Air Serbia award flights start at 4,550 Etihad Guest miles plus government taxes with no fuel surcharges. Etihad Guest miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints.

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Why Air Serbia?

I plan to spend a month or so in Belgrade, Serbia this summer, so I was looking at flight options for people to visit me or to get me from Serbia to Romania. Air Serbia serves a decent roster of European and Middle Eastern cities from its hub in Belgrade.

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What is Etihad Guest?

Air Serbia is 49% owned by Etihad, and Air Serbia’s frequent flyer program is Etihad Guest, which is kind of a mini fourth alliance.

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I’ve pretty much ignored the program until now because if you want to book Etihad flights, you get a better deal redeeming American Airlines miles than Etihad miles. (I had previously assumed you got a better deal on airberlin and Niki flights with Avios and Alitalia flights with Delta miles, but I will check those assumptions.)

Air Serbia Award Chart

However, there is no way to book Air Serbia flights other than with Etihad Guest miles, so I took a look at the Air Serbia award chart. Here it is, in its entirety:

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The award chart is distance-based and doesn’t worry about round numbers with prices like 4,606 miles and 9,773 miles one way.

Business class is a modest premium over economy, about 50% more.

Most intra-European Business Class on airlines like Lufthansa or British Airways features the exact same seats as economy (same width and leg room) but the middle seat in each group of three seats is blocked out. If that’s how Air Serbia Business Class is, I wouldn’t bother paying even a 50% premium even though it comes with food, an iPad on flights over three hours, and lounge access. Air Serbia’s pictures online, though, show a 2-2 configuration like you’d find in domestic First Class in the United States, presumably with similar leg room.

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Unfortunately I can’t find exact dimensions of Air Serbia’s Business Class seats online.

How to Book, Taxes & Fees

Unfortunately you cannot search or book Air Serbia award space online. You need to call 888-8-ETIHAD at least 14 days prior to travel to book your award. Air Serbia’s website says award bookings do not include “YQ tax” AKA fuel surcharges.

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I tested out one flight to see what taxes and fees were included on an award booking.

I picked this one way flight from Belgrade to Skopje, Macedonia because I’ve always had a fascination with Macedonia.

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The flight only costs $110.14.

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Of that, almost half, or $47.71, is made up of taxes and fuel surcharges.

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Specifically, the taxes listed as Serbia LG, Serbia RF, and Serbia RS are $23.17.
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When I priced out that flight as an award ticket, the Etihad Guest phone agent quoted me a price of 4,550 miles + 20.78 euros.

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That’s pretty close to $23.17. That tells me that booking Air Serbia awards with Etihad guest miles does NOT incur the YQ fuel surcharge or any phone fee, just the miles listed plus government taxes, which you can estimate very closely on ITA Matrix.

There were two flights from Belgrade to Skopje on the day I had the agent search. There was award space in economy on both flights. I don’t want to draw any conclusions from such a small sample, but I anticipate that award space is widely available on nearly every Air Serbia flight in economy and Business Class based on the fact that intra-European award space is a gimme on most airlines.

Is This a Good Redemption?

You save $87.10 by using 5,000 ThankYou Points (because you have to transfer in 1,000 point increments.) That’s getting 1.74 cents of value per point, which I think is pretty good. At that value, the sign up bonus on either the Citi Prestige or ThankYou Premier would be over $870.

Getting Etihad Guest Miles

Citi ThankYou Points and SPG points transfer to Etihad miles at a 1:1 rate. These are the best cards to earn Etihad Guest miles:

I transferred ThankYou Points to Etihad miles, and the miles took seven days to post in my Etihad Guest account. Combined with the 14 day advance booking requirement, make sure you plan ahead with your Air Serbia redemption.

Bottom Line

Etihad Guest miles are the only way to fly Air Serbia, which has a very cheap award chart for travel to and from Belgrade. Awards start at 4,550 Etihad Guest miles and Business Class is only about 50% more. Awards incur government taxes, but no fuel surcharges or phone booking fees.

You can get Etihad Guest miles by making a 1:1 transfer from Citi ThankYou Points or SPG points. Get the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card or Citi Prestige® Card, each with huge sign up bonuses.

Pay your award taxes with the Citi Prestige® Card. The first $250 in award taxes, fuel surcharges, airfare, or airline fees per calendar year are refunded to you as a statement credit. If you’ve already maxed out the statement credit, you will still earn 3x ThankYou Points on the award taxes.

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