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Admirals Club Charles De Gaulle Airport, Paris

Call me an ugly American, but I was pretty frustrated that people at this airport spoke little to no English. But I’m sure they were equally frustrated that I spoke no French. When I visited France for the first time as a kid, I got lost at the Disneyland ticket counter and couldn’t communicate with a single adult. Finally they found an employee who spoke German and he helped me find my parents. In this scenario, there was no Disneyland employee to rescue me with his broken German, so I was left to my own devices.

Thanks to my crammed seat on Air France, I arrived in Paris totally exhausted.  There were no signs pointing me to where I needed to go and airport staff were constantly sending me in the wrong direction. I finally figured out that British Airways check-in was on the second level. Once there, I was instructed to turn right at the escalators and “walk straight” until I got there.  I walked straight for a good 10 minutes and check-in was nowhere in sight. When I asked yet another airport staff member, who luckily spoke a bit of English, I was told to go straight, and then “down the escalator.” At the escalator I came across a security check-point and below that, there seemed to be an immigration line. The security agent at the escalator gestured for me to instead keep walking straight. I don’t drink, but if I did, I’d be pretty well trained to pass a sobriety test by now.

By the time I reached the BA counter, I was ready to pass out. The agent informed me I was early and had to wait another hour before I could check in. I collapsed on a seat nearby, which ironically was much more comfortable than the one I had been sitting on for the past 10 hours.

What I found strange were the armed soldiers who patrolled the airport. And by armed I mean they actually had assault rifles strapped to their chests and held on to them tightly with both arms while walking completely in synch. I didn’t see anything like this even in Kabul, where police officers, soldiers, and security officers are pretty much the norm everywhere you go.

The hour passed quickly and I headed over for check-in. I didn’t mind parting with my carry-on one bit, so I checked it in and went through security.

I was glad to escape to the oasis that is the Admirals Club. I didn’t have high hopes, but this place was impeccably polished, not to mention very peaceful and quiet. As I said, I left my charger at home and none of the shops at the airport had one, so I don’t have any photos of the lounge. However, here is a video that gives a pretty good overview of the place.

There were hardly any people when I arrived, though slowly they began to trickle in. There wasn’t much in the way of food (tuna sandwiches, some snacks, and assorted drinks), but it was nice to have a place to grab a bite and relax after a long flight. The only negative thing about the lounge was that they didn’t announce departing flights. I was so engulfed in my work, that when I finally glanced at the clock, it was a short 20 minutes before departure. When I made it to the gate, boarding had already begun.

I was very excited about the flight. This was my first experience flying business class and I redeemed 30,000 AAdvantage miles for the flight. I would have loved to redeem for First, but that meant transferring 10,000 miles from a family member’s account with extra fees tacked on. Considering I was already paying fuel surcharges, I decided to pass. I was getting a bed in the sky (on the LHR – Dubai leg) and better food, so the distinguishing details between Business and First didn’t really matter to me.

While the flight from Paris to London was only 1 hour long, we were served a nice meal by a single flight attendant who took care of the entire business class cabin. I don’t know how she found the time, but she served everyone mixed nuts and a lovely salad with all the trimmings. She even came around several times with a breadbasket and drink refills, before cleaning out the trays and preparing the cabin for landing. She did all this with a smile and a positive attitude. I was extremely impressed. The flight ended very quickly and I was glad to have a good 5 hours to relax in the British Airways lounge at Heathrow Airport.

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Ariana Arghandewal

5 Comments

    • @ Mary, unfortunately I couldn’t make it work. If I’d flown straight to London, I would have ended up arriving in Dubai way too early. My best option was Paris-London-Dubai.

  1. Your initial thoughts are NOT “Ugly American.” (In this case, I’ll take that title.) Simple fact was, they are French and it happened in France. They are an arrogant nation and people and don’t much care about the rest of the world, unless they want something. Military/war record: Their arrogance has helped to get them into several wars, but they have not won on on their own for well over 200 years. (Yes, I know, they helped us our – sort of – about 200 years ago, but I think they were sucking-up for some money.) I could go on, but let’s just say every visit to France has been an unpleasant experience in some memorable way. Even at the height of the Cold War, I’d sooner visit the old USSR simply because the vast majority of the folks that *I encountered* were far friendlier than nearly *anyone* encountered in France. [Rant Mode=OFF] Your mileage may vary.

    • LMAO! This was fun to read. Feel free to rant on any other subject. I’m all ears.

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