TRIP REPORT: LOT/Air Serbia, Olsztyn - Belgrade


Written by jsg

Among Polish aviation enthusiasts, the word of durnolot has a special meaning. From a linguistic point of view it is a neologism consisted of two Polish words durny (silly, stupid) and lot (flight), but for the aviation enthusiasts the word has a unique connotation. If you are taking durnolot the destination(s) are of secondary or even non-importance, while the flight(s) are the main aim of this activity. It is difficult to find the English equivalent to the word of durnolot, perhaps a neologism stupid-o-flight may serve the purpose? Leaving this linguistic debate behind, during the second half of March I took stupid-o-flight, leaving Olsztyn on one Friday and returning to Warsaw 9 days later. During this trip I visited 6 places in 5 countries.

Olsztyn. Located on the Łyna River, the city has long history which dates back to the 13th century when the city was founded by the Old Prussians. During its history, Olsztyn was conquered by the Tectonic Order, passed to the Warmia Order, and was part of the Kingdom of Poland and the Kingdom of Prussia. Its rich and multicultural history is reflected in many monuments located in the medieval Old Town like the Olsztyn Castle pictured below, officially Castle of Warmian Cathedral Chapter, which represents a Brick Gothic castle located at the Łyna River.

One of my items from my to do list was to try parsley ice cream offered by one of the ice cream parlours located in the Old Town. Unfortunately, this variety is a sessional one and will be on sale from April. It seems I would need to make another trip during summer.

LO3508 Olsztyn-Mazury - Krakow. There is no convenient direct connection to Olsztyn-Mazury Airport, which is located 59 km to the south of Olsztyn. Although there is a direct train connection from Olsztyn, after checking LOT’s flight schedule, the connection is no longer convenient for the LOT flight to Krakow. There are limited options to reach the airport. If you do not have a car, one option is to organise a transfer which costs approx. 300 PLN or take a train to the town of Szczytno (17,50 PLN) then change to a bus which connects Szczytno with the airport located near Szymany, some 10 km from the town centre. The bus service is suited for passengers travelling on flight LO 3507/LO3508 and is free of charge.

The free shuttle bus arrives a few minutes behind schedule. I already start to think about plan B as to how to reach Krakow before 3 pm tomorrow, in case the bus does not arrive. Inside the bus, there are approx. 25 people travelling to the airport, presumably to catch flight LO3508. After a 15-minutes ride, we arrive in front of the terminal.

Olsztyn-Mazury Airport is one of the youngest commercial airports in Poland. Previously it was used as a military airport until mid-1996 when the first LOT flight touched down as a domestic flight from Warsaw. In late 2015, the new terminal was completed. Today, the airport offers a limited number of domestic and international destinations: KraKow (LOT, Ryanair*), Wroclaw (Ryanair*), Dortmund (Wizz) London-Luton (Wizz) and London Stansted (Ryanair). The asterix denotes summer 2023 schedule.

Inside the terminal I head for check-in desk #4, which has been designated for flight LO3508. There is no one at the check-in desk until a member of ground staff calls a check-in agent, so I can complete my check-in procedures. After checking my ID, I receive a boarding card and my bag is tagged for KRK. Then I proceed to security control, which is located next to the check-in area. As the airport is not busy, both procedures take some 6-7 minutes.

While airside, I take a seat and wait until boarding for my flight commences. The airport itself is visually pleasant. The interior décor is a mixture of raw stone and concrete, glass, ceramic tiles as well as large wooden decorative elements, which allude to the Mazury region, known for its plentiful lakes and forests.

Around 18:20, a gate agent announces boarding of the flight to Krakow. After scanning my boarding card, I wait a few seconds until a member of ground personnel allows us to move to the aircraft. During the walk, I ask him how popular flights to Krakow are. He replied, they are very popular, and flights are generally almost full. He also adds that soon Ryanair will commence flights to Krakow. I express my amazement to the popularity of such a niche route. Another passenger who walks next to us replies, that the flight is the best way to get to Krakow, as it can take 10 to 12 hours to reach it by road or by rail.

Today’s flight is operated by the 13.4-year-old Embraer ERJ-175 aircraft, registered SP-LIK. The aircraft has already completed 3 international segments (Brussels - Warsaw, Warsaw - Riga, Riga - Warsaw) and 2 domestic sectors (Warsaw - Krakow, Krakow - Olsztyn SZY) and the flight to Krakow is the last one planned for today.

Inside, I take my assigned seat of 18A. Although the flight is busy, the seat next to me remains unoccupied. While waiting for boarding to be completed, I observe the passengers boarding and try to guess the purpose of their travel. It seems there is no pattern as there is mixture of some families travelling with kids, some couples and group of friends, who are presumably heading for a weekend in Krakow.

