December 2005


LIS-CDG-ATL-IND, in progress

Metro Warning
Originally uploaded by elmada.

As I’m writing this, I’m high above the Atlantic, somewhere between Ireland and, I suspect, Iceland. I cannot tell you exactly because I’m onboard a Delta 767-300ER, which lacks individualized IFE (in-flight entertainment), thus dooming all of us to watching “The Island,” a film of dubious quality based upon its description. This will be followed by, I kid you not, the “Bad News Bears.” Delta is certainly tops in entertainment this month!

As most of you know, I’m somewhat of an airport and airline geek—and since leaving on this trip, I’ve been in my personal geek airport heaven, having added LEJ (Leipzig/Halle Airport), PMI (Palma Majorca Airport), LIS (Lisbon), and CDG (Paris/Charles de Gaulle). Additionally, I’ve now added two airlines to my geeky record books: Air Berlin and Air France. Amazingly, I had never flown an airline that started with the word “Air” before—despite the fact that it is a fairly common prefix in the business.

I’ve also added the 737-400 officially to my record books, thus meaning I have ridden in all the old generation 737s, except the -100, which has always been a mighty rare aircraft.

The trip though CDG was one I was curious about since it has often been described as a miserable airport—and I always thought that miserable airports were dark, depressing, and cramped—say the old Northwest Terminal in Detroit.

I was wrong: Northwest’s old depressing terminal in Detroit was a pleasure compared to the light, airy, and industrial sheik Terminal 2 at CDG.

Along with my boarding passes for my three flights today, I was given a surprisingly thick booklet that was entitled something like, “How to connect from flight to flight at our enormous and poorly laid out airport.”

One cannot help but think that several forests are cut down each year as Air France tries to make sure its passengers can navigate their way through this mess and get to their connecting flights before they depart.

Fortunately my connection appeared to be one of the easier ones in the booklet, as I took the bus from the plane to Terminal 2D, then walked along a long corridor, through a train station, down another longer corridor with a broken moving walkway into Terminal 2E.

From there I walked across a large check-in area to reach the passport control and security checks, where I was asked not once, not twice, but five times for my boarding pass in less than five minutes: first by the person at the front of the queue for passport control, then by the immigration agent (the only legitimate request), then by the security guard at the front of the x-ray machine, then by the security guard after the x-ray machine who decided my backpack needed special attention, and then yet again by the person who ran the test on my backpack.

After security (which was a joke, but not as bad a joke as the TSA), I went to find my gate, E73, which was down several flights of stairs and had the world’s worst duty-free shop.

Yes, one combination Perfume/Liquor shop with a selection more limited than the duty free shop at the Leipzig Airport. I was looking for a couple items in the shop, but couldn’t find what I was looking for, so I bought nothing.

Of course, there is a legitimate reason for the bus-station nature of Terminal 2E: It was the terminal that collapsed a couple years back, killing several passengers in the process. The area I was waiting in appeared to be somewhat makeshift—and we were bussed to our plane once boarding began.

In the large non-USA airport category, it is safe to say that CDG is now my least favorite, followed by Heathrow and its incredibly complex terminal scheme. Amsterdam is by far my favorite: clean, simple, well laid out, and nice.

Follow-Up: I got to Bloomington at 12:30 Tuesday night–as in Wednesday morning. Today’s been good and busy. Many Lisbon Photos have been posted on Flickr, with more to follow!

5 comments to LIS-CDG-ATL-IND, in progress

  • ChrisC

    I found Heathrow to be fairly simple compared to Toronto. Toronto is a nightmare!

  • ChrisC

    Oh, and in the defense of my company, we’re not responsible for the movies on Delta.

    Now that they are in bankruptcy I wouldn’t count on an entertainment system upgrade on the fleet anytime soon.

  • I think, Chris, that you’ve only wandered around one terminal at Heathrow, and if I recall correctly, one that is relatively simple.

  • MT

    Geez, I thought the Island was kind of entertaining in a “I don’t need to think too much to understand this movie” kind of way.

  • mateo

    I’m just curious as to why in that picture of the metro warning, the doors are slamming shut on the dude’s crotch?! That’s just plain wrong in my book!