After returning from a 24 day trip to Portugal in June and July 2022, my wife Kelley and I recall this past summer’s trip as the worst vacation we ever had. Mostly that was due to problematic flights, although testing positive for Covid-19 on the day we arrived in Greece turned our 48-hour round trip mileage run from Lisbon to Thessaloniki into a week of hotel room isolation at the Holiday Inn.
Thinking about the trip was depressing these past couple months. Now I feel there has been enough time passed to continue with my Lisbon, Madrid and Thessaloniki, Greece trip report. This post repeats much of the information I shared in a previous post two months ago. Perhaps Covid brain fog prevented me from remembering I had written a similar post in August. At the end of this piece I share additional articles to come for this trip report.
Lisbon to Thessaloniki, Greece mileage run for Aegean Miles+Bonus elite status
September 28, 2022 was my deadline for earning Aegean Miles+Bonus Tier points for Gold elite status renewal. I told myself I would stay in Portugal for all three weeks of our trip and resist the temptation to travel to other places in Europe. We have longed to revisit several places in Europe since our last trip in February 2020 to London. The world shut down two weeks after we returned to Monterey, California from London.
Aegean Airlines ran a special fare sale two months before our trip. Lisbon to Thessaloniki, Greece for $225 round trip each would allow me to requalify for Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite and Kelley’s Miles+Bonus Silver elite. We both only needed Aegean flight segments to meet the requirements for Aegean Miles+Bonus elite status. My Gold elite status gives us access to Star Alliance airport lounges. Never was that more useful than during the two transatlantic trips we made with a 12 hour delayed flight San Francisco SFO to Munich last April on our way to Venice, Italy. Then, the Air Canada flight delay flying SFO to Montreal in June left us stuck in Montreal Airport for 20 hours before our flight to Lisbon. We spent 13 of those hours in the Air Canada International Terminal lounge showering, sleeping, eating and drinking.
Air Canada SFO to Lisbon outbound was bad, return was worse (July 21, 2022).
Our Aegean flight upgrades to business class turned into boarding standby at Lisbon Airport
Our Aegean flight from Lisbon to Athens was scheduled for 00:30 departure on Monday morning. After an enjoyable day walking around Lisbon’s Bairro Alto district, drinking a few beers and eating dinner, we arrived at Lisbon airport at 8:00pm intending to hang out the Star Alliance TAP Portugal lounge until flight time. For some reason we were not able to complete online check-in or airport kiosk check-in, although I had received notification of our flight upgrades to business class earlier in the day.
Turned out the Aegean check-in desk was not scheduled to open until 22:00.
Flight check-in opened about 15 minutes early and we went to the business class check-in counter. The desk agent ran our passports, typed a bunch of keys and a response reminiscient of the British TV comedy show Little Britain’s Carol skit “computer says no”.
Several more minutes of key entries and still no luck at getting check-in boarding passes for our flight to Greece. We were told to stay nearby while she checked in other premium lane passengers. Twenty minutes later the desk agent told us we did not have seats on the flight with no explanation. We were placed on standby.
She gave us standby boarding passes to get through airport security and instructed us to approach her again at the gate to see if we would have seats to Athens.
We made it to the TAP Portugal lounge at 10:55pm, which happened to be too close to 11:00pm closing time for lounge entry.
At the gate we were the last passengers to board the flight and seated ten rows apart.
We arrived in Athens 4.5 hours later and tried out both the Lufthansa lounge and Aegean lounge before the flight to Thessaloniki.
My Aegean Airlines Miles+Bonus flight credit issues in 2022
Aegean Airlines Miles+Bonus Gold elite membership renewal requires earning 24,000 Tier Points with Star Alliance member airlines during my membership year ending September 28. This requirement drops to 12,000 Tier Points with 4 Aegean Airlines or Olympic Airlines flight segments. United and Air Canada deep discount economy K tickets earn 50% flight miles as Aegean Tier Points. Two deep discount economy roundtrip tickets between San Francisco and Europe can approach or exceed 12,000 Aegean Tier Points. The flight miles for Lisbon to Thessaloniki would put us both over the elite qualification thresholds to renew our Aegean Miles+Bonus status levels.
My Name was to Blame for Lisbon Airport Aegean flight check-in loss of Business Class Upgrade
I previously wrote a piece about how I had trouble getting Aegean Miles+Bonus credit due to my first and middle name being combined in my United reservation for our tickets from San Francisco to Venice in April 2022.