Few minutes after the scheduled departure time boarding is completed, the doors are closed, and the cabin crew (1 female purser and 1 male flight attendant) commence a safety instruction demonstration in Polish and then in English utilising pre-recorded announcements. After taxing to the runway, we wait several minutes before the flight is clear for take off. We finally take off at 18:50 and head towards the town of Wielbark then we turn right and shortly turn left, passing the town of Nidzica, Sochaczew and Olkusz.

During the short flight, I observe the scenery below. trying to guess which cities or town we are passing, but without a map it is not possible to know. After reaching cruising altitude, the cabin crew offers a sweet snack (an apple bun) and a glass of complimentary still or sparling water. Around 18:30 before passing the town of Alwernia, we turn right, and then we are on direct approach to Krakow Airport, where we land at 19:34. After taxing, we park at a remote stand and are bussed to the terminal building, where I pick up my bag at belt #4 then head to the airport train station to catch the 20:17 train to the city.

Flight statistics:

LF: 90 %
Distance: 387 kms (209 nm)
Departure time (scheduled/actual): 18:30/18:50
Arrival time (scheduled/actual): 19:40/19:34
Flight duration (scheduled/actual): 1h 10 min/0 h 44 min

Krakow. Once upon a time, the Wawel Dragon terrorised King’s Krak’s town. The beasts demanded ransoms of devoured virgins, so no young virgins in the vicinity could feel safe. No knight (even in shiny armour) could vanquish the monster, until a young shoemaker, Dratewka outsmarted the beast. He stuffed a ram’s hide with sulphur and left it as a bait in the form of the Dragon den. The beast caught the bait and later felt a burning pain in its throat. To quench its thirst, the dragon started to drink water from the Vistula River. As water cannot extinguish burning sulphur, he drank and drank more water until it exploded. The heroic shoemaker was handsomely rewarded. This is what the legend says, but indeed there is a cave, which is colloquially known as the Dragon’s Den. The den is situated beneath the Wawel Castle and was formed 25-milion years ago in limestone rock by water erosion. Until the year of 1609 (or 1611 according to some historians) Krakow was the capital of Poland, then the capital was moved to Warsaw by King Sigismund III Vasa due to its more central location and proximity to Lithuania. At that time the King was also the Grand Duke of Lithuania, hence the decision to move the capital.

LO3906 Krakow - Warsaw. After a pleasant morning in Krakow, I took the 13:36 train to Krakow Airport (17 PLN), which takes 17 minutes. The stop is connected by a covered walkway on level +1, which leads to the security departure gate. As I have a bag to check in, I need to move downstairs where check-in desks are located. Today, desk 8 is designated for LOT flights and there is no one at the desk. I swiftly check in my luggage through to Copenhagen and received two boarding cards, then proceed upstairs to clear security control. The security control takes a few minutes and while airside I check at which gate my flight leaves. Gate 11.

While awaiting my flight, I observe the arrival of the 14.2-year-old Embraer 195LR aircraft registered SP-LNH as flight LO3905 from Warsaw. The flight to Krakow was the 3rd out of 6 planned rotations for this plane. Prior to the domestic sector, the aircraft completed a rotation between Warsaw and Zurich.

Boarding starts on time. After scanning my card, I proceed to the airbridge. We wait a few minutes before we are allowed to walk down the airbridge to the aircraft. Inside, I take my assigned seat of 5D. While the three all-female cabin crew members completed their pre-departure tasks, the captain announces a delay in departure by approx. 30 minutes due to air traffic restrictions over Krakow’s airspace. During this time, the cabin crew completes a safety demonstration in Polish and in English. Around 15:35 the aircraft is finally pushed back, and we are taxing to the runway. At 15:42 we take off. After turning left over Krakow, we head north-east passing west of the town of Kielce and around the town of Błonie we turn right then directly approach Warsaw’s airport.

The flight service on domestic routes consists of a sweet snack (apple bun) and a glass of water (still or sparkling). During the short flight, I read an article in the current issue of the in-flight magazine Kaleidoscope about the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana, which I intend to visit in September during my Balkan trip Sarajevo-Zagreb-Ljubljana- Niš -Sofia (or Skopje).

After the announcement that we are approaching Warsaw, the cabin crew instructs passengers connecting to Berlin, Geneva and New York to proceed immediately to the departure gate of the next flight. We touch down at the Warsaw Airport 16 minutes after scheduled arrival, then taxi to the terminal building, where we disembark the plane via an airbridge. The aircraft will go on to complete the last two segments planned for today: Warsaw - Düsseldorf - Warsaw.

