TRIP REPORT: Air Montenegro by Windrose, Tivat - Ljubljana
TRIP REPORT

Written by Tom Eskey

“Montenegro keeps winning…”
This is a phrase that we see a lot on the EX-YU Aviation News blog.
But is it the truth?
Last week, I had the opportunity to put this bold statement to the test on two fronts: a Tivat-to-Ljubljana flight…on a flight marketed by Air Montenegro!
This year, Air Montenegro opted to resume flights between Tivat and Ljubljana during the popular summer season. I live roughly 5 minutes (by car) from the Tivat airport so when possible, I take advantage of its convenient location. I was traveling up to Slovenia to review some CrossFit gyms for my website, GarageGymRevisited.com, so this route worked perfectly for me.
I booked a one-way ticket on Air Montenegro, Flight 200 for roughly 150 euros. I would later pay an additional 5.50 euros for a seat near the front of the plane (7B) since I would not be checking any baggage and wanted to move quickly after landing.

Tivat Airport is not the best at managing a large number of flights and delays during the summer season are normal. Thankfully, the 7:50 departure time for MNE200 made it the second flight of the day before too much of a “log jam” could begin to form. Also, the 7:00 MNE150 flight to Belgrade was long gone by the time I would arrive.
My wife and I departed our home at 7:05. There was light traffic at and around the airport and she dropped me off at 7:10. A decent number of people were gathered outside of Terminal 1 (the one of the two that is actually in operation) with others enjoying light beverages at the outdoor café.

Entering the terminal, a large line had already formed in the middle of the combined departure hall/check-in desk area. This is a common occurrence as the design of the facility creates a large bottleneck between this area, the security area, and passport control. I made my way around the line and up to the nearly empty check-in desk for my flight.

Now, I was only traveling with hand luggage and, at just about every other airport, would have simply printed my boarding pass at home and immediately proceeded to security.
…but this isn’t the way things work at this airport. You must have a boarding pass issued by the check-in desk (this is true even for airlines where a boarding pass can be printed online; security will turn you back if you do not have an airport-issued boarding pass).
Montenegro…not winning this one.
I received my boarding pass, turned around, and immediately proceeded to the Menzies Aviation Services desk. Why would I head to this desk as opposed to immediately joining the line for security, you might be wondering? Well, in order to access the “Business Lounge” at Tivat Airport via some type of third-party membership (my Priority Pass membership, for example) one must check-in at this desk and receive authorization.

This process took about 5 minutes, although it seemed to take much longer due to the fact that the entire time, the only thing I could think was “why is this (presumably) the only airport on Earth where the lounge attendant can’t simply scan my membership card at the lounge?”

Boarding and lounge passes in hand, I joined the line that began to move at a surprisingly rapid pace. Within 5 minutes I was removing my belt and laptops, although not before passing a sign advertising what a think was some type of Business Lounge “special”.

After passing through security and passport control, I entered the combined gates/duty free area.

I immediately turned left and made my way to almost hidden entrance to the business lounge…only to be greeted by a locked door.

Now…why exactly did the woman at the Menzies desk go through the painstaking process of getting me a pass when the lounge was closed? I gave her my boarding pass with “7:20 Boarding” and “Ljubljana” clearly written on it so she knew when I was going to be departing (before the lounge opened), but…alas.

Is this what #winning feels like Montenegro?
I assumed a seat at the Ljubljana gate and shortly thereafter, hopped in line as boarding began.
As luck would have it, after roughly 2 months of almost zero rain in Tivat, this was the day when the skies decided to open back up. We hustled to the E-190 (the one leased from Ukraine’s Windrose Airlines) and I quickly took my seat.

The plane was roughly 80-percent full with the majority of the customers appearing to be Slovenes making their way home after a seaside vacation in Montenegro. A young Slovene woman I met during boarding explained to me that she loves coming to Tivat to party and listen to Balkan Music.
(There are some things in life I’m pretty sure I’ll simply never understand)

After boarding was completed, I noticed an empty pair of seats a row back and received approval for the seat change (8D). The staff went through the safety demonstration and all other announcements (English only). I found the legroom to be adequate, but then again, I’m only 173cm/5’7”.

We waited for a few minutes for an Air Serbia flight from Belgrade to land and make its way to the terminal. At 7:58 we pushed back and by 8:01 we were wheels up.
Interestingly, this was one of the few occasions where we took off towards the South, experiencing a few seconds of rather severe turbulence as the pilot fought to quickly reach cruising altitude. We made our turn northward and for the remainder of the flight, experienced somewhat clear and calm skies.

At 8:17, the flight attendants began the meal service. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a small portion of mixed nuts as the “food” item (as opposed to some kind of cookie or sweet snack) and a small, Air Montenegro-branded bottle of water.

Montenegro does keep winning!
Paid service commenced shortly after, although there was only one taker (at 8:25 in the morning, their coffee order was understandable!)
By 8:40 we had started our descent and at 9:01 we touched down in Ljubljana. The total in air flight time was exactly one hour.

(Anybody have any information about the random Avianca jet? It’s been parked at LJU forever!)

Although the clear blue skies were a definite contrast from the weather I had just left in Tivat, the process of descending the airstair and stepping out onto the apron was the same.

A number of Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport’s flights arrive and depart via a jet bridge (like the Turkish Airlines flight that was boarding at the time), but I’ve never walked through one after arriving from Tivat.

Maybe not a “loss” for Montenegro…maybe some people like navigating airstairs and the apron!
I grabbed my bags and quickly de-planed, ascending and descending a few sets of steps, finally making my way to passport control, (where there are no automated passport machine readers for EU citizens so when arriving, you must go to a physical border agent) down the long hallway to baggage, and finally through customs.

I passed the small indoor/outdoor café and made my way down the long hallway to the rental car area (be aware that only two or three of the rental car companies are located in this building. The rest are across the street in the building with the parking deck). After a short wait, I was in my car and on my way.

Overall, the best way to describe my experience was “ascending”; it got better and better as it progressed.
Tivat Airport, although a better experience than usual (probably due to the early hour), was still predictably mediocre.
The flight was largely uneventful…which I don’t have any major qualms with.
Being greeted by friendly, helpful staff members at LJU was the highlight.
At this point, though, it’s time to re-examine that age-old phrase…
“Montenegro keeps winning!”
Well, it certainly took a beating at the airport and although the flight was a bit better, being that the plane and crew were not technically Montenegrin, I don’t know how much credit we can give Montenegro here (other than awarding points for those wonderful, Air Montenegro-branded peanuts!)
However, for a short, simple, uneventful flight, things definitely could have been worse.


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Article source: http://www.exyuaviation.com/2023/08/trip-report-air-montenegro-by-windrose.html

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