We are ending our trip to Greece in Chania, Crete. Our US flight home leaves from Athens late in the afternoon, but our flight options from Crete back to the Athens airport are few. Is 1 hr 40 min enough time between flights? It's either that or a 7 hour layover in Athens airport which I really do not want to do. If we do not have to wait for luggage I am assuming it is just a transfer from gate to gate?
Common wisdom suggests you return to the mainland a day before your flight out to prevent any issues from last-minute delays or cancellations. I would NEVER risk such a short layover just before a long international flight. If you're ticketed through to the States from Chania the airline will have to take care of you if there's a problem, so that's a plus, but if not it's way too risky. Luggage is only passed on if your airlines are partnered. Better make VERY sure!
Most international flights require a three hour checkin. Sometimes you can cut it to two and a half hours. But you are going to go through exit immigration and security in Athens. Even it everything was perfect you still don't have enough time at an hour forty. Personally I would not try for the same day since I assume you are flying on two separate tickets. The down side risk is high.
Its all about personal preference. My preference is opposite to Lee's in that I would strongly prefer NOT to trek back to Athens for one night after a vacation on one of the islands. Who wants to waste a day flying in, getting bags, getting a ride to hotel, checking in, then checking out and doing it all in reverse? My preference is to either save Athens for last and spend a few days there enjoying it, or (as I'm about to do, with a 4 hour layover in Athens) fly home Santorini-Athens-home all in one day.
That said, I would say 1hr40 is too short a connection. If your only other choice really is a 7 hour connection, I would use the 7 hours to take the Metro into Athens for a few hours, leaving your bags checked at the airport; OR in this particular case go with Lee's suggestion. But I'm surprised you don't have better options for a reasonable connection from Crete-Athens.
Not enough time; opt for the 7 hour layover or stay the night in Athens.
If you plan to spend any time exploring Athens and/or the mainland then on the day you arrive in Greece fly directly out to your first island and make your way back to Athens at the end of your time in Greece so you aren't backtracking and wasting time. This also eliminates any problems that would otherwise be possible if you left your return to the Athens Airport for the last day of your time in Chania.
Thanks everyone, you convinced me. I am on business in Athens the first week I am there so making Athens sightseeing last does not work for me. There are evening flights from Chania to Athens, however, so I'll fly out the night before and stay at a hotel around the airport. Any recommendations for airport hotels? We'll be hanging around there since our flight is late in the afternoon so I am looking for a nice place.
The Sofitel is directly across the street from the airport. Also take a look at the St. Thomas B&B, Peri's Hotel and Pantheon Hotel.
St Thomas b&b is a good choice. They will pick you up & deliver you back to the airport (small charge). They have a lovely pool. You can walk to a good taverna or have dinner delivered. Clean, comfy, reasonable price. Nice people.
As long as this is all on one itinerary (one confirmation number) then the airlines have a minimum connection time at each airport and they will only sell you tickets that satisfy that. If you miss a flight due to a delay on your incoming flight, then they will put you on the next available flight (which may not be the next flight) to your destination at no cost to you.
If on the other hand the flight to Athens is one ticket and you have another ticket for the US then it cutting way to close!
I'm another who agrees you really don't have a lot of time between flights if it's two tickets. Anything can happen to cause delays from Chania, bad weather, mechanical issues, strikes, etc.
If at all possible get back one day before your flight. If you haven't been to Athens you should at least have one day there to see what it's all about.