Category: Top Air Travel Posts (page 1 of 3)

SkyGreece offering $899 fare for flights from Montreal & Toronto to Athens & Thessaloniki

SkyGreece Airlines

SkyGreece posted this promotional offer on its Facebook page March 21

 

[Editor’s note: this post was updated March 25 with information about Toronto-Athens and Toronto-Thessaloniki fares]

 

Fare deals: SkyGreece Airlines has finally released introductory fares for its new Toronto to Athens, Toronto to Thessaloniki  and Montreal to Athens routes, which launch on May 17, 20 and 23, respectively.

In a post on the SkyGreece Facebook page March 21, the airline announced that economy class fares for a limited number of round-trip flights between Montreal and Athens will start at $899 (taxes included) for departures between May 23 and June 13. The price includes advance seat selection and two pieces of luggage weighing up to 40 kg.  Presumably, the price is in Canadian dollars.

Fares must be booked before March 27 either through travel agents or by calling SkyGreece’s North American reservations desk at 1-855-781-8585.

A “comfort class” option is available; however, the Facebook page announcement does not indicate what those particular seats cost.

The $899 fare breaks down to $334 for the flight and $565 for applicable taxes, fees and surcharges.

 

Flights from Toronto to Athens & Thessaloniki

In a Facebook post on March 25, SkyGreece announced that prices for its direct flights from Toronto to Athens and Toronto to Thessaloniki will start at $899 (taxes included) for departures between May 17 and June 14. These seats must be booked by April 4, and include the same advance seat selection and luggage allowances as on the Montreal to Athens flights.

As I reported in a January 29 post, the airline said it will offer three flights per week between Toronto and Athens, commencing May 17. A once-weekly flight from Toronto to Thessaloniki will start on May 20, and the Montreal to Athens route will begin operations on May 23.

The new airline will offer Canadian travellers an alternative to Air Transat and Air Canada rouge, which until now have been the only airlines with direct flights between Canada and Greece. The Transat and rouge flights are only seasonal, however, whereas SkyGreece is proposing to fly year-round.

Earlier this month, the Internet has been abuzz with word that return SkyGreece flights could be booked online for as low as US $415, including all taxes and fees. (That would be CDN $521 under current exchange rates.) Several people contacted me to say they had seen these prices on Google Flights Explore; however, when I checked, I couldn’t find any SkyGreece flights listed at all. Another person later told me he had seen a July return fare of CDN $561 for a July 5 flight.

The $899 special fare is a good deal — but I’m glad I didn’t delay booking my next trip to Greece to see if I could save money once SkyGreece released its prices. I found an even cheaper fare on Air Transat in early January and will be flying to Athens on that airline for the 11th time this spring.

Still, I’m sure the seats available at that price will be snapped up quickly. It will be interesting to see how SkyGreece’s regular fares will compare to those offered by its competition. The new routes could be appealing not just to Canadian travellers, but also to Americans living in border states a reasonable driving distance from Montreal and Toronto. With the US greenback so strong against the Canadian dollar at the moment — US $1 = CDN $1.26 at today’s exchange rates — more Americans are bound to consider flying to Greece from Canada this year.

 

SkyGreece Airlines

On March 25, SkyGreece posted this announcement about promotional fares for direct flights from Toronto to Athens and Toronto to Thessaloniki

 

SkyGreece Airlines will launch service to Canada on May 17

SkyGreece Airlines Boeing jeet

SkyGreece Airlines posted this photo of its Boeing 767-300ER  aircraft to its Facebook page today.

 

Routes revealed: Travellers will have more choices for direct flights between Canada and Greece beginning Sunday May 17.

That’s the day SkyGreece Airlines is expected to launch service between Athens and Toronto, with three flights per week.  On Wednesday May 20, SkyGreece will start a once-weekly flight to Toronto from Thessaloniki, and on Saturday May 23 it will debut a once-weekly departure from Athens to Montreal.

More good news: SkyGreece will offer service during winter months, too, with two flights per week from November 2015 until April 2016. (The flights to and from Thessaloniki will only be seasonal, however.)

Canadian charter airline Air Transat and Air Canada rouge, a “leisure” division of Air Canada, are the only carriers presently offering direct flights between the two countries — and only during the spring to fall travel period.

 

First-ever service between Thessaloniki and Canada

SkyGreece will become the first carrier to offer scheduled commercial service between Thessaloniki and Canada. The two Canadian airlines fly to and from Athens only.

The SkyGreece transatlantic schedule was revealed January 30 on the Greek Air News Facebook page. The Greek Air News report did not include any information about fares for the flights between Canada and Greece. Curiously, SkyGreece didn’t make any announcement about its new routes on either its website or its Facebook page on January 30. It did, however, post two photos of its single Boeing 767 aircraft on Facebook (including the one I have republished at the top of this post) along with the comment “The family will be growing soon!!”, which suggests SkyGreece may soon be adding more aircraft to its fleet.

