Unfriendly Skies, from Paris to NewYork


Ronni at Time Goes By just published a story very aptly titled Elders and the Unfriendly Skies. One of the reasons I hate taking planes is that for ‘security reasons’ you have to be at the airport hours ahead of time. If you think US airports are unfriendly, just try Roissy-Charles de Gaulle for a change.
When I took the plane to NewYork city, back in October, I booked for October 1st, I had to be there three hours ahead of time, and then they line you up like a herd of cattle, (a very large one, at that) with your suitcase, before you ever get to the boarding counter.
If they were organised, there would be a line for each destination, but I guess that would make the wait shorter, and that is not the idea, is it? Who cares about elders, mothers with babies, or anyone else for that matter?
And who cares about being efficient?
So I stood in line for two solid hours. I was lucky, because my daughter and her boyfriend were with me and kept my place in line while I sat once in a while. This was all done for one man to ask me if I had packed my suitcase myself.

OVer the clouds
I didn’t take this photo on the flight over to NYC, but when I flew to Manchester

When I got my boarding card, and my daughter had helped me put my suitcase on the conveyor belt (no one will help you there, unless YOU ask), I had to stand in another line for police security. And there again, everyone in the same line, wherever you went. After taking off my shoes, starting my laptop, throwing away my bottle of Evian water, I got to the other side long after my plane was supposed to have taken off.
They wait for you, I guess, which is another reason why planes are always late.

That wasn’t the end, since I had to walk through long corridors till I got to the boarding gate. There I had to board a bus, be jerked around as there were no seats available, to the plane and there, climb up the stairs. When I got to my seat, I was exhausted.
I was grateful that I had an aisle seat and that there was no one sitting next to me. But the idea of being cooped up in a space that is meant for someone the size of an eight-years old for six hours is anything but pleasant.
I loved my trip to the States, but am not sure I’ll ever go back. Too exhausting.

Incidentally, I cannot even remember which company I flew. Not that it would make any difference. Big companies are all awful and couldn’t care less about your comfort.

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17 thoughts on “Unfriendly Skies, from Paris to NewYork

  1. “…throwing away my bottle of Evian water…”

    I swear the airports are in cahoots with the bottled water companies. They take away any water bottle at security so you’re forced to buy another inside security at prices twice what you pay in ordinary markets.

    And they are probably in cahoots too with companies that make tiny personal care items. On one trip, I packed a normal-sized tube of toothpaste that was nearly empty, but they confiscated it. No liquid/paste/lotion item can HOLD more than three ounces according to regulations. It doesn’t matter that a larger one is partially used.

    I know how you feel, Claude, about not taking a plane again. After every one, I vow I’ll never do it again.

  2. I travel ALL the time, and let me tell you, the best airports are the smallest ones. Big cities, and the bigger airports have so many people, and so much trouble. Lines for this, and that.

    it used to be that flying was fun, romantic even. Now I just feel sub-human when I fly.

  3. Last October Walt and I went to New York. Our flight left Roissy-CDG at about 8:00 a.m. It was perfect. No lines, no waiting, very little hassle. And we arrived at JFK airport at about noon, when nobody else was arriving. It was all so easy. The early bird gets the worm. Go early and often.

  4. Claude,

    I have to agree with everything you said. We did have this discussion on Ronni’s blog. Flying is not what it used to be. Do you remember getting all dressed up and people taking your picture at the airport because they were so proud to know someone who was actually flying somewhere.
    I have found that Ken is correct in saying that the early bird gets the worm. If you can arrange to be on the very first flight out in the morning, your chances of getting in the air on time are greater. As things back up all day, by 5 P.M. you are the ones sitting on the tarmac for 2 hours.
    It’s true, flying is no fun anymore.

  5. Flying is so awful now. The thing that annoys me is that none of the measures they take with our luggage or ensuring that we don’t carry anything as subversive as a bottle of water or large bottle of shampoo on board is NOT going to stop terrorists if they really want to do something bad to a flight. There isn’t a detector invented that will screen for hatred. We should just drop all the nonsense. It doesn’t stop the terrorist. Wouldn’t it be great if we got back to common sense and courtesy when flying?

