Austrian / Air Serbia: Belgrade - Larnaca via Vienna and back


Written by Nemjee

Good morning and welcome to my trip report!

As of March 1st Cyprus removed all PCR testing for arriving passengers. It seemed like a good opportunity to go for a short holiday. Due to work obligations I had to be in Belgrade on Monday so ideally I was looking for flights on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Unfortunately for me, the only viable option was Austrian Airlines on a Tuesday morning with a five hour connection in Vienna.

Air Serbia's non-stop flight was on a Thursday which didn't suit me while there was no BEG-ATH on a Tuesday. Actually, there was a JU-A3 combination on a Wednesday but it meant arriving to LCA very late at night so I decided against it.

Our ten year old E95 at gate A5

KLM was our neighbor sitting at gate A6. Judging by how many people there were first at the check-in and later on at the gate, their flight must have been full to the last seat. Unfortunately our flight wasn't as successful with a LF of around 55%. If I remember correctly there were 67 passengers onboard.

Ex-JP A319

Deicing which took almost 15 minutes

A little while later we roared down the runway.

After taking off, we made a sharp turn and headed north-west towards Zabalj, Bajmok and then the Hungarian border.

The unmotivated, relatively rude crew started their service which these days doesn't even include a bottle of water. They just give you a chocolate and that's about it. Once they are done with throwing around the freebie they start selling their overpriced products. People were mostly buying sandwiches and coffee.

I got an Almdudler for €3. One should be careful with Austrian Airlines as they don't accept cash payments, only credit cards.

After just 53 minutes we were already in Vienna.

Our E95 parked at the gate. It was supposed to fly to STR but due to the strike the flight was cancelled.

Relatively empty VIE terminal. Mind you, it didn't get much better later on. It felt more or less deserted and judging by how many people were lining up at gates, flights weren't full that day.

So much love between all these airlines ... Anyway, after five long hours we boarded our A320 to LCA which was packed to the last seat. Most of the passengers onboard were Poles. I have to say that the crew working on this flight was absolutely terrible. They all looked messy, their uniforms looked worn out and they were too casual for my liking. As always, there was not a single smile and they kept on barking orders at passengers.

As mentioned earlier, Austrian Airlines doesn't give out bottles of water. If you want to drink water you have to ask and they bring you a glass of it. Service was done by two crew members and a single cart. I have never seen such slow and chaotic process. Mind you, by the time we reached Antalya they were somewhere around row 20. There were people who wanted to go to the toilet so they sent them to the business class section so as not to disrupt the painfully slow 'service.'

Overflying Akrotiri, the biggest British air base outside the UK. Thank God LCA wasn't too far away.

Beautiful sunny weather ... in about 10 minutes I would find out that Cyprus was experiencing some sort of a cold front so the whole time I was there temperatures never exceeded 12 degrees. At night it was very cold, around 0 degrees.

We were parked at a remote stand since the return flight takes place tomorrow at around noon. Unfortunately there was yet another surprise ... paranoid Cypriot authorities decided to randomly test our flight. We were all taken to a testing facility where we waited in line for an hour to get our PCR test. Once that was completed we would be notified via SMS if we have covid or not. Normally they charge you 15 Euros for a PCR but these ones were free of charge ... lucky us.

Anyway, Sunday arrived and it was time to fly back home. As you can see here in the picture, Air Serbia was the lucky one that day and they were also chosen to be randomly tested. A total of 97 passengers came out of the JU plane.

Here is our ride for today. This is YU-APK which, before joining Air Serbia, flew for Cobalt, a now defunct Cypriot carrier. In November 2019 I flew on it to LCA and back then it still had Cobalt's interior. There were a total of 138 passenger onboard and to my surprise Russians made up maybe 30% of the passengers. Most were Serbs and from what I saw there were quite a few Germans onboard. The guy who boarded before me was connecting to Frankfurt.

