I flew on Helios Airlines from Manchester to Cyprus several years ago and so i am in a position to comment on their service.
The plane was a very cramped 737 which was clearly dated. There were only 6 others in the fleet at the time. The leg room was very cramped and the decor of the plane left much to be desired. What was most disturbing was the funny whirring noise coming from the engines throughout the duration of the flight. The service provided by the cabin crew was average but the catering was of a poor standard and portion sizes were smaller than average. A year after I travelled with Helios Airways, one of thier planes crashed over Grecce which wasnt very reassuring for future travel purposes.
Overall, this was a budget flight and I recieved the service that I paid for as it was a cheap holiday but I will not be recommending them to anyone reading this nor will I travel with them again due to these planes being dated and not mechanically sound in my opinion.
Our stress breaking week in the sun was not to be. We were scheduled to leave Newcastle at 11am on Sunday 21st May 2006 for a weeks break in Protaras Cyprus our tour company Libra charters Helios Airways to Cyprus. we checked in and all was well on arrival in the departure lounge we were advised that we would not leave until 3pm at 3pm we boarded our Helios Airways jet and looked forward to our forthcomeing holiday. Once we were airbourne and levelling off my husband notice the "flaps come up" on the wings which is not normal at that height then the pilot spoke and said that we had a technical problem the windscreen had a crack in it and he was waiting instructions he then said we would need to go back to Newcastle to have it checked out, then that we could not go to Newcastel as the runway was too short with the amount of fuel on board and we would divert to Manchester we then travelled at 10000 feet to manchester rather slowly arriving at 5pm The pilot announced a normal landing(not) we hit the runway like a brick were "chased" by 8 fire tenders and parked no where near any other plane. ( n ot good when my husband has a fear of flying)After sitting on the plane aprox 1 hour we were told that we would have to stay in Manchester overnight. We were bussed to the terminal building and then placed in a hotel which we walked to. We were then advised that we would travel at 11am on 22nd May at 8.30 am we were delayed until 3pm at 1pm we were delayed until 10pm (are you keeping up here) We checked in and when in the daparture lounge we were advised departure to be 11pm. On boarding the plane we found our seat numbers to be the toilets,so we comandered seats and would not move. eventually we set of at 11.30pm on a Fischer Air plane (polish I Think) staff could not speak emglish to find out.We had a box thrown at us with a piece of cheese a couple of crackers and a cake bar we were offered no refreshment not even water during our flight and there was no inflight entertainment apart from the irate passengers.We eventually landed in Cyprus but alas not in Larnaca as scheduled but in Paphos a 3 hour bus journey from our accomodation. We arrived in our apartment at 11am on Tuesday 23 May 2006 36 hours after our original departure. we had a pleasant four days of our holiday and then attempted to return home. we arrived at larnaca airport as scheduled and checked in our flight was due to depart at 7am we were put on a Dubrovnic airways flight as Helios had no planes available (apparently they only had 4 one hit a mountain in Athens in August 05 one lost its windscreen in manchester and thank god the other two were not available) We set off at 7.30AM and once airbourne the pilot made an announcement there was a head wind and we had not enough fuel to get to Newcastle so had to divert to Dubrovnic to refuel (remember this is a Dubrovnic Airplane) coincidence or what (check other reviews of Helios) to add insult to injury after we had our inflght meal which was inedible the free snacks offered with the bar service were out of date.we eventualey landed at Newcastle at 12 15 pm pleased to back alive. Please think carefully before using this airline they are an accident which has happened.
