TRIP REPORT: Volotea, Athens - Split



Flight: V7 4780
Date: 09.06.24
Aircraft: Airbus A320 registration: EC-KMI (first flight 2008)
ETD: 12:45
ETA: 13:05

(Flight duration 1h20minutes)

At the start of June I went to visit friends in Athens and in Split. I arrived in Athens from Milan Malpensa using SkyExpress, which seemed to have very friendly cabin crew - although I found the legroom was exceedingly cramped.

After four lovely (and swelteringly hot) days in Athens it was time to head up to Split, and with the option of using a new airline. Living in the UK, we don’t have many options to fly Volotea considering they offer flights only between London Gatwick and Strasbourg and Brest in France.

On the day of departure I shared a taxi with three friends who were returning to London with Wizz Air. One of them had been forced to buy a new ticket as their flight to Gatwick the night before had been initially delayed 7 hours, before being moved to the next day. Considering their issues I was happy to see that my flight looked to be on time.

Arriving around 10:30, it appeared as if Athens Airport was heaving. As I was departing from the Schengen gates, I said goodbye to my friends heading to London. Whilst the line for security initially appeared busy, its moved extremely fast and efficient. Within 5 minutes I had passed security and into the brightly lit duty-free area.

Athens Airport is fairly busy at the best of times and today was no exception. That being said there are a lot of places to buy food, and good food at that! Personally I find the selection of places to eat in Athens Airport (at least the Intra-Schengen gates) among the best of any in Europe.

The airport also offers a service whereby one can order burgers online and have it delivered to ones seat around the terminal. I saw people ordering on this service, but didn’t witness if their food actually arrived. I can only imagine what a disaster a service such as this would be at some European airports, but seem like a it’s a nice addition here. In general the airport appeared very clean, neat bathrooms and well-kept spaces with sufficient seating. Importantly the air-conditioning seemed to be efficient and the airport was at a pleasant temperature, something airports often struggle with.

Volotea over a huge network out of Split and Dubrovnik. Volotea seem to specialise in linking ‘secondary’ cities in Europe often using W-patterns. Today’s flight was operated from a Toulouse based aircraft that had previously flown to Split and then down to Athens. The aircraft would return to Toulouse after operating the flight to Split. Flights to Dubrovnik seem to be performed by aircraft based in Bari, which make the 30 minute hop over the Adriatic before heading down to Athens and back again. This is an efficient utilisation of aircraft - especially on niche routes, but something airlines such as Ryanair tend to avoid.

The inbound flight from Split landed significantly head of time. Having found a quiet corner to sit down in, I had some fairly nice views of the 16-year-old Volotea A320 landing on the Runway 03R. I find the Volotea livery very nice and reminiscent of a tablecloth.

Gate B19 was announced an hour before take-off and I began to make my way there. B19 is from the ground floor of the airport. Athens has a huge number of remote stands and today was no exception. I arrived at the gate which initially didn’t seem busy. There was some confusion as to where those with priority boarding should stand with the ground staff being decidedly unclear as to where people should be.

I was among the first people to board the bus that would take us to the aircraft – which on reflection – was a mistake. The bus got ever more crowded and considering it was in the mid 30s it became horribly hot. Once the bus was relatively full the driver closed the doors and headed off (very slowly) to the remote stands. The air conditioning was left off the whole time which was extremely unpleasant and can really make a claustrophobic start to a trip.

The A320 was waiting on one of the remote stands and boarding by stairs began. The passengers seemed to be an interesting mix of nationalities. Personally I find routes such as this extremely useful, and I think quite a few of the passengers were combining Greece and Croatia as part of backpacking journeys, or trips around the Mediterranean. A significant number of the passengers were Croatian, and I noticed several families with children who had clearly been on holiday in Greece. The two passengers seated next to me were American and there were a large number of people from the Indian subcontinent. I would estimate the cabin load was almost 100%. I didn’t get up considering it was a short flight but in total three bus loads of passengers were brought from the terminal.

The crew were French and seemed very polite and friendly. Instructions were made in English only. The seat and cabin were clean and fresh. Luckily the aircraft was at a nice temperature considering the sweaty bus transfer. I had prepaid for a seat at the back of the aircraft on the right-hand side. I did this knowing that views of the Dalmatia coast are best from the right-hand side upon approach into Split.

