Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport: "The Future that Never Came."

Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport: "The Future that Never Came."
The "Habitrails" at Paris Charles de Gaulle Terminal 1

Have you seen this CNNGo article on the world’s worst airports? CNNGo: 10 most hated airports I love that Paris Charles de Gaulle had the ignominious honor of being ranked number one. In the words of my friend Fabrizio, who stood inside one of the crazy plastic Habitrail tubes as it moved us up to the departure level and waved his hand at the ridiculousness surrounding us, “This is the future that never came.”

I’m at Paris Charles de Gaulle, or CDG as we say in the business, frequently. Some months, every week. Habitrail tubes notwithstanding, there’s a lot to poke fun of. It’s like the airport that time forgot. Parisians seem to have had some crazy love affair with late sixties design that they’ve never been able to shake. Taking the moving underground walkway to the gate is like passing though somebody’s 1970’s basement, with piped in music and white stucco walls. Then there’s the ads.An Eiffel Tower hat? Really?

We pass by about seven signs with this image in the tunnel. I know! But every time I see it, I feel a whole lot better about the ill-fitting pilot hat my company wants me to wear.

And I hope they fired the guy, or the homme, who thought it was a good idea to put the cheese shop right inside the hallway you pass into after clearing customs, because he also thought putting the Camembert up front was a good idea, too. They should hand out clothespins at the passport checkpoint, which, come to think of it, in addition to alleviating the smell would have the added benefit of helping with a nasally French accent!

If you think the signage inside the airport is bad, you should see it out on the taxiways. At an airport where they routinely experience extremely low visibility throughout the entire winter, CDG is notorious for virtually no signage to help you find your way. Oh, and speaking of Habitrails, on arrival you will pass within feet, er, meters, of your gate but Non, non, non! You cannot just turn left and go in! You must taxi all the way around the Alpha Loop, an additional ten minutes or more, before being allowed to park.

They’re still modernizing the airport, too. And by that I mean, making it look more like the set of an Austin Powers movie. On Terminal One, which is an ugly, circular cement structure in which the aforementioned Habitrail tubes are located, they’ve just completed the installation of orange lights which encircle the outside of the building. When they turn them on, it looks like it’s paging the mothership.

We should probably all be grateful that the Kubrik-esque future, where everyone gets transported from place to place on moving walkways inside plastic tubes, has never come, no matter how hard they keep trying at CDG’s Terminal 1. And I know no one’s going to feel too sorry for me, going to the world’s most hated airport every week, because in between arriving at and departing from CDG, I’m still in Paris, after all. And despite the stinky cheese and 1960's mod, that’s tres bien.

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  • Next time you go to my favorite city in the entire world, you can take me along and I will evaluate the airport with you :)

    I will have to take a second look - I was there in January and thought it was tres chic! I loved the whole 70's vibe. I would like to go through it often enough to develop a distaste!!!!!

  • That's a deal Teppi!

  • Wow Throw in a Do228 in that story and its a reel tear jerker
    I suppose you drove to work in a Dodge Dart as well
    I have actually been pulled over on the taxiway at CDG. told to stop and shut it down
    They say we missed a turn. They have now photo evidence
    Like I say, Don’t worry be Happy or
    Get out of My way Or I kill you
    Depending on the day
    Anyway Good Job Kim I always knew you’d make it big
    Merry Christmas, God Bless
    TS

  • In reply to smot:

    OMG! The only thing missing from that story is an ornery Chicago cop that gives me a ticket outside Midway Airport because I don't know how to drive stick shift yet! How great to hear from you! I hope the world is treating you well and that you're not worrying and being happy. Please, stay in touch TS, one of my favorite, favorite Captains from back in the old days of D-228s and Dodge Darts that cost $300.
    All the Best,
    Kim

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