TRIP REPORT: Three airlines from Belgrade to Warsaw


Written by jsg

After exploring Olsztyn, Krakow and Copenhagen, I landed in Belgrade, where the second part of the durnolot starts.

Belgrade. The river Sava meets with the Danube in Belgrade. No wonder this strategic location was chosen to raise the Belgrade Fortress in the 3rd century BC. Perfectly located at the confluence of two rivers, the place provided perfect conditions for control over the plains. While walking inside the fortress' fortifications, I learn its long and rich history, ever-changing architecture and I try to find traces of the Celts, the Roman, the Byzantine and the Turkish rulers. Like many other visitors, I walk along fortifications, exploring various towers, exhibition of the Upper and the Lower Town, but I bypass the Dino park Small Kalemegdan. Later I stroll along the Knez Mihailova Street in search for a nice café and take the Brankov Bridge to the Park Ušće in hope to take the picture of the fortress from the opposite Sava embankment. But I have no luck, as moored boats obscure the view of the hill.

A3 977 Belgrade - Athens. A few minutes before 8:00, I leave a hotel located at Knez Mihailova. This popular main pedestrian zone in Belgrade is almost quiet with only a few people on the street, which contrasts to its buzzy evening atmosphere. Then I turn right into Prizrenska Street, which takes me down to the Zeleni Venac bus terminus. The bus #72 is late. I start to get worried it may be cancelled. Finally, it arrives. There are 30 stops between the Zeleni Venac terminus and the final stop at Belgrade Airport. While sitting in the bus, I watch passing urban landscape: new residential blocks on the Sava embankment, Yugoslav-style residential areas of Novi Beograd, 90-ties style block of flats occupying Ledine and the district of Surčin located in close proximity of Belgrade airport. After leaving the bus, I try to figure out where to go as the area around the terminals are a massive construction site surrounded by tall fences, that form a maze. The yellow signs direct me to the terminal 1, where to my surprise check-in desks are located. The terminal built in the late 60ties of the previous century is rather dated, but the marble clad floor somehow holds this unique charm of the past when air travel wasn’t egalitarian.

The check-in desks (501-503) are open. I wait a minute until I am called to the desk 501 by a check-in agent. I place my bag on a scale and my passport on the counter. Shortly, my bag is tagged to ATH and a check-in agent hands me a boarding card. Then I proceed to the departure gates located at terminal 2 which is interconnected with terminal 1. It is like a hop to the late seventies when the terminal 2 was open. I even stop at the now-defunct split-flap display board located at the passport control area. Like defunct flaps of the board, time has stood still for a while.

Passport control takes a few minutes. A border policeman takes my passport and shows to his colleague, who seems to be in training. He explains security features of Polish passports and then search for my arrival stamp. The then adds a departure stamp on my passport and at the back of my boarding card, explains to the trainee she should add departure stamp next to arrival one and hands me back my passport. At the departure air side area, I check the departure gate (C01) and get a latte (390 RSD) in a café until the boarding announcement, which starts a few minutes after 10 am.

There are 118 passages and 2 infants on this flight. Most passengers are Serbian or Greek nationals, but I also notice some passengers from Israel and possibly China. After scanning my boarding card, a gate agent cross-checks my name with the passport, then I wait to proceed to the aircraft via an air bridge. I swiftly take the assigned seat of 6A in the front of the aircraft. This flight is operated by the 14-years old Airbus A320-232 aircraft registered as SX-DUY and the flight is the second one planned for today. According to its flight history, this plane is often operated on flights to Belgrade and Tel Aviv.

After boarding is, the cabin crew (2 female and 1 male) stand by to do the safety instruction demonstration in Greek and in English. Then, around 10:45 we start pushback procedures and taxi to the runway. At 11:07 we take off.

As the flight is relatively full, the two seats next to me are occupied. Although the seat rows seem to be squeezed, there is enough legroom by my judgement. The cabin interior is clean and decorated in pleasant neutral colours. I also notice some minimal signs of wear and tear.

After reaching cruising altitude, the cabin crew offers a complimentary service: a beef and tartar sauce brioche (105g), a small Kitekat chocolate bar (no weight specified) and selection of hot and cold drinks. I ask for a sparkling water (330 ml can) and ask the cabin crew if they have wine. Which one would you like? Red or white, I am being asked. White, please, I reply. The cabin crew member hands me a 187-ml bottle of dry Greek wine. After the complimentary service, the cabin crew offer duty-free shopping. The flight was generally quiet and calm except for some turbulence at the beginning, but later the flight was smooth. During the flight, I read an article about the Greek city of Kavala and occasionally look through the window.

After leaving Belgrade, the flight passes the Serbian city of Kragujevac, then over territory of North Macedonia, entering Greek airspace around the village of Akritas then pass over the port city of Thessaloniki and near the island of Kastellorizo. We then pass the coastal town of Kymi and turn right for approach to Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos.

