TRIP REPORT: Aegean Airlines, Belgrade - Athens

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Written by Vanja Popović

Route: Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport - Athens International Airport
Trip taken: July 2019
Scheduled Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes

I took the Aegean Belgrade to Athens flight this July and it was my first time to fly Aegean Airlines. I had heard all the best about the Greek airline, but I only decided to write this report somewhere mid-flight, so in the end, I wished I had taken more photos.

Unlike Aegean Airlines, Belgrade Airport could have been better organised on the day. I arrived quite early at the airport, some two and a half hours before take-off, so, at first, I wasn't surprised when the flight was not displayed on the screens at the lobby. Knowing I had plenty of time, I decided to wait a bit, but even though the latest boarding time was 18:15, the screens showed no information about the check-in desks at around 16:45. A number of flights were delayed at the time, and remained on the screens (which is needed, too), but there was no second page with details on new flights that are set to depart (and even once I passed through passport control at 17:20, there was no information on the Athens flight on the screens).

Check-in went quickly, the staff was nice and even checked in my carry-on luggage free of charge. However, I suppose a first-time traveller would have been confused because there were no directions to the Aegean check-in at the airport until after the actual gate was opened. One thing that did help were SMS notifications on the flight status from Aegean.

I checked the flight arriving from Athens to see when the plane would arrive and that flight was some 11 minutes late. However, the gate (A3) was already open at around 17:20 and all passengers were at the gate and waiting to board at 18:10. In my experience, that is excellent timing for a flight that was scheduled to leave at 18:45.

Boarding was fast and the flight took off at 18:57.

Aegean's economy seats are comfortable, but Belgrade - Athens is a short flight, so there really isn't much time to get uncomfortable.



A nice surprise was that the Greek airline gives out hard candy to all passengers before the flight. I thought that it was a nice gesture, something many airlines have given up on, even on intercontinental flights.


The meal was also good. It included a sandwich and a baklava, plus a non-alcoholic beverage of choice. One thing I did notice was that the sandwich label said it may contain sesame, so that could be an issue for passengers with nut allergies. Cabin crew was polite and finished the service quickly.


Travelling in good weather, the flight landed at 21:22, three minutes ahead of schedule, making up for the minimal delay at take-off. The flight lasted 1 hour and 25 minutes.


We were picked up by two busses upon arrival and made our way to passport control. Three police officers were working at the desks and I probably waited only 5 to 10 minutes in line.


Finally, I made my way to the Greek islands by ferry, happy with my first experience aboard an Aegean Airlines flight.


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Comments

  1. Good report, thank you!
    A3 keeping its 5 weekly A320 flights during winter time in BEG might mean that for next high season might increase them to even daily flights!
    Did you happen to notice what was the load factor or how many passengers connected in ATH to other flights?
    Again many thanks for the nice report.

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    1. Not only that but they are also selling BEG-ATH-Spain now which they didn't do in the past. Their flights to Barcelona have great timings, I think 01.05 and 01.35 connecting times in Athens.

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    2. What about LIS? Do they offer convenient connections there?

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    3. Yes, LIS is being sold during the summer, there is nothing during the winter season. I guess with reduced frequencies to Iberia connections don't work.

      BEG-ATH 10.15-12.50
      ATH-LIS 14.00-16.25

      LIS-ATH 00.35-06.30
      ATH-BEG 08.50-09.30

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    4. Those are good connecting times. Many thanks Nemjee. They seem to be doing well in Portugal, they even fly to OPO.

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    5. Generally speaking Italy, Spain and Portugal are extremely popular in Greece and vice-versa, lot's of demand both ways. Iberia even sends its A346 to ATH due to cruise ship traffic. Athens is really developing nicely but an expansion project is desperately needed. The airport becomes a zoo during the busy periods.

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  2. Great trip report. Thank you Vanja!

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  3. Aegean and their eternal remote stands.

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    Replies
    1. But i love the feeling when leaving the aircraft in the warm greek summer night !

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    2. You'd like it less in winter.

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    3. Winter is nice, don't see problems with that.

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    4. I think ATH uses jet bridges in summer mainly for widebodies? If I remember correctly sitting at the McDonalds only widebodies were parked in front of them. I bet Nemjee would know better though.

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    5. The issue is that there aren't enough non-Schengen air-bridges during the busy summer months. This year there are quite a few new widebodies, for example Norwegian flies ATH-JFK with the B789 then AA introduced ORD-ATH with the B788, Scoot added more flights from Singapore, UIA sends B763 from time to time and so on. Then there are regular widebody visitors like TK, EY, QR and even EK with its A380.

      So smaller aircraft are pushed out to remote stands during the busy periods. That said, Aegean does tend to use jetbridges if a plane comes from a non-Schengen flight and is continuing to a non-Schengen destination (LCA-ATH-BEG or IST-ATH-CAI...). Very often the flight from BEG rotates to the EU so if you get an airbridge you disembark via stairs. This aircraft rotation is one of the reasons why so many of their planes are on remote stands. LCA is lucky because they usually have one A321 just flying the whole day between the two airports so it always gets an airbridge.

      Generally speaking the whole situation is a bit messy.

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    6. Very good info Nemjee.
      I wasn't aware of all this Schengen -non Schengen issues. They do have a lot of widebodies needing jet brighes during the summer. I 've seen UA form EWR, also EK 777 from there.
      The Canadians too have a lot of frequencies. Air China too and even Aeroflot I believe is sending widebodies some days?

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    7. Yes, this was the first year that the satellite terminal was fully used (mostly by LCC carriers). So the need for expansion is extremely obvious at this point.
      As for Aeroflot, they exclusively send the A321 to Athens.

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    8. It's absolutely the same in winter.

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    9. What's in winter? Widebodies?

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    10. They are building an expansion to the main building which will open by year's end so it should help ease the congestion during the summer months.

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    11. Yes but no extra gates, only terminal space.

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    12. The fact that Aegean keeps its planes on remote stands alike Ryanair.

      Most of time all gates are empty yet Aegean parks on remote stands.

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    13. Do you have prove of that?

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    14. I flew about 20 times all combinations (EU- non-EU, EU-EU, Greece-EU, Greece- non-EU...) mostly in winter and weaker periods.

      Jet bridge was used only once on a random flight to Cairo.

      Enough of that hypocrisy.

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    15. Most of times 80% of air bridges were vacant.

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    16. Yes enough prove from Anonymous poster on a forum. LOL!

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    17. Aren't secondary destinations always given buses and stairs instead?
      Barcelona-Athens was on an air-bridge. This is a primary destination.

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    18. Arrivals this morning:

      A1 TBS
      B5 CHQ
      B3 JMK
      A3 CAI
      A9 LCA

      Remote stands

      A31 RHO
      B28 ZTH


      I was too lazy to look for more but there is a mix of gates and remote stands.

      https://www.airport-athens.com/aia-departures?tp=6

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  4. looks to me they have massively downsized catreing

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    Replies
    1. Nope, this is the standard catering on regional Balkan destinations. Even when new OA operated the route they used to give out something similar.

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    2. Yes, when you for example travel to Cyprus catering is improved (they serve hot meal)

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  5. How come they checked-in your hand luggage for free? Isn't that supposed to be paid for?

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    Replies
    1. Maybe they saw the flight was full so they did it right away. In Athens, gate agents went around asking people who had hand luggage to check-it in as there was no space in the overhead compartments.

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    2. Same happens on JU sometimes...

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    3. I suppose they knew it was full from the start, I saw Swiss do the same in the past

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    4. Iberia Express even introduced it as a regular free service. On your boarding pass they kindly ask you to check in your hand luggage.

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