Review of Air Serbia flight Stockholm Belgrad in Business

Airline Air Serbia
Flight JU 411
Class Business
Seat 2A
Aircraft Airbus A319
Flight time 02:35
Take-off 20 Mar 16, 09:45
Arrival at 20 Mar 16, 12:20
JU   #44 out of 94 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 39 reviews
NGO85
By SILVER 1655
Published on 21st July 2016
Background:

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

Tourist Bonuses:

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.



Pre-flight:

This report starts on a snowy morning in Stockholm as I leave my hotel and take the bus to Central Station.

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Stockholm Central Station.

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Inside, the signage to find the trains towards the airport is well marked.

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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.

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20 minutes later, I’m at ARN.

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FIDS indicating my flight is on time and check-in is at counters 01-03.

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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.

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Walking all the way back to the other end to reach the security checkpoint.

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Maybe one day…

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The empty checkpoint.

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The Duty Free maze.

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On the other side, I veer off towards the F58-F69 gates.

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I found the windows RI777 always uses for spotting. Lots of SK B737s and the TG B773.

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Continuing on to passport control to leave the Schengen zone.

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FIDS for the non-Schengen gates.

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Upstairs, I find the Stockholm Arlanda Lounge (operated by Aviator). My boarding pass is scanned and I’m welcomed in.

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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.

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The buffet. There were refrigerators to the left that had drinks.

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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.



My offering.

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Boarding documents.

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At 8:45, I get up and head towards the gate.

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There were BP and passport checks as you enter the waiting area.

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My plane is lurking below, getting her belly filled.

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——————————

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.

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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.

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Quick strafe of Row 1 as they walk me to Row 2.

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Pre-placed on the seat were JU branded pillow and blanket.

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The retrofitted cabins.

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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.

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A glass of Mumm to start my day ;)

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A second glass was proposed when he brought my oshibori and saw the empty glass.

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He also returned with a newspaper. I find the photocopies to be super sketchy, but a newspaper is a newspaper…

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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^^)

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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.

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TG B773 next door.

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SK B737s with and without winglets.

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Numero_2 will be following us out^^

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We race down the runway and lift up over the snowy countryside before disappearing into the low cloud layer.



Cabin shot.

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Leveling off, it will be champagne and warm nuts to start the service.

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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.

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Linens are laid.

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Followed by the meal tray. I opted for the sea bass with mashed potatoes and spinach.

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The very EY influenced starter. It will be an Arabic mezze, which was very good.

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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.

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JU cutlery.

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“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.

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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.

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I spent the rest of the flight watching TV.

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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.

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This is when something hilarious occurred. I notice someone come out of Y and just take a seat across the aisle. I was speechless…

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His “upgrade” lasted about 45 seconds before the FA immediately escorted him back to his seat.

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That comedy deserved another beer.

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Of course I have to wash my beer down with a coffee as we start our descent.

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Maybe Croatia or Hungary?

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A water for landing.

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Indija, Serbia.

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The Serbian countryside on a sunny day.

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We touch down early from the northwest.

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Taxing back to the terminal, my plane to ATH is waiting next to a SU B738.

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We follow the car into our gate.

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Our neighbor is another JU A319.

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Deplaning, the FAs thank me for flying and I quickly get my bearings on this short 45-minute layover in BEG.

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I’ll leave off this series here as I make way towards my connecting flight.



***BONUS***

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.

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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.

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View of Gamla Stan from the hotel.

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Strandvägen.

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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.

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Gustav Adolfs Torg and the Royal Swedish Opera.

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Parliament House.

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I interrupted a photoshoot for this couple, a little brave wearing a dress like that in 0C weather…

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Inside the Old Town of Gamla Stan.

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The Royal Palace.

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Slottsbacken.

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The streets of Gamla Stan near the Nobel Museum (which I somehow managed not to take a picture of before I went in).

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German Church.

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Landstingshuset.

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Swans swimming in Riddarfjärden, my goal was to cross the bridge in the horizon.

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Views of the Old Town from the bridge (Västerbron).

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An afternoon walk down Söder Mälarstrand.

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This road is nice because it brings you directly to Monteliusvägen, where you can take in the sunset over the Old Town.

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Stockholm City Hall.

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I was blessed with a perfect break in the clouds at sunset to take in the Old Town.

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See more

Verdict

Air Serbia

9.3/10
Cabin9.0
Cabin crew9.5
Entertainment/wifi8.5
Meal/catering10.0

Stockholm Arlanda Lounge

6.8/10
Comfort8.0
Meal/catering8.0
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Services4.0

Stockholm - ARN

7.8/10
Efficiency10.0
Access3.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness10.0

Belgrad - BEG

7.5/10
Efficiency9.0
Access6.0
Services6.0
Cleanliness9.0

Conclusion

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.