I have just got back from a two week holiday in cyprus which as usual was fantastic. All apart from the flights. In the past we have flown with Monarch and Cyprus Airways to Cyprus and had no complaints. But this time it was all change. We had booked a cheap holiday from the teletext and didn't expect it to be top notch treatment but we didn't expect to go through what we did. Well it all started with the booking. We explained that my daughter would be two the day we flew back from Cyprus and would that be a problem. At booking we were told no she would be free and could sit on our lap during the flight. We gave birth dates and names etc and all the tickets were issued. When we got to Gatwick Airport. We were told immediately at the check in desk that our daughter would not be allowed to sit on my lap on the flight home as the airline does not allow children of two and above to do so. They have to have their own seat. So we then had to go to the Olympic desk and find out if we could book her a seat on the same flight to come home. The lady there although very helpful couldn't tell us as she didn't have access to that information. We were told that the rep in Cyprus would be able to arrange everything and not to worry. Helios were just being petty. We then went back to the check in desk. Some of our cases were slightly heavy and it cost £80 for that. Finally we decided that we would go and chance that we would get it sorted out at the other end. This made me very down as I was worrying about what sort of problems we would encounter. Then it was time to fly! We were placed at the very back of the plane. Yes I know someone has to sit there but we had my son by the window then my husband then me with my daughter on my lap. Then across the isle three more family members. As we backed onto the toilets we couldn't move our seats back and had to sit upright for the whole fl
ight. Which made it very uncomfortable with my daughter also across our laps asleep. We hit terrible turbulence. I have experienced bad weather before but this was terrible. The plane felt like it was bungey jumping. The seat belt signs came on and all was not so nice. I couldn't sleep as the isle was so narrow that trolleys and people kept knocking into me. The food was a mushy yucky substance. We had plain spagetti with chicken stu an oily greek salad with a dry roll and a funny looking pudding which I never did find out the contents of. With tea and coffee. Then they brought round a small glass of Filfar an orange liquor that was awful but cured the dry sore throat the plain was giving me. The landing was also terrible as we landed in a thunder storm and bounced up the runway. Upon arrival we managed to arrange another seat for the flight home for my daughter at the cost of £80 cyprus pounds. As Helios still said that it was Olympics fault not theres and they wouldn't let her travel on my lap although she had done it already. How much does a child grow in two weeks? Going home the flight was delayed. The tv screens didn't say I had to walk right round to the boarding gate to find out. We were not given a reason. It was about an hour later when we finally took off. The engines roared then squealed then we went up, then a full tip to the left then up then a full tip to the right. I thought there was a problem with the plane and that we were going to land or crash. But no eventually we were up in the air and going straight. The food again was just as awful and I only had the coffee. On the way there the flight entertainment was a map of europe with a little plane going across it to show you where you were. For four and a half hours. Pretty boring. On the way back my father in law asked if we were getting a film this time and she said no that starts in a few weeks
we have the map again. OH WHAT JOY! Well it was when they had a problem with the tv screens and had to scrap the showing of the plane. Although the skies appeared to be clear and wonderful the turbulence was just as awful as on the way there. And as we came in to Gatwick for landing our ears were so painful it was unbelievable. I have never known anything like it. We practically nosedived onto the runway. And bounced up it. I felt like kissing the ground when we got home. And don't get me wrong I am not frightened of flying it was just this plane and company made it a real white knuckle ride. To top it all off when I got off the plane I heard the engineers talking about the wheels of the plane asking another member of Helios if they were alright now? It makes you wonder doesn't it. I won't be going with them again. And I suggest that if you fly to cyprus you check who you are flying with.
I recently flew to Paphos, Cyprus, on 'Helios Airways'. More correctly, I flew on the 'Helios Airways' aeroplane, as they only had one. The flight was something of an adventure in itself. I didn't take my own parachute but in retrospect I might have felt better if I had. For those who like adventure and dangerous sports I would certainly recommend this airline.
Several people have asked me if this is all true and without any exaggeration. I can assure you all that every scarey word of it is true. I still have nail marks in the palms of my hands to prove it.
Helios Airways Limited is a privately owned Cypriot Airline, (investors are Cypriot and Swiss, with the majority, just over 70%, being Cypriot). This airline is the first of its kind in Cyprus. It doesn't offer individual seat bookings, but trades by offering holiday companies cheap deals on charter bookings to Cyprus.
Our problems started before we boarded the aeroplane. The flight was delayed by four and a half hours and we were told that this was because it was late arriving from Paphos, Cyprus. Apparently it had to stop to refuel. This sounded a little odd, to say the least, because the total flight time is only four and a half hours. We were told that very strong headwinds had caused the problem.
When our aeroplane arrived on the apron, we watched through a window as this tiny flying machine positioned itself for us to board. It really did look small in comparison with the others parked on the tarmac.
Other passengers started making jokes about the pilot forgetting to refuel, or there being no room left on his credit card to pay for the fuel. We accepted the delay in good humour and were just pleased to be boarding at last.
We were ushered to our respective seats and greeted by polite and helpful staff. The plane was so old that it lacked reclining seats and there was no insulation between fusilage and cabin. For those of you who
know about 'vintage' aircraft, it was an old Boeing 737-400.