Flight statistics:

LF: 50 %
Distance: 247 kms (133 nm)
Departure time (scheduled/actual): 15:05/15:42
Arrival time (scheduled/actual): 15:55/16:11
Flight duration (scheduled/actual): 0h 50 min/0 h 29 min

LO 461 Warsaw - Copenhagen. The flight to Copenhagen departs from gate 42. As I still have some time, I find a quiet spot at the airport and make some notes, which I will use later for this trip report.

A few minutes before 17:00 boarding starts, and I proceed to the assigned gate. A quick check of my boarding card, then I walk downstairs to a bus, which takes me to the aircraft. Today’s flight is operated by the 16.8 year-old Embraer E175 STD aircraft registered SP-LIB, which completed 5 sectors today: Wroclaw - Warsaw, Warsaw - Oslo, Oslo - Warsaw, Warsaw - Szczecin, Szczecin - Warsaw.

Inside the aircraft, I am greeted by 2 members of mixed cabin crew and take my assigned seat of 18D, located in the rear of the aircraft. After boarding was completed, a passenger sitting next to me moves to the row behind to sit with her companion, giving me more space. The aircraft interior shows signs of ageing but is clean and pleasant. The legroom for this flight, like the previous two, is fine by my mid-height standard.

After routine pre-departure procedures, the cabin crew carries out a safety demonstration using a pre-recorded announcements in Polish and in English followed by a summary of the important safety information in Danish. Several minutes after scheduled departure time we take off to Copenhagen.

After reaching our cruising altitude the service commences. Like on most international flights, a selection of a sweet or savoury snacks is offered along with a selection of soft drinks (water, tea or coffee).

After a U-turn over Piaseczno, we head northwest passing the city of Toruń, the coastal city of Koszalin, then the Danish town of Rønne and after passing Swedish city of Lund we turn left then approach Copenhagen Kastrup Airport., where we land 24 minutes ahead of schedule. The aircraft then returns to Warsaw, and I walk to a nearby hotel, which is located 15 minutes from the terminal.

Flight statistics:

LF: 70 %
Distance: 668 kms (361 nm)
Departure time (scheduled/actual): 17:25/17:32
Arrival time (scheduled/actual): 19:00/18:36
Flight duration (scheduled/actual): 1h 35 min/1 h 04 min

Copenhagen. Initially I planned to stay a day in Copenhagen, but Air Serbia cancelled my initially booked flight JU405 (scheduled departure 20:50) and offered flight JU401 instead. The latter flight departs at 09:15 rather than late afternoon, so I have no choice to take a night tour of the Danish capital, which looks as good as in the full light.

JU401 Copenhagen – Belgrade. Sunday morning is foggy and rather cold. Luckily, my hotel is in walking distance of the terminal, so I have no need to wake up too early. For a nocturnal person, morning flights are challenging, not only because of foggy weather. After leaving the hotel, I walk 15 minutes after I reach terminal 2, from which my flight to Belgrade departs.

I check on the display screen, at which desk I should check in. Desks 118-120. I proceed to the assigned desks and there is virtually no queue and the whole process takes no more than 2 minutes. During check in, I ask the check-in agent if I can have a window seats. He replies, I will check, and later hands me out a boarding card with assigned window seat of 15A. After my bag is tagged to BEG, I proceed upstairs for security check. There are relatively a lot of people queuing for security control and according to the information display, the waiting tome for security is between 11–14 minutes. After passing security check, I notice on the display screens, that the flight to Belgrade is delayed by 1 hour and the new estimated departure time is 10:15. OK, so I have 2,5 hours to wait. Let’s get a breakfast and find a quiet spot to kill time. At a café, I take a chicken pesto sandwich (65 DKK) and a cup of latte (44 DKK) and get a quiet spot to work on my trip report.

For my interest, I check on in search for more information about the flight JU400, but I cannot find this flight as live. To find out more, I check history of flight JU400 and I find out this flight was diverted to Belgrade. Then I check Belgrade Airport’s website for more information. According to the web page information, the flight JU400 departed the Belgrade airport at 06:15, but shortly after departure was diverted to Belgrade and landed as flight JU400d at 06:40. I also notice another flight of JU400 with the status: go to gate, which finally took off at 07:48.

It is 09:45. I should be going to the gate as I also have to clear passport control. I check at the departure board displays, to which gate I should go. Gate C32. The walk takes me approx. 5 minutes to reach the C-gates, which are designated for non-Schengen flights. There is no queue at passport control, so I swiftly proceed to the assigned departure gate, just right on time to catch the arriving flight JU400 from Belgrade.

