Posts filed under 'paris'

5 Reasons Air France is the WORST

Just Say

  1. Their food sucks.   I’m not sure how a French airline sucks at croissants, but they do. I mean your flight is coming directly from Paris. How do you even find croissants that bad in France?! If I was French, I would have to quit my stewardess position as it would be unethical for to hand out such an abomination of an excuse for the pastry of my people. I could get a better croissant at Lidl in Aberdeen. And I won’t go into depth…but a “Radish and Pesto” sandwich? WTF is that? And where the hell is the Coke Light? No one likes Coke Zero. Give me the good stuff damn it!
  2. They are always on strike. It’s like everyone decides it would be a great time to go to Ibiza and so they just schedule a strike….like every other month. They apparently make it known their dates of holiday strike, but unless you’re getting French news, you’re not going to know about it. Because they still let you book flights on the days there will be a strike and don’t bother sending you an automatic email of their current holiday strike plans. And then they wait until the day before their holiday strike and they email you letting you know your flight has been cancelled- no guarantee to get you out, but give them a call and they’ll see if they can figure something out. What type of policy is that?! It seems airlines have no problems blacking out days of travel, why not start blacking out the days all your employees are going to take off?!
  3. They approve you for the shortest, stupidest, most unrealistic connection times that there is in no way possible for at least (if not more than) 50% of travelers. See: people over the ager of 50, people with children, people with carry on bags without wheels, people who aren’t aerobically fit enough to run a 5K at at least a 9:39 min mile pace. My last connection left me sprinting through Charles de Gaulle, boots and winter jacket in hand, trying not to slip on their stupid floors in my socks, not even getting a chance to see what the seasonal macaroon flavors are from Lauduree. If we weren’t Priority Access which allows us to cut some security lines (and weren’t runners), there is no way in hell we’d make half our connections. And last time, despite the fact that we made the connection, our bags didn’t. And this isn’t a one-off occurrence. I actually cannot remember the last time I didn’t have to SPRINT through Charles de Gaulle. At least carpet all your floors so I don’t have to worry about tearing an ACL on top of my worry of making my flight.
  4. Which brings me to #4. Not 100% an Air France problem, but because their hub is Charles de Gaulle, it goes into the pile of hatred for Air France. The flight to Aberdeen from Paris leaves from the same terminal every time. It’s always a little commuter plane, and you always have to take a shuttle bus out to walk up into the plane. I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve (sliding into the line at the next security check point (whether that be passport control or a full on security screening), panting, sweating, and totally unnerved at the fact I am going to miss my next flight) and the airport employees brush me off. Every time I find an employee and explain to them that my flight take off time is in 20 minutes, they look at the gate number and tell me that it’s fine…the gate is right down the (slippery, tiled) hall, I’ll make that flight after standing in hellacious line. I then try to explain to them that no, I have to take a bus to the actual plane, the last bus leaves 15 minutes before the take off time (if I’m lucky, sometimes the last bus leaves 20 minutes before take off time.) Whether it is the language barrier (doubtful) or just the fact they are unaccommodating assholes, they don’t seem to understand this and just do a half-ass reassurance that I’ll be fine…not letting my skip to the front of the line. Do you know how hard it is for E to restrain me from finding that ass clown and absolutely freaking out on them after we miss connecting flights because the last bus already left?! I’m going to start taking pictures of them, hiring a PI, and sending them dog shit in the mail. Charles de Gaulle employees are the absolute least helpful, least sympathetic, and quite frankly seem to lack any moral compass or soul when it comes to the 3 minute difference between making a flight and not making a flight. Even when I am doing all in my power running through airports, hurdling luggage and children, and not eating macaroons. And what’s most frustrating is that I actually haven’t missed my flight…my flight is still out there waiting to take off…but I missed the last bus out to my flight. Which for some reason they can’t figure out a system to have a little backup van waiting or just arrange for another shuttle to take the 3-10 people out to the plane. I won’t even get into the massive dudes with machine guns walking around and being sequestered in little parts of the airport with 5 people per square foot for security lockdowns that seem to happen with alarming regularity…. No lie, on one connection we got put on lock down 3 different times on the way to our gate. But because there were 15 people held up in that- they arranged for an extra late shuttle.
  5. The accommodation they provide when you miss your connecting flight…or more likely, miss the shuttle bus out to your connecting flight. After we have been traveling all day (2 or 3 flights in Turkey to get to Paris) and then they wouldn’t let us cut the line or provide another bus to take us to our taxied plane, they give us vouchers for a hotel and dinner and directions to another shuttle bus to take us there. Despite the fact that our luggage is in the airport (because if you didn’t make the flight, your luggage sure isn’t), they can’t give it to you. So you get on the 20 minute shuttle and check into your shitty, shitty hotel (Ibis I think?) where they don’t have any simple hotel amenities (like a free toothbrush or a kiosk to buy contact solution), and E has to wander from hotel to hotel in the area collecting the essentials because you’re in the middle of nowhere with 0 stores of any sort. Then you eat from the weirdest and probably most disgusting buffets you’ve ever encountered (only made more disgusting from the fact you smell like a whirling dervish who has raged for 24 straight hours) and head back to your room to get out of your smelly clothes and shower, thinking you’ll just sleep/lounge in the towel (heaven forbid there is a bathrobe here) while you hand-wash your unmentionables and then use the 1 Shetland-pony-powered hair dryer to try and dry them for tomorrow…. only to discover the towels aren’t even big enough to wrap fully around you and the hair dryer smells like burning. UGGGGGGGH.

