Introduction: Transatlantic Insanity
Review: Aeroflot Business Class 777-300ER Los Angeles To Moscow
Review: Aeroflot Lounge Moscow Airport
Review: Aeroflot Business Class 737 Moscow To Belgrade
Review: Metropol Palace Hotel Belgrade
Review: Belgrade Food Tour
Review: Air Serbia Lounge Belgrade Airport
Review: Air Serbia Business Class A330 Belgrade To New York
Review: Air France Lounge New York JFK
Review: Azerbaijan Airlines Business Class 787 New York To Baku
Review: Hyatt Regency Baku
Review: Baku Airport Lounge
Review: Ukraine International Airlines Business Class 737 Baku To Kiev
Review: Kiev Airport Lounge
Review: Ukraine International Airlines Business Class 767 Kiev To New York
Air Serbia 500
Belgrade (BEG) – New Y0rk (JFK)
Saturday, October 29
Aircraft: Airbus A330
Seat: 5K (Business Class)
We boarded through door L2, where we were greeted by two flight attendants (one of them was the sky nanny, which is a concept Air Serbia got from Etihad). They verified our boarding passes and pointed us left into the business class cabin. Since the economy cabin was right behind us and still empty, I snapped a picture of it on the way in. It looked pretty nice, and I especially loved the seat finishes.
Air Serbia has a single Airbus A330 aircraft, which they took over from Jet Airways (which is also an Etihad partner airline). The business class cabin consisted of a total of 18 seats in a herringbone configuration, so they were spread across six rows in a 1-1-1 configuration.
Ultimately I far prefer reverse herringbone seats to herringbone seats, since you’re facing the window rather than the aisle. However, I still like herringbone seats for the privacy they afford, and prefer them to standard forward facing seats.
I quickly found my seat, 5K, which was in the second to last row on the right side of the cabin.
The seat controls were located on a panel to the right of the seat, and were easy to use.
Next to that was a reading light.
Underneath that was the entertainment controller, which was easy to use.
Also in that area were international and USB power outlets.
The tray table folds out from the right side of the seat as well, and can be rather tricky to get out.
Each seat has an ottoman, which becomes part of the bed when the seat is fully reclined. What I like about this configuration is that the ottomans aren’t too far from the seat when you’re upright, so you can quite easily place your feet on the ottoman even when not in bed mode.
If you’re booking Air Serbia’s A330 business class I’d recommend sitting on the right side of the cabin. That’s because the center seats face the left aisle, meaning you face a wall when you’re seated on the right, making those seats much more private. Even if you’re traveling with a companion, I’d recommend sitting one behind the other rather than “across” from one another, as you’ll still be closer.
There was a console on the left side of the seat, perfect for placing a drink, phone, etc. (unfortunately herringbone seats aren’t otherwise great in terms of storage opportunities).
Underneath the console was the amenity kit as well as a bottle of water.
The amenity kit was fairly well stocked, and interestingly the various items were in separate packages by category.
There was also a bottle of water next to the seat.
Also already waiting at my seat on boarding were a pillow and blanket, both of which were great. The pillow was big and thick, while the blanket was soft but light.
When I settled in, the first thing I noticed was Air Serbia’s boarding music, which I love. I’m actually playing it on repeat as I write this. There’s a lot of boarding music I love, though this is now near the top of my list.
Moments after settling in the cabin senior, Nikola, came by to introduce himself and offer a pre-departure beverage. He suggested I have a Serbian brandy. Hmm, I can’t say I’d ever order brandy without being prompted, but why not? It was served in a cute Rakia shot glass, and I was also offered a warm towel. I was loving Air Serbia already.
Minutes later the two other business class flight attendants, Maria and Tamara, came by to introduce themselves. They were both extremely friendly, asked if we had flown Air Serbia before, if we wanted a tour of the seat, etc. A welcome like that is a small touch that makes such a big difference.
We were also offered the menu for the flight, and they explained that Air Serbia has a dine on demand concept, so we could have what we want when we wanted. Minutes later Nikola came around to take meal and drink orders.
We were also offered headphones for the flight.
Over the next 30 minutes six other business class passengers boarded. As each of them settled in they got a personal greeting from the entire crew, a rundown of the seat, etc. I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen such an impressive welcome from a crew in business class.
At around 12:50PM the door closed, at which point the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, informing us of our flight time of 9hr25min, and our cruising altitude of 38,000 feet.
After that Nikola made his welcome aboard announcements, and then the safety video was screened.
We pushed back at 12:55PM, and started our taxi a few minutes later.
By 1:10PM we made it to runway 30, where we were immediately cleared for takeoff.
Our climb out was smooth, and just 10 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off. When Nikola took our meal orders on the ground he explained how Air Serbia primarily serves Serbian wines, which I love the concept of. The more an airline can be an extension of their home country, the more I love them.
After not being able to decide which wine we wanted to try, Nikola suggested we try all of them — that’s seven types of wine. Oy!
Just 15 minutes after takeoff he came around with our first wine, which was a delicious rose. I loved that he brought out the wine glass and the bottle, and then poured it at the seat. Probably my favorite part was that Nikola knew a lot about all of these wines, so he gave us a brief description of the regions and wineries that the wines came from.
The rose was delicious, and served with mixed nuts.
After that the lunch service began. The menu read as follows:
The beverage list read as follows:
Also, for anyone who is curious, here’s what the menu looks like in the other direction, from New York to Belgrade:
While sipping on my first glass of rose I extended the entertainment screen and turned on the airshow to monitor the progress of our flight.
30 minutes after takeoff our tables were set. The crew didn’t use any carts or trays, but rather the service really felt like what you’d get in international first class in terms of the size of the wine glasses, the presentation, etc.
