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Charles de Galle Airport- the good, the bad and the ugly

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Aug 7th, 2005, 02:34 AM
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Charles de Galle Airport- the good, the bad and the ugly

Having vowed never again to fly into or out of CDG and reading about others perhaps we need to tell our stories.

Mine is very simple long lines, rude employees, smokers everywhere even though its 'nonsmoking' dogs( a whole other problem) delays beacuse the airport can't handle luggage, few and expensive places to eat You have to walk. Lots of stairs. Elevators might work if you are lucky. Scary early in the morning. Shuttle was packed and took a good 40mins to get to the plane once we got on

Rental car(Eurocar) was easy to pick up once I located where it was and the airport was easy to get out of.

It would be very difficult if you weren't fit and don't mind waiting.

Very interested in hearing what others have to say. Maybe some ideas on how to cope. Have something to eat with you.








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Aug 7th, 2005, 04:56 AM
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I have one tip -- listen very carefully. We were connecting through CDG and when we were leaving the plane, there was one announcement regarding transfers. I caught the very end of it and thought I heard a mention of a little bus terminal to go wait at. Hubby didn't hear any of it and thought we should get in line with all the other folks who were going through some sort of border patrol. For once in my life, I won an argument (he's an attorney...it really was the first win). Turns out I was right! If I hadn't been paying 1/2 attention to the announcement we would have missed our connection.
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Aug 7th, 2005, 07:53 AM
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We connected from JFK through CDG to Rome this summer and it was a nightmare all the way. Never again. It took forever to get off the plane, get on the bus on the tarmac, stop to have someone is some building look at our passports, back on a bus to another terminal, run for the plane and bye, bye, it is on the tarmac but we are informed we are too late. Now we are told we must wait 2 hours for another flight so our luggage can be transferred. You guessed it - we flew to Rome and so did my bag, but my husband's went missing. Essentially the same experience returning to New York. What a nightmare.........
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Aug 7th, 2005, 09:23 AM
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I've flown to/from CDG and connected through it quite a few times and don't agree with momkjc's comments that those are permanent features of CDG.

The long lines are not a constant, it varies by time of day, season and day of week, just like any international airport. I've had long lines there, but just as often short lines with little wait. I generally get through security there in less time than I do in my hometown international airport. Last time I flew out of there (July 6th this year), I only had about a 15 minutes wait to completely checkin.

Other airports have shuttles to get to planes, also, or other trams/subways, etc., that can take just as long. My plane had a shuttle this time, and it didn't take 40 minutes to get to it. I don't think smokers are everywhere, nor that the employees are any ruder than any other airport.

I basically think most airports suck big time in a lot of these dimensions, especially the big ones that handle so much traffic. They don't have a lot of good eating places at CDG, I agree, but I don't really care about eating much at airports, I've never had a reason to want to eat there, and almost all airports have terrible food.

I don't understand the complaint about "you have to walk". Well, yeah, to get from the counter to the gate where your flight is, you have to walk. I always fly Air France and that is a pretty short distance, much shorter than in a lot of airports where I've probably walked 1/4 to 1/2 mile between those two points. I thought they had escalators in most places, I know they do in the new ones (2E and 2F). Maybe I can't remember because it's only one floor (say in 2C from counter up to the gate area) and I only have carryons, anyway.
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Aug 7th, 2005, 10:01 AM
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Been through CDG a lot of times. I guess if you are never going to Paris again you can hold to your promise to never go to CDG again. I have found it to be EXACTLY like MANY airports anywhere--yes, you have to walk, yes the food can be expensive. Smokers were in their "place". We have experienced long lines--and no lines. We have found the employees to be quite mannerly and even formal--not rude. At any given time in an air terminal, there may be backups, lines, rudeness. Why paint with such a broad brush. Was this a one time experience?
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Aug 7th, 2005, 10:16 AM
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Who cares? Why complain?

An international flight plus the inconveniences involved are a neccessary evil in getting where you want to go.



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Aug 7th, 2005, 10:32 AM
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Even if you never want to go to Paris, chances are pretty high you'll have to connect through there on the way to somewhere else. The volume of business makes it relatively cheap (along with London, Amsterdam, and Franfurt) compared to airports with less volume and competition.
I guess I'm willing to put up with chaos in order to get a cheaper ticket.
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Aug 7th, 2005, 10:33 AM
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With six billion people on the planet (and growing), and many of them up in the air, you're going to bump into one or two of them where they come down.
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Aug 7th, 2005, 10:39 AM
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Well, it was nice to have a little discussion on CDG. I've never flown in or out of there and will be going to Paris in October.

I had read several comments about it being a nightmare, but now it just seems like any old airport to me - sometimes tolerable, sometimes not!
 