For the trip to Venice, Italy in April 2022 I flew United Airlines Monterey MRY-San Francisco SFO-Munich MUC and Frankfurt FRA-SFO and anticipated earning 5,815 Aegean Miles+Bonus Tier Points. Turned out I was only credited for the return flight. Getting Aegean Tier Points credited for the flight to Munich was an issue due to my Orbitz.com purchased ticket being issued by United with my first and middle name combined, while my Aegean Miles+Bonus account did not include my middle name. Aegean Miles+Bonus stated I could only get the miles for my MRY-SFO-MUC flights if my Aegean Miles+Bonus name matched my ticket name. So I sent a request to Aegean Miles+Bonus and added my middle name to my account and received the full 5,815 Tier Points for SFO-Venice round trip flight.
Air Canada and United Airlines are two airlines where cheap economy K class flights earn 50% flight miles as Miles+Bonus Tier Points. Cheap flights with Miles & More Airlines or TAP Portugal do not earn Aegean Miles+Bonus tier points. TAP Portugal has had some incredible deals from SFO to Europe for the past year, but no Aegean Tier Points earned rule them out of my flight line-up.
Our summer trip from San Francisco to Lisbon via Montreal on Air Canada was projected to earn another 5,800 Aegean Tier Points. I made sure to add my middle name when I purchased tickets on AirCanada.com. All I needed was 4 flight segments on Aegean or Olympic Airlines and 385 Tier Points to renew my Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite status.
Problem: Aegean Lisbon to Thessaloniki tickets purchased prior to my name change request
I saw I never received flight credit for the two Aegean flights Lisbon to Athens and Athens to Thessaloniki after we returned from Europe in July. After contactin Aegean Miles+Bonus customer service I learned the check-in problem for our flight from Lisbon to Greece that resulted in losing our business class seat upgrades.
The Aegean tickets to Greece were purchased before I added my middle name to the Miles+Bonus account. My Aegean tickets to Greece were issued using only my first and last name and their computer system did not recognize my Aegean Miles+Bonus account with my three names.
2022 flights trouble with Aegean Miles+Bonus Tier Points
April 2022 United ticket SFO to Venice – my middle name on ticket. Aegean computer says “No”. My middle name was not on my Aegean Miles+Bonus account. Although, when Lufthansa checked me in for return flights from Venice to SFO there was no issue with my name and crediting Aegean Tier Points.
June-July 2022 Air Canada ticket SFO to Lisbon – middle name on ticket and Miles+Bonus account. No flight credit problems.
June-July 2022 Aegean Airlines ticket Lisbon-Athens-Thessaloniki – middle name not on ticket since I purchased tickets before the name issue arose from the Venice flight in April and I changed my Miles+Bonus account name. Aegean computer says “No” since my Miles+Bonus account includes middle name and ticket does not. No miles, no flight segment credit. After some time on the phone with Miles+Bonus customer service I was given a “one-time waiver” with the warning that my ticket name and Miles+Bonus name better match on future flights if I want Aegean flight segment and Tier Points credit.
No issue on the return flight segments for that Lisbon ticket since we missed our original flight to Lisbon due to testing positive for Covid-19 the night before our retun flights to Lisbon. We spent a week in Greece in hotel isolation at the Holiday Inn Thessaloniki. A negative Covid-19 test was required to fly back to Portugal. We could have used a flight credit from our missed flight, but one-way ticket prices had climbed to over $500 for Thessaloniki to Lisbon.
I purchased new one-way tickets from Thessaloniki to Madrid, Spain for $172 each using our full names to get out of Greece and back to Lisbon for our flights home. There was no Covid-19 test requirement to enter Portugal when arriving by bus from Madrid to Lisbon.
Hello, my name is …
Summer in Greece, Lisbon, and Madrid Trip Report
Air Canada SFO to Lisbon outbound was bad, return was worse (July 14, 2022)
Outsized Value of IHG points on my 24 nights trip to Europe (July 14, 2022)
Review: Holiday Inn Express Lisbon Av. Liberdade hotel review (July 18, 2022)
Príncipe Real Lisbon neighborhood (August 3, 2022)
Review: Holiday Inn Lisbon – open windows to the city (August 13, 2022)
Central Lisbon photo walk Areeiro, Arroios, Penha Franca (August 17, 2022)
Additional posts to come:
Hotel Review – Hyatt Regency Thessaloniki
Hotel Review – Holiday Inn Thessaloniki Covid-19 isolation week
Thessaloniki, Greece photo walk
Hotel Review – Crowne Plaza Madrid Airport
Hotel Review – Hotel Indigo Madrid Princesa
Madrid Photo Walk
Flixbus Review – Road trip from Madrid to Lisbon (Storks of Summer)
Hotel Review – Holiday Inn Express Plaza Saldanha (Inside an icebox for a heatwave)
Hotel Review – Holiday Inn Continental
Lisbon Walk: Park Edouro VII to Castelo de S. Jorge to Pink Street
Air Canada lost my ticket back from Lisbon to San Francisco