cambrian
Posts: 566
Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2003 1:45 am

Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Mon May 08, 2006 8:45 am

I travel to Athens several times each year on business. It is one of my favourite cities in the world and I have enjoyed witnessing the changes that have been taking place there over the past 10 years.

It was time for another trip to Athens, and my choices were as follows:



  • BA Direct from Heathrow

  • Swiss from London City via Zurich

  • Olympic Airlines direct from Heathrow


I am not a fan of BA on short-haul. Despite recent token improvements, their Club Europe product remains nothing special, and last time I flew to Athens on their drab 767 in Club, the meal was served immediately after take off, no aperitifs were served, service was non-existent, and there was no in flight entertainment, all of which made for a very long flight!

I love flying Swiss, and I usually take them to Athens. There were good prices in business class, so that was an attractive option. However, this time I decided to go with Olympic Airlines as the price was very good and I hadn’t flown them for a couple of years.


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Photo © Peter Unmuth-VAP



The main reason for choosing Olympic was due to their deployment of the A340 on the London-Athens route. I used to love flying their A300’s before they got rid of most of their A300 fleet.

I had flown an OA A340 between London and Athens a few years ago around Greek Easter, so I was looking forward to exceptional space and comfort for a European flight of just over 3 hours. I think that OA is unique in offering the A340 for a European flight?


Wednesday, May 26th
OA260 London- Athens
Dep: 12.20 (13.15) Arr: 17.55 (18.25)
Olympian Executive Class, Seat 5a

Airbus A340-300 SX-DFC “Marathon”



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Photo © Henry Jr Godding



I took a cab from my home in Mayfair and arrived at Heathrow T2 around 45 minutes later. Although T2 gets a lot of stick on these boards, I have some affection for it, not least because I took my first ever flight from there, many years ago on an IB727 to Valencia. But enough of the nostalgia trip…

I arrived at check in to find a lengthy economy queue, but no queue at all at the business class check in, denoted by the familiar blue carpet. OA is handled by Alitalia at Heathrow. Normally their check in staff can be very offhand, but today’s agent was very pleasant.

As I live near the OA office in London, I had gone their to reserve seat 5A- the left window seat in the last row of business class. I also dusted off my Icarus FF card and gave my number when I made the booking.

My boarding card was quickly issued and my bag tagged with an orange OA Priority tag. I was also given an invitation to the Servisair lounge which I know intimately from my frequent LX flights.

There were minimal queues at Security, but I was annoyed at having to take my laptop out of my hand luggage for separate screening.

As I said, I have spent many an hour in the Servisair lounge, so I was in no hurry to go there. I had a quick look around the shops and then went to one of the precious few viewing spots available in T2.

Lufthansa A321 pushing back
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Croatia A319 arriving, shortly to depart for Zagreb via Rijeka
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After watching a few landings, and quickly tiring of a succession of BA and bmi arrivals, I decided to head for the lounge.


Servisair Lounge, T2
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The usual snacks and drinks were on offer- nothing spectacular, but perfectly adequate. The lounge was fairly quiet with a smattering of OA passengers, probably returning home after celebrating Orthodox Easter in London.

When I saw that the monitor read “Go to Gate 9”, I decided to proceed to the gate. I soon realised that this was a mistake. Flying a European route on a longhaul aircraft is good once you get onboard, but of course, a larger aircraft also means lots and lots of passengers to board, and it has to be said that T2 is not really cut out for larger loads. Indeed, there are relatively few gates at T2 which can accommodate an A340, or even an A300.

Gate 9 is at the far end of the pier, and the narrow corridor leading to the gates was congested with passengers attempting to reach their various gates. After a few moments at a standstill, I eventually realised that I had inadvertently joined the queue for the Olympic flight, although I was nowhere near the gate!

Suddenly the queue began to move and I reached the gate, which was already pretty crowded. I found a seat and waited for boarding to begin. At this point a delay was announced, but no reason was given. Thankfully the delay was short, but was later compounded by the usual lunchtime queue for take off.

Boarding was announced by row. Immediately everyone thronged at the gate. For once the agents were very strict about boarding by row, and repeatedly turned away passengers in other rows. Of course, they simply moved a few feet away, compounding the congestion. Did they think that the plane was about to leave without them?

Olympic offer lots of connections throughout the Middle East and Greek islands. They also tend to be the cheapest option, so it is usual to see lots of British travellers flying OA. As I was waiting to board, an English family sitting nearby were worrying about how the flight was going to be, and remarked that the repeated announcements for passengers to sit down and wait would never happen with BA!

A work colleague of mine once referred to Olympic as “Oddball Airlines”, despite never having flown with them. I know that Olympic has a bad press, has been in bad financial shape, and can be prone to delays, but I cannot understand the inbuilt prejudices that many Brits seem to have against certain foreign carriers. Heaven forbid that a foreign airline may even be better than a British one! At this point I should mention small details such as OA’s exemplary safety record, and their use of larger aircraft on this route, offering greater comfort to the passenger…

Also, for us airplane freaks, it has to be said that the Olympic colours are surely the most elegant and stylish to grace the A340, perhaps only matched by Airlanka before they morphed into Sri Lankan.

I waited until there were only a handful of passengers left to board, and was welcomed by a friendly OA crew member. I turned left into the spacious business class cabin.

OA Business Class
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OA have 32 seats in business on the A340. The load was to just under 50% in business today, including 2 unaccompanied minors. I settled into my seat and decided that I had made the right choice for this flight.
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The space has to be unparalleled for a European flight. Legroom is not a problem at all, and although the seats are not flat bed, they are quite similar to the old BA Cradle Seat, and very comfortable.

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The seats are also PTV-equipped, whereas the main screen in the cabin is used for the safety demo and live map.

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As I was so late to board, in no time the airbridge was being retracted and preparations were made to push back. I overheard a member of the crew saying that there were 257 passengers onboard the flight.

