August 20, 2022

Pater Das

Business and General

The Sad Decline Of Air Serbia Business Class

Previous 7 days I flew Air Serbia small business class from Belgrade to New York, which is the carrier’s only extensive haul route (I redeemed Aeroplan details for the flight, many thanks to the partnership amongst Air Canada and Air Serbia). While I’ll have a comprehensive assessment quickly, I just cannot assistance but to start with produce about how a great deal even worse Air Serbia’s company course has come to be, which is unhappy.

Some qualifications on Air Serbia (and the Etihad link)

For some context, Air Serbia is the national airline of Serbia (as you’d count on). The airline used to be recognized as Jat Airways, but experienced a little bit of a rebirth in 2013. Particularly, Abu Dhabi-dependent Etihad Airways and the government of Serbia started out the airline as a joint venture, with the two events to begin with proudly owning 49% and 51% stakes, respectively. This was element of larger sized scale cooperation concerning Serbia and Abu Dhabi.

Not only did Etihad own just about half of Air Serbia, but the airline also experienced a contract to regulate Air Serbia for a period of time of five yrs. As element of this, Air Serbia obtained a former Jet Airways Airbus A330, and the airline began working a prolonged haul route involving Belgrade and New York.

Air Serbia’s aged Airbus A330 company class

One particular of the (only) good items about Etihad receiving associated in an airline is that they get them to make investments in the tender item. Under Etihad’s management, Air Serbia had a menu in the lounge, and a excellent onboard business enterprise course product, with cappuccinos, mattress pads, pajamas, dine on need, and so forth.

To get a perception of what this employed to be like, see my evaluate of the Air Serbia Lounge Belgrade, and my assessment of Air Serbia’s A330 enterprise class (all over again, this was from back in the day).

However Etihad’s financial commitment system has not worked out at all, and the airline has progressively been reducing its stake in Air Serbia, and Etihad now only owns an 18% stake (with the Serbian governing administration proudly owning the other 82%).

Air Serbia still only has a single A330, but it’s a distinctive a single than what the airline to begin with experienced. In 2021, Air Serbia took supply of a previous Aeroflot Airbus A330. So it is the very same kind of aircraft Air Serbia at first flew, but with a various configuration.

Whilst I never have strong feelings about the modify in seats as this sort of (neither the outdated or new cabin were being reducing edge), it’s unhappy the extent to which Air Serbia’s gentle item has absent from outstanding to below common.

Air Serbia’s enterprise course: not great any more

I had flown Air Serbia enterprise course a handful of periods right before on the Belgrade to New York route with the outdated products, and the gentle products was constantly a deal with. This time it wasn’t. It is not that any a single factor was horrible, but somewhat it was “death by a thousand cuts,” if you will.

Let us start with the Air Serbia Premium Lounge in Belgrade. Again in the day the lounge had a la carte eating, although that’s no for a longer period accessible. Now this lounge is also open up to Priority Pass users (presumably to deliver additional earnings), and has a really typical deal lounge meals & consume collection.

Air Serbia Top quality Lounge Belgrade
Air Serbia Premium Lounge Belgrade

By the way, really do not you think that out of self respect, Air Serbia would get rid of its Etihad Airways Partners indicator from Belgrade Airport? The thought doesn’t exist any more, as three of individuals airways liquidated, and a few went via personal bankruptcy or underwent radical transformations, and have new house owners.

Air Serbia’s Etihad Airways Companions indication

Let us commence with the positives — Air Serbia’s new business course cabin is perfectly great. It is a pretty normal staggered configuration, which you’ll discover on pretty a several airways. Additionally, the crew was helpful and perfectly intentioned.

Air Serbia A330 business class cabin
Air Serbia A330 company course cabin

Nevertheless, it is all downhill from there, at least based on the working experience on my flight:

  • Air Serbia employed to offer pajamas, but people are not available any more
  • Air Serbia does not even have amenity kits anymore
  • There utilised to be a mattress pad, while which is not offered any more
  • Air Serbia utilised to have great espresso and cappuccino based beverages now Air Serbia just has disgusting powdered immediate coffee (the menu listed espresso but not cappuccino, but I was instructed the machine has been damaged for some time)
  • Air Serbia made use of to have Wi-Fi, but the “new” A330 doesn’t have Wi-Fi it has been really some time considering the fact that I have experienced a 10 hour daytime flight without the need of Wi-Fi
  • With the lack of Wi-Fi it would be good if there were being at minimum a wonderful leisure collection, but the library was really lackluster

Now let us communicate about the food services. The flight departed from Belgrade shortly right before 8AM and arrived in New York soon in advance of 12PM. Air Serbia continues to have a dine on demand from customers menu, but in apply everyone had breakfast immediately after takeoff and a 2nd food just before landing.

The breakfast was ok. Oddly every person was served nuts before breakfast, so I switched my consume purchase from coffee to white wine (lol?).

Air Serbia company course breakfast

Breakfast began with a greek yogurt with walnuts and strawberry sauce.

Air Serbia company class breakfast

Then for the key study course I selected the Spanish pie with potatoes and veggies, grilled tomatoes, and grilled mushrooms.

Air Serbia business course breakfast

Then for dessert there was a fruit plate.

Air Serbia business enterprise course breakfast

That was a correctly first rate breakfast, but let’s chat about the pre-arrival food. Like anyone else, I ate all over two several hours in advance of landing. Nicely, I should really say that I tried to try to eat.

There ended up 4 factors on the dine on desire menu that weren’t breakfast.

“Could I have the Greek salad with grilled hen?”
“We are out, I’m sorry.”
“Okay, then the ravioli with cheese and spinach and cream sauce?”
“I’m so sorry, we never have any of all those still left either.”
“Umm, ok, then I guess I’ll take a cheese plate?”
“We’re out of these. Would you like the sweet omelet?”
“Is there yet another selection?”
“We have some fruit plates left from breakfast.”
“Okay, I’ll choose the omelet then.”

Air Serbia’s menu states that “all the dishes on the menu are available at any time for the duration of the flight.” Very well, so significantly for that. I can take pleasure in at times jogging out of a few of points, but a thing isn’t becoming accomplished right in phrases of catering if you operate out of just about anything.

Then yet again, operating out of foodstuff is the most Etihad point ever, so I guess Air Serbia has maintained that ingredient of the Etihad working experience.

Air Serbia business course pre-arrival snack

Bottom line

I flew Air Serbia enterprise course from Belgrade to New York for the initial time in current decades, and was let down to see how the practical experience has gotten even worse. Air Serbia employed to give just one of the greatest smooth items across the Atlantic, when currently I’d say it is marginally down below typical.

While in the previous I considered Air Serbia was worth seeking out even if connecting beyond Belgrade, dependent on my encounter that’s not the scenario any longer. Don’t get me mistaken, it’s not worth preventing Air Serbia possibly, though — if Belgrade is your ultimate spot, you come across a good business enterprise course fare, or Air Serbia is a person of the only solutions with award availability, traveling with the carrier could continue to make feeling.

What do you make of the alterations to the Air Serbia business enterprise course knowledge?