TRIP REPORT: Air Serbia, Belgrade - Chicago


I had the opportunity to fly on Air Serbia’s inaugural flight between Belgrade and Chicago this Wednesday. I had not flown long haul with Air Serbia since 2018, although I did have the chance to fly on their A330-200s on short-haul flights, once to Barcelona and once to Zurich. I booked my ticket to Chicago in March, and, at the time, business class was showing as sold out (in both directions). This was the case until Tuesday evening, the night before the flight, when one seat opened up.

Flight JU506 on Wednesday has a scheduled departure time of 06:50 AM so I arrived at the airport at around 4:30 and headed to the Air Serbia ticketing desk, where I inquired if it would be possible to pay the fare difference to upgrade to business class (since the one available seat was still open that morning). The lady working at the ticketing desk was extremely kind, she checked, called someone to see if it is possible and it was. It took just a few minutes and I headed to check-in which was done at Terminal 1. The entire row of check-in desks was dedicated to the Chicago flight. Air Serbia has slightly tweaked the design of its boarding passes. It is no longer albino white as they have added some colour.

Since it was morning time and just before Air Serbia’s wave of departures, passport control was busy, but with business class you can use the fast track lane, which is now functioning in its full capacity unlike before, as you get both a dedicated lane for passport control and centralised security check, so it took less than a few minutes.

I headed to the gate. The launch ceremony was taking place at gate C12/13 while the flight boarded at C11. Two boarding bridges were used, with one dedicated to business class and the other for economy passengers.

We were greeted by the smiling crew. I managed to get seat 6G, which on the YU-ARB A330-200 is a middle aisle seat. Considering there was just one seat available, I didn’t really have much to choose from. At each seat there was a bottle of water, headphones, blanket, pillow, menu and new amenity kits. The amenity kits, which have not been available for some time, contain an eye mask, socks, dental kit, hand cream and lip balm. I like their design and the contents is good too.

The menu wasn’t really extensive and nowhere near to what it used to be a few years ago. I would consider three meal choices to be the norm in business class on a 10 hour flight, while only two were offered. Just for reference, short haul business class on Air Serbia has three meal choices. Also, I noticed there was no more dine-anytime options. The menu clearly states the second meal is served prior to landing and there are no more snacks which used to be available in the past. Even more disappointing that for the second meal you get no choice at all – there is just one on offer. To me, it seems this is more to do with the catering provider, since the menu on the return flight (which is listed) is significantly more extensive with three meal choices and a selection for the second meal too. So, it is obvious that catering in Chicago is at a much higher level than the one in Belgrade and this seems to be an issue with all airlines taking on catering in Belgrade.

The meal and beverage choices were taken prior to departure. Also, before take off we were served a welcome drink – one could choose between water, juices and champagne.

We had a short taxi to the runway and were on our way to Chicago. Shortly after, the crew came by with drinks and a bowl of mixed cashews and almonds.

Afterwards, the crew started the meal service. The meal is served on a tray. I chose the “muffin” which tasted nice but the presentation has also been downgraded compared to the past when everything was served individually on the table, the plates were larger etc. The crew was attentive, polite and quick to clear trays when each passenger was done with their meal. Afterwards all the passengers were given a certificate that they were on the inaugural flight and a “orasnica” cookie which was delicious. The crew then shut the window blinds at each seat and turned off the lights so passengers could get some rest.

Considering I woke up at 3.30 and had little sleep, I fell asleep quickly after the meal. The seat itself is comfortable and lie-flat. All the seat controls were responsive, there is a massage feature too, USB and power plug. There is also quite a lot of storage space on the side for shoes, chargers etc. Upon request, you can also get Air Serbia PJ’s and slippers. I have read that this wasn’t available for some time so it is nice to see it is back.



Seat when fully flat

I had a good 6 hours of quality sleep and I really have to say that the seat was comfortable since I didn’t wake up once or feel tired afterwards. In terms of the entertainment system, it isn’t extensive but there are Hollywood movies, Serbian movies, as well as TV shows by genre. I didn’t watch anything but the touch screen was really responsive. You can also control the TV through the remote. There is no Wi-Fi on board.

