TRIP REPORT: Aegean Airlines, Belgrade - Heraklion


Written by Veljko Marinković

Flight: A3 485, Belgrade - Heraklion
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200, SX-DVL
Age: 14 years

Flight: A3 315, Heraklion-Athens
Aircraft: Airbus A321-200, SX-DNG
Age: 16 years

Flight: A3 976, Athens-Belgrade
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200, SX-DVM
Age: 14 years

Heraklion became my usual June destination, and at the start, I did not plan to write this trip report, because I have already reviewed all companies on this route in the past years, but I have changed my mind for two main reasons: Aegean Airlines service was beyond any of my expectations and because of the new part of Belgrade Airport. Last year I flew on this route with Wizz Air but this time Aegean had better fares, and the dates were more suitable for me. I opted for the lowest fare that includes only one piece of luggage (cabin size or bag under the seat). Initially, Aegean Airlines planned two weekly services to Heraklion, but one month before the launch, all the Friday flights were canceled including my return flight, but I will write about this situation a little bit later on in the report.

Construction work at Belgrade Airport

I arrived at Belgrade Airport some two and half hours earlier and at that moment the airport was almost empty, so I quickly passed security and passport control. The new centralized security check in front of passport control is well organized, and although I have read in several places that the airport has started utilizing full-body scanners on passengers, which detect objects on or inside a person's body, without requiring travelers to physically remove their clothing or accessories such as belts, this time this was not the case, or those new scanners are not yet in use. Currently, in addition to the exterior, works are being carried out at gates A4-A10 and practically that part of the airport is closed. Similarly, gates C4-C6 are being converted into an open-space concept. And this is also my strongest impression, that there is a lot more space at the airport, especially at the gate itself, where this open-space concept increases comfort. The new part of the airport looks nice, but it lacks content. Also, the new part with the laminate floor looks nice, but I don't know what it will look like after a year of use. Concerning my last visit to the airport, a new duty-free shop was opened, somewhere in the area around C5, but as far as I noticed on arrival, after 7 pm, it was closed.

New part of the airport

Maybe we passengers are a bit spoiled and are used to everything being close and fast at Nikola Tesla Airport, but now it takes a lot more time and steps to get to the last gate at the new part of the airport. I have seen a lot of people resting on those new fast tracks. Also, the new bus gates at C10 are very spacious but, for example, if you want to go to gate C10a you have to particularly backtrack because this gate is somewhere below gate C6, but the entrance to the bus zone is at gate C10, so a lot of unnecessary steps, and I hope this will be solved when this new part of a building is completed. New toilets, opened at the beginning and end of the new part of the airport, look fantastic, a good combination of green colors. What I noticed is that there are no more flight announcements and boarding calls, which are heard throughout the terminal, so it is necessary to monitor the information screens. Also in front of C1, there is an informative part about Nikola Tesla which was created in cooperation with the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade, so I am very glad that someone from the airport management reads our trip reports so here is one more suggestion to make a part that would indicate that the airport this year celebrates 60 years.

New bus gates C10a - C10e

Nice summer addition to Air Serbia's fleet - Lumiwings B737 Class - and Next generation jets

Boarding started on time, at gate A1 which has not been renovated and there are metal detectors and x-ray scanners at the entrance, but they are not in use. Although the aircraft from Heraklion arrived some 20 minutes ahead of schedule, we departed some 20 minutes late, because of chaotic boarding and due to the incoming and outgoing traffic at rwy 30. Initially, this flight was planned to be operated by Airbus A321 but Aegean changed equipment to a smaller member of the family, the A320. There were 140 passengers which I found quite surprising, because of the last-minute cancelations. A safety demonstration was played on the overhead screens and the thing I found quite disturbing was that the vast majority of the passengers did not pay attention to it. During the flight, these overhead screens displayed the position of the aircraft on the map, distance and time to destination, speed, altitude, speed relative to the ground, outside temperature, and other basic characteristics of the flight.

Aegean Airlines non-vegetarian vs. vegetarian meals 

Cabin service included a sandwich, sweets, and hot and cold beverages, including alcoholic drinks. There were options to choose between a selection of beef or vegetarian sandwich, since the first one was not so tasty, on the return flight I chose the vegetarian option, and it was much better. What I was especially impressed with was that Aegean had a special serving for children, with juice and chocolates with children's motifs as well as special gifts for children in the form of Aegean playing cards or coloring books. Even I asked after the flight if I could get a set, to give away, and I got it with no problem. Although both Airbuses are 14 years old, the aircraft that operated the Athens flight was in better condition, and the seat pitch in the last rows was better than in the mid-section, while the A321 was more generous in leg space.

