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How early to arrive at CDG for seasoned traveler? Air France economy

How early to arrive at CDG for seasoned traveler? Air France economy

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Old Nov 20, 18, 8:30 am
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How early to arrive at CDG for seasoned traveler? Air France economy

Early planner- will be traveling to Spain/France this summer, and returning to the US on Air France out of CDG. Previously have only left CDG on United out of T1 (what a clusterf....). Anyway, will be leaving on AF 026 at 4:20 PM on a Sunday afternoon in August, flying economy with a family of 4, checking a couple of bags. We will be taking the RER to CDG, are not nervous travelers, do not need to be at the airport many hours beforehand, in fact its not great to try to kill hours with kids. But have never flown Air France out of CDG, much less in economy. What's a reasonable time to arrive at the airport, to allow normal time to walk from the T2 RER station, check-in, clear passport control, security at T2E? Will not have Acces no.1. Thanks!
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Old Nov 20, 18, 8:48 am
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Originally Posted by DCJoe1 View Post
Early planner- will be traveling to Spain/France this summer, and returning to the US on Air France out of CDG. Previously have only left CDG on United out of T1 (what a clusterf....). Anyway, will be leaving on AF 026 at 4:20 PM on a Sunday afternoon in August, flying economy with a family of 4, checking a couple of bags. We will be taking the RER to CDG, are not nervous travelers, do not need to be at the airport many hours beforehand, in fact its not great to try to kill hours with kids. But have never flown Air France out of CDG, much less in economy. What's a reasonable time to arrive at the airport, to allow normal time to walk from the T2 RER station, check-in, clear passport control, security at T2E? Will not have Acces no.1. Thanks!

Moving this thread to the Air France forum.
Thanks for your understanding.

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Old Nov 20, 18, 8:59 am
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Originally Posted by JOUY31 View Post
Moving this thread to the Air France forum.
Thanks for your understanding.

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Thanks. I realize now this may be a somewhat common question and should have searched this forum!

My current thinking is to aim for the RER that arrives at T2 at 1:57 PM, for the 4:20 PM flight. Thoughts?

Last edited by DCJoe1; Nov 20, 18 at 10:40 am
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Old Nov 20, 18, 11:54 am
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Originally Posted by DCJoe1 View Post
Thanks. I realize now this may be a somewhat common question and should have searched this forum!

My current thinking is to aim for the RER that arrives at T2 at 1:57 PM, for the 4:20 PM flight. Thoughts?
Please be careful that during summer, RER B/D can potentially have maintenance project that cuts some of the trains so seeing the RER time-table 10 months in advance doesn't make sense. If there is reduced capacity in RER B, I will simply recommend to take RoissyBus or Air France Car (I forogt how they marketed that nowadays).

I will personally recommend to arrive at CDG no later than 13:30. CDG in August can be a zoo, especially for no Sky Priority pax. It has been a few years that I helped my aunt checking in for her AF flight back in YYZ, we waited 45 mins in line to check her bags. Without SP, it can be another 30 mins wait for passport control then 15-20 mins for security. Taken into account that your flight shall probably start boarding at 15:30, arriving at 14:00 will basically make yourself running all the way if your gate is unfortunately to be at L.

Having 30 mins in spare and to grab a nice café and some patisseries before your flight!
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Old Nov 20, 18, 2:39 pm
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Originally Posted by tbaiyun View Post
we waited 45 mins in line to check her bags. Without SP, it can be another 30 mins wait for passport control then 15-20 mins for security. Taken into account that your flight shall probably start boarding at 15:30, arriving at 14:00 will basically make yourself running all the way if your gate is unfortunately to be at L.

Having 30 mins in spare and to grab a nice café and some patisseries before your flight!
Was that before the kiosks could print baggage tags? I have never experienced a wait like that at airports with kiosks, but that's why I am asking because I haven't flown out of CDG with checked bags. This may be enough motivation to try and not check bags- we do pack pretty light most of the time.

30 minutes for passport control sounds a bit on the long side but I could certainly see it taking that long on a busy day.

Good reminder about the possibility of adding an extra 15 minutes to get to the L or M halls.

Now I have one more question- if I opt not to pay $92 to reserve 4 seats together, are there generally full sets of seats available if I OLCI 30 hours before departure?

Last edited by DCJoe1; Nov 20, 18 at 3:32 pm Reason: Further questions!
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Old Nov 20, 18, 5:03 pm
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Originally Posted by DCJoe1 View Post
Was that before the kiosks could print baggage tags? I have never experienced a wait like that at airports with kiosks, but that's why I am asking because I haven't flown out of CDG with checked bags. This may be enough motivation to try and not check bags- we do pack pretty light most of the time.

