Thursday, November 24, 2005

CDG - The World's Worst Airport?

I have sufficiently recovered from the trauma of dealing with French hospitality workers last week to frame some thoughts about the whole experience.

Even though I have travelled a great deal, this was my first trip to Paris where I actually arrived from an international flight and departed the same way. I had heard stories about how unfriendly French service could be, but nothing quite prepares you for the sheer rudeness and hostility.

The contrast between Changi Airport in Singapore, Schipol in Holland, even Vancouver, with CDG is quite staggering. If you want to make a space that is inimical to human beings, go to Paris and spend 10-15 minutes in CDG - all will be revealed.

My "favourite" part is the fact that there are no signs indicating which airlines depart from which terminal. That is a really nice touch, almost guaranteeing that you will be privileged to ride on the airport shuttle buses, driven by people who's prime purpose in life appears to be the tormenting of their passengers.

The airport itself is constructed of gray, raw concrete which adds to the sense of being abandoned in a waste land. There are lengthy escalators and walkways to get to the gate, devoid of any shopping or places to rest or eat. The lounge was really nasty with filthy chairs and extremely poor food service.

It was a relief to finally get on the aircraft and back in the hands of SIA. The sounds of the door closing on the aircraft promised an end to the nightmare until there was a sudden commotion and much rushing about. A member of the ground staff had neglected to leave the aircraft, and the gate had to be summoned to re-connect the jetway and let him off. Truly a French farce.

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