I was unfortunate enough to have a window seat and I could actually see condensation inside the double layer of glass. It was freezing cold and I couldn't get comfortable. There was no in-flight entertainment, apart from watching the cabin staff who were so smart that they really put their rickety old aircraft to shame.
Then the real fun began. I asked for a pillow and a blanket, as it was a night flight and it was so cold. There were no blankets but I was provided with a pillow. This caused a mini riot as everyone else followed suit and requested a pillow. There were only about a dozen available. Passengers complained about this for an hour or more afterwards, ( a little unscheduled entertainment!)
The single toilet at the front end of the plane was dirty just after take-off, so I assumed that it had not been cleaned properly before the aeroplane turned round to go back to Paphos. The smell was disgusting. This toilet was directly opposite the little galley where our food was being prepared. There was a second toilet at the rear and this was marginally better.
It was impossible to sleep because of the cold. Then a meal was provided. This consisted of a very oily Greek salad, some aubergines floating in oil, a dessert that was impossible to identify, and a stale roll. We were then given luke warm coffee. The complimentary glass of Filfar ( a Cypriot liquer made from oranges) was very welcome as it did warm us all up a bit. To be absolutely fair here, the menu was Cypriot food that had been pre-packed, but it was four o'clock in the morning and we'd already experienced a four and a half hours delay, so no one felt like sampling foreign fare.
A short time before landing the cabin crew began moving passengers from the front of the plane and reseating them at the back. This, we were informed, was to redistribute the weight. One or two pas
rs looked alarmed but we were informed by the cabin crew that this was because the plane was only half full and everybody was at the front. They needed to have the weight distributed evenly. By this time the whole thing was becoming like a sketch from 'Monty Python's Flying Circus'. Passengers were asked to move to different parts of the plane according to their size and weight. (I waited for the hidden cameras, but no one jumped out and shouted, 'You've been framed'.) The whole thing was becoming increasingly farcical.
As we descended through the clouds and got our first view of the Troodos Mountains, I recalled the logo on the tail fin of the aeroplane, 'Helios' the Greek sun god, but I also remembered those stories about Icarus who flew too near to the sun and melted the wax that held his wings on. Nothing would have surprised me at this point.
Eventually we landed at Paphos, safe and sound, but the flight was certainly not for the nervous! In retrospect the whole scenario was quite funny and would have made an excellent 'black comedy' sketch.
You can learn more about this exciting little airline at their website:
From Spring 2001 they were supposed to be flying a second aircraft, a Boeing 737-800, which apparently does have in-flight entertainment. However this didn't help me, or my fellow passengers at the time.
Helios fly from most UK airports including Manchester and Newcastle. In 2000 they claim to have transported 2% of the Cyprus leisure traffic and aimed for 8% in 2002. I don't know what they project for 2003/4 but I'm certain that I won't be included in the statistics.Watch out if you are booking a holiday to Cyprus that seems very cheap. Check if it's with Helios Airways unless you like the idea of such an exciting flight.
If you do fly with them, take a small pillow and a light blanket. You
might also benefit from something to eat and a flask of hot coffee.
This all sounds very bad, but do remember that this airline is registered with the JAA (Joint Aviation Authority) which controls aircraft sa
fety standards. (Our equivalent standard is CAA, or Civil Aviation Authority.)
On the plus side we had plenty of leg room and could actually lay down over three seats each, as there were so few people aboard. I can see this airline improving as they get better planes and I was certainly impressed by the smart and courteous staff.
The company we booked our holiday with is Sundial Travel. We bought the package through Ceefax and the company itself is based in Frimley, Surrey. This company offers lots of cheap holidays in Cyprus and I assume that the cheapest of them must have flights with Helios Airlines.
(I don't know exactly what the price for the flight would have been as it was booked as part of a holiday package but the price we paid was more than a hundred pounds less than it would have been with any other airline. The holiday was £224 for a week half board in a four star hotel so the flight must have cost about £25 by my calculations.)
If you do fly by Helios Airways you might consider taking your own parachute with you as it is doubtful that they would have enough to go round, (much the same situation as with the pillows!)
After the recent Helios Airlines accident a whole catalogue of problems have been revealed. Everything from technical difficulties with airconditioning to engine problems. Obviously, I don't have enough information on the operational problems encountered by this tiny airline to make judgements of any kind, but it is clear that they have encountered difficulties from the beginning.