  6. I’m lucky. I mostly fly out of a smaller airport and the hassle isn’t outrageously huge.

    The last time I flew, between my jewelry and my shoes I set off the alarms! Who would have thought that the tiny buckles on my shoes would set them off? Trust me when I tell you that I wore different shoes when I flew back! lol No alarms! And another time when they x-rayed my carry-on bag, they saw a dark spot. It was my bottle of Diet Coke — seal unbroken and they let me keep it. The airlines now call hospitality 4 ounces of a soft drink and a minuscule bags of peanuts and I’ve taken to opening the latter and counting them and announcing how many are in the bag: “Oh my God! There are 11 — could they spare it?”

    Airfare is dreadfully expensive and I think we, the public, should protest tossing good, sealed bottles.
    We also should protest the lack of courtesy toward us.

    Flying used to be a pleasure — now it’s an ordeal. A bit of organization, consideration and courtesy could cure it!

  7. Hmm, interesting about Charles de Gaulle. I’ve always commented how “civil” they are flying in and out of there. When I was there in March, I didn’t even have to remove my shoes, like here in the US.
    Now I’m wondering if any of it has to do with particular carriers. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes for us into CDG in October.

  8. I am so in agreement. Flying is one big hassle these days and there seems to be a strong disconcern for passenger comfort. I love to fly out of our little airport, but the trip is bumpy and when I arrive in Los Angeles for the next plane, I am a nervous wreck from bouncing and dipping with desert thermals.

  9. We flew Air France to and from Europe last October. It was a good experience overall, but coming home, I had to remove my shoes and empty my purse and my suitcases for all to see. I never thought I looked like a terrorist – but maybe I did that day…..LOL

  10. I’m right there with you and Ronni….not loving the airport/airplane scene at all. I’ve been very lucky in the little bit of traveling I’ve done…but, I STILL can’t stand the hoopla. If it wasn’t for a couple of my kids living far away…too far to drive….I’d probably never fly anywhere. Airports are definitely NOT for elder people.

  11. In 2005 I flew first class to the US and back. I was using up some frequent flyer miles. Boy were my eyes opened. First class passengers don’t have to put up with any of that stuff the rest of us do. First, there’s that separate check-in with no lines. Then, the staff walked me to a first class only security line. No clothing needed to be removed, no bags opened. Just a quick pass through the x-ray for the bag and the metal detector for me. Then it’s on to the first class lounge with plush chairs, internet, and food and drinks. This was at London Heathrow. On the way back, at San Francisco, the staff walked me to the head of the boarding line and walked onto the plane with me, passing all the other passengers that were boarding. There were even separate first class immigration lines. And, once back in London, I went to the arrivals lounge and had a hot shower before getting on the train to come back to France.

    That’s how flying should be all the time. To bad it’s not. 😉

  12. Poor you, that journey must have been a nightmare – or rather the waiting either end.
    I was interested in the comment about special treatment for first class passengers. What if the terrorists get wind of this then?

  13. Love this photo of the clouds. Reminds me of a trip in a small plane my husband piloted and we had big fluffy clouds close in under us just like your picture. That trip from the midwest to the east coast was a delight, unlike any commercial flights I’ve taken recently.

    It isn’t just the seating in the planes that’s the pits. I recently had an extended many hour wait at the Kona airport on the Big Island of Hawaii. The only place to wait was outside, though not too bad given their weather that day. But, there was no way to stretch out on the benches, or to put my feet up as they had unmovable big rounded metal dividers between individual seating spaces. Hours went by and the seats never came remotely close to being full, so I wouldn’t have interfered with anyone else.

  14. thanks for the information about CDG — I’m planning a trip to England and then to France from England next year — you just helped me decide NOT to try to fly into France! I think I will try the Cardiff airport which is near some of my relatives in England —

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