Welcome back to another report from my travels of Summer 2019 folks! In this installation, I'll be reviewing my very first flight with Aegean, Greece's largest airline, on a short hop from Sofia to Athens.
This series consists of 8 flights with 6 airlines on 4 types of aircraft passing through 7 airports. All flights were in Economy Class. The full routing can be seen below.
The entire routing can be seen on the map below, courtesy of the Great Circle Mapper:
Athens (and Greece in general) had been on my bucket list for a really long time, and when the chance came to finally spend a few days in Athens presented itself, I immediately perked up. There are a few ways to get from Sofia to Athens, including a 10-hour direct bus ride, 12-hour train ride via Thessaloniki, or a quick hour flight. Being an AvGeek, the choice was already clear, and I didn't even consider the other options. 3 airlines fly from Sofia to Athens: Aegean, Bulgaria Air, and Ryanair. Despite being the most expensive option (at a still cheap $115 roundtrip), I decided to book Aegean. I did this for a couple of reasons, namely the Bulgaria Air flight was operated by a Bul Air 737-300 which I had just flown with less than a week earlier, I'd only fly Ryanair if it was an emergency, and in addition to hearing nothing but good things about Aegean, I needed to earn some miles.
2 days after making that decision, the night of travel arrived, and I hopped in a taxi to Sofia Airport.
Like all other major legacy carriers, Aegean uses Terminal 2 at SOF.
The terminal was completely empty, and the only 2 check-in agents on duty were the ones for my flight.
I was the only one at security and was airside a mere 3 minutes later. The only other departures for the night were this Qatar A319 to Doha…
…and this Turkish Airlines A319 to Istanbul-Havalimani.
Aegean uses the same Pliska Lounge that Bulgaria Air uses, and much to my horror in addition to the purple chairs, this time there was also loud Bulgarian pop music blasting from the TV.
I barely spent 2 minutes in the lounge before heading to my gate. At the gate across from us, a Lufthansa A320neo had just arrived from Frankfurt.
Flight information at the gate.
Doing the honors would be SX-DVK, a 2008-built Airbus A320-232 delivered new to Aegean in February of that year.
Boarding began right on time with no priorities respected. I didn't mind, though, as the flight was empty.
The classic NewYorker fuselage shot.
My seat for the evening was 1F. Usually you have to pay to snag row 1, but thanks to my status I got it for free. It's interesting to note that even though officially there was no Business Class on this flight (and all Aegean flights to/from Sofia), the crew still put a cabin divider and all middle seats were empty. That may have just been a coincidence, though.
Great legroom as always at the bulkhead.
My view for the next hour.
Thick Aegean-branded antimacassar.
Boarding was completed just 5 minutes after it begun, and the captain made a very detailed welcome announcement saying that our routing would have us flying northwest out of Sofia, then making a left turn towards North Macedonia and from there direct towards Athens. Our flight time was announced as 1 hour.
Shortly thereafter, the safety video starring the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo screened.
As we pushed back, the very friendly flight attendants passed out Aegean-branded candies with a smile and a "have a nice flight". I was already loving Aegean!
Taxiing to Runway 27.
Flying the typical right hand turn after departure.
Left turn towards North Macedonia.
How cool is it to have an airshow on such a short flight!
As if I wasn't already fangirling for Aegean, when the snack arrived, I was downright in love with the airline!
On an hour flight in coach, all passengers were served Greek chocolate biscuits…
…a wet towel…
…and a very tasty ham and cheese sandwich.
I finished the meal within minutes, and the flight attendant who cleaned up my trash asked if I enjoyed the snack. I responded by asking if she saw food left over, and she laughed and said that she had never seen a passenger seem so enthusiastic about airplane food. Ha! At this point, we were flying over Gevgelija, North Macedonia.
In the seatback pocket were an airsickness bag…
…the safety card…
…and Aegean's Blue magazine.
Aegean and its subsidiary Olympic Air have a respectable fleet of 61 aircraft…
…and a surprisingly large route network.
As we commenced our descent over Skiathos, the captain announced that we were 20 minutes from landing on Runway 3R, and that the weather in Athens consisted of clear skies, strong winds, and a temperature of 28 degrees Celcius. At the same the, the flight attendants passed out more wet towels to everyone. The same flight attendant from the meal service then thanked me for being a loyal Star Alliance customer and said she hoped I enjoyed my flight and the she hoped to see me again on another Aegean flight.
Beautiful view of the moon.
Magazine rack on the bulkhead.
Turning final over the Saronic Gulf.
And despite the windy conditions, a very smooth landing at 12:05 AM, after a flight time of 59 minutes.
Aegean A320 from Milan-Malpensa.
Aegean A320 from Heraklion.
Pulling in next to a trio of Aegean Airbuses.
The crew bid everyone farewell at the door, and I was actually a little sad stepping off the aircraft. I can easily say that that was the best Economy Class flight I had ever experienced.
A better fuselage view.
Close up of the titles.
One final look at the aircraft as the bus pulled away.
We took off and initially headed southwest towards North Macedonia. Once we reached the down of Gevgelija, we flew directly towards Athens. We reached an altitude of 31,000 feet over the North Macedonian-Greek border but then descended and spent the rest of the flight at 27,000 feet.
Immigration was a breeze, and I took the X95 bus to Evangelismos, from where it was a short walk to my hotel, the Divani Caravel. Thanks for joining me on the report, and I hope to see you again for the return flight!
It's really hard to make an hour flight memorable, but that's exactly what Aegean did with this flight.
+ Fresh, comfy cabin
+ Fantastic service provided by friendly and charming flight attendants
+ Great amount of food (and good quality, too)
+ Nice views
- Hideous lounge in Sofia
I don't have a shadow of a doubt that Aegean is my favorite airline for intra-European travel. And if Economy Class was this good, I'd love to experience their Business Class, and even Economy Class on a longer flight, where they provide hot meals. Well done, Aegean!