Related

13 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 358734 by
    757Fan 632 Comments
    Another great report! Looks like you had another good flight with Air Serbia. After reading all your reports about them, I'm quickly getting impressed. The food, presentation, seats, all look really nice, and the service sounds to be quite good.

    Great photos of Stockholm. I've been to Copenhagen, but not Stockholm. Looks great!
    • Comment 359601 by
      NGO85 SILVER AUTHOR 1972 Comments
      "The food, presentation, seats, all look really nice, and the service sounds to be quite good."
      - For European flights, these are some of the best in the league. JU does a lot of things well, but their only flaw is that they aren't the most convenient airline given the location of BEG within Europe.

      Glad you enjoyed the bonus, thanks for stopping by Matthew!
  • Comment 358778 by
    Numero_2 TEAM BRONZE 10435 Comments
    Thank you Michael !

    An whole lounge for yourserlf : Are you sure you were not travelling in First Class ? ;)

    I really like the wooden floor in ARN.

    "Numero_2 will be following us out^^" -> I was in Ireland that day. ^^

    "While waiting for pushback, let’s look at the menu." -> The menu seem to be dirty on the right hand side.

    A nice meal with 2 options of main for this flight, that's very good fora "intra Europe" flight.

    "He apologized profusely that the Serbian beer only comes in 500mL cans thinking it was too much." -> Seriously ? :P

    "I notice someone come out of Y and just take a seat across the aisle. I was speechless…" -> Maybe he was thinking that wearing a business shirt allows him to enter business class. lol

    "That comedy deserved another beer." -> Irish origins ? :p

    "Of course I have to wash my beer down with a coffee as we start our descent." -> Was it instant coffee or espresso ?

    Stockholm city center makes me think of Geneva sometimes.
    • Comment 359602 by
      NGO85 SILVER AUTHOR 1972 Comments
      "An whole lounge for yourserlf : Are you sure you were not travelling in First Class ? ;)"
      - I'm just a special dignitary :P

      "I was in Ireland that day. ^^"
      - You are always in DUB, never can get enough EI^^

      "The menu seem to be dirty on the right hand side."
      - I was messy and spilled coffee on it... the picture was actually taken at the end ;(

      "That's very good fora "intra Europe" flight."
      - Much better than what was offered on LX ZRH-CPH, although quality of LX ingredients are sometimes better.

      "Seriously ? :P"
      - I'm not a normal, weak American like most Europeans think.

      "Maybe he was thinking that wearing a business shirt allows him to enter business class. lol"
      - I'll wear a suit from now on and see if anyone notices ;)

      "Was it instant coffee or espresso ?"
      - I would guess from an espresso machine given the appearance. It is decent coffee.

      Thanks for stopping by Clement!
  • Comment 358803 by
    marathon GOLD 10126 Comments
    Does SAS realize that their "Stop Dreamin' " advertising campaign stresses the fact that flying SAS is not a dream experience ?

    No view on the tarmac from that lounge, apparently.

    All iPADs unfortunately miss the only program I am interested in : the airshow

    Thanks for the comprehensive report, and for the great bonus; I wish my business trips to Stockholm would leave me time to visit there. The last pictures are just awesome !
    • Comment 358807 by
      marathon GOLD 10126 Comments
      Correction : KevinDC just reported an EWR-CDG flight on La Compagnie, and their tablets unexpectedly have an airshow program.
    • Comment 359603 by
      NGO85 SILVER AUTHOR 1972 Comments
      Thanks for stopping by Marathon!

      "flying SAS is not a dream experience ?"
      - It's a nightmare experience :P

      No view on the tarmac from that lounge, apparently."
      - No, the lounge faces inwards towards the parking structures.

      "I wish my business trips to Stockholm would leave me time to visit there."
      - Take a trip with Mrs. Marathon for your summer holidays ;)
  • Comment 358815 by
    Flytak 151 Comments
    Hi Michael, thanks for your report.
    JU is doing an excellent job in J class on this flight! Excellent service, very well presented food, inflight entertainement... Outstanding for an intra European flight, and... very similar to SU intra european J class with even an extra choice for the main dish and service by the plate, as well as entertainment with a Samsung tablet upon request. After such an experience, all major EU airlines are comparatively appalling. THat said, JU will be my choice if I have the opportunity to fly routes that suit my plans. Thanks for all of the pictures, bonus. Btw Are you a fan of HDR ?
    • Comment 359605 by
      NGO85 SILVER AUTHOR 1972 Comments
      "Outstanding for an intra European flight"
      - JU is one of my favorites, even in Y they offer improved catering over their European competitors.

      "very similar to SU intra european J class with even an extra choice for the main dish and service by the plate, as well as entertainment with a Samsung tablet upon request."
      - I forgot about SU, they do offer a real J cabin and improved catering too. SU is like JU in that they suffer from being an impractical hub for most intra-European flights.