Aegean seat pitch A320 vs. A321

Like I said, Aegean canceled my return flight from Heraklion to Belgrade, and offered a full refund, a refund of 110% to my Aegean account, or to contact them. Since there was no option to cancel my trip, after four days I contacted them, Aegean offered me 3 days earlier or later direct flight or flight via Athens on the day of my scheduled return. Luckily, the flight from Athens to Belgrade was an evening flight, so the flight was just two and half hours earlier and I got an extra take-off and landing at the same price, so I quickly opted for this option. This 3 pm flight from Heraklion to Athens was operated by the Airbus A321, and from what I saw on Fr24, it was usually delayed by an hour or more, so I already saw myself sightseeing in Athens for one more day since my transfer time was just two hours, but this time it was on time 😊The flight was almost full, a couple of seats were empty, and what I find interesting is that Aegean is dividing passengers into four groups and boarding by groups. I understand that the first group is business travelers but I did not get how they divided the rest of the passengers. These group types of boarding have logic when boarding is done by both doors, but later in Athens when the boarding was through the gate, this type of division turned into a mass. Since I had the lowest fare, Aegean offered me to buy my seat selection, regular for 3 euro on domestic and 4 euro on international flights. So I got window seats for 7 euros, which was quite acceptable, and, from what I saw, emergency exit seats were 12 euros, while the front seats were 8 euros on a flight from Athens to Belgrade. Cabin service included a small bottle of water and sweets.

Aegean Airlines A320 cabin

Aegea A321, Air Serbia A319 and Swisslion Cessna 560XL Citation XLS+ at Hearklion Airport

Since this flight was a domestic one, and I was transferring on a flight outside of the EU, I had to practically leave the airport and then reenter it to go through security control. It was kind of like I was arriving for my first flight, not transferring. But unlike the last time when I traveled through Athens, this time everything went very quickly and smoothly. A couple of days before the flight, Aegean offered me a coupon to enter the new Aegean Airlines lounge. At first, I thought that some additional payment was needed for entry since I kept getting offers to bid for business class or extra luggage and similar stuff, but then I found that this was a promotion due to the opening of the lounge. The Aegean Airlines Lounge is on the 3rd floor, in the extra Schengen area of Athens International Airport, an area of 1,250 square meters, a very spacious area divided into 3 parts. Offering a wide selection of cold and hot dishes, salads, specially arranged fruit salads, fresh pomegranate and pomegranate juices, sweets, and other beverages. I can freely say that it is an ideal place for those who wait longer for their flight. For me, perhaps the best part is that the lounge overlooks at the runway from one side and the platform from the other, so you can get some good, relaxed, spotting.

Aegean Airlines lounge

View from Aegean Airlines lounge

The flight from Athens to Belgrade was on time, there were three passengers in business class, while economy was more than 90% full, and I saw a couple of passengers from my inbound flight, while there were also some Russian and Indian transfer passengers. The flight was pretty relaxed, and, after service, the crew offered products from the Aegean shop. After each flight Aegean sent me a survey to rate my inflight experience, which I find to be a big plus. Arriving in Belgrade, I could use the new floor of the airport, for arriving passengers, for the firm time. It looks pretty spooky because there isn’t any content and no airport staff, which was highlighted when some people had some questions related to the transfer but in the end, they ended up at the passport control. As I mentioned at the beginning, construction work is in progress so it is quite normal and understandable to lose a certain level of comfort, but that arrival hall or space after arrival and when you are trying to leave the airport, I am not sure how to call it, is a mess. Elderly people, people with several suitcases struggled to get out and drive up a hill on a very uneven surface. So in my opinion, the least that the airport management can do right now is to appoint staff who will help in such situations, and at the same time help in navigation, because people do not know where they are and where they should go. Also, the bus stop does not have any protection from the sun or rain, there is no timetable for bus 72 (but it has for shuttle parking bus), and people are parking their cars next to the bus stop, so the bus has to maneuver and go in reverse, not to mention security issues, that someone is parking next to the terminal building and just a few meters from gated aircraft.

Aegean Airlines survey

Overall, an enjoyable experience with Aegean Airlines which in my opinion put the standard for how 1:30 minutes flight should look like, with a decent fare and service, where the emphasis is on the passenger.

Contrast - Serbia vs. Greece

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  1. Anonymous09:35

    It is interesting how good service undo even and flight cancellation, autor is not mad at all. Air Serbia managers should read several times this report and implement a lot of things

    1. Anonymous10:57

      I think it has more to do with the passenger than the airline :) I can’t imagine what the cancelled flight would be presented as (“HORROR”, “TORTURE”) if this was JU and an opposition media was writing about it (not saying the author would do that, just the general treatment JU gets in Serbia’s “independent” media).

  2. Anonymous14:11

    Thanks for interesting trip report. I am glad to hear about Aegean service and I'm looking forward to using them in future :)

  3. Anonymous15:36

    Mozda najbitnije nije navedeno: cena karte.

  4. Anonymous23:00

    That has to be one of the best, most informative and we'll written reports here.
    Thank you very much Veljko!

  5. Good report. I see Aegan Airlines keeps good service even on a short flight. A glass of comimentary good Greek wine is always welcome.

  6. Anonymous12:53

    It seems that A3 has one of the better economy services in intra-EU traffic. Looks nice, and I especially like these children's presents. Good trip report Veljko, as always


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