Andy's Symi Travel Blog

Flights, ferries, and travel tips to help visitors to the Greek island of Symi

Symi Greece Travel Blog

Category: Uncategorized

This blog has now moved

Following the tragic death of Wendy Wilcox, the owner of Symi Visitor Accommodation, the travel blog has moved to

here

Oh dear, Ryanair

Well now we know that the extra flights from Berlin (and now Dusseldorf as well) to Rhodes and Kos will be operated by Ryanair aircraft, not LaudaMotion. We know this because to provide the aircraft Ryanair has cancelled all its flights between Rhodes and Athens from 30 May onwards, along with several other routes that used Athens-based aircraft.
Anyone who is booked on one of the cancelled flights is entitled by law to their choice of a re-route (that’s using other flights, possibly with connections, to make the journey) or a full refund. Of course if you take the refund you’ll find that the cost of flights with Aegean/Olympic has inevitably risen as time has passed since you made your original Ryanair booking. You won’t get compensated for this, or in any other way either. Now the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority has at last interpreted the “re-route” clause in the Europe-wide regulations to mean that if no sensible alternative flight can be offered on an airline’s own network, the airline must rebook the passengers on a different airline. This was a response to Ryanair’s widespread flight cancellations in late 2017 caused by shortage of pilots. Whether the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority will make the same interpretation remains to be seen. Best of luck if you had a booking!

Oh, and if you were unwise enough to book an affected Ryanair flight through some third party such as an online booking service, best of luck with actually getting your hands on any refund. Now the only way an online booking agency can sell you a Ryanair flight is by going onto Ryanair’s website and pretending to be you. Ryanair don’t authorise any such agency to sell tickets for its flights. Just booking the ticket that way invalidates it. So far they haven’t used it as an excuse to avoid making refunds. But guess what, they’ll refund onto the payment method used to buy the flight. This is absolutely normal, of course. But many of the online bookers use company credit cards to pay for the booking, so the refund comes back to them and not you. And when you asked them to make your booking, you agreed to them charging a fee for handling refunds. This may well wipe out the entire value of the ticket for something like a Greek domestic flight. You’ll also have great fun if you go for a reroute, since you’ll have to go through the online booker again unless they’ve already given you all the information you need to manage your own booking on Ryanair’s website.

I’ve updated the Greek domestic fights chart on the original posting, and also here

Flight news – April

The Ryanair/Laudamotion link up has produced some flights that affect Rhodes and Kos, as Ryanair are now selling new flights to both islands from Berlin-Tegel. The Ryanair website displays a LaudaMotion logo against these flights. It’s not clear which of the two airlines are providing the planes and crews.
I’ve updated the Flights from Germany chart and changed the links from earlier blog posts to point to the new chart – or you can see it here

Edited 10/4/18 – Flights now also available to both islands from Dusseldorf (the main airport, not Weeze)
Flight chart has been updated

Farewell Wendy

Today is the funeral of my dear friend Wendy Wilcox. It was she who first suggested this blog, as part of her never-ceasing efforts to encourage people to visit Symi. But she didn’t just try and bring more tourists to Symi, she also worked hard to improve the life of the people who live on Symi, and to help refugees who passed through the island she loved so much.

Whether people were clients of Symi Visitor Accommodation or not, she was unfailingly helpful and generous to them.

I will always miss Wendy, the warm-hearted, beautiful woman I first met 21 years ago, and had hoped so much to see again later this month.

Andy

Same Day to Symi

Although an overnight in Rhodes can be a very enjoyable part of a Symi holiday, some people, especially on a short period holiday, find it a nuisance. So at Symi Visitor Accommodation, for the second year, we present “Same Day to Symi”. This is a table showing which flights from which airports will allow you to fly from an airport in your home country to Rhodes, and then catch a ferry to Symi, arriving the same day.

For 2018, there are just two days of the week on which this will be possible, Wednesdays and Fridays, using the sailings of the Blue Star Patmos at 6pm or 7pm respectively. In high summer there is also a Wednesday lunchtime sailing by either the Dodekanisos Express or Dodekanisos Pride.

Comparing this year’s table to last year’s, there are quite a few changes. Travellers from UK regional airports have been complaining that the previous 3pm Wednesday Blue Star sailing was too early to connect with flights from their airports. This year Belfast, Norwich, Newcastle, and Stansted join the Same Day list. But ironically, Belfast is on a Friday, Newcastle and Stansted are retimed flights which would have caught a 3pm sailing anyway, so only Norwich benefits from the sailing being put back to 6pm – everyone else flying independently from the other UK airports that already had same day flights has an extra 3 hours hanging round in Rhodes because there aren’t later scheduled flights from the UK that would still get to Rhodes in time to catch the ferry.

What would really provide Symi with a welcome tourist boost is Saturday and Sunday evening ferries, with corresponding morning sailings back to Rhodes, which would add a considerable range of Scandanavian airports to the list. Even so, there is an amazing range of Same Day airports available – have a look and see if yours is there.