air france devil

Seriously. Air France is the worst. You’ve been warned. If you have the option to take an Air France flight, or ANY OTHER FLIGHT IN THE WORLD, take your chances elsewhere. I mean, I think Malaysian Airlines would probably be a better bet at this point.

Do you have an Air France horror-story to share? Or any other airlines you suggest I avoid in the future? I wanna hear em!

Weekend in Paris, post attacks

My tickets were booked for a girl’s weekend trip to Paris months ago. When exactly a week before I was set to depart, Paris fell victim to terrorists attacks happening across the city killing 130 people, there were a lot of concerns on if I should continue with my trip as planned. My mother called me late Friday night (the night of the attacks) pleading with me not to go, and continued to ask me to cancel until the night before. Other family members and friends voiced concerned. Even some of the most worldly travelers I know expressed that they would have a little hesitation about going, but most of them saying something along the lines of, “I’m sure you’ll be fine, I just would hate if something were to happen to you.”

But wouldn’t we all hate to have something happen to a loved one, regardless of the exact situation. Get in a car accident or be a victim of a gutless terrorist act? It sucks either way. And I honestly was a little worried, I thought about going on the trip vs. staying home. And decided to go forward with my trip. After my trip earlier this year centered around running 26.2 miles, I was owed a lot of wine and champagne.

The city was (obviously) on edge. Armed guards in groups of 2-5 were patrolling everywhere. EVERYWHERE. On the streets, at metro stops, outside big attractions/museums. At two different times I witnessed trucks of police and guards roll up on the Champs and tape off an area of stores. Who knows why, what was called in, or what they found. One of the girls flew in from Frankfurt and before take off someone came through the airplane and matched tickets to people to ensure everyone who was supposed to be on the flight was. There was also two members of the French military on the flight with metal suitcases as their feet. Another girl who arrived (in Paris for her first time) at a different time had a frightening experience when everyone at the metro stop she was waiting at started running and jumped into the train cars on the other side. She followed the crowd not knowing what to do and was naturally pretty terrified. But she didn’t speak French and never got to the bottom of why everyone was running. You also couldn’t enter a building (aside from small restaurants) with having your bags gone through and your coat opened. Purses, shopping bags, suitcase- didn’t matter. And you had to literally unzip/unbutton your coat and show the main trunk of your body as well.

When I first landed I headed to get a manicure (obviously) and though the technician knew barely any English, asked me if I was scared having just arrived. I told her, “not more than normal.” And that’s true, but it also sucks. Because my overall normal level of fear (specifically that of the terrorist nature) is higher in general, higher than it ever has been. I’m an expatriate. I travel a lot. I fly a lot. I’m in big cities a lot. It’s no fun that there is a fear of terrorism in my head.

But I know the probability of being involved in a terrorism attack is slim. And more so, that it can happen anywhere. I actually feel as though Paris would be safer that following week than it had been the week prior. But otherwise, it could be Paris, or I could just as likely (or more so) get shot up in a Northwest Indiana Target next month when I’m home for Christmas. (Truth be told. My only nagging fear is actually in the plane. Not only from terrorism but my perception that more and more flights are crashing or going MIA.)But the whole thing just sucks. It sucks that there is any level of concern. It sucks that people won’t be able to travel, not because of money or time off, but because of safety (perceived or otherwise). Because really, really, everyone should get to have at least a weekend in Paris.

Christmas display in the center of the Galleries Lafayette

Christmas display in the center of the Galleries Lafayette

It may seem that we're all American girls with our starbucks in hand, but actually only 2 of us are American

It may seem that we’re all American girls with our starbucks in hand, but actually only 2 of us are American


Wine Tasting at O Chateau Paris

Wine Tasting at O Chateau Paris

Reason for the trip: 30th birthday celebration for Kristin.

Reason for the trip: 30th birthday celebration for Kristin.