TRIP REPORT: Air Serbia, Belgrade - Cairo


Flight: JU876
Aircraft type: A319 (YU-APN)
Scheduled departure time: 23:15
Actual departure time: 23:45
Scheduled arrival time: 03:10
Actual arrival time: 03:08

Air Serbia resumed flights to Cairo earlier this year and this week I flew with them for first time on this route. I had a business class ticket booked and on the day of departure I checked the seat map to see the load. I noticed that the business class section had been reduced from the original 2 rows to 1 row with 4 out of 4 business class seats occupied. This led me to believe that the economy section was likely full since business class was reduced and indeed the flight in economy was almost full.

The blue denotes occupied seats

I arrived at Belgrade Airport at around 21:00. Cairo is the first flight on Fridays within Air Serbia’s late-night wave of departures, with most of those taking off between midnight and 1AM. In total there were 13 Air Serbia flights between 23:00 and 1:00 that evening. I came to the desk (there was only one check-in desk working) and the agent said that her shift was ending and to wait ten minutes until people from the other shift started working. I think that Belgrade is a unique airport where you have to wait for staff to show up in between shifts and that no check-in procedures can be done in between. After they appeared the process went smoothly.

After passing passport and security, I went through the duty free which now has a small self-service cafe in the middle of the store.

Despite having a business class ticket with lounge access, there is no lounge to use at this time. The Air Serbia Premium Lounge closes at 20:00, while the Belgrade Airport Business Lounge closes at 22:00. I find it baffling that an airport and airline with so many flights between 22:00 and 01:00 does not have a lounge open at this time. Not to mention that Air Serbia serves transfer passengers as well who might spend the entire night at the airport until their flight in the morning (something I wouldn't wish on anyone considering that not even a single store works at the airport during the evening and early morning hours). Previously, it was possible to use the Belgrade Airport lounge if the Air Serbia lounge was closed. It was 21:15 and I wanted to have a drink. I entered the lounge and the rude receptionist told me, "We have absolutely nothing to do with Air Serbia. Go to their lounge". I told him their lounge was closed and he responded, "That has nothing to do with me". I told him that it used to be possible to use the Belgrade Airport lounge when the Air Serbia lounge was closed, to which he replied, "That's the first I hear of that. You can go to the Air Serbia transfer desk and ask them to issue you special permission to enter this lounge", at which point I just turned around. The entry to the Belgrade Airport lounge has also been moved to the other side of the lounge and is now through some corridor next to the toilets. All in all, it is disappointing that an airline like Air Serbia doesen't have an operational lounge at its home airport at 9PM on one of the busiest days of the week in their schedule.

I sat at the gate departures area and wanted to do some work on my laptop. My battery was running low so I wanted to plug in one of the in-seat power sockets. Before I even did so I guessed none would be working and none were. I tried around 5 different plugs on five different sets of chairs.

At 9PM at Belgrade Airport, which promotes itself as a transfer hub, other than the duty free, has no single store open.

I don't want to dwell on the negatives but I must say VINCI has a big problem and has to do something about their staff. Not a single person I interacted with had any basic customer service skills and all had a nasty attitude. As mentioned, the lady at check in left and yelled to people who were starting to arrive to wait for the next shift to check in. For 10 minutes there was literally no one at the check in desks. The man checking passports before entering the line for passport control took my passport and then held it in his hand for two minutes, not checking it but angrily yelling at his colleague how his roster is unfair. This lasted for two minutes until his colleague said, "Give the man his passport back". At passport control, the policeman took a minute before taking my passport or acknowledging my existence as he was flicking through his phone. At security, the guy watching the x-ray screens was simultaneously chatting on his mobile. And I already mentioned the guy at the lounge. The sad thing is all of them, with exception to the lounge guy, are, I would guess, in their late 20s or early 30s and all were completely disinterested in their job.

Boarding began on time at 22:45. Upon boarding I was surprised to see the curtain positioned at the third row with economy class seats beginning from the second. I realised we would basically all be in the same cabin which is fine but a bit bizarre (the curtain wasn't drawn at any point). The seats in the first row are not too comfortable with less legroom than the second row as it is a bulkhead seat and they are slightly smaller in width because the table is in the armrest.

