0.7L pint, since a pint is a measurement. Pint doesn't mean "a glass/stein of beer". 1 pint is about 0.47 liters. So you see, saying "a 0.7L 0.4L beer" makes no sense.

    1. Nemjee21:15

      Thank you. To tell you the truth I had no idea all that regarding pints. In my defense I was more focused on what was in it than the meaning of the word itself. :D

  2. Anonymous09:19

    Very nice report Nemjee. Good to see Turkish has returned its catering, although they used to have a proper drink service before (alcohol included).

    1. Nemjee21:16

      Thank you. I guess this is some sort of a compromise. Personally I don't think they would have enough time to do it all on such a short flight.

  3. Anonymous09:21

    Nice report. Happy to see A330 have good number of passengers from Belgrade.

  4. Anonymous10:32

    Awesome report! So the transfer ban is still in force for Serbians even tho they are vaccinatted?

    1. Anonymous10:36

      It's not a ban on Serbians. No one is allowed to enter the US through EU and Schengen regardless of nationality or vaccination unless they are American citizens or residents. Citizens from EU and Schengen can for example go to Serbia, spend two weeks there and then fly to the US. The main thing is that you have not been to the EU or Schengen 2 weeks from entering the US.

    2. Anonymous13:44

      Thats is incredibly weird and pointless.
      So thr US is considering Serbia and Turkey to be safer that the EU then?
      So all the flights originating from EU and flying to US are packed with either US citizens or residents? No foreign nationals on them whatsoever?

    3. Anonymous13:51

      Correct. It's been like that since April 2020. Same rule applies for arrivals from China, iran, India and Brazil. Last week US said they had no plans to lift the EU ban anytime soon. That is why Air Serbia's New York route is performing so well as you can't transfer through EU with say Lufthansa to reach the US.

    4. Anonymous15:19

      Are there people who actually come to Serbia and stay there for two weeks before continuing onto the US?

    5. Anonymous15:24

      Last year in the summer there were many, especially from France. Don't know the situation this year.

    6. Nemjee21:18

      In the end I think this is a political move by the US. EU carriers are struggling big time. For example, for this August, Lufthansa actually had to reduce the number of B748s by 8% and most were replaced by either A330 or A340. That's quite a drop in capacity. With covid exploding in places like Vegas or Florida, I don't see the US lifting these restrictions any time soon.

  5. Anonymous12:11

    Great trip report, too bad that there are no pictures from Dreamliner, but I understand that those flights were exhausted. The A330 looks pretty decent, but I would except more from Turkish. And what is happening with Belgrade airport, last couple of trip reports saying that situation is going from bad to worst.

    1. Anonymous12:18

      Only person that has said that is Nemjee. Read the past couple of reports. Could not come to the same conclusion as you.

    2. Anonymous12:28

      Not true. People were complaining about toilets and taxi mafia for years. He only complained about check in staff. Read the report again.

    3. Anonymous15:23

      Not even close as to how much they complained that there is no Cyrillic letters in the new airport.
      ''We'll tolerate rude employees, use smelly toilets and get ripped off by taxis but dont you dare not include cirilica on airport signs!!!''
      Serbs really have their priorities in order.

    4. Nemjee21:20

      Belgrade airport staff being bad is nothing new, this has been the norm for as long as I can remember. I was hoping Vinci might change that but... seems like I was wrong.

  6. Anonymous13:18

    Thank you for interesting trip report :)

    1. Nemjee21:21

      Glad you enjoyed it!

  7. саша харамбаша15:49

    Nice Trip Report. Food looks pretty good (relative to other airline food)

    1. Nemjee21:21

      Thank you, it definitely is but then again their catering business is well known for its quality.

  8. Nice report Nemjee. I've been to Logan and it is one of the worst major airport in USA. Old, narrow and low passageways, and quite decrepit in some areas.

    How did the USA custom guys behave? I always find them to be needlessly rude & arrogant.

    1. Nemjee21:25

      Absolutely, you perfectly described BOS. I would also add that their airbridges were quite bad, very old, looked dirty and seemed rusty in certain places.

      Generally I don't have a problem with them but this time around it seemed like he was not going to let me in. Kept on asking me why I am coming, where I am going, how much money I am bringing with me and so on. The whole process lasted around 15 minutes.

  9. Anonymous20:02

    Great trip report, thank you. Long queue for check-in at Belgrade airport shows airport operator is unprepared to handle unexpected growth. Are lines as long during check-in times for SU A330 and JU A330?

    1. Nemjee21:28

      Thank you. Don't know about SU but what JU did is really smart. They have three sets of check-in desks: one set is exclusively for JFK, second for Montenegro flights and the third for all other ones. Like this they avoid large crowds which might cause delays. This experience with TK was BEG's fault as they didn't plan ahead. Btw TK offices are right next to it and the two ladies sitting inside were watching the chaos and did nothing. I guess if TK doesn't care then why should BEG?


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