Aegean Airlines is the flag carrier of Greece and its largest airline. This Ultimate Guide covers my experience of flying business class with Aegean Airlines, from Edinburgh to Athens.
Edinburgh to Athens (EDI-ATH)
Seat: 2F (Business)
Aegean Airlines is showing economic muscle, having paid off its Covid loans early and in full in 2023, and launching new routes (including to Bristol). Aegean's links with other carriers continue to expand, including new codeshare arrangements with Emirates and Cyprus Airlines. Aegean has been part of Star Alliance since 2010.
Aegean is working hard to distinguish the quality of its business class product from other European flag carriers who have reduced the scale of their business class offering or done away with it altogether on shorter intra-European routes. This is a market that is arguably underserved.
Aegean has paid particular attention to how it extends its brand into not only paper products like the menu and drinks coasters, but even the glassware and salt and pepper shakers.
Booking Aegean Airlines in Business Class
I needed to travel from Scotland to Athens to start a cruise with Virgin Voyages, and the only route on offer was from Edinburgh to Athens direct with either Aegean Airlines or Easyjet. In economy class, there wasn't a huge amount of cost difference, once you started to add in the extras, like checked luggage and seat selection. I decided to give Aegean a go as I'd not flown with them before and my initial booking was in Economy.
Economy vs Business
With Aegean, there's a straight choice between economy and business. The most obvious difference is that business includes a seat up front. Beyond that, business only makes sense if you want some extras for your journey.
Business Seat or Economy Seat
I started out as an Economy customer (I upgraded later) and my one way ticket without baggage or seat selection was £137 including taxes. Below is an example of the three classes of Economy ticket that you can select, noting that they differ because of cabin baggage amounts, ticket changes, seat selection, checked baggage and wi-fi.
PlusGrade: Aegean Airlines Business Class Upgrade
Many passengers will be familiar with a PlusGrade offer which some airlines send out to convince you to spend some more money to be upgraded to a higher class of service. For my Aegean Airlines route, the lowest possible bid was €110, and that moved me from Economy Light to Business Basic. This guaranteed benefits such as priority check-in, fast track security, lounge access at Edinburgh's Aspire Lounge, Priority boarding and a business class seat with the perks of an upgraded meal and drinks service.
Related: you can experience this Flight Review as a video – watch the full trip from Edinburgh to Athens in Aegean Airlines Business Class.
Fun Athens Activities
Aegean Airlines Check-in
The problem with check-in for Aegean Airlines lies in finding the check-in desks at Edinburgh Airport. As Aegean offers just three flights a week, it uses “pop-up” check-in desks from a selection used by other airlines and Edinburgh Airport check-in can be quite hard to navigate particularly at busy times.
Once I did find it, there were three desks in operation, one of which was dedicated to business class. A lady with some cats was ahead of me in the business line and there was a to-do to organise her paperwork, so check-in was slow. When it happened, it was friendly and well-managed by the check-in agent. A paper ticket was printed, which would grant me access to the Lounge.
Security at Edinburgh Airport
Security is up an escalator (or lift) at Edinburgh Airport and the levels of busy-ness really do vary each time I've been through during 2023. Look to be honest, I'm not convinced that Fast Track is always faster than regular security and that was the case for this experience. I think the fact that airline staff and airside retail staff all use the same line can make it a little slower. However, there's no complaint here, I was still through in 10 minutes or so. Security was thorough and two of my bags were checked (as per usual) as I carry camera equipment.
Aspire Lounge, Edinburgh Airport
The lounge on offer for Aegean at Edinburgh Airport was the new Aspire Lounge near Gate 13. There's a separate review coming up of this lounge. TLDR; it's really nice, but it was so unclear when to leave the lounge for this flight.
I probably departed the lounge 30 minutes too early in response to a flashing “Boarding” sign on the call board. The Aegean A321neo aircraft was not even on the stand when I went down.
Gate & Boarding for Aegean Airlines (hint: a total mess)
The boarding procedure at Edinburgh for Aegean was a total mess due to a complete lack of meaningful communication.
People gathered around the entrance to the roped-off zone, blocking access for anyone who had been called forward. A very loud staff member called repeatedly for Group 1 passengers (I took this to be people requiring more time and people with small children) for maybe 25 minutes, before permitting Group 2 passengers (business class and status holders) to stand in line. Nobody was in a rush to stand in line, least of all me. However, the process meant the entire boarding area was blocked for OTHER passengers trying to make their way through the airport. Just messy.
About 30 minutes after coming to the gate, Aegean's A321neo approached the gate after a late Iberian Express vacated the slot and we started to inch forward to be processed for boarding.
Boarding was down some stairs, to the upset of an older gentleman who had booked special assistance. Nobody came to help him, and he had to do his best with stairs down and steps up to the aircraft. It must have been both stressful and sore for him.