Photo taken during boarding of the rows behind row 1

Upon boarding the crew distributed menus and a few minutes later took the meal and drink selection.

We were slightly delayed as we were waiting for some transfer passengers. The passenger structure on this flight was interesting. There were lots of Egyptians with families, a lot of transfer passengers (just behind me were two Italian ladies and in the second row across a German couple), some Serbs and, surprisingly a lot of Chinese or Far East Asian passengers.

Prior to pushback the captain provided us with flight information and apologised for the delay due to the transfers. We would make up the time as we had a half an hour shorter flight time.

We had a quick taxi to the runway and took off. Very shortly after take off all-female crew began service. Economy passengers got a large complimentary sandwich, after which the paid service began. We were also served our meals in the first row. I chose the fish, and the food was surprisingly tasty and wasn't dry. Trays were also cleared promptly, and the crew asked if we wanted anything else. Overall, the crew was very pleasant and attentive.

The rest of the flight was very uneventful. The crew dimmed the lights so passengers could nap. I noticed that the crew only allowed business class passengers to use the front lavatory despite the single-cabin set-up. Before landing we were issued arrival cards for Egypt.

We landed exactly on schedule and parked at the gate. I was the first off the plane and the rest was a breeze. Together with the wait to pick up my luggage and customs control it took 25 minutes until I was curbside.

After picking up my luggage I met the driver waiting for me, since I pre-ordered a ride through Air Serbia's website. This is a new and relatively recent feature on their site and it worked smoothly. Obviously Air Serbia uses a third-party provider for the rides but it is easy to just book over the Air Serbia website and someone from the ride service gets in contact with you straight away. The reason I booked it in the first place is because I didn't feel like haggling with a taxi driver at Cairo Airport at 4AM and it was really cheap anyway.

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  1. Anonymous09:09

    That's sad. ASL want to grow and yet can't force BEG to get its act together and become a transfer-friendly airport.

    1. Anonymous11:58


    2. Anonymous11:59

      That's absolutely horrible. But that 8PM lounge closing is simply mind-boggling. It should be 24h, they could get a lot of customers from other airlines.

    3. Anonymous12:00

      It used to be open 24h once upon a time

    4. Anonymous12:16

      Who took this stupid 8PM decision?

    5. Anonymous12:18

      The management in 2017 when they culled half of their network to avoid bankruptcy.

    6. Anonymous12:59

      Why not 7PM or 6PM?

    7. Anonymous15:19

      Marek&Vinci should be reading this. You want a real business and a real competitor to the "big boys"? EVERYTHING has to stay open 7/24

    8. Anonymous15:39


    9. Nemjee17:49

      The airport is generally useless. Just look at the situation with cafes in the check-in area. Terminal extension was opened months ago and they still haven't opened a single new coffee shop. You are forced to go to that horrible one between T1 and T2.

      It's becoming clear Vinci was a bad choice. Incheon should have won the concession.

    10. Anonymous20:20

      I don't necessarily agree with the 24 hours vibe but yes the business lounge has to be open until the last of the departures/arrivals for the night has cleared. So maybe a few hours of closed time is OK. Closing at 8PM and letting your business class pax wander around the toilets = definitely not OK.

    11. Anonymous21:37

      It's extremely stupid.

    12. Anonymous08:52

      Nemjee Vinci operates 21 airports. Are the other 20 similarly mismanaged?
      I highly doubt that Gatwick airport for example is performing as bad as BEG under Vinci.

    13. Nemjee09:47

      I do not know how other airports are managed but I read online that people are complaining about LIS.
      Only good thing Vinci did was that it started expanding the terminal on time. Without it this summer would have been an even bigger disaster. Everything else they did is up to debate.

  2. Anonymous09:17

    Nice and honest report. I'm glad to see JU's Cairo flight almost full in October and it's interesting the passenger structure you observed.

