TRIP REPORT: Air Montenegro, Tivat - Ljubljana in business

Business cards are supposed to be nice and in a lot of cases, they are.

…but not all business cards are created equally…just like how nor all business classes are created equally.

“American Psycho” references aside (for now!) you can probably get where I’m going with today’s review…my review of Air Montenegro’s Business (sic) Class product!

Knowing what I know about all things Montenegro, I knew better than to expect…anything special from this product/flight leaving one to ask “why would you pay extra for a business class seat on Air Montenegro?”

It’s a good question and it came down to simple math. I needed an extra suitcase for my flight that day. Air Montenegro Business (sic) class allows 2 checked bags (instead of the 1 allowed in economy). Paying for an extra checked bag would have cost 45 euros while “upgrading” (heh) to Air Montenegro Business (sic) class only cost 5 euros more.

(NOTE: This wasn’t the exact ticket I purchased, but the price I paid versus the economy price is comparable)

So it was settled. The only question is, would my experience be in any way “business-ey”? The picture below (taken roughly 400 meters from the terminal on my way to the airport) serves as an omen to how “business-like” my trip would be.

(This is actually a pretty common sight around this airport. Despite the much higher concentration of pretentiousness, snobbery, and visions of grandeur from the clientele, a significant number of them refuse to chalk up the (maximum) 10 euros for a cab to (or from) the airport.)

Unlike my previous TIV-LJU flight, this Monday afternoon edition would be departing in the late afternoon (4:15 PM). As such, there was a much larger crowd assembled in and around the airport than there was for my 7:50 AM flight.

After being dropped off at 3:35, I wheeled my luggage to the designated business class check-in desk for MNE200 flight to Ljubljana.

As I approached the desk, the glum-faced attendant immediately started repeatedly chanting “2 hour before. 2 hour before,” as if in some kind of trance.

“That’s convenient. My flight is in 40 minutes,” I responded, hoisting my first bag onto the conveyor.

Flabbergasted that someone could be showing up only 40 minutes for a flight departing from an airport that is miniscule and depression inducing in equal portions, he quickly processed me. At this point, his previous chant started to sink in and now I was the flabbergasted one.

“Why would anyone show up to this airport two hours before their flight?! That’s just…nuts! Nuts! Isn’t it?! Two hours…here!”

Ignoring my subsiding conniption, he handed me my boarding pass and eagerly sent me on my way.

As before, I immediately about-faced and headed back to the Menzie’s Aviation desk to retrieve my Tivat Airport Business (sic) Lounge pass. I won’t go through the whole story again, but this airport is unique(-ly awful) in that one has to “register” at a completely different area of the airport prior to gaining admittance to the lounge.

I presented my Priority Pass membership card and, as the attendant “registered” me, I inquired as to what exactly she was doing. As it turns out, she was manually entering my name, card number, and expiration date into her Apple-1 machine. Acknowledging the medievality of this, but attempting to save face (on behalf of the airport) her white tee-clad colleague asked me how many airport lounges I had been in, obviously implying that this process wasn’t that rare.

“I don’t know; somewhere between 50 and 100. You certainly got something special here!” I responded before he started to go on about how it’s, like, better to stay in one place rather than traveling all the time…or something.

After a relatively short wait, I received my pass and headed to the security line. From here, I proceeded to passport control and, once through, excitedly made two quick lefts to find the entrance of the lounge.

If you’ll remember from my last trip to LJU, due to the “early” hour of the flight that day (10 minutes before 8), the Tivat Airport Business (sic) Lounge wasn’t open (at least I’m assuming that’s why it was closed). As I would very quickly find out, my previous experience with this lounge would actually turn out to be the more preferable one.

Entering the tiny space (there are, like, three, 2-person tables and a long, booth-like seat with a few chairs in front of it), I found the area to be completely full. I assume that much of the clientele (and by “much”, I mean 8 people since I would estimate the max capacity of the lounge is between 13 and 16.7 people) were English captives, their respective escapes being put on hold for hours due to the lengthy (over 5 hours!) delays their flights were experiencing.

The collection of cheap beer bottles combined with their blank, hopeless stares had created a Brando/Coppola/Conrad feeling to the space.

“The horror…the horror…”

Making my way to the small bar/serving counter area, I quickly realized that it was exponentially warmer in the lounge than it had been out in the gates/concourse area. If the air conditioning was actually on, it wasn’t working…it doesn’t get more “business” than that!