At 12:45 the engines were started and push-back exactly on time. From the window I could see the leased 757 landing that Wizzair had sent in place of their normal A321s. This 757 would take my friends back to London (roughly on time).

Taking off from runway 03R (the southern of the two), the aircraft climbed rapidly over the Petalioi gulf. After a few minutes the the aircraft banked slightly to the west offering stunning views of the unspoilt Schinias Beach and national park. The route flown was directly north and west over central Greece over the city of Lamia. Clouds began to obscure the view, however I was able to make out the beautiful town of Metsovo in the Pindus mountains. Crossing into Albania, the clouds began to part which offered nice views of the port of Durrës.

The buy on board service started after 30minutes or so. I bought a small bottle of water which cost 3.95euros. This was relatively expensive I thought for such a small bottle of water. There was nothing else on the “Picnic on board” list that particularly appealed to me. The crew were extremely friendly, considering it was their third leg of the day. The overall impression was very good.

After about 50 minutes, Dubrovnik came into view. I always find the airport looks a bit like an aircraft carrier carved into the mountainside, this is especially the case through hazy clouds. A few minutes later the sound of the engines spooling down meant the start of decent into Split. The town of Jelsa came into view as the A320 descended through light cloud. The best views were saved for Hvar town, with the Paklinski Otoci sparkling brightly in the inky blue sea below.

The approach into Split today was performed from the south west meaning a slight right hand turn before lining up with the runway. Views of Čiovo and Trogir make the landing especially scenic in Split. The ground only becomes visible to passengers in the final few seconds before landing, adding to the drama of one of the former Yugoslavia’s nicest airport approaches.

As the aircraft taxied from the runway, the Trade Air A320 being operated by Croatia Airlines during the summer season was parked at a remote stand. Other than that the airport was empty of commercial aircraft.

Disembarkation was quick, as Split doesn’t have airbridges this is always done via by air-stairs, and passengers were guided into the terminal via the glass corridor that facilitates the separation of Non-Schengen flights, which are now the overwhelming majority at Split.

Not having a checked in bag meant I was out of the airport within two minutes and making my way past the iconic (at least for me) canopy outside the airport that resembles palm trees.

All in all, the experience on Volotea was extremely good. Pleasant staff and a clean fresh cabin were the highlight. I paid just under 100euros for the flight (including paying for a trolley case and reserved seat), which given the time of year and the convenience of a flight left me very satisfied. Based on that flight would say they greatly outperform the legacy airlines in the region in terms of smiles and general vibe. More routes around the region would be very welcome indeed.

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  1. Anonymous09:09

    Nice report. I think it's the first one from Volotea here

  2. Nemjee09:13

    Nice trip report. I found your comment about the terminal very interesting, especially the part about it not being crowded and there being a lot of places to sit.
    I found the non-Schengen area the exact opposite, it might have to do with the fact a lot of these flights are operated by widebody aircraft (Air Canada, United, American, Delta, Turkish Airlines, EL AL, Scoot, Emirates, Qatar, Etihad... all send widebodies to ATH from that terminal).

    Last summer I landed on Aegean A321 from LCA and we were the only narrowbody parked at a non-Schengen airbridge. From what I recall there was EK with B777, TK with a B777, EL AL with a B777, United with a B787, United with B787 and I think Delta with A330. Naturally some of these flights were extremely late as is often the case with ATH in summer. As I was connecting to BEG the terminal inside was like a zoo with people sitting on the floor and the terminal was hot.

    If Athens keeps on growing at this rate then they will no doubt have to expand their facilities in the coming years. In my opinion they are already late, especially since Aegean keeps on expanding its network.

    1. Anonymous09:36

      NEMJEE , you can go to site and see the expand programm of ATH . But the strange thing is that first stage called 33MAR which concerns the expand of the existing terminal with a cost of 650 million euros up to 33 million passengers , while ATH gonna have 32 to 33 million passengers this year !

    2. Anonymous09:44

      That's like Split expanding its terminal in 2019 to reach a monthly capacity that they were already handling

    3. Nemjee10:04

      Indeed, I think that's because they are merely expanding existing terminal facilities. They need to get a grip and actually build a second terminal to the west as was initially planned.

