Suggestions for improvement to CDG operations

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Old Jan 29, 08, 2:45 am
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Suggestions for improvement to CDG operations

Originally Posted by creber View Post
If asked, I can without hesitation point out ten things which don't run well although other airports/airlines in the same situation get it right.
Well, let's have them in this thread, at least for the airport part, as there is already a thread about suggestions for improvement to AF operations.

As to airports that are comparable to CDG in scope, here are the latest stats from another thread:

01 ATL *************** 82 137 145 (+5,47% - 11 months)
02 ORD 76 182 025 (-0.15%)
** LHR 67 855 100 (+0.8%)
** HND
05 LAX 61 896 075 (+1.4%)
06 CDG 59 922 177 (+5.4%)
07 DFW 59 786 476 (-0.7%)
08 FRA 54 167 817 (+2.5%)
09 PEK 53 583 664 (+10.5%)
10 MAD 52 143 275 (+13.8%)
11 DEN 49 863 152 (+5.4%)
12 JFK 48 977 858
13 AMS 47 794 994 (+3.8%)
14 HKG 47 783 000 (+7.5%) rounded to the nearest 1,000
15 LAS 47 728 414 (+3.1%)


keeping in mind that :
- HND is mostly domestic operations
- CDG could overtake LAX and DFW in the next few years
- PEK will probably overtake LAX, DFW, CDG and FRA in 2008
- MAD will probably overtake FRA soon
- an airport that is well regarded such as SIN is only about 60% the passenger traffic of CDG

In Europe, the situation that is closest in terms of scope and problems to CDG's would be, IMHO, LHR, although the premium travel market, second in Europe, is only about 1/3 of LHR's.

Last edited by JOUY31; Feb 29, 08 at 5:17 pm Reason: update of PEK data
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Old Jan 29, 08, 3:44 am
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@JOUY31 et al:

OK, let's go through the list of things that could be/should be improved at CDG.

However, in order not to get bogged down in a discussion about size of CDG relative to other airports, let me list a couple of things that have strictly nothing to do with size:

  1. Clean the airport. Right now, it's a pigsty, some terminals more than others.
  2. Maintain the building infrastructure. Right now, it's in a sorry state (broken doors, broken elevators, broken walkways, etc). Newer terminals of course are in a better shape, but overall it fits the cliché that we in France are great at building things but bad at maintaining them.
  3. When building new terminals, do the work properly. Finish in time to allow for simulation of pax flows (look at Munich T2 compared to CDG 2E), and make sure roofs don't collapse.
  4. Make sure passenger information systems (departure boards, baggage arrival information boards, etc.) work and display correct information
  5. Make sure staffing of security lanes is in line with pax flows (more at certain hours)
  6. Have fast lanes for premium pax at all terminals
  7. Don't place boarding pass/ticket control BEFORE check-in counters (defies the purpose of electronic tickets)
  8. Avoid duplicate, triple, quadruple and quintuple checks of the same docs
  9. Install biometric immigration control system (Admittedly, Ministère de l'Intérieur has to cooperate)
  10. Make sure immigration lines are properly staffed
  11. Enforce separation of EU/Swiss and other passport holders at immigration
  12. Train handling staff and make sure they work less sloppily. No more waits for buses and stairs upon arrival of aircraft, no more trolleys/carts/van blocking aircraft stands, etc
  13. Install a baggage handling system fit for the 21st century. Again, it's a big airport, certain bag transfers do take time, that's OK. But right now even the delivery of "destination CDG" baggage at Terminals takes ages
  14. Allow for taxi pick-ups at T1 to pick up pax at arrivals level, not departure levels
  15. Plan for a sufficient number of de-icing trucks in winter. One per departure runway in the morning rush-hour simply isn't enough (delays 30-90 minutes)!
  16. Make sure staff at security check and airport information know they're doing a service job. I.e. they should work not laze around, they should be friendly and patient with pax, not push them around.
  17. Allow for "sterile" transfers, e.g., from Schengen 2D to Schengen 2F (I guess that will change when the terminal transfers are complete)

All of these things are unexcusable, and have nothing to do with the number of pax going through CDG. They are a mess now, and they were a mess when CDG was smaller than FRA.

