So just so you don’t think it’s all fancy pastries and champagne, we have been trying our best to minimize transportation and accommodation costs. We walk a ton or take public transit, are using frequent flier miles for flights whenever possible, and have stayed in some pretty crappy hotels (when we can’t find a reasonable AirBnB or aren’t staying with our awesome family or friends).
So this morning we took a 7am flight from Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris to Copenhagen on Veuling.com. (Yes, the airline has the stupid “.com” in their name.)
We we originally planned to take the first train to the airport at 4:53 am, which would have gotten us there with about 75 minutes to check luggage and go through security, and only cost €20. The timing made me nervous, though, as you never know how long the lines will be at the airport or if we will get lost getting from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3. And my previous experiences at CDG always involved chaos and what seemed like miles of walking through the terminal.
With the current rail strike, our hotel said there’s no guarantee the first train would run, and we already experienced the effects of the strike when our train to Paris from Reims was cancelled and we had to wait 4 hours for another one. I thought we might be able to take a bus, but the schedule wasn’t working well with our flight time and my local friend implied the neighbourhood where we were staying wasn’t that great. A taxi would be €55 and Uber would be cheaper (if we could get one – it’s not very popular in Paris it seems).
So we set our alarm for 3:30am with plans to grab a taxi if no Ubers were available. We tried desperately to go to sleep early. It seemed like moments after we finally fell asleep, the hotel called our room (11:04pm) to ask if we wanted a taxi ordered for 4:30am. Sigh.
At 3:30am the alarm jolts us awake and we get ready rapidly. Check-out of the hotel takes 30 seconds, an Uber is there in less than 1 minute, and there’s absolutely no traffic so we get to the airport in 25 minutes instead of an hour…
…which means we arrive before 5am. And while we aren’t the first people there, its pretty deserted. And it’s too early to check in. So we are first in line and breeze through check-in and security rapidly – murphy’s law since we had plenty of time to spare.
The terminal is small and dirty – the tables & chairs have food crumbs on them, and pretty much every chair is stained. There is only one water fountain and it doesn’t work. They had signs everywhere that they were testing new furniture and to take a survey about it on their website, but the wifi login screen redirected in some kind of never-ending loop, so I didn’t get to tell them that whatever chair they pick should get cleaned daily. 🙂 Given that we are the second flight out of that terminal, I’d hate to see what it looks like in the evening.
After some incomprehensible announcement in French, everyone rushes the gate agent to load onto a bus. They did their best to get every passenger on one bus, so its pretty cozy. Then we drove to the plane, where we watched the ground crew for 5 minutes or so before everyone was permitted to run from the bus to the plane.
Absolutely everything costs extra on this airlines – a glass of water or juice was €2.60. Picking seats was an extra €5 per ticket so we didn’t bother, which means we wound up across the aisle from each other (even though it seemed like there were plenty of opportunities for us to be seated together). And check out the leg room!
The German had to move seats twice because his seats were broken – the first seat didn’t have the bottom cushion part attached, and the second one was stuck in the reclinedposition. The person in front of me also had an auto-reclining seat, which meant the back of his seat was uncomfortably close to my mouth. And the plane was pretty much as clean as the terminal.
I laughed out loud when the safety announcement concluded with “It’s time to get comfortable and enjoy your flight”. Ha! Good luck with that!
So it’s not all glamorous out here on the road – we’ve just prioritized food & wine over convenient transport and nicer accommodation.