A Complete Tour of Air Serbia's A330: Business and Economy
On June 23, 2016, Air Serbia launched nonstop service from New York (JFK) to Belgrade, Serbia (BEG) on its retrofitted Airbus A330-200. Since Air Serbia primarily operates short-haul flights, it recently leased the aircraft from Jet Airways, with help from its new partner, Etihad Airways.
Although Etihad isn't always the easiest airline to reserve award seats with, as of this writing, availability for this particular route seems to be widely available.
Here's the schedule for the 5x weekly route — the schedule changes on some days to minimize connection times:
- Monday, Tuesday, Thursday:
- JU501 New York (JFK) 2:40pm Departure ⇒ Belgrade (BEG) 5:30am (+1) Arrival
- JU500 Belgrade (BEG) 7:30am Departure ⇒ New York (JFK) 12:00pm Arrival
- Friday, Saturday:
- JU501 New York (JFK) 7:30pm Departure ⇒ Belgrade (BEG) 10:20am (+1) Arrival
- JU500 Belgrade (BEG) 12:55pm Departure ⇒ New York (JFK) 5:25pm Arrival
The airline's two-cabin aircraft offers a 2-4-2 economy class configuration, and an all-aisle access business-class cabin. Wi-Fi is available throughout the flight starting at €4.90 (~$6) for 30 minutes.
Without a doubt, flying in the forward cabin is more enjoyable, but both cabins provide a comfortable ride overall. Join me for a tour of Air Serbia's aircraft for a closer look at what it's like to cross the pond on this A330-200.
We'll start by turning right once you walk through door 2L toward the rear of the plane. Immediately after boarding, you'll be greeted by various flight crew members and showed to your seat. The aircraft offers a total of 236 economy seats in a 2-4-2 configuration in two sections, with 17 and 14 rows, respectively.
You'll immediately notice that the main cabin has more of an open feeling, which helps it to not feel as cramped.
Unfortunately Air Serbia doesn't offer any "premium" or "extra leg room" seats, as many other domestic and international airlines will, aside from a few bulkhead and emergency row seats, which are generally blocked off during the booking process — you'll need to speak to an agent at check-in in order to snag one of those.
A major advantage of flying aboard an Airbus 330-200 is that the 2-4-2 configuration only features two seats on each side instead of the usual three, which would require someone to always be stuck in the middle seat.
A side view of the cabin perfectly set up before boarding shows how the crew has diligently set everything up. Each seat comes with a pillow and a blanket as well.
Legroom seemed to be quite conformable and there's just enough room if you want to stretch out a bit. The only bad thing is the entertainment system box is located directly underneath the seat and does get in the way.
Seats in rows 7, 8, 25 and 26 all offer a ton of extra space to stretch out since these are either bulkhead or emergency row seats. Since there's no extra charge to be seated in one of these special rows, it's worth speaking to a representative at check-in and asking to sit here.
Another nice feature: you can unwind with a wide range of Hollywood, Serbian and international films and TV programs on your very own in-flight entertainment screen.
In all 254 seats on the aircraft, you'll find Air Serbia's signature user-friendly IFE remotes, which allow you to control your TV, lighting and call button. It can also be used as a keyboard to message people and play games on the flip side.
Toward the front of the plane, you'll find one business-class cabin, which sports 18 lie-flat seats.
Once you enter your suite, you'll notice a menu, blanket, pillow and amenity kit already at the seat. During the course of the flight (in either direction), you'll have the option of a main meal upon take-off as well as a choice of hot snacks throughout the duration of the flight.
Although it's a bit noisy when the seat is in motion, you can pretty much transform it into just about any angle you desire. A "do not disturb" option (DND) lets flight attendants know you wish to be left alone, although the crew never seemed to be too hands-on anyway.
In the front cabin, the IFE offers many similar options as in economy, although a wider choice of entertainment can be found on the much larger, slide-out screen.
Immediately upon take-off, you can ask the cabin crew to make up your bed — you'll even get an extra mattress pad to make everything nice and cozy.
Air Serbia offers incredible service, along with a spacious aircraft with two cabins to choose from. Fares in the economy cabin start at about $499 round-trip or 89,940 Etihad miles plus $86 in taxes and fees, while fares for those excellent lie-flat seats begin at $3,199 or 128,164 Etihad miles plus $86 in taxes and fees. Stay tuned for a full review of Air Serbia's business-class experience on the A330-200, coming soon to TPG.
Have you flown in Air Serbia's newly retrofitted A330-200?