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Aegean Airlines A321 business class
CHECK-IN I tried to check-in online for my Tuesday afternoon 1720 flight (A3606) to London on the morning of my departure, however, the system wouldn’t allow me to so I waited until I got to the airport. (It is about 40 minutes’ drive by taxi from the centre of Athens, with the journey costing about €35.)
I arrived at the terminal at 1500, with plenty of time to spare. There was one Aegean business class desk open (A41) out of counters A26-A42, although there was no queue, unlike for economy where passengers looked like they had a fair wait ahead of them. At check-in I was offered a choice of a window or aisle seat (I opted for the former – 1F) and was given a pass for the lounge. With my suitcase also checked, I made my way to the lounge five minutes away, following the signs to Gate 13. Before getting there I had to go through passport control, which was very quick.
THE LOUNGE The airside Swissport Executive lounge is at the far end of the building and is open 0430-2300. On arrival I was informed that boarding would commence at 1640, so I had well over an hour to catch up on some work. The venue was peaceful and had a variety of comfy white leather sofas, banquettes and armchairs with views over the tarmac. Wifi was free throughout and there were six PCs available, a good supply of English-language newspapers and magazines, a smoking room for 12 people, two massage chairs and a fish tank.
In one corner was a refreshment bar with a range of free drinks including beer, wine, juices, cans, tea, coffee and spirits, as well as crisps, cakes, chilled rolls in plastic packets, fruit and a few hot snacks like meat skewers. I made myself a virgin bloody Mary and settled down at one of the tables.
BOARDING The gate (A03), which was a three-minute walk away via security – where there was a short wait while a couple of people had liquids confiscated, opened on time and boarding started shortly after at about 1650. There was a large crowd of people waiting and when I arrived I was not sure if business class passengers had already been called, so headed for the front and was welcomed through straight away.
THE SEAT I was in my seat, all of which are upholstered in navy blue leather, by 1705. The A321-200 had three rows of business class configured 2-2 (A-C, D-F) – the middle seats B and E are left free and the armrests are moved out to increase the width and a drinks tray placed between. Economy class was in a 3-3 layout – for a full review, click here. The cabin was clean and the product felt pretty comfy, and a real plus point for a relatively short flight like this were the overhead screens, which showed films (The Young Victoria on this flight), and most passengers seemed to have a decent view, including my own.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? Row one is fine and offers a little extra legroom but I prefer sitting in row two or three as it means I can stow my bag under the seat in front. Other than this, the business class seats are all much the same. Those in the front row will get served food and drink first.
THE FLIGHT Cups of orange squash were handed out before take-off, which was ten minutes later than scheduled. At 1745, headphones, wine menus and dry roasted peanuts were presented, followed by a choice of soft and alcoholic drinks (no booze in economy). I had a gin and tonic, and at 1830 dinner was served.
My vegetarian starter was excellent and the portion generous – it was a dish of cold roasted peppers, aubergine and courgette, plus two stuffed vine leaves, artichoke hearts and a leaf garnish. In addition, there was a small vegan Greek salad (no feta cheese), crackers and a choice of poppy seed, granary or white rolls. Metal cutlery, china crockery and wine glass were also supplied.
To be honest, I didn’t expect there to be another course, but once I had finished, a member of crew cleared my tray and bought me a hot main, which was (more) roasted vegetables with a serving of white rice. It was bland and boring and very disappointing after such a nice starter. However, the meal ended at 2015 with a delicious fresh fruit platter and a choice of Baileys Irish Cream or brandy.
ARRIVAL We landed at London Heathrow a little later than scheduled at 2130 (1930 local time) but disembarkation and immigration was very quick, and my suitcase was through within ten minutes of me arriving at the carousel thanks to the priority tag.
VERDICT A decent mid-haul business class product with polite, efficient crew and in-flight entertainment on overhead screens. The meal was pretty good overall, with free aperitifs, wine and liquors offered. I would definitely fly with the carrier again.
PRICE Internet rates for a return business class flight in June from London to Athens started from £451.