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Finding a direct flight Athens to Phila in Sept

Initially planned to use AA bonus miles for PHL to ATH for late August-mid Sept belated 50th Anniversary trip (thank you COVID). AA's PHL to ATH is direct 9 1/2 hours flight, however ATH to PHL stops in CHICAGO before coming back to PHL for a total of 19 hours commute. For this 78 year old, waaay too much of a marathon flight, so guessing will fly AA to ATH, and another airline back (same schedule for the AA partners that fly ATH - PHL). Been a while since I've had to do this kind of research, so before I bring up a bazillion screens via KAYAK, Priceline, etc, any recommended sites? Thank you in advance!

Posted by
7786 posts

I'm seeing American Airlines as the only non-stop flight from Athens to Philadelphia.

Often you can pull up an itinerary on any airline, and they'll try to send you on 1 stop or 2 stops even though there is still a non-stop flight. And often the non-stop flight will come at a higher price. I use MatrixITASoftware to research flights.

Posted by
2030 posts

Google flights is my preferred platform for such searches.

But if AA isn't flying it direct, you're kind of out of luck on easy options. Maybe check different days- it could be that the direct flights are 7 days a week.

Posted by
239 posts

I checked on for random dates in September. Delta flies non stop ATH to Boston. And United flies non stop ATH to Newark. You could get a connecting flight there or even a train. And if you think too much in one day you could stay overnight in Boston or Newark and travel on the next day.

Posted by
925 posts


As you are using AA points, keep in mind if the flight is on a code-share such as British Airways then the "fees" will be about $200 higher for each ticket. It looks like your only choice is to fly into London LHR on BA and then into Philly but it is an early morning flight leaving Athens - not optimal.

As you are using AA points, I would take the American Airlines flight into Chicago and either spend the night in Chicago or make the evening connection to Philly. It depends on how far home is from the Airport. If you have more than an hour's drive, I would be inclined to get a hotel in Philly and asked to be picked up the next morning. If you do decide to stay in Chicago, you may have to buy the Philly ticket (from ORD to PHL) on a separate ticket for the next day.

Posted by
10335 posts

If you are using miles to book the trip it seems you are a victim of 'inventory control' in not being able to get the non-stop ATH-PHL flight.

Does the one stop via LHR show as available for the return? Under 15 hrs total and no back-tracking

Does moving the return a day or two help?

Posted by
14 posts

Thank you all for your interest and suggestions - greatly appreciated! What threw me off was when I initially researched the dates, departure & return flights were both direct, but when I tried booking it, no go. Since I posted this, have been digging, and also spoke with a very helpful AA person. What I learned:

  • the direct return flight(s) from ATH to PHL do not begin until May 5 this year, and are 7 days a week.
  • the '23 booking calendar only goes to the end of June. At some point later this year the booking calendar for July 1 & later will open up. The AA person suggested that I book my PHL - ATH flight as a 1 way, and when the calendar opens up for the direct return, simply add that to my original flight.

John D

Posted by
19 posts

Flights are loaded 330 days in advance. ( Not sure why you were told " the booking calendar only goes to the end of June" )You really have to be thinking 330 days ahead to get award seats on flights that are popular. It does makes sense to book it one way.....but if you cannot find award seats for your return.... the $$ cost of a one way is ridiculously high.

Posted by
3227 posts

Those of us who don't have jobs involving enoug travel to earn "award points" don't have to jump through hoops in order to go to faraway places for free ... we just save up and (grumpily) pay the going rate.

Posted by
7569 posts

Award flights for September should be loaded now. I am unsure why the person you spoke to said differently. I’d book round trip and if it involved going to Chicago, I would stop, spend the night , and then fly home.

Congrats on your anniversary !

Posted by
14 posts

Thank you all for your interest and input. After discussing with my wife we decided to go in June instead of September so we can celebrate our 53rd while in Greece. Just booked the PHL-ATH & ATH-PHL non-stops!

Posted by
8 posts

I also wanted to to fly from PHL and use AA miles for a trip this coming April, there weren't a whole lot of options. So instead I am flying Delta NS from JFK. I was looking at a NS on UAL from EWR that was removed from the schedule for April, but it looks like that flight is back on their schedule for summer. Emirates also flies NS from EWR.