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
- Air France KLM Lounge at San Francisco International Airport
- AirBerlin Business Class A330 San Francisco to Dusseldorf
- Hotel Review: Hilton Munich Airport
- Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Thessaloniki Executive Suite
- Hotel Review: The Met Hotel Thessaloniki Business Suite
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. I was pleasantly surprised by the experience. I was flying economy class on the A320 and 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.
I was served cheese pie (I believe it’s called Spanakopita), which was really delicious, along with some bread, greek yogurt, and a cookie. It was 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 because by the time I tried to claim it, I was told 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, but the walkway was shut down and we were instructed 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** 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 but the machine wasn’t giving me the option to choose Calais as my destination. When I asked a station employee for help, I was directed to the TGV ticketing office. I was then instructed 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 and couldn’t figure it out either, then suggested I continue to wait.
I was tired and getting frustrated with the language barrier and the fact that I’d missed two trains. 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.
It was great 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 any more by flying an airline that seems to hate their customers. After traveling with Aegean, I’m happy with the choice I made and would absolutely fly them again if the opportunity presents itself.
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