But on January 31, SkyGreece did post news of its routes (indicating slightly different service starting dates than Greek Air News had mentioned.) “We have listened to the continuous demand of the Greek community in Canada and in Greece and decided to develop our flight schedule to meet the demand.,” the airline stated on its Facebook page.

 

Executive appointments announced

As I reported in a January 21 post, SkyGreece received Canadian regulatory approval this month to commence scheduled service between the European Community and Canada. In an announcement about the Canadian Transportation Agency decision, SkyGreece promised to unveil its “new and exciting flight program” within days.

A private company based in Athens, SkyGreece has offices in Montreal, Toronto and New York.

On January 26 the airline announced the appointment of Denis Codere as its deputy chief commercial officer, and on January 28 it announced the appointments of Eleni Kessaris and Louise Cofsky to director positions on its Canadian management team.

 

 

Agency approves SkyGreece bid for licence to fly to Canada

SkyGreece Airlines aircraft

Facebook page photo of the SkyGreece Airlines aircraft

 

Application approved: Canadian travellers may soon have a third option for direct flights to and from Athens now that the Canadian Transportation Agency has approved SkyGreece Airlines’ application to offer scheduled service between Canada and Greece.

In a ruling released January 20, the Agency said it has approved the SkyGreece request “for a licence to operate scheduled international services between member states of the European Community and Canada.”

SkyGreece is a private company incorporated in Athens, It has offices in Montreal, Toronto and New York.

In a post on the SkyGreece Airlines Facebook page today, the airline said it is “extemely happy” with the Agency’s long-awaited decision.

“More great news about SkyGreece Airlines S.A. and its new and exciting flight program will be unveiled in the next few days,” the airline added.

There is no word yet on the results of SkyGreece’s similar application for a licence to offer service between Greece and the USA.

As I reported in a March 25 2014 blog post, Greek media had reported that SkyGreece was hoping to commence flights between Greece and New York during the summer of 2014. But the applications for licences to fly to Canada and America took longer than expected, and as I reported in a post on June 18 2014, SkyGreece began operating charter flights to certain destinations in Europe and north Africa instead.

Although SkyGreece has only one aircraft at present, service to Canada would give travellers an alternative to Air Canada and Air Transat, which are the only Canadian airlines currently offering direct flights between Canada and Greece.

I’ve been curious to see how competitive the SkyGreece fares will be, but even if they’re dirt cheap I won’t be flying SkyGreece to Athens — I’ve already booked flights with Air Transat for my next Greek holiday this spring. But if their prices are good, and their schedule reasonable, I definitely would consider SkyGreece for subsequent flights.

I will keep you posted on any forthcoming route and fare announcements from the airline.

 

SkyGreece now listed on signs at Athens airport … but still no news on flights to North America

SkyGreece airlines

SkyGreece Airlines posted this photo on its Facebook page today, announcing that its name was just added to signage at Athens International Airport

 

 

Sign of things to come?: SkyGreece Airlines is one step closer to commencing flights — its name was added to signage on the departures level of Athens International Airport today, in preparation for tomorrow’s launch of charter service to Stockholm.

The photo shown above was posted on the SkyGreece Facebook page at what was lunchtime for the four North American cities to which it is supposed to eventually offer service — Montreal and Toronto in Canada, and New York and Chicago in the United States.

The photo was accompanied by the comment: “Officially today our sign went up at Athens International Airport,” but no further information was provided about possible schedules or fares.

The upstart airline’s last news release had been posted March 31 on its Facebook page, announcing that it had submitted documentation required to obtain all necesssary licences and permits from the American and Canadian Civil Aviation Authorities. It added that, “in order to respect the American and Canadian Civil Aviation procedures,” SkyGreece would not issue any further press releases until all required licences had been obtained.

Hours after posting the sign photo to its Facebook page today, SkyGreece added a post confirming that it will operate on a charter service basis until it secures the necessary legal paperwork to begin flying to North America, and will not comment further until that happens.

 

Charter service to Scandinavia, Eritrea and Somalia

The latest post drew swift reaction on social media, quickly receiving hundreds of “likes” and dozens of comments on Facebook.

In one comment, a Facebook member said: “First flight out tomorrow departing at 17:00 hours from Athens to Stockholm, Sweden! Routes will be as of June to / from Asmara – Eritrea, Mogadishu – Somalia, Stockholm – Sweden and London Gatwick – UK. Hope to see some more coming in soon. Good luck!

