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A Pox on Air France and BAA

Lunch in Southampton. Dinner in Luxembourg. Luggage in Paris.

I had an inkling that things were going slightly pear-shaped when the bloke on the check-in desk at Southampton didn't seem concerned that I only had an hour between one flight landing and the next taking off, and that I had to get from 2E to 2D at Charles de Gaulle *and* check in for the second leg (they couldn't issue boarding passes for the whole route, despite both legs having Air France codes).

I made it to check-in at 2D just as it was closing; my flight landed at 1930, and it took me until 2000 to get to 2D. Of course, it doesn't help that the flight from Southampton spends fifteen minutes taxiing to a remote stand on some far-flung corner of the airport. Checked-in and got through security by 2010, so made it to the gate just as that was closing.

Noticed that my colleague (flying from Manchester to CDG, where we were to meet) was nowhere to be seen. Dropped him a text, and found that he'd been waiting to disembark his flight for the last half hour. Not a chance of him making the flight.

Got to Luxembourg, unlike my luggage, which is still at CDG. I'm wearing a pair of black jeans and a black t-shirt with Richard Stallman on it (in a Che Guevara stylee). My suitcase had in it the elegant linen/silk summer-weight suit that I bought only this afternoon. The daytime temperature tomorrow is predicted to top 27C here.

Oh, did I mention that I've a project review meeting tomorrow morning at 9am?

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Eeek, my sympathies.

I hate CDG.

I have, in the past, spent considerable hours trying to find flight options that do NOT involve changing at CDG precisely because it has SUCH a bad reputation at baggage handling for transfers.


PS for a two day trip, would also have done as Martine suggested and travelled with handluggage only. Have travelled with a 9kg handluggage bag before without any problems which was enough for laptop and quite a lot of other stuff.

Hope you get your missing case ASAP.

I've not had problems at CDG in the past, so I can only assume that it was the fast turnaround on this transfer that caused the problem. My main gripe with CDG is that the distance between terminals can be excessive, even if each terminal is *relatively* compact (compared to AMS, that is), and Air France partner flights tend to be scattered across the whole airport (unlike BA at LHR, which managed to keep domestic to T1 and others to T4).

However, there's an issue with hand luggage on these flights. Neither plane carries more than sixty people (the CDG->LUX leg only carried about 35), and the overhead lockers are barely large enough for a laptop bag; the check-in staff at both SOU and CDG are very strict about the size of carry-on as a result. My case, while small enough to pass for hand luggage on 737s, 747s, A300s and A330s, is too big for hand luggage on these flights.

My lecturer last week told a story of how he was flying home from the US with (iirc) Continental and had to change in Chigaco or some such and the flight was delayed. But as he was just starting to get worried that he wouldn't make his connection, they tannoyed on the plane to ask him to make himself known to the stewards. He did and they said they knew his connection was going to be tight, so would he like to come and sit by the door and they would endeavour to get him off promptly so he had the best chance of making it.

When the flight arrived, two burly blokes stepped onto the plane and checked who he was before frogmarching him briskly onto the runway and into a golf buggy and instructing him to drive. As he drove along they jogged alongside and one checked his passport and the other checked his ticket and they took him straight to his next plane and frogmarched him up the stairs there, which were then taken away and the flight took off promptly.

On arriving back in the UK it dawned on him that his luggage was unlikely to have had the same treatment so he went to speak to the 'lost luggage' person to say that he was fairly sure his luggage was in Chicago. She said he couldn't possibly know that and would have to wait until all of the luggage had been unloaded and his hadn't appeared before he could complete a form. Just as he was getting irate about this the luggage carousel started up and the first bag out was his, which made the annoying woman all the more smug but certainly put the cherry on the top of a startlingly good customer experience!

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