Music was playing over the PA, and Eurovision fans would have recognised the Eurovision hits (and misses!) of yesteryear that were being played for our delight and delectation. As host country, Greece is obviously getting in the mood for Eurovision, and OA is one of the sponsors of the competition this year.

As final preparations were being made to push back, woman appeared from Economy and engaged one of the flight attendants in conversation, the gist of which was as follows:

Passenger: “These look like very comfortable seats. Can I sit here instead?”

FA: “No, madam. We only upgrade economy passengers when the flight is full up. We leave space for business class passengers who have paid for it.”

Full marks for trying. I wonder if that approach does ever work. Say that it works in 1 out of 10 flights, then I supposed that it is worth trying!

At this point, pre-flight drinks were offered and we pushed back, joining the long queue for takeoff. The safety video followed on the main screen in Greek and English. The captain then came on to apologise for the delay and give us some information on our routing. Today we would be flying on an Airbus A340-300 Series called “Marathon”, and our routing would take us over Brussels, across the northern tip of Luxembourg, over Germany and the Swiss and Italian Alps, passing Venice and Ancona, following the Italian coast.

Alitalia A321
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It was a relatively short taxi to the runway, but as there were a number of planes waiting to leave ahead of us, we spent 15 minutes or so inching forward- plenty of time for spotting!

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Icelandair 757 with winglets, followed by a UA777
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Domestic and Eire section of T1, as Mustang Sally tries to muscle in on my shot
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We finally lined up for take off. The A340 does have a reputation for lethargic takeoffs, and this was no exception. We headed east over north Kent and the Channel, passing south of Zeebrugge and Brugge, whose network of canals was easy to make out.

Despite seemingly-clear weather, the seat belt sign was left on for some time. In the meantime the crew set about preparing the galley.

Soon we were overflying Brussels, at which point cloud began to build up.

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The UM’s were served a special meal immediately by one of the crew, who spent time chatting with them and making sure that they were ok.

Headphones were distributed for the audio and video channels. The inflight entertainment is the same as long haul flights- so there is a good choice of recent films and short programmes. No AVOD, and nothing too cutting edge, but above average for a flight of this length. Nevertheless, I decided to opt for the map on my PTV.

Then hot towels were given out, followed by the aperitif service. I went for champagne and was surprised to be given my own half bottle, complete with ice bucket.

I really could get used to this…

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With a flight time of 3.10 service was unhurried and personal. When lunch was served, it was the Olympic fare that I remembered from 2 years ago- nice food and the usual large portions on OA! Red and white Greek wines were also served.

The choice for lunch was Beef, Vegetarian Pasta or Fish. I went for the beef.

Lunch comprised the following:



  • Green Salad

  • Marinated Seafood Salad

  • Beef filet

  • Pear and Almond Cake

  • Cheese and Crackers



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Green Salad
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Marinated Seafood Salad
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The salad was rather too “fishy” for my taste.

Beef Filet
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This was very tasty and filling.

By now we were overflying the Alps, but I was cheated of any views due to cloud cover. There was a brief gap in the clouds as we overflew Venice.

Landmarks such as St Marks, the Rialto Bridge and Santa Maria della Salute were clearly visible.

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We continued our course down the east coast of Italy as coffee and liqueurs were served.

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I opted for my usual Grand Marnier with ice, which, added to the copious quantities of champagne that I had had, sent me off to sleep after lunch, snuggled under an OA blanket.

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I don’t normally sleep on planes, even in BA or LX first class, so I surprised myself by sleeping for a hour. When I woke up we were over the western Pelopponese. I was dismayed to see that the weather was cloudy. In fact, the weather was to remain so throughout my stay, until it was time for me to go home, when, of course, the sun came out again.

We made the familiar approach to Athens over Vouliagmeni. The infrastructure associated with the new airport (not so new anymore, as it is celebrating its 5th anniversary!) never fails to impress. I think that the new airport, train, motorways and metro for the new airport was planned and built in less time than it took for the planning enquiry for Terminal 5!

Final approach to E. Venizelos airport
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But of course it is fun to complain about the “lazy” and laid back Greeks. I remember during the build up to the 2004 Olympics the horror stories in the English press about how the facilities would never be finished etc. Of course, Greece delivered one of the best Games ever, and on time.

Let’s see how we get on in 2012. Perhaps this is not a good time to mention Wembley, but as I am Welsh, I will say that the English have an open invitation to the Millennium Stadium anytime!!!

We made a smooth landing and were treated to a rendition of “Everything” by Anna Vissi (Greek Eurovision entry) as we taxied to the gate. Not that OA is trying to brainwash us or anything.


From centre to right: the Metro and Rail station, Sofitel Hotel, main terminal and Tower
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The airport was fairly quiet at that time of day, and we had made some time up. Passport control was quick, and as usual I was impressed by the terminal at ATH.

Unfortunately the bags took a long time to be unloaded, and my annoyance was compounded by the fact that the business class bags, resplendent with orange “Priority” tags were the very last to come off the belt, nearly an hour after we landed. In fact all other passengers had melted away, leaving the handful of business class passengers to bemoan their fate and indulge in a bitching session about Olympic. Just as I was beginning to think that my bag was not going to arrive, the business class bags appeared, and mine was the penultimate bag from the whole flight!

This soured my positive experience of OA somewhat, but as I was back in one of my favourite cities, I soon forgot about it and had 5 wonderful days in Athens.

Here are some photos from my trip- scroll on to the return journey if they don’t float your boat.

King George II Hotel, Syntagma
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Greek Parliament Building
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“Evzonoi” Guards


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Their skirts have 400 pleats to represent the 400 years of Ottoman occupation.

May 1st demonstrations in Syntagma and Panepistimiou
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The Acropolis, seen from Lykavittos (shame about the weather!)
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All too soon, it was time to return home. As the sun returned to Athens, it was my time to leave.


