TRIP REPORT: British Airways, London - Belgrade inaugural


British Airways’ first flight from London Heathrow to Belgrade Nikola Tesla since 2010

Scheduled departure time: 07:55
Actual take off time: 08:02
Scheduled landing time: 11:55
Actual landing time: 11:26
Aircraft: G-TTNH A320neo

The background

After a 13-year gap British Airways announced that they would return to Belgrade with three weekly departures. On the day the flights were announced I decided I would book myself a ticket on the inaugural service as I had to be in Belgrade around that time. In twenty years of visiting and living in Belgrade I’ve used countless combinations of getting to the Serbian capital, and remember using BA frequently in the past.

Although I don’t fly business class with regularity, during the booking process I saw that flights in Club Europe were being sold for £236 one-way. This price included two 23kg bags, fast track security control at Heathrow Terminal 5, lounge access in the airport as well as onboard food and drinks service. I paid an extra £20 or so to select a seat, and managed to reserve 2F which offers nice views of Novi Beograd if flight lands from the south. As it transpired on that day flights landed from the north, but it’s always worth having a window seat. I did a test booking for Wizz Air on a flight during the same week, and if one wanted two bags, fast track security, a seat reservation and lounge access in Luton the price would have been considerably more than BA club Europe. The competition on the route is very welcome.

The trip

My journey to Belgrade began the day before the flight. Due to living in East Anglia there is no way to get to Heathrow for flights departing before noon without either driving and parking, or staying the night in a hotel at the airport. This time I decided to stay the night at the airport and booked the Thistle hotel by Terminal 5. This hotel is a little old and dated, but totally acceptable. The great thing about the hotel is that one can use the automated driverless pods that link Terminal 5 with the car parks and hotel. A quick walk from the terminal takes one to the pods. One simply presses the start button and the pods drive themselves over a route that skirts the western end of the north runway. This method of transport feels very futuristic and one has splendid views of Terminal 5 and departing aircraft fly directly overhead.

I spent the late afternoon watching aircraft land from the nearby Premier Inn hotel which has a coffee shop and great place to watch aircraft, which at 15:00 every day alternate which runway they use. The Heathrow website provides information on which runway will be used on any specific day. Like clockwork at 15:00 one can detect a slight pause in landings as aircraft are directed to the alternate runway. The first landing just after this time was a British Airways A320 from Spain that had to make a very last-minute go-around.

The next morning my day began at 4am (which was actually too early to need to get up) and I took the pod back to the terminal. At £14 return it isn’t cheap, but worth it for anyone who enjoys transport technology.

Terminal 5 was very quiet at 5am, and from leaving my luggage and having a nice chat with one of the ground crew to passing security took less than 10 minutes.

The Club lounge North in Terminal 5 is spacious and was relatively quiet at the time. There was no wait to enter due to the time of the morning. There was a huge selection of food, from classic English breakfast items as well as fresh fruit and pastries. The coffee is also nice and there was a large selection of wines and spirits. Despite it being 5:15 in the morning there were quite a few people who were partaking in a morning drink. As dawn broke one has lovely views of the apron and one can see the variety of British Airways widebodies arriving from around the world.

At 7:00am, gate A19 was announced for today’s departure, and I went to see if there would be any announcement that the route was a (re)launch. Initially it appeared as if there wouldn’t be any fanfare but after a few minutes a lady from the British Airways PR team arrived and I overheard her telling the ground crew that she was going to decorate the gate entrance with Serbian flags. The ground staff seemed very pleased with this and didn’t realise it was a new route. Some of the staff waved Serbian flags and even took photos with passengers who really seemed to enjoy this.

At 7:15 boarding was announced, and it was announced that British Airways were proud to be returning to Belgrade after a pause. Boarding was announced by group, and it soon became clear that Club Europe was very busy as lots of passengers made the long walk down the jetway to the aircraft.

The crew on board included three Serbian speakers, which was a lovely touch. Passengers were greeted with “Dobro jutro” as well as good morning.

Although I fly a lot, it had been more than a year since my last flight with BA. The last flight I took with them was Madrid-Heathrow on an A319 which I felt had awful legroom. This A320neo had very pleasant legroom and seemed spotless and fresh. Club Europe stretched to 12 rows on this flight, which was an impressive number.

Passengers continued to board, and the charming crew handed out menus for the morning’s food and drink options.

The captain made an announcement saying that it was a pleasure for him to be returning to Belgrade after 13 years and that it was likely we would be able to push back from the stand ahead of time. Announcements were made in Serbian as well as English throughout the flight by the crew.

Engines were started at 07:47 and the taxi towards runaway 27R (the north runway) took ten minutes. Unlike at some other times of the day, there was no wait for take-off, and at 08:02 the four-year-old A320neo began its journey over to Serbia.

After take-off the flight climbed up through billowing clouds and headed due south towards the channel. Portsmouth and the Isle of Weight were clearly visible. Once cruising altitude was reached the captain made an announcement that the routing would take us over the center of Paris then towards Innsbruck, Ljubljana, north of Zagreb and approaching from Slavonia. During the flight there were several periods of moderate turbulence and 30 minutes or so before landing the captain gave an update that due to storms, they would make a slight northerly routing. This meant we skirted Slovenia and entered Serbian airspace over Somobr with lovely views of the Danube and Drava confluence as well as the Fruška Gora mountains.

