Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Paris Trip Recap -- Flight: ORD-CDG

Carrier: United Air Lines

Flight #: 942
Seat: 20B
Departure: August 31, 2011 -  18:11 / 18:16
Arrival: September 1, 2011 - 09:25 / 08:54
Travel Time: 8 hours 14 minutes / 7 hours 39 minutes
Flight Miles: 4,153


Realizing my flight for vacation this time was only 8 hours and not freaking out that it will be spent in coach shows I've grown a lot. Two years ago, I was quite distraught that I would fly to LAX in coach, and that's only about 3.5 hours.  Personal growth -- it's a great thing, not as nice as a first class seat, but still nice, none the less.

My journey started off the night before departure with my online check in.  As I was only going to be in Paris for 4.5 days and I was only bringing my 20" roller on board, I figured I'd just carry my bag on.  Then I thought more about it -- if I do that, I'll need to get on the plane early enough so I get an overhead space near my seat...and have less time in the lounge.  If I carry on though, I can just leave immediately from customs and not worry about baggage claim.  It makes sense for me to check my bag...so I rechecked in and opted for a checked back...then I continued to recheck in waffling back and forth on to check or not to check. Why am I so insane?  I finally opted to check the bag and relax a bit more in the lounge.

In an effort to save a bit of cash MS opted to fly to CDG through FRA...he would arrive 4.5 hours later than us.  Seems like a waste to me.  That's a topic for another time.  MS and I enjoyed a beer before we left for our respective flights.

I arrived at the gate and realized the entire area was empty.  Once I got to the agent she greeted me by name (before I gave her my boarding pass) and suggested I arrive earlier next time -- I was at the gate area 20 minutes before departure -- c'mon!  The flight was oversold and I tried to get bumped -- no such luck.  Eight people were denied boarding.  Sucks to be them.  RK, part of our group, was traveling on an award ticket and was almost not allowed to fly -- luckily his partner JB had some creative discussions with the ticket agent at check in.  Whew.

I sat in my standard seat (second exit row, aisle port side of the plane).  My seatmate was a Frenchman, who spoke limited English.  I was in no mood to try my French out on this guy, so I pretty much ignored him.  Although, I did ask him, in my broken French, if he wanted one of the THREE headphones I found in my seat pocket...after a while, he accepted, but I don't think we were really communicating all that well.

The film on the flight was Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris.  How fitting.  I found the film to be quite entertaining -- although I do hate the American ending.  As you all know I love Hemingway and Fitzgerald, but I do not know enough about their lives to know if this film was at all accurate, but it was entertaining.

I opted for the pasta dinner (which I always choose, no matter what type of pasta or sauce -- it's a bit harder to totally destroy a pasta dish, but beef, chicken or fish can be any easy item to ruin).  The dinner was tasty and the wine was standard coach swill, but it doesn't stop me from having a glass with dinner.

I chatted with JB and RK for about 10 minutes on the flight (evidently JB was bothering the thick label queen and his tattooed girlfriend -- so they were asked to go sit in their own seats).  I slept for about 3 hours on the flight.  Before I knew it we were being served the banana/sugar loaf (I mean banana bread) and juice.

In general the flight was extremely uneventful and very quick.  We landed more 30 minutes early -- now that's what I call a great start to a vacation.

I stare out the window and I see the French countryside coming up to meet us.  We are almost here -- I cannot wait!  After a short taxi we were at the gate and quickly deplaning.  We were through immigration in just a matter of minutes.  Interestingly enough, we didn't have to complete a customs form before entering the EU.  Strange.

JB and RK checked their bags, as they would be spending another 9 days in Europe.  Neither of them have status but their bags came out first...and I continued to wait for another 30 minutes for my priority tagged bag to meet me. Ugh...why bother?

We headed tot he RER station where we bought tickets into the City (I think we all got screwed on the tickets -- we all got different tickets and paid different prices -- lesson learned, do more research on this before you leave).  The guidebook said the train to the City was dangerous, with lots of pickpockets and hooligans who will steal your bag out from under you.  Sometimes these books are just a little overly cautious.  We saw nothing like this at all.  The worst thing we did see on the train though was a really cute guy playing with his iPad, then before we got to the Chatelet stop, he spit a HUGE snus packet out of his lip.  Why are people so gross?

JB and RK and I split off from each other at Chatelet, where they continued to their hotel near the Arc de Triomphe and I went on the #1 Line to St. Paul in the Marais to my hotel.



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