Trials and Tribulations with Olympic Airlines

This may take some time to read but it will be worth it!

The following is our harrowing and sometimes hilarious flights to and from Cairo on the National Airlines of Greece, Olympic.

Warning! Warning! - - - - - - Lost in Space!

If you want a warning on airlines that you shouldn't fly with, take my advice on the Greek state run airline Olympic, don't ever fly them. For some reason, I had expected to take Air-Egypt to Cairo which would have been a direct flight from Oakland. Wrong! Greece and Egypt have or hopefully had some kind of agreement on carrying travelers to that area. I left San Francisco on United around noon and landed in New York about six p.m. The flight was wonderful. Had to take a shuttle to the Olympic Airlines gate and there we found the plane, a 747, wasn't ready to fly. We sat there in very uncomfortable chairs until three a.m., the coffee shop closed at nine, and finally they put us on one of those buses that takes you to the end of the run way and the entire bus lifts up on hydraulics to where the 747 was sitting on the grass in an area beside the taxi run way. That made us wonder. We sat on the plane without food, drinks, or air conditioning until around seven a.m. and a woman in the front of the plane, I found out later that she was in our group of 18 people on the Egyptian tour, yelled out in a very nasty tone,

"This 'F---er' isn't going anywhere!

Her husband about had a heart attack! He said she never talked like this. They were from the Midwest so were in about the same state of mind as I was. She told us later that a truck came out to the plane and one man took a small ladder, climbed into the engine with a wrench, hit the engine and shook his head "NO" to the other man in the truck and they drove away.

So we were unloaded and taken back to the gate and then we were put on a bus because they didn't know when the plane could fly. The official airlines of Greece only have two 747s and the other one was in Athens. The bus started to drive from the airport and it kept going and going and going. The bus erupted, where are we going? No response from the driver. One passenger, a man about 18 said we were going past his mothers house on the edge of Manhattan, he hadn't gotten very far from home after 14 hours and she was probably having breakfast. We all said that was great and maybe we should stop there! He didn't think his mother would appreciate 80 grumpy people for breakfast. We ended up going to a new Hyatt Regency next to the Penn Station and the Empire State Building in Manhattan. We had breakfast in a ball room and had fantastic rooms with 12 foot ceilings and marble bath rooms. Some of us took showers and then went to the Penn Station, the Empire State Building and taxied to the tip of Manhattan to see the Statue of Liberty. Back to the Hyatt for an early afternoon dinner in a glassed restaurant overlooking 53rd Street and back on the bus to go to the airport. Back on the plane and we finally took off, 24 hours later. The flight was horrible, going over and coming back. The toilets backed up, the smoke was so thick in the back of the plane that some smokers came to the front because they couldn't even breath. Finally landed in Athens about 8 a.m. The flight to Cairo wasn't available since we were a day late. Two women that were in our group decided to take control. I had gone to the airline desk and went to ask if we were going to get something for our troubles as we did in New York. The two Greek men told us in no uncertain terms that was our problem that we were a day late and could just sit there until they decided to do something! Before I could say anything, these two women, one, a 250 pound lawyer from L.A. and the other an ex CIA espionage agent, pushed the rest of us aside and demanded some action. The Greek men, about 20 years old, gave us all sneering looks, especially the women. Well, the lawyer leaned over the counter, took the one twit by his shirt collar and pulled him out of the chair, shook him, told him she was an L.A. lawyer and he had better shape up or she would have his ass! The ex CIA agent agreed and said if they wanted a diplomatic faux-pas to happen, she was the one to talk to! The men in our group cracked up and stepped back, let these two take charge because we knew they would get something done. They demanded a hotel for us to stay in until the late afternoon flight, a bus to take us there and meals at the hotel. Within half an hour there was the bus! These two women were in charge and the rest of us were perfectly happy about it. We all decided they would do the talking for the rest of the trip which they did. We were all happy! Off to the hotel, breakfast and a shower. The woman who screamed out "Fuck" and her husband and a woman doctor from L.A. and I decided since it was only 11 a.m. that we would get a guide and spend the day sight seeing. It was about 75 degrees and perfectly clear, blue skies and NO smog. There was a taxi in front of the hotel and he agreed to take us around Athens for about $80.00 for the day. Couldn't beat $20.00 a person so we drove all around Athens and in the afternoon went to the Acropolis and spent hours walking around and climbing the hills around it. Perfect weather and some great pictures of the Parthenon. You usually have to pay to get into the Acropolis but it is free on Sunday so the Greeks can take their families there and enjoy their history. Many families, all seemed very interested in their history which was nice. Back to the hotel, freshened up and a late lunch, back to the airport and onto a new 757 for our flight to Cairo. There were only about 50 people on the flight, I think they wanted to get the group out of Greece after all that trouble. The plane looked brand new but as I was sitting at a window seat as most of the group was, I said, "This is strange, a new plane and the rubber grommet that seals the window is hanging in a big loop inside the double paned window. Everyone had a fit and said I had better take another seat away from that window just in case of a blow out! Good old Olympic Airlines.

We finally landed in the early evening in Cairo and there was a bus waiting for us to take us downtown and to our hotel where we could freshen up, have dinner and go see the Pyramid & Sphinx Light Show at Giza. From now on it was clear sailing until we had to get on Olympic airlines to fly back to the states. Horrible flight back, smoke, (hopefully they will have to follow the international NO SMOKING rules on airlines), backed up toilets, dirty plane, nasty personnel and then in New York a United flight back to San Francisco, no smoke, clean, good food, pleasant personnel.

One of the stewardess told us one family from Greece consisting of a 75 year old grandfather, daughter and several grandchildren was nothing but problems on a flight from New York to San Francisco. The grandfather was rude, told the stewardess that in Greece women knew their place, this when she tried to explain the menu in Greek, he then spit on her. She said she reared back and was going to deck him but the rest of the crew grabbed her which is probably just as well. She said her husband is Greek and he will never take her back because his family treated her like trash when they visited several years ago. I love it when people whine about this country, they should live somewhere else for a while and see how people are treated there.

As usual, so good to get home but this time even more so due to miserable flights to and from Cairo. Breath the fresh air and kiss the ground, back home!

Thank God the vacation itself in Egypt was a delight, wonderful people in the group, wonderful guides, new boat on the Nile, perfect weather, 80 degrees, and sights that one always has wanted to see!

As happens after the trip I had to laugh because of all the problems we saw the:

all within three days! So as I try to tell other people which includes myself when I get cranky, one or two things:

"Go with the flow and make the best of it!"


"Get a Grip!"

Within three days we had visited three cities and had tours in all of them! Two were free of charge, can't beat that! It's a good thing we had five days on the Nile cruise so we could sit on the deck and relax and catch up on some rest between sight seeing.



Return to the Home Page