TRIP REPORT: Air Serbia/Air Connect, Belgrade - Vienna


Written by Veljko Marinković

Two weeks ago, I travelled via Air Serbia from Belgrade to Vienna and back. Since the Covid outbreak, this was my first flight on the ATR, and I was eager to experience the new 600 series. I bought the ticket using the Air Serbia mobile app for the first time. According to what I've seen, the cost of the ticket was about 10% less expensive on the mobile app than it was on the website (with a web profile), but the cost of the seat and checked baggage was cheaper on the web - a minor but noticeable difference. The mobile app made check-in fairly simple, but I had to use the website to do it for the return trip because, for some reason, the app failed to recognize the flight information and returned an error.

Since I received a message from Air Serbia informing me that I should arrive at the airport earlier owing to construction at the Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade, I arrived there about 2.5 hours earlier. Although there was already a traffic jam in front of the airport, things were considerably better within the check-in area. Given that the majority of the flights that day were scheduled between 6 and 7 a.m. The new area with the check-in counters looks fairly well and was not overcrowded. I have seen information indicating that check-in is at the old area of Terminal 2 between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Unfortunately, on the upper floor, where passport and security control are located, things were significantly different. The passenger line practically reached the stairs and was in a very small area that was panelled off. As it continued, it split up into multiple lines or so-called snakes. Fortunately, the trip's departure day was a Tuesday, so it wasn't too busy; however, I'm not sure how it will be in the summer. It took 35 minutes in total to pass both passport and security control. The construction of the new duty-free shop is behind the security control, thus it's possible that after the work is finished, this zone will be further expanded. Since I was warned by the security staff that taking photos is prohibited, I managed to take one photo, and I did not take any pictures of the airport facilities furthermore.

Boarding was done through bus gate C10b, which is located on the ground floor of the new terminal. There were 54 passengers on board, which represents a load factor of 75%. ATR 72-600, YU-ALY, an eight-year-old aircraft with 72 black leather seats, operated the flight. There is a noticeable difference in the appearance of the cabin compared to the previous versions of the ATR in the JU fleet, especially in terms of noise. However, I would stand by my previous report that the YU-ALV was one of the most comfortable aircraft I've flown with in terms of seat comfort. Given that the flight was only a little over an hour long, the seat peach was acceptable. Due to the 15-minute delay in our departure, we were 15 minutes late arriving in Vienna. Baby water and Nobilica cookies were served during the flight, and the crew was professional. Elevate Deli & Bar products were available, however, I didn't see any passengers place any orders.

Two days later, the Romanian Air Connect ATR, which Air Serbia has been leasing since March, was scheduled to fly the return JU605 flight. When I checked-in in the morning, the aircraft had already flown to Prague and was due to fly to Vienna in the evening. However, when I was getting ready to leave for the airport, I saw that the plane was flying as JU152 to Budapest, with a delay of 4 hours (it took off at 5 p.m. from Belgrade). I assumed some equipment changes given that Air Serbia did not send a message informing passengers of the delay and that the flight appeared to be on time on Vienna Airport's website. At the time of my arrival, the airport was mostly empty, in particular, the part of Terminal 1, section D, where only flights to Belgrade and Tel Aviv were planned for the evening hours. As a result, security and passport control were completed more quickly than I had anticipated, in a few minutes.

It became clear that the flight would be delayed as boarding time approached, but neither the check-in agents nor any information had shown up. The information board announced a new time, 10:40 p.m., at 9 p.m. when we were supposed to be in the air. This was false data because the plane left Belgrade at 9:20 p.m., thus it couldn't depart from Vienna at that time. There were about 15 transfer passengers on the flight, most of them going to Larnaca and Russia, so it was evident that they were worried about making it on time. Particularly among travellers heading to Kazan, given that the following flight wasn't for three days. I must point out that the majority of the airport's shops and restaurants closed at 9:00 p.m.