Approaching the counter, the especially sour-faced attendant gave me a look betraying her confusion as to why someone would be asking her…anything. Not wanting to spend any additional time in the hot box, I simply asked if I could take a couple of pictures of the bar/counter area behind her.

“What? Why you want picture of here?” she responded. Her surprised tone on par with that sour/confused facial expression that I now surmised to be a permanent fixture.

I mentioned this post and stated that I only wanted a couple of pictures to supplement it. I also explicitly mentioned that I would not be including any patrons in my pictures and that she could check my phone if she so desired.

“No…no” a random female patron started exclaiming. “No photo, no.”

This woman must have been a jedi as the attendant immediately started mundanely repeating, “no…no…no photo…no…these aren’t the…no…no photo…no”

I’m glad that in the Tivat Airport Business (sic) Lounge, the customer is always right, but it appears as though some animals are more equal than others.

I made a final plea, asking if she really wanted to let the vivid imaginations of the Ex-YU Aviation readers fill in the gaps. She continued shaking her head (along with Gospođa Obi Wan) and I walked out.

I took once last glance back, surprised that I didn’t turn into a pillar of salt upon doing so

Thankfully, boarding was just getting started and my wait in the always pleasant and orderly gate was minimal.

Upon scanning my boarding pass, I started my very business-like trek from the gate to the plane. I walk at a moderate pace and it took over 2 minutes to reach the aircraft (you can time me!)

Climbing up the steps of the Embrear-195, I assumed my seat in 2B. To me, the leg room didn’t appear to be significantly larger than in economy (they were, after all, the same seats). I placed my carry-on in the overhead container and observed the remaining passengers board.

For a long period of time, it appeared as though I would have the section to myself, although there was a woman who was curiously loitering in the first row, eyeing each passenger as they walked by. Prior to this, she had placed her (multiple) bags in the overhead bins directly above seats 1C and 2C, although for some strange (obvious) reason, she had not actually taken her seat.

Anticipating the inevitable, I was not surprised when she asked the flight attendant “Can I move to this seat? Nobody is sitting here.”

The (incredibly friendly) flight attendant was slightly taken aback by this request, especially since boarding hadn’t even finished. He pointed this out to her, before I interjected.

“I don’t think that’s fair; I paid for this seat. If you sit up here without paying for it, what did I pay for?”

Giving me that quasi-furious, quasi-“cutesy” gaze that may have gotten her some favorable treatment in her younger days, she grasped my shoulder (ugh) and asked “what did you pay for?” as she took her seat…one row back.

For the next few minutes, it seemed as though boarding had completed as the flow of passengers had halted. However, an airport attendant boarded, hauling a couple of crutches along with him. He was immediately followed by a couple more attendants, each hauling an end of a chair supporting a foot-casted passenger.

The MNE200 Business (sic) Class clientele had just doubled!

My new Swiss, peg-legged friend (I’ll refer to him as “Blackbeard”) had injured his foot falling off a scooter in Budva the previous day. Thankfully, the Tivat Airport staff were pretty good at helping him to and onto the aircraft. I inquired about the extent of the injury.

“The doctor said it’s just, like, a sprain, but I looked at the X-ray and I think it’s broken,” he said, his tone far too casual to betray even the driest sarcasm.

“Awww…are you a radiologist or something?” I asked.

“No, but when I look at the X-ray, it is really obvious something isn’t right,” he responded, directly leading into the inevitable discussion of his perils navigating the Montenegrin healthcare (sic) system.

As we talked, the Ukrainian flight attendant offered us a pre-flight beverage. I inquired about options (coffee, tea, cola, beer, liquor) before Blackbeard and I settled on waters.

We pulled back at exactly 4:13 and after a quick taxi, were up in the air at 4:16. It was a beautiful day high over the Bay of Kotor (unfortunately, the wonderful weather wouldn’t follow us).

We quickly reached cruising speed and at 4:24, meal service started. I wasn’t too surprised to find that, like my previous Air Montenegro flight, the meal consisted of mixed nuts and water. However, this time around, the portions were “Biznis-sized”.

I would estimate the “Biznis mix” of nuts was twice the size as the economy portion while the water was .5 liters (as opposed to .3 in economy).

Shortly into the flight, the weather started to turn and the sky quickly went grey. Although the storm system making its way through the area wasn’t nearly as lethal as the one that menaced Slovenia a few weeks prior, it made for a less-than-pleasant final 15 minutes to our journey.