I am realistic, there are certain handicaps due to size: pax flows will be slower at certain rush hours - but they can be faster than now. There are many planes coming to CDG, so there will be bus gates - but busses should be ready when planes arrive and bus drivers should know where they go.

All of this was just the ADP bit. Air France also can do a better job, but as JOUY31 pointed out, that was discussed in another thread.

JOUY31, thanks for giving me and others the opportunity to turn this post from a ranting start (which I admitted right in the beginning ) into a discussion and constructive criticism of an airport that has no reason to be such a sh**thole. It has far more space than cramped LHR, it's in a country that has all the means to do things well. It's just poorly managed.

Maybe we want to turn that into a sticky in the same way as we have the sticky on Suggestions for AF improvements (after deleting the first couple of posts).

Last edited by JOUY31; Feb 4, 08 at 7:10 am Reason: title added for clarity
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Old Jan 29, 08, 4:54 am
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Originally Posted by creber View Post

7. Don't place boarding pass/ticket control BEFORE check-in counters (defies the purpose of electronic tickets)

*snip*

14. Allow for taxi pick-ups at T1 to pick up pax at arrivals level, not departure levels
I know that ticket control you're talking about, and it is irritating. Especially since the checkers seem not to recognise e-tickets much of the time.

Is the taxi thing at T1 temporary due to the construction work? The last time I came through there the taxis were on the arrivals level.
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Old Jan 29, 08, 5:32 am
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Originally Posted by Louie_LI View Post
I know that ticket control you're talking about, and it is irritating. Especially since the checkers seem not to recognise e-tickets much of the time.
Yes, they're a bit - forgive my language - "monkey-trained". For instance, at T1, if you have a LH internet boarding pass, you're fine. If you have an internet boarding pass for that same LH flight but printed through the Swiss online check-in system (because of connecting flight), they don't accept it.

Originally Posted by Louie_LI View Post
Is the taxi thing at T1 temporary due to the construction work? The last time I came through there the taxis were on the arrivals level.
The taxi rank is still at arrivals levels. But if you order a cab on the phone (Taxis Bleus, Taxis G7), the pickup point is at Door 18 on the departure level. I.e., you have to use the elevators against the flow (go down, whereas most poeple go up to the parking) and then trek through the departure level. I manage to have them pick me up at door 26 or 28 which is closer to the lifts, but still I need to change levels. Why ADP doesn't allow them to wait on the arrivals level is a mystery to me, it did work before. Perfect example of unnecessary hassle.
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Old Jan 29, 08, 2:17 pm
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Originally Posted by jsfr View Post
This only gets you half way from Security to the Gate in AMS or halfway through the security line in LHR...
Agreed with most said above...It's making connections that is not realy pleasant in CDG. As depurture and arival airport it is pretty good.
However, I can't say much about LHR....but from the car park to the gate never takes me more than 15 minutes in AMS....but...I hold a privium pass and that may make the difference.
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Old Jan 29, 08, 11:37 pm
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Originally Posted by creber View Post
3. ...and make sure roofs don't collapse.
This is a rather "strange" point. It implies that the engineers who built the 2E terminal had it planned to collapse, as they will also plan to have all roofs collapse in the future. Bringing the argument ad absurdum, to prevent a related accident (Merriam-Webster: an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance from happening) ADP should build roofless terminals or build no terminals at all making absolutely sure nothing will collapse!
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Old Jan 30, 08, 2:04 am
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Originally Posted by KLouis View Post
This is a rather "strange" point. It implies that the engineers who built the 2E terminal had it planned to collapse, as they will also plan to have all roofs collapse in the future. Bringing the argument ad absurdum, to prevent a related accident (Merriam-Webster: an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance from happening) ADP should build roofless terminals or build no terminals at all making absolutely sure nothing will collapse!
You are arguing like the engineers and architects would argue.

However, I don't "accuse" them of planning to build roofs that collapse, but to work hastily and sloppily. This "not doing things right and doing them well" can be seen all over the airport. The collapsing roof is just the most blatant and tragic example. One of the things that came up in the investigation was the bad quality of execution of the entire terminal, not just that part of the roof (remember how the opening of the terminal had to be postponed because on the night before the opening, when the inspectors from some authority walked the premises to check it, a part of the ceiling lightning crashed in front of their feet.)

