Flight Review: Olympic Air Dash-8 Q400, Athens To Zagreb

Olympic Air are but a husk of the former Olympic Airways, Greece’s defunct national carrier from which they take their heritage and corporate identify. Still, they’re a solid regional airline. I travelled with them from Athens to Zagreb on a short flight of under two hours in March this year.

I needed to take this flight to “sew together” a complex itinerary I was taking, principally to review airlines for my YouTube channel:

I have a personal dislike of Athens airport (built as recently as 2001) for its inexcusably poor infrastructure links (the metro runs once every 30 minutes), less than ideal layout and generally tired feel. I was shocked to discover this airport of low ceilings and little natural light was opened this millennium.

Nonetheless, thanks to my Star Alliance Gold status, I was through the airport quickly. Using the business class check-in for Aegean, Olympic’s parent company, I checked my bag promptly and passed security.

My flight departed from the A gates, and Aegean has a small lounge here at the end of the duty free area, down an inauspicious corridor. Access to this was again due to my airline status.

The lounge is small but perfectly formed, with good cold food options and one hot soup laid out when I visited. The food was tasty and included some good healthy options, as well as freshly squeezed orange juice which was very welcome on such a hot day!

Boarding was by bus to a remote stand where our aircraft was waiting. The Olympic livery is timeless and looks superb, even on a Dash-8.


Onboard, legroom was pleasantly acceptable for a small regional turboprop, and Olympic mimic Aegean by handing out a small pre-departure sweet. This gesture was appreciated and it only costs a couple of pennies to give. Small things make all the difference in the hospitality sector, even if we are talking about a short hop in economy class! Legroom was also reasonable on this short flight.

Takeoff was brisk and service started from the front of the aircraft backwards. Olympic provide free catering on all flights, and on this sector a courgette and pepper roll was served along with a coffee. I can’t say the roll was a nice thing to eat, but props to Olympic for still catering even to cheap economy bums like me.

To their credit, a second service also occurred an hour into the flight, consisting of more drinks (I chose tea, which was weak) and a snack, which was in the form of a halva bar. I’d never had halva before and won’t again – it was awfully tacky in my mouth, although that’s down to personal taste. I’m sure most of Olympic’s customer base know and enjoy this sweet but nutty snack.

After a short while perusing the inflight magazine and being impressed by the completeness of Greece’s domestic network, it was time to descend. Sadly, Zagreb was stormy and the descent was turbulent, and we landed in rain about ten minutes ahead of schedule.

Overall, a good experience, and I’ll allow Olympic a mulligan on the catering as I know parent company Aegean has very good standards; perhaps the food simply wasn’t to my taste. This flight cost £52 (around 60 EUR), all-in, purchased on the Aegean site with an Aegean flight code – very important if you want your Star Alliance benefits like lounge access! (There is some confusion as to whether seat selection and bags are free on Olympic for Star Gold members. I did not have to pay when booking online but other sources say this should be charged for – comments on this particularly welcome).