Review: Air Serbia Economy Class Belgrade to Bucharest (Airbus A319)

In this review we take an Air Serbia flight in economy class on an Airbus A319 between Belgrade (BEG) and Bucharest (OTP).

Air Serbia flight

After a visit to the surprisingly good Air Serbia business lounge (which can also be accessed for a relatively minor fee if you are flying economy) it was time to catch my flight back home.

As it would be my first ever flight on Air Serbia I was looking forward to the experience even though intra-European flights are not the most exciting ones.

For my Air Serbia flight from Belgrade to Bucharest I only paid 40 euro, which was quite a steal.

I was therefore quite curious whether the service on board Air Serbia would match the Ryanair-like price or would actually be something to write home about.

Whilst I was walking to the gate I stumbled upon an interesting exhibition about the history of Belgrade Airport which featured a lot of cool old aviation pictures.

Another interesting sight were some Chinese travellers walking around in full hazmat suits apparently still thinking that COVID is as lethal as Ebola.

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Enjoying a grilled chicken sandwich and a glass of wine in the Air Serbia lounge. ©Paliparan
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Belgrade Airport. ©Paliparan
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Exhibition about the history of Belgrade Airport in the terminal, with these pictures showing how the airport looked like when Josip Broz Tito opened it in 1962. ©Paliparan
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Tito welcoming Richard Nixon at Belgrade Airport in 1970. ©Paliparan
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Dutch football royalty arriving at Belgrade Airport. ©Paliparan
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Chinese passenger walking in a full hazmat suit to the bemusement of Serbian passengers and airport employees. ©Paliparan

Boarding

Before you can reach the actual boarding gate you still have to pass security.

At Belgrade Airport, there is a security point with X-ray baggage scanner at each individual gate, so do take this into account when catching your flight.

However, this will all be a thing of the past soon as there will be a single central security point for the entire terminal when all the airport renovation and construction works are finished.

While I was waiting at the gate I noticed to my surprise that an Air Serbia Airbus A319 was parked at our gate, which was strange as the flight to Bucharest was supposed to be operated by a much smaller ATR 72 turboprop.

It turned out that there was a last-minute equipment change and our plane was upgraded from the ATR 72 to an Airbus A319, which surely is an improvement in comfort.

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The departure gate for the Air Serbia flight to Bucharest. ©Paliparan
air serbia airbus a319 economy class belgrade bucharest
The Air Serbia Airbus A319 which would fly me from Belgrade to Bucharest. ©Paliparan
air serbia airbus a319 economy class belgrade bucharest
Air Serbia Airbus A319. ©Paliparan

Belgrade (BEG) to Bucharest (OTP) on Air Serbia
Flight JU642 – Airbus A319 – Seat 1A
Plane registration number: YU-APC
Departure: 1.15pm
 – Arrival: 3.40pm
Flight time: 1h25m – Distance: 286 miles

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The flight time between Belgrade and Bucharest is a bit over an hour. ©Great Circle Mapper

On board the Air Serbia Airbus A319

The Air Serbia Airbus A319 has a 3-3 seat configuration with three seats at either side of the aisle.

If you fly the Air Serbia Airbus A319 in business class, you will therefore just have a normal economy class seat although the middle seat will remain empty for your comfort.

However, as my flight between Belgrade and Bucharest was originally set to be operated by an ATR 72 (for which Air Serbia does not sell business class tickets) the Airbus A319 was all-economy class too today.

Air Serbia’s economy class doesn’t differ much from other European legacy airlines.

Although my Air Serbia Airbus A319 (tail number: YU-APC) was showing its age it being almost 17 years old, it had the advantage of having well-padded seats which are simply way more comfortable than the slimline seats used on more modern planes.

I had managed to reserve seat 1A in advance and was happy to see that despite the equipment change my seat reservation remained intact.

It turned out that I had entire row 1 to myself – which was certainly a much-appreciated surprise.

I certainly couldn’t complain about the amount of legroom in my bulkhead seat.

Given that the aircraft was upgraded from a turboprop seating about 70 passengers to an Airbus A319 seating 136, it meant that all passengers profited from quite some extra space as entire rows remained empty across the plane.

