My family enjoyed Aegean Airlines regional business class four times during our recent European vacation. I hesitated before booking because the cost was significantly higher than economy even though business class seats have the same width, pitch and legroom. And, the longest of our flights was only 3.5 hours.
In the end, I have no regrets about booking business class and would fly Aegean Airlines—a 2015 Skytrax winner of Best Regional Airline in Europe—again.
Let’s get right to the pros and cons.
Aegean Airlines Business Class Seats
First, I am not a fan of the Aegean Airlines business class seating arrangement which is similar to British Airways regional business class. Seats are the same pitch, width and what looks like the same amount of legroom as economy class. The middle seat is blocked out by a tray and all seats lack inflight entertainment.
It appears that they could extend or retract business class, depending on bookings, with this configuration. However, I am not sure about that. This configuration makes me grateful for American Airlines domestic first class where seat width, pitch and legroom is noticeably larger than in economy. Heck, while I can’t stand being served pre-flight drinks in plastic cups, American Airlines will also give you awesome inflight entertainment on new domestic planes.
Regional Food and Drinks
So, if you’re going to squeeze comfort you’d really better step it up when it comes to service and food. This is exactly what Aegean Airlines did.
Each of our flights, offered a welcome drink of juice, water or sparkling wine in proper glassware during boarding.
In addition to a hot towel, we were presented with a nicely-printed menu explaining that each item represents a different part of Greece. Each dish was nicely presented and frankly, pretty tasty (iPhone pictures don’t to them justice).
Even on our short 40 minute flights to and from Heraklion, we were served little open-faced sandwiches with delicious smoked fish and shrimp paired with a split of wine.
The flight attendants could not have been nicer and were quick to refill drinks. One thought a dessert might not be to my daughter’s taste (it wasn’t) so she thoughtfully swapped it out for a giant slice of orange cake (this was). Little things like this do not go unnoticed by me.
This is where Aegean needs some serious work. They do not board by group number but rather by business class and the entire of economy. It felt like a total scrum with people rushing to board every time without any regard for those in the priority line, huddling up to board WAY in advance. I had to either fight my way though or line up early to hold our place in the business class line.
The worst of the boarding experiences was at Heraklion airport. The gates are small. When they’re crowded with hundreds of people eager to get on board, there is very little personal space. And then they switched our gate at the last minute which resulted in transferred chaos.
We had to board our flights to and from Heraklion by shuttle bus. I will say that it was nice that business class passengers were whisked to and from the plane in a separate shuttle. This was a serious time saver.
Aegean Airlines Lounges
I wrongly assumed that we’d be able to enjoy the Aegean Lounge during our layover in Athens. The lounge is located before security at gate 4, which means we’d have to go through screening all over again.
That being said, on the way to Venice, we stopped in. The Aegean Airlines lounge is simple and not terribly large but suited our needs nicely. The food offerings were not terribly robust but they did have small sandwiches, fruit, yogurt, cheese, bread as well as plenty of wine and gourmet coffee drinks. The WiFi worked great.
Leave the lounge earlier than you otherwise would as you’ll need to still go through security screening before heading to the gate. The security lines were pretty short when we went through, thankfully.
There is a lounge at Heraklion airport. Our hotel advised such a tight departure that we arrived to the airport with minutes to spare so did not have time to enjoy it. I heard it’s not great though.
There are two general, multi-airline VIP salas in the Schengen departure area at Madrid airport. The one closest to our gate was closed so we proceeded another a few gates down. It had a nice selection of sandwiches, pastries, coffees and other drinks. Given that it was the only VIP lounge in the terminal in operation, it wasn’t that crowded.
If not flying business class, you can access lounges in most airports with site affiliate Priority Pass or with a Dragon Pass membership (which I actually have by way of my awesome Regal Card membership).
The Aegean Airlines App
I downloaded the Aegean app thinking it would allow me check-in on the go but it’s not quite that simple. Information is not stores so I repeatedly had to log in with a Miles + Points number I hadn’t yet memorized. I also needed my flight confirmation numbers in order to check in which was a pain to locate via mobile. The one time I managed to input all of the correct data, the app generated an error. I waited to check in at the airport or through my laptop and rendered the app useless.
Ticket Purchase Advice
Clear your browser cache each time you check flight pricing on Aegean Airlines. As I hesitated on our Madrid – Heraklion flight multiple times, the price would rise if I searched this flight twice in a short period of time. In fact I fell victim to this once and booked the flight after not being able to get the system to show me a lower price. Summer is peak travel season in Europe.
The benefit of business class tickets on Aegean is that they are absolutely free to cancel. So, a few days later, I happened to check the price again and it was much lower. I cancelled the fare I’d initially purchased and rebooked right away, saving about $600 USD.
To give you an idea of business class fares, the cost for a 2 hour flight from Venice to Athens was about $600 USD per adult and slightly less for my daughter totaling about $1100. Economy class was just over $200 total. A flight from Madrid to Heraklion (connecting in Athens) clocked in at about $750 (about 6 hours of travel time) per adult and was probably about a third of that in economy.
It did feel like a “good deal” coming from the U.S. where first class pricing on a 6 hour flight to NYC might run over $2000 per person.
All in all, we were really pleased with Aegean Airlines and would have no problem flying them again. In fact, I’d actually look forward to it.
Have you flown with Aegean Airlines?