Cabin & Seat
Boarding is via the front or back door, according to your seat number.
Economy layout is typical for the A321neo narrow body with a 3-3 configuration, 30″ of pitch and seats are around 18″ wide. Economy passengers have access to in-flight entertainment and are served a small meal during the flight.
Aegean Air PlusGrade to Business Class
Aegean Air sent out two to three emails appealing for people who wanted to upgrade to use their PlusGrade system to make “a bid” for a seat. I've been successful with such bids nine times out of ten by bidding the absolutely lowest possible amount. On this occasion the lowest possible bid was €110 EUR. I knew that the seat on Aegean was not up to the standard of Turkish Airlines‘ European business class, but I thought the other amenities warranted a cheeky offer. I was delighted to get confirmation a couple of days before my flight that I had been accepted for the upgrade and I could go ahead and select my seat.
Aegean Air in Business Class Experience
I was settled in quickly in my window seat and I remarked immediately how friendly and professional the Aegean Airlines crew was going to be. I felt very welcome on board.
The seat width and pitch for business class seats on the A321neo are the same as for Economy. The business “benefit” is that the middle seat is cordoned off, meaning you have nobody directly beside you. Plus, the footwell of that seat becomes available to you to stow your backpack, which is what both I and my neighbour did.
We were served a glass of water or orange juice before we set off. The flight started its taxi to the runway about 30 minutes behind schedule.
Aegean Airlines: Amenities & Service
One member of crew was assigned to the 12 people in the Business cabin, with occasional support from another member of staff. The service levels were excellent. It was clear that the airline wanted to give an excellent impression of Greek hospitality not only through the hard and soft products, but also the way in which that is delivered. I was extremely impressed with this Athens-based crew.
One toilet was available for the exclusive use of the Business passengers with another two toilets at the back of the aircraft. The toilet was kept fresh and clean throughout the flight, and was a completely standard A321 toilet.
In-flight Entertainment (IFE)
The IFE screen is situated in the seat back for most passengers, or is mounted on the bulkhead. There was a good selection of both Greek and English TV series and movies. As usual, I like to put on the moving map!
Around the Seat
Each seat has a USB-A charging point, information about the in-flight internet, a seat back storage area for magazines, individual climate control air vents, and perfectly adequate leg room (see images below).
Internet access is free in business class, although requires some form-filling to get connected. Access was available for less than half of my 3hr+ flight but speeds were decent (2mbs+).
Food & Drinks
There is quite an extensive menu, but Aegean Airlines food options were limited (everything else was a drink!).
This flight was at lunchtime, but two breakfast options were on offer. I chose the scrambled eggs in a tomato sauce.
This was served with a seeded bread roll, mini croissant with strawberry marmalade, fresh fruit with a mild white cheese and Greek yoghurt with honey. A little offering of some great Greek ingredients served on proper plates with metal cutlery.
Fun Athens Excursions
On Arrival: Aegean Airlines in Athens
Despite the short delay, we reached our gate at Athens International Airport without too much fanfare. There was no jet bridge (which I really hate), so that meant steps down with heavy hand luggage. A bus was waiting at the bottom of the steps, which was impressive, and there was one bus just for business class passengers. It only struck me as we reached our disembarkation door that the bus might well have taken us right to near passport control, and I should welcome such bus journeys! You live and learn.
I think I got lucky with passport control and customs. There was practically nobody else in the line and I was through in under 5 minutes.
Athens International Airport: Ground Transportation
There are a few options for transferring from Athens International Airport to the city centre. The line for taxis can be insanely long depending on the time of year, so you should keep your options in mind.
On this occasion, I decided to go with public transportation and the Metro. This costs a flat €9 to most locations in the city based on a 90 minute travel window.
Aegean Airlines in Business Class: Overall Impression
I have to put my hand up and admit that I wasn't expecting this business class product to be as good as it was. Aegen Airlines in Business Class is a really good product because of the service, food and sense of comfort on board. Certainly, the seat is just a regular seat, but have no doubt this would be a ‘wow' product if they had a better hard product. As it was, I had a great flight and felt cared for and rested by the time I reached Athens.
Is Business Class worth it?
My business class seat was a PlusGrade upgrade, meaning I paid £137 (Economy fare inc taxes) plus €110 upgrade fee. Based on today's rates, that is a total price of £232 or €270 for a one-way flight from Edinburgh to Athens. Given the extra space, food, drinks and service, I think I got a great deal. In Summer 2023, when I took this flight, one way flights with some other carriers to Athens (EasyJet) were close to the business class flight I paid with Aegean Airlines.
Hot Tip: check out business class options before booking an Economy fare. You might be surprised (and if not, feel good that you checked).
Have you flown Aegean Airlines? What was your opinion? Please leave a comment below.