There are no non-stops to Tivat Montenegro from Prague, so on a recent trip, I had made my way to Belgrade on an Air Serbia ATR-72-500. On my previous flight, I was impressed with what the airline had to offer in economy on a turboprop and I was very much looking forward to see what Air Serbia had in their premium cabin on an Airbus A319.
I had arranged to learn more about the airline for my review, and when I landed at the Nikola Telsa Airport (TIV), I was greeted by Ivana with the airline. I was quickly escorted to the airline’s Business Club to wait for my next leg.
The lounge was comfortable and nicely decorated, but I felt that the food was a little uninspiring. It didn’t surprise me too much, that the lounge was not actually owned or operated by Air Serbia.
I imagine that the lounge will be improved as Belgrade builds its status as a regional hub.
Once again, security is at the gate, which is not the airline’s fault, but I’d much prefer truly sterile transits. It was, however, time to preboard the cabin to take some photos. Alas, my camera flash went nuts and stopped working. Not to worry, though, our faithful European Correspondent Jacob Pfleger was on board with me and stepped in to save the day!
Due to a nosewheel tire change, we had to rush through the cabin to avoid a flight delay, but we did it! It was worth it. As you can see business class looks quite comfortable and there is even a fold-out leg rest.
The pitch is roughly 38″, which is well above almost all the other European narrowbody competition.
It was then time for the fineries to begin. Remember what I told you about my flash? Still nothing. Thankfully Jacob was there to capture the pre-departure glassware and cold towel. Remember, this is a flight with an air time of 35 minutes — I was impressed.
Pre-departure beverages in real glassware, with the potential for refills! Did I die and wake up in airline heaven? Who goes to all this trouble for a 35-minute flight!? Air Serbia, it’d seem.
During the safety demo, we were instructed to use the flight-attendant call button should we need anything. Unlike some airlines where such a press is assumed an error and must be deactivated, we were encouraged.
I thought that when the lead cabin attendant, Gordana, had mentioned a snack that we’d get a cookie or something. Nope, wrong again.
Instead, a high-end snack was provided. I was worried I would not have time to eat all of it!
The goat cheese was outstanding; just the right amount of creaminess and garlic. I’ve had much worse food in fancy restaurants. The corn cake — superb. There was nothing wrong, nothing out of balance. Someone thought hard about how to make a 35-minute flight snack special. It was the best airline catering I’ve ever had.
It gets better.
I’ve flown a certain American airline from Seattle to Miami on an overnight flight in business (first) class, and was not so much as offered even the thinnest of pillows. But on this short flight, I was given a nice big pillow and blanket.
Air Serbia is disrupting what we thought could be done in terms of European flying.
The pillow was nice, but I wasn’t planning on sleeping — especially with those views from the window! Obscene, really.
Now you may think it looks like something out of the television series Game of Thrones. You are sort of right. Kings Landing, and all cities across the Narrow Sea, are in Dubrovnik, Croatia, some seventy miles away.
In a flight I did not want to end, we conducted a spectacular approach into Tivat. It’s a complex approach that involves an endorsement as a result of simulator training. Rather hard to describe in words. Much like the rest of the Air Serbia flight.
Air Serbia has redefined flying in Europe in all classes. I only wish they flew more places. I’d happily make Belgrade my hub when I needed to go to southern or eastern Europe. Seriously, fly these guys. They’ll break airlines for you!
Note: I had purchased my own economy ticket and was upgraded to business class, by the airline, to conduct this review. All opinions are my own.