In this review, we will visit the Aegean Airlines Business Lounge in Hall A (non-Schengen flights) of Athens International Airport.
After a perfectly nice Aegean Airlines flight I had arrived in Athens with around 1 hour and 15 minutes left to make the transfer to my connecting flight to Dubrovnik.
Having lived in Greece before and being a frequent traveller to the country, I know Athens Airport by heart. The airport consists out of one main airport terminal and a smaller satellite which is mainly used by low-cost airlines.
The main building consists of two halls. The area named Hall B is the place where you will find all departures withing the Schengen Zone, while Hall A handles non-Schengen flights. Sometimes these halls are mistakenly referred to as ‘Terminal A’ and ‘Terminal B’. This is nonsense, as A and B are just different halls (concourses) in the same terminal building.
I was dropped off by bus in the middle of the terminal, from where you can walk straight ahead to baggage reclaim, head left towards a connecting non-Schengen flight in Hall A or head right for a connecting flight in Hall B. If you do not have your boarding pass printed, there are some manned desks here which can arrange it for you.
Weirdly enough, the airport employee checking my boarding pass said I needed to head to Hall B instead, which I knew was simply not true as Croatia is not in the Schengen Zone and my flight could only depart from Hall A.
After politely insisting that I was indeed sure that my flight would depart from Hall A, the security employee checked in his system and again said Hall B was the place I had to be. At this point I was getting a bit tired of it, so asked him if he could let me pass towards Hall A anyway as I had an imaginary friend I would meet there in the lounge.
The airport employee was fine with this, but warned that my flight would still depart from Hall B so I had to make sure to get back to that terminal in time. Of course, my flight did not end up departing from Hall B but from Hall A, just as I knew all along. How on earth that airport employee thought Dubrovnik flights depart from the Schengen concourse is still beyond me.
To the Aegean lounge
After passing the boarding pass inspection you have to take the escalator up towards security, where this time of the day there were no queues whatsoever. There is a priority line which business class passengers and frequent flyer elites can use. At passport control there was however a small queue, so I just used the empty automated gates instead and was through within seconds.
The entire transit took perhaps 15 minutes – and most of that time I spent arguing with the airport employee. Athens is indeed a really smooth airport, so don’t worry if the time between your connecting flights might seem a bit short.
As I had about half an hour left until boarding would commence, I decided to visit the Aegean Airlines Lounge in Hall A. It is located at the far end of the concourse and is clearly signposted.
Aegean Lounge entry requirements
The entrance requirements to the Aegean Business Lounge are the same as for most other lounges in the Star Alliance network. You either need a same-day business class ticket on Aegean Airlines or another Star Alliance carrier, or a same-day economy class ticket and Star Alliance gold status in your frequent flyer programme.
One important caveat which you should note is that if you are departing on an Aegean flight which is operated by Olympic Air you may not have lounge access altogether. Olympic, being Aegean Airlines’ own regional and domestic subsidiary, is formally not a Star Alliance member – so your Star Alliance gold status is irrelevant here.
Some Star Alliance carriers do however have partnerships with Olympic Air such as for example United, Turkish and ANA. If you have Star Alliance gold status with these airlines (or any other which is a formal partner of Olympic) you will have lounge access.
As I was flying to Dubrovnik on an Olympic Air flight and hold Star Alliance gold status with Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles frequent flyer programme, I managed to gain access to the Aegean Business Lounge.
Priority Pass and other lounge membership cards are not accepted at the Aegean Business Lounge. If you are such a pass holder, you could try the Goldair Handling Lounge instead, which in my opinion is a vastly superior lounge anyway – but I’m getting ahead of myself here.
One thing you will instantly note upon entering the Aegean Business Lounge is how small it is. And with small I mean really, really small. There is just one main room, which is divided in two halves by glass panels. One side features comfortable chairs, while the other side consists of dining tables.
There is zero privacy at any of these seats as you sit very close to strangers and basically stare a bunch of others seated opposite you right in the face all the time.
Opposite the seats is a large desk which is the “business centre” of the lounge. Three computers and a printer which you are free to use are placed on top of the desk, leaving four work places open for those who bring their own laptop.
Those work places are rarely used by people doing actual work and are almost exclusively used as an overflow area if all other seats in the lounge are taken. As the lounge was packed when I visited, I had no choice but to sit down here as well with my drink and a plate of food.
This already bring me to the biggest issue which I have with this lounge: it is way too small. I have perhaps visited this lounge around 4 to 5 times and each time found it packed to the brim, making it only a slightly more comfortable place to await your flight than the main terminal.
If space, quietness and privacy are important to you, I would suggest you seek out an empty gate area instead as the experience will be superior.
The problem is that there are just so many Star Alliance flights departing from the non-Schengen terminal. There is Aegean Airlines and its subsidiary Olympic which have grown exponentially over the last years, serving lots of non-Schengen countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Caucasus and Eastern Europe.
Then there are other Star Alliance carriers serving Athens which send their passengers to this lounge as well: Air Canada, Air China, Croatia Airlines, Egypt Air, Ethiopian, United and Turkish Airlines.
