Review of Aegean Airlines flight Santorini Island Athens in Economy

Airline Aegean Airlines
Flight OA359
Class Economy
Seat 12A
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 00:45
Take-off 24 Nov 17, 17:20
Arrival at 24 Nov 17, 18:05
A3   #39 out of 142 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 144 reviews
KévinDC
By SILVER 1291
Published on 3rd March 2018
Hello and welcome to the 4th report in this series.

After three amazing days on the gorgeous island of Santorini, we were heading back to Athens for a few days prior to flying home to the U.S. There is a tourist bonus with photos of Santorini at the end of this report.

As mentioned in the previous report, there are 3 carriers flying between Athens and Santorini during the winter season: Low-cost carriers Ryanair and Vueling, and Greek flag-carrier Aegean/Olympic. We had decided on Aegean as they operated the most frequencies (3X daily) and therefore more convenient choices. And despite slightly higher prices than the LCC competition, being in Greece, we wanted to fly the local carrier.

Routing

Washington Dulles IAD ✈ London Heathrow LHR | British Airways, B747-400, Business Class
London Heathrow LHR ✈ Athens E Venizelos ATH | British Airways, A320-200, Business Class
Athens E Venizelos ATH ✈ Santorini Thira Intl JTR | Aegean Airlines, A320-200, Economy Class
Santorini Thira Intl JTR ✈ Athens E Venizelos ATH | Aegean Airlines, A320-200, Economy Class
Athens E Venizelos ATH ✈ London Heathrow LHR | British Airways, A320-200, Business Class
London Heathrow LHR ✈ Washington Dulles IAD | British Airways, B747-400, Business Class


Pre-Flight



Although we were not able to select seats at time of booking–I'm not sure if this is the case for all Aegean/Olympic domestic flights, or if it is due to the "Go Light" fare–online check-in opens at 48 hours prior to departure. Having found the seat pitch to be a bit cramped on the inbound flight, I selected exit row seats during online check-in. With the late departure time, I figured it would be night for most of the flight, so I wasn't too worried about the wing blocking the view out the window.

photo aegean_airbus_a320-200

Again I rolled the dice with the empty middle-seat lottery and selected a window and aisle in 12A and 12C. Remembering how full the flight was on the ATH-JTR flight, I didn't expect the gamble would work, especially considering that when only middle seats are available on full flights, bulkhead and exit row middles are the first to be selected. It's a short flight, so it's really no big deal, still it doesn't hurt to try.

photo aegean jtr-ath boardingpass

The morning of departure, we visited the mountaintop ruins of Ancient Thera, where there was a great view of the airport.

A Vueling B717-200 was taking off

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We arrived at the airport about 1.5 hours prior to departure to return the rental car. Santorini airport is tiny–I mean really really small. There is only one lane at the security checkpoint and all 5 boarding "gates" are doors to the tarmac lining one small shared boarding lounge. It's hard to believe that JTR handled over 1.9 Million passengers in 2017. Luckily, there are plans to expand the terminal as passenger numbers have doubled in just the past 5 years.

With one small cafe outside security and a claustrophobic boarding area, there isn't much to do at JTR. Then, I discovered the outdoor terrace above the boarding gate. Woo hoo!

Those windows could use a good cleaning.

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It was a beautiful day, so sitting outside watching the traffic was a perfect way to spend the time waiting for boarding.

JTR tower from the terrace

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Of course, for an #AvGeek, an outdoor airport terrace is great for planespotting!

A Ryanair B737-800 landing from Athens

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A puff of smoke as the tires touch the runway

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Approaching the parking stand

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With so little room on the apron, it's hard to imagine 5 or 6 aircraft on the ground at the same time during the busy summer season.

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The departures screen on the terrace level shows our Aegean/Olympic flight is next.

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And there is it, our Aegean A320 landing from Athens.

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Wheels down

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Taxiing to the parking stand with the small neighbouring island of Anafi in the background.

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Arriving at the parking stand

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Passengers deplaning from forward and aft doors.

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Shortly before boarding is due to begin, we say goodbye to the terrace and head downstairs.

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Boarding



As you can see, the small boarding area is very crowded…and this is just one flight's worth of passengers, as the Ryanair boarding was complete. I can't imagine what a cluster it must be with 3 or more flights departing around the same time, as is common in the summer season.

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Our flight OA359 will be boarding from doors 5 and 6.

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With so little room in the gate area, boarding was messy with a mass of people shoving their way to doors 5 and 6.

It's odd to board a bus for such a short distance–the aircraft is parked just a few hundred feet from the terminal. Upon arriving at the aircraft, we boarded through the forward door this time.

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Passing through what is normally the small Business class cabin on international flights. For this short domestic flight, the middle seats are not blocked and the first 3 rows before the curtain are considered Economy class like the rest of the cabin.

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Boarding the aircraft was a bit more organized this time than the flight from Athens. I didn't notice as many people having to cross in the aisles due to boarding from the wrong door.

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View of the aft cabin from my over-wing exit row seat.

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The forward cabin.

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View of the small airport terminal as the sun sets.

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Legroom is much better in the exit row, of course.

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The seat-back pocket is located on the upper part of the seats, allowing for more knee clearance and making the legroom even better in the exit row.

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The flight ends up nearly 100% full again and, of course, the middle-seat lottery didn't work again. No big deal, and the middle seat passenger is always happy to switch for a more comfortable aisle seat.

The safety video plays as boarding ends and we pull away from the parking stand.

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The Flight



Taxi time is short at such a small airport, and we're off to Athens in the warm glow of the setting sun.

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Beautiful views of Santorini at sunset as we bank left heading NW towards ATH.

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Seeing the whole Island group in all its circular glory, it isn't difficult to imagine why some historians believe that Santorini/Thera may have been the original inspiration for the Atlantis myth.

