Air Serbia and ITA from Serbia to Italy
Written byIvan Pusineri
Hello everyone and welcome to this report of my experience flying from Belgrade to Florence via Rome on Air Serbia and ITA Airways respectively.
The flights were taken at the very end of July. To confirm once again what is basically common knowledge at this point, Air Serbia codeshares are horrible – for my flight at least, booking some dates was not possible, even if I tried Book two separate tickets, and the airfare wasn’t particularly cheap either. The expansion of the airport continues, here is a general overview.
As my flight was on a Saturday, it was early in the morning. I arrived at the airport around 4am, for departure at 6:45am. The T1 check-in was crowded and the Air Serbia T2 check-in was not much better. The airport screens showed one set of check-in counters for Rome, but when I arrived I found that check-in was at a completely different set of counters, and an Air Serbia ground agent nearby told me where to go. The check-in experience itself was a bit out of the ordinary – probably since a flight to Moscow was also checking in. I was asked a multitude of questions such as “Have you packed your own luggage?”, “Are the things in your luggage only your own?”, etc… After I finished, I drove upstairs , security cleared within 5 mins and headed for the doors.Again the only cafe open at this time was the Kapital which was always full.
I won’t talk much about the airport inside, as not much has changed in the 2 weeks since my last trip (if you’re interested in a more detailed look at the airport renovations, check out my previous report in Antalya). One thing I found this time was the “exhibition” of 95 years of Air Serbia / 60 years of Belgrade airport, if you can even call it that, which was recently moved to the ‘airport. It is located around gates 7 and 8. During the walk, I even got a good view of Air Serbia’s wet lease fleet.
I soon arrived at Gate 14 where I waited for boarding to start, it was a bit late. We quickly boarded the latest addition to the A319 fleet, YU-APN. Nothing much has changed in the cabin. Legroom is actually quite good considering I’m over 190cm tall. An A319 flew through the gate next to us as we waited for the doors to close. Once they did, I noticed the flight was only 50-60% full. The pilot also informed us that we would be delayed an additional 40 minutes due to traffic in Rome and ATC delays. I even got to see the Hainan A333 when it landed!
After a while we started rolling. Basically everyone was delayed at this point. BEG ATC decided, for some reason, to alternate aircraft use of the runways – first plane in line took off from RWY30, next in line from RWY12, then my plane from 30, etc. Not sure why they did this since all the planes then had to wait a few minutes to depart. I’ll leave you with some of the takeoff views.
Air Serbia’s in-flight service really makes you think if they’re kidding you, to test how cheap they can be. We got a small bottle of water (VodaVoda now), and two “Noblica” – just to clarify I actually mean just two separate biscuits, not two packets. Buying on board is ridiculously expensive, and Elevate is still there, and featured a few articles on Air Serbia’s new routes. One thing I should note is that the plane was literally freezing the whole time, I recommend wearing a hoodie or something similar while flying.
I was half asleep the rest of the flight, and soon we were approaching Rome. It was unusually bumpy for FCO, but the landing was so soft you could barely feel it, and we rolled towards a bus gate. During the drive to the terminal I got my first live glimpse of the new ITA livery, and I have to say the photos don’t do it justice, as it looks stunning when you see it up close!
Rome Fiumicino Airport has had an interesting few years – in 2015 a massive fire broke out that essentially burned an entire concourse to the ground. FCO was already due to be renovated, so a redevelopment project for the entire terminal was launched. This resulted in concourse and gates E (used for non-Schengen flights) and the brand new, recently opened concourse A. According to ACI Europe, FCO has won the award for best European airport several times over the past few years, and I would say it is deserved. Below you can see a photo of Concourse E, then a few more of the new Concourse A. There was even a small art exhibit placed in one of the connecting rooms.
Arriving at my gate, I had a good opportunity to compare the “latest” Alitalia livery and the current ITA livery on the same aircraft. Of the two, mine ended up being Alitalia’s, EI-IMC to be exact. The flight was delayed upon arrival from Nice. I received an email and message from ITA confirming the delay, which was good since some airlines (like Air Serbia) keep you guessing.
The aircraft still sports the old Alitalia interior with a few small touches to indicate that it is now operated by ITA. Leg space was bad. The flight didn’t last long and we had a few drinks. It was quite bumpy, but I had no idea it was about to get much bumpier!
Florence’s Peretola Airport is surrounded by hills and mountains, and to add to that, it has a runway that’s around 5,000 feet long – that’s just long enough to accommodate an A319. Therefore, it was probably the hardest approach I have ever experienced, as well as the hardest landing. It was stormy so that probably helped! On the ground, there were apparently technical problems, so we had to wait a bit to disembark. We then took a short walk to the terminal, where we were again delayed to collect our luggage. My only complaint is that the baggage room gets a bit cramped if you have 4 or 5 planes landing at similar times.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed! I hope to be able to write the return report soon!
Share your travel experience by submitting a trip report to email@example.com