Trip Reports & Reviews

My BIZARRE flight to SARAJEVO with FLYBOSNIA!

Noel

Noel Philips

I flew to the beautiful city of Sarajevo, Bosnia with a new airline called FlyBosnia, which turned into a bizarre flight with barely any passengers onboard, and even less in the way of service…

I’m flying today with an airline called FlyBosnia. They operate the only direct flights between the UK and Bosnia, and have only been flying to the UK for a couple of weeks.

Luton was as busy as ever this morning, so I headed to one of the two Priority Pass lounges here – the newly opened Club Rooms.

The Club Rooms offer a full table service, with a good range of hot food and drinks, and like the Aspire lounge here it’s available on Priority Pass, albeit with a small premium of £10 to access the club rooms. Priority Pass gives you access to hundreds of airport lounges around the world regardless of which airline or class of travel you’re travelling in, for a fixed annual fee. Check out the link in the description for a discount off an annual membership.

My ride to Sarajevo today was this Airbus A319. It’s the only one in FlyBosnia’s fleet at the moment, and is painted in this special livery to celebrate the European Youth Olympic Winter Festival, which was held in Sarajevo earlier this year.

It was originally delivered new to Finnair in 2002, and went to Russia in 2012 where it flew for Donavia and Rossiya Airines, before going to FlyBosnia in 2018.

It was time to board which turned into a bit of a palava. It turns out that even though FlyBosnia give you a boarding pass at online check in, you are supposed to go to the check in desk and get it swapped for another one. This is something that’s not mentioned at all on their website or boarding pass, and it turned out I’d been offloaded from the flight, and had to be checked in again. The agent said this happens fairly often, which begs the question – why isn’t this mentioned anywhere?

The boarding issue sorted, I headed down to the holding pen to wait for the flight to actually board.

I’d lost my window seat as part of the whole mix up at boarding, but it didn’t really matter in the end, as there were just 16 people on today’s flight. Added to the handful of passengers getting off the inbound aircraft – it leaves me a little worried about how profitable this route must be.

The seats on this aircraft are really tight. This flight would have been incredibly uncomfortable were it a bit busier.

Luton May be a predominantly low cost airport, but it’s also a very busy business jet hub. My personal favourite today was this private Boeing 737, owned by the guy who owns Toyota’s Saudi Arabian division.

We took off out of the gloom of Luton and emerged a few seconds later into a beautiful sunny day.

Our route today took us south east out of Luton,crossing Belgium, Germany and Austria, before commencing our descent over Croatia. Flight time today was 2 hours 12 minutes, at a cruising altitude of 39,000ft.

The first few rows of the FlyBosnia A319 are former convertible business class seats. You can turn them
Into a Euro Business class seat by simply pressing a button under one of the Center armrests, and pushing them together, then pulling the middle table down. You may not have the seat pitch, but you do at least have the extra seat width and centre table so you can at least pretend to have a business class seat.

There was a drinks service just after takeoff – and very little other service. There isn’t even buy one board, so remember to take a sandwich.

FlyBosnia have a route network of just three destinations – to Luton, Rome and Riyadh. They serve each destination twice weekly.

All this left me wondering, is this flight empty because of the high price, or are the high prices because of the low demand? Perhaps there’s just not enough demand at the moment for this route.

FlyBosnia are already having some financial issues, and have returned one of their two aircraft to the leasing company already. It’s been reported that they owe the airport authorities at Sarajevo quite a lot of money, and are looking at moving their flights to Mostar, and providing a bus to Sarajevo, to reduce the costs.

It turned out I needn’t have worried though. My mood was lifted the second we emerged from the cloud to this beautiful view over Bosnia.

The approach into Sarajevo was incredibly bumpy. We had some quite big drops and steep banks as we crossed the hills towards the Bosnian capital.

I grabbed a ride into the centre of Sarajevo, which took us down a street that used to be rather ominously known as ‘Sniper Alley’. It’s where, during the siege, snipers would hide on the rooftops picking off anyone entering or leaving the city towards the airport.

Overall I wasn’t that imnpressed with FlyBosnia. I thought the price was really expensive. Eurowings offer a similar length flight from Cologne to Sarajevo, which costs less than half what FlyBosnia are charging, and they at least offer the option to have something to eat on board, even if you have to pay for it. The seat was incredibly uncomfortable too, and the service onboard – well lets just say it’s non existent. By way of comparison – my flight from Sarajevo back to Amsterdam with Air Serbia has cost me the same price, but in business class. The economy fare was half of FlyBosnia’s fare.

It’s hard to see who FlyBosnia are targetting with these flights. I’d imagine most of the traffic would be visiting friends or relatives, or holidaymakers – either way these prices are just crazy for such a short flight.

At the moment FlyBosnia are charging business class prices for not even a Wizz Air level of service, and it’s hard to see how they’ll survive in an increasingly tough Eastern European market.