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Goodbye Santorini!

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The moving map plays on the overhead screens throughout the short flight.

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A few minutes after takeoff, the cabin crew hand out chocolate cookies in the cabin. Pretty decent for a short 30 minute flight, where there would normally be no service at all on a comparable flight in the U.S. As a full drink service would not be possible with the short flight time, the crew offer water.

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The sunset light show over the Cyclades islands continues as we head northwest.

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Puffy little clouds hovering near Milos.

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Almost as soon as we get to a cruising altitude, we begin to descend again.

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The cabin prepares for arrival.

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Surprised there is still some light out as we approach the Athens airport.
We fly past Sounion at the tip of the Attica peninsula.

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ATH in view.

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Arrival



We arrive at the gate about 10 minutes early. This time we pull up to a gate with a jetbridge, unlike the flight from ATH to JTR, which departed from a remote stand.

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It's just a short walk to the arrivals area.

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As we didn't have any checked bags, we are at the car rental counter before the flight was even supposed to arrive at the gate.

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Thanks for reading!

Santorini tourism bonus below:

Bonus : Click here display
See more

Verdict

Aegean Airlines

7.3/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Meal/catering6.0

Santorini Island - JTR

6.0/10
Efficiency7.5
Access7.5
Services4.5
Cleanliness4.5

Athens - ATH

8.3/10
Efficiency8.5
Access8.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.5

Conclusion

Another pleasant and scenic short flight with Aegean. This return flight to Athens was much more comfortable being that we were able to score exit row seats during online check-in. Cabin crew were generally friendly and efficient--they had to work fast with less than 30 mins of flight time.

Santorini airport is small and pretty run down, but I loved the outdoor terrace! Athens airport is clean, modern, and efficient.

Information on the route Santorini Island (JTR) Athens (ATH)

8 Comments

  • Comment 435015 by
    marathon GOLD 9557 Comments

    Now I know where the picture in the Wikipedia page of JTR was taken from ;)
    Oddly, there is a typical military aircraft shelter far right in your picture, but no other obvious military facility.
    Superb shots of the landing planes ! (Note to self : check in early)
    The rationale for using a bus to reach an aircraft parked close to the terminal is sometimes a mystery.
    The middle seat lottery on exit row means betting that there will not be any tall passenger on board. Did you seriously expect to win ? ;)
    Thanks for this wonderful tourist report! nice description of the flight to ATH too ;)

    • Comment 435258 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5273 Comments

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

      Yes, haha, my pic is almost identical to the one on wikipedia. There is an even better (slightly closer) view of the airport from above on the highest point on the island at Moni Profitou Iliou.

      "Oddly, there is a typical military aircraft shelter far right in your picture, but no other obvious military facility."
      - There are 2 military facilities on the island, that I saw. One on the top of the mountain mentioned above, and the other by the lighthouse on the southwestern tip of the island.

      "Superb shots of the landing planes ! (Note to self : check in early)"
      - Thanks! Yes definitely a good idea to arrive early if there are other aircraft movements. Beware, it's a smoking terrace so it can get pretty smokey (that doesn't bother me personally), but just a heads up.

      "Did you seriously expect to win ? ;)"
      - Haha, no, I didn't expect to win at all as I mentioned a few times in the report. Sometimes it works in the U.S. as premium seats like exit rows are blocked for only pax with status or for a fee.

      Thanks!

  • Comment 435205 by
    757Fan 587 Comments

    Nice report, Kevin! Beautiful photos from your flight to Athens. Looks like it was a nice night for flying!

  • Comment 435341 by
    loukas SILVER 341 Comments

    Hi Kevin! These sunset pictures are simply amazing! I've been to Santotini twice, it was always crowded but it always looked so beautiful I could come back there even in the peak of the summer season. Local airports in Greece are usually a mess, I heard Mykonos airport is also very small and neglected and it's so strange these two islands being top Greek summer destinations. Milos island looks so small, I remember spending a very nice week there a couple of years ago. Many thanks for taking me back to Greece! Have a good one!

    • Comment 435556 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5273 Comments

      Hi Loukas, thanks for your comments! I was pleasantly surprised by how long the sunset lasted and how good the colors were for so long. It was so nice being in Santorini in November with no crowds at all. The weather was perfect! Not beach weather, but perfect for sightseeing at 18-20 degrees Celcius with sunshine. I fell in love with Greece; I can see why you like it so much. I loved it so much I'm going back in a few months, but to Mykonos this time. I guess we'll see how crazy it gets at the height of the summer season! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Comment 435576 by
    Rl 777 810 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    “A Vueling B717-200 was taking off”
    Stunning view!

    “It's hard to believe that JTR handled over 1.9 Million passengers in 2017.”
    It must be extremely crowded during the summer months.

    Beautiful spotting shots!

    “I can't imagine what a cluster it must be with 3 or more flights departing around the same time, as is common in the summer season.”
    Combined with the summer heat, I also can’t imagine how it could be like and I’m not sure if I want to know.

    Excellent aerial shots! What a beautiful route with a sunset as an added bonus.

    Wow, absolutely breathtaking bonus pictures. Wow! Thank you very much for sharing.

    Have a good one, see you!

    • Comment 436743 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5273 Comments

      Thank you for your comments as always Rl777!

      "Stunning view!"
      - Yes, it's a great view from up there, but definitely a little difficult for people who are afraid of heights, which I am, haha

      "Combined with the summer heat, I also can’t imagine how it could be like and I’m not sure if I want to know."
      - Yikes, yes I didn't even think of how much worse it could be with heat. Well, I guess I'll find out in a few months when I head back to Greece. Mykonos this time, where the airport is even smaller.

      Thank you for the compliments, I'm glad you enjoyed the report and photos!

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