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Why is it so expensive to Fly to Greece?

They're lining up on the runway...but are they flying to Greece?

If you've done any searching at all for your flights to Greece you've probably started thinking "Geez... why are these tickets so expensive?" I find myself agonizing over the fact every time I look at the fares. Why couldn't I have been born of British descent and sell tickets to the bargain basement of Europe-England?

Well, I wasn't so... no point in dwelling on it.. but I will explain to you why the paradise you've chosen to visit is one of the most expensive places in Europe to fly to.

1. There is very little competition to fly to Greece. The only nonstop flights to Athens from the US are from NY and Atlanta(recently reinstated in 2006 after being discontinued after 911). The only Airlines that fly nonstop are Olympic and Delta. Look at any almost any other European city and you'll see a list of airlines that fly there direct(usually atr least 3 or 4 US-based carriers and the airline of origin for that country.)

If you want to fly one of the US based carriers(USAir, American, Continental etc...) you will have to use a code share with an European Airline flying into a European country and then on to Greece. On the flip side, if you want to fly a European Airline, unless you are close to one of a handful of major cities you will have to fly to one of those majors cites on a codeshare with a US based Airline meeting up with the foreign carrier.

Also of note is the fact that after 911 many airlines cut down the number of flights to Europe(and Greece) and began using smaller planes. Now there are much fewer seats available to Greece. More flights are being added slowly, but it will be a while before we're up to the pre-911 numbers.

2. Athens has a brand new Airport- and brand new exhorbitant taxes to pay for it! In 2003, Eleftherios Venzelos Airport opened up on the plains of Spata in Northeast Attica(about 45 minutes). It replaced the Athens Airport which was right along the coast of Athens(you fly directly over either Athens or Glyfada to land). It is modern, spacious, efficient....and cost a lot of money! On average, the taxes to Greece are between $175-250(but watch out for British Air which can be closer to $300!) while flights to other European cities generally run $125-150. Included in these fees is the new security tax implemented after 911 that helps push up the taxes even more.

3. You know how fuel hit $3 a gallon for your car- Airplanes use fuel also-lots of it! Many airlines have added a "fuel surcharge" to make up for the rise in the cost of petroleum. This charge is somewhere around $20-30 for each direction. Some airlines have added it to their basic fare while other hide it in their taxes, but it's there. That is why it is especially important to compare complete fares. British Air\ways may have a better base fare than Air France, but when you add the taxes and fuel surcharge, BA usually is more expensive, even if it has a lower base fare!

So there you have it... you might as well resign yourself to the fact that you are flying to one of the premium destinations(we're talking in terms of air fare). There are ways to get around the higher air fares, but it will take some work, some patience and even some luck! There are a lot of options out there and a lot of competition. There is no single way for ever person to get to Greece inexpensively(or maybe I should say less expensively!), so be prepared to do some searching and experimenting with options and your efforts should save you some money!



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