      "Btw Are you a fan of HDR ?"
      - I don't like doing a lot of image processing. Those photos were actually unedited, it was just a special moment when there was a perfect break in the clouds to make the downtown glow.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
  • Comment 358830 by
    Rl 777 802 Comments
    Thank you for sharing this FR ex-ARN with us! I've been waiting for this one :).

    You were unlucky to have snow during your stay in Stockholm. We don't get that much snow anymore, 3-4 weeks of snow from October to March compared to 3-4 months of heavy snow in 2011-2013.

    "the local train I wanted to take was bound for Märsta and not Arlanda (contrary to wait it said online)."
    - That is very interesting, the displays on the platform should state when the Uppsala/Arlanda train should arrive. At what time was your train supposed to leave Stockholm C?

    Nice spotting shots and thank you for mentioning me! Haha

    The windows in Pier F are horrible for plane spotting.

    The cabin looks good, an actual J cabin. More than enough for a 2-hour hop down to BEG.

    "The load will be 3/8." - Have you got any idea about the load in Y?

    IFE puts them ahead of their competitors but the moving map is the only thing I'd ask for and that is missing haha.

    The meal is very colourful and looks tasty.

    Nice aerial shots and thank you for the great bonus from Stockholm!

    JU's service is impressive and I really want to try them out after reading your FR's on JU.

    Have a good one, see you!


    • Comment 359607 by
      NGO85 SILVER AUTHOR 1972 Comments
      "You were unlucky to have snow during your stay in Stockholm."
      - It was just light snow in the evenings and mornings, daytime was a mix of cloudy and sunny.

      "the displays on the platform should state when the Uppsala/Arlanda train should arrive"
      - The next train to Arlanda would be almost an hour wait since it was early morning on Sunday. So I just opted for the Arlanda Express.

      "The windows in Pier F are horrible for plane spotting."
      - Yeah, the jetbridges that cross in front of the windows makes no sense since it blocks the entive view.

      "Have you got any idea about the load in Y?"
      - I think it was pretty full in Y (we had an entire soccer team onboard).

      "The meal is very colourful and looks tasty."
      - It looks better than a lot of the other meals I've gotten on other European carriers. The fact that they course their meals and serve the dessert separately is also much better than receiving a single tray.

      "JU's service is impressive and I really want to try them out after reading your FR's on JU."
      - I guess you need to find a reason to fly to SE Europe :)

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
  • Comment 359056 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 6715 Comments
    A lovely report as usual. Stockholm is such a beautiful city, though unsurprisingly overcast and cols in the late winter/early spring.

    The lounge seems pretty nice for an independent lounge--yeah, everything in Scandinavia has that IKEA look, lol. And how awesome to have the lounge to yourself for 1.5 hours; that's nuts!

    Air Serbia is really unique in Europe in that it has real Business class seats. You would think that they, or Mama Etihad, would be marketing that more to get some premium traffic flowing through Belgrade.

    The meal looks good, but I'm surprised it is served on a tray. EY service protocol is to properly course everything with no trays, is it not? Maybe JU doesn't have to follow protocol strictly, but the EY influence is still apparent, which is great.

    "I notice someone come out of Y and just take a seat across the aisle. I was speechless…"
    - Damn, dude has some cojones to self upgrade. What are people thinking...there's only 8 seats...do you really think the FA won't notice? Idiot

    LOL, so you drank over a Liter of beer just after the meal service on a 2 hour flight!? Haha, my bladder would have exploded! So I take it the beer was good?

    Thanks for sharing!
    • Comment 359609 by
      NGO85 SILVER AUTHOR 1972 Comments
      "Though unsurprisingly overcast and cols in the late winter/early spring."
      - It's fine, I was soon off to 25C Athens :P

      "everything in Scandinavia has that IKEA look, lol."
      - It was super eclectic, I loved the AstroTurf carpet in the corner!

      "And how awesome to have the lounge to yourself for 1.5 hours; that's nuts!"
      - The only other users seemed to be QR and EK, but the flights to the Middle East leave later in the day.

      "You would think that they, or Mama Etihad, would be marketing that more to get some premium traffic flowing through Belgrade."
      - Service to JFK just started so with new international routes to the US, there should be more traffic filtering through BEG. It would make more sense if you are flying EY to Europe from the US, as opposed to flying all the way to AUH and backtracking 5 hours.

      "EY service protocol is to properly course everything with no trays, is it not? Maybe JU doesn't have to follow protocol strictly, but the EY influence is still apparent, which is great."
      - Yes, the tray is still there, but they offer this coursed meal for any flight over 1 hour. I still like how they clear the tray before bringing out the dessert and coffee/tea.

      "dude has some cojones to self upgrade."
      - Yeah, I was speechless, but at the same time was intrigued to see what would happen. I should try this on a long-haul flight, sneak into J and take a nap in an empty seat before returning to Y, lol.

      "LOL, so you drank over a Liter of beer just after the meal service on a 2 hour flight!?"
      - Don't judge me :P I'm not one to turn down beer ;)

      Thanks for stopping by Kevin!

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