Which brings it all back to my point that overall at CDG there is no culture of quality and diligence in execution, be it from parking ground handling carts (blocking aircraft stands) to maintaining and building terminals.
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Old Jan 30, 08, 2:17 am
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Originally Posted by nomad1974 View Post
Sometimes I wonder at such "surveys". CDG is clearly one of the world's major airports and probably not the best of them. However, to claim it is the fifth worst airport in the world is a gross exaggeration and, quite frankly, untrue!.
As pointed out by LeFrancaisVolant, it turns out this was not a ranking. But still I think the world agrees that CDG is among the worst.

Originally Posted by nomad1974 View Post
As I also now happen to live in Paris,
Bienvenue!

Originally Posted by nomad1974 View Post
you check in,
err right... depending on which terminal you use for check-in, you face a somewhat disorderly layout of CKI desks: at 2B and 2D, you have to have your ticket or boarding pass BEFORE going to the CKI desk. Then it's sometimes one desk per destination, sometimes per region, often the descriptions on the screen are wrong or don't correspond to the departure board, you may have to go through some ID check before lining up (2F), and (also in 2F) it's not quite clear where status pax should check in. Why not do what other airports do: one bank of CKI desks for Economy, one for business and status pax, one for First and status pax.


Originally Posted by nomad1974 View Post
go through security/passport control
...which takes longer than it needs to because of its anarchical organization and the useless repeated checks of the same papers over and over again.

Originally Posted by nomad1974 View Post
go to the gate,
...which may be the wrong gate, because they've changed it but the info screens don't work; you may be too early or too late because they don't properly display actual boarding times...

Originally Posted by nomad1974 View Post
board,
... with bus drivers often losing their way, or planes can't be accessed because ground handling material blocks the way. When you get to the plane by bus, you find that ADP hasn't bothered to invest in roofed stairways, so you stand in the rain...

Originally Posted by nomad1974 View Post
taxi (yes, sometimes forever, but hey, there's always AMS to top that!),
The distances are what they are, and I am glad CDG is so big - only with a runway system like this can all the traffic be handled. However, taxi times get significantly longer if you wait 30-90 minutes for one of the two de-icing machines.

Originally Posted by nomad1974 View Post
take off! Vice-versa for arriving. Plus, CDG has pretty much excellent ground transport options (buses, RER, long distance trains incl. an international service).
Arriving is a combination of: wait on board for the plane to park (stand blocked), wait for the bus or the jetty (not ready), wait for someone to open the connecting door to the terminal, wait at immigration in the line manned by 1 immigration officer, wait ages for your luggage... there's hardly a trip where none of these things happen, usually two to three.

The RER is a nightmare. Slow, shabby, dirty... A Heathrow Express-like service would be the thing to have. Fast, reliable, clean.

Originally Posted by nomad1974 View Post
In short, what I am saying is yes, there are shortcomings
Numerous of them, and many of them easy to avoid, but still occuring because the place is poorly managed.

Originally Posted by nomad1974 View Post
but it is far from being the 5th worst airport in the world. Really.
Agreed.
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Old Jan 30, 08, 3:22 am
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creber, thanks for the welcome first of all

OK, most of your points may well be valid and unfortunately some are unique to CDG but my simple point was that it really is not the worse (or even 5th worse) airport in the world. But I see now that this has been addressed by LFV's post

As for the specific issues, yes, I agree on the check-in desks chaos situation. However, 3 things:
1) if you're a frequent user it really should not confuse you as much as you'd have got the hang of it after a while;
2) why not check in online? It's available for most destinations these days, certainly on AF etc;
3) there are worse offenders: try GRU or JNB at peak times (e.g. every evening - you can hardly walk through the terminal) or try CAI etc.

Re gates, boarding, distances, etc, well, whilst this is not the ideal situation, again, CDG is not much worse (or, alas, better) than many other major airports in Europe (think LHR, MXP, even FRA) and around the world.
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Old Jan 30, 08, 3:57 am
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Originally Posted by nomad1974 View Post
creber, thanks for the welcome first of all

OK, most of your points may well be valid and unfortunately some are unique to CDG but my simple point was that it really is not the worse (or even 5th worse) airport in the world. But I see now that this has been addressed by LFV's post

As for the specific issues, yes, I agree on the check-in desks chaos situation. However, 3 things:
1) if you're a frequent user it really should not confuse you as much as you'd have got the hang of it after a while;
2) why not check in online? It's available for most destinations these days, certainly on AF etc;
3) there are worse offenders: try GRU or JNB at peak times (e.g. every evening - you can hardly walk through the terminal) or try CAI etc.