After a 2-hour and 45-minute delay, we finally took off, 30 minutes before midnight. I can say that the 8-year-old Air Connect ATR 72-600 (YR-ACB), which was operated on this flight, was in perfect condition. I want to emphasise the legroom, which was more than excellent. The aircraft seemed to have 2 seats fewer than Air Serbia’s aircraft on my inbound flight, as far as I could tell. I don’t know the exact load factor on this flight, but I would say it was between 70 to 80% full. It was interesting to listen to the crew (both male) address the passengers in English, Romanian, and notably Serbian and German. The crew was also quite friendly. Their dedication was especially apparent when a woman with two kids had to be split up due to a 2-2 ATR layout. The captain did not address passengers over the PA during the whole flight, and we did not get any info about the reasons for the delay. The rest of the flight was uneventful and included the usual service.

Forty minutes after midnight, with the moderate turbulence caused on by strong winds, we touched down at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport. Halfway down the runway, the ATR came to a stop, turned around, and backtracked toward the closest runway exit, which was just across from the A1 gate. A procedure that I had the chance to witness for the first time at the airport in Belgrade. We parked at a position behind gate A4. The purser asked passengers to remain seated from rows one to ten, due to the aircraft balance, but of course, everyone jumped immediately. Then we were driven by bus to gate A4's entrance. Passport control was deserted, so I swiftly got throughout.

The journey did not finish there, though. It was completely impossible to find a taxi that was available. As a result, a queue of passengers (I would suppose also from an earlier flight) formed at the improvised taxi stand in the parking lot next to the arrivals, exposed to the Košava wind gusts without any shelter. And so on for almost an hour.

And for the end, a little bit a spotting from the Vienna Airport visitor terrace: Korean Air, Queen of the Sky Boeing 747F, Turkish Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Georgian Airways Boeing 737-700, China Airlines Airbus A350, and Air Serbia ATR 72-600 YU-ALY.

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  1. Nemjee09:17

    Thank you for an interesting trip report. On Thursday I took some family members who flew to LCA on Wizz Air (not a single empty seat on the flight). When we reached the passport control I think there were 600 people waiting in line. Good thing is that they had 7 or 8 passport booths working so they passed in roughly 10 minutes. I think the current system will work fine so there won't be many delays as was the case in the past.

    I don't know what they are waiting for to open coffee shops in the newly built departures area. It's long overdue as right now you have only one coffee shop located in the old part of the building next to the JU office.

    1. Anonymous09:40

      Yeah, I flew to Hurghada on Friday 19th on an early morning Air Cairo flight and the line was ridiculous. Probably a thousand people all the way downstairs. It took less than an hour to clear everything so I guess considering the situation not the worst but it seems far from ideal having to wait on the stairs. Also I think there were only 4 or 5 passport control booths working at the time plus an additional two, one for fast lane and one for crews but both of them refused to process passengers from the big queue even when they had nothing else to do.

    2. Nemjee09:47

      Makes you wonder who is in charge of the booths. After all it's the Ministry of Interior that is responsible for staffing them but I am sure the airport can request additional policemen to process such a high volume of passengers.

      Btw did you fly on the A320 or the leased B737?

    3. Anonymous09:50

      Monday mornings are terrific. BEG need's some improvements ASAP

    4. Anonymous09:57

      @Nemjee it was on the alba star 737 which interestingly ended up diverting to BUD due to fog

    5. Anonymous11:35

      Thanks for sharing your experience, its exactly the same I uave had couple of weeks ago when i wrote jow the new areas are not spacious enough and not well designed.

    6. Anonymous12:10

      @Nemjee Well actually the first and last row were completely empty and when I asked about it I was told that they are reserved for the crew(?). Other than that I would say there was about 10-20 empty seats..

    7. Nemjee15:09

      Thank you!

  2. Anonymous09:39

    Nice report 👌

  3. Thank your report. I haven't flown with AirConnect and I was particulary interesting in reading your review of this section.

