Allow time to transit Paris’ CDG

By Bill Scheiderich
This item appears on page 15 of the April 2016 issue.

My partner and I departed the Rome airport (FCO) for Seattle (SEA), with a one-hour layover at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport (CDG) along the way, on Sept. 25, 2015.
The FCO-CDG flight left 40 minutes late. The flight gate — whose number was not even announced until well past the scheduled boarding time — consisted of little more than a corridor in a lower level that led to a bus that took passengers to the plane. The bus made about four trips to transport everyone.
We arrived at CDG about 20 minutes past our scheduled arrival but were assured by agents at the arrival gate that all connecting flights would be held.
What followed was a 10-minute walk to passport control, where we waited 10 minutes in line, a 5-minute walk to a bus stop for a shuttle to the building with our departure gate (again, limited capacity on the shuttle and we waited our turn) and then a mad dash from the shuttle stop to the departure gate at the far end of that terminal.
Our scheduled departure for SEA was 1:30 p.m. We arrived at the gate at 1:25 to see the plane at the gate, with food and luggage being loaded, but the gate agent denied our entry, saying, “The door is closed.”
After pleading to be let on, as the delay was no fault of our own, we were shepherded to a desk, where another hour was consumed with rebooking and getting vouchers for meals and an overnight hotel stay.
The rebooked seats were not as desirable as those we had booked and paid for, as the next day was Saturday and few seats were left. (I was rebooked in first class, but, for my $6,600, I would not have requested a middle-row seat with no window.)
When we made it home, I heard from many friends about the impossibility of traversing Charles de Gaulle airport in less than two hours in order to catch a connecting flight.
The flights we took were on two partner airlines, but both were ticketed through the second airline, which had listed the itinerary I chose; I did not string together the connecting flights from scratch.
Travelers traveling through Charles de Gaulle airport should allow hours for any transfer. I have never before experienced such a ridiculous and inefficient layout and will avoid ever setting foot in CDG again.

Spokane, WA