We arrived at Istanbul Airport (IST) at 9am. There was a short wait to get through the initial security line of maybe 5 mins.
Only once through were we able to find out that the flight was checking in at desks P41-44, which is almost at the far end of the terminal. Maybe that’s no surprise for a nonaligned carrier flying once a day but knowing in advance would have let my driver drop us at the correct end of the terminal, saved 100m of walking and cut out that first security queue completely.
Anyway, 4 check-in desks for a 116-seat plane seemed generous. By the time we got there – about 9.25am – only two were staffed but we were amongst the last looking at the sequence numbers. I’m not sure when the desk opened but the Air Montenegro site made it clear it closed 60 mins before departure.
So no queue at either counter, passports scanned, and boarding passes issued very quickly. No lounge access is offered however.
From the desk it was another long walk back to the emigration point for non-Turkish pax, another 10-minute wait then security. Again, Air Montenegro business class affords no fast track bonus here.
All in all it took 45 mins from stepping out the car to being properly airside.
We had a 10.30 boarding time so made a quick detour to the IGA lounge using Priority Pass but it really wasn’t worth the effort, as after 20 mins of being underwhelmed by food, drink and ambiance given there’s ongoing construction work in the place (think spot welding and power sawing timbers) it was time to make the 15 min walk to the gate – F8B.
Boarding started just before 10.30. Not aware of any priority call for business class so we just joined the masses. A short hold on the jet bridge then we were seated by 10.40. No problem stowing sensible size wheelie cases in the overheads for anyone in the 3 rows of business class. Every seat on the flight was full but I had bought 5 of the 12 business seats anyway and looking around, the airline seemed to have been quite good in terms of managing carry-on bags in Y.
As a side note, Air Montenegro offer inflight magazines, which is the first time I’ve seen these in more than 3 years.
A few stragglers meant boarding only completed a few minutes before the booked departure time but we were away fairly quickly. A long-ish taxi at least meant no hold for take off. We were then quickly heading North West for Montenegro.
The curtain between the cabins was drawn as soon as the crew were released from seats and the modest cabin service got underway. In business, this was a cardboard “bento” box which had a selection of olives, cheese, cold meat and crackers. It tasted good, although was in all reality a basic offering. A small box of Montenegrin chocolates was also offered, along with a selection of drinks.
I saw coke, coffee and water all being requested but in the name of research, I asked if wine was available, and the face of the cabin crew member positively lit up when I queried if it was from Montenegro – and she confirmed it indeed was. Arguably it was served slightly warmer than I’d have liked but it was probably the correct temperature to enjoy the floral notes. Sadly, it was served in a plastic wine glass – the sort you might take on a picnic – although given all other drinks seemed to be served in paper cups, I should probably be grateful.
A second bottle of wine was procured and consumed, just to make sure I really did like it and not much more than an hour after leaving Istanbul we started the approach into Tivat.
Landing was from the South (the unexciting approach) and we were quickly on stand. As we were at the front, getting off was a fast affair but we were then held on the tarmac as passengers from an outbound flight walked from the gate to their aircraft, as we had to cross their path to get over to immigration. All very “classic aviation” in a world now dominated by air bridges and multi-level airport terminals.
Anyway, we were front of the line for immigration and quickly stamped into the country. A customs officer then stopped us, asking for passports (again), where we had come from and how much cash I had. With that all sorted, we were outside the airport looking for our taxi a good 15 minutes before the scheduled arrival time, local media reports.