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CDG - a second-rate airport to avoid

Del Mar, CA
Level Contributor
33 posts
31 reviews
CDG - a second-rate airport to avoid

Another connection through CDG and yet another trip that keeps me wanting to avoid this place:

1. Poor quality HVAC throughout the terminals.

2. Only 3/10 passport control lanes were open for several hundred non-EU passengers. Like most government employees, they moved at one speed - slow (and not because they were doing any real scrutiny of passports due to recent event). This caused many/most of us to miss our connecting flights.

3. Poor number of resuraurants to choose from, both casual and "sit down."

4. Inadequate seating throughout the terminals.

5. A general lack of charging stations for laptops and cell phones.

6. Louse WiFi in public areas. There are a number of "Espace Business" areas that have free internet access terminals, faster WiFi and charging outlets once you register with an e-mail address - if you can find an open seat.

7. A sprawling, "expand without a master plan" feeling to the terminal layout.

If you do have to pass through and don't have an EU passport, allow at least two hours for transfer headaches - even if Air France thinks it will only take 45 minutes. They are delusional.

14 replies to this topic
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
58 posts
8 reviews
1. Re: CDG - a second-rate airport to avoid

I second the report of appalling queues at CDG immigration. I arrived on an early flight from FRA on a Saturday recently and a 4 person wide double queue stretched many yards back down a narrow corridor lined with closed shops. No information which side of the queue was for what, no way to see ahead,no help for the elderly or those with children. Will avoid whenever possible in future.

Level Contributor
9,452 posts
93 reviews
2. Re: CDG - a second-rate airport to avoid

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Champlon, Belgium
Level Contributor
9,113 posts
5 reviews
3. Re: CDG - a second-rate airport to avoid

The EU recently, and suddenly, imposed a requirement that the passports of EU citizens entering the Schengen Zone should be scanned instead of just being given a cursory inspection as previous. This requirement, apparently introduced as an anti-terrorist measure, hugely increases the average time for the processing of all arriving passengers (other than those arriving from intra-Schengen airports) since effectively everyone is now processed in the same way and it will inevitably take time for extra resources to be trained, equipped and deployed to reduce waiting times back to their previous level. There is an inevitable tendency for returning nationals to be given some sort of priority because they have votes, incoming tourists don't.

Level Contributor
11,226 posts
3 reviews
4. Re: CDG - a second-rate airport to avoid

Who cares? You live where I do you go to CDG. Elsewhere we seek Orly flights first.

Level Contributor
643 posts
35 reviews
5. Re: CDG - a second-rate airport to avoid

Sorry to hear about your negative transit experience. CDG is Europe's second-busiest airport after LHR and handles about 1/2 million flights per year. At which terminal were you in ? CDG1 or other ? I agree that CDG1 is "different" to the other terminals as it was opened over 40 years ago, in 1974 (and nothing much has changed ever since). I travelled through CDG2 last week (up and down) and found that there was enough sitting space, enough plugs, enough restaurants etc and security and immigration was flowing as one would expect at an international airport of this size.

Level Contributor
643 posts
35 reviews
6. Re: CDG - a second-rate airport to avoid

>> becasse : I agree. That said, FYI, returning nationals with a biometric passport can go through the "self service" fully automated immigration entry/exit process at CDG called the PARAFE ( Automated Fast Track Crossing at External Borders) which makes it much easier and less time consuming.

Under certain conditions a non French national can also register for PARAFE. See all the details here :


Paris, France
Destination Expert
for Paris, Loire Valley
Level Contributor
24,374 posts
4 reviews
7. Re: CDG - a second-rate airport to avoid

CDG is slighter busier than FRA, the two of which are about the same size. However, FRA does not have the delays at Immigration that CDG has. FRA doesn´t even have the crowd handling capability at passport control that CDG has because FRA doesn´t have crowds at passport control which need handling. FRA can process passengers, CDG shuffles them through endless lines.

The seating areas in both terminal 1 and terminal 2 are significantly deficient in comparison to that of other major airports of the world. Brasserie Flo in terminal 2 is probably to only real restaurant at CDG, the rest sell sandwiches and cups of espresso.

I do like the architecture of the terminals at CDG, as long as the buildings themselves do not collapse, but the operation itself is indeed world scale second rate. From Immigration, to security, to customer check-in CDG is inefficient and poorly organized.

American Airlines recently warned their passenger the show up 4 hours before scheduled departure due to lines at Immigration and security. At what other airport in the world does an airline tell its passengers to show up 4 hours before scheduled departure?

