Note: In advanced sorry for the poor quality of some images.
On Friday I flew with Jat Airways to Athens.
In the morning I went to JU
’s website to check which plane was operating to Athens (a B737-400). Using JU
’s flight monitor option I saw that the plane was delayed on its way to London, which was the rotation it had before Athens so I was prepared for the delay.
When I arrived at the airport it was practically deserted. I expected to see more passengers around. There was an Aegean flight, also to Athens, which departed some 30 minutes after the Jat flight to Athens. There were also the regional flights to former Yugoslav cities – Podgorica, Tivat and Sarajevo. At check in I asked the lady how many passengers were on the flight and she told me 5 in business and 57 in economy. Basically, the plane was half empty. As expected the lady told me that the flight has been delayed by an hour. The good news was that I got an exit row seat. With time to kill I took some photos.
As you can see the airport is all decorated for the holiday season
Today’s flight was operated by the B737-400 which is leaving Jat’s fleet in a couple of weeks so I was expecting a worn out aircraft, which is exactly what I got
At around 6.30pm I was certain we would be delayed once again since the plane was not at the gate but shortly after it appeared. Boarding commenced practically less than 10 minutes after the passengers from London de-boarded.
Airline: Jat Airways
Flight No.: JU438
Routing: Belgrade - Athens
Scheduled Departure Time: 17:55
Actual Departure Time: 19.00
Scheduled Arrival Time: 20:30
Actual Arrival Time: 21:30
Equipment: Boeing B737-400
The plane was really worn out. It had a combination of Jat’s old seats and US Airways seats (the airline from which Jat is leasing the aircraft). The cabin crew was made up of 4 women. My guess is that they were in their 40s (surprisingly they were not eccentric and kitschy which is what you usually expect from JU
’s female cabin crew
). At pushback I saw that some of the terminal 1 A gates were blocked off by cones. I wonder if the air bridges are being replaced as announced. Any a.netters from Serbia know something about this? The pilot welcomed us and apologised for the delay. Shortly after the purser apologised to all passengers saying that due to a strike by Jat Catering the meal service would not be fully carried out. The strike was extremely sudden (and illegal) and started that afternoon without prior notice. Thankfully Jat sorted it out by the next morning and they are now being provided catering by another company.
After takeoff the pilot did what pilots at JU
do best. He held a 10 minute speech telling us which cities we will be flying over and all other flight info. When I went to the toilet it was noticeable that the aircraft was just quickly cleaned at Belgrade. The toilet was clean but did not have any hand soap!
Happy new 1987!
Despite the strike we were served a muffin and water (only choice of drink due to the strike). The muffin was good. The crew was pleasant and helped some lady that had a fear of flying. They disappeared quickly after the snack handout. Later I saw the 2 economy class cabin crew eating and sitting in the last row. 90% of passengers on board were Greek.
After landing, passing immigration was easy and thankfully with the new Serbian passports the process is much quicker than before. There I saw Serbia’s crown prince Aleksandar and the crown princess Katarina (she’s Greek). They were obviously on our flight
All in all a very uneventful journey. To me the plane was in an unacceptable state, except for business class which has recently been added to this plane which used to be all economy and heavily used for charter flights. You could really see the age of the aircraft. The seats were worn out, the windows were dirty and I saw one seat where the hand rest fell off. Thankfully it’s leaving the fleet in a few weeks and being returned to US Airways. The flight was still cheaper than Aegean.