Re gates, boarding, distances, etc, well, whilst this is not the ideal situation, again, CDG is not much worse (or, alas, better) than many other major airports in Europe (think LHR, MXP, even FRA) and around the world.
I think we agree on most points. Re: check-in desks... well, I rarely use 2F and then it's hard to find out whether as an FB Platinum traveling to GVA you're supposed to use the "Europe" counters or if there's a GVA-only counter, or whether there is a separate desk for Plats, and if in fact there is, does that cover all of Europe or is there a separate Plat counter just for GVA... and so on. As for 2D, the desks change all the time. All I am saying is: it doesn't take a lot to make this simple, nice and easy. Only partly an ADP issue, it's also Air France that's at fault there.

Online CKI: I try to as much as I can. Trouble is, 1 out of 3 times it doesn't work. See also some other posts I made re: that in this forum.

For boarding, distances, gates: you may have noticed that I never criticize the size of CDG. I think it's actually one of its great strengths, at least it's the magic bullet for its future development. Bus gates are a reality in continental Europe, I can live with them. Just look at FRA, it's even worse (although as a loyal customer of Swiss/Lufthansa I get a Mercedes S-Class or Porsche Cayenne private limo ride to/from the plane and never have to take the bus ). But: at CDG, it's more the execution than the concept which is a pain.

All in all I agree, there are worse airports. Although I'd have to think hard about a worse airport in Europe. LHR probably is on par.

I think the thing that gets me angry at CDG all the time is that it doesn't have to be that way! It's not like LHR, which (on top of being not so well managed) is space-constrained; or like some of the US airports which go crazy because of security; or certain airports which are in anarchic countries. CDG has the space and the means to do things well. So why torture us?
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Old Jan 30, 08, 4:03 am
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Originally Posted by creber View Post
I CDG has the space and the means to do things well. So why torture us?
That is my exact thought.

Btw, thank you for your input.
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Old Jan 30, 08, 4:20 am
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Originally Posted by creber View Post
err right... depending on which terminal you use for check-in, you face a somewhat disorderly layout of CKI desks: at 2B and 2D, you have to have your ticket or boarding pass BEFORE going to the CKI desk. Then it's sometimes one desk per destination, sometimes per region, often the descriptions on the screen are wrong or don't correspond to the departure board, you may have to go through some ID check before lining up (2F), and (also in 2F) it's not quite clear where status pax should check in. Why not do what other airports do: one bank of CKI desks for Economy, one for business and status pax, one for First and status pax.
In this particular case 2B mostly handles non Schengen flights. The check before entering the CKI in area is a police check. Once you have cleared it, you are not, AFAIK, subject to another check before accessing the CKI desks. 2D is different. It is not clear to me why ADP and/or PAF (the french "Police aux frontières") have recently implemented this preliminary ticket check before entering the CKI area. Since it is not a police check, my understanding is that it acts as a filter and prevents the small CKI area from being invaded by non passengers (relatives, tourism agencies staff...)

As far as 2F, 2E and 2C are concerned, the ticket checks by AF agents before the CKI lines have been precisely designed for those who find CDG's layout confusing.

The purpose is also to encourage eligible passengers to use the CKI machines and avoid long lines at the desks. You also have certainly noticed that some of the agents manning the lines for long haul CKI use PDAs in order to perform last minute yield management and anticipate potential IDB.

Why not do what other airports do: one bank of CKI desks for Economy, one for business and status pax, one for First and status pax.
I was told by an AF CKI agent at 2B that this was not possible due to the architecture of luggage belts behind the CKI desks (not all the luggage belts converge to the same collection belt and EDS / tomographs). We don't know but checked luggage to ALG are likely to go through more stringent scrutiny than luggage to GVA or PRG.
wait at immigration in the line manned by 1 immigration officer
Agreed, but not under ADP's control.
wait ages for your luggage...
Except at 2A (EY flight), my recent CDG arrivals haven't involved ages of wait at luggage delivery.