Tuesday, May 2nd
OA269 Athens- London
Dep: 13.30 (13.30) Arr: 15.30 (15.00)
Olympian Executive Class, Seat 5a

Airbus A340-300 SX-DFD “Epidavros”



View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Josh Akbar - NYCAviation




I took a cab to the airport and arrived in plenty of time for check in.
There were long queues for the various domestic and international OA departures, but again, nobody waiting at the blue carpet business class check in.

Check in was quick as my favourite seat, 5A, had been pre-assigned.

The terminal at Athens is wearing well, and seems spacious, with few bottlenecks, even at busy times of the day. However, landside Athens is quite bad for spotting, except for the McDonalds.

Airside, I have found that the Swissport lounge in the non-Schengen sector is the best place to spot.

Check in area at Athens
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View from the Mezzanine
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This being Greece, many archaeological finds were made during the contruction of the airport, and some of these are now on display in the airport’s very own museum.

Airport Museum
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I decided to do some shopping before heading to the Olympic lounge. The shops in the Schengen area are better than those in the non-Schengen part of the departure lounge. But here an anomaly seems to exist at Athens, as non-Schengen passengers can show their boarding pass to gain entrance to the Schengen area shops.

So I went shopping in the Schengen area, then returned to the boarding pass control point to re-enter the terminal where, in theory at least, I could hand my purchases over to a meeter and greeter. I am not sure that this ever happens, but this arrangement surprises me whenever I travel through Athens. I hope that this doesn’t change, as the shops in the Schengen part are so much better. I think that from next year, LX flights will move to the Schengen sector anyway. Of course, as Brits, we have to stay outside of everything!

I then passed through the non-Schengen boarding pass control and passport control. I find that there are never long queues at Athens for security or passport control. Perhaps this is down to the design of the terminal, as small groups of gates have separate security points.

I then proceeded to the Aristotle Onassis Lounge. This is the flagship OA lounge, and is a very pleasant place to wait. It also offers views over one of the runways at ATH.



The Aristotle Onassis Lounge
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Some of you may know that Onassis was the founder of Olympic, and in the lounge there is what only can be described as a shrine to him.

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As much as Onassis is part of Greek history, they have not forgotten about the other parts of their heritage!

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There was a good selection of sandwiches, snacks and cakes, with the usual alcoholic drinks, coffee etc.

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The lounge was not very busy, as the New York flight was just leaving. I did of course see the requisite Greek Priest in the lounge. Whenever I am in Athens airport, I always see lots of priest. I think that it is a good career choice to see the world! Please don’t flame me, as I am not making a religious comment.

Soon the flight was called.

The departure board

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At this point I still hadn’t passed through Security, but there were few people waiting. I then caught a glimpse of Epidavros- the plane that would take me back to London.

Olympic colours look phenomenal on the A340- shame that it is so hard to take photos at Athens.

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I boarded without any delay and once again found myself in the spacious business class cabin, made even more spacious today by the light load of 8 people, although economy was nearly full. Each seat had a blanket and pillow on it.

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Pre-flight drinks were served (champagne, juice or water) and I enjoyed a glass of champagne whilst taking in the interesting sights on the ramp.

Aeroflot TU154 in old colours

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Aeroflot TU154 to Moscow SVO; Egyptair A320 to Cairo; Qatar A319 to Doha; Swiss A320 to Zurich.
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Soon we were pushing back.

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This B742 was here when I arrived, and seems not to have moved in 5 days. Does anyone know anything about this airline?
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The safety demo played on the main screen and final cabin checks were made before lining up for departure.

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We had what seemed a long roll before rotating. We took off over the eastern coast of Attica and made a left turn to head west across the north of Athens. Soon the Corinth canal could be made out through hazy cloud.

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On the left is Patras, European City of Culture, 2006
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Legroom is not a problem in OA Business Class!
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Drinks service followed- this time I didn’t get a bottle to myself, but there were many refills. We were then offered hot towels before the meal service. By now we had passed to the west of Preveza and were heading for Albania.

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The choice for lunch was Beef, Salmon or Crepes. I decided to try the salmon.

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In my experience, the catering out of Athens is better than that of Olympic flights from Heathrow.

First Course
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Main Course- the salmon was good and not dry as it can be often.
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Dessert
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Baklava is always the highlight of the meal on a flight from Athens, and this was no exception. I was cheeky enough to ask if they had any spare, and the flight attendant was only too happy to find an extra one for me.

At this point I got chatting to her about what the future holds for Olympic. She told me that this is a time of great uncertainty for OA staff, but that they are hopeful of a buyout by a shipping consortium. She was also telling me that the loads on the London route are some of their strongest, especially in economy, and that cargo is also performing well, which is why they are using the A340 on the route. She expressed quiet optimism for the future, and I hope that she is right.

Following the Dalmatian Coast
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A good way to finish lunch
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After lunch, coffee and liqueurs were offered, followed by refills, if wanted.

Yet again I was cheated of a view of the Alps, but the skymap let me know that I was missing some spectacular views from my window.

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The rest of the flight was uneventful, passing over Zurich and Basle, both of which were covered in cloud. We then proceeded to the east of Paris before crossing the Channel. It was the usual scenario of congestion on approach to Heathrow, which meant lots of circling in the stack, and we only broke through low cloud over Richmond, so there were no views of London to be had either.

After a smooth touchdown it was a long taxi to the same gate at T2 from which I had left on the outbound trip. Once again we were treated to some more Eurovision hits as we taxied, followed by another blast of the Greek entry- they are definitely trying to brainwash us!  Silly

At the gate passengers taking the return flight to Athens were already gathering. Passport control was quiet, and my bag was one of the first to appear at Baggage Reclaim. Yay! Within 45 minutes I was back at home.

Conclusion

I hadn’t flown Olympic for a couple of years, and I was worried that the bad news stories currently circulating about OA may have resulted in cost-cutting, impacting on service and the product.