Given that many of these airlines – including Turkish Airlines on its short hop to Istanbul – often use wide-body aircraft which easily seat 250+ passengers, you can do the math. The traffic is just too much for this tiny lounge to cope with. If there are several other Star Alliance departures close to that of your flight, you will face a packed lounge.
With this huge negative it is hard to enjoy any other aspects of the Aegean Business Lounge. Even though the food isn’t bad, what’s the point of it if you cannot sit down somewhere to enjoy it in a relaxed atmosphere?
The food buffet in the Aegean Business Lounge is quite small in size with options limited to cheese, cold cuts, fruits, salads, sandwiches and a few other snacks. Although there are no hot, cooked dishes and the food is probably not a substitute for a full meal, it does certainly suffice as a good snack or light meal.
The quality of all the food is good as fresh ingredients are used. You can easily make yourself a Greek salad or try some of the traditional Greek hard cheeses on offer with a glass of red.
The beverage selection in the lounge is a bit more extensive than the food. There are coffee machines which make a decent espresso and cappuccino, and there are some different teas available as well.
The fridges are packed with bottled water, soft drinks and cans of beer, as well as large cans of different juices.
When it comes to alcoholic drinks the selection is good too. There are always at least 4 different wines available in the Aegean Lounge – the same wines which Aegean Airlines features that particular month in business class. These are exclusively Greek wines and are usually great quality and well-worth trying out.
The booze selection is quite good too in both quality and quantity. Interestingly, most bottles of alcohol are placed on an old-fashioned airplane trolley, which is a fun touch. You will find your usual mid-shelf brands (Tanqueray and Gordon’s gin, Famous Grouse and Chivas Regal whiskey etc) as well as some Greek favourites such as Metaxa brandy.
Due to the crowds, you may have challenges finding an available power socket to charge your electronic devices in the Aegean Business Lounge. If most seats are taken, your best bet is to check out the large desk as there are some sockets and extension cords here where you can plug in your phone or laptop.
WiFi internet worked well during my stay and internet speeds are fast. If the lounge is packed to the brim and you decide to sit somewhere in the terminal instead, you can always use the free (and unlimited) airport internet. This works perfectly fine too, although you do have to log into the network again every 15-20 minutes or so – which is a slight inconvenience.
The Aegean Business Lounge has restrooms, although these are basically limited to a single toilet only for men and another for women. When the lounge is packed, there might be a queue – in which case it might be quicker to head out of the lounge and visit the public airport toilet instead!
There are no showers at the Aegean Business Lounge, nor can you find them at any other airport lounge at Athens Airport.
The Aegean Business Lounge has outgrown its capacity, which makes it an overcrowded, chaotic and unattractive place for most hours of the day. This lounge was built some years ago when not only Aegean Airlines’ own operations were more limited in size, but passenger traffic at Athens Airport as a whole was much lower.
With the increase in traffic, this lounge is perpetually crowded and you will be hard pressed to find a spot to seat. Even if you find a spot, you will not have much privacy nor sit in a very attractive environment.
It’s a pity, as the Aegean Business Lounge would otherwise be an above-average lounge. Sure, the buffet is rather small, but the quality of the food is good and you can definitely get a nice snack or a light meal here. The drinks selection is rather good, with some quality Greek wines available as well as a decent booze selection.
It’s worth to pay the lounge a visit if you have access to it, but do come in with the right expectations and be prepared to stand up or to head back to the terminal if it is at capacity and no seats are available!
Trip report index
This article is part of the ‘An Adriatic Adventure: Off-Season Travel to Dubrovnik, Montenegro and a Bit of Bavaria‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:
1. Review: MasterCard Business Lounge Bucharest Otopeni Airport
2. Review: Aegean Airlines Economy Class Bucharest to Athens (Airbus A320)
3. Review: Aegean Business Lounge Athens Airport Hall A Non-Schengen (current chapter)
4. Review: Olympic Air Economy Class Athens to Dubrovnik (Bombardier Dash 8-400)
5. Review: Apartments Festa, Old Town of Dubrovnik
6. A Dubrovnik Winter Trip: Off-Season Travel Away from the Tourist Crowds
7. Review: Dubrovnik (Croatia) to Kotor (Montenegro) by Bus
8. Review: Palazzo Drusko Deluxe Rooms, Kotor, Montenegro
9. Kotor, Montenegro: Old Town Charm in Europe’s Most Spectacular Scenery
10. Cetinje – The Old Royal Capital of Montenegro
11. Review: Ramada by Wyndham Podgorica, Montenegro
12. Podgorica: Is the Capital of Montenegro Worth a Visit?
13. Review: Wizz Air Podgorica to Memmingen (Airbus A320)
14. Memmingen: More Than Just a Low-Cost Airport Close to Munich
15. The Bavaria Ticket: Unlimited Train Travel Across the German State of Bayern
16. Review: Michel Hotel Landshut, Bavaria, Germany
17. Landshut: Bavaria Off The Beaten Track
18. Review: Air France/KLM Lounge Munich Airport
** rest of the chapters to follow soon **