This vintage FR on a flight back in 2013 began with arranging a meeting with another Flight Reporter who was going to be landside in CDG in an ideal time slot with regards to my flight. Where could we meet? For instance at a café in Terminal 2F. I checked on the website of CDG, where the walking distance required to reach the plane often seems as long as the ensuing plane taxiing distance.
After a few pages, I selected the Illy Café, whose «beyond standards » (hors norme) approach of a pause and refinement of the decoration were promising, especially when you are keen on coffee. (Sorry I did not take a screenshot of the English language webpage at that time; the last sentence says something like : An Italian-style bar which will offer you a beyond standards approach of a pause, associating gustative qualities with decoration refinement for customers keen on culinary art.
CDG’s website has a beautiful interactive map of Terminal 2F Departure Level, but it only bothered about the airside area. The landside area appeared to be a black hole, or rather a white hole in these graphics.
But clicking on the Bar on the menu, the landside bars appeared this way.
The printable version is interesting, because it seemed to care about Skypriority passengers only.
The « Access N° 1 » for Elite/Business/First passengers were clearly indicated, but where was the access for steerage passengers (who do not even know the meaning of “Access N°1”) ? There was no Access N°2, and on the interactive map, there was a "Poste Inspection Filtrage". It was designated in French only, which did not matter, since French people who fly once a year only do not know what this is. That the silhouette on the icon wears a cap which does not belong to any uniform currently worn in a French airport did not help identifying it as the security checkpoint.
Back to the previous map : I noted that there are 17 exits, vs. two entrances. I did not really feel welcome;)
All this was of course back in 2013, and maybe AdP (the Paris airports managing authority) read my original Flight report, because their website has been updated, and this is what their map of Terminal 2F looks like, ca. 2016.
Note that true to its promises a couple years ago, AdP now publicly acknowledges that - you can change the diapers of your baby without wearing a dress or a kilt - you may have to do it airside,
because unisex baby care pictograms appeared in that plan . Check the 2013 plan : these rooms weren't even mentioned.
On the other hand, you are still supposed to know what a "Poste Inspection Filtrage" is in the French air travel jargon. I had flown countless times until Flight Report taught me that name, and I just made a poll on a representative sample composed of Mrs Marathon : she had no idea what was hidden behind this name :)
Back to 2013…
I had suggested to meet at the Illy Café at 13:45, and parked my car at Level -3.
I had probably missed a sign, because it was only when I was at the lift that I discovered that that level was for subscribers only (I took that picture later at Level -2)
Better not leave a non-subscriber car in a subscriber-only level, and I drove round circles again to find a space at Level -2 (my 5-10’ margin was designed for that), and eventually left my car at space 003 Lane 28, very close to Terminal E, which meant very far from Terminal F in the opposite direction.
I admit my modern art education is below par, and the refinement of the decoration of the Illy Café really did not strike me.
It actually struck me so little that I walked past this kind a beach sandwich stand without even noticing it, but since I knew that this « Italian bar » was at the level of gate 14, I backtracked and eventually spotted this red logo.
Nature called, and I went to the toilets. They were spotless, and security was top level. I did not quite understand how the FAMAS assault rifle helped, but the media report that the passengers feel more secure that way.
A uniform is designed for easy identification, and like the soldier above, I wore my uniform for the same purpose, since I needed to be identified by a Flight Reporter who had never met me. My high visibility vest was not more out of place than the fatigues of that soldier, after all.
Once he had spotted me and we were installed in that refined decoration, we gave up our hopes for a pure arabica espresso : the machine was stopped.
This was proof that I was really a newcomer in that airport, because like in all video games, I should have clicked on a secret hint hidden on AdP’s web page to reveal the menu of all the savors of Italy, which I did in the hotel at destination.
Of course, AdP has changed the navigation on their website since I posted that spoiler in the French version, and I’ll let you find yourself this information :
An Italian bar which closes shop at 2pm was a new concept for me, but that explained the unavailability of coffee at 13:50 : it was obviously already too late in the evening.
On the other hand, I noted the presence of Type E/F power ports next to the seats.
At that time, the wifi internet access in CDG was limited to 15 minutes, and it I did not even take the time needed to navigate through the pages which tried hard to have you pay, and eventually obtain a corporate screenshot.
I did not try these machines either, because I had printed my BP in the office the day before (this too is somewhat old school, at the time when modern travelers have a virtual BP on their smartphone).
This was the security check area for ordinary passengers. There was ample space, zero waiting time in early afternoon on a weekday, and the staff was courteous.