Lauda commotion

Those who hoped that the purchase of former Air Berlin Vienna-based subsidiary Niki, in controversial circumstances, by Niki Lauda would produce a new independent airline using the LaudaMotion brand have been enraged by the revelation that Ryanair own 25% of LaudaMotion, are supplying €50m working capital for 2018 and have an option to take their share to 75%. Some independent airline!

One peculiarity is that Ryanair, which has traditionally operated nothing but Boeing 737s, has said that LaudaMotion will be an all-Airbus airline. Two flights per week from Vienna to Rhodes have been announced for this summer, but exact timings aren’t available yet.

 

Minor ferry glitches

I was wrong about the return to service date for the Panagia Skiadeni and the Symi. The Skiadeni was slightly delayed in completing her annual overhaul and will now enter service for the year tomorrow with a Rhodes-Symi-Rhodes sailing, followed by a Sunday Rhodes-Panormitis-Symi-Rhodes voyage, and a Tuesday Rhodes-Symi-Rhodes.

Some of this is in replacement for journeys originally intended to be operated by the Symi of Sea Dreams, which has been rather more seriously delayed in completing her overhaul and only got back to Rhodes on Monday afternoon. Her first new season journey will be a Rhodes-Marmaris-Rhodes journey on Friday 23rd.

Dodekanisos Seaways ferry alterations/extra sailings March to May

The Panagia Skiadeni has returned from her annual overhaul, and on Friday 17th March will make an additional sailing from Rhodes at 09:00, via Panormitis to Symi, returning direct. Apart from this, the timetables for April and May that were previously announced have been modified, with some extra sailings on days where ships were otherwise moored up, and online bookings have opened. There’s still at least one error (can you really get from Symi to Kos in 30 minutes?) and online booking for sailings to/from Samos doesn’t seem to be ready yet. A lot of the changes are related to sailings to Agathonisi, which were distinctly missing in April, and have now been reinstated, including the rest of the journey starting and finishing at Rhodes.

All-operators ferry times to/from Symi for April 2018

All operators ferry times to/from Symi for May 2018

Domestic flights for connections

Can’t find a direct flight to Rhodes or Kos on the date or at a time that suits? Take a flight to Athens or Thessaloniki and connect to a domestic flight to Rhodes or Kos from there. If you can get the two flights booked on the same ticket you will get your baggage transferred automatically in Athens, and be rebooked onto another flight if you miss the connection due to delays on the inbound flight.

However if you have two separate tickets (inevitable if one or both of the airlines is Ryanair, EasyJet, Wizzair or other low-cost carriers) and quite possible with other airlines depending on who you book with,  you need to allow lots and lots of time, as in 5 hours or so. If there are no changes to the scheduled time of either flight between booking and travelling, and the first flight arrives punctually, you’ll have more than enough time and curse me, even though you’ll need to go through immigration in Athens if entering or leaving the Schengen Area, and wait to reclaim your baggage, take it upstairs and queue up to check it in again. But if for whatever reason you eventually turn up at the head of the check-in queue after the cut off point for the second flight, you’re on your own, with no rebooking and no help from anyone – you need to find another flight and pay for it yourself.

Now you may think I’m a total hypocrite, because I’ve done this sort of “not-really-connection” in about 75 minutes in the past. But this was in the middle of the night, so no waiting at immigration, and no long queues at check-in, and I know my way round Athens airport, and most importantly was prepared to take the risk of losing my second flight and the money I’d paid for it.

 

Here’s a file showing summer scheduled flights from Athens and Thessaloniki to Rhodes and Kos. There will be flights (not daily) from Thessaloniki to Kos operated by Astra Airlines, and I’ll add them to the file when they get round to making their website tell me the dates and times..

Summer 2018 connecting domestic flights Athens and Thessaloniki to Rhodes and Kos

You’ll find it far more likely to get through-ticketed connections using Olympic/Aegean.

 

Soon be Easter

Despite a fair amount of bad-weather disruption even in the Dodecanese, preparations are well under way for the new season.

Dodekanisos Pride has returned from annual overhaul in Piraeus, and has taken over the winter ferry timetable from sister Dodekanisos Express. Shortly the Express will head north for her own overhaul, but just for today both ferries are in service, with the Pride doing the usual Tuesday and Thursday run from Rhodes to Halki, Tilos, Nissyros, Kos and Kalymnos, while the Express does a short Rhodes-Symi-Rhodes trip in connection with the celebration of the incorporation of the Dodecanese into the Greek state on March 7 1947. The Pride will make an extra trip on Wednesday through Symi right up to Agathonisi, partly replacing the regular Monday one which was cancelled due to bad weather.

The Panagia Skiadeni is still in Piraeus for overhaul, the Symi is currently in drydock as part of her overhaul and will start service later this month, and the Blue Star Patmos has settled back in as Symi’s regular “big boat” on the Piraeus-Symi-Rhodes route for the summer (and probably next winter too).

Ever wondered what was underneath the Dodkanisos Pride – photo taken during overhaul, with one propeller removed for maintenance.