Service began around 45 minutes after take-off and the crew began telling passengers in Club Europe that due to a mistake in Heathrow with the catering, they would be unable to offer the English Breakfast option. On the menu there were three options for breakfast, including a Vegetarian quiche and a cold cuts platter. As it transpired, they also didn’t have many of the cold cuts so most passengers were forced to have the quiche. The crew member was extremely apologetic and said she would pass feedback to the ground handling team. I wasn’t in the slightest bothered as English Breakfasts are not to my liking, but it might have been for some passengers.

Champagne was offered and glasses refilled throughout the flight. Breakfast was served comprising granola, melon as well as the cheese and spinach quiche which was pleasant. Croissants and rolls were also offered with jam and butter. All in the all the food was very nice.

Shortly before landing the captain announced we would touch down 25 minutes ahead of schedule. Wheels were extended at 11:17 local time and after 13 years BA flight 888 touched down on the new inserted runway at Nikola Tesla at 11:26. From the window it became clear that there was a sizable amount of the media present to greet the flight. The member of the media team who had decorated the gate at Heathrow had flown over too and I overheard her saying she had flags to be passed to the cockpit.

As the flight pulled up to the gate, a large contingent of media and staff were visible and many of the ground handlers were taking photos as the aircraft pulled up. There was no water-cannon salute which I’m not sure is common practise anymore but in reality, this is not a new route - rather a welcome return.

A few minutes after landing deboarding began and the staff gave a pleasant goodbye in both languages.

Belgrade Airport seemed fairly quiet, and after a quick walk up and down through the new corridors which offers a nice view of the (almost) finished front of the airport I arrived at the passport control. For once there was literally no line for passport control and it took seconds to pass and head down to the baggage area which is still under reconstruction.

It took a relatively long time for bags to arrive - perhaps half an hour, this is probably due to the events around the aircraft and felt long due to the fact it took less than 5 minutes from aircraft to the baggage hall. I was pleased to see a sign on the door on the bathrooms here that reconstruction of these bathrooms is pending. Not to dwell on it, but the current state of bathrooms in the baggage hall is well below standard and unpleasant both in smell and in appearance. Buckets should not have to be used as make-shift plumbing. But this aside, the airport is increasingly efficient and easy to navigate.

Personally I find the front of the airport unimaginative in design, dark and uninviting but it has certainly improved over the years, and any building redevelopment will always provoke varying reactions in people. Leaving the airport to find a Cargo taxi to the city remains somewhat of a scramble over semi-finished pavements and necessitates finding the drivers dodging the checks over parking. However it took a few seconds to find a car and within 25 minutes I was entering Belgrade and very happy to be back.

All in all British Airways provided a very solid service which I feel was well worth the price charged considering the onboard service and flying from Terminal 5 at Heathrow is as nice as it comes when flying from the UK.

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  1. Anonymous10:07

    These kind of articles/trip reports are the reason why I like to come back to this site and read it! Awesome report👏🏼

    1. Anonymous11:32

      I totally agree with you. What an amazing, Fantastic and informative report with great photos. Very well done. I have been in contact with BA's sales department with regard to the LHR- BEG flights to continue next season. I was told that the load factor is being monitored and this will decide the fate of this route. I was told to keep checking on for the summer timetable.

  2. Anonymous10:18

    Great report! It's fantastic that BA is back as we can now fly more comfortably to London!

    1. Anonymous10:34


    2. Anonymous14:07

      @10:18 By what exactly means is it more comfortable now compared to before BA started service? Do you mean A320 is more comfortable than A319? I personally don't see any difference.

    3. Anonymous14:17

      BA has newer planes and the A320neo is a spiffing aircraft to fly on.

    4. Anonymous16:06

      BA = BS airline with awful service. Neo flies but often doesn' t fly due to engine problems.

  3. Anonymous10:43


  4. Anonymous11:32

    Nice report. Do you know when BA will publish their Summer 2024 timetable as Belgrade's flights can be booked only until end of March?

  5. Anonymous11:38

    An excellent report! I look forward to taking the route on my next trip to Belgrade.

  6. Anonymous12:31

    Flights between Beograd and London need to still lower. If easyJet ever launches Gatwick it will be very good news. Heathrow is an expensive airport. That being said, TSR will soon lose its FRA flights in spring and now is the opportunity for JU to increase BEG-LHR and take advantage of traffic from TSR due to the huge RO diaspora in UK. TSR shrunk.

    1. Anonymous12:50

      Is it confirmed that Lufthansa is terminating TSR-FRA?

    2. Anonymous14:37

      Well, go to the LH website and you won't be able to book a flight starting end of March 2024.

  7. Anonymous13:04

    Flew this route on a monthly basis for a decade before it was terminated. Always good lf. Decision to stop the route was political.

  8. Anonymous 12.31...I have a good friend who is senior training captain with EasyJet. He said he had heard from commercial/route planning dept that EZY has been applying to fly from LGW for years.Never gets permission...I cannot imagine why not?.ha ha... if true


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