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Bulkhead row seating on the Air Serbia Airbus A319. ©Paliparan
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Good amount of legroom in the bulkhead seats of row 1. ©Paliparan
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The cabin of the Airbus A319 of Air Serbia. ©Paliparan
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Air Serbia economy class seats. ©Paliparan

Departure

We pushed back from the gate on-time as the captain announced a flight time of just under an hour to Bucharest.

Given that we were now flying a jet engine aircraft instead of a slower propeller plane, we would obviously arrive at our destination much earlier.

Although the windows were a bit dirty and photographing was tricky, the views upon departure from Belgrade were simply great.

From the plane window I could easily spot all the main Belgrade landmarks such as the communist-era apartment blocks of Novi Beograd, the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers, Kalemegdan Fortress, the Church of Saint Sava and the football stadiums of Partizan and Red Star Belgrade.

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Belgrade Airport as seen from the plane window. ©Paliparan
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Air Serbia planes at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport. ©Paliparan
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Take-off from Belgrade Airport. ©Paliparan
novi beograd apartment blocks
The apartment blocks of Novi Beograd. ©Paliparan
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Novi Beograd. ©Paliparan
danube sava river confluence
The confluence of the Danube and Sava. ©Paliparan
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The Sava River divides Novi Beograd (on the left) from Belgrade proper (on the right). The river in the distance is the Danube. ©Paliparan
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The Serbian capital of Belgrade as seen from the air. ©Paliparan
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Belgrade city centre. ©Paliparan
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The stadiums of Partizan Belgrade (upper one) and Red Star Belgrade (lower one). ©Paliparan

In-flight service

Air Serbia has a hybrid on-board service in economy class which similar to LOT Polish Airlines.

A pack of chocolate biscuits and bottled water were freely distributed to every economy class passenger, which I thought was a nice touch.

Besides the complimentary snack and water, there was also a buy-on-board menu for those who want to buy another snack or (alcoholic) drink.

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Complimentary snack and drink on Air Serbia in economy class. ©Paliparan

Amenities

There aren’t any other special amenities when flying Air Serbia on the Airbus A319.

The Air Serbia Airbus A319 doesn’t have seatback screens, is not equipped with WiFi internet and doesn’t even feature power sockets or USB charging ports.

Make sure that your own electronic devices are fully charged as otherwise you just have to do with the views from the window or the Air Serbia in-flight magazine as your sole entertainment options on board.

On a different note, the service by the flight attendants was friendly throughout the entire flight.

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View around the Serbian-Romanian border. ©Paliparan
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Air Serbia Airbus A319 wing. ©Paliparan

Bucharest arrival

Some fabulous winter sunset colours brightened the sky on approach to Bucharest Otopeni Airport.

In the end, my Air Serbia Airbus A319 landed some 30 minutes before its scheduled arrival time.

Unfortunately, we parked at a remote gate, so it took a bit of extra time before the bus finally arrived and everyone managed to disembark.

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Descending towards Bucharest Otopeni Airport. ©Paliparan
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Gorgeous winter sunset view on approach towards Bucharest. ©Paliparan
air serbia economy class review airbus a319
Sunset colours on approach to Bucharest. ©Paliparan
bucharest skyline airport approach
The contours of the Bucharest skyline being vaguely visible in the distance. ©Paliparan
final approach bucharest otopeni
Final approach towards Bucharest Otopeni Airport. ©Paliparan
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Landing at Bucharest Otopeni Airport. ©Paliparan
taxiing airport
Taxiing towards the airport terminal and remote stands. ©Paliparan
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Parking next to a Blue Air plane at a remote stand. ©Paliparan
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Disembarking the Air Serbia Airbus A319 at Bucharest Airport. ©Paliparan

Conclusion

Flying Air Serbia on the Airbus A319 is a nice throwback in time which depending on your point of view is either a positive or a negative thing.

On the plus side, the economy class seats on the Airbus A319 are comfortable and have a decent amount of legroom.

Air Serbia still gives you a complimentary snack and drink in economy class on short-haul flights, which is another nice touch.

However, don’t expect any modern luxuries on board the Airbus A319 such as WiFi Internet and power sockets.

If you can do without, Air Serbia is a pleasant company to fly with and I wouldn’t hesitate to seek them out again if the price is right.

koen paliparan rhodes rodos

Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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