This has not been the case, and I found OA to be consistent in their high quality (Intra-European) business class product.

This will be heresy to some of the BA Taliban who prowl these boards, but OA’s European business class product leaves BA standing. The passenger experience is greatly enhanced by the use of an A340 on this route, inflight entertainment and warm, hospitable service.

Don’t believe the horror stories about OA crew. They offer Greek hospitality in an warm and unpretentious way. I have seen so many posts on this site where people booked on OA are asking “What are they like?”, and some of the responses are less than complementary. Based upon my experiences, OA’s bad press is somewhat exaggerated and unjustified, and I hope that a Greek national airline survives in some recognisable shape or form, and prospers again in the future.

Thanks for reading my report. Comments and questions are welcome.
 
ATLFlyer323
Posts: 487
Joined: Sun Jan 16, 2005 2:01 am

RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Mon May 08, 2006 10:07 am

WOW I loved your report...I know not much to say but I figured you would appreciate that atleast. Im glad someone besides me seems to enjoy OA.

~Brandon
Everyday, the fluffy temptation of wheat!
 
JBLUA320
Posts: 2997
Joined: Mon May 27, 2002 8:51 am

RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Mon May 08, 2006 10:50 am

Great report-- I've been hearing good things about OA recently, and this definately seems to follow in that trend. I'm glad to hear about good experiences w/ the underdog!!

JBLU
 
nwa757boy
Posts: 423
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:10 am

RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Mon May 08, 2006 12:26 pm

Very nice report. I'm going to ATH later this month and going on AF...though I really want to try OA....looks like wonderful service....and plus i should try my homeland airline.....despite my flag on here I'm just Greek...not living in Greece.
 
767747
Posts: 2127
Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2005 10:08 am

RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens +

Mon May 08, 2006 12:29 pm

Great report! Nice pics of OA. The food looks amazing. It's interesting that the whole Business Class meals are all on one tray. Does this happen on all flights, or just on the Intra European flights?
I love to fly!
 
tbear815
Posts: 689
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2003 12:14 pm

RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Mon May 08, 2006 1:07 pm

Incredibly written TR. Most appreciated. If OA could pull their J/C act together, that would be one special flight. The catering ex-ATH just needs proper plating. Great offerings made common by poor presentation. Greece and the Greeks are without peer. Such a passion for life. It should show in their premier airline.

I was in ATH over 30 years ago the first time. OA has a legacy to recapture. Onassis had the vision - the potential is still there. If they could work the LHR/ATH route with some aplomb, simply tie into all the antiquities in London. OA, you could be on to something....

I've worked for Greeks! And learned to love them! OA - show the world what you can do!

Rod
 
ANITIX87
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Mon May 08, 2006 1:15 pm

Great report, I love seeing pictures of Greece, as it may be a while before I go back. And yes, Athens' summer games were amazing. I'd know since I was at the Opening Ceremony and several events!  Smile

One question, though. Just a minor point I picked up on. How is that the flight back was 24 days BEFORE the flight to Athens?! Did you mean June 2?

TIS
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LX001
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Mon May 08, 2006 4:19 pm

What a great report! Loved it!!!
Only drawback...the presentation of the meals. Looks like economy-class. But, it`s more important that it tasted good...isn`t it.  Silly
 
ardian
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Tue May 09, 2006 12:07 am

Nice report, great to hear about the service from Olympic! Would definitely try to fly with them some day (and I love Greece)
The food looks quite delicious, but the marinated seafood salad isn't really my thing  Wink And baklava is just delicious! The pictures from Athens are also very intersting
 
semsem
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Tue May 09, 2006 12:43 am

I liked the pictures of the meals. What type of camera do you have?

I flew OA twice to New York and once to London many years ago in Y; Comet 4, 707 and 747. They used to offer cheaper fares from TLV.

The food was always very good and the flights comfortable. However the crew were somwehat reserved and I will always remember when we landed in London many passengers got up before the plane stopped.

The crew started yelling at the passengers. I guess they were telling them to sit.
 
fbgdavidson
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Tue May 09, 2006 2:47 am

Excellent report! Knew when I saw it was by you I'd have to pop by.  Wink

Some great pictures in there too, particularly of Concorde, the overview of Venice and the Corinth Canal  thumbsup 

Quoting Cambrian (Thread starter):
I went for champagne and was surprised to be given my own half bottle, complete with ice bucket.

 thumbsup  biggrin 

Quoting Cambrian (Thread starter):
We made a smooth landing and were treated to a rendition of “Everything” by Anna Vissi (Greek Eurovision entry) as we taxied to the gate. Not that OA is trying to brainwash us or anything.

This is what concerned me most about this report. The fact you know Eurovision entries!!! And foreign ones at that! tut tut... Wink

Quoting Cambrian (Thread starter):
This will be heresy to some of the BA Taliban who prowl these boards, but OA’s European business class product leaves BA standing. The passenger experience is greatly enhanced by the use of an A340 on this route, inflight entertainment and warm, hospitable service.

Well presuming I am one of the 'BA Taliban' I'd be foolish to claim CE was better than your offerings. The food looked decent (despite disappointing presentation) as did the seat which is I presume OA's longhaul offering too. I'd be interested if it prices up like longhaul because if not it could be serious competition with BA's killer ex-LGW CE fares to ATH.
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey
 
9VSPO
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Tue May 09, 2006 4:25 am

Great report and nice to see ATH check-in. I will be there in a few days!
 
roseflyer
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Tue May 09, 2006 4:47 am

Wonderful trip report. It is nice to read about one of the less talked about airlines.

Quoting Cambrian (Thread starter):
Also, for us airplane freaks, it has to be said that the Olympic colours are surely the most elegant and stylish to grace the A340, perhaps only matched by Airlanka before they morphed into Sri Lankan.

