When Dan and I visited Greece last summer, we spent a fair amount of time in Athens’ Schengen terminal, flying from Athens to Rhodes and then from Rhodes to Athens to Milos. For Priority Pass members, the Schengen terminal has two lounge options, neither of which are fantastic: Goldair Handling CIP Lounge and Skyserv Melina Merkouri Lounge. Of the two, I slightly preferred Goldair for drinks and food and Skyserv for the space. I wouldn’t go out of my way to return to either, but for free it was fine to wait out our layovers. This article details our experience in both.
GOLDAIR HANDLING CIP LOUNGE
I’ll start my review with the Goldair Handling CIP Lounge, for the sole reason that this was the first lounge we visited when flying from Athens to Rhodes. Goldair is conveniently located next door to Skyserv, making lounge hopping easy if there is no wait (not the case in July 2021). We got into the Goldair lounge promptly with our Priority Pass, but I heard there is often a wait (and there was one our next visit). As you can see from the below picture, a lot of cards and airlines use the Goldair lounge, and the lounge is not large. Hence, the waits.
Pros of Goldair: A few different wine options, better food than Skyserv, lots of light from large windows, restroom in lounge. Cons of Goldair: Small, very tried seating, no-outside food allowed (in July 2021 anyway).
The Goldair Lounge space. Goldair’s lounge is small, with worn tables and chairs scattered around a rectangular room. One end of the lounge houses the drink and food area, while the other the lounge entrance. In-lounge WCs are located behind the drink area. Aside from the WCs, there is not much in the way of privacy in the Goldair lounge. One pro, large windows and views overlooking neighboring mountains. These windows make the lounge seem lighter and more open than it actually is. Light is always welcome on a layover!
The food at the Goldair Lounge. Goldair’s food was, like the lounge, nothing to write home about, but there were a few snacks available that one could make a meal out of in a pinch. On our visit, there were a few types of bite sized sandwiches wrapped in cellophane, including veggie, turkey, and I believe a ham option, as well as several pre-packaged salad options and a couple desserts. The food was continuously stocked and it tasted about as good as it looks. I enjoyed the Greek veggie wrap and a couple of the salads, which salads honestly were the star of the lounge.
The drinks at Goldair Lounge. The drinks at Goldair consisted of a few bottles of Greek wine in both red and white, an espresso machine, water, and soda, including a Greek one! A pre-packaged nut mix was available next to the wine selection – a little bar snack so to speak. I was happy with the wine and sodas.
In addition to the aforementioned things, Goldair had good wifi and I believe some newspapers scattered around. My recommendation is to go for the free drinks if you can get in, but don’t arrive early or anything like that expecting a fantastic lounge. The Schengen area of the Athens airport has several food and drink establishments where travelers can kill time prior to their flight.
SKYSERV MELINA MERKOURI LOUNGE
On our second visit to Athens’ airport, flying from Rhodes to Milos, we visited the Skyserv lounge, which was closed due to overcrowding on our first visit. As mentioned, Skyserv is located right next door to Goldair. This visit we got in easily with our Priority Pass, but a wait quickly formed after our entry. Skyserv staff was great (on our visit) about making a list and letting in new guests as soon as others left. Like Goldair, a lot of cards and airlines use the Skyserv lounge, and it gets crowded.
Pros of Skyserv: Cool space, you can bring in food from outside, the front desk was good with keeping a wait list and moving it quickly when we visited. Cons of Skyserv: Guests use the restroom in the terminal, only beer available in terms of alcohol.
The Skyserv space. Similar to the Goldair lounge, Skyserv operates out of a rectangular space. However, Skyserv seems slightly larger and is decorated in a darker purple and wood theme. The food and drink area is behind the check-in area, while the remainder of the lounge opens up into seating.
Food at Skyserv. The food at Skyserv is similar to that at Goldair, yet a bit more basic. On offer during my short stay were packaged crackers and bread and a few of the small sandwiches that were on offer at Goldair. There is nothing more than a snack to be had at Skyserv. However, Skyserv does permit guests to bring in outside food from the main terminal. This is not a bad idea if you are planning to eat before your flight.
The drinks at Skyserv. The drinks at Skyserv were definitively worse than at Goldair. Coke, Coke Zero, juices, bottled water and soda were on offer. The only alcohol served was canned Mythos beer, and I much prefer wine. In addition, there was an espresso machine for guests to use.
Unlike Goldair, Skyserv had no WCs in lounge. Rather, guests had to visit those in the main terminal. The front desk was good about letting guests leaving for that reason back in without waiting in line. Like Goldair, go in if you can for a free beer or soda, but definitely do not leave early to access this lounge.
STEAL OUR LOUNGES
Goldair Handling CIP Lounge: Athens Schengen Terminal, Hall B. Goldair also has a lounge in the non-Schengen terminal. This was too full to enter when we visited. Always annoying.
Skyserv Melina Merkouri Lounge: Athens Schengen Terminal, Hall B. Across from Gate B11. Skyserv also has a lounge in the non-Schengen terminal. This was too full to enter when we visited. Again, always annoying.