Air Serbia has long been an airline I wanted to try out. Air Serbia is one of the success stories of the Etihad Equity Partnership. Alitalia, Air Berlin, and even Etihad haven’t been able to produce any stable profits. Air Serbia is a joint venture between the Serbian government and Etihad. This is similar to Sri Lankan which was the brainchild of the early Emirates and the Sri Lankan government.
Air Serbia is using its regional hub – Belgrade’s Nikola Teslas airport for mostly regional flights. Etihad provides a connection to Abu Dhabi and Air Serbia is using an Etihad plane for their direct service to New York. However, Emirates and Qatar Airways have added direct service to Belgrade as well to make life harder for the fledgling airline.
My flight was scheduled for 3 PM and check-in would open on the dot at 1 PM and I was done in 20 seconds. So far so good.
I had looked up the same flight the days prior and it was delayed most days – typically by 45 minutes. I was early anyway and sat down in the rather nice Priority Pass lounge at Dubrovnik airport (though the WiFi was slow).
No Air Serbia plane had appeared at 3 PM and I was getting a little nervous – maybe there was another side of this airport? No, indeed our plane would come in almost an hour later and would be 90 minutes delayed when we finally took off.
Boarding was rather efficient and nobody balked at my 10kg carry-on.
The plane looked quite nice with the all-leather seats. It was almost 100% full with a very international crowd. Neither the pilots or cabin crew made any announcement regarding the delay – it seemed very much a constant. I found this a bit too lackadaisical – a schedule is there for everyone to save time – Air Serbia has no problem wasting your time – every day – when flying to or from Dubrovnik seemingly.
There was a small snack and soft drink available on this short flight just under 200 miles. There is an onboard entertainment system with movies on your device – however, you need to download the Air Serbia app to use it.
There is WiFi as well but rather expensive per Megabyte.
We got a direct approach onto the runway in Belgrade on a clear, sunny day with great views. Immigration was quick as well.
In sum, I had higher expectations from Air Serbia. Being late once is no big deal but late all the time when it is sunny and clear at all airports shows a lack of care for passenger needs.
The flight itself was perfectly acceptable – though there is not much differentiation to most Economy seats in Europe. I felt the seat pitch was a bit wider.
Was this flight better than Wizzair? Yes likely but not by much (and it was much more expensive).
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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]
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