Most of the time, when I fly to Santorini, I take Aegean Airlines if possible. Aegean is my favorite Greek airline, and is easily in my “top 5” of all European airlines too. Today I wanted to offer a quick review of Aegean Airlines (and some comments about a few other airlines) to help you make a smarter decision when booking your next flight to Santorini…
Flying To Santorini – The Essential Stuff
If you’re flying to Santorini, you’ll need to know a few key details to make your experience easy and as enjoyable as commercial air travel can be.
First, let’s start with the airport code.
Santorini Airport Code = JTR
You might be expecting the airport code to be something like “STR” or “SRI” but the airport is named after the main city in Santorini, Fira (also spelled “Thira”).
The Santorini airport itself is located just near Kamari beach. Incidentally, this is one of the reasons I don’t usually recommend staying in Kamari. The regular JTR flight arrivals cruise almost directly overhead Kamari beach, which can be a bit annoying. Then again, Kamari beach has its own special charm and if airplanes aren’t a big concern, then it might be a good option for you in the high season.
When you fly into Santorini, I recommend sitting on the left side of the plane. Both sides of the plane offer impressive views but since the airport is situated on the south-eastern end of the island, you’ll usually be approaching from the south. Sitting on the left-side of your aircraft will give you an optimal view of the island as your aircraft makes its landing at JTR airport.
UPDATE: Depending on the weather, your Santorini bound pilot may approach the runway from the north, but rest assured that views from either side of the airplane cabin will be reasonably good on your approach. 🙂
Santorini Airline Options
There are only a few options for flying to Santorini. It’s not an easy destination to get to, but once you’re there it’s well worth the journey.
Direct Flights To Santorini
If you’re flying to Santorini from Europe, there are a number of direct nonstop flight options. Many of these flights are “charter flights” and are only available during Santorini travel season — generally from April/May to September/October.
Please note that these flight options change often, so be sure to do your own flight research before booking.
From London, nonstop flights are frequently available on EasyJet from London Gatwick airport (LGW) and some other airports as well. The LGW-JTR nonstop flight on EasyJet is the most commonly available and easiest flight if you’re coming from London or the UK. Bear in mind that LGW Gatwick Airport is a completely separate airport from London Heathrow (LHR) so if you’re connecting from the US or Asia, you’ll need additional transportation to Gatwick.
From Europe, the flight situation changes much more often than in the UK. A number of German airlines often offer nonstop flights from Dusseldorf, Berlin, and a few other German cities. Condor Airlines, AirBerlin, and only a few others offer nonstop flights from Germany.
Aside from nonstop flights, there are plenty of “one-stop flights” available from all around Africa, Europe, and connecting from Asia and the US.
As I write this review today, I’m flying Aegean Airlines from Prague to Athens and then onto Santorini as my final destination.
Often, these flights are much cheaper than the nonstop flights, but if speed and convenience is your top priority, then nonstop flights are worth the extra spend.
What I Like About Aegean Airlines
Aegean is my favorite “Greek” airline because, for me, they really epitomize Greek hospitality.
As I write this, I’m sitting in seat 9C in Economy Class from Prague to Athens. This is a 2 hour 25 minute flight, and we’re not even halfway through the trip now. And yet, the cabin crew has already come around with candy, meal service, and drink service. The meal service included free lunch of pasta and bread with cookies. Yes, you read that right — that’s FREE lunch on an economy flight of less than 2 1/2 hours! It sounds like I’m making it all up, but it’s true!
What I Don’t Like About Aegean Airlines
To be honest, there’s very little I don’t like about Aegean. My only complaints are more “air travel” general and not airline-specific. Sure there’s a lot I would love to improve about my flight experience, but I’ve come to accept the realities of 21st century airline travel. 🙂
How To Choose An Airline For Your Flight To JTR
All of my descriptions above should be of some practical use when booking your flight to Santorini. If you’re reading this post and you’re planning a trip to Santorini, it’s 70-80% likely that you’ll be flying first to Athens and then onto Santorini. In these cases you’ll get to experience one of my all-time favorite joys — a 40-minute flight up over Athens, then over the Aegean Sea, and then a graceful landing at Santorini airport.
In these cases, if you can, I highly recommend Aegean Airlines at least for the leg of your journey from ATH-JTR. Currently, the only other airline that flies from Athens to Santorini besides Aegean is Olympic. I’ve taken Olympic a few times now, and their service is reasonably good. If Olympic is your only choice, you will have a lovely flight and a good experience. But if you have the option, I would opt for Aegean first.
UPDATE: Aegean Airlines acquired Olympic airlines in October 2013. Olympic flights are still flying with Olympic branding but this is effectively Aegean operations now. Even still, I recommend and prefer the Aegean operations over the Olympic flights. Double-check when you book your ticket to see which airline exactly will be servicing your flight.