After taxiing we park at the remote stand and are bussed to the terminal building for non-Schengen arrivals. After passport control and luggage collection, I head to the metro station and take a train to the Syntagma Square (9 EUR). The aircraft will later complete a rotation to Tel Aviv.

Flight statistics

LF: 72 %
Distance: 822 kms (444 nm)
Departure time (scheduled/actual): 10:35/11:07
Arrival time (scheduled/actual): 13:15/13:21
Flight duration (scheduled/actual): 1h 40 min/1h 14 min

Athens. Modern Athens is busy, chaotic and full of tourists, who visits the Greek capital to learn about its ancient history, to see the Acropolis or explore the multimedia exhibition of the Acropolis Museum. Just off the Syntagma Square, there is another popular tourist attraction - the changing of the guard that takes place outside of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (underneath the Hellenic Parliament) and symbolizes the transfer of responsibility for the Palace's security. Soldiers, dressed up in traditional historic uniforms (used during the Greek War of Independence in 1821), salute the Senior Captain on parade with their swords and stamp their feet to let the dead know that the Greek nation is still alive and free. Then the Senior Captain with the Old Guards return to their quarter, while the New Guards stand motionless for the next hour.

RO247 Athens - Bucharest. From Syntagma Square, I can take a tube or bus number X95. As bus services are more frequent, I take a bus as the more frequent schedule suits my needs better. To my surprise, the bus fare is cheaper than a metro ticket and costs 5.00 EUR. The bus arrives a few minutes late, but immediately after all passenger board we leave for the airport. There are approx. 18 bus stops on this route and with traffic it can take around 40 mins to reach the airport.

At the airport I proceed to zone 4 from where the TAROM flights departs. I check the display boards, to see which desks are assigned for check-in of flight RO247. Desks 133-135. There is a small queue for the check-in. Although 3 check-in desks should be open, only two of them 134-135 are operational. I wait several minutes until I am called forward to a check-in desk. During check-in, I am asked if Bucharest is my final destination. I confirm. Then, the check-in agent informs me that the flight is 55 minutes delayed, a new boarding time is 19:30 and my flight departs from gate A3. She tags my luggage and hands me a boarding card and my passport, and I proceed to passport and security control, which takes several minutes.

While waiting for boarding, I observe the landing of flight RO273 from Bucharest, which touches down at 19:38. After a short taxi, the aircraft is parks in the front of the terminal and an air bridge is attached. Today’s flight is operated by the 15.3-year-old Airbus A318-111 aircraft registered YR-ASD and named after the Romanian aviation pioneer - Smaranda Brăescu. The aircraft has already completed two rotations today from Bucharest to Amman and Amsterdam. As the departure from Amsterdam was delayed by 2 hours, it has a knock-on effect on the next rotation to Athens as hence the late arrival of flight RO273. At 20:08 the gate personnel announce boarding for the flight to Bucharest. First, business class passengers and passengers with children are called, followed by passengers seating in rows 11-21. Most of the passengers are Romanian followed by several Greek nationals and some Canadian or American ones. After scanning my boarding pass, my passport is cross-checked with the boarding card, and I proceed to the air bridge. After a short wait, boarded passengers are allowed to walk down to the aircraft.

Inside I am greeted by the cabin crew which consist of a male purser and two stewardesses. Boarding is completed quickly, and we push back at 20:15. During taxiing, the cabin crew conducts the safety instruction demonstration in Romanian and in English and does the final check of the cabin. At 20:29 we finally take off.

The aircraft interior seems to be tired and has visible signs of wear and tear. The legroom is OK by my standards, but I have the impression, there is a little less legroom than on my previous flights. As my seat is a window seat (20A), there are 2 additional seats next to me in a row. The only occupied seat is the aisle one, which gives me more room during the flight.

After reaching cruising altitude, the on-board service commences. For economy passengers, there is no complimentary service and to my disappointment, not even a single glass of water is offered for free. If you wish to have some water, you can purchase a 0.5-l bottle for 3.00 EUR/GBP. Other example prices from the shop on board catalogue: hot or cold soft drinks - 3.00 - 5.00 EUR/GBP, alcoholic beverages - 5.00 - 8.00 EUR/GBP, sweet or savoury snacks 1.50 - 9.00 EUR/GBP, sandwiches or pastry 7.00 EUR/GBP.

During the flight, I check the issue of the in-flight magazine Insight and read an article about the Romanian Bucovina, which has many tourist attractions to offer. Unfortunately, the closed two monitors do not work, and I am unable to follow the flight map and information shown on the screens.

