Flying Direct from USA to Serbia…on Etihad Airways??

Traveling to Serbia is probably not at the top of many people’s bucket list for this year. I suspect flying Air Serbia is also not near the top of many bucket lists (not just this year but any year). But one thing that excites me about traveling is the adventure. Yes, I enjoy seeing the ultra-touristy spots on this earth but I find it even more exciting when I “discover” a city (or country) that is a unexpected surprise.

I can’t think of a booked flight that didn’t make me feel like I had just opened a new Christmas gift from underneath the tree. I get butterflies as soon as I push submit and see that flight confirmation number and I don’t think this booking is going to be any different.

WHERE IS SERBIA?

Being 100% honest…I had to pull up Serbia (the country) on google maps because I wasn’t exactly sure where it was located. 

But this is what I do know about Air Serbia (the airline):
1. Etihad has a large equity stake in Air Serbia (49%) while the Serbian government owns the remaining 51%
2. Air Serbia isn’t the first airline that comes to mind when flying across the Atlantic Ocean, therefore award availability is excellent through Etihad Guest
3. Air Serbia only operates one long haul route from their hub in Belgrade and it’s to New York JFK (utilizing an Airbus A330-200)

I agree that none of that sounds, particularly, interesting. Here’s the great part…the single A330 referenced above is due for routine maintenance so Air Serbia is wet leasing an A330-200 from Etihad to operate their Belgrade to New York JFK flights, between 01/12/19 – 02/14/19.

WHAT’S A WET LEASE?

A “wet lease” is an arrangement where one airline, essentially, rents an airplane from another airline and pays for the hours of operation. In this case, Air Serbia would be renting an airplane from Etihad and Etihad would provide everything – aircraft, crew, maintenance, etc. – to Air Serbia.

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?

The A330 business class seats that Air Serbia operates on this route aren’t, exactly, aspirational products. They have 1-1-1 direct aisle seating while the Etihad A330 has staggered 1-2-1 while still offering direct aisle access and are very much an upgrade on this route.

…and the upgrade…

FINAL STAMP

I need to get to Europe during the next few weeks but this would be a unique way of transiting the Atlantic. As I mentioned before, I don’t know much about Serbia so I would like to explore the city for a few days. Although, I travel through the middle east often, I have never flown on Etihad so I am extremely excited about potentially booking this flight.

The combination of a flying a business class on a middle eastern carrier to Serbia, exploring Belgrade (Air Serbia’s Hub) for a few days, and continuing on to another European city in business class on Air Serbia sounds super exciting and may be hard for me to turn down.

Has anyone flown on Air Serbia? What was your experience? Has anyone visited Belgrade? Do you have any recommendations of things to see / food to eat?

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