Some say elegant, while others say outdated. In my opinion the Olympic scheme looks like it should be adorning 707s in the 1960s when every airline painted its airplanes white with a single cheatline down the side with a tail logo.
If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
 
FLIEGER67
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Tue May 09, 2006 4:54 am

Hi, David,
great report. I was also in Athens for several times but never with OA, last time on AF, about 4 weeks ago, great city.
About the AirUniversal B742:
AirUniversal is a AFAIK Jordanian company, but it´s AOC is registered in Sierra Leone and this country is on the EU non flying black list.
The owner of AirUniversal has founded a new company AirUniversal Cyprus in Cyprus and will transfer the planes to the Cyprus register.
The 742 was on the way, but the Cyprus authorities cancelled its landing rights on short notice according to the Sierra Leone background.
The plane diverts to ATH, no more news till know.
Regards,
Markus (FLIEGER67)
Tripreporter.net
 
DALelite
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Tue May 09, 2006 6:37 am

it was great to read a report of an airline which is not so much on display.
i like that they use the A340 on this route and boy, they have nice blankets
in C-Class!! the food presentation looked more like it was an coach class tray.

enjoyed it! DALelite
They loved to fly and it showed..
 
GCDEG
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Tue May 09, 2006 6:59 am

Very nice trip report and even better to see one with Olympic. Glad you enjoyed Greece! I've said this many times before - I find the OA shorthaul product to be fine. I've never had a problem with them and the times I have flown with them I can't fault them. Flown twice now on the A340 and once on the A300 LHR-ATH in economy and was excellent both times. PTV's (A340), a full (hot) meal service and all at a very reasonable price. The food in business class looks tasty! All your pictures are great and look identical to the ones I took a couple of months back!

Quoting Cambrian (Thread starter):
I hadn't flown Olympic for a couple of years, and I was worried that the bad news stories currently circulating about OA may have resulted in cost-cutting, impacting on service and the product.

This has not been the case, and I found OA to be consistent in their high quality (Intra-European) business class product.

This will be heresy to some of the BA Taliban who prowl these boards, but OA's European business class product leaves BA standing. The passenger experience is greatly enhanced by the use of an A340 on this route, inflight entertainment and warm, hospitable service.

Don't believe the horror stories about OA crew. They offer Greek hospitality in an warm and unpretentious way. I have seen so many posts on this site where people booked on OA are asking "What are they like?", and some of the responses are less than complementary. Based upon my experiences, OA's bad press is somewhat exaggerated and unjustified, and I hope that a Greek national airline survives in some recognisable shape or form, and prospers again in the future.

Couldn't agree more and although I am a huge BA fan I do agree that OAs product on this sector is great and as you mentioned greatly enhanced by the use of the A340.

Quoting Cambrian (Thread starter):
Of course, Greece delivered one of the best Games ever, and on time.

Was superb and put the previous ones to shame!

Quoting Cambrian (Thread starter):
Boarding was announced by row. Immediately everyone thronged at the gate. For once the agents were very strict about boarding by row, and repeatedly turned away passengers in other rows. Of course, they simply moved a few feet away, compounding the congestion. Did they think that the plane was about to leave without them?

Exactly how it happened when I flew with them although they didn't bother telling people to sit down! What is it with us passengers? Why can't we be a civilized lot and just wait until our seat number is called!

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Reply 10):
This is what concerned me most about this report. The fact you know Eurovision entries!!! And foreign ones at that! tut tut...

Yeah was just gonna say that too....  Wink On the topic of the Eurovision what did you think of the Greek entry? Did you like it or not? I heard the 3 songs that were to be voted for and I can tell you that "Everything" wouldn't have been my choice!

Quoting Cambrian (Thread starter):
Also, for us airplane freaks, it has to be said that the Olympic colours are surely the most elegant and stylish to grace the A340, perhaps only matched by Airlanka before they morphed into Sri Lankan.

 yes  100%

Nick
The best thing invented - Winglets!
 
jetbluefan1
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Tue May 09, 2006 9:15 am

Great job on this report. I haven't flown OA in over 10 years now, and I remember way back when the service was horrendous; you could buy a Bussiness Class ticket, but it never meant that you would actually sit in Business Class. The Crew always seemed uninterested, too.

However, it seems that OA has been getting better with age and I only hope the trend continues. Whenever I fly Cyprus to visit relatives, I always use Cyprus Airways. Just a few years ago, the airline was in pits with disgusting aircraft and horrible service. Nevertheless, my last 4 legs on Cyprus Airways have gone above and beyond all expectations and I'm really pleased. I bet OA is just the same.

Great pictures, too! I love Athens and cannot wait to go back.

JetBluefan1
 
Door5Right
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Wed May 10, 2006 11:14 pm

Quoting Cambrian (Thread starter):
I went for champagne and was surprised to be given my own half bottle, complete with ice bucket.

Heaven!

Certainly makes the BA Club Europe product look a tadge miserly!
My soul is in the sky...
 
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TK787
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Thu May 11, 2006 11:13 pm

Quoting LX001 (Reply 7):
Only drawback...the presentation of the meals. Looks like economy-class

I agree, on the flight over though, that green salad looks terrible, may i have the seafood dishx2 for my entree.
How about that landing photo over the highway at 18:25 on a wed. We could all wish to have highways that empty.
Thanks for a great report.
 
JoeCattoli
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Thu May 11, 2006 11:49 pm

Quoting Cambrian (Thread starter):
Soon the Corinth canal could be made out through hazy cloud



Quoting Cambrian (Thread starter):
There was a brief gap in the clouds as we overflew Venice

These 2 photos are amazing, It's great to hear about Olympic Airlines.

great trip report mate, really nice to read about it.

Ciao  wave 
Joe
 
GCDEG
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Fri May 12, 2006 12:04 am

Quoting Cambrian (Thread starter):
Final approach to E. Venizelos airport

I just noticed that in this picture on finals into Athens you can see the factory where my Uncle works! It's just to the left of the centre of the photo! How cool - will need to show him!