Boarding for the flight starts around 10:00. Apart from many human passengers, the flight to Belgrade is also boarded by a cat, which, hidden in a cage, does not seem to appreciate the blessing of air travel and distinctively meows to display its disagreement of the necessity of being trapped in a cage that meets IATA requirements. I board the flight as one of the last human passengers, leaving behind the cat with its owner. After scanning my boarding card, I walk down the air bridge to the 19.6-year-old Airbus A319-132 aircraft registered as YU-APK. Previously, the 18,4-year-old Airbus A319-132 (reg. YU-APD) was scheduled to operate on this route but was diverted to Belgrade.

Inside, I am greeted by 3 members of the all-female cabin crew and take my assigned seat of 15A. As the flight is not full, there are relatively few free seats, including two seats next to me. The aircraft interior has some signs of wear and tear but is clean and pleasant. The seat pitch is fine by my standard. After completion of boarding, the cabin crew closes the aircraft door and carries out a safety demonstration in Serbian and in English. At 10:33, the pushback starts and we are taxing to the runway. We take off at 10:42. Shortly after taking off we make U-turn then head southwest

After reaching cruising altitude, the cabin crew offer complimentary service which consist of a small pack of sweet snack (24,4 g pack) and a small 250 ml bottle of water. This sweet snack is a pack of two ToTo cookies, described on a pack as čajno pecivo punjeno mlečnim kremom. For a non-Serbian (but still Slavic language) speaker, it sounds rather cute.

Once complimentary service is completed, the cabin crew offers to make purchases from buy-on-board Elevate menu, which has only a few takers. As an example, the prices are: sandwich 540 RSD (4.50 EUR), soft drink 240-300 RSD (2.00-1.50 EUR), hot drinks 240 RSD (2.00 EUR), sweet or savoury snacks 180-300 RSD (1,50-2,50 EUR), combos (snack+ soft or alcoholic drink) 360-1200 RSD (3,00 - 10,00 EUR).

The flight is quiet, and time passes quickly, while I read some articles in the in-flight magazine Elevate. I especially enjoy reading an article about Lisbon, which has been recently added to Air Serbia’s network. I also check the destination map to check if they already included Krakow. And indeed, there is Krakow on the Air Serbia destination map. Perhaps another durnolot can begin with this route?

Today’s flight path flies over Polish cities of Poznań and Wroclaw, Czech city of Ostrava, over the Hungarian capital and then towards Serbian border. We enter Serbian airspace near the village of Horgoš. At 12:22 the cabin crew announces preparation for landing and completes necessary pre-landing checks. The aircraft makes a U-turn before Surčin, then approaches Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade. After passport control, I claim my bag and take a bus 72 to Zeleni Venac. The aircraft will then complete 5 more segments during the day: Belgrade - Tivat and vv, Belgrade - Podgorica and vv and Belgrade - Moscow SVO.

Flight statistics:

LF: 60 %
Distance: 1318 kms (712 nm)
Departure time (scheduled/actual): 09:15/10:42
Arrival time (scheduled/actual): 11:15/12:33
Flight duration (scheduled/actual): 2h 00 min/1 h 51 min

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  1. Nemjee09:13

    Very nice trip report, thank you. I especially enjoyed parts about Polish history.
    Would be fun if you could do a trip report for BEG-KRK. I am still hopeful that this route will turn into a success story same way PRG did.

    1. It is my list to do to fly on this route, but not sure when. I hope this route will be a hit and can stay for next year.

  2. Anonymous09:13

    Very nice report!

  3. Anonymous09:40

    Nice report and red pants! :D Will see how JU will perform in Poland this summer!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I am also curious how this route will perform.

  4. Anonymous09:55

    One of the best trip reports so far. Thank you

    1. Anonymous12:23

      +1 agree!!! Very interesting report und beautiful pics

  5. Anonymous11:21

    Talking about adventure... what a great way to travel! Hope to see report from the next durnolot.

    1. The next part is in preparation. The next durnolot is in planning.

  6. Anonymous11:36

    Well done on the report! I hope you had a great time in Belgrade. Looking forward to Belgrade-Krakow route commencing soon!

  7. Anonymous13:10

    Great report and very interesting itinerary. Thanks. Looking forward to trip report from Ljubljana.

  8. Anonymous13:17

    Thank you for the interesting trip report. I really appreciate parts about Polish history, and as a linguist, the explanation of word durnolot.

    I hope we'll have a chance to read second part of this trip as well :)

    1. Second part is currently in preparation.

  9. Anonymous14:07

    Excellent trip report, thank you.

  10. Anonymous17:11

    Small mistake - it's Teutonic ORder, not "Tectonic" lol

  11. Anonymous17:31

    Thank you, enjoyed your trip report. Really interesting routing!

  12. Charlie06:40

    Great report, pleasure to read.


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