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Olympic Airlines

Everything is Up in the Air

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Olympic Airlines
As a frequent flyer to and around Greece, it's almost impossible to avoid travel on Olympic Airlines.

Most of my travel with Olympic Airlines has been fine, on time, and pleasant, to the point that others have said I've had particular luck with my Olympic Airlines flights. But over the past year, delays and oddities on Olympic Airlines have mounted. In September, 2005, I experienced difficulties in being able to pay for bookings - which is a bad sign for many travelers. One travel agent could not put through any credit card payments to Olympic. Follow-up calls to Olympic Airlines, both in the US and in Greece, indicated that I would have to physically present myself at one of their airport offices to pay for my ticket. An attempt by another person to pay in person for my reservation was also rebuffed since they were not the person on the ticket.

On the day of my Olympic Airlines flight, I presented myself early to be put on standby for an earlier flight than the one that had been confirmed - but not paid for - long before. I was put on the waiting list for that earlier flight without any difficulty, but no seats were available.

What Olympic Airlines May Not Tell You

What the Olympic Airlines employee didn't tell me, or jus didn't notice, was that my actual later flight had expired and cancelled - apparently since I hadn't been allowed to pay for it. I ended up without a ticket yet back on the waiting list for my original flight. Since I could not buy a ticket for that full flight, I purchased a ticket for the next available flight for the next day. This was crucial in my being allowed on the flight at all; otherwise, I would be ticketless and without any leverage at all. Possessing that ticket for the next day was what allowed me to get the standby seat that night. Ultimately, I did get on the Olympic Airlines flight via standby, with a last-minute run to the cashier's office to finally be allowed to pay for the disputed ticket.

An Important Tip About Olympic Airlines

No matter what your travel agent or booking service tells you, there is no such thing as being on a "waiting list" for Olympic Airlines flights until you are physically present at the airport. The only list that counts is generated exactly two hours before the flight, and savvy travelers lurk around the appropriate podium until that exact moment. Whatever else you have been told, this is the only way to be on standby.

With bankruptcy proceedings still looming, and a renaming and reconstruction likely, problems like mine may be on the rise. Unfortunately, Olympic Airlines still has the lock on many smaller routes in Greece, making them virtually the only airline available. While Aegean Airlines handles some flights on major routes, they don't go everywhere. Try not to avoid tight connections to other transportation, and for some destinations, it may be useful to check out possible ferry routes just in case.

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