Complimentary service. Unlike Austrian Airlines, Air Serbia actually gives you a bottle of water and a small snack. Given that the flight was full to the last seat, boarding was an absolute chaos and the crew was to blame. They were completely useless and actually made the process much worse. For example, if someone would stop to put his luggage in the overhead compartment, one of the two ladies would rush and force them to awkwardly stand in the seat with the luggage so that people could pass. I think it would make more sense to just board the last rows first. Anyway, I generally like JU crew but these were as bad as the Austrian Airlines ones. There were no smiles and they seemed very unmotivated.

Air Serbia buy on board is actually done with two carts so the process is fast and efficient.

Now here comes the funniest part. After reaching Istanbul we headed north and we entered the Serbian air space somewhere around Zajecar. From there we flew straight to Pozarevac, Kovin and then all the way to Indjija where we made a U turn and headed towards BEG. We were third in line for landing.
Once we landed we stopped on the taxiway. BEG closed parts of it so we had to go back onto the runway and use the exit by the terminal building. Unfortunately for us, we were among the first ones to land so we had to wait for the whole region to land before we could taxi again ... 27 minutes later we were on the move.

If I remember correctly, Athens was the last plane to land so we all reached the terminal building at the same time. We parked at gate A5 where my journey began some five days before. Air Serbia's entire regional network disembarked at the same time meaning that there was total chaos at the passport control. Luckily all passport booths were working and within 20 minutes I was outside in front of the terminal.


Austrian Airlines 2/10

- Horrible just horrible crew.
- Overpriced ULCC (not even LCC).
- Onboard experience leaves a lot to be desired.
- Buy on board isn't bad but it's expensive for what is being offered.
- Officially they only let you fly if you have a KN95 mask. I don't think this is strictly enforced as our crew from Belgrade had the surgical mask while the ones to LCA all wore the KN95. After take off they went through the plane handing out KN95s and they actually stood there until you put it on.
- There is an app you can connect to after take off but it's useless. On it you can just pick your internet plan or see how many hours and minutes you have until you reach your destination.
- Luckily VIE is a decent enough airport so it compensates for many things OS lacks. At least while you are there the experience is relatively good.
- Unlike Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines won't allow you to buy the ticket unless you have Euros on your account. I didn't feel like exchanging money on my app so I just went to and booked the same flight for the same amount of money.

Air Serbia 4/10

- Crew is hit or miss. This time around it was an epic miss.
- There is some semblance of hospitality as they still give you a small bottle of water and a small snack.
- No IFE whatsoever, not even internet.
- Buy on board is decent and affordable. They actually accept cash and credit cards both for Euros and Dinars.
- The overall atmosphere inside the plane is relaxed and comfortable.
- Generally Air Serbia is meh ... not bad, not great ...just ok.

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  1. Anonymous09:12

    Nice reports! I really like the photos, especially the sunrise deicing

    1. Nemjee13:43

      Thank you, it worked out quite well in the end!

  2. Anonymous09:15

    BEG terminal looks nice! So big compared to the old one! Will they open it now in April?

    1. Nemjee13:44

      Yes, with the extension and the additional floor is looks much, much bigger compared to what we had before.

    2. Anonymous14:28

      Belgrade airport is a dump and even more so now that the expansion is taking place. Hopefully once the renovation are complete it will be better.

    3. Anonymous14:34

      Of course it's a dump when its a massive construction site.

    4. Anonymous14:50

      I don't know, I haven't been there now that construction is taking place in front of the terminal. I just read that review on aircraft tracking site.

    5. Nemjee15:38

      It's not the best situation but I think certain people are making it worse than it really is. When I flew out of BEG or when I was waiting for someone, I always parked at the second parking, the one where you go down. From there I would walk to arrivals and then go upstairs if there is a need. I think that's the fastest and most direct way to get to the terminal.

      If you are being dropped off then you go out of the car at a mini roundabout and walk 10 steps to Terminal 1.