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Aug 7th, 2005, 10:41 AM
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And if you go in with lower expectations, you might possibly be pleasantly surprised.
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Aug 7th, 2005, 10:46 AM
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I find CDG more time consuming to get from one terminal to the other with the (in my opinion only) short connection time they give you. Last trip there the connection was between terminals 2C and 2D. The terminals appear close looking at them on the diagram, but if you can't walk quickly it can be a problem as they are not closely connected. Keep in mind you may have to use the stairs as escalators and elevators may be out of service. The flight from SFO to CDG taxied about 20 minutes before reaching the gate, thereby leaving us with about half an hour to connect. We walked quickly and ran as well after exiting our plane to get from 2C to 2D in time. I'd say this is about a 1/4 mi. distance, maybe less but it felt far. Maybe we felt more tired as we'd just landed after a 10 1/2 hour flight.

Also CDG is one international airport that deplanes and boards certain flights on the tarmac necessitating a shuttle bus drive to and from the terminal.

In addition, I can't recall if this occurs with other airlines, but when you're boarding Air France int'l. flights there is a secondary security check with people being pulled out of line randomly. This delays the departure of shuttle buses (if necessary).

The above are the only things that bug me about CDG. The smokers, lack of seating in certain areas, lack of dining places, and toilets that are out of order I can deal with.
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Aug 7th, 2005, 11:38 AM
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Have been through CDG numerous times - and it seems to me to have the problems of every other large ariport - not much worse then ORD or LAX or JFK. The only thing worse I have noticed is the smoking - and even that seem to be getting better.

My only really bad experience was when we landed one weekend when the US had gone back to regular time - but France hadn't yet. So we were landing at 7am - but it was 6 for them - and the immigration booths were't staffed up yet. Also, a flight from Africa had landed at the same time - and most of the passengers seemed to have suspect/bad papers - so it took us about 1.5 hours to get through immigration.

(Eventually they separated the passengers from the "problem" flight to avoid their holding up everyone else - as more and more US flights landed and passengers got stuck in the huge line.)
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Aug 7th, 2005, 12:24 PM
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As described, Zürich Airport is easy to reach and well-marked.

I have flown in and out of there a few times, and found it much more user friendly than other places.

Give the choice presented in the original question, I would go with Munich.

For added information, the airport at Geneva is also served by the sBB trains.
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Aug 7th, 2005, 01:07 PM
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And these cities are so convenient to Paris. ;o)
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Aug 7th, 2005, 06:37 PM
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I dunno, I think all airports have their own share of problems. My very worst experiences were in Sao Paulo earlier this year, and they were waaaay worse than any other airport horror stories I had amassed (not many) combined. Now there, you need to be fit as you run from terminal to terminal, trying to get to your plane despite signs that don't match up with people's instructions (if they are helpful enough to give you instructions at all).

When I flew in & out of CDG last year, the only really bad thing I experienced was the packed, slow shuttle. Everyone on the shuttle--French, American, whoever--was annoyed, but we managed to find humor in it all. On my way out, I had exceptional service from the check in agent and the baggage clerk and I almost started crying as they waved to me and said, "Bye bye, Meliiiiiissa! 'Ave a nice treep!" See? Every experience is different.
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Aug 7th, 2005, 07:05 PM
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Be thankful you aren't flying through Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (from www.sleepinginairports.com):

"I can only imagine that this place was safer when the Americans and Japanese were bombing it in world war two. never mind the lack of places to sleep, terrible food prepared by halfwits and eaten by roaches and mossies before you get to it, toilets that make the 'black hole of Calcutta' look like the Ritz. I could handle that. What I couldn't handle was the shoot-out which happened in the terminal between the cops and a local gang which resulted in 3 dead youths, 1 dead cop and 2 dead airport workers who happened to be standing 10 metres from me. After that I just got on the next flight out no matter where it was going. Avoid at all costs."
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Aug 7th, 2005, 07:12 PM
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Hey, guys, if I'm goin' to Paris, I'm not flying to Geneva,Zurich,Munich UNLESS there is a TERRIFIC fare deal. I can put up with lines, smoke, and whatever this poster has brought up--but I will be in the hotel in Paris within at most 3 hours. PLEASE.
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Aug 7th, 2005, 07:34 PM
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Gretchen, I'm with you!
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Aug 7th, 2005, 10:29 PM
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DixieChick, that New Guinea blurb puts the matter in perspective.

I've never been able to get that excited about one airport versus another. I've been to dozens, but I don't really distinguish them much. The good thing about very small airports (at least so far) is that you get your luggage right away.
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Aug 8th, 2005, 05:07 AM
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I can not understand why Air France insists on such a short change time. I know so many people who have missed the connection and put on a later flight. It's expected now. Wouldn't it be easier if they had someone to schedule flights with the proper time.
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