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Frankfurt to Heraklion

We will be traveling in May 2022 to Crete for a two week hiking tour. It was suggested that instead of flying to Athens and then to Heraklion that we fly to Frankfort, Germany and then to Heraklion. Has anyone done this? This is to avoid an overnight in Athens. We would probably fly home to LAX from Athens.

Posted by
310 posts

A quick look at Skyscanner shows only two non-stop flights to Heraklion from Frankfurt, both very early in the morning. All other flights on Lufthansa/Aegean have a stop in Athens. I have flown from Toronto to Athens, arriving around late morning, and got flights to Chania in Crete in the afternoon. It’s only a 35 min flight and Heraklion would be much the same. I flew Air Canada and Aegean and checked my bags through as they are both Star Alliance. Athens is a much easier airport to manage than Frankfurt. Did that once and swore off ever doing it again! If you have time to spare between flights in Athens there are, pre-Covid, lots of food choices, all busy. If you go upstairs there is a MacDonalds and also a bar/cafe that has sit down service and is way quieter than the food court downstairs.

Posted by
118 posts

Thank you for your great advice. I’m rusty on traveling and was not aware of skyscanner.

Posted by
2812 posts

Leslie -- since u are from california? any travel to crete is going to be, not a simple trip, but what I call a QUEST, a looong journey, with pitfalls perhaps, and hardships (cruel economy seats) and -- we hope -- immense rewards at the end. It is worst if one hopes to to save $ by using "points," because airlines then make you jump thru hoops. If looking to shorten the journey and not hoping to points, it's simplest to get yourself by late afternoon to one of the 5 airports that fly overnight nonstops from N. America to Athens -- Toronto (Canada air) JFK (Delta) Newark (UAE & United) Philly (AA), Atlanta (Delta) and now I think, Dulles near DC.

All these arrive in Athens in the AM daily, scheduled from about 9:10 am (AA) onward to about 10:30. They are virtially 100% on time even if delayed in take-off because they have all that time over Atlantic to make it up. I've done many many times, always on time. Routes requiring plane changes in European Airports typically are scheduled to land until between 2 - 4 PM at earliest... and the change-over in Frankfurt, Heathrow, Amsterdam etc, can run into air-traffic delays. So a hoped-for trip-shortening may evaporate, and uncertainties multiply.

Arriving in AM, you have several choices for a Crete flight -- a handy one daily @ 1pm (1300), arriving 60 mins later. And as others have noted, Athens airport is thankfully smaller and simpler... almost all lines go from one building, and you just escalate up a floor from arrivals to departures. Stress-free.

Posted by
964 posts

We too fly from the west coast and can confirm Janets comments it is a very long arduous trip. 24 hours of actual travel. The best routing for us is an early morning flight from Vancouver to Toronto or Montreal for the transatlantic direct to Athens. That gets us into Athens mid morning. There are connecting flights to both Heraklion and Chania Crete on both Aegean and Sky Express. We have that routing booked for May.

The idea of flying to a European city and flying direct to Crete is a good thought but in our experience the direct flights to Crete depart early morning so that connection does not work and you will have to fly to Athens anyway.

Posted by
118 posts

Thank you to both Janet and Stan for sharing your experiences of flying logistics to Athens. It is helpful for our planning. It looks like flying direct from Toronto is our best bet.

Posted by
964 posts

I just checked our ticket We fly Vancouver to Montreal and connect to a direct flight to Athens in Montreal. Our return flight is Athens to Toronto to Vancouver.
Generally speaking I have seen a number of posts on Trip Adviser where people are quoting the price they paid for next year flights from the airports Janet mentioned for a lot less than we are paying. Its worth checking out those direct flights.

Posted by
5533 posts

Throwing in another potential option: Two years ago, we flew to London’s Gatwick airport (from Denver), then flew easyJet to Iraklio (optional English spelling of the city). Just two flights, and just one connection. Depending on from where in California you’d be departing, and on what date, that might be something to consider, especially if price is any factor. If you find a flight to Gatwick, you’re good to go. If you find a flight to London’s Heathrow airport, you’d just need to get yourself over to Gatwick, probably using the shuttle bus.

As stanbr noted, many flights from London to Crete are early morning, taking off at 7:00 or 7:10AM. But on some days (not all), easyJet has afternoon flights, leaving Gatwick at 4:40PM. Plenty of time to make your departure from London. Those flights then arrive at Iraklio at 10:40 at night Greek time, 1:40PM California time - maybe just in time to get to your lodging and turn in for the night. And the prices could be surprisingly low. While easyJet is a pretty basic airline with minimal frills, they’ll get you there, and spending a night in Athens isn’t necessary.

Posted by
1645 posts

I wouldn't fly through London until this pandemic is over. I don't know about Greece but last year Italy at least was making people quarantine if they flew through London. The fact that the UK is no longer a member of the EU changes things.

Posted by
5533 posts

The pandemic is certainly affecting travel decisions. Greece was more “open” this past year than many other European countries. We went to Italy in September/October, and we’re originally booked through London Heathrow from Denver. Because of the temporary 5-day mandated quarantine in Italy for flights from the U.K., we rescheduled Denver>Dallas>Rome. Then the quarantine requirement got cancelled before we left for Italy, but we’d already rescheduled our flights, so stuck with that.