If I could, I would completely avoid CDG.

Atlanta, Georgia
1 post
8. Re: CDG - a second-rate airport to avoid

Avoid CDG connection.

I wanted to share the most recent experience with CDG, certainly not my only one but the recent. I was traveling from Moscow to Atlanta with CDG connection on March 15, 2018. With Aeroflot, but they could not give me the registration to a different airline, that supposed to be AirFrance, told me to go to the "transfers" counter for all information and further registration. Upon arrival to CDG I stepped to the transfers desk, and showed my booking number. The person told me that he does not see my flight on his screen and told me to go to the L terminal desk #21. That was a far way to go, but I took a bus and traveled 4 stops, got of on L, walked down many gate desks, found 21 and guess what: nobody was there. Being already a little hi on tension ran through entire terminal to find any live body, regardless of the airline affiliation at the desk. After being bumped by different people different places found one desk with live person under Air France sign. There was a line, stood for a while until I see my flight time is coming in about 30 min and had to politely ask to find me, where do I being, what flight. I was told to stand in line. There were few other people in the same position with one being extremely vocal, demanding supervisor and his poor English hyped him even more. Finally a women at the desk simply took all of us who "missed the flight" (and I had no knowledge which flight and whether I missed it or not at the moment since I did not get to know what flight I was supposed to be) took us through the all airport back through all security to the front counter at the entrance of the air port to the Air France desk. dropped us there and left. So, the people at that desk told me that actually I was supposed to fly by Delta and of course I already missed that flight and they are trying to arrange with Delta to find me a seat on any following flights that day, which was finally done after about 1 hour. I thanked these people, and caught the flight to Atlanta, but of courses mu luggage was late 2 days, which is not a big deal.

One little thing would fix this mess, in my view. The transfer desk person should have all information that ticketing and registration desk people have, so he could tell me what airline I need to go to for my check in . Instead he just sent me to the goose chase, to a desk which he thought might have someone else to help and got rid of me. I think this is the root of the problem with CDG, and not its topography, transportation arrangement, or flight load.

Avoid CDG for any connecting flights.

Portland, Maine
Level Contributor
1,081 posts
52 reviews
9. Re: CDG - a second-rate airport to avoid

<<Avoid CDG for any connecting flights.>>

I definitely try to follow that advice. The last 2 trips to France, when I did flight searches I would eliminate any flights that connected through CDG or LHR. Three years ago it meant going through Iceland, last year it meant Amsterdam, and next month it will be Munich. But I will fly into CDG if I'm taking a train from there or renting a car. But not if I'm connecting.

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
28,871 posts
95 reviews
10. Re: CDG - a second-rate airport to avoid

for many years when we traveled to Europe we would finish with a week to two months in Paris but then add a 3 day sojourn to Amsterdam, which is a terrific 3 night town and also has an efficient airport. We would fly out of Amsterdam on most of our trips. And we never do connections through CDG. Last time I needed a connection to the east I traveled through Vienna which was stunningly efficient.

We have half a dozen absurd horror stories of CDG. On one occasion the check in clerk didn't tell us our flight was from a remote terminal reached by bus -- luckily we walked by the gate to know where it was and were met by a clerk there who told us we had to board the bus immediately or miss the flight (we had 90 minutes and had intended to grab breakfast). We then sat in that bus on the tarmac in a huge traffic jam for 30 minutes at which point the bus driver drove out of the line backwards and then around a hangar backwards to get us to a clear path to get to the distant terminal where we literally boarded immediately -- no time for the head or coffee. Kudos to the bus driver, but what an idiotic system.

On another occasion we waited for half an hour in the check in line for American Airlines and then personnel usherd a line of about 100 people to the front of that line delaying us another hour. We came extremely close to missing our flight on that one as security was also very slow; they closed the door the moment we got on the plane. Again no chance to grab coffee or the head -- and we were the check in line 3 hours before the flight.

A year and a half ago I arrived at security with a recently surgically repaired elbow packaged by the doctor for flight -- security made me disassemble the cast/bandage and then were nasty snarling wolves as I tried to put things together and manage my. briefcase and coat and such with one arm. I was stunned at how vicious and unhelpful they were since I obviously was disabled and struggling and trying to keep out of the way of those behind me. Over the years we have encountered every possible french stereotype of rude boorish unhelpful customer service -- pretty much only at CDG. The French people we have encountered almost everywhere else from Paris to the Riviera have been perfectly competent and lovely for the most part; CDG is full of their very worst.

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