    As for BEG I couldn't agree more and I have had similar experiences. The staff is beyond rude, beyond lazy, and couldn't be bothered with anything with what they do. If they are unhappy with their pay and work conditions there are so many jobs currently on offer in every sector.

  3. Anonymous09:41

    Great report. I agree with the observation that an airport that has middle of the night departures and connections should have some nice time offering u til say 01:00. A pleasent working bar isnt that hard to orgnaise? Belgrade is FULL of great bar/restaurant companies and yet the airport really feels unfriendly and very very poorly designed. The food looks good on the flight however!

    1. Nemjee17:51

      LCA has a few middle of the night departures outside the summer season. What they do is once you are past the passport control, most places are closed but a few that are centrally located are open 24h. BEG should do the same.

      Places that are on Tesla's Square have to be open nonstop.

    2. Anonymous18:28

      Staying open at night makes no business sense for the shops/bars. In particular that people opting for night flights are typically those chasing the lowest fares and they do not overspend at airports.

      In order to keep those shops/bars open at night, the airport would have to include appropriate obligations in the lease agreements with shops/bars. Still that would mean losses for shops/bars and thus reduce their willingness to pay higher rent to Vinci. For this reason Vinci has no interest in including such commitment.

    3. Nemjee18:55

      Huh? No, night flights are attractive to those who wish to have a whole day at their destination, especially businessmen. Like that they can head to the airport late in the afternoon and there is no need to spend another night in the hotel. Also night flights are also convenient if someone has to make a day trip.

    4. Anonymous18:59

      (There is no need to spend another night in the hotel) - in other words they are saving money, meaning they won't spend much at the ariport as anon 18.28 said. On the other hand, I am not saying there should't be one or two cafes opened all night, as well as VIP lounge, of course...

    5. Anonymous20:46

      Huh? How is flying at night convenient for business? Business convenient options: a) you have a full working day after which you go to the airport and land at your destination at 9-11pm, go to a hotel, have a nice sleep and start meetings early in the morning; b) you get up earlier and take a flight at 6-7am, you are at your destination and start meetings by 9-10am at the latest, after that you take a flight back in the late evening and both nights you sleep in your own bed. This is what justifies premium price for the air ticket. Flying at night is a good option only to save a couple of bucks (unless there are no other options to get to a destination or you fly longhaul).

      If this made money, all those shops/bars would be open at night, and you see they are closed.

      anon 18:28

    6. Anonymous21:00

      I don't think anyone said all stored should be open. What people are saying that at least one should. Or why not open a Maxi shop and go. Would solve several problems.

    7. Nemjee00:20

      If someone is going from SKG to Paris for business he can be there by 09.20. Then he can do his business and catch a flight back in the evening after 20.00 and be back in Thessaloniki after 02.00.

      If night flights were so low yielding then airlines with high costs (KL, LH, SK...) wouldn't rush to launch them.

    8. Anonymous08:59

      Nemjee exactly!
      Airports all over Europe with a lot less pax than BEG somehow manage to keep a few cafes, bars and restaurants open throughout the night.
      And of course lounges are open ton all hours that the airline flies.
      Why Vinci AND Air Serbia mistreat their customers like that?
      I am guessing because they have the monopoly in our market.

    9. Nemjee09:49

      Well the airport is still a construction site and from what I understood Tesla Square will undergo a major transformation. Hopefully once that is completed they will have some coffee shops or restaurants that will be open 24h.

  4. Finally a proper trip report.Well done

    1. Anonymous17:08

      What you mean finally?

    2. Anonymous10:11


  5. Anonymous10:29


  6. Anonymous10:33

    Super TR

  7. Anonymous11:31

    Nice trip report, the terminal during the night is beautiful :)

  8. Anonymous12:23

    Also had a horrible experience the other night, while my flight to Skopje was delayed. Since last call was around 23:50, all the shops and restaurants were already closed or were closing the day down. Besides that, which is even more crazy, is that none of the vending machines along the corridors accept credit cards - only cash! As I only came from Skopje earlier that day, and was going back immediately, I had no cash, so, with flight delay of 2.5 hours I was dry for almost 3 hours on the goddamn airport. Worst part was being kept in the bus in front of the plane for 50 minutes and then dumped back at the gate for another 2 hours without a single explanation or information, except - do not leave the gate.