30 minutes for passport control sounds a bit on the long side but I could certainly see it taking that long on a busy day.

Good reminder about the possibility of adding an extra 15 minutes to get to the L or M halls.

Now I have one more question- if I opt not to pay $92 to reserve 4 seats together, are there generally full sets of seats available if I OLCI 30 hours before departure?
You normally won't need to get to M as it closes at 14:00. But still, there can still be repair here or there in K or L next year unable to estimate that far.

Clearing passport is long due that all pax originating from CDG use the same passport control area which locates in the center of 2E-K. And then security will be cleared at the local terminal K, L or M, which shall be shorter even with the transit pax . I heard about in summer there is an area in 2F that links directly to L gates (a corridor to walk, no train), but I've never used that so there shall be someone who can help.

For the seats, if you want to stay together, pay. That is August dude.... You may even try to see the seat map for a flight on Thursday out of CDG, I don't really think you will be able to find a full row of empty seats. And remember, connecting pax get their seats first, as their OLCI open T-30 for the FIRST flight.
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Old Nov 21, 18, 4:00 am
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Originally Posted by tbaiyun View Post
If there is reduced capacity in RER B, I will simply recommend to take RoissyBus or Air France Car (I forogt how they marketed that nowadays)
Air France Car is now called Le Bus Direct, although I guess "Air France Car" on Google will always point on the relevant website.
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Old Nov 21, 18, 9:01 am
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Originally Posted by tbaiyun View Post

For the seats, if you want to stay together, pay. That is August dude.... You may even try to see the seat map for a flight on Thursday out of CDG, I don't really think you will be able to find a full row of empty seats. And remember, connecting pax get their seats first, as their OLCI open T-30 for the FIRST flight.
Yeah, I hear that and will likely pay for the seats. If we end up switching flights (if the miles cost drops and we switch to the earlier flight), will the fee paid for the seat reservation carryover to the new flight?

Thanks for the ideas about Roissybus/Le Bus Direct. We will likely have Navigo Decouverte cards, so taking the Roissybus/RER makes the most sense as it will be included in the card cost. Since our last day is at the Paris Hilton right by Gare St. Lazare/Haussmann, taking the RER E to the RER B seems the best choice. We are very used to taking trains in cities and travel light with mostly carry-on sized bags.

Thanks for indulging my questions- I know Paris and CDG T1 very well, but have never flown Air France before other than a single business class one-way JFK-CDG.
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Old Nov 21, 18, 10:24 am
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Originally Posted by tbaiyun View Post
(...) I heard about in summer there is an area in 2F that links directly to L gates (a corridor to walk, no train), but I've never used that so there shall be someone who can help.(...)
Checking-in in 2F for actual 2E departure is only for specific flights.

If your flight is not designated for checking-in in 2F, then you cannot go through security at 2F and use the corridor to 2E.
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Old Nov 22, 18, 8:10 pm
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Originally Posted by DCJoe1 View Post
30 minutes for passport control sounds a bit on the long side but I could certainly see it taking that long on a busy day.
30 minutes at passport control is very common. I would plan to allow 60 minutes. In all, if your flight is transatlantic, I would be at the airport 3 hours before scheduled departure, particularly if you do not have special status of some kind.

Originally Posted by DCJoe1 View Post
Now I have one more question- if I opt not to pay $92 to reserve 4 seats together, are there generally full sets of seats available if I OLCI 30 hours before departure?
There is absolutely no way to authoritatively know what seat availability will be in advance other than possibly checking with reservations on how many seats are yet to be sold.
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Old Nov 26, 18, 10:20 am
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Originally Posted by Tamino View Post
There is absolutely no way to authoritatively know what seat availability will be in advance other than possibly checking with reservations on how many seats are yet to be sold.
I would say that regarding the high season when the OP is planning to travel, I would definitely pay to be seated together, if that's a strong requirement.
But as a "seasoned" traveler, maybe the OP has some kind of status that would allow advance seat selection?
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Old Nov 26, 18, 1:33 pm
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Originally Posted by olivedel View Post
I would say that regarding the high season when the OP is planning to travel, I would definitely pay to be seated together, if that's a strong requirement.
But as a "seasoned" traveler, maybe the OP has some kind of status that would allow advance seat selection?
Sadly, no status. Just used the word seasoned to mean that I know my way around airports, cities, transit, etc very well. Not the type to get lost and spend 30 minutes going the wrong direction, etc, and also not the type who normally gives myself hours of cushion going through airports I know well. But I don't know CDG quite as well, in particular the check-in and security procedures at 2E.

