A recent business relationship has led me to travel back and forth several times from London to the city of Thessaloniki in Greece. I flew with different airlines, several times in a year using different airports and routes with direct and flights with up to two stops.
I will therefore be making a comparison based on service, reliability, staff friendliness and punctuality. The 4 airlines under review will be Chech Airlines, , BA, Alitalia and Olympic Airways.
Nothing particularly exciting about flying with Chech airlines. However there is nothing very negative about their services too. A 15 minute delay taking off was not the end of the world. The staff was friendly and offered a small sandwich between London and Prague and a mini meal between Prague and Thessaloniki. Overall an average experience for a budget price which to me means value for money.
I find BA staff rude and overpaid. Nothing else explains the look on their faces when you dare ask for a glass of water mid-flight (just before their on-route siesta).
BA is reliable though, plane left on time from Heathrow and the flight was quick and uneventfull, which for me is always good. The food was crap and if you don't stuff your face before the flight, be prepared to suffer. Overall mid-budget direct flight price for an average service. Not bad.
The Alitalia flight was 35 minutes late to take off. The staff were rude and looking very tired (heavy night out or overworked, frankly I don't care). Interesting take on food provision. Since the flight has a stopover Alitalia decided to serve a bread and ham sandwich (no mayo, butter or anything else). On the way from Italy to SKG they decided to serve...a muffin. See Alitalia thinks that since there are two flights, split into 1.5h and 2h they need not to provide a meal. The corporate thinking behind this is that despite the fact that people are flying for almost 4 hours (stopover included) and might be starving there is no need to spend extra cash on more food. Nice idea. So apart from the delay, the rude staff, the crap food and some people crying after realising that their luggage is never coming back it was a great experience. My advice, only go with Alitalia if they pay you to fly with them.
My Greek friends always boasted about Olympic Airways but then again you would expect them to. So after my Alitalia flight I decided to give them a go. At £150+ the normal prices I thought they were pricey, but still went ahead. From the moment I got on the plane though I knew what I was paying for. The staff were so friendly, always helpful and going the extra mile. Space on the plane was enough to stretch your legs and relax with the head rest. The food was a traditional dish, turkey with chestnut rice, potatoes and gravy, a salad and some very cool sweets. The flight was 20 minutes late to take off but arrived on time. People with kids were catered for and sat away from other passengers. This is not a requirement for me but a great thing to do for all when there are some empty seats on the plane. Overall you have to try Olympic and finally understand why they are not making lots of money. They prefer to offer a great service.
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