Charles De Gaulle Airport

The French have an airport in Paris that is named Charles De Gaulle. They should take bulldozers and level this place and then start over with a design that was developed before anyone gets to the wine table. I flew into This maze on Saturday the 9th as part of my trip to Scotland. There was an hour between the time I landed and the time the next flight was supposed to leave. In every airport I’ve ever flown through this is sufficient time to make the connection. The French had different ideas.

When we landed our plane unloaded into a big bus that elevated to the door. Then, when the bus was full, it went to a terminal and raised up so we could unload into some kind of tube that looks like part of a Habitrail. Then, we had to go through airport security despite the fact we had not been out of their control. We got through and beat feet to the gate with 15 minutes to spare, but one minute s’il vous plait. The gate was only a place to catch another bus to go to the plane. Some French lady was there chatting on the phone and ignored us. Finally my Co-worker asked where the plane was and she said you missed it. He informed her that we had 15 minutes left and she said that we had to be here before that to catch the bus. Perhaps when the jackasses sold us the $3000 plane tickets they could have built in a little time to actually do that. It is pretty hard to catch a plane when you have to taxi across France to get to the bus and then go through security again to catch another bus. If I wanted to take a bus I would have called Greyhound!

Well, we had to go out of the terminal area and re-book the flight to a later one which was 9 hours away! So now we get to stay in the CDG airport for 9 more hours after the pleasure of going back through security. We stayed in the Air France lounge and ate their food and drank their coffee for free so that made it better economically, but for some reason the French have not heard about the second hand smoke issue. Though I am skeptical about all the damage second hand smoke is supposed to cause, I know it is not wise to have an unvented building full of smoke to suck down all day long. Everywhere we went there was smoke. I thought the airport was on fire (which would have nixed the bulldozer requirement). When we finally got to board, you guessed it, another bus to go to the plane the lady stopped us and said we did not have the correct boarding documents. She said they did not do it right at the ticket counter. I looked at my co-worker and said there would probably be an international incident if she did not let us on the plane. She printed the correct documents and we went to board the bus.

The rest was uneventful and I have to say the flight attendants are very pleasant. They even serve a meal on the short flights. Delta is going bankrupt serving peanuts and Air France is serving food on short flights. On the way back we had another problem but this time two very nice French women helped us out. We had an hour and a half to make the connecting flight and figured we could do it. Besides, our travel folks did not seem too interested in trying to change the flight using the logic that there was another flight 2 hours later if we missed the scheduled one. Great plan unless that one is full and we end up in CDG for 9 more hours.

We traveled British Airways from Edinburgh to Paris. The BA lady said she could not check our bags through so we had to claim and re-check them in Paris. Trouble in the making! We arrive in Paris and taxi for about half a mile before we get on the bus. We then ride across France to get to the terminal. We waited 30 minutes to get bags and ran to check in. They told us the flight was closed and that we needed to re-book. We still had 45 minutes before it departed. When we went to the ticket agent she went into super French mode and said that she would fix things. I heard her on the phone and even though I speak little French I understood her saying the flight was delayed. She ran us to a check in person (the other person in France who was actually working) and she got our bags down the chute and the first lady ran us to the head of the security line and down to the gate where there were at least 20 people still waiting to get in. We made the flight and as amazing as it might seem our bags made it too.

The French have a 35 hour work week designed to create more jobs. You still need the amount of work done but they have fewer hours in which to do it so more people need to be hired. For every 7 employees a company has they would need one more to make up the lost hours. This, by the way does not work. France has a double digit unemployment rate. My point is, it seems the airport was designed with the “give everyone a job” mentality. There is a bus to and a bus from so you need two bus drivers. There are security checkpoints where you do not need them so there are more security people. There are people in the ticket re-book booth and the way this place operates you need a few people there (where the two hardest working people in France saved us). The design does not lend to efficiency and I have decided that I will not travel through there again. I would rather have a lay over in Baghdad than fly through Paris.

There is a movie I believe entitled Terminal. It is about a man who lives in the CDG airport because he does not have a passport and no one will claim him. Don’t believe it. This guy has been trying to get his luggage and catch a flight for all these many years. If you ever see him tell him to go to the counter and ask for Bentrice (sp). She will get him out of there!

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