      What I think happened here is that airport operators were happy to have ATH as it is. Some 20 years ago there were plans to turn a military airport close of Athens into an LCC airport - I think it was the Elefsina air base. Of course these plans were swiftly killed and no one spoke about it ever again. LCCs were faced with a simple choice: either fly to ATH and pay what they are charging or have your competition profit from their absence.

      I think Ryanair tried to redirect some traffic to Araxos but that failed miserably. So in the end LCCs accepted ATH's rules and moved in.

      However, Greeks are not the best when it comes to organization or long-term planning so they never prepared for ATH's monopoly. For the past 15 years talks of the airport's expansion were common but nothing happened in the end. Just look how long it took them to upgrade facilities at other airports such as Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Rhodes etc.

      Cyprus on the other hand built a brand new terminal in LCA which can handle growing demand without any problems. Same with PFO which was renovated and adapted to LCC needs.

    4. Anonymous10:34

      Thanks for all that info NEMJEE . I didn't know there was so much story behind .

    5. Anonymous18:02

      Nemjee as a Greek you’re right but you have some mistakes. Firstly ATH will built a second mirror terminal as their last expansion plan however before that they will expand the main and the satellite one. In the Schengen area they will built a new building connecting with the existing one and in the Non Schengen area they will expand the existing one. Satellite terminal will expand too with some new gates and stuff. Some more remote parking areas will be added to to the West close to Hellexpo. A new hotel is planned too with some new parking buildings in the middle of the airport.

      Ryanair never tried Araxos as to serve Athens but the city of Patras with some flights to Paphos, London etc. However Araxos airport is not that upgraded and used more for seasonal and charter flights while citizens of Patras could use ATH for their flights which is 3hours away.

    6. Nemjee07:40

      Are you sure they never flew from Araxos? I don't mean recently but rather some 10, 15 or 20 years ago. I seem to remember a guy in Nicosia showing me Araxos airport stamp and he flew from PFO on Ryanair? Maybe it was Patra, who knows.
      I guess those Patra flights were at a time before they made peace with the fact that they have to fly from ATH which is something the airport's management wanted anyway.

      Thank you for the clarification but I still believe ATH is mature enough to build a whole new terminal on the other side. Demand is there and it will only keep on growing. Athens is already a mess as it is, it's too busy and overcrowded and delays are becoming very common. That's why I hope they drop these half-measures and do what is needed. Expanding existing facilities will only fix things by a little bit, not to the extent tha it is needed. I wonder how they will divide the two terminals, as in who uses which. Maybe we will go back to the Elliniko model where one terminal was for OA (now A3) and the other for the rest.

  3. Anonymous09:32

    Great and interesting report, many thanks!

  4. Anonymous09:36

    How interesting that you noticed lots of Croatian families on board. I would have thought the route was mostly used by backpackers and people doing long itineraries.

    I tried doing that one year by booking Athens-Bari with Volotea and then Athens-Verona one year, and in both cases the flights were cancelled. Volotea was awful to deal with. They had no phone number I could call for free, they gave me no flexibility to move flights to a different airport in the same country, and they discontinued the routes (this was July 2021) so I could only get a full refund. Considering that both flights were 9.99 euros, that didn't mean much to me and it messed up my whole itinerary.

    I only flew them once since then, from Montpellier to Lille, and everything was fine. But I would be very cautious with Volotea given how bad their customer service is.

  5. Anonymous09:51

    There is an error in the article. The W-rotation wasn't from Tolouse, it was from Lyon.

    Volotea's Athens-Split flights go Lyon-Split-Athens-Split-Lyon once a week and Athens-Split-Toulouse-Split-Athens once a week.

    I just checked and that was also the case for the date of your flight, 09.06.

    1. Anonymous09:52

      Sorry, I forgot to add: that's why your crew was French. When the rotation goes Split-Toulouse, the crew is Greek.

  6. Anonymous18:36

    Odd airline.
    They would never fly inland to Zagreb or Belgrade.
    Thats for sure.

    1. Anonymous20:28

      Pretty good prices, reasonable timetable and variety of destinations. Sorry

    2. Anonymous09:18

      What the hell is a "reasonable" timetable?


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