    6. Anonymous17:21

      Thank you Nemjee. It looks like things are getting better. Just two years ago airport got horrible reviews like this one. Nemanja Shukalo: Belgrade airport is turning into a disaster. The concessionaire (Vinci) is incapable of maintaining clean toilets either at the check-in or the gate area. There are barely any food and drink places and the ones that are there are overcrowded and extremely expensive. What matters for them seems to be the overpriced Duty Free Shops which are anyway overcrowding the terminal. Overall the airport has considerably worsened since the French came.

    7. Nemjee17:59

      Indeed, in that period many things were improved. Here are some of them:

      1. most toilets were renovated, most importantly the ones by gates C1 and C2 as well as those by Air Serbia check-in desks. Though occasionally they tend to get dirty, it's not as bad as before.

      2. Tesla Square was opened where, in addition to the old cafe, there are a few more places providing passengers with more options to sit, have a drink or eat.

      3. A new duty free shop was opened which is a huge improvement compared to what we had before.

      4. A gates were renovated and look a bit nicer than the old ones.

      Of course, BEG is still far from perfect but I guess Vinci is waiting for the construction to be completed as the existing layout will be completely changed.

  3. Anonymous09:15

    Thanks for the detailed and honest trip report.

  4. Great trip report Nemjee! It's been a long time since I read so many negative comments towards airlines in a trip review, thanks for keeping it honest. :D

    "Austrian Airlines won't allow you to buy the ticket unless you have Euros on your account"

    - Are you sure about this? A month ago I bought a return ticket from BEG to VIE for late April. I don't have Euros on my account, I don't even have a devizni račun in my bank, and yet I managed to buy it and was charged in RSD.

    I hope I won't have the same bad experience as you had. Also, how do you like Embraer compared to other common jets?

    1. Nemjee13:51

      Thank you! Honestly, I think OS deserved it big time. They used covid as an excuse to completely destroy their onboard product while keeping fares quite high.

      As for their website, no idea. I experienced this once before with Qatar. I had no issues with Aegean or Turkish which have their fares in Euros. My bank would automatically convert it and that would be it. Here with Austrian I tried a few times and it didn't work out. Maybe the problem was with my Master Card?

      As for the E95, I enjoyed this flight because the load was light. I am not very tall (1.86) but the legroom felt somewhat tight. I think anything up to 2 hours should be ok. Recently I saw on FR24 that they sent the E95 to Yerevan. Now that must not have been a fun flight!

      Have a safe flight with them in April! You can always let us know here how it went. :D

    2. Maybe it was, but I also booked and paid for my flights with MasterCard debit card.

      I hope that my experience won't be that bad, but I'm frightened now that I read your post. Still, it's better than the ATR of JU.

      If I have enough time, I'll write a follow-up on your story. :)

    3. Nemjee09:17

      Unless you are flying to VIE on YU-ALY which is fantastic inside from what I heard. :)

  5. Anonymous13:10

    Thanks for detailed trip report, Nemjee! :)

    It's great to see dawn at BEG. On the other hand, I hope the service at both airlines will be improved. Air Serbia used to have really good crew.

    I find it really strange what happened after landing. I thought that plane can't get permission to land if there are still other aircraft at the runway.

    By the way, I also flew with YU-APK in October 2019 to Moscow. Back then it had Cobalt's seats.

    1. Nemjee13:56

      You are welcome!

      I still think JU has some great crew. Unfortunately many have left and don't plan on coming back which is a shame. I wouldn't use these three as the norm since we wouldn't be doing JU justice.

      As for their service, I still think they should offer water, tea or coffee for free, especially on morning flights.

      Actually once we landed we cleared the runway and waited on the taxiway that is parallel to the active runway. Part of the taxiway was closed which is why we had to wait for the planes to land before we could go back onto the runway and taxi to that exit that is right next to the gate A1.