Around 2 hours prior to landing, the crew asked passengers if they would like the second meal. As I said there is no selection, and the meal wasn’t very tasty and the presentation also left a lot to be desired.

The loo was clean with some basic amenities.

We started our descent around 40 minutes prior to arrival and the crew started to prepare the cabin for landing.

We touched down at O’Hare Airport ahead of schedule and the passengers applauded and rightly so considering the occasion. We didn’t taxi for too long and as we turned to park at the gate, we were greeted by a water cannon salute.

Overall, the flight was good. I don’t remember ever sleeping for so long on a flight, so it says a lot about the seat and its comfort. I like the new amenity kits, the quality blanket and the return of PJs. The big downside is the catering, which, ironically used to be one of Air Serbia’s strong points. But then again, this doesn’t seem so much of an airline issue as a provider issue and unfortunately there is a single catering provider in Belgrade. Hopefully this will be sorted in the future.

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  1. JU520 BEGLAX08:56

    Disappointing service for Business Class, this definitely needs to improve. Nothing worse than if u see that airlines are saving on Business class travel, especially on your long haul product.
    That gentleman with the grey pullover on the right, I ve seen on a photo of an A330 JU flight before, seating at the exact same location.

    1. Anonymous09:27

      Yeah, the can perk this up for sure, and it's not a matter of costs.
      The menu was pretty decent actually, they only need to work on the presentation: hardware is there- good food, you only need to work on the software: train the crew to do a better job in the food presentation.
      What's also very common and not a cost factor is cheese after the main meal, and snacks inbetween meals (which I always enjoy).
      They could also improve the wine card... like ok, you've got 3 colors of wine with 1 variety of each... or only 2 beer varieties.. I mean c'mon...
      could also improve the toiletries.. some hand creme would not be bad (since you tend to wash hands so often when travelling, they tend to get dry)
      In summary, not a big effort and costs to improve the product.

    2. JU520 BEGLAX10:04

      Absolutely. Snacks in between are crucial and the prosecco is a joke. A bottle costs 9 EUR
      Flying business long haul should be an enjoying experience, especially if u hve just a limited long haul network. Thats basically yr ID. So dont save there, but have the market talk about yr product. People pay up to 7 to 8000 USD for a return ticket and u are saving on food and prosecco? Btw a regular Economy Class Class hot meal long haul at Gate Gormet in ZRH costs the airline apx 1.75 CHF. (Just that plate with the hot meal). So u see how ridiculous these savings are

    3. Anonymous10:29

      Plus JU isn't exactly cheap on the route, you can barely find return fares for less than $3000.

    4. Vlad12:42

      The wine list needs serious improvements. This is supermarket stuff.

    5. Anonymous14:21

      Food is much better than in 2016 it was totally garbage then.

    6. Anonymous18:55

      The wine mist is good: alle these Serbian quality brands. But they would need to offer Champagne and not just Prosecco. Snacks in between are important. Cheese should also be offered.

    7. Anonymous19:41

      There is no need for Champagne, there are plenty of Serbian sparkling wines prepared according to the same method.

    8. Vlad22:04

      "The wine mist is good: alle these Serbian quality brands."

      There are much better labels from the same wineries. As I said, this is supermarket stuff. A business class bottle of wine shouldn't cost less than €20.

    9. Anonymous22:15

      @Vlad: Fully agree! Maybe short-haul, but even there shameful.

  2. Anonymous09:58

    Great report. A pity that the business class product went down. That needs to be improved ASAP if they consider positioning themselves as a serious long haul airline. No W-Fi onboard is unacceptable either! In your opinion, what was the LF on that flight?

  3. Anonymous10:39

  4. Anonymous11:04

    The catering situation at BEG is very problematic.
    Something needs to change.

    1. Anonymous11:23


    2. JU520 BEGLAX11:36

      No wonder if u fire domestic people and hire cheap labour fm Nepal. U get what u pay for. Last time Boris commented this is capitalism, yes the new kind of neoliberal and often totalitarian capitalism which brought so much damage to the western world since 1990.
      Serbian catering staff probl earns around 750-900 EUR per month. If u cant pay those amounts u def do things wrong! And there is not even direct competition, so you do things even super wrong!