Our descent began at 4:51. Blackbeard commented that he had checked the forecast and was expecting a bumpy ride. Almost immediately after stating this, intermittent bouts of mild turbulence began to rock the plane.

Minor annoyances aside, we touched down at rainy Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport at 5:07 a total of 51 minutes of flight time.

We made a short taxi and I was relieved (for my sake, but especially for Blackbeard’s sake) to see that we were actually approaching a gate with a flight bridge. A nice treat on a nasty day.

On a somewhat random note, the last time I was at this airport, there was an Avianca jet parked at a faraway gate. Today, there was one of the three planes from the Air Albania fleet in town.


Unfortunately, the storm had caused a bit of chaos in and around the airport. After the mandatory Balkan sequence of “jump up, collect all belongings, rush to the front, seatbelt sign turned off”, we waited…and waited…and waited…

The friendly flight attendant was keen to investigate and after a short meeting with the captain, he relayed the information that lightning in the area had sent the ground staff inside. We’d have to sit tight for a bit until operations could resume.

During this period, a woman from somewhere in the back of the plane had muscled her way towards the front and was now standing a couple rows behind me. The wannabee business class stowaway from earlier took an extreme disliking to this.

“We are not exiting. Go back to your seat!” she commanded, the irony completely lost on her (but not on me!)

After a 30-minute wait, a ground staff member could be spied making his way down the bridge and a few moments later, the door was opened. I bade farewell to Blackbeard and quickly made my way down the small maze-like inner workings of the airport.

For such a small area, there are a few sets of staircases, requiring multiple ascents and descents (I prepped Blackbeard for this during the flight) before opening into an immigration area that is rather quick and painless.

After clearing immigration, I proceeded to the baggage reclamation area where I waited approximately 10 minutes for my 2 checked bags to appear (the Tivat Airport staff member had actually marked these as priority baggage. Although they weren’t the first bags to come out, they were within the first 10-20).

I made my way to the small customs area and was predictably stopped by an officer.

“Where you come from?” he asked, after originally asking in Slovene.

“Tivat,” I replied, preparing myself for the scrutiny that this destination almost certainly required.

Quickly scanning his memory banks for the most stereotypical contraband to inquire about, the officer simply stated “Cigarettes?”

Laughing and shaking my head, he allowed me to pass. I made my way to the shuttle area where I was informed that I could no longer request a private transfer on the spot. I had previously secured a ride into town this way for the fixed priced of 40 euros. Instead, the shuttle attendant directed me outside to the taxi line.

“How bad are these guys going to screw me?” I inquired, knowing it was one of the more pointless questions.

“You always have a choice,” he replied, a dark smile on his face as I stepped out into the pouring rain.

This report is already longer than it should be so I won’t go into all of the gory details regarding my journey to my hotel (which included flooded streets, a kilometer walk with 4 bags to my hotel, and an 85 euro (including tip) final cost).

To sum things up, Air Montenegro Business (sic) Class isn’t that bad. You get a few more nuts and a little more H20 and, if you fly with them at just the right time and on the right route, you’ll get the Windrose crew as opposed to the “real” Air Montenegro personnel. Additionally, for those travelling with 2 or more checked bags, in many cases, it will simply be cheaper to book a business class seat than it will be to pay for extra baggage.

That Tivat Airport experience, though…yeesh. We’ll let one last “American Psycho” image finish things off, perfectly summing up how I feel every time I escape that airport.

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  1. Anonymous09:21

    Excellent report. I had a good laugh.

    On another note that business class is really shameful. I understand it was just a bit more expensive than economy but that completely defeats the purpose.

  2. Anonymous09:24

    Chasing a lady in colored dress ;-)

  3. Anonymous09:33

    Montenegro keeps winning!

  4. This is easily the most entertaining trip report I've read. I was thoroughly entertained at all times and you should really consider starting your own blog

    With that sad, it's also so very depressing to see the current state of TIV airport, which seems to be almost a replica of my hometown airport OHD. From the so called "biznis salon", to the oh-so-friendly staff and disgusting state of the building overall

    1. Glad you enjoyed, but to be honest, with people and facilities like this, the reports TRULY write themselves!

  5. Anonymous09:35

    Montenegro keeps winning?

  6. Anonymous09:57

    Great trip report.
    I would very much like to read a report from you for the future SKP-SJJ flight with A3.

