CDG Airport woes

From a May-June ’05 trip to Europe, here are two caveats.

1. Beware of the short flight connection.

My wife and I decided to use up our Skymiles before the airline went bankrupt, so we organized a 3-week trip to Ireland. It was too late to get a direct flight, but a young lady at Delta worked diligently with us and finally found a way to get us from Daytona Beach to Atlanta to Newark to Manchester, where we picked up an Aer Lingus flight to Dublin.

The only foreseeable snag was on the return, which could be managed only via Paris. The itinerary showed a one-hour connection time between arrival from Manchester and departure to Newark. This bothered me to the point of twice calling Delta and twice being assured that this was a “good” connection.

Of course, the inevitable happened. Air France was 30 minutes late out of Manchester, flights were stacked over Paris and we were left with insufficient time to negotiate the tentacles of Charles de Gaulle Airport. As a result, we had a dreary overnight in the Hotel Ibis in Roissy followed by more rescheduling the next day as the plane to Newark was two hours late!

An hour was NOT enough! I suggest a check, check, check policy.

2. If possible, avoid Charles de Gaulle International Airport.

This was not our first experience with CDG, and from our fairly wide experience of the world’s airports we would say that this is the world’s worst.

The arrivals level has no connecting flight information either on screens or with personnel, and departures are on a different level. The terminals are set out in an elongated oval and served by a shuttle bus, provided you are going the “right” way. To get from Terminal B to Terminal A takes a 20- to 25-minute bus ride around every other terminal. Now, we saw on the map that there is a connecting walkway between the two terminals, and our bus even passed it twice, but no personnel whom we asked seemed aware of its existence.

Check-in areas are along main concourses and thus impede each other, especially as this airport is super security conscious and has long lines.

Some international flights leave from a circular area at the very end of Terminal A where there is no escalator or elevator to the upper departure area — too bad for people with wheelchairs!

To avoid this convoluted mess, I suggest flying to Orly or to another airport closer to your destination. Anyplace but CDG.

Ormond Beach, FL