  9. Anonymous12:48

    I like this report. It gives positives and negatives of the experience. I know airlines and airports read this site and hopefully they see this report and try to improve some things.

  10. Anonymous13:40

    Small thing but it does look cheap, water cup should be glass too.

  11. Anonymous13:51

    not surprised at the lack of customer service....i would probably be a fussy to work those hours

    1. Nemjee17:54

      Well these people knew what kind of shifts there are when they applied for the job. JU crew seems to have been pleasant enough and they had 'worse' working hours than the airport staff.

    2. Anonymous20:22

      They're welcome to go work in the fields - no one has to dig potatoes in the middle of the night. They *chose* this job

    3. Anonymous09:03

      Anonymous 20:22

  12. Anonymous14:36

    Air Serbia should brink back to Silver Members possibility to use JU lounge!

    1. Anonymous19:56

      Especially so with Etihad gone and being extremely difficult to get Gold, not to mention Platinum. But on the other hand 3/4 times I tried to visit in past two months there was “lounge is full, JU business class pax only” in front of it. So there’s that. They desperately need a new lounge, and in the C pier.

    2. Anonymous20:47

      I honestly doubt about lounge being full.

    3. Anonymous21:02

      It is true. Lounge is constantly full and at full capacity. It is also understaffed. Even the receptionist at the entry is clearing plates.

    4. Anonymous21:46

      So what's the reason they're closing it at 8PM?

    5. Anonymous09:07

      Lounge is too small for JU's current traffic.

      @Anon 21:46
      The reason is to save money wherever they can.
      it is a short sighted plan that saves you a few salaries and electricity BUT in the long term it will cost the airline a lot more by loss of business. The customers they are upsetting the most are those frequent flyers that pay the most expensive tickets.

  13. Anonymous15:44

    What would be the reason Vinci is oblivious to customer service problems and nonchalant when it comes to expanding business hours and opening new stores or restaurants at the airport?

    1. Anonymous17:43

      As if concession agreement provdes them with fixed income regardless of actual business performance.

  14. Anonymous16:04

    I’m using BEG to transfer through in a couple of weeks for the very first time. After reading this… The staff at the airport doesn’t inspire me with confidence.

    1. Anonymous17:11

      Be brave. Let us know how it went.

  15. Anonymous17:19

    Good and realistic report. Hopefully JU upgrades to a more modern aircraft than the A319. It used to be quite popular at the time.
    As in many Balkan countries, Customer Service needs to be improved. Precisely, because of the busy midnight wave, the airport personnel must be more alert or Vinci should apply a more reasonable night shift and not making them be overloaded, hence demotivated. For example night shift that begins at 21h.
    OT: In the tableau, Varna appears in the midnight wave, it seems that it worked well for JU as it is now bookable for summer 2024, which is good news.

    1. Anonymous17:38

      "Hopefully JU upgrades to a more modern aircraft than the A319"

      Just as modern as A319neo but with more reliable engines. You are welcome.

  16. Nemjee17:56

    Very good trip report, thank you.

    Hopefully JU improves their business class product. They should at least place a blanket and a pillow on those night flights as well as early morning departures. I doubt it costs that much but many passengers would appreciate it.

  17. Adventurer09:52

    Does anyone know, why Air Serbia flies to Cairo exclusively during the night? To my knowledge, it has been like that years before pandemic.

    1. Nemjee09:55

      Because with a night flight they can maximize connectivity. BEG-CAI connects to a vast majority of their flights from the afternoon wave while CAI-BEG connects onto their morning wave. If you look at CAI departures board you will see that many carriers have similar times like JU, this is the case with all of MENA.

      They could always try and schedule it at around 14.00 but connectivity would be limited on the way back.

    2. Anonymous11:54

      Cause it's less hot to arrive by night 😂.


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