The detail which does make a difference was the length of the counters after the security check itself, for replacing your laptop, your belt, the contents of your pockets, etc. where they belong. Nothing like a cramped space there to clog a security checkpoint. And yet, the waiting time at this terminal can be a serious problem in rush hours.
Was the zone manager helping a passenger somewhere else? There was nobody at his desk.
The name of that shop ("Air de Paris" = Paris Air) evokes pollution to me.
Nothing much plane-spotting worthy, apart from this AF A321 in Skyteam livery
Architect Paul Andreu designed in such a way that you would be dazzled when reaching the jetty of Gates F41 to F56.
OK, I shamelessly cheated with my camera’s settings, because in fact, it really looked like this :
And It also looked like a passenger jam created by these two shops
It was also jammed by the passengers waiting in line for the flights at the first gates left and right, where the space is made narrower by the access to the lounge downstairs for Elite passenger that I am no longer. Paul Andreu had apparently not envisaged that AF would manage to fill its aircraft.
Where was Gate F41, anyway ? I had to backtrack to find this sign overhead :
There were escalators to the lower level at the right of the cell for drug addicts.
All Flight Reports know what this descent to the bowels of the terminal meant :
It’s a passenger bus boarding.
Boarding was already well under way : a first bus full of passengers was already leaving. A passenger before gave his BP with his passport, but the staff did not even open the latter: on a Schengen Zone flight, no ID was requested anywhere in CDG unless you checked luggage, or for random checks.
This was the bus to Stockholm. It had an Eurolines bus station feel, but the bus had no seats.
Again an impression of a bad neighborhood : the hammers for breaking the bus windows in case of an accident were in the driver’s cab (if he is knocked unconscious, the passengers have no way to escape).
But do not worry : in case of a problem, this ground staff was there checking that the passengers did not stray on the ten meter distance between the door and the bus, and he had modern communication tools….
…like this phone
Usually, a bus transfer provides plane spotting opportunities
Only that the tour was a short one : the plane had just arrived from SVO, a non-Schengen airport, hence the bus transfer from our Schengen area gate.
A first view of the plane, next to a Flybe Dash 8
There she was after the end of pushback
Two emergency exit overwing, and a triangular wingtip fence : she would be an A320 (except with Easyjet, and airlines having bought second hand A319s from Easyjet)
So better make sure
There was a pile of Air France in-flight magazines at the end of the jet bridge. I did not find that a very refined presentation.
A very slightly more refined layout for this foldable cardboard holder with wet tissues. The advantage of this design was that it was both very lightweight and thin once folded, which made it possible to slip it in an on board storage rack once boarding was complete, and I saw a FA just do that.
There is story behind this picture : the person at the far right was a FA who saw me take this ordinary picture.
- No photos in the cabin ! - Excuse me ? - No photos in the cabin ! I’ll come and see you later !
That was said with the « I’ll handle you at the end of the class » stern tone of a junior high school teacher to a turbulent teenager. A FA who was taking the widest interpretation of Article 15.5 of AF’s General Conditions of Transport ( Recording videos and/or taking photographs other than personal videos and photographs is prohibited on board the aircraft. ) : the flight was off a bad start.
The countermeasure was easy : become difficult to identify, and what she had certainly identified was my high visibility vest. Once I had removed it, I looked like any other passenger.
Whether she had forgotten or had a doubt about the identity of this photographic offender, she never came back to me. Or maybe she realized that I had no intention of taking pictures of the passengers or the FAs.
Let’s go back to plane spotting with this TAROM A319
The first window was curiously masked by the laminated livery
The Coandă effect, from the name of the Romanian engineer, is the reason for the reactors of the Antonov 72 being placed above the wings. This effect also has the negative effect of negating all efficiency of a ship’s bow thruster when the ship’s forward motion is above a few knots.
A landing RJ A320
Some tourism around CDG-1, with an EC Air 757 and an Enter 737 on remote parking spots.
A view of one of my Airbus, which I own in partnership with a few dozens of other French tax payers (the French Government uses it to transport troops ; it could also be used to evacuate civilians from a trouble spot).
TAM B777-300ER (thank you Benoit75008)
TK A321 in Star Alliance livery departing before us
And a QR A346 after us
The safety card both sides
The Verberie viaduct, on the high speed line toward Lille (and onward to London and Amsterdam)
Let’s go back to the cabin. AF frequent flyers would recognize these being the older generation seats.
The seat pitch was OK, for me and for others too.
