The disastrous ‘Etihad Airways Partners’ experiment is largely over, though Etihad does still have an equity stake in European airline Air Serbia.
While this is not an airline you might immediately think to fly across the Atlantic, the benefit of the Etihad investment was that it allowed them to launch their first long haul route. Furthermore, the benefit of the Etihad investment was that, in a similar fashion to Alitalia, Air Serbia’s product improved dramatically.
Air Serbia continues to be a fantastic way to fly across the Atlantic, given their excellent award availability through Etihad Guest, and solid onboard product.
Air Serbia has a single long haul aircraft to operate this route, which is an Airbus A330-200.
It has 18 business class seats in a 1-1-1 herringbone configuration. This is a very similar seat to Virgin Atlantic, and while all passengers have direct aisle access, they all face away from the window and have almost no storage, so the seats are not ideal.
This aircraft is an ex-Jet Airways plane, as Jet Airways is another Etihad partner.
This single A330 in the Air Serbia fleet is due for routine maintenance, so Air Serbia is leasing an A330-200 from their equity partner Etihad between January 12 and February 14, 2019, to operate their Belgrade to New York JFK flights, three times weekly during this period.
Air Serbia is doing this on a wet lease basis so the flights should be crewed with Etihad staff, rather than Air Serbia staff, noting that Air Serbia crew are (or at least were, back in Etihad’s glory days) trained by Etihad, so I would expect the levels of service to be similar anyway.
The big difference with the leased aircraft is the business class seats.
The Air Serbia/Jet Airways A330 had 1-1-1 seating…
While the Etihad A330 has staggered 1-2-1 seating.
I would consider these seats to be an upgrade, as they are more private and have more storage, while still maintaining direct aisle access for all passengers.
The number of seats also increases from 18 to 22, meaning there may be even better award availability during this period.
As you might expect, award seats on these flights can be booked with Etihad miles.
Air Serbia does not have first class, nor do the Etihad A330-200s (some of their A330-300s do).
While you might not be planning to visit Serbia over the next few months, remember that Air Serbia does also fly short haul to various European cities such as Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London Heathrow, Milan, Rome, Vienna and Zurich and others.
So if you are looking for a great way to cross the Atlantic, remember the Air Serbia experience will be even better during this period with the Etihad seats.
The Etihad Guest award chart shows 64,082 miles needed each way from New York to Belgrade, plus as low as 7,125 miles each way to continue on to some European destinations, though they no longer have proper business class seats on short haul aircraft (they were one of the few airlines to have a proper business class on short haul flights).
Have you flown Air Serbia?
(Tip of the hat to CH Aviation)