I thought the remark about flights to Africa was just a joke, but the fellow who posted the comment said he wasn’t kidding.

The US and Canada will be coming in at some point, as I gather once the permits have been granted from their Civil Aviation Authorities. It’s not so easy when one is new and wants to come in and have some of that pie that has been enjoyed all this time by Delta, US Air, Air Transat and Air Canada. I think we just need to be a little patient,” he said.

 

First flight to Stockholm on June 19

The Greek Air News Facebook page subsequently posted a photo of the sole SkyGreece airplane along with a statement confirming that the airline’s first commercial flight will indeed be to Stockholm, at 17:00 on June 19.

The airline SkyGreece signed a cooperation agreement with the Swedish Tour Operator Flyolympic.Se and on account of it flies in Europe, Africa and Asia,” an English translation of  the Greek Air News post indicates. “SkyGreece will perform and flights from – to Athens-London (Gatwick)-Stockholm (Arlanda)-Asmara (Eritrea)-Mogadishu (Somalia) For more information and ticket reservations, you can visit the official website www.flyolympic.se or FlyOlympic to your travel agent. Good start SkyGreece!!” the translated post concludes.

So perhaps there is a huge demand for flights between Greece and Mogadishu after all. Nevertheless, I’m hopeful SkyGreece will soon be able to announce fares and flights to North America — if their prices are competitive and their flight dates are decent, I would consider them for a return trip to Greece later this summer.

I previously reported on SkyGreece in posts published on the blog on March 25 2014, January 10 2014, and June 25 2013. Click on the links for each of those reports to see photos and obtain more information about SkyGreece Airlines. And stay tuned for further updates.

 

Travel tip: Avoid taking a large carry-on case when flying Olympic Air to small Greek island airports

Olympic Air De Havilland DHC-8-402Q aircraft

An Olympic Air media photo of one of its De Havilland DHC-8-402Q aircraft. The airline flies smaller prop planes to Naxos and several other islands.

 

 

Carry small!: Here’s a tip for those of you (especially from North America) who tend to travel with a large carry-on bag, particularly one of those 22-inch hard-sided cases with wheels and a pull handle. If you’re going to be flying Olympic Air to or from islands like Naxos, Paros, Milos, Syros or Kastelorizo, your case probably won’t fit in the overhead bins. So travel with a smaller bag instead, or be prepared for the possibility your carry-on may have to be checked in at the gate when you’re about to board.

Olympic Air uses Bombardier Dash 8-100 aircraft on its routes to a number of Greek islands with small airports. Although the 37-passenger propeller planes are ideal for serving destinations with short runways, their compact interior space isn’t so convenient for passengers since the overhead bins are shallow and significantly smaller than the ones on Boeing and Airbus planes.

 

Carry-on cases may have to be checked at the gate

Several Americans waiting for our Olympic Air flight from Athens to Naxos last month were taken aback when airline personnel approached them in the lounge at our gate and advised that their bags were too big to be taken on board. The cases were tagged and given to ground crew for delivery to the aircraft luggage hold.

When we got on board, we thought our knapsacks — which held fragile laptops and camera equipment, along with travel paperwork and other personal belongings we couldn’t afford to lose — might wind up being checked, too. The knapsacks easily fit under the seats on the Dash-8’s we have flown from Milos, Paros and Naxos in the last three years, but for this particular flight we were assigned bulkhead seats in Row 1. That meant there was no seat in front of us under which we could slide our carry-ons, so they had to go somewhere else. But they each were about an inch too wide to scrunch into the narrow overhead bins. Luckily for us, the flight attendant offered to store them in the lavatory for take-off and landing. But she could just as easily have insisted they be checked into the hold.

 

Brilliant carry-on advice from Condé Nast Traveler

Next time we travel, we’ll prepare in advance for the possibility our carry-ons might get gate-checked — using advice I read in an online Condé Nast Traveler magazine article just the other day.  The #1 item in the magazine’s list of The 12 Biggest Travel Mistakes You Think You’re Too Smart to Make recommends putting important valuables “in a thin pack or pouch inside your carry-on” so that, in the event you’re required to surrender the case at the last minute, “you can remove the smaller bag and keep an eye on it beneath the seat in front of you.”

Brilliant suggestion! To which I’ll add one of my own: Tell the check-in staff you don’t want a front-row bulkhead seat!

Note: If you’re travelling to Greek Islands like Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes or Kos on Aegean Airlines, you’ll be flying on an Airbus jet aircraft, not a prop plane, and the overhead bins should be big enough to accommodate your carry-on. But it will still be a good idea to be prepared as Condé Nast recommends.

Click here to see the allowed baggage limits section of the Olympic Air website, and click here to view the Aegean Airlines baggage allowance chart.

 

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