I just returned from vacation with my family in Europe. On part of our journey, we flew from Athens to Heraklion Crete (HER). There are frequent flights operated by Star Alliance member Aegean Airlines. For us, the Greece domestic flights were quite cheap, about $75 per person, and less for our daughter. Unfortunately, it seems that even though we were on Aegean planes and staff, the tickets are issued by Olympic Air, which is not a Star Alliance member.
Aegean Is a Star Alliance Member, but Not Olympic Air
Likely bad planning on my part, but from what I could tell while booking, it seemed I could utilize my Star Alliance Gold status for this flight. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I tried to add my Mileage Plus number, and those of my family both when booking online, and then by calling. No dice, “Olympic operates this flight”. Aegean offers one additional free checked bag for Star Alliance Gold flyers. But since Olympic ticketed my flight (and on Olympic flight number OA instead of A6); no alliance benefits. So we paid for our baggage. This wasn’t that big of a deal, but I was rather annoyed. Be sure to pay for baggage in advance, each bag up to 23kg is €24 if paid at the airport, double the price if paid in advance online.
Departing Athens Airport without Elite Status
At the Athens airport, having already checked in, I only printed our bag tags, then went to baggage drop. Aegean has a special area for families, but I was turned away since my daughter wasn’t with me at that moment. Fair enough. I was a little worried about security screening, but there were probably 10 lanes open, and no more than 1 person in each line. We flew through, and the staff was quite helpful. No body scanners, and this experience was a breeze. Nothing like the TSA.
Since my flight was not Star Alliance marketed, I couldn’t access the Aegean lounge, but in the Athens airport there are several options for Priority Pass. We visited the Melina Merkouri lounge in Terminal B, a short walk from our departure gate. Nothing too exciting, but there was space to sit, decent wi-fi, and assorted snacks and small cold sandwiches. Domestic beer and wine is also available. Not worth getting there early, but perfectly serviceable to wait for our flight to board. Besides Priority Pass, this lounge is also used by Iberia, Finnair, Adria, Aeroflot and Czech flyers.
Flying Aegean from Athens to Heraklion
Aegean boards elites, business class, and families with small children first, so we took advantage of the extra time to get situated. Once on board, the flight attendants offered my daughter a tour of the cockpit. I was jealous, but continued to my seat to not hold up boarding. A flight attendant cheerfully carried my daughter back to our seat after her tour. Our flight was under an hour in length. Small candies were distributed before departure, and in flight service consisted of a selection of drinks and some packaged cookies. The flight attendants on our short flight were quite friendly.
Book Aegean flight number if you want to earn mileage credit on Star Alliance carriers or have elite status and want to leverage your benefits. The experience in Athens and on our flight was fine. In Athens, the airport experience was smooth, and the in flight crew was wonderful for the short flight. I wouldn’t hesitate to fly Aegean again, but next time I will be more careful when booking to ensure I can earn miles and use my elite benefits.