If you're going to the island of Mykonos for a vacation or even just a weekend of stay-awake sunning, swimming and partying, and you’re...

If visiting Mykonos on a cruise, you might also get time to take the short ferry ride from the inner harbor right at the heart of the town’s seafront to the world-famous archaeological site of Delos, a small island just half an hour’s sail away. During the peak spring and summer seasons, the boat leaves for Delos every couple of hours.

But that’s about all you’ll have time to see on Mykonos on most cruises, which stay for a day or two and then depart. If you’re not visiting the island on a cruise and you want to make absolutely the most of your time there, you should consider flying.

Several airlines serve Mykonos Island National Airport (whose IATA three-letter code is JMK) with charter or scheduled flights from other European countries such as Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Turkey, Belgium and the UK. However, four Greek carriers ― Aegean Airlines, Athens Airways, Olympic Air and Sky Express ― fly to the island from domestic destinations. Aegean and Olympic fly from Athens and Thessaloniki, Athens Airways only from Athens and Sky Express from Heraklion, Rhodes and Santorini.

Obviously, flying to Mykonos is going to be more expensive than taking the ferry, but the fare is not outrageous. Book far enough ahead, even for the peak season ― we’ve just performed a fare-checking exercise, looking on Aegean Airlines’ site at a flight from Athens to Mykonos on August 16, returning on August 30 ― and the fare can be as little as 8 euros one way. Our search found an outbound flight for 8 euros and the return flight for 33 euros, for a total of 41 euros plus taxes and booking service charge. However, the taxes are stiff and with Aegean’s 6-euro booking service charge the extras can easily come to more than 50 euros. It’s not unreasonable to expect to pay 100 to 150 euros in total for your round trip.

That might seem a lot for a flight that lasts just 20 minutes each way. But we think it’s worth it for the extra time it gives you on Mykonos, which has beautiful beaches, gorgeous vistas of sunlit seas and neighboring islands and oh, so much to see and do ― particularly if you’re of a mind to enjoy the very extensive nightlife ― that you could easily spend two weeks there. (But a long-weekend stay is really nice, too.)

Flying is also worth it for the beautiful views you get of the mainland of Greece, various Greek islands and the many ferries plying their ways through the busy waterways between the mainland and the islands. From the 10,000-to-12,000-foot altitudes at which airliners fly on the short trip to Mykonos from Athens, you really get a sense of the geography that made Greece a cradle of modern civilization and the home of some of the world’s most important and lasting myths.

If you do decide to fly to Mykonos from the Greek mainland, we’re going to give you a tip: Fly Aegean Airlines. The airline is known for its high service standards: Aegean recently was named Best Regional Airline in Europe by Skytrax, whose huge independent annual survey of 17 million passengers worldwide makes it easily the most authoritative and prestigious airline service ranking in the world. The airline also was ranked top in southern Europe for its cabin crews ― and an enthusiastic, friendly, helpful bunch of young, good-looking people they are.

Calling Aegean a “regional airline” is a bit of a misnomer ― most of its 31 aircraft are brand-new Airbus A320s and A321s, and the rest are 112-seat Avro RJ jets or 150-seat Boeing 737-400s (which the airline operates only on charter flights, and will keep in its fleet only until the end of 2009). So don’t be put off by the Skytrax description, which refers more to the fact that Aegean Airlines is still a certain size and has purely an intra-European network. But it did carry more than 6 million passengers in 2008 and is now Greece’s largest airline in terms of passenger numbers.

Aegean Airlines serve Mykonos from Athens up to five times a day, mainly with 168-seat Airbus A320s. We arrived at Mykonos on this flight.

Aegean Airlines serves Mykonos from Athens up to five times a day, mainly with 168-seat Airbus A320s. We arrived at Mykonos on this flight.

Aegean Airlines serves Mykonos with up to five flights a day in peak season, and it operates most of the flights with 168-seat A320s ― which are full on most Mykonos flights, so obviously there is strong demand for the services. The carrier operates the other one or two of its daily Athens-Mykonos round-trips with 112-seat Avro RJs.

Even though you don’t get the chance to sample much of the airline’s vaunted service on such a short flight, nonethetheless ― and remarkably ― the flight attendants still manage to serve every one of the 168 people on a fully occupied A320 with a soft drink on the 20-minute trip. And they perform this rapid-fire service with a smile that leaves you feeling you’ve been served nicely rather than having had your plastic glass thrown at you. The U.S. airlines would be well advised to take a leaf from Aegean Airlines’ in-flight service training manual for cabin crews.

By Chris Kjelgaard

This is one of four feature articles on Mykonos published by www.AirlinesAndDestinations.com in July 2009.

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