    1. Anonymous11:37

      The cabin of looks pretty modern and new, and love those blue lights

  4. Anonymous09:47

    Looking on past month or two, Budapest, Bucharest, Vienna had so many delays and cancellations. Hope these incoming Art's will improve situation. Otherwise Air Serbia will meltdown it's profit for paying compensations

    1. Anonymous10:01

      Prague too. And always Air Connect.

    2. Anonymous10:56

      @ Anon 09:47 JU is more Wizzier than Wizz air in paying. You will not get response in 6 months and you can dream on about getting compensation. So poor customer support

    3. Anonymous11:25

      @10:56 That is not true, I had a flight cancelled in November, made request within a week and got refunded in early March. I did however have to "remind" them that their legal window of 60 days to respond to a claim has passed. After that the compensation came within days.

    4. Anonymous16:45

      I waited about 7 months, reminding them many times, but got full compensation.

  5. Anonymous10:33

    Thanks for the great report, and pictures especially on the 747 and A350. For me, the disadvantage of the android application is that when searching for flight dates, there is no indication of which days these are. so you always have to switch between the calendar and the application, which usually kills itself in the background

  6. Anonymous10:58

    Air Serbia pod hitno treba da otkaze ugovor sa Air Connect! Opet su danas otkazali let! Dan ne prodje a da nisu napravili neki problem.

    1. Anonymous11:45

      Da ne pričamo o tome da se posade ne pojavljuju na vreme, da niko ne zna gde su, i da se NOC o tome obaveštava tek kada i sam shvati da posade nema nigde. Nadam se da će im naplatiti debele penale.

    2. Anonymous11:47

      Ne znam kakav ugovor imaju sa njima ali nemoguće da posle ovoliko propusta ne mogu da ga raskinu.

    3. Nemjee11:52

      Од како је дошао YR-ACB Ер Србија има огромне проблеме. Мислим да је време да се тражи замена ваздухоплова или компензација. Ово већ постаје неиздрживо. Не разумем зашто су Румуни повукли YR-ACA а нама оставили овај крш који више проводи времена на земљи него у ваздуху.

    4. Anonymous12:28

      Slažem se. Kašnjenja i otkazivanja doslovno na dnevnom nivou. Potpuno neprihvatljivo. Ne razumem i ti koji rade u Air Serbia zašto ovo ovoliko dugo tolerišu? Kakav je to ugovor kada vi posle ovakvih svakodnevnih ispada ne možete da ga otkažete.?

    5. Anonymous13:26

      Ispade da je za sva kašnjenja kriv YR-ACB a to što Er Srbiji nedostaje minimum jedan ATR nikom ništa, a planirali su broj letova sa tim avionom Pa baš ste objektivni. Lepo piše da je avion krpio BUD i da nije planiran da leti taj let i da je zato kasnio za VIE. Izgleda da su svi u Marekovim azijskim snovima, a malo ko u realnosti

    6. Nemjee14:02

      Ми не причамо о кашњењу из извештаја о лету већ о општем стању везано за румунски пропелерац. Тај ваздухоплов се редовно квари и то прави озбиљне проблеме фирми.

    7. Anonymous15:01

      Air Connect nije kriv za sva kasnjenja i otkazivanja ali jeste na dnevnom nivou za svoj avion. Evo za 24h cak tri leta su otkazana. Juce uvece jedan pa je JU uletela. Zatim ujutru za VIE koji je potpuno otkazan i sada je JU morala opet da uleti da se ne otkaze OTP. Zato ce Sarajevo da kasni a let za Sarajevo poprilicno pun transfera.
      Veceras ima Air Connect zakazan let za BUD ali videcemo da li ce i to otkazati pa ce morati JU da uleti ili ce u potpunosti biti otkazan.

    8. Anonymous21:02

      Sva tri danasnja leta je Air Connect otkazao. Videcemo da li ce nocas i Tiranu.

  7. Anonymous23:12

    Back track on runway is not uncommon and on atc discretion, mostly when traffic is very light…

  8. Anonymous15:29

    Very interesting trip report with great image coverage


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