Archive for airport


Posted in pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 12, 2020 by xi'an

airport static

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , on February 8, 2019 by xi'an

[An annoyingly loud businessman negotiating a deal for hours in Birmingham airport]

…you are left with this money and you get the 60, we get 107 is the mathematics…if we discount 40% Werner still gets that, it’s not well-presented, you should get that minus that, do you mind if we do it from scratch, call me back in 20mn!

snapshot from Hannover [#3]

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , on July 11, 2015 by xi'an

LandesvaterEnd of my workshop in Hannover. Almost ended up with a mini-disaster as I misunderstood the instructions [in German] on my platform this morning (at 5:30am) and took the (wrong) train in the opposite direction from the airport. Happily enough, I realised it quickly, managed to get a bus from the following suburban station, then spotted a waiting taxi along the road who took me to the airport in half the official time (albeit driving at legal speeds) and I was through security in a few minutes in an empty airport. Just failed to buy (good) German bread at both the Bahnhof (too early) and at the Flughafen (too late). Quite an exciting couple of days!

most hated airport in the World!

Posted in pictures, Travel with tags , , , on November 29, 2011 by xi'an

The Charles de Gaulle airport, on which I posted my list of complaints a while ago, has been nominated “the most hated airport in the world” by CNN Go. They mentioned

“Grimy washrooms with missing toilet seats don’t help. Nor do broken scanning machines and an overall lack of signage, gate information screens and Paris-worthy bars, restaurants or cafés. The baffling circular layout is worsened by warrens of tunnel-like structures, dismissive staff and seething travelers waiting forever in the wrong queue.”

This is about Terminal 1, whose circular design is indeed nonsensical since there are only two exits to the circle. The picture on the site is in Terminal 2, with the huge posterboard at the exit of the train station. My complaint with Terminal 2 (I rarely use Terminal 1 for frequent-flyer reasons) is not about the toilets (they are fine by French standards), nor about scanning machines (I actually registered for an automated passport scan that cuts queues dramatically when both entering and leaving the country), nor about the bars and restaurants (I do not eat, nor drink), but rather about the poor design (or rather the outgrowth of the design:) a linear layout of the airport that forces travellers to walk long distances (often doubled by the fact that the luggage room exit is as far as possible from the train station) since there is no inner train, a flight density that often induces bussing passengers for dozens of minutes (this is always the case when flying to the UK), and a very poor train connection to down town Paris (there is no direct train, all trains stop in a myriad of Northern suburban cities).


Posted in pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , on November 1, 2011 by xi'an

Charles de Gaulle airport [back]

Posted in Travel with tags , , on July 11, 2009 by xi'an

Each time I travel through Charles de Gaulle airport, I bemoan the need to do so… While the new buildings in Terminal 2 are bright elegant architectural concepts—as long as they do not fall on you, as part of Terminal 2E did on May 23, 2004, half an hour after a bunch of my colleagues left for ISBA 2004 in Valparaiso, a concrete slab killing four persons—, the whole airport is a behemoth and, as such, highly dysfunctional. Both Terminal 1 and 2 are linked to the greater Paris public transportation train system RER B—when the RER is not on strike—but Terminal 1 calls for an extra step using the free CDGVAL shuttle train while Terminal 2 requires a lot of walking to reach one of the subterminals (2A to 2F). Especially when you land in Charles de Gaulle airport, since the moving walkways are at the departure level. If you leave by taxi, it is hardly better as there is no taxi docking station for each subterminal, thus a very slow turnover at each door with hardly any parking space. Because of the longitudinal organisation of Terminal 2—while Terminal 1 is circular—, it is also quite frustrating to discover that you have to walk the whole length of the structure to check in, only to walk back to get to your gate.

Because the airport is saturated, even now that Terminal 2E has reopened, there are queues and delays everywhere! In most cases (especially in Terminal 1, but also in Terminal 2D), the queues to the checking counters are longer than the checking zones and you have to cross irate passenger after irate passenger to join your own queue. Once in the queue, you may also miss last calls because of the noise and confusion. Since, in a typically French fashion, passports are checked by the police when leaving the country, there are also queues at the control booths, with hardly ever a sufficient number of officers there, which means that EU passengers and non-EU passengers are using the same queues. Then the universal mess of the security control, just as about ineffective and painful as everywhere else: ever-changing rule about taking your shoes off—or not, your computer in a separate tray—or not, the way security agents keep having loud conversations as if there were no passenger present. You would think this is it, you are at last ready to board, but no, not yet: a lot of flights require boarding by a bus that may take up to 20 minutes to reach the plane. (I remember taking one plane bound for Edinburgh that was parked so far that both the bus driver and the Air France representative got lost and had to call for directions!) And most often in those cases boarding the plane means climbing stairs at the foot of the plane as in the old days, which is OK when you are in good shape and the weather is tolerable. A positive point for Charles de Gaulle is that, in most cases, the flights leave on time, i.e. there is no waiting queue for planes on the tarmac as often in U.S. airports.

When landing in Charles de Gaulle airport, things are as just equally terribly inefficient. First, taxiing to a gate may take up to 20 minutes, which is why airlines usually give the landing time on their schedules. Second, the gates are not always ready for the plane arrival, as yesterday when we had to do an extra loop for there was yet a plane at our allocated gate. Once out, there may be impromptu passport controls by one or two police officers right out of the plane, meaning that a single passenger with insufficient documentation may block the whole flow. Then the obligatory queue at the police booths (unless you come from a Schengen country). This time, one policeman was demonstrating his skill with a police Segway and thus de facto reducing the number of officers on duty. (Coming back from Memphis where the police is patrolling the airport on bikes made me wonder the need for such a gadget!) And then the final very very long wait for luggages. At any terminal in Charles de Gaulle airport, even with the most recent Terminal 2E and 2F, getting your luggage (or realising that your luggage has been lost) almost inevitably takes much longer than in other airports. In the newest Terminal 2E, an estimated time is now given, obviously with a large variance (not given).

Yesterday, after waiting for the best part of one hour, the luggage delivery room had to be evacuated as someone had forgotten a small backpack. Nothing wrong about this, but the weird thing is that it took maybe fifteen minutes for the police to act from the announcement that someone had forgotten a backpack to the evacuation of the place, using two rude shouting policemen instead of the loudspeakers. And no translation in English, nor a warning that passengers could not leave the zone if they were expecting their luggage, nor any announcement that the room was reopened. One hour later, i.e. almost two hours after landing, the bags came, including mine! All I had to do then was to plod along back to the RER train station, which, fortunately and as opposed to last Saturday, was operational.