After leaving Athens, we fly in northeast and later in a north direction passing over the islands of Skiros and Thassos, east of Kavala, to Bulgarian city of Plovdiv. Around the Romanian city of Turnu Măgurele we enter Romanian airspace and after a 45-degree left turn we head towards Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport, where we land with a 56-minute delay. After taxiing, the aircraft parks on a remote parking position, from where we are bussed to the terminal building. After passport control and collection of my bag, I pop into a supermarket located at the departure level, then proceed to the train station to catch the 22:32 train to Bucharest North train station (5.00 RON).

Flight statistics

LF: 85 %
Distance: 759 kms (410 nm)
Departure time (scheduled/actual): 19:10/20:29
Arrival time (scheduled/actual): 20:45/21:41
Flight duration (scheduled/actual): 1h 35 min/1h 12 min

Bucharest. The Romanian capital is sometimes dubbed Micul Paris (Little Paris). The term was coined at the beginning of the last century, not only for its elegant architecture, but also for the fact that locals were inspired by Paris itself. The French language was widely spoken, citizens of Bucharest wore the latest Paris fashions, and would frequently travel to the French capital for tourism or to study. While walking in Bucharest you can admire wide, tree-lined boulevards, glorious buildings like the Triumphal Arch finished in 1912 during the Belle Époque period, which can be characterized by optimism, economic prosperity, technological, scientific, and cultural innovations. To feel the Romanian Belle Époque, just stroll along Calea Victoriei (Victory Avenue), explore Piata Universitatii (University Square) or the cobblestoned streets of Old Town lighted up by old streetlamps and filled with plentiful cafés, bistros and restaurants truly resembles the charm of the Belle Époque.

LO642 Bucharest - Warsaw. This year, durnolot is finishing. My bag is packed, I am checking out from the hotel and walk to catch the bus 105 which takes me from the Podul Grozăvești stop to the Bucharest North station (3 RON), where I catch a train to Otopeni Airport (5,00 RON or 4.75 RON if bought online). Door-to-door it takes approx. 1 hour.

Inside, I check the departure board where to check in: desks 93-94. There are approximately 10 people in the queue, so it won’t take long to get to the check-in desk, and three check-in desks (92-94) were op
erational for the flight LO642. I give my passport to the check-in agent and say: I am travelling only to Warsaw, so please cancel my domestic sector from Warsaw to Gdańsk. After a while, the agent replies: OK, just to double-check. You would like to travel to Warsaw only? After my confirmation, I receive a boarding card and my bag is tagged for WAW. Initially my durnolot was extended to Gdańsk, which was the last destination, but, since I made the reservation, the flight schedule changed once or twice, so I decided to stay an extra day in the Romanian capital and skip Gdańsk.

There is a massive queue for security control. But I have no choice other than to stay in the queue. After a few second, airport staff informs people at the end of the queue, there is also a security control area behind check-in desks 29-39. I move there quickly. There is a queue, but not as massive as the previous one. After security check, I move to the adjacent passport control area and again the area is busy. I stay in the queue for EU citizens and wait for my turn. Lastly, my passport is checked, and I can move forward to the departure hall. All together it takes approx. 20 minutes. After both controls, I proceed to gate 05, which was shown on the boarding card, but on my way, I double-check the departure screen. The boarding gate has changed from 05 to 01.

There are already many passengers sitting in the gate 01 area, awaiting the flight to board. I take a seat and check my mobile to see the current location of flight LO641. According to, the flight has just passed Cluj-Napoca and is heading towards Bucharest, where it should land in less than 30 minutes. At 13:41 the aircraft lands at Otopeni Airport.

Boarding starts on time (14:05). Firstly, business class passengers and passengers with children are called, then the remaining passengers. After scanning my boarding card, I proceed via the air bridge. Today’s flight is operated by the 11.6-years-old Boeing 737 NG/Max registered SP-LWF, which already completed its first segment today Warsaw - Bucharest. Inside, I am greeted by 5 cabin crew members (2 female and 3 male) including one trainee stewardess, then I move towards the back of the aircraft as my assigned seat is 28B. The interior is designed in neutral colours and is pleasant and clean. The seat pitch seems to shrink, and I feel there is less room in comparison to the Embraer jets.

At 14:35 the cabin crew announces completion of barding, then at 14:50 pushback starts. In the meantime, the cabin crew stand-by for the safety instruction demonstration in Polish and English followed by pre-recorded information in Romanian language. After taxiing is completed, we take off at 15:04. Once hearing the pre-recorded instruction in Polish, I recognize the voice. This distinctively warm, calm and soft sound belongs to Krystyna Czubówna - a popular Polish narrator of nature documentary films.

