GoogleIt Mail IT Print IT PermaLinkI Take Back Everything I Said Earlier About CDG :-(

I'm home.

My luggage apparently decided to spend an extra day in Paris.

Here's what I had written on the plane... with compliments to CDG officially retracted.

My Experience At Charles de Gaulle Continues To Defy Predictions

Given the strong negative feelings that others have recently expressed about CDG, I must be incredibly lucky. I wasn't met at the gate of my flight from Prague by an Air France employee with a card with my name on it like someone else was, but I was met by an Air France employee with a card that said "Newark, Boston, Los Angeles", and I along with several others were taken out onto the tarmac, into a car, and whisked directly over to the off-terminal departure building, where we proceeded to go through a short security line. When they realized that I did not have a boarding card yet, another Air France employee told me to wait just outside of security while he went in to print a card for me. He returned in about three minutes, and then the first Air France employee whisked me inside and brought me to the front of the boarding line. And I know this treatment was not because I was a frequent flyer, or even because I was booked business class, because several of the others in the "Neward, Boston, Los Angeles" group had been in the back of the flight from Prague. It's all more impressive given that the reason I didn't have my boarding pass was that the flight was only actually paid for when I was in Prague this morning.

So, while I'm feeling very good and very fortunate about my experiences so far at CDG, and I'm super-impressed with Air France, the agency that books our corporate travel does not impress me at all. They did fine with my original Boston-Paris round trip, but when the trip to Slovakia came up what they should have done to keep the cost down was postpone my Paris-Boston return and sandwiched a Paris-Bratislava round trip in between. Instead, what they did was cancel the Paris-Boston return, book the Paris-Bratislava round trip, and book a new Paris-Boston one way fare. On top of that, despite the fact that I said "no, that's against policy" when they asked if I wanted business class, they booked it that way anyhow. The system kicked back the reservation because it violated corporate fare rules, but they had already sent me a confirming email and I went to the airport for the journey to Bratislava not knowing that they had booked business class and not knowing that my seats were reserved but not ticketed. Still not knowing that the tickets were business class, I figured that payment from the agency had simply been delayed, and I ended up putting the Paris-Bratislava round trip on a credit card, figuring that it would be worked out after the fact. I didn't bother with paying for the Paris-Boston leg, and sure enough when I got to Bratislava and got on line I found that an email had been sent to me by the agency after I had paid with the credit card; so silly me... I figