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

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

Aug 8th, 2005, 06:58 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 21,205
As an airline employee in Paris, I know all of the pitfalls -- and advantages -- of each terminal and airport in Paris, and the differences in ambience, efficiency and hygiene can be extreme -- just like at JFK, LGW, LHR, LAX or half a dozen other airports I could name. Most of these airports have been put together in bits and pieces over the last 40 years or so, and it can be quite different to arrive in the most recent terminal or the crummiest and oldest one. For those of you who think CDG is hopeless, however, there is perhaps reason to start hoping again. The Paris Airports Authority will almost certainly be privatized within the next year, and this will change the whole airport universe. There will almost certainly be all of the glitzy Starbucks, Sephora and Virgin Megastores crammed into every corner, because everybody knows that we are all at airports to shop and not to take a plane. As boarding on the A380's will be on two levels, you can even expect twice the shopping fun.
Oh, and don't forget that fares will rise even more for this, as the government will no longer subsidize the infrastructure.
kerouac is offline  
Aug 8th, 2005, 09:08 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 801
Ann1 has it exactly right.

We travelled through CDG on June 16. We arrived with an hour and a quarter to reach our Rome flight. We took a bus to the transfer point. We had 45 minutes to flight time. We did not make it. The 500 people who were waiting to get by the four indolent passport people probably did not make their connections either.

We were directed to an AF desk that had four harried clerks with a mob of irate people. One AF clerk told me "This happens to thousands of people each day (!)". We were able to catch a flight an hour later. Our luggage came in two waves in to Rome.

An unrelated experience later that week
with an AF charter CCM, Corsican Airlines, out of Rome, convinced me to never take that airline again(canceled flight, hauled back to Paris then flown to our original destination, Marseilles, nine hours late.)

I have been travelling for 50 years. This is the first time I ever missed a connecting flight or had a flight canceled.

If you are traveling through CDG leave at least 3 hours for connections. Even if they tell you that connecting gate is near arrival gate when you buy your tickets, they frequently change gates and NEVER for a better, closer one.
Powell is offline  
Aug 8th, 2005, 09:56 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
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I think anyone here will grin and bear CDG if his or her final destination is Paris. However, if ones final European destination is elsewhere, then why put up with it? Many other hub choices are infinitely more pleasant.
bardo1 is offline  
Aug 8th, 2005, 10:25 AM
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The halls where American Airlines and Delta come in seem very old. Yes, the lines are long (when departing) so get there early and beat the crowd. We got there 3 hours early and had no problems.

Our problem upon arriving was to find the ATM. As you exit the meet and greet area for American, the ATM is to your left by (I believe) an exchange window. It was, however, out of service. The next one (again facing out from the meet and greet area) is down the hall to the right, past the ticket counters, down an escalator, down the hall by la poste! (The Roissy bus stop is just past this escalator).
Ronda is offline  
Aug 8th, 2005, 10:34 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
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For those of you who want to negatively opine ad nauseam about the allegedly poor service you are receiving from the world's airlines and airports, suggest you visit www.airlinequality.com. There you will find an entire community of whiners and complainers with whom you can navel gaze (it seems a lot of that going on here lately!) and commiserate.

As for me, I think the airlines and the mini-cities known as the world's major airports are doing really a pretty good job in taking me to my final destination safely, securely (two separate actions going on here in commercial flight-one operational, the other, threat-based) and reasonably content, give or take a few flights.

And in 30 years of flying all over the world to every conceivable place, I've not had my baggage show up with me exactly twice (knock on wood). And even then, it arrived within 12 hours.

Spygirl is offline  
Aug 10th, 2005, 07:13 PM
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Oh, boy! Umph...umph...umph...Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Aug 10th, 2005, 07:16 PM
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I never heard of that website, Spygirl. Thanks for mentioning it. I guess you are familiar with it?
francophile03 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2005, 07:29 PM
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Hey, Bardo, was that what the poster was saying? NO. If you have a choice, then make it.
Gretchen is offline  
Aug 10th, 2005, 08:09 PM
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The travel editor for the New York Times just chose the Charles de Gaulle airport as the world's worst. Since I haven't been to all the world's airports I don't know for sure, but I suspect he's probably right.
Underhill is offline  
Aug 10th, 2005, 10:47 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 57
I've flown into CDG two times, and flown out of it 3 times. I've never had a problem. During a train strike, I had a 7 hour delay there, and I was fine. I sat down at a cafe, and had some food, and enjoyed being in France. Maybe i've just been lucky
Romulus is offline  
Aug 10th, 2005, 11:12 PM
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Posts: 511
I live in Paris and fly out at least twice a year. Orly is much worse than CDG. I choose my carrier so I can go through CDG. Your carrier of course determines your terminal which is the key to an agreeable flight. Terminal 1 is wonderful and the one to choose if possible. I had the malchance to be routed through terminal 2 once and yes it was a horror; long hallways, long flights of stairs and transfers on the tarmac.

Arriving early is the key; if I have baggage to check, I am there 2.5 hours before departure.
moxie is offline  
Aug 10th, 2005, 11:27 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
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I have flown often to Europe from Australia, and at the end of the trip, I particularly appreciate a speedy processing and exit from the airport. I have flown into Amsterdam, Frankfurt, CDG and Rome. Given any sort of choice, I'd take Frankfurt every time. Amsterdam is also good, but the Netherlands is often inconvenient for where I need to go. CDG has been OK as long as I did not need to make a connection there: then it has been problematic. Rome is my least favourite.
adeben is offline  
Aug 11th, 2005, 06:08 AM
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Unfortunately Air France uses terminal 2 solely. Maybe I should fly United again.
francophile03 is offline  
Aug 11th, 2005, 06:35 AM
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I would never voluntarily change planes at CDG. Arriving hasn't really been a problem -- but leaving, especially from that special corner of travel hell know as Terminal 1 is. Not only is it crowded, the staff rude, but the waiting area for the gates makes a bus station look good.
sfowler is offline  
Aug 11th, 2005, 07:18 PM
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Old saying:

Breakfast in Paris.

Lunch in New York.

Dinner in San Francisco.

Luggage in Buenos Aires.
RonZ is offline  
Aug 14th, 2005, 06:04 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,265
CDG is a breeze for a large airport. Compare it to some local hub and it is of course more difficult. I find JFK about the same as CDG and Chicago on the day I went was unpleasant because of the crowds but have only been there once.

If you miss your connection is it really that big of a deal? They just put you on another flight, big deal. If you miss your connection and are therefore arriving to late to your destination so that you cant board your bus, tour, train, cruise etc then thats your own poor planning. Missing connections happens, Its a part of air travel.
MorganB is offline  
Aug 14th, 2005, 09:59 AM
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I always thought that missing your connections would cause a huge mess that's why passengers try not to have this happen.
francophile03 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2005, 10:28 AM
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Often, missing a connection causes one to lose a day at their intended destination. Coworker did not connect to Paris and spent overnight at hotel near D.C. airport.

We missed a connection once because weather up north delayed our first plane by 45 minutes or so. When we hit Newark, our connecting plane had already closed their doors. We were rerouted to Heathrow within the hour, and arrived in Amsterdam 1.5 hours later than originally scheduled. Excellent recovery in my book, but it doesn't always turn out that way.

If one books tickets with a comfortable connecting time (an hour or more), and then misses connection, I don't think it is due to "poor planning".
Travelnut is offline  
Aug 14th, 2005, 10:40 AM
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I want to add that it's unfair to blame the passenger for missing their connections due to 'poor planning'. Many times it's out of our control these delays. For example, my plane was delayed for an hour at the gate due to late passengers. There were so many of them that the Air France crew didn't want to strand them all I guess so they waited. Something unforseen must have made these huge amount of passengers delayed, therefore, they were late to catch their connection (my flight). Now if I were connecting to another flight afterwards, I would have been delayed myself. Thank God I was just taking the flight to get home!
francophile03 is offline  
Aug 16th, 2005, 11:39 AM
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I didnt say that missing a connection was poor planning. I said, if missing a connection causes problems with onward non air travel then it is poor planning. Late planes and missing connections is part of air travel. People should keep that in mind when scheduling things that occur after their air travel is complete.
MorganB is offline  

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