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CDG Experience

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Wisconsin
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15 posts
5 reviews
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CDG Experience

This is my first post to the TA forums. I received so many useful tips from reading the boards before my trip to Paris, that I hoped I could pass on a tip in return. We may have had a string of bad luck, but based on our experience, I'd recommend arriving 3-4 hours before your flight from CDG.

My husband and I left Paris on Saturday (9/23) after a wonderful 10-day vacation. We were staying near the Arc, so we had opted to purchase a round trip Air France Shuttle ticket (20 euros per person) for our CDG transportation. We hopped on the shuttle at 10:00 AM and arrived at the airport around 10:45 for our 2:00 flight. It was a smooth, comfortable ride and I'd use the shuttle again without hesitation. It dropped us off at Terminal 2E/2F and we were close to our check-in area for NWA (KLM / Air France).

At ticketing, we had to enter a line of about 20 people, where our passports were scanned and we were asked standard questions regarding the contents / security of our luggage. From there, we waited in the line to check in at a computer kiosk and then finally another line to drop off our bags. The agent asked if we would consider checking our carry-on luggage, as the security line was lengthy and they were looking for ways to expedite it. We were carrying fragile gifts in one bag and a laptop and digital camera in the other, nor was either bag suitable for checking (a backpack and a weekend tote) so we declined, as it wasn't mandatory. It was about 11:25 AM when we left the line.

Then, we proceeded to the boarding line. It was about 35 people long at the time we approached. There were two security men checking boarding passes and passports as we approached. One of the men was arbitrarily pulling people from the line, insisting that they had to check their carry-on bags because they were "too large" and the line was "too long." Unfortunately, I made it through the line, but my husband was stopped. His bag was clearly in regulation size and each of us only had one bag each. Despite our pleas, the security would not let us through, so we had to return to ticketing.

The ticketing agents were shocked and didn't understand why he would have made us check the bag, but said they couldn't argue with security. They were very accommodating and helped us frantically repack the contents of my husbands bag into mine and checked his bag into a large plastic sack for protection. We had to return to the ridiculous boarding line again, where we saw people with several carry-ons allowed to pass through, others with bags larger than ours, and another person get pulled for the "you've got to check this bag" game. It was completely inconsistent.

From boarding, we entered the security line. We literally stood in the same place for 30 minutes. It was horribly slow and inefficient. We knew that we had to take a shuttle to the gate beyond security, so we were quite nervous about the time. However, there was a group of people on the same flight in the line with us, so we hoped that would help the situation. Once through the metal detectors and pat down, my bag was inspected once again by hand (as was everyone's) and we were finally sent off to the shuttle. The shuttle took us to the gate, where we arrived just 10 minutes prior to boarding.

As passengers started lining up for the second shuttle (to the plane), they announced that the plane wasn't ready and delayed boarding for 20 minutes. Needless to say, I was exhausted and frazzled by the time we actually got into the plane. I can't believe it actually took 4 hours to get us there.

It could have been a fluke or the time of day we were leaving, but I'd recommend allowing plenty of time for your departing flight.

Florida
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17,100 posts
10 reviews
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1. Re: CDG Experience

good lord. I hope this all eases up (or becomes more rational) soon. thanks for posting.

Garden Grove...
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3,195 posts
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2. Re: CDG Experience

CDG has always been a tough airport to get through. I assumed it would only get worse after this latest terror alert. For some reason they always appear to be understaffed or else there is a strike or something going. Last year we sat on the runway for 2 hours because of some sleet. CDG is not something I look forward to.

New York
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2,143 posts
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3. Re: CDG Experience

Hi Birdie06,

Thanks a lot for sharing your experience at CDG! I will go to Paris next week, and will make sure that we’ll arrive at CDG well in advance. :-)

Israel
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5,127 posts
51 reviews
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4. Re: CDG Experience

Thank you very much for sharing your experience with all of us. Your first post is not only very informative, but written in a way that it is easily understood . Welcome aboard the forum, Birdie06 !!!

Cape Elizabeth...
Destination Expert
for Portland, Antigua
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1,442 posts
167 reviews
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5. Re: CDG Experience

I am sorry to say that this is not unlike my last experience at CDG about 6 months ago. Although I have traveled through that airport scores of times in the past, this year's experience was one for the record books.

