Review of Aegean Airlines flight Sofia Athens in Economy

Airline Aegean Airlines
Flight A3983
Class Economy
Seat 1F
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 01:14
Take-off 09 Aug 19, 22:45
Arrival at 09 Aug 19, 23:59
A3   #39 out of 141 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 143 reviews
NewYorker
By SILVER 505
Published on 26th January 2020

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.


trip information


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.


Routing


The entire routing can be seen on the map below, courtesy of the Great Circle Mapper:


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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.


the evening of departure


2 days after making that decision, the night of travel arrived, and I hopped in a taxi to Sofia Airport.


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sofia vrazhdebna airport - lbsf/sof


Like all other major legacy carriers, Aegean uses Terminal 2 at SOF.


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The terminal was completely empty, and the only 2 check-in agents on duty were the ones for my flight.


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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…


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…and this Turkish Airlines A319 to Istanbul-Havalimani.


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pliska lounge sofia


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.


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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.


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boarding + initial impressions


Flight information at the gate.


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Doing the honors would be SX-DVK, a 2008-built Airbus A320-232 delivered new to Aegean in February of that year.


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Boarding began right on time with no priorities respected. I didn't mind, though, as the flight was empty.


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The classic NewYorker fuselage shot.


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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.


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Great legroom as always at the bulkhead.


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My view for the next hour.


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Thick Aegean-branded antimacassar.


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aegean 983 - sofia to athens


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.


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Shortly thereafter, the safety video starring the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo screened.


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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!


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Taxiing to Runway 27.


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departure from sofia


Lining up.


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Rolling.


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Rotate.


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Flying the typical right hand turn after departure.


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Climbing out.


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Left turn towards North Macedonia.


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How cool is it to have an airshow on such a short flight!


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Modern PSU.


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snack service


As if I wasn't already fangirling for Aegean, when the snack arrived, I was downright in love with the airline!


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On an hour flight in coach, all passengers were served Greek chocolate biscuits…


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…a wet towel…


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…and a very tasty ham and cheese sandwich.


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mid-flight


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.


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In the seatback pocket were an airsickness bag…


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…the safety card…


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…and Aegean's Blue magazine.


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Aegean and its subsidiary Olympic Air have a respectable fleet of 61 aircraft…


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…and a surprisingly large route network.


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Larissa, Greece.


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arrival into athens


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.


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Beautiful view of the moon.


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Magazine rack on the bulkhead.


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Volos, Greece


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Chalkida, Greece.


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Elefsina, Greece.


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Turning final over the Saronic Gulf.


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Long final.


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Short final.


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Long flare.


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And despite the windy conditions, a very smooth landing at 12:05 AM, after a flight time of 59 minutes.


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Slowing down.


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Aegean A320 from Milan-Malpensa.


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Aegean A320 from Heraklion.


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Pulling in next to a trio of Aegean Airbuses.


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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.


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A better fuselage view.


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Close up of the titles.


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One final look at the aircraft as the bus pulled away.


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routing of a3983


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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!

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Verdict

Aegean Airlines

9.2/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew10.0
Entertainment/wifi10.0
Meal/catering9.0

Pliska Lounge - 2

4.6/10
Comfort5.5
Meal/catering4.0
Entertainment/wifi5.0
Services4.0

Sofia - SOF

8.0/10
Efficiency10.0
Access8.0
Services6.0
Cleanliness8.0

Athens - ATH

8.4/10
Efficiency8.0
Access8.5
Services8.5
Cleanliness8.5

Conclusion

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!

Related

2 Comments

  • Comment 540036 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5224 Comments

    Nice, so you basically got a free upgrade to Business. The only thing missing was a hot meal to make it real J!

    Aegean really seem to deserve their great reputation. Pretty much every review I've seen is positive. The one thing I'm not a huge fan of is the weird design of the seats that leaves a big gap between seats. It probably saves some weight but it looks like seats you'd see on a prop, and it offers less privacy.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 540839 by
      NewYorker SILVER AUTHOR 79 Comments

      Thanks for your comment Kévin! I totally agree that Aegean deserves their great reputation. If only they could expand to long haul flights as well... The seats look weird, but are actually fairly comfy. Hope to see you again in another report! 😀

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