Tuesday, July 22, 2014

First Aegean Flight

Flight #91 - Aegean 655
Rome (FCO) – Athens (ATH)
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Depart: 5:40PM / Arrive: 8:40PM
Duration: 2hr 0min
Aircraft: Airbus 320
Seat: 2A, 2C, 2D (Business)
Earned: 0 miles (676 miles flown)
Lifetime Miles: 180,492 miles

Even though both I and my mother have Gold status with Aegean Airlines (A3), we've never stepped foot in an Aegean flight before tonight. As a part of our single round trip award booking from NYC-Rome (stopover)-Athens-NYC, my mother and I were able to try out Aegean's business class for 2 hours into Athens at no additional miles.

My father, however, had booked a cash ticket from JFK-FCO then open jaw back from ATH-JFK, so he needed to fill in the missing FCO-ATH segment. For his one way ticket, we used 20,000 United miles and paid $40 in taxes/fees for his business class seat next to ours. Had we paid in cash, it would have been around $470 USD for the one way flight. So while not an amazing $/mile redemption at only 2.1 cents/mile, our United miles still saved us a bunch of out of pocket cash.

But little did we know that a simple 2 hour flight would be so impressive. First, we arrived to the gate at FCO Airport a bit late coming from the Mosaic Lounge that Aegean business class passengers have access to.

By the time we arrived to the gate, there was a long line of passengers waiting to board. Unlike most boarding gates, however, there was just a single line and no area for business class ticket holders to queue. So we just went up to the front and asked if we could board, showing them our tickets. Since we were in the business cabin, the agents immediately let us in, bypassing the dozens that were waiting in line. I have to say, it was nice for my father to finally be able to do that, after getting shot down so many times at NYC bars and clubs when he was younger.

Despite being called "business class," the actual seats on intra-European flights is actually the same as economy but with the middle seat blocked off for additional room. We settled into our seats in Row 2 and noticed that no one else was sitting in the business class section. We had the entire cabin to ourselves.

Being a 2.5 year old, I loved being the only ones up front. It meant my parents didn't have to constantly apologize to businessmen in suits if I were making too much noise or kicking the chair in front of me. No one was there to complain. And the flight attendants thought I was adorable, so they were quite happy to have me on board. It was really refreshing to be treated like a welcome passengers instead of a nuisance.

Despite having our choice of seats, my mother really wanted us to sit beside one another in the same row, so my parents removed the middle seat tray and put me between then. So much for getting some space away from them!

About 45 minutes into the flight, they handed out our dinner menus. We were excited to be heading to Greece and always like it when we fly the national airline to the country we're visiting, mostly because the menus have local items on it. In our case, we had the choice of veal or rooster. Yes, rooster. Not chicken, but rooster.

Apparently, rooster is quite tasty when combined with the red wine sauce and vegetables.

My mother thought this was actually the "best in flight meal" she's ever had. And given how many flights my parents have been on during the past few years, that's really saying something.

We were finished as the plane began its initial descent into Athens. We were getting very excited as this was all of our first times to Greece.

When the plane stopped, everyone unbuckled and got up from their seats, starting to collect their bags from the overhead bins. Pretty typical.

The flight attendants informed us that we were not by the gate and that we'd be taking a shuttle bus from the tarmac to the terminal. Pretty typical in many smaller airports.

We saw the door open and given we were the only passengers up front, we got out first.

My mother wanted to go down first and take a photo of my father and me as we descended down the stairs. Hoping to get a nice photo of my father and me, I told my father we should wait at the top of the stairs until my mother was in prime photographer position. And also that we should to walk especially slowly so that we'd have a few extra photo ops. He was more than happy to oblige.

But as we came down the stairs, we noticed that we didn't hear passengers behind us.

By the time we reached the bus at the bottom, we looked back to see the stairwell completely empty. Not an expression. I mean literally empty. No one was there. Then when we boarded the bus, the flight attendant signaled to the bus driver and doors closed behind us as it started to pull away. We were the only ones on the bus!

It was just for us! Talk about VIP service!

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