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Airport Transfer Question: Teenager Solo Travel

Airport Transfer Question: Teenager Solo Travel

Jun 14th, 2012, 12:44 PM
  #1  
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Airport Transfer Question: Teenager Solo Travel

Our 15 year-old son will be flying roundtrip from Vienna to DC later in the summer. On his outbound he transfers through Schipol, and then through CDG on the return. Are there any unusual challenges we can anticipate? We travel often enough that he, and we, are comfortable with him flying solo; it's just that we haven't transferred through CDG in a while, and have never transferred through Schipol. Thanks!
fourfortravel is offline  
Jun 14th, 2012, 12:52 PM
  #2  
 
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No, there are signs to follow and all of them are in English besides the local language. Extremely simple, and of course there are people called "employees" in case additional information is required.
kerouac is offline  
Jun 14th, 2012, 03:13 PM
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CDG is a notoriously difficult airport to negotiate for transfers. Poor signage, long distance between certain terminals, poorly marked landside and airside shuttle buses, and not too many agents around to help.

There has been much discussion about the challenges of CDG on flyertalk. A tight connection there is daunting for experienced travelers and I can see how it could be confusing for a young teen.

Tell your son that it's critical to remain airside when he changes terminals so he won't have to go through security again. He should find out the gate of his connecting flight before going through passport control and follow signs to passport control and board the airside shuttle and his new terminal WITHOUT exiting the terminal where he lands. His best bet is to get clear directions from someone at passport control.
crosscheck is offline  
Jun 14th, 2012, 03:30 PM
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oops - typo. Here's what I meant to say:

He should find out the gate of his connecting flight before going through passport control. Then he needs to follow signs to passport control/his new terminal WITHOUT exiting the terminal where he lands. His best bet is to get clear directions to his airside shuttle bus from someone at passport control.
crosscheck is offline  
Jun 14th, 2012, 03:54 PM
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Look at airport maps. The AMS is a piece of cake. It is one building and Schengen to/from non-Schengen connections is clearly marked.

CDG is a different matter. It consists of many separate buildings. Look at an airport map. Many transfers force you to exit to the street level. Shuttle buses connect terminals, but there are multiple shuttle buses going to different terminals. You get the idea. I hope he has at least 1.5hr layover at CDG. The signages are very good. But that only lessens the complexity. You can "preview," but no ensure, just what kind of transfer he has to deal with by going to the CDG web site www.aeroportsdeparis.fr ahead of the trip. The departure gate assignment will not be posted until just an hour or so before the departure local time. Similarly you can find out "usual" terminal the flight from DC arrives at CDG. They you can look at the airport map to prepare of what kind of transfer he has to deal with.
greg is offline  
Jun 14th, 2012, 10:07 PM
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If he is a capable confident boy then he should be ok IF,, you make sure he has AMPLE time between planes,, there is nothing worse then trying to get to next gate in a short period of time and not being 100% sure where you are going exactly, ,, better to have him have to sitting in the airport(near the gate) and blow an hour reading or eating a snack, then have him trying to find next gate( or in case of CDG another terminal) in too short of a layover . A legal layover is like about an hour, but for CDG I would allow at least 2.. ( this assumes he is ticketed through on same airline) . I would post this on a flyer forum myself.
justineparis is offline  
Jun 14th, 2012, 11:40 PM
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There is no passport control for flights from Vienna -- it is a "domestic" Schengen zone flight so there will be no transit zone in which to stay.
kerouac is offline  
Jun 15th, 2012, 03:36 AM
  #8  
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Thank you. I assumed there were "employees" that could provide assistance, and the specific guidance and suggestions here are very useful. Our son is a newly minted Eagle Scout, wilderness-survival trained but has never had to practice those skills living in the metro DC area. (We're moving to Vienna next week and he is returning in August for a big Scout hike with his troop at Philmont.) Translation: I am a little concerned that he may be over confident.

He has 90 minutes layover at each CDG and AMS, and is ticketed through on the same airline. Looking at the "usual" schedule for that flight from IAD to CDG, he will land at 2E and depart from 2D.