    3. Boris21:42

      Yes, i would even add a predatory capitalism. Predatory to a labour and consumers at the same time😊
      I used to work in hotel and restaurant management long time ago and i have not gone to any restaurant for over 4-5 years in north america. It is almost no pleasure and only pain to observe service and food being served.

    4. Anonymous21:49

      So it's painful for you to go to restaurants in North America? Bro, where you've been a going?

    5. Anonymous22:08

      @ JU520 BEGLAX

      The food domestic labour was producing in the past few years wasn't great either. I am not blaming that on the staff (!!). But I blame the responsible airline and their recipes from the 80'. JAT times are over - JU needs to measure themselves with the global market. So many things would be possible, but no one seems to have the creativity and courage to build a truly Serbian brand. There are so many local brands and ingredients that could contribute to the brand, but we hardly see any of them with JU.

    6. Boris23:51

      New York, Vegas, Miami, Vancouver…. you name it bro!
      For the fraction of cost I cook for myself on vacations. Unless you go Michelin star restaurant its mediocre food. But you have to understand how the food ingredients are sourced, stored, and prepared and then you will know that there is minimal nutritional values left. In Airline catering there are some objective limitations but it could be improved.

    7. Anonymous05:40

      ok bro, i hear you, respect.

    8. JU520 BEGLAX21:57

      @ Anonymous 2208h and Boris

      Fully agree with u both. JU is Ambassador of Serbia and Balkans/Adriatic Region. It would be very easy to welcome passengers with local dishes or traditions, especially since the region has so much to offer. And yep it nerves me too, to see how uncreative airlines have become. Often it is just a small gesture which has big efforts.

  5. Anonymous11:24

    Very good report!👏🏼

  6. Anonymous14:43

    I literally opened Ex Yu this morning hoping to find a Chicago flight report! The return menu is exponentially better - JU needs to contract another catering company in BEG or start one up again. No wifi is a major problem. I will wait for the initial fares to go down a little and will certainly be flying this route regularly.

    1. Anonymous19:33

      Your lucky day bro!

    2. Anonymous21:47

      If the initial sales are strong and inflation is ongoing, fare will not go down. Unless you can wait to fly in February.

  7. Anonymous17:21

    Great trip report as always Ex Yu! Golden standard in trip reports. Lovely choice of a word to describe a lavatory on a US flight.

    Service and amenities took a hit in previous years but are coming back. Unlike some comments above, frequent fliers would notice new amenity kit, availability slippers and jammies. Catering will have to resolve itself one way or another.

  8. Anonymous17:23

    The better contract "2 Jelena" restaurant on the outbound flight rather than present this shame to business class passengers. This is below any expectation for such a flight and associated cost! Choice of 2 beers is fine, most airlines do not offer more than that.

    1. Anonymous09:25

      Yes they do. Brussels Airlines has a whole beer section with, if not mistaken 10+ varieties

    2. Anonymous14:21

      Beer is a touch of Belgium so no wonder they have a wider list as it is their national pride however 2 types of beer is almost a standard on other carriers.

  9. Anonymous19:23

    The catering is a joke, it already needed improvement when I flew to JFK in Dec21. But this went completely downhill since. They could make up the catering situation with the beverage choice or snacks if they wanted to, but there seems to be no will (or no need and the tickets sell anyway...).

    1. Anonymous21:44

      If you read the trip report you would know it's not for the lack of will. But why not just post a comment based on a headline?

    2. Anonymous21:57

      The catering isn't a lack of will, the circumstances are as they are with Aerodrom Ketering. But they could instead improve on the things that don't come out of a catering kitchen. That is simple purchasing.

    3. Anonymous22:47

      Snacks are nor FA's responsibility. It's all catering.

  10. Anonymous03:06

    catering is a disgrace and a joke for business..presentation selection and quality.. and champagne is needed and not cheap proseco.. good enough for economy not more

    1. Anonymous03:48

      Catering is not a disgrace but just temporarily below norm - you get a choice of 2 meals instead of three etc. Champaine is served as a welcome drink. You have obviously not been on this flight. Jealous much?

      Best of all, menu choices on the return trip seem to be world class.

    2. Anonymous05:38


    3. Anonymous15:41

      My internet typewriter doesn't have a spell check.


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