I just hit country #73, the amazing Montenegro. The beaches here are truly stunning, the food amazing, and the people extremely friendly. Who would have thought that Delta SkyMiles would have been the easiest way to get here…but they were. I wanted to fly into Tivat airport which is located about 90 minutes from Dubrovnik airport (DBV). The airport clearly does not have direct flights from the US and the European connections weren’t great…options included Lufthansa to Frankfurt or Munich and then onwards to Belgrade using Star Alliance partner points/miles. From there, I could have purchased a cheap Air Serbia flight. Air Berlin flies to Tivat as well but redemption options with oneworld partners weren’t great, I found three days the entire month that had availability, all requiring two or more connections within Germany. Montenegro Airlines now has seasonal service to London Gatwick, Paris, Amsterdam, and Rome, but they don’t have any partners, the flights do not operate daily, and their prices were truly ridiculous (800-1000 EUR on most days). Dubrovnik options weren’t all that appealing either. Delta’s awards, both on their own metal and with partner Aeroflot, were pricing low for business class (Moscow is one European city where Delta seems to have decent award availability, even on their own equipment). I opted for Aeroflot for the shorter layover in Moscow (3 hours and 45 minutes) and for the opportunity to sample business class on a new carrier both on their 777 to SVO and an A321 to TIV.
Well, the best planned trips can have hiccups and unfortunately this one was no exception. Aeroflot canceled the flight to Tivat for the day I was supposed to fly. Luckily they notified Delta a few days earlier and I received a call informing me I could fly to Moscow but no further (the next flight was over 24 hours later and would have required a visa). Delta had researched my options before calling and presented me with a fair option (not fun, but doable) – they would switch me on to their own metal to London Heathrow and from there I could transfer to Gatwick and fly on Montenegro Airlines (who by this time had dropped their last few seats to 150 Euro on my travel day). The price for the Montenegro Airlines ticket and the bus transfer would just about equal the taxes on my Aeroflot flight which Delta would be refunding. My only other option was to fly Delta down to Orlando, connect to Virgin Atlantic, and fly directly to Gatwick to pick up the Montenegro Airlines flight (that option originally sounded better but had a huge layover). JFK-LHR-LGW-TIV it was. Surprisingly enough, it wasn’t horrible at all. The DL flight arrived over an hour early, I walked 10 minutes to the bus pick-up, and arrived at Gatwick just after I was scheduled to land at Heathrow. Montenegro Airlines operates E-190s and the flight was easy enough (full trip report coming soon).
Anyway, I’m glad I decided to stick with Montenegro…check out some of these pics:
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