Nick
The best thing invented - Winglets!
 
MAS777
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Fri May 12, 2006 8:26 am

thanks for that great trip report. I am flying to Athens for a conference next week and then seeing some friends in Mykonos for the weekend if I manage to change my return flight (been booked on BA unfortunately having read your report).

Your knowledge of Eurovision is somewhat interesting!!!  Smile
 
cedarjet
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Fri May 12, 2006 8:51 am

Quoting 767747 (Reply 4):
It's interesting that the whole Business Class meals are all on one tray. Does this happen on all flights, or just on the Intra European flights?

Just Intra European. ATH-LHR is basically shorthaul. Do you get a meal on a three hour flight in domestic first class in the US these days? My buddy flew in business class on American from LAX to JFK and didn't get a meal.

Quoting Tbear815 (Reply 5):
Greece and the Greeks are without peer. Such a passion for life. It should show in their premier airline.

I agree, but in a way it does. I am a big fan of Olympic, have flown them within Europe and twice to Sydney and Melbourne on their now-retired 747-200s. Professional service, great food (and BIG portions), perfect safety record. A very good and historic operation that could still deliver big time.
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
 
tbear815
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Fri May 12, 2006 1:37 pm

Cedarjet,

You're so right about domestic US service. "Maybe" UA's p.s. can mean something, but we Americans (and I am proud of that) have no imagination or care when it comes to inflight/passenger products or service. With OA, their product is great - I'm just surprised they don't serve things with a flair. Greece is known for drama - positive inflight drama can be overwhelmingly captivating. And terrific for return traffic. Imagine an A-340 to ATH fully loaded, and the pax are made to feel like guests at a Greek party. Just think of what that feeling could do for Greek tourism? Happy pax spread good words. And don't look to US airlines for inflight ideas today. The days of Pan Am and TWA are long gone........
 
EddieDude
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Sat May 13, 2006 1:48 am

David, this is a fantastic trip report. I feel now tempted to try OA (if possible in business class) the next time I am in Europe so that I can experience their service. Thank you very much for your descriptions and for the pictures. And to OA and its people, I hope the future will be better, with new investors, a new business plan and prosperity for the staff of such a legendary airline.
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Mon May 15, 2006 11:36 pm

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Reply 10):
Excellent report! Knew when I saw it was by you I'd have to pop by.

My feelings exactly.

Thanks for this report Cambrian. For one thing I was very interested to see what the C-Class cabin on the OA 340s looks like.

The service seemed great, the seats looked comfort, the food looked good but I agree on the presentation.

I spent the first four years of my life in Athens and it looks like I will be going back for the first time this summer. Traveling from LHR, I had originally booked BA redemption tickets but now I'm thinking of trying OA...
PARIS, FRANCE...THE BEIRUT OF EUROPE.
 
cambrian
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Tue May 16, 2006 12:08 am

Thank you all for your kind comments- it makes the hard slog of a trip report worthwhile!

Quoting ATLFlyer323 (Reply 1):
Im glad someone besides me seems to enjoy OA.

Yes, I find that OA is in the category of airlines that are easy to criticise. The prevailing wisdom is that OA is bad and should be avoided, yet most of the time those who post such comments have never flown OA, but just go along with the received wisdom. It is a shame, as I have never had a bad flight with Olympic.

Quoting NWA757boy (Reply 3):
plus i should try my homeland airline

Malista!

Quoting Tbear815 (Reply 5):
If OA could pull their J/C act together, that would be one special flight. The catering ex-ATH just needs proper plating.

That is very true! It was certainly above most other intra-European flights, with the exception of LX. The catering needs improvement in terms of the presentation, but the quality and quantity of the business class meals were very good. Plate service would be a nice innovation on this flight, and at over 3 hours, there is certainly time for it.
 
taichen
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Thu May 18, 2006 1:02 am

Very nice report !

I think you're right, catering out from ATH seems much better. Still, it reminds me of old good days Y catering  Sad

I can only disagree with you on the livery- I find OA livery really outdated and ugly ! but of course it is just a matter of taste
 
boeingfanyyz
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Fri May 19, 2006 10:20 am

Wow, OA looks like an AMAZING airline!

Those seats look absolutely amazing for an international business class product, although still not comparably with BA club! By the way, it will take you a long time to win over my opinion on that one!  wink 

Cheers,
Boeingfanyyz  airplane 
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airxliban
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Sat Aug 19, 2006 4:59 pm

Read this report back in the day but have just read it again now and now that I have been on this route and seen Athens it makes it all the more interesting.

When I saw the photos of your hotel I thought it was the Grand Bretagne for a second. Happy to report that I've now seen the parliament building and Syntagma square for myself now!

I was also happy to see the photo of the Acropolis from Lycabettos which is where I stayed whilst there and took many similar photos.

That Air Universal 747 is still there!

Your OA experience seems to be massively better than the BA one would be on the same route. At London, I suppose the BA lounge and facilities are slightly better than the dreaded T2 and I can't imagine that the Servisair lounge is better than BA's T1 offering?

But that's where the BA advantage likely ends. Onboard the comfort is not even in the same league. You've even got PTVs on OA as well which are absent from BA's european fleet.

Just about the thing I noticed which BA does better is the layout and presentation of the food. It seemed as though you got everything in one tray and I didn't notice if you had a menu or not, whereas on BA you get the menu and they serve the entree separately.

Otherwise that's just about it. Though I'd still rather fly a 767 than an A340, even if the 340's got proper business class seats!

Quoting AirxLiban (Reply 25):
I spent the first four years of my life in Athens and it looks like I will be going back for the first time this summer. Traveling from LHR, I had originally booked BA redemption tickets but now I'm thinking of trying OA...