The RER is a nightmare. Slow, shabby, dirty... A Heathrow Express-like service would be the thing to have. Fast, reliable, clean.
Agreed that the RER is not exactly a thrilling experience. Non stop trains between Gare du Nord and CDG are not that slow though.
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Old Jan 30, 08, 4:35 am
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Originally Posted by Falco Peregrinus View Post
In this particular case 2B mostly handles non Schengen flights. The check before entering the CKI in area is a police check. Once you have cleared it, you are not, AFAIK, subject to another check before accessing the CKI desks. 2D is different. It is not clear to me why ADP and/or PAF (the french "Police aux frontières") have recently implemented this preliminary ticket check before entering the CKI area. Since it is not a police check, my understanding is that it acts as a filter and prevents the small CKI area from being invaded by non passengers (relatives, tourism agencies staff...)

As far as 2F, 2E and 2C are concerned, the ticket checks by AF agents before the CKI lines have been precisely designed for those who find CDG's layout confusing.

The purpose is also to encourage eligible passengers to use the CKI machines and avoid long lines at the desks. You also have certainly noticed that some of the agents manning the lines for long haul CKI use PDAs in order to perform last minute yield management and anticipate potential IDB.

I was told by an AF CKI agent at 2B that this was not possible due to the architecture of luggage belts behind the CKI desks (not all the luggage belts converge to the same collection belt and EDS / tomographs). We don't know but checked luggage to ALG are likely to go through more stringent scrutiny than luggage to GVA or PRG.
Agreed, but not under ADP's control. Except at 2A (EY flight), my recent CDG arrivals haven't involved ages of wait at luggage delivery.

Agreed that the RER is not exactly a thrilling experience. Non stop trains between Gare du Nord and CDG are not that slow though.
Re: 2B. Surely ADP and the airlines can discuss with PAF to either re-locate their desk to somewhere it makes sense, or alternatively ask PAF to reduce their role to what their duty is: check passports for people leaving/entering the country. It's none of their business to know whether or not I have a ticket. After all, when I'm crossing the border on the motorway in Basel, I don't have to show a ticket either, do I?

Re: the people at 2F. It's interesting to have a unnecessarily complex layout/pax flow, and then to add another layer of complexity (=the people checking papers) to resolve the first complexity. Why not simply reduce complexity? Have one area for shorthaul flights (2F-1), one for longhaul flights (2F-2). Have kiosks all over the place. When lines get long, employees can still roam the lines and suggest to people to use the kiosks. That can be done without systematically checking everyone who wants to access a queue.

As for 2B, I don't buy that counter-to-gate-because-of-bag-belt restriction. For instance, the Swiss CKI counter is always at the same place. However, flights can leave from any gate between B20 to B27. So there seems to be a way that bags can go from any counter to any gate.

Interesting to learn about the PDA to yield management approach, I didn't know that.
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Old Jan 30, 08, 4:43 am
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Originally Posted by JOUY31 View Post
Unless I am mistaken, there is a single Elite and premium check-in area for 2F1, that of course includes GVA.

And there is now a very welcome improvement by AF in 2D: a central Elite and premium check-in area with its own Access n°1 lane just a few meters away, to which the check-in agents direct you (after telling about lounge access).
Thanks for pointing that out JOUY31.

I weakens my argument a bit, but I am glad to learn that things are moving that way. Actually, the best that could happen would be if all my argument was redundant

And this improvement shows how easy some things can be to fix.
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Old Jan 30, 08, 5:19 am
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Originally Posted by JOUY31 View Post
... with its own Access n°1 lane just a few meters away, to which the check-in agents direct you (after telling about lounge access).
On the topic of the "Access no 1", while I do welcome the addition of these lines, I do think that ADP could make them slightly more comprehensible to non-frequent users of CDG.

I was traveling with a colleague recently, FB Gold, and he had no clue at all what this line could mean ... and since we were in transit, no one to tell him about it either ...

I know that the argument has been brought forward that since it's an ADP sign, it couldn't be AF/KL specific, but I think something along the lines of "Business/First/Elite Flyers" would be quite airline neutral.

Cheers,

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