I had to split the reservations into 2 separate reservations for annoying reasons- each reservation is 1 parent, 1 child. AF says they will assign seats together 2 days in advance for reservations with children in them, so I figure we should be okay, even if we have to sit 2 by 2 a few rows apart. What I don't want is to spend $95 on seats and then decide later to switch to the earlier flight (paying award change fee) and lose that money.

Thanks all, I think we will get there around 1:30-1:45 PM for the 4:20 PM flight and not check bags unless that line looks short.
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Old Nov 27, 18, 10:26 am
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For a flight departing at 4:20 PM, immigration and security will not be a big issue (at least it wasn't when departing on AF026 last summer). There aren't many long-haul departures during that timeframe so your timing seems to be fine.
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Old Nov 28, 18, 11:45 pm
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Keep in mind that RER B has many issues.
Everything could be smooth, but it also can become a nightmare if there is a problem.
Furthermore, in August, CDG is often FULL.
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Old Nov 30, 18, 2:15 pm
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For me I would look at taking a car service, Air France Les Cars Bus( Tickets should be purchased in advance as they do sell out especially in August) Uber/Lyft or a private shuttle but avoid a Taxi I took the Air France 84 flight in August and I arrived at least 4 hours prior just in case with the long lines etc. In fact I arrived around 6:40 AM and the Sky Priority counter was open. I highly advise using online checkin and using the Express Bag Dropoff.

Figure security at the hour you are going at can take anywhere from 20-40 minutes. Passport control if you have a Machine Readable Passport or E Passport about 10-20 minutes. Then you need to take a Tram about 5 minute and then about a 10-15 minute walk to the gate.

In your situation 3- 4 hours is the best but during summer I err on 4 hours just to be safe. You never know what could go wrong.

Another piece of advice is to book a hotel room at the CDG Sheraton or other hotel and ask for a late checkout. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast , swim and then take the free shuttle to the airport. You could take the RER B to CDG and then the free hotel shuttle arriving at the hotel around 3 PM just before the rush hour. I have stayed at an airport hotel the day before even on a later departure to avoid any stress. Most of the time for a early morning flight. Also you may be required to go through secondary screening as well at CDG depending on your destination at the gate. They do advise you to be at the gate 45 minutes-1 hour prior to departure especially for secondary screening

Not to scare you but I have seen a family turned away from my AF flight because they failed to show up in time for the secondary gate screening.


If you did not want the hotel option I would highly advise you to leave Paris no later than 11:00 AM figure 1 hour to CDG. Air Fance also operates Les Cars Buses from areas like Gare Montparnass.

Other option would be to take the Eurostar to Marne La Vallee and spend the day or two at Disney Paris and take a shuttle to CDG about 30 minutes to CDG. Or even if you did not do Disney take the TGV to Marne La Valee(from Gare Du Nord).

Do remember Sundays are busy as Parisans come in from vacation. It can be hard to predict especially in August when they start to return from vacation or the weekend away from their vacation homes in the South of France. Trains and RERs can be crowded the later in the day you go. So yes it can get crowded which is why I like the Saturday afternoon Hotel Stay or the TGV option to Marne La Vallee yes it may be out of the way but the Peripherique can be crowded. It once took me 90 minutes to reach CDG due to an accident but we allowed plenty of time.

Other people have planned a trip where you end up at CDG and return the car the day before after dropping off the family at the hotel with the luggage and take the free shuttle back and then the shuttle the next day. Some hotels offer rental car returns as well.

Worst case scenario ( last resort) rent a car in the central of Paris and return it to the hotel near the airport the day before or at CDG day of travel. This avoids parking. You find a City Car Rental agency near your Paris hotel or apartment and return it to the airport or your Saturday hotel,


On Hotwire I have seen 4 star CDG hotels go for $80 a night. Penta Hotel near the airport is nice but breakfast is 12 Euros. The CDG Sheraton is another option or the Concorde CDG Hotel.

I hope this helps. BTW I am a seasoned traveler myself. If you have Priority Pass you can use the lounge or Day Passes via LoungeBuddy etc. So you could also spend the extra time in the lounge as I do.

Last edited by danielonn; Nov 30, 18 at 2:33 pm
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