      Nice, I guess it was in late 2019 or early 2020 that it went for a C check when it got the JU interior.

    2. Anonymous14:08

      Which interior was better?

    3. Nemjee14:13

      Personally I prefer the JU interior because it has slim seats. Cobalt's were thicker and there was very little legroom. They were also grey and looked ugly.

    4. Anonymous15:08

      Were they comfortable?

    5. Nemjee15:40

      They were comfortable but they had the same configuration (144 seats) with those thick seats so legroom was somewhat tight.

  6. There is no surprise to me that Austrian Airways is named overpriced ULCC like Swiss and Lufthansa. The airline is a shadow of its former glory. Who will be keen to pay premium for the less than basic service if there are plenty of decent option from Vienna?

    1. Nemjee13:58

      Absolutely. Austrian Airlines used to be a decent airline back in the day offering a good onboard product. Unfortunately they think that these cost cutting measures will help them improve their finances when in reality they are just damaging their brand.

      Unless OS is cheap or extremely convenient, I don't see a reason to book a flight with them.

    2. Anonymous14:11

      Then think OS is certified as a 4 star airline

    3. Nemjee14:14

      Hahaha hilarious, just like Lufthansa's 5 star rating.

    4. It just shows how reliable these ranking are... Glad we have trip reports on exyu aviation so we can confront these ranking vs reality.

  7. Nemjee13:44

    Thank you!

  8. Anonymous14:16

    I'd phrase it as an objective and professional report. Fair play!

  9. Anonymous15:24

    Nice trip report Nemjee. If it is not a secret, could you tell us the ticket price and how much time in advance did you book it. Thanks

    1. Nemjee15:43

      Thank you. Of course, it's not a secret.

      For Austrian Airlines, I paid €155 one way without luggage. I bought my flight maybe 10 days in advance. Mind you, this price doesn't include seat selection which is €12 per segment.

      My return flight on JU cost 15.511 RSD and I bought it 8 days before my trip. It also included seat selection which was, if I remember correctly, 700 Dinars.

  10. Anonymous15:27

    Namjee very good report indeed ... good job!
    May I ask you a question related to entry into Cyprus? mentioned that Cyprus removed all PCR testing as of March 01...does it mean that one can enter without a PCR and even if not vaccinated?

    1. Nemjee15:49

      Thank you.

      As of March 1st, pretty much everyone can enter regardless of the vaccination status. Serbia is in the red category meaning you need a PCR done 72 hours before your trip or an antigen 24 hours before.
      Once you land you have to do a PCR test and you cover the costs yourself (€15). Self-tests are not accepted. There is a testing facility at the airport but I was told that very often there are large queues.

      Everyone has to fill out the locator form called Cyprus Flight Pass.

      You can read more on all this here:

    2. Nemjee15:51

      Sorry, I was referring to the testing facility at BEG.

    3. Anonymous10:08

      Thanks a lot ! much appreciated!

  11. Nice report Nemjee. How long do you think it would have taken if BEG wasn't busy after reaching the gate and disembarking, to clear passport control, collect your luggage, and get outside?

    1. Nemjee09:20

      Thanks. My all time record was 7 minutes. However this was years ago and we landed in the middle of the night, parked at A2 and I had no luggage.

      However if you are parked at A10 or C6 then the walk to the stairs takes at least 5 minutes. All in all it's not too bad. Should take you 15 to 25 minutes on average after landing.

  12. Buy on board across the whole Lufthansa group will not last long. Trust me. Agreed with Austrian, makes sense to fly them only if you hold a Star Alliance status (like I do): Senator lounge at Vienna is actually pretty solid in terms of offering (and much better than Lufthansa Senator lounges).

    1. Perhaps they learn from British Airways mistake...

    2. Nemjee09:21

      LOT as well, they considerably improved their onboard product over the past couple of years. Only goes to show that service alone isn't enough to fight LCCs. You have to give people a reason to pay more to fly with you.


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