Our passionate flight afficionado reviews an airline with an ambitious plan for Europe, and comes to a happy conclusion...
We were very excited to finally try Air Serbia. The old Yugoslavian carrier was reinvented by one of our favourite airlines Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways.
We had read a few reports online and could tell this airline seriously wants to reintroduce the glamour of air travel within Europe. Have they succeeded?
We flew four flights with Air Serbia in business class, enough to do a proper evaluation. The routes flown:
Stockholm - Belgrade
Belgrade - Tivat in Montenegro
Podgorica in Montenegro - Belgrade
Belgrade - Stockholm
First impressions are good. The flight attendants are perfectly manicured with hairdo inspired by Etihad. They wear nice uniforms and hats and a relatively strong makeup. They are smiling and up for the job. They tick all the boxes for a lasting first impression; a personal welcome to each passenger in business class, a scented hot towel on a small tray, welcome beverages including champagne and a selection of several freshly squeezed juices including a mix of apple, orange and carrot. Then newspapers are offered.
Before take-off printed menus are also passed out and the order for main course is taken. On the Stockholm - Belgrade flight a 3 course meal is served on proper china, with real glasses and linen table cloth. Who else does this within Europe ...? exactly our point.
Before the meal we get Champagne (Mmmm) these come in half bottles (37,5 cl) and a bowl of warm almonds and cashew nuts.
The starter and main course are served at the same time on a tray with salt and pepper shaker, linen napkin, real cutlery, toothpick and two pieces of bread (one is an olive foccacia) and butter.
|Roasted chicken fillet with roasted potato wedges and mixed grilled peppers|
|Chicken souvlaki on return flight|
Once the tray is cleared dessert and coffee/tea is offered separately. Our request of green tea is met with 'certainly sir'. We are not too spoiled with tea choices on intra European flights - it is usually black or nothing, that's why we bring our own.
|Green tea with dessert|
|Mousse with berries and strawberry sauce|
Meal verdict: a very generous and nice meal for a 2 hour 15 minute flight. The main course was a bit dry from being left too long in the oven. Apart from that top marks.
The seat is the next good news. Proper 2+2 seating in an airbus 319 in wide grey leather seats. The seat had a foot rest and decent legroom and recline. A good size pillow in red fabric is also offered along with blankets.
It does not stop here. Business Class passengers also get an ipad and noise cancelling head phones. The ipad is preloaded with four movies around 20 tv shows, music and games. It is the first time we have a personal entertainment unit and seriously love it...
In the bathroom there is a Peace Be Still lotion from UK spa brand Temple Spa along with soap and antibacterial gel.
Connecting in Belgrade was easy. Short distances but a quick passport and security control was needed.
The business class lounge left a lot to be desired. It has the basics but is an uninspiring place with weird food. It is also drowned in a very odd room fragrance so strong that we had to leave to avoid a headache.
|The less inspiring Business Class lounge|
What is even more impressive is the service on the short hop from Belgrade to Montenegro. Block time is 50 minutes and actual air time 35 minutes. Guess what they manage to do in that short period of time.
|Impressive - the airtime is just 35 minutes|
Pre-departure champagne, fresh juices and towel. In the air the table cloth is laid, hot bowl of nuts, choice of drink and two sandwiches and a sweet bite on proper china is served along with cutlery. Now that is impressive.
VerdictAir Serbia is serious in its ambition to upgrade premium travel within Europe and they have succeeded. The crew on all four flights are equally service minded, engage with passengers and are perfectly manicured. Rumors say they have all been trained in Abu Dhabi by Etihad. The food concept and the entertainment are more than you expect. Air Serbia it is, whenever I get a chance. They fly daily from Stockholm to Belgrade with connections.
More images below:
|View through to Economy Class|
|The seat pitch - reasonable|