Serbia is a country full of monuments, historical places, and beautiful nature, and the most important thing, people are very friendly and warm. Serbians address another person whom he/she doesn’t know with “brother - brate” or “boss - šefe”. Even if you go to the market/supermarket, people usually address you “neighbor – komšija/komšinice”.
Luckily for you, most young people can speak English. Why? It is simple. If you don’t speak English it’s like “you’re not educated” because of many reasons: good movies and TV shows are mostly in English, good books for IT or other professions are written in English, we can’t travel almost anywhere (except countries of ex-Yugoslavia) without English, and we can’t help foreign people if they’re in a trouble without English. However, if you start to speak Serbian (at least a little bit), you’ll be appreciated and respected much more. Plus, we’re going to have bigger motivation to help you and show you our city.
Of course, you can see English text on some signs, but in most situations this isn’t enough. This is especially true when you have a connecting flight or documentation issues when going through customs.
Thus, in this article, I'll explain what to say in some of the most common situations that can occur in Serbian airports using three examples:
- Arriving at the Belgrade airport.
- Departing from the Belgrade airport.
- Making a connecting flight via the Belgrade airport.
Here is some vocabulary that you may need when going to an airport in Serbia:
• sedište do prolaza (aisle seat)
• dolasci (arrivals)
• prtljag (baggage)
• boarding karta (boarding pass)
• kabina (cabin)
• odlazak (departure)
• ekonomska klasa (economy class)
• zemlja/ sletanje (land/landing)
• poleteti/poletanje (take-off)
• terminal (terminal)
• pasoš (passport)
• pista (runway)
• turbulencija (turbulence)
• sedište do prozora (window seat)
Arrivals - Dolasci
Imagine that you are arriving at Nikola Tesla (the Belgrade airport). You leave the plane… and enter hell. At that moment, you cannot find anybody who speaks English and the Serbian language is everywhere. Here is the first phrase that you will need: • Izvinite, da li znate gde je pasoška kontrola? (Excuse me, do you know where the passport control is?)
So, now you’ve been shown the way to passport control, and you are currently standing in front of the customs officer. He asks you something in Serbian. Your response? Speak Serbian!
He/she will be shocked that you can speak Serbian, and you will probably go through passport control much faster than other people!
• Dobro jutro (dobar dan/dobro veče)! Zašto dolazite u Srbiju? (Good morning (good afternoon/good evening), why are you coming in Serbia?)
• Ja sam turista. Hoću da posetim Beograd! (I'm a tourist, I want to see Belgrade!)
• Vaš pasoš, molim. (Your passport, please.)
• Dobrodošli u Srbiju! (Welcome to Serbia!)
P.S: Dobrodošli – formal way (or it can also be for a group of people)
For example: Dobrodošli gospođice Marina. – Welcome miss Marina (it is obvious that is the formal speach since I have just mentioned only one person).
Dragi prijatelji, dobrodošli u naš dom. – Dear friends, welcome to our home. (This is used for a group of people).
How to be informal: You can simply say: Dobrodošao – if you are talking to a man or dobrodošla - if you are talking to a girl.
For example: Dobrodošao Nenade, nadam se da ćeš se lepo provesti. – Welcome Nenad, I hope you are going to have a nice time.
Dobrodošla Jelena, baš mi je drago što si došla. – Welcome Jelena, I am so glad you came.
Now, you have successfully crossed the border and entered Serbia; you just need to get your luggage. Usually, you won't have any problems here. However, just in case, let’s look at some useful expressions:
• Gde mogu uzeti svoj prtljag? (Where can I get my baggage?)
• Ja nisam uspeo/uspela pronaći svoj prtljag na pokretnoj traci, Mislim da neće stići! (I didn't find my baggage on the conveyor belt, I think it didn't arrive!)
• Molim Vas, pokažite Vašu boarding kartu и oznaku Vašeg prtljaga. (Show me your boarding pass and baggage tag please.)
Hopefully, you’ve been able to get all your stuff without any problems and are inside the airport now! There’s just one thing left to do: go to the city! • Gde je avioekspres? (Where is the Aero express?)
• Gde je autobuska stanica? (Where is the bus station?)
• Gde je taksi? (Where is a taxi?)
Departures - Odlasci
Everything here is the same as before, just in a different order. So now you will find your terminal, find your check-in desk, go to your gate and then, board the plane.
• Gde je terminal F? (Where is terminal F?)
• Da li imate ručni prtljag? (Do you have hand luggage?)
• Gde je izlaz broj 15? (Where is gate #15?)
• Vašu boarding kartu, molim. (Boarding pass, please.)
You can always get further information from the cabin crew.
Connections - Veze
If you need to make a connecting flight, there isn't much new vocabulary that you’ll need to learn. Here, however, are a few useful phrases: • Imam tranzit, šta je potrebno da uradim? (I have a connection, what do I need to do?)
• Da li mi je potrebna viza za tranzit? (Do I need visa for transit?)
When it comes to finding a particular place, you can do so very simply in Russian. All you need is the word Gde (where) + verb to be (ja sam – I am, ti si - you are –you informal, he is – on je, ona je – she is, it is – ono je.. Mi smo – we are, vi ste – you are, Vi ste – you are – you formal, oni su – they are –pl., one su – they are ---pl.f. , ona su – they are –pl.n. ) plus the place / or someone’s name. For example: • Gde je toalet/WC? (Where is the toilet?)
• kafić (cafe)
• izlaz (exit)
• ulaz (entrance)
• Gde je Bojana? (Where is Bojana?)
• Gde su Novak i Jelena? (Where are Novak and Jelena?)
And now, the most important question of all for many people: • Gde je Djutri fri? (Where is the Duty-Free shop?)
This uses the same word as in English, but is written with Serbian letters (Djutri fri).
So, Serbian airports aren’t as complicated as they seem! Plus, this is especially true if you learn a few Serbian phrases.
As we say in Serbian: “Možeš ubiti dve muve jednim udarcem!” (You can kill two hares at the same time!). These two “hares” would be:
- You will be able to get through a Serbian airport without any problems.
- Everybody will be shocked that a foreigner can speak Serbian! This is really unusual.
Therefore, you will find that people are very willing to help you and speak to you. I hope you enjoy your time in Serbia and that you don't need any more expressions than the ones listed above; they are definitely important for your vocabulary!
Take care of yourself, be safe and travel as much as you can!