To start I had the salad with baby mozzarella and cherry tomatoes, which was so good.
Tiffany had the Serbian mezze, though at this point I was mezza-ed out. She said it was excellent, though.
With that course it was time for yet another new Serbian wine.
The service was perfectly customized, which is to say that plates were cleared minutes after courses were finished, and then moments later the next course was brought out. For the main course I ordered the salmon, which was phenomenal. The salmon was beautifully cooked and flavorful.
Tiffany ordered the duck with berry sauce, which she also enjoyed — I thought the presentation was great.
We had seven wines to get through, so we asked them to briefly hold cheese and dessert so we could enjoy some more wine. Two wines later…
We eventually ordered a cheese plate. Not only was the presentation beautiful, but the baked pear that came with the cheese was one of the best things I’ve ever had.
Then it was time for more wine.
I was going to skip dessert, but Nikola insisted we have it, as he raved about how good it was, and said “if you don’t have it, I will.” So while I had low expectations based on the menu description of the dessert, Nikola wasn’t kidding — the dessert was phenomenal.
Then it was time for more wine…
…and more wine again.
Fortunately we managed to space things out a bit, and also had plenty of water to balance out the wine.
To finish off the meal I ordered a cappuccino, which was served the same way Etihad does, on a tray with something sweet. The cappuccino was delicious.
When you put it all together, this was probably the best meal I’ve had in business class. When you combine the great food with the delicious Serbian wine with the exceptional service, it couldn’t have been a more enjoyable meal. Of course the amount of wine we were served only contributed to the enjoyment. 😉
After lunch I asked if I could have my bed made. I was first offered pajamas and slippers, which you don’t often see in business class.
My bed was made in 6K, and included a mattress pad, pillow, and blanket.
While my bed was being made I briefly headed to the lavatory, located at the front of the cabin. The lavatory was pretty basic, and just had some Air Serbia-branded amenities.
One other aspect of the service that really impressed me is that every time I (or anyone else in business class) went to the lavatory I’d return to find that my blanket had been neatly folded on my seat. I don’t remember the last time I’ve had my seat refreshed in business class when going to the bathroom.
By the time I was settled into bed we were just off the coast of France, about to start our transatlantic journey, with a bit over seven hours to go to New York.
I fell asleep almost right away, and managed to get nearly three hours of sleep, which is pretty good for a daytime transatlantic flight. So when I woke up we were a bit over four hours from our arrival in New York.
Upon waking up I browsed the entertainment selection, which was underwhelming. While the quality of the programming was fine, there just wasn’t enough of it. For example, they had fewer than a dozen movies in English.
I ended up watching a few episodes of “2 Broke Girls.”
Air Serbia also has wifi, though it’s quite expensive. There are four wifi packages you can purchase, priced as follows:
- 20MB of wifi for 4.90EUR
- 50MB of wifi for 8.90EUR
- 90MB of wifi for 13.90EUR
I don’t get how they can suggest that 90MB is enough for a full flight. I decided to buy the hourlong 50MB package to test out the wifi, and I used up my data in less than 15 minutes. The wifi was super fast, probably due to the lack of people using it. I do wish they sold a full flight wifi plan at a reasonable cost, like Etihad does.
About three hours before landing we hit some serious chop, causing the seatbelt sign to be turned on a few times. One of the quirky rules Air Serbia has is that you can’t use your laptop when the seatbelt sign is on, so I had to put it away, which was a bit frustrating since I was trying to get some work done.
Once the ride smoothed out I ordered a coffee, which was also served on a tray with a cookie.
My coffee was refilled several times, and about 90 minutes before landing I ordered a pre-arrival snack. I wasn’t especially hungry, so just ordered the arancini with porcini and mozzarella, which was very good.
For dessert I had the fruit tart with vanilla sauce, which was a bit less decadent than the dessert I had with the first meal (fortunately).
About 40 minutes before landing we began our descent, at which point all three business class flight attendants came around to thank each passenger for flying Air Serbia, and they handed everyone a card inviting them to provide feedback about the flight by email.
25 minutes before landing the captain provided us with updated arrival information, and a few minutes after that the seatbelt sign was turned on. While the last three hours of the flight were largely bumpy, our descent was smooth.
We touched down at JFK at 4:50PM, well ahead of schedule.
From there it was a 10 minute taxi to our arrival gate at Terminal 4. I thought it was pretty cool that we crossed a runway the same time as two other planes, including an Air France A380 and Aerolineas Argentinas A330.
As we pulled into our gate an unmarked A340 parked near the terminal caught my attention. As it turns out, this is the plane with the tail number 9H-SUN, which will be operating Finnair’s flight between New York and Helsinki over the coming months.
We pulled into a gate next to two Swiss A330s.
We bid farewell to the crew, and upon disembarking had a great view of “our” plane.
Air Serbia A330 business class bottom line
Air Serbia exceeded my expectations by a long shot, and this was probably one of my favorite business class experiences ever.
The soft product was exceptional, from the food to the wine to the service. I loved how much Air Serbia managed to integrate Serbian food & wine into the service, which is an area where many airlines fail. The crew on this flight couldn’t have been more engaging and friendly either. Getting proper turndown service, pajamas, etc., in business class on a transatlantic flight is great as well.
As far as the seats go, I certainly prefer herringbone seats to forward facing seats, but I still don’t like them as much as reverse herringbone seats. So I’d say the seat was solid, though not exceptional.
Air Serbia has quite a bit of room for improvement in terms of their entertainment selection, and also ideally their wifi pricing would match Etihad’s, which is much more reasonably priced.
But all things considered I can’t say enough good things about Air Serbia, and would highly recommend them. Fortunately it’s even quite easy to redeem Etihad Guest miles on this route, as I outlined in a previous post.