LOL...well I did end up on BA afterall.
PARIS, FRANCE...THE BEIRUT OF EUROPE.
 
cambrian
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Tue Aug 22, 2006 8:48 pm

Quoting AirxLiban (Reply 29):
When I saw the photos of your hotel I thought it was the Grand Bretagne for a second. Happy to report that I've now seen the parliament building and Syntagma square for myself now!

I used to stay at the GB, but once it was booked up, so I decided to give the King George a try, and I haven't been back to the Grande-Bretagne since.

It is received wisdom that the GB is the best hotel in Athens- don't believe it! The King George is more intimate and quieter, but with high standards. The rooftop Tudor Room restaurant is also an experience.

Quoting AirxLiban (Reply 29):
Your OA experience seems to be massively better than the BA one would be on the same route. At London, I suppose the BA lounge and facilities are slightly better than the dreaded T2 and I can't imagine that the Servisair lounge is better than BA's T1 offering?

I would never fly BA on the London-Athens run, as I dislike the 767 cabin, and they are in a hurry to feed you and disappear as fast as possible, which makes a flight of 3 hours plus seem long and boring. I still maintain that Swiss Business class in Europe is the best product of any airline.

Quoting AirxLiban (Reply 29):
Just about the thing I noticed which BA does better is the layout and presentation of the food. It seemed as though you got everything in one tray and I didn't notice if you had a menu or not, whereas on BA you get the menu and they serve the entree separately.

That is true. OA have good, hearty food, but the presentation lets it down somewhat. There were no menus on the flight. Does BA offer a digestif after the meal on the Athens run?
 
A340600
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Tue Aug 22, 2006 10:55 pm

Quoting Cambrian (Thread starter):
I think that OA is unique in offering the A340 for a European flight?

IB offer 343/6 flights between MAD and LPA.

Fantastic report, the food looks good, just a shame about the presentation,

Sam Smile
Despite the name I am a Boeing man through and through!
 
trintocan
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Sun Sep 03, 2006 7:31 pm

What an excellent trip report. Greece and Olympic Airlines (not Airways, the name changed last year) seem to be great! I have friends from Greece and so a trip there should be in the offing at some point.

I have seen the OA A340s flying in and out of LHR on occasion and yes they do look elegant with that spectacular paint scheme. As for that food service - that looks so good.

One question - do OA still have the 737-400s in the special Olympic Games paint schemes? I bought a 1:400 model back in 2005 in Paris.

Well done Cambrian, I am glad you had a good time and lived your myth in Greece!

TrinToCan.
Hop to it, fly for life!
 
GCDEG
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Mon Sep 04, 2006 12:24 am

Quoting Trintocan (Reply 32):
One question - do OA still have the 737-400s in the special Olympic Games paint schemes? I bought a 1:400 model back in 2005 in Paris.

Not anymore unfortunately - both of them were repainted back into OA colours soon after the Olympics.


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Anto Blazevic
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Giovanni Verbeeck



Quoting Trintocan (Reply 32):
I have seen the OA A340s flying in and out of LHR on occasion and yes they do look elegant with that spectacular paint scheme. As for that food service - that looks so good.

 checkmark 

Nick
The best thing invented - Winglets!
 
ba319-131
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Mon Sep 11, 2006 5:46 am

Nice report as usual, many thanks.

Had I not flown and A343, OA would have possible been the carrier of choice on this route, however since the 343 is in my flight log I'd stick to BA.

Yes OA sound like they have a better service over BA's 763's, I myself would rather accumutate more points on my prefered carrier, who have yet to do me wrong.

Regards

Mark
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Comeflywithme
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Sat Oct 07, 2006 7:16 am

Great report and pics.

I agree that Olympic get a raw deal so it's good that a report like this shows that they offer a good product in Business.

Athens is one of my favourite destinations as well.
 
mundotrekker
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Sat Aug 04, 2007 8:09 am

i dig your thorough report and pictures you've included with your trip. I've flown OA back in 2001 and it was good. Thanks for sharing.

 Smile
 
PacNWjet
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Sat Aug 04, 2007 11:48 am

The only time I flew Olympic was in 1994 on a flight from Madrid to Athens. This was back when smoking was still allowed on flights. What I remember most was that the smoking section was virtually empty on that particular flight. However, when the seatbelt sign was turned off, a very large number of passengers went back to the smoking section for a smoke, and then returned to their seats in the non-smoking section. Seems a lot of people wanted to be able to smoke on the plane, but no one actually wanted to sit in the smoking section. Although MAD-ATH is a relatively short sector, we were served a full hot meal in coach, something not very common on flights of this length these days in either Europe or North America.
 
B747forever
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Sat Aug 04, 2007 3:59 pm

Excellent TR. really liked your pics. I must try OA some time in the future.
Work Hard, Fly Right
 
olympic707
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Tue Aug 07, 2007 12:17 am

Very good trip report.  bigthumbsup 

JFK - ATH OA flights are very good too.

Food is always better from OA catering.

Quoting Cambrian (Reply 26):
Yes, I find that OA is in the category of airlines that are easy to criticise. The prevailing wisdom is that OA is bad and should be avoided, yet most of the time those who post such comments have never flown OA, but just go along with the received wisdom. It is a shame, as I have never had a bad flight with Olympic.

 checkmark 

Quoting A340600 (Reply 31):
Fantastic report, the food looks good, just a shame about the presentation,

You can't eat the presentation, the quality and quantity of the food that counts Big grin


Yanni
Fly Olympic - Aviation GREEK STYLE!
 
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OA260
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Tue Aug 07, 2007 4:12 am

WOW ....Im seeing this report for the second time and I notice I didnt comment !! Sorry !!! This is a fantastic report and the photos are brilliant. Nice to see my favourite airline and families home city in such a wonderful TR !!!! OA does have a very good product especially on the LHR route although sadly the A340 will come off the LHR route after this summer. I hope to get on it before it does. I have been flying OA since I was a tiny kid and often was Unacompanied minor myself. The crew always made sure we were ok and we were so excited to be on those A300's !!! Then my dream came after my studies and I got to work for OA for a few years!!! It was the best time of my life. I will always cherish those memories. It was like being part of a big family.

