This series covers a two-week vacation to Europe that will feature stops in SOF, BEG, TIV, LIS, ARN, and ATH. For background and planning, please refer back to Part 1. As a reminder, the routing for this series is:
Part 1 – IAH-IAD [UA 373, Boeing B767-300ER, Economy] – Here Part 2 – IAD-MUC [UA 106, Boeing B767-400ER, Economy] – Here Part 3 – MUC-SOF [LH 1702, Airbus A321, Economy] – Here Part 4 – SOF-BEG [JU 123, Aérospatiale/Alenia ATR 72-200, Economy] – Here Part 5 – BEG-TIV [YM 201, Fokker F100, Economy] – Here Part 6 – TIV-BEG [YM 202, Fokker F100, Economy] – Here Part 7 – BEG-LHR [JU 380, Airbus A319, Business] – Here Part 8 – LHR-MAD [IB 3167, Airbus A330-300, Business] – Here Part 9 – MAD-LIS [IB 3118, Airbus A321, Business] – Here Part 10 – LIS-LHR [BA 499, Airbus A320, Business] – Here Part 11 – LHR-ARN [BA 780, Boeing B767-300ER, Business] – Here Part 12 – ARN-BEG [JU 411, Airbus A319, Business] – You are here Part 13 – BEG-ATH [JU 512, Airbus A319, Business] – Here Part 14 – ATH-IST [TK 1850, Boeing B737-900ER, Economy] – Here Part 15 – IST-ATH [TK 1843, Boeing B737-800, Economy] – Here Part 16 – ATH-FRA [A3 830, Airbus A321, Economy] – Here Part 17 – FRA-IAH [UA 47, Boeing B787-900, EconomyPlus] – Here
Sofia – Part 4 Kotor – Part 6 Belgrade – Part 7 Lisbon – Part 9 Sintra – Part 10 Stockholm – Part 12 Athens – Part 16
This report will cover the flight from ARN to BEG and will have a bonus of Stockholm at the end. This was part of an EY award ticket ARN-BEG-ATH.
This report starts on a snowy morning in Stockholm as I leave my hotel and take the bus to Central Station.
Stockholm Central Station.
Inside, the signage to find the trains towards the airport is well marked.
There were some complications and I ended up buying a ticket on the Arlanda Express last minute since the local train I wanted to take was bound for Märsta and not Arlanda (contrary to wait it said online). The Arlanda Express is extremely convenient and clean, but also ridiculously expensive at SEK280 ($32) for a 20-minute train ride.
20 minutes later, I’m at ARN.
FIDS indicating my flight is on time and check-in is at counters 01-03.
Reaching the JU check-in counter, there are a ton of people. A soccer team is flying back to Montenegro and is clogging up all the lines. I went to the Business Class line on the far left and the ground agent immediately waves me to the front. JU’s ground services at ARN are handled by Aviator, I found them to be very friendly and polite. My seats were confirmed for both flights and I was given detailed instructions on how to find the lounge.
Walking all the way back to the other end to reach the security checkpoint.
Maybe one day…
The empty checkpoint.
The Duty Free maze.
On the other side, I veer off towards the F58-F69 gates.
I found the windows RI777 always uses for spotting. Lots of SK B737s and the TG B773.
Continuing on to passport control to leave the Schengen zone.
FIDS for the non-Schengen gates.
Upstairs, I find the Stockholm Arlanda Lounge (operated by Aviator). My boarding pass is scanned and I’m welcomed in.
I’ll have the entire place to myself. I didn’t see a single other person enter the lounge the whole 1.5 hours I sat in there. It is like the other SK/AY lounges in that it has the quirky Scandinavian furniture.
The buffet. There were refrigerators to the left that had drinks.
I wander to the back corner to take a seat by the windows. The lounge is L-shaped and had a kids play area around the corner. I don’t remember seeing any bathrooms in the lounge, so I think you have to exit and use the regular airport restrooms.
At 8:45, I get up and head towards the gate.
There were BP and passport checks as you enter the waiting area.
My plane is lurking below, getting her belly filled.
Air Serbia, JU 411 Equipment: Airbus A319 [YU-APD (ex-LZ), delivered November 2004] Departure: 9:45 (ATD: 9:55) Arrival: 12:20 (ATA: 12:03) Flight time: 2:08
Boarding was called at 9:15 and was chaotic. There was no call for priority boarding so I just had to join the mob flooding the podium. Down the jet bridge we go.
Entering the beast, there were 2 FAs that checked my boarding pass and walked me to my seat, taking my backpack and placing it in the overhead bin for me.
Quick strafe of Row 1 as they walk me to Row 2.
Pre-placed on the seat were JU branded pillow and blanket.
The retrofitted cabins.
A male FA immediately returns with the menu and IFE guide asking me if I wanted an iPad during the flight. I said yes, so he said he would bring me one once we were airborne. He also took my PDB order.
