We visited the scam that Aegean and Olympic Air are running for domestic and some regional international flights back in 2018 (read more here), and I thought it would be a good time to revisit the subject.
Most of the domestic flights within Greece and some regional ones are “operated” by the former flag carrier of Greece called Olympic Air that went under but was resurrected as a subsidiary of Aegean and only flies turboprops.
You can access Aegean here.
The problem is that Olympic Air is not part of Star Alliance, while Aegean is. As a result, many domestic flights that Aegean sells under its A3 code are supposedly operated by Olympic Air but, in fact, are just regular Aegean flights.
What this means for frequent fliers from most Star Alliance programs is that they don’t receive any priority services such as lounge access in Athens, extra luggage allowance (Aegean gives its Gold members one bag even on fares that don’t include any). You also won’t earn miles for these Aegean flights operated by Olympic Air that are operated by Aegean.
This structure makes very little sense, and most of my American friends were confused about their benefits when flying to/from the islands.
Since the previous piece, Air Canada, ANA, Miles&More, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, and United Airlines frequent flier program members can earn miles on Olympic Air flights.
It is, however, challenging to find out if any elite member benefits exist for Star Alliance Gold members of the airlines mentioned above except United that clearly lists them:
United spells out that Gold and higher premier members are eligible for airport priority services but is entirely silent about lounge access.
A friend of mine was told by the check-in agent that he wouldn’t have access to the Aegean lounge for being Premier Gold on United, but there had no issues accessing the lounge. Greenlight from the scanner!
Selling these flights as operated by Olympic Air (OA) prevents Miles+Bonus Gold members from accessing the Lufthansa lounge, and most, if not all, Star Alliance Gold members from accessing either (Aegean or Lufthansa lounge).
You couldn’t believe my Olympic Air flight from Corfu to Athens:
The only sight of Olympic Air was the sign at the baggage carousel!
I did manage to spot one Olympic Air plane during this trip:
You have to be very careful with the luggage allowance from the islands because the agents appear to want to weigh all the carry-ons that passengers have – even the tiniest laptop bags. However, they leave passengers alone who fly on business (enough luggage allowance to check everything if they so choose). I am sure that these employees are incentivized to collect extra revenue.
Miles+Bonus status is extremely easy to retain if you first get to Gold, visit Greece, and fly four segments on Aegean yearly. Even if you don’t set your foot on Aegean plane eve, it is still probably the easiest status to keep.
I took six flights that were sold under Aegean, of which four were supposed to be “operated” by Olympic Air, but all were on Aegean metal. These six flights earned me 6,480 elite qualifyings (I got a bit lucky – more of that tomorrow) miles, and I only need another 5,520 miles to retain the Gold.
Last year, my Lufthansa first ticket (read more here) earned far more elite qualifying miles than I would need to retail the status without taking any flights on Aegean or Olympic Air (read more here).