Paris Charles-de-Gaulle, why so much hatred?

Charles-de Gaulle airport, located 35 km north of Paris, enjoys an exceptional location: located in the center of Europe, CDG (that’s its nickname, assigned by the ICAO) can be reached by most European cities in less than three hours.

It is for this exceptional location that Air France-KLM has made it a hub, where the number of connections possible each day is the highest in Europe.

However, the Charles-de-Gaulle platform is one of the most criticized in the world. The complaints from travelers are numerous: complication of the connection circuit, very long driving time, politeness of agents, catering far from passenger expectations, ergonomics of signage, comfort during long waits, difficulty and discomfort of access from Paris …
As a frequent traveler, I have to admit that most of the complaints are justified. The situation, however, is quite heterogeneous. I will try to give some explanations and improvements.

The connection circuit

For a very long time, the DGAC did not allow connections without going through security checks. The legislation has evolved in this direction in the last five years, authorizing connections without renewal of security checks during connections from domestic flight to domestic flight, and now from Schengen flight to Schengen flight. This transcription of a European directive has already been implemented in certain airports, such as Lyon Saint-Exupery, where Air France connections from flights from the Schengen area are not subject to new controls. security in Lyon.

The context is set. Thus, travelers found the connection circuit complicated by this first factor: the systematic security check.

The improvement is in progress, even if the plans differ according to the companies and the terminals:

  • Terminal 1 (Mainly Star Alliance): The organization into satellites with security checks placed at the entrance to each satellite cannot be improved without additional work. The first measure would be to remove the arrivals circuit to land flights in the departure lounge. Even though it sounds simple, the satellites have a limited size and this could create conflicts in the flow of travelers.
    However, the flow of connections within Terminal 1 is not the priority, as no Star Alliance company has a hub in Paris.
  • Terminal 2 – Outside Skyteam:
    • Terminals A and C: these include non-Schengen flights for OneWorld and non-allied airlines. The opening of the connecting building between the two terminals allows, of course, the passage from one to the other but not the easy correspondence, since the arrivals circuit remains separate
      However, the flow of connections within terminal 2AC is not the priority, as no company has a hub in Paris.
    • Terminal B: it brings together Schengen flights for OneWorld and non-allied companies, including some Low Cost companies, such as easyJet.
      However, the flow of connections within terminals 2A/B/C is not the priority, as no company has a hub in Paris.
    • Terminal D will close for renovations in the coming months, when Air France will have transferred its flights to terminal 2F.
  • Terminal 2 – Air France and Skyteam: the situation is improving greatly.
    New organization of terminals. The hub of Air France-KLM and its Skyteam partners has been refocused to the east of terminal 2.

    • Terminal 2E will group together all the non-Schengen flights of Skyteam companies around 3 boarding piers: K (main building), L (boarding pier S3, opened in 2005) and M (boarding pier S4 , opened in June 2012, open from 4:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
    • Terminal 2F will bring together all the Schengen flights of Skyteam companies, the non-Schengen area and its border police station being abolished. The new single screening post is already in place
    • The 2G terminal (G for Guantanamo?) already groups together all the flights of the regional subsidiaries of Air France-KLM.

Flight transfers

  • Terminal 2C: Air France flights previously departing from terminal 2C have already been transferred to 2E. Some Skyteam flights (Saudia flights for example) and some non-Skyteam codeshare flights remained in other terminals.
  • Terminal 2D: Air France flights from terminal 2D as well as some non-Skyteam Air France codeshare flights will be transferred to terminal 2F.
  • Terminal 2F: Non-Schengen Air France flights from terminal 2F will be transferred to terminal 2E.

Improved circuits

The clarification will greatly improve the orientation of travelers during their connections. The Arrivals circuit at terminal 2F will be directly connected to the Departures circuit without going through the inspection-screening station, eliminating this tedious step for Schengen-Schengen connections.
A bonded area tunnel is under construction between Terminal 2F and Terminal 2E is being finalized, with commissioning scheduled for the fall. This tunnel will allow Schengen-non-Schengen connections without going through security formalities. Note that the converse will not be true.
No improvement planned on the side of the 2G terminal, which remains the poor relation of the hub. Always this infamous bus for connections to 2G or from 2G to 2F. Tip: connections from 2G to 2E can be made by a bonded bus; follow the signs “Correspondences/Transfer Portes/Gates KLM”. Aéroports de Paris no longer plans to extend CDGVal to 2G for budgetary reasons, contrary to the initial project.

Olivier Delestre-Levai
Olivier Delestre-Levai
Olivier has been into airline blogging since 2010. First a major contributor to the FlyerTalk forum, he created the FlyerPlan website in July 2012, and writes articles with a major echo among airline specialists. He now co-runs the TravelGuys blog with Bertrand, focusing on travel experience and loyalty programs.
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