A glass of Mumm to start my day ;)
A second glass was proposed when he brought my oshibori and saw the empty glass.
He also returned with a newspaper. I find the photocopies to be super sketchy, but a newspaper is a newspaper…
A picture of the cabin as boarding is complete. The load will be 3/8. I’ll be alone in Row 2 (Or will I? Read more to find your answer^^)
While waiting for pushback, let’s look at the menu.
The jet bridge retracts as the safety demonstration is done in Serbian, Swedish, and English.
TG B773 next door.
SK B737s with and without winglets.
Numero_2 will be following us out^^
We race down the runway and lift up over the snowy countryside before disappearing into the low cloud layer.
Leveling off, it will be champagne and warm nuts to start the service.
My iPad and noise-cancelling headphones were also brought out. JU has good selection given their longest flight is 3 hours. The only negative is that there is no moving map, but the fact there is IFE available on shorter intra-European routes puts them lightyears ahead of the rest.
Approaching the continent, service starts up.
Linens are laid.
Followed by the meal tray. I opted for the sea bass with mashed potatoes and spinach.
The very EY influenced starter. It will be an Arabic mezze, which was very good.
I also thought the main was excellent, full of flavor and originality. Also, the presentation on JU is excellent and there is no “explosion” in sight.
“The new wings of Europe.” The rest of Europe has some catching up to do. I may be a huge fan of JU, but their service justifies it.
My tray is cleared and my dessert and coffee are brought out. Again, presentation is very nice on JU and the dessert was very good.
I spent the rest of the flight watching TV.
Upon clearing my dessert, I asked for a beer. He apologized profusely that the Serbian beer only comes in 500mL cans thinking it was too much. I just told him I’d find it a good home :P He brought it out along with another ramekin of warm mixed nuts to snack on while I watch TV.
This is when something hilarious occurred. I notice someone come out of Y and just take a seat across the aisle. I was speechless…
His “upgrade” lasted about 45 seconds before the FA immediately escorted him back to his seat.
That comedy deserved another beer.
Of course I have to wash my beer down with a coffee as we start our descent.
Maybe Croatia or Hungary?
A water for landing.
The Serbian countryside on a sunny day.
We touch down early from the northwest.
Taxing back to the terminal, my plane to ATH is waiting next to a SU B738.
We follow the car into our gate.
Our neighbor is another JU A319.
Deplaning, the FAs thank me for flying and I quickly get my bearings on this short 45-minute layover in BEG.
I’ll leave off this series here as I make way towards my connecting flight.
The bonus this time will be of Stockholm, which I find to be a little bit more picturesque than Copenhagen. The weather there was cold and snowy both days, but there were some pockets of blue skies and sunshine.
I stayed at the Elite Hotel Marina Tower, which is a little off the beaten path, but right across from Djurgården and the #53 bus from Stockholm Central Station takes you directly there. The rooms were nice (despite lacking large windows) and were sufficient for my stay. The buffet breakfast in the mornings was very good.
View of Djurgården from the window in my room.
View of Gamla Stan from the hotel.
The most famous thing in Stockholm is of course the Vasa Museum, which is quite the spectacle in person.
Nordiska Museum, which is also on Djurgården.
Gustav Adolfs Torg and the Royal Swedish Opera.
I interrupted a photoshoot for this couple, a little brave wearing a dress like that in 0C weather…
Inside the Old Town of Gamla Stan.
The Royal Palace.
The streets of Gamla Stan near the Nobel Museum (which I somehow managed not to take a picture of before I went in).
Swans swimming in Riddarfjärden, my goal was to cross the bridge in the horizon.
Views of the Old Town from the bridge (Västerbron).
An afternoon walk down Söder Mälarstrand.
This road is nice because it brings you directly to Monteliusvägen, where you can take in the sunset over the Old Town.
Stockholm City Hall.
I was blessed with a perfect break in the clouds at sunset to take in the Old Town.
Stockholm Arlanda Lounge
Stockholm - ARN
Belgrad - BEG
Another great flight on JU. The in-flight service was impeccable on this 2-hour flight and the crews are very friendly and go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. JU is a hidden gem in Europe and hopefully this service standard extends to their new long-haul product.
Cabin comfort: The cabins could be better, not different than domestic F in the US, but better than almost every other European carrier (TK's new A321 J product is much better). More than comfortable on this 2--hour flight. I also like how JU's cabins are rarely full.
Crew: Very friendly and outgoing. The male FA that worked the J cabin spoke excellent English and was extremely attentive. It's the first time I've seen a male FA on JU and he did an excellent job.
Meal and catering: From PDB to menus to coursed meals with linens, JU brings long-haul dining to short-haul flights. I thought the menu was original and the food/presentation were both very good.
Entertainment: Newspapers offered. Standard seatback literature. The iPad had an acceptable selection, the only negative is no moving map.
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