Now France is prohibiting entries from England. The situation can change a lot more between now and May. Being aware of potential options, though, and a best-case scenario, could make a difference in getting to and from Crete. Between now and then, Canada could shut down flights, or Germany, or . . .

Posted by
118 posts

Yes travel is so unpredictable now! We did notice that the United flights to Athens leaving from LAX stop at Charles DeGaulle in Paris and arrive in Athens in the morning. I now think adding 2 days in Athens to our trip might be a good idea.

Posted by
2812 posts

Leslie, don't want to rain on your parade but -- have you ever changed flights in Chas De Gaulle??? Those of us who have done it, and survived, have taken solemn oaths never to do it again, and to provide warnings to others. I've done it en route to Greece 2x thinking perhaps the first nightmare was a one-off... but no, happened again. If you insist on a change in Europe, please please choose Zurich, Frankfurt, even Amsterdam. not Heathrow (tho they do speak English and are polite). and Not CDG.

Actually, that doesn't simplify your journey --- its still 2 planes, vs. flying to East Coast & then going nonstop overnight to arrive ATH at 9:15 or 10 am. If you make your change in the USA you won't be subject to the additional and unpredictable Covid-19 tests/paperwork required by yet another country.... a real concern considering that this pandemic appears to be a multi-year thing. Don't quite understand preference for makng change in European airport. Would be v. interested in advantages.

Posted by
1645 posts

I also would not recommend CDG. We ended up going through CDG last August to get to Milan after we missed our flight from JFK because our flight from Florida was delayed.

It took 2 hours from the moment we deplaned until we arrived at our gate to go to Milan. I timed it. There were two times we had to line up. I would avoid CDG like the plague unless you have a very long layover there.

The easiest airport for transfers that I have used is Zurich. I flew via Zurich to Athens in 2018 and we are planning to do so next May. It really is a piece of cake-far better than Heathrow, Frankfort, or CDG. I have never changed planes in Amsterdam but it has the reputation of being easy too.

Posted by
118 posts

Thank you for the advice. Haven’t ever changed planes in CG and I appreciate the advice. I’m a relatively novice traveler although I have been to Italy twice.

Posted by
1645 posts

Since you said you flying out of LAX, I went to goggle flights and took a look. Depending on the days you are flying in May, there is a flight to Athens via Zurich. It is the best in my opinion in terms of time but it doesn't run every day. However, the flight through CDG seems to run every day and has a layover of more than 3 hours so it would be workable if not pleasant.

For the Swiss Air flight through Zurich, you can book on United by clicking on United on goggle flights. But it doesn't come up, if you start on United site.

Posted by
118 posts

I found the May 2022 Swiss Air LAX, to Zurich to Athens flight you mentioned and it leaves on the day we were planning on departing. It’s less expensive too. Thanks!

Posted by
1645 posts

Fabulous! Swiss efficiency is very nice.

We are going to Crete also in May.

Posted by
118 posts

Response to Janet about changing planes in Europe instead of USA: Your points are well taken about COVID but in my searches I’ve found that these flights direct from US airports are more expensive. For example the nonstop flight from Atlanta to Athens was over 1000 RT and the flight from LAX to ATL was over 400 RT for one ticket. I’m still searching though.

Posted by
1645 posts

You do NOT want to buy separate tickets one to US city, and second to Athens) because if domestic flight is delayed and you miss your international flight, you will have to buy a new ticket. We were routed to fly FLL to JFK to Milan last August but our first flight was so delayed we missed our international flight. But because it was on one ticket, we were rebooked to Paris (and thus our experience changing planes at CDG) and then had a third flight that got us to Milan. We arrived 4 hours later than original itinerary.

That said, you are right that flights going through US airports to Athens are more expensive than those changing planes in Europe. But if you decide to change in Europe, I would just make sure to avoid London as there were some issues transiting through there last summer.

Posted by
65 posts

We flew from the US to Heraklion via Frankfurt in June. I choose to fly into Heraklion at the beginning of our trip and out of Athens at the end of the trip based on several posts (on RS and Tripadvisor) that said do the islands before Athens. I don’t disagree with that recommendation, but be warned that flying into Heraklion is limiting, especially from anywhere besides Athens. Our inbound flights to Heraklion were delayed due to weather and it was a challenge to get later flights to Heraklion. Given how important flexibility is with travel right now, flying to Heraklion via Athens may give you some needed flexibility due to the regularity of that flight. Enjoy Crete.

Posted by
2812 posts

Leslie, i simply echo the advice of other contributors, who have tried it both ways. Yes, you may well pay more to get a nonstop from US to Athens. But in this era of Covid-19, you must reckon with flexibility and reliability. If saving $ is a deciding factor, perhaps you might think about postponing this trip until the world is in a more certain place.

Posted by
118 posts

Money is not the issue. We have been planning this for 2 years and have adequate resources. Flexibility is important to us but travel is now unpredictable with flights from both the US and Europe. Our tour leader who has been to Greece several times made the recommendations for flight logistics. I see no reason to pay almost double to fly direct from the US as well as pay for a hotel room near that airport.
We have had connection flights canceled at the last minute before and usually add 1 to 2 days onto our tour at the beginning and end.