(For young travelers, an older generation AF A320 seat reclines, not by much, but it does recline)
The minimum thickness is 7 cm
Reaching 10 cm at the headrest level
This was a luxury doomed to disappear at a time when AF is installing thin seats in their A32x.
On the other hand, the audio channel was unused : no headphones were distributed. There was no IFE screen either, and the safety demonstration was done the old way, with a commendable effort to avoid any smiling. I prefer smiling FAs, and they did later during the meal service.
Thinly sliced fields
An artificial island for the storage of polluted mud, in the Kettelmer, an extension of the Ijssel which is one of the branches of the Rhine River.
The meal came ; it is the main difference between flying Y+ and Y on a short haul flight, since being in the front rows does not translate in a major gain of time when deplaning from a single aisle aircraft.
I was flying Y+ because there was no availability in Y on that flight, this trip having been decided at a short notice. Thanks to Benoit75008 for pointing out that AF does not have a Y+ offering any more in 2016, at time of posting this English version of the FR.
The CEO of AF had complained in April 2013 in a magazine interview that it had taken him six months to get the FAs to serve warm bread, and the result was there: this bread was indeed warm.
Heating did not increase its size : it remained 7 cm long.
And the longest side of this triangle of Camembert cheese is 42mm long. Since a cow can produce some 25 liters of milk a day, this flight was not going to support much of the dairy industry.
The silverware was not in silver, but in stainless steel
But the glasses were indeed made of glass
Fake signature shot, with fake Champagne (and real apple juice)
And with plain water
By the way, there was indeed a bottle of champagne on the trolley, but the FA was careful not mention its existence. Now, the meal was good. It was not high level gastronomy, but very decent food.
I visit the toilets for the sole purpose of taking the J/Y+ cabin from the curtain – it looked the same behind the curtain, actually.
What is the difference in J ?
Only the neutralization of the middle seat. Since the Y+ cabin was not full, the middle seat next to me was empty too. On the other hand, the Y cabin was most probably full, since that is where I should have traveled if a seat had been available.
A few from the front of the cabin.
The front toilet was narrow, with the perennial baby care folding table for exclusive female use. The mentality change at AdP had not reached Air France.
And the interdiction to throw a syringe in the general garbage container.
The FAs were taking their own dinner meanwhile.
The flight was going to be mostly on top of a cloud cover
You don’t choose to fly AF for the decoration of the wingtip fence of the aircraft
Some cloud effects in adverse lighting conditions, making it difficult to identify the location
The sun has drowned in its blood which freezes (Charles Baudelaire)
You will have understood that we landed to late for aerial views of ARN where it was already too dark. It was nearly the equinox: the latitude had no impact on the time of sunset, but the latitude did, and Stockholm is significantly east of Paris and in the same time zone, so the sunset is earlier at that time of the year.
We reached the terminal at 18:45
Two staff were waiting in the air bridge with wheelchairs for handicapped travelers - I had seen one at time of boarding. When he saw me taking pictures, the staff on the left ostensibly turned his wheelchair around to improve the picture. I obscured the face, but he was smiling, too. Not quite the same reaction as that of the AF FA…
And a less expected welcome : we left France without showing any ID or passport, but we had to show them this time to enter the Kingdom of Sweden. It was a random check like I had many times after deplaning from PEK-CDG flights, but I had a more friendly feeling, and there was much less of a jam in the jetbridge.
A last look at F-GKXL, and this is the end of this FR
You probably understood I was not there for tourism, and this will be a short tourist bonus. The next morning, the only plane I spotted was a Jumbolino approaching the Bromma domestic airport.
These lanes are dedicated to trams, and buses too.
They are clean, because they are vacuumed regularly
Mixed traffic is part of the daily life here.
This is the end of the small FR ; thanks for reading me !
Paris - CDG
Stockholm - ARN
I have met a number of photophobic FAs, but they would say it with a smile. In Asia, at least, they did. I have seen a large number of safety demonstrations, but they would be performed with a smile, even on AF flights. The behavior of the FAs on this flight could not result in a good rating for them.
There was no IFE on board, no newspapers stands in the bus boarding room, and the one that I found upstairs was nearly empty. On the other hand, once on board, having a non-renovated cabin meant a much better seat comfort.
I spent more time than was reasonable to find a bar and the adequate parking level in CDG, on the internet or in location. What’s worse, this so-called Italian bar did not even have coffee. The good news, when I update my conclusion three years later, is that the plans on the website have been improved.
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