    1. Glad you enjoyed! I have never been to Bosnia or Macedonia, but for you, I'll make it happen :)

    2. Anonymous10:38

      WOW, thank you Tom!

  7. Anonymous11:06

    What a dissaster of airport in montenegro .....

    1. Anonymous13:08

      Similar to Ohrid...

  8. Anonymous12:03

    I wanted to ask already last time: is anything cleaner in front of the terminal this year? Last year was a real dump, all around full of garbage. The part where the taxi drivers wait was covered with cigarette butts. I know it's harder to do something quickly with the terminal, but cleaning up around it shouldn't be a problem.

  9. Anonymous12:11

    85 euros for the ride to Ljubljana? Makes you sick, doesn’t it? Preorder your ride the next time.

    1. Anonymous12:14

      I had the same experience earlier this year. Got robbed by taxi which was at the taxi stand at Ljubljana Airport (white car with Taxi sign on top just like the rest of them). 80 euros to a hotel much before the city centre. Seems like Ljubljana has a problem with taxis at the airport.

    2. Yeah, 85 euros hurt (although it was "only" 70 before tip), but it could have been much worse. With so many streets closed for flooding, we drove around looking for a route to the hotel for another 15 minutes. The driver (who was, interestingly enough, a Montenegrin national), graciously stopped the meter, stating it wasn't my fault that we had to keep driving around. He even offered to drive all the way around the park (off the meter) to get me there!

    3. Anonymous13:13

      When i landed in LJU on 31st december last year, the streets were empty!!!! I felt like i am in the movie silent hills! I understand that it is 31st of December but its an airport for god sake! After half an hour one taxi came and asked 60 euros to Brdo in Ljubljana... From my experience i can say that the airport is poor connected to the city, i have never experienced something like that. Skopje has bus shuttle, Nis has public transport, as well as Bari, Bologna, Venice and Malta.

    4. Anonymous14:01

      Are there no buses at all from the airport?

    5. Anonymous19:16

      There are

    6. Buses run to the center of Ljubljana every hour for 3.70€.

  10. Anonymous12:33

    Great report! Just to correct you that's not an Air Albania plane, it operates for the Albanian government. It was in town for the ''Bled Strategic Forum'' I believe.

    1. Yes; you're right! I was reading about that summit. Good possibility THAT is what the plane was there for.

  11. Anonymous13:05

    Working nation keep winning!

  12. notLufthansa13:29

    This essay could easily be titled “From one shithole to another with shitty airliner and crappier taxi”. I work at one of those shitholes…
    Your taxi ride was a robbery in plain sight, next time preorder GoOpti or Markun shuttle. Fraport does nothing to protect passangers from this bastards (I have no kind word for them, as this is going on for at least 30 years).

    1. Yeah, the first time I went to LJU, I was able to walk up to GoOpti and get a private shuttle. Other times, I took a shared (with one other person) shuttle or got a rental it up to the game.

  13. Anonymous13:44

    Realistically, you got a fair amount of privileges for 5 eur - additional bag, lounge access, more water, more peanuts. Sounds like a fair value for me.

    1. Yeah, I agree for the most part (especially since I also got "priority" placed on my bags and they DID come out pretty quickly). I already had "lounge" access via Priority Pass and, being that the "lounge" was worse than awful, it really wasn't THAT much of a benefit. but otherwise, for 5 euros, yeah.

  14. Anonymous14:01

    The politeness and professionalism of the Montenegro Airport Personnel hasn't changed since the 90s.

  15. Anonymous15:09

    You don't have to live in MNE. It's your choice.

    1. Anonymous16:47

      We all deserve good services, don’t we? Or is your response: just leave. If so, that’s very irresponsible! And unfortunately many people already are leaving! And you want to chase away the few that remain? Excellent.

    2. Anonymous17:05

      For most of you it's funny that a small country doesn't have the money to build a new airport. Remember AB before Vinci. And I don't want to chase away people. I just say he don't have to fly with MNE and he don't have to live in MNE. Demokratija.

  16. Anonymous16:24

    hilarious trip report, thank you sir

  17. Anonymous23:23

    I need to check if we even have priority bag labels for MNE flights at LJU hahahahah biznis nuts hahahahahhahaha "po balkansko" at its finest

  18. Anonymous23:38

    Tom, thank you for this review. I have really enjoyed. I have to say your English is amazing. This was a challenging text to read, it looks my language skills are getting worse :(


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