December 13, 2007

You are currently browsing the daily archive for December 13, 2007.

CDG bad

When it was built, Charles de Gaulle Airport‘s Terminal 1, with Paul Andreu‘s concrete-and-tubing reactor core styling (which inspired one of many famous scenes from Apple’s landmark 1984 ad) was an avante garde sensation. Now it’s a dump.

It was already getting old by the time I travelled frequently to it in the mid-90s. Near as I can tell, it has been unimproved since. (Though there is plenty of construction elsewhere at CDG.)

I gave myself the opportunity to visit this challenge when I dumbly thought Flight 0915 was at 9:15am, rather than at noon, as my itinerary would have told me if I had bothered to read it more carefully. Since there’s still some kind of strike on, and I was advised to leave early and avoid traffic, I arrived without incident at 6:30am, just in time to wait another two hours for United to open its counters. I killed that time looking for food and a comfortable place to sit. Turns out the food is in the basement level, where the decor is about as warm and contemporary as a sepulchre. I found a couple places serving petit dejeuner, but I’d had way too many croissants and the like over the last three days, so I opted instead for McDonalds, since I actually kinda like their sausage and egg McMuffins (and even though

The sign at McD’s said the place opened at 6:30. I stood there and waited until it finally oepned around 7:15 I’d guess. After chowing at a tiny table in a hallside dining area, I went upstairs to wait for United to open. The only seats there are these metal chairs with little holes punche in them. Standing and walking around with luggage were both more comfortable.

After inspecting the holes in the walls and the cracked tile on the floor I headed for the elevator and immediatley got stuck in it. Not sure what was broken, other than the electronics of the elevator and its absent floor moulding, which made it possible to see the concrete sides of the shaft. I got in, punched the button for the ground (departures) floor, the door closed and nothing happened. Then I hit the door open symbol, and still nothing happened. Much button pushing finally got some action, and I watched the shaft slide by as the elevator slowly rose to its destination, at which the doors, reluctantly, opened.

Anyway, now I’m in United’s Red Carpet Club here, which is actually much nicer than all the RC clubs in the U.S., other than the one at SFO’s International Terminal, which is still fresh.

Can’t wait to get back, which won’t happen until almost tomorrow, since United cancelled my connecting flight from Dulles to Logan, and I have to take a later one, cooling my heels first at another RC club , surely, at Dulles. See ya there.

Meanwhile, dig a few pictures from .

[4:08p, EST] Arrived at Dulles. There’s a big snowstorm in the Northeast and all the Boston flights are being cancelled. The question with mine is whether A) United can get a plane to make the trip; and B) Logan can keep the runway clear enough. Or so the people behind the counter say.

Ahead of me in one of the lines was a guy who complained mightily to the kind woman behind the counter about how United’s airbus planes flying to Denver are inadequate, overbooked, and so on. He wanted her to write down his complaint to give to her “superiors”. When my turn came, I told her, sincerely, that she had no “superiors”, and that I was sorry she had to endure this jerk.

It’s standard to complain about air travel, but in fact it’s just about freaking miraculous that anybody, much less companies as vast, damaged and bureaucratic as United, can ship people and cargo in metal tubes weighing hundreds or thousands of tons, powered by large tanks of combustible materials, at near-supersonic speeds at altitudes exceeding Everest’s, though many all kinds of weather — and do it constantly all around the world, 24/7/365, and actually make it boring in the process.