"Don't Ask"

Trip Start Apr 18, 2007
Trip End Jun 29, 2007

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Flag of Czech Republic  ,
Monday, May 28, 2007

Tina Arena's greatest hits album is called "Don't Ask". Apparently she also lives in Paris these days and that's where I could have stayed longer.

Especially after a day of air travel like yesterday's from Paris to Prague via London.

We had an early start to catch a train to Paris's CDG airport. Negotiating 'our' local Metro station is an art in itself. Chatelet-Les-Halles is the largest underground station in Paris, serving many of Paris's 18 metro lines, the five outer suburban lines and the RER trains to the airports. Paris's Metro trains curve and snake at quite alarming angles compared to other cities' undergrounds, mostly because the numerous lines flow underneath the streets and the entire area fans out to cover an area easily four city blocks square. It has two levels of shopping arcardes (and a swimming pool!) above the train platforms, interconnecting passages in all directions and at least six exits - all blocks apart. We stuck to a couple we came to know but never managed to find our way out to the exit closest to home.

Fortunately, it is well colour coded and sign-posted and reaching the RER train was straighforward, as was the express ride (for 8 euro) and the integration at the airport.

That's where the painless travelling ended.

The first queue stretched halfway down the terminal building and doubled back on itself for passport control. Bad advice sent us from that queue to a British Airways counter that wasn't right and back again. Two passport windows in total were in operation. The second queue for British Airways baggage check-in was no better, but at least those on an earlier London flight that was due to leave were being given priority.

Boarding was late and then we sat in the plane for around half an hour waiting for "the final piece of paperwork" to be completed. Once airborne, we were informed that the boilers were not working so tea and coffee were off. Lunch was half a chicken tortilla wrap.

With the delayed take-off, we lost our gate at Heathrow. We waited on the tarmac for around 10 minutes for ground staff to arrive and direct us the last 10 m to a spot in the paddocks. Those now late for their NY connection were hurried off the plane to the first of the buses pulling in. We dodged the vomit on the floor of my bus (having lost the Browns by now) and headed for the great unknown of one or all of Heathrow's four terminals. Somehow, we all managed to arrive at Terminal 1 for the next frisking. (Shoes off this time but scissors passable. Where is the logic in security?) A two hour transit was spent drinking average 3.20 euro coffee, trawling the shops and eyeing the departure boards which failed to list a gate for our flight.

Another BA flight, another delay waiting for paperwork and then for mechanics to fix the captain's PA microphone. Another 40 minutes waiting before push off. Then to the back of the line of at least 6 planes queued for take-off.

Another skimpy BA meal - a sandwich and half a chocolate bar - another crew more interested in chatting to one another and another late arrival. Plus the great unknown of whether a bag checked through two flights would make it to Prague...

What a delight then to see my bag second out onto the baggage carousel and our hotel driver holding up a sign with my name! Almost 12 hours for 2 bad, short haul flights.

My impressions of British Airways?
Don't ask.
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