The food is always the best offering on European routes with the exception of LX who are I have to admit better but OA is not too far behind.

I too have seen the amazing changes in Greece and Athens over the last 10 years and it really is something to be proud of. The hotel Grand Bretagne is amazing , I was in it back in February for a party.

EFHARISTO PARA POLI !!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH


OA260
 
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airbuseric
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Tue Aug 07, 2007 7:25 am

Good story and even better to see OA is performing well in C class! Really great service, something I didn't expect to be honest. Your pictures are very clear, give wonderful impressions, like being on board myself.
Have to tryout the A340-300 myself someday... pff so many types to go for me  Wink

Cheers,
Eric
"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
 
olympic707
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Tue Aug 07, 2007 7:53 am

Quoting OA260 (Reply 40):
sadly the A340 will come off the LHR route after this summer

What aircraft will OA use on the LHR flight?

OA has 1 A300 left and I've been told that it will be sold to FedEx in early 2008.

OA has shortages on aircraft. Any news on OA getting new aircraft?

Yanni
Fly Olympic - Aviation GREEK STYLE!
 
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OA260
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Tue Aug 07, 2007 5:52 pm

Last A340 flight will be on 27th October and from then on all flights will be operated by 737-400's!!! Such a shame to see the 340 go.
 
QXatFAT
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Tue Aug 07, 2007 6:45 pm

Very nice trip report! I enjoyed your pictures very much. Good job!

Question...if you do not mind me asking, about how much would a Buisness Class ticket cost on OA for this route? I am very shocked that the Buisness Class was so empty on both of your flights! Strange.
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OA260
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Tue Aug 07, 2007 7:44 pm

Actually panic over LOL....I just heard its comming back to the LHR route on 6th January 2008!!! So just off for the winter!!
 
wingsofman72
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Wed Aug 08, 2007 2:48 am

Interesting this came up again.
I took OA270/269 back in June 2 and 9 this year for similar reasons, I like the 340 on the short route and the fare was very good. I had taken LX last time which was fine, but really didn't need to go to ZRH this time.

My take on this is that OA has let the planes go, and service has gone down.
I was in Y both ways, fairly full going, empty return.

Meal..fair, service..mininmal, dinner/lunch served then gone (and the FAs were irriated both ways, with what I do not know, but seemed annoyed by everything.

The aircraft were worn (lavs in bad shape, -DFC was better than -DFA, but not much. PTVs did not work either way (or at least they did not turn them on). Seats/ tray tables dirty or just old, lots of junk in the seat pocket.

I had some collegues in Business (the only 2 on the way back by the way), and said the meal was inedible (may have been just them) and service there too was non existant.

However, it was a nice ride in the 340 anyway, quiet and the seats are fairly comfortable with good legroom I thought, price was right and was on time. I'd take this over U2 anytime (and U2 is OK for what they are).

Also, in final comment...GATE 9 at T2 in warm weather is a horror. The A/C can't handle it, and that room gets very steamy.
 
EXAAUADL
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Wed Aug 08, 2007 7:36 am

The meal looks like a decent coach meal, definitely not J class standard.
 
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OA260
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Wed Aug 08, 2007 5:27 pm

Quoting EXAAUADL (Reply 47):
The meal looks like a decent coach meal, definitely not J class standard.

When did you last get a coach meal on a 3hr30min flight like that ??? With a personal ice bucket with champagne in it??? The only thing is I would like to see the meals served on china dishes like they do on LX. It makes a big difference to the presentation. Also sometimes a photo makes a meal look bad. I had a lovely meal on LX in J class but when the photo came out it looked not that nice.
 
cambrian
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RE: Olympic Airlines Business Class: LHR-Athens + Pics

Tue Sep 04, 2007 8:26 pm

Sad that we are losing the A340 from the Athens- Heathrow route from October 07- Jan 08. For me the use of the A340 was always a compelling reason to take OA. I may go back to LX for a few months until it is reintroduced.

I used to love the A300 on this route- any chance of seeing their remaining A300 back at Heathrow?

Also does anyone know how if the HKG flight is still happening?

Quoting WINGSOFMAN72 (Reply 46):
Also, in final comment...GATE 9 at T2 in warm weather is a horror. The A/C can't handle it, and that room gets very steamy.

I agree- any widebody flight from T2 is sheer hell in terms of gates and baggage reclaim.

Quoting QXatFAT (Reply 44):
Question...if you do not mind me asking, about how much would a Buisness Class ticket cost on OA for this route? I am very shocked that the Buisness Class was so empty on both of your flights! Strange.

IIRC, it was in the region of £500. I think that LX was about £450 via ZRH or GVA, and BA was about £800.
OA can charge quite high prices in C, and this flight is normally the most expensive, as the lunchtime timing is quite convenient for arriving in ATH and onward domestic connections. There are normally hordes of connecting passengers to the islands down the back in summertime.

Interestingly, ATH and DME are about the only European connections available on LX through Geneva and ZRH from London. Often the LX flight out of Geneva is not too full, and almost empty in C. This must be a viable route for LX to have retained it when so many others were slashed from GVA.

I don't take BA as I don't like their European configured 767's. Also I find the service bad in that often on this 3 hours plus flight, the meal is served as quickly as possible, often without a pre-meal drink service- this makes for a very long and boring flight.

Quoting OA260 (Reply 40):
I too have seen the amazing changes in Greece and Athens over the last 10 years and it really is something to be proud of. The hotel Grand Bretagne is amazing , I was in it back in February for a party.

Yes, Athens is now a different place, but happily, Greek people are not changing too much! The hotel is the King George, next door to the GB. I prefer it as it is smaller and seems to get less tour groups than the GB, but is of a similar, if not better standard.

Are you Greek/ Irish?

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