Aegean Airlines Economy Class Athens-Paris – Excellent economy class in Europe
Aegean Airlines is the largest Greek airline, in terms of number of passengers, number of aircraft and number of destinations. Aegean Airlines currently flies to 60 destinations with about 30 aircraft. Since 2010, the airline is also a member of the Star Alliance and in late 2013, approved the purchase of former rival, Olympic Air, which is now a fully owned subsidiary of Aegean Airlines.
Aegean Airlines has become mostly known for having a favourable bonus scheme as well as offering a fairly high level of service on flights within Europe. This review summarises a three-hour flight between Athens and Paris.
At the Airport
The check-in took place shortly after 1 o’clock in the afternoon (three hours before departure) at Athens Eleftherios Venizelos airport, in what is generally called terminal B. In practice, however, it is only one terminal, subsequently divided into a Schengen area (terminal B) and a non-Schengen area (terminal A).
As an economy class passenger, it was not possible to pre-book seats on the plane, even with a gold card. I did however, discover to my delight, that when I logged in through online check-in the night before, that Aegean had pre-booked a seat for me on the plane, 03D, an aisle seat on the first row and one of the most attractive seats on board. This was appreciated.
At the airport there were counters for economy class, automated check-in and a separate check-in area for business class and gold card travellers. Since I only had hand luggage, it was easy to check in via one of the machines.
As a gold card traveller, you can choose between two lounges in Athens, Lufthansa and Aegean, whose lounges are, incidentally, next door to each other. Both lounges are in fact very nice. Lufthansa wins on the beverage options and if we exclude the first class lounges in Germany, it is perhaps the best Lufthansa lounge in the world. Aegean’s lounge is much larger, more attractive and feels slightly more elegant. Food and drink is also to a high standard and the Aegean lounge has a lot to choose from and several good Greek wines.
Boarding and First Impressions
Unlike many other airports, security checks take place, after the duty free area and lounges. Therefore, be sure to set aside enough time for the security check. There is however, a separate fast-track channel for premium passengers that is located steps away from the lounges. In order to use this you will need a sticker or a stamp on your boarding pass. If you are in transit or have checked in via the automated check-in, you can get the sticker in the lounge.
Boarding started half an hour before departure, downstairs in the basement. Priority was given to passengers in business class and with gold cards but in a practical sense, it made no great difference as everyone still travelled on the same bus to the aircraft.
The plane was a fairly new Airbus A320 and the cabin interior gave a good first impression. Not spectacular but neat and modern with dark grey leather seats. The plane was well occupied with only a few vacant seats.
The pushback was punctual at 4:15pm while a safety video played on the screens before departure. Flight time to Paris was scheduled for three hours.
The aircraft, an Airbus A320, consisted of 28 rows of seats, with two rows of business class and 26 rows of economy class. The seat was surprisingly comfortable and offered quite tolerable legroom for being economy class in Europe, at least in row 3 it did.
The cabin had a normal 3-3 configuration. In business class the middle seat was blocked from use and had been replaced by a cocktail table.
The plane was equipped with screens in the ceiling above every third row. On really long flights, films and other entertainment is shown, while on this flight, it was primarily a flight map we had to follow. On the armrest was a small control panel for the entertainment system where there was music channels to listen to.
After take-off, service began. First was cocktails from the wagon. On board there were all sorts of drinks, juices and soft drinks as well as beer and wine, which were complimentary in economy class. I ordered a bottle of Greek wine to drink, nothing that will go down in history, but perfectly okay.
Scarcely 45 minutes later, the beverage wagon came a second time, with the option to order additional drinks to go with the food. Then it was time for dinner.
Dinner consisted of a good moussaka. On the tray was also a piece of bread and butter, a packet of biscuits, a small piece of cheese and a oat cookie for dessert. I ordered another bottle of wine and a glass of water.
The food tasted really good, definitely nothing to complain about considering the route and cabin class. Later, coffee and tea were offered and 20 minutes later, also a refill.
Friendly and courteous staff but otherwise nothing special for me as a gold card traveller. However, what impressed me, was the comprehensive service in economy class. During three hours the serving trolley passed no less than four times to offer something to eat or drink. This was in addition to a round with the duty free cart and of course to collect rubbish.
What also impressed was the large number of flight attendants in economy class, all-in-all I think there was five or six people who worked in the cabin.
We landed 15 minutes before the scheduled time in Paris. At Charles de Gaulle, it is terminal 1 and satellite 7 which is used, the same satellite that SAS use, which created a ridiculously easy transfer for me as I would continue with SAS to Scandinavia.
The SAS lounge (which incidentally Aegean also uses in Paris) was ten metres from the arrival gate. The gate for the connecting flight was 50 metres away and so security checks were not necessary.
Excellent service structure with good food and drinks. Comfortable seat with plenty of legroom and nice lounges in Athens. This is how it should always be to fly economy class in Europe.