After a few days in Thessaloniki, I decided to head to Calais to volunteer with Help Refugees. Things were unorganized in Thessaloniki and I felt like I wasn’t getting to do what I came there for. You can read about my volunteering experience in an article that will be published in Fodor’s soon (I’ll share it in the blog as soon as it is). Airfare to Paris was reasonable at $106 one-way and I had a ton of Arrival Miles to cover the cost, so I booked a direct flight on Aegean Airlines.
- How I Booked a $5,000+ Trip to Thessaloniki, Calais and London with Points and Miles
- Review: Air France KLM Lounge at San Francisco International Airport
- AirBerlin Business Class A330 San Francisco to Dusseldorf Revief
- Hilton Munich Airport Hotel Review
- Hyatt Regency Thessaloniki Executive Suite Review
- The Met Hotel Thessaloniki Business Suite Review
The check-in experience was smooth and I’m glad I arrived when I did, because about 15 minutes after I dropped off my bag, a huge line formed that continued until it was time to board. Luckily, I had managed to avoid the crowd.
The flight from Thessaloniki to Paris was just three hours long and I had zero expectations in terms of service, food, or comfort. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the economy class experience. I had an entire row to myself. The seat had a good amount of legroom and reclined to a comfortable angle. Even without the plane being 90% empty, I imagine this would have been a pleasant flight.
The flight attendants were friendly and in addition to passing out sweets, I was surprised when they served us meals – free of charge. On the Airberlin flight from Munich, all the food was for sale. To be fair, the 3-page menu was extensive and very reasonably priced.
This is one thing I love about short-haul flights in Europe. In the U.S., you’re lucky if they throw a packet of peanuts at you for a transcontinental flight in economy class and best case scenario, you’ll be able to buy a sandwich that you don’t have to assemble yourself for the price of a restaurant meal.
They served us Spanakopita, which was really delicious, along with some bread, greek yogurt, and a cookie. It was really a perfect meal for a 3-hour afternoon flight.
The flight went smoothly and we landed at Charles de Gaulle Airport to lovely weather. It was also nice to receive this notification from Uber, informing me I was eligible for a $15 ride credit from MasterCard Priceless surprises. Of course, everyone else got the same notification and by the time I tried to claim it, they were at capacity.
After making it through immigration, there was some kind of delay on the moving walkway. I still don’t know what happened. The walkway was shut down, so we had to stand back for a good 30 minutes. I was glad I hadn’t booked my train ticket in advance because I would have missed it and rebooking would have been a major pain in the a**. Why? Because the staff at Charles de Gaulle Airport are the most unhelpful people you’ll ever come across. After a group of security agents ran past us, shouting and freaking everyone out, the walkway started up again and we were able to leave.
After a wild goose chase, I made it to the train station to buy a ticket. However, the machine wasn’t giving me the option to choose Calais as my destination. When I asked a station employee for help, he directed me to the TGV ticketing office. An agent there instructed me to take a number and have a seat.
There were maybe three other people in the waiting area and three agents taking care of customers. Yet the line was not moving. After 45 minutes of waiting, I asked the woman whose sole function was to greet people for help. She tinkered with the machine, but couldn’t figure it out either. Thus, she told me to have a seat and wait for an agent to assist me.
I was tired and getting frustrated with the language barrier and the fact that I’d missed two trains already. So I decided to take the Silver line shuttle to the Hyatt Regency Charles de Gaulle, then resume my journey after a night of rest. This turned out to be a good call.
I really enjoyed flying Aegean Airlines from Thessaloniki to Paris. Their economy class product was great, with comfortable seats, great food, and good service. My other option was a Ryanair flight which was around $40 cheaper. But I’d had my share of stress on this trip and didn’t want to subject myself to torture by flying an airline that seems to hate their customers. After traveling with Aegean, I’m glad I chose them and will absolutely fly them again if the opportunity presents itself.
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