Flight booking experiment: From Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia to New York

Written by on September 30, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Flight booking experiment: From Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia to New York

There is nothing better than a little flight booking experiment on a Saturday morning. New York City is the imaginary destination. The “city that doesn’t sleep” offers so much. Crossing Brooklyn Bridge with a good camera, experiencing a stunning Jazz gig while munching a Hamburger at the Blue Note, or maxing out ones credit cards while shopping for gadgets in Chinatown: All of these activities are priceless.

Sure, a destination is not enough. We need origins, and we have three of them: Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport (Belgrade, Serbia), Henri Coandă International Airport (Bucharest, Romania) and Sofia Airport (Sofia, Bulgaria).

Also, we need airlines and flight dates. So, we are flying to New York on October 20, and returning on October 30. Also, we intend to use the flagship airlines in the three South-Eastern European countries involved. They are Air Serbia, Tarom and Bulgaria Air.

BOOKING no. 1, Belgrade – New York:

The Air Serbia website was found in no time, so was our flight. During the booking process, the airline gave us fare choices. So, why in the hell would be choose an expensive one? Our choice is the cheapest rate for this return flight.

The outcome: Belgrade – New York (John F. Kennedy Airport), October 20 to October 30, direct flights on an Air Serbia Airbus A330-200. The price tag: 459.59 Euro, including taxes. The duration: The flight to New York takes 10 hours and 10 minutes, the return flight 8 hours and 40 minutes.

The booking experience rating: Direct flight, no complications, good price. 10 out of 10 points.

At Henri Coandă International Airport, direct flights from Canada will be welcomed soon. Photo: Wikipeadia

BOOKING no. 2, Bucharest – New York:

The Tarom website did not give us any problems either, neither did the flight search. There are differences though, compared to the Air Serbia booking: There are no direct flights to New York or anywhere in North America (at least not yet). And our price just increased.

The outcome: Four flights, Bucharest – Paris, Paris – JFK, JFK – Paris, Paris – Bucharest, operated by Tarom’s partner Air France. The cheapest flights on these dates: 785.58 Euro. The flight duration (total time, including stopover): 15 hours and 5 minutes, and 14 hours and 15 minutes.

The booking experience rating: Flights are not direct and far more expensive, but no complications. 7 out of 10 points.

Sofia Airport looks sleek and sexy. But there are no direct flights to America. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.

BOOKING no. 3, Sofia – New York:

Bulgaria Air’s new website did not give us any trouble either. Neither did the flight search. But there is no direct flight here either. And our price just increased further.

The outcome: We got this: Sofia – Paris, Paris – New York, New York – Zurich, Zurich – Sofia. The intercontinental part of both flights would be operated by American Airlines. The flight duration, including stopovers: 13 hours and 35 minutes, and 18 hours and 45 minutes. Our price: 887.55 Euro.

The booking experience rating: It was a hassle-free test booking, but the flights are expensive, compared to the Air Serbia offer, one of the connections is faster than those from Bucharest, the other one much longer. 6 out of 10 points.

Generally speaking, it is a little frustrating not to have direct flights to New York or to any destination in North America from Sofia or Bucharest. That way, the travel time and the prices increase substantially.

In Sofia, big discussions about the introduction of direct flights to New York erupt on a regular basis, but they do not lead anywhere, at least up to now.

In Bucharest, on the other hand, things will be happening. No, there won’t be any direct flights to New York anytime soon, but to Canadian cities. According to Canada Newswire, Air Canada will offer temporary, bi-weekly, direct flights between Montréal and Bucharest from June 7 to October 5, 2018, as well as between Toronto and Bucharest, from June 9 to October 7, 2018.

 

 

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com