One of the things that surprised us during our Egypt trip was how much we enjoyed EgyptAir business class. The majority of my photos are from our first flight from Athens to Cairo, but we also flew EgyptAir business class from Cairo to Istanbul and domestically between Cairo and Luxor.
We checked in at Athens International Airport (ATH) with no lines at the EgyptAir business class counter or at customs. Our flight left from gate A19. The A gates do not have a Fast Track entry for customs or security but the only things that needed to be removed from our bags were iPads and laptops.
The check-in agent presented us with a lounge access card that had a handwritten “Swissport” lounge name on it in lieu of another lounge that was printed on the card.
Swissport: The EgyptAir Business Class Lounge
The Swissport Lounge is located in a corner of Terminal A with a few other lounges including a lounge for oneworld and a handful of other airlines, and an Aegean lounge with Star Alliance airlines including EgyptAir listed on the signage.
I’m not entirely sure why we weren’t directed to the Aegean lounge (which is nicer – we’ve been in it when flying business class on Aegean).
The upside is that Swissport was empty and offered wine, beer, spirits, soft drinks, juices, Greek pies, sandwiches, breads, salad and a handful of other snacks. It’s pretty much a one-room lounge and served its purpose.
Our flight attendants were in here fueling up before departure.
Onboard EgyptAir Business Class
Boarding at the gate was hectic per usual in our experience at ATH. We were shuttled from the gate to the plane which was waiting on the tarmac some distance away which is why your ticket may tell you to board an hour in advance.
EgyptAir Boeing 737-800 business class seats are in a 2-2 (one aisle seat and one window seat on each side of the aisle) formation and provide plenty of legroom. The spacing reminds me of what American Airlines domestic first class is like (which is more spacious than say British Airways Club Europe).
Most seats do not have space to put your bags under the seat in front of you but rather metal boxes with “no stowage” written on them. I smashed my handbag into the space anyway and the flight attendants seemed fine with it, though I saw them moving other passenger bags into the overhead bins.
A bottle of water, headphones, duty-free shopping catalog, and in-flight magazine were tucked into the seat pocket in front of us. A pillow and blanket were also placed on the seat. I did try to extend my footrest but it was a bit short for my longer American legs with the tray table open.
Televisions pop up from storage between the armrests of the two seats but we were informed that there would be no inflight entertainment, perhaps as flying time was only 1 hour and 45 minutes. (Our return flight from Cairo to Istanbul offered inflight entertainment, but there was none on our short hop to Luxor).
Food and Drink
A hot towel and guava juice or pomegranate juice predeparture drinks were presented after boarding and they were both delicious.
Promptly after takeout flight attendants served everyone the same rather fulsome meal of cold salmon, tabbouleh, mezze platter, saffron pasta, pita, and an orange dessert with filo pastry. I was impressed by how fresh and honestly delicious everything was.
We were offered the choice of tea or coffee (which are the only drinks served and offered after the meal), though some passengers requested more guava juice or water.
EgyptAir, as you probably know, is a dry airline. I read that you can bring your own alcohol onboard and that flight attendants will serve it to you on some flights. While we love a glass of wine in the air, we didn’t feel right about this on such a short flight but it is something I would consider on a long haul flight.
(You can purchase single-serve bottles of wine at the cafe near domestic departures in the Luxor airport but you should probably drink it in the airport or check with the agent to see what the policy is for bringing it onboard.)
Arrival in Cairo
The flight passed without much fuss. I was asked to put my computer and tray table away about 30 minutes prior to landing, which is unusually early, in my experience.
One of the main benefits of flying EgyptAir business class is Fast Track entry to Passport Control when arriving at Cairo airport (and we subsequently experienced this as well at Istanbul Airport thanks to Turkish Airlines’ Star Alliance membership), which has a shorter line than regular passport control.
EgyptAir Business Class from Cairo to Istanbul
When departing Cairo Airport, you’ll also have Fast Track entry through security (tip: you must have your passports in hand so don’t send them through baggage scan — I learned this the hard way) and Passport Control. This benefit is also extended to Star Alliance Gold Members.
Our flight to Istanbul departed from gate G1 so we used the EgyptAir Gienah lounge. At 8:30 a.m. it was packed with very little available seating.
Two self-serve food areas included pastries, soft drinks, tea, bottled water, juice boxes, gourmet coffee drinks (with Starbucks beans), finger sandwiches, whole fruit (apples, oranges, bananas), cut veggies, mini cupcakes, eggs, beans, sausage, cheese, and a handful of other finger foods.
No alcohol was served but we didn’t ask for any. Staff members were preparing drinks for customers and I did see an empty wine glass on one of their trays but not a single person (and there were many in the lounge with us) drinking anything alcoholic. We were also having issues connecting to the lounge WiFi.
It’s worth arriving before boarding time as you will pass through another security check at the gate. Agents will check passenger visas, if applicable (carry paperwork — it would have been a huge hassle if I hadn’t printed our Turkey visas). This time, you’ll remove liquids, shoes, and laptops from carry-on bags before sending them through your third airport scan. You’ll walk through a metal detector and all passengers are patted down.
This time, we boarded the plane straight from the jetway, also a 737-800 with the same seating configuration as our flight from Athens to Cairo.
A hot towel and the same pomegranate and guava juice predeparture drinks were passed around. The only difference is that inflight entertainment worked on this flight.
And, since it was morning, we were served breakfast though this time in two courses. The first with fruit, cheese, a croissant, and roll.
The second course choices included crepes, ful medames (a traditional Egyptian breakfast dish with fava beans) that my husband ordered it and was quite good, and scrambled eggs with sausage and vegetables.
A passenger in front of us was quite demanding and the flight attendants handled the situation flawlessly.
Once again the food and service were excellent. The flight arrived on time. Upon arriving at IST, we used the Fast Track line to clear customs and baggage arrived on the carousel within minutes.
Overall, we were quite pleased with our experience in EgyptAir business class and would have no issues flying with them again. We also flew business class from Cairo to Luxor and back on smaller planes.