I'm heading over to FlyerTalk now. Danke!
fourfortravel is offline  
Jun 15th, 2012, 04:16 AM
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This sounds a no-brainer but when he checks in, he should double-check that his bag is checked through to his final destination. Also, at his transfer airport, he should understand that he does not need to go to baggage claim. Obvious, but a mistake my niece made when she was 16.
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Jun 15th, 2012, 04:21 AM
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I presume that he will have his boarding pass already, so all he will need to do is get off the plane from Vienna and go straight through security and immigration at 2D -- that could take as little as 20 minutes (or a lot longer if there is a security jam, but in cases like that, employees come and yell out the flights that are running short of time so that the people can come to the front of the line).
kerouac is offline  
Jun 15th, 2012, 10:26 AM
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Thank you, Cathinjoetown. He's leaving his camping gear in the US and bringing it back with him after the hike; we didn't want any concerns on the outbound with lost luggage, and we'll remind him to confirm that his gear is checked through on the return, especially because his gear contains knives.

We'll ensure he has his boarding passes for both trips, too, and will alert him as to what he might expect in the event the IAD to CDG leg is delayed. Once he's in Paris, I won't fret nearly as much because at least he'll be on the right continent!

Thank you, everyone, for your insights and suggestions. Putting our son's return trip together, on top of preparing to fly overseas with our Foxhound in four days (and house hunt once we arrive), is taxing every travel-planning neuron that I have! I'll be sure to report back on how it all went!
fourfortravel is offline  
Jun 15th, 2012, 11:04 AM
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BTW, hope you love Vienna as much as I do and best wishes on your re-lo.
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Jul 20th, 2012, 04:00 AM
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I went interrailing solo at the age of 19, best time of my life. I recommend staying in hostels, i met some wonderful people in those places and ended up going to places i otherwise wouldn't have based on advice from people i met. I say go for it. Caution is a given, but have fun too!
ravenfox is offline  
Jul 20th, 2012, 04:18 AM
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On some airlines you can pay a fee for airline ground staff to transfer him. You might want to look into it.

And crosscheck is not completely correct. On his return he may not have the OPTION of staying airside.

I come through CDG somewhat frequently and have not been able to "avoid" going out into the terminal to catch my next flight thus having to go through security again.
lincasanova is offline  
Jul 20th, 2012, 08:33 AM
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You're right, Linda. My bad. I misread the original post and didn't realize that the OP's son was starting in Europe. Outbound Vienna-DC he should remain airside to clear immigration. For the return, he will probably have to go through immigration and security and then take the shuttle landside. (But his luggage will remain checked all the way through.)

But for all we know, the OP's son has already traveled, and all was well.
crosscheck is offline  
Jul 20th, 2012, 10:09 AM
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No problem. Many have said that it IS possible to stay in transit after passport control coming on from the US but I have yet to be faced with that option! ( At least as far as I can recall)
lincasanova is offline  
Jul 29th, 2012, 10:04 PM
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Wednesday is the outbound day! We found a house; and our household goods arrived a week ago so our son even had the chance to get his bedroom put together before he departs. We've been over and over the schedule--now there's little to do except get him to the airport.
fourfortravel is offline  
Aug 19th, 2012, 08:59 AM
  #18  
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To close the loop, for whatever it is worth. The transfer at Schipol was so uneventful that Teenager had time for a coffee. He did have to present his passport at Schipol again.

Returning from the US, the first hurdle was that Teenager left his passport at his friend's house, so they had to race to Dulles to deliver it. (He'll never forget his passport again, that's for certain!) Security was a bear, but an announcement was made to move Air France passengers through the "employee" security line to get to the departure gate on time.

Flight left IAD 20 minutes late and arrived late into CDG, with Terminal 2E arrival gate at the complete opposite end of Terminal 2D departure gate. Teenager jumped ahead of passengers queueing for passport control by announcing that his "flight was leaving in 10 minutes" and then ran to his gate in 2D. No efforts were made to move transfer passengers through otherwise.

In conclusion, he made his connection to Vienna, but his luggage did not. For the Air France second baggage fee of $100 we now get to wait until nearly midnight for his luggage to be delivered. All's well that ends well.
fourfortravel is offline  
Aug 19th, 2012, 06:28 PM
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Thank you for posting back,, its nice to hear how things turn out!
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