The flight is full. There are no empty seats in economy and only 1 or 2 free seats left in business. Most of the passengers are Romanian travelling onwards via Warsaw. There are a relatively few Polish nationals, as well as some Bulgarian, Czech (or Slovak) and Ukrainians. After reaching the flight altitude, the cabin crew commences on board service. As usual, you can choose a savoury or a sweet snack and a glass of water (still or sparking) and a cup of coffee or tea. As I'm seated in 28B, it takes some time to be served. I ask for a savoury snack, a glass of sparkling water and a cup of tea with lemon. We have no lemon left, but I believe there are some left in business class. You will need to wait a few minutes – the purser informs me. OK, no problem. A slice of lemon from a business class is worth waiting for, I reply. After a while, I receive a slice of business class lemon for my tea, and I can finally enjoy my tea.

During the flight, I read a book and flip through the Kaleidoscope magazine. The flight path crosses over the Romanian municipality of Câmpulung, Cluj-Napoka, east-north corner of Hungary, Czech city of Kosice, then we enter Polish airspace near the village of Radocyna and fly towards the city of Radom.

At 15:07 the captain turns seatbelt light on and the cabin crew prepare the cabin for landing. After 18 minutes, we land at the Frédéric Chopin Airport, where the durnolot finished. I head home, and the aircraft will make one more rotation to Paris CDG.

Flight statistics

LF: 98 %
Distance: 926 kms (500 nm)
Departure time (scheduled/actual): 14:35/15:05
Arrival time (scheduled/actual): 15:25/15:34
Flight duration (scheduled/actual): 1h 50 min/1h 19 min


The durnolot summary:

Duration: 9 days
Number of flights: 7 (2 domestic, 5 international)
Places visited: 6
Countries visited: 5
Total distance flown: 5.769 kms (2.769 nm)
Total flight time (scheduled/actual): 10h 40min/7h 53 min

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  1. Nemjee09:20

    Very nice trip report, thank you. Still hope you will make one for KRK-BEG.

    A few comments:

    1. Bus like 72 can not be cancelled since it is part of the regular city network. There is another airport bus (A1) that takes you from Slavija. I was at the airport the other day and it seems like another two city buses go to the airport now (700-something and 800-something).
    I think it was line 860 that goes to Obrenovac.

    2. T1 was opened in 1962 when the airport was moved to the current location. The area that feels from the 1970s was actually completed in the early 1980s but it's current design dates back to the early 2000s. I don't know when you flew from BEG since there is no date but that whole area is currently being integrated into the new design.

    3. Your Aegean flight felt more comfortable because the first 9 rows on their A320 fleet have extra legroom. The rest of the cabin is pretty tight.

    4. As for Tarom, they have officially become a useless carrier. No real network, minimal onboard service, relatively high fares etc.

    1. Anonymous10:45

      How does Tarom's onboard service differs from JU's?

    2. Anonymous10:48

      You don't get anything on TAROM.

    3. @Nemjee
      Thanks for caerful reading :)
      1. Bus 72 was late so was worried if the particular service got cancelled. Bus A1 terminus was too far for me to walk.
      2. Point taken. It was in 1962. I travelled on 21st March 2023.
      3. I was lucky to get front raw seat.
      4. Travelled with TAROM before and was ok. But thesedays it is simply not worth the price. Next time will choose A3.

  2. Anonymous09:43

    Nice report, mate.
    " If you wish to have some water, you can purchase a 0.5-l bottle for 3.00 EUR/GBP. Other example prices from the shop on board catalogue: hot or cold soft drinks - 3.00 - 5.00 EUR/GBP, alcoholic beverages - 5.00 - 8.00 EUR/GBP, sweet or savoury snacks 1.50 - 9.00 EUR/GBP, sandwiches or pastry 7.00 EUR/GBP."
    Jeez, Tarom is really downhill....what are those prices? 3€ for a bottle of water?!
    LO are doing very well in OTP for years, they are even upgrading one of its 3 daily flights to 737.

    1. Was disapointed with TAROM. Gone to the dogs sadly.

  3. Anonymous10:58

    Just a (not so) slight correction about your approach into Athens. Kastellorizo is about as far away from your route as any place in Greece can be. Not to exaggerate, but Athens -Kastellorizo is almost as far as Athens-Belgrade, so there's no way you flew past Rhodes coming from the north. I'm curious as to which island you had in mind, since this is obviously a mistake?

    1. Anonymous14:54

      It for sure can’t be Kastellorizo, he may have passed the Sporadic Islands so either Skiathos, Skopelos and Allonissos then there’s also Euboia which makes sense

    2. You right. It was my mistake. I passed one of the Sporadic Islands.

  4. Anonymous11:01

    Nice trip report! Aegean seems so much better than the other two airlines on inflight service! Hope they go daily to BEG.

  5. Anonymous07:07

    Nice report thanks, only one thing Košice is in Slovakia. ;)

    1. Indeed. Thank you for vigilant reading.


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