Like Birdie, we too made it through ticketing etc and into security before being told that my bag (and not my husbands, which I swear to you is the same size as mine----we bought them together to match) would not be accepted as a carry-on. Like Birdie, when we got back to the Air France desk, they expressed shock over this. It was indeed a bit weird, since we had just gotten off a different Air France flight where the bag was not a problem. I might add we were in first class, where on other airlines bags a bit oversized are not an issue.....although as I said, our bags had not been "oversized" according to Air France. We are talking about day-packs here.

OK, so I have dark skin...but did I really have to take my shoes off SIX separate times??? I was actually asked if I speak Arabic!!!! This is a particularly ironic question considering I am Jewish.

We barely made it to the plane. It was an altogether frightening and unsettling experience. I have been in 14 countries in the last 12 months, and this was the only place I had such an experience.

Cape Elizabeth...
Destination Expert
for Portland, Antigua
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167 reviews
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6. Re: CDG Experience

Oh, and just one last irritant........

The place where one gets Customs stamps was mysteriously closed---this on a weekday, during normal business hours. The lights were on, there was a sign in the window saying the staff would be back momentarily, but....nothing. For at least the three-plus hours we were at CDG. I am very fluent in French and inquired everywhere, but no one could say to where the Customs people had mysteriously dematerialized.

I had paid U.S.$500 for a pashmina at Loro Piana in Paris...a lot of money for a piece of cloth, but I knew I could get nearly $100 back on the VAT refund. However to get the VAT refund, one needs a stamp from the Customs place at the airport. There is no way around this...believe me, I tried. So the fact that some bureaucrats at the airport decided to take the afternoon off ended up costing me a lot of money that I had not planned on.

Tallahassee, Florida
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3,506 posts
13 reviews
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7. Re: CDG Experience

I will make a broader post with more questions later but my friend and I want to go on a trip this summer to europe. We are 5th year seniors in college and know this is our last trip before the real world. However, This situation would be a backpackers nightmare. Beyond nightmare. Especially on the way back if we had to check fragile items. I mean you can only carry so much with you and you only have so many bags etc. This would be like the worst thing ever. Is there any way to avoid this. Is this an air france thing? or a CDG thing? The flight into paris is cheapest and it makes sense to start there and move onto italy and than greece but for this hassle I am not sure. Also, does france have terror alerts? it would be nice to know what it is before flying. Going international is scaring me. But the fact they are being completely random on how they check people makes me more nervous.

paris
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624 posts
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8. Re: CDG Experience

This confirms what is posted on the Paris airports' website : due to specific security pocedures, passengers for the USA are advised to arrive at Roissy-CDG or Orly MINIMUM 3 hours before boardind time.

Those security procedures are a pain in an already congested airport

Boston...
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12,883 posts
12 reviews
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9. Re: CDG Experience

Well you can add this to the mix. Last Friday, when I left Paris through CDG, we were flying British Airways through Heathrow to Boston. When we got through Security, and I have to say that not only were there were no lines at either the check-in desk or at the security line at about 4pm, we looked at the monitors to see which gate we were departing from. All the other departing flights had gates listed. Ours didn't. So we asked on of the gate attendants. We were told B24. By this time, we had picked up an entourage of others wondering where they were leaving from as well. We all herded over to B24 and stood in line only to be told that it was B22. So we all herded over to B22 only to be told that it was B25 and so on and so on for about an hour. Needless to say we were all a bit frustrated. I only saw one or two people being "frisked", the female passengers by a female attandant, and really it was all quite orderly other than the gate glitch which we never quite figured out. But I still wonder why they built a concourse with no seating...

Paris (20th)
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10. Re: CDG Experience

Never had anything worse than a line queue to check-in at CdG - I fly in and out on average three times a year usually using either BMI Baby (a cheap, no frills airline) or BMI, have also travelled with easyjet, and BA.

However coming back from SAN FRANCICSO last week ... do the calculations we arrived 2 and a half hours prior to departure. Stood in a queue for check-in, then a shorter one for passport control. At security I got put into a special waiting area with some Chinese gentlemen ... when I got out the plane was boarding...

I spent 40 minutes waiting and being checked for explosive residue etc. - after asking I was told I my ticket was 'different', that it was because I'd changed my flight at some stage (not true).

My beloved ptegan had had time to get breakfast, look at the shops etc. your usual airport stuff. And love him even more dear reader because he saved me some breakfast :-)

Anyway, all this to say - this can happen at any airport on any day. If it is for our overall security we should accept it.