Dec 272013

Check-in, security, and immigration were a breeze in Podgorica.  The airport is so small there’s no real gates, just one large room on the other side of immigration with multiple doors leading out to busses.  There was a VIP lounge as well, but unfortunately (for some odd reason) Air Serbia had no agreement for business class passengers to use it.  Yes, I said Air Serbia.  So what happened to flying JAT?  Well, for once, I trusted my travel agent (who knew JAT was gone) that I was JAT, but they’d actually rebranded several months prior to Air Serbia when Ethihad took a 49% ownership stake.

Air Serbia flight 173
Podgorica, Montenegro (TGD) to Belgrade, Serbia (BEG)
Depart 15:40, Arrive 16:30, Flight Time 0:50
Airbus A319-100 Registration YU-APE, Manufactured 2007, Seat 2A

15:40 came and went, and no sign of boarding, although the area leading to the door outside was a madhouse.  Finally 5 minutes after scheduled departure, the floodgates were open, and everyone madly rushed our plane:


I was expecting the usual crappy Euro Business by this point, but it was proper 2×2 US-style seating up front…quite nice!


Quickly was asked for a pre-departure, and I asked if by chance they had sparkling wine.  She went to the galley, and brought it on a tray with my glass to pour in front of me, and OMG it was Veuve!  Now THAT is seriously impressive on a 50 minute flight gate to gate!


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Dec 252013

Taxi back to the airport in the morning took over an hour thanks to traffic, adding another 10 euro to the meter from the previously ridiculous fare that I had from the airport.  Can’t seem to win!  Check-in, security, and passport control were all a breeze – this is the first time I’ve been through Vienna since the remodel, and I was seriously impressed how efficiently things seemed to run.

The new Austrian Senator lounge was quite nice, with a good variety of munchies and drinks, but given the hour I behaved and stuck to water and munchies pre-flight.  Soon it was time for the walk to the gate, which turned out to be a bus gate.  Being a prop plane they fit everyone on one bus, and off we went.  Turned out the plane was completely full, except “business” class, which consisted of 2 rows of 2×2 seats, thus 4 possible to sell.    Felt kinda bad coach was completely full and I had the front eight seats to myself, but I guess there’s some consolation to having paid for business class on a short prop flight.

Austrian (operated by Tyrolean) flight 727
Vienna, Austria (VIE) to Podgorica, Montenegro (TGD)
Depart 12:50, Arrive 14:25, Flight Time 1:35
Dehavilland Dash 8-400, Registration OE-LGH, Manufactured 2002, Seat 1A

Takeoff was quick, and I was curious to see what the food would be.  Being a prop, I expected the same cold sandwich I saw economy getting, but nope…it was the full real deal.  Kudos to Austrian and Do and Co catering!  Nice little meat pie, some bubbly, and a tasty desert – not bad at all all things considered!


It’s no Dom, but I was beginning to actually enjoy the Austrian sparkling wine, and it worked well with the dessert…at least that’s what I was telling myself!


Amazing views over the mountains as we descended into Podgorica:


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Nov 232013

Having just returned from 5 consecutive weekends on the west coast thanks to the United $10 fare sale, I was ready to be home. Seriously I was. Especially since I had 7 visas to sort for my New Years trip to Africa coming up. Work, however, had other plans for me.

No Thanksgiving this year, but rest assured I was going to have Turkey. As in the country, not the bird.

It actually started as a week-long trip to Tajikistan…and the easiest way there was through Istanbul. Then, a week in Moscow got added on. Now, mind you, last time I was in Moscow was 1988 when it was still part of the Soviet Union, and it was my 3rd country visited after Canada and the UK. I’m going to guess Moscow is a bit different 25 years later.

I’d planned on taking a few days of vacation after that, to visit 2 of my 3 remaining countries in Europe, when fate intervened I was needed in Montenegro. Score! This would also mean an overnight in Vienna. …and business would finish on Friday, allowing me a weekend connection in Serbia at no charge. That will leave poor little Andorra as my last country to visit in Europe.

I’m going to try and keep up with this in real time. Just managed to secure 10 visas in a little over 3 weeks, which is some sort of personal record, and especially impressive giving they included DR Congo, Angola, Russia, and several other places in West Africa where I’m headed in just five weeks!  Then, it’s back home for a grand total of five days, before a few day Christmas with the family, and then off to West Africa for two+ weeks.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep up in real time. The flight routing is:



Off we go!