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In June, Air Serbia began operating a 5x weekly flight between Belgrade and New York, using an Airbus A330 aircraft that they took over from Jet Airways. This represents the airline’s first longhaul route, so is an exciting development for them.
When the route first launched, Air Serbia generously let me run a giveaway for two business class tickets on the new service, which a lucky reader won. I’ve been wanting to try the new route since it was launched, though of course want to pay for the ticket myself.
As I explained in a previous post, the best way to redeem miles on Air Serbia is through the Etihad Guest program, which is transfer partners with American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou.
Well, I just redeemed miles for Tiffany and me to fly from Belgrade to New York (more details on the overall trip shortly), and figured I’d share my experience.
My experience redeeming Etihad Guest miles on Air Serbia
You can’t search Air Serbia award availability online, so technically the only way to inquire about award availability and book is by calling Etihad Guest.
Etihad probably has one of the worst call centers out there for their Etihad Guest department, as the phone prompts are confusing, the call quality is horrible, and the representatives are typically clueless.
In this case I asked about Air Serbia availability for a one-way ticket from Belgrade to New York. The associate put me on hold to check if one-way award tickets are allowed on them (they are). He then checked on availability, and said that my desired date had availability.
The cost for a one-way business class award ticket from Belgrade to New York was 64,082 Etihad Guest miles plus 53EUR, which is extremely reasonable.
As far as Etihad Guest representatives go, this one was pretty good. He took down the passenger names, then sent me an email confirmation to look at to verify that everything was correct, then took down my credit card, and then sent me a finalized email confirmation.
The entire phone call took about 20 minutes, and aside from the horrible call quality and the volume of the hold music being way too loud, was fairly painless.
Now that I looked at my e-ticket, I think I may have figured out a way to search Air Serbia award availability online. Air Serbia business class award tickets use an “I” fare basis. You can search “I” availability on ExpertFlyer, and it looks like Air Serbia typically has three “I” seats per flight between New York and Belgrade. Now, I can’t say with 100% certainty that the two are the same in this instance, but I suspect they are.
I’m really excited to try Air Serbia’s business class product. Based on what I’ve read about them so far, it seems like the catering and service on them is top notch, and I’m also excited to visit Serbia.
Redeeming Etihad Guest miles on Air Serbia is a great deal as well. I transferred over points from American Express Membership Rewards (points I earned primarily with my Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card and Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express) back when they had a 30% transfer bonus. That means the one-way ticket cost me 50,000 Membership Rewards points plus 53EUR per person, which seems like a great value for a transatlantic business class ticket.
Stay tuned for the trip report, and perhaps more imminently, more information on this entire trip, which is crazy!
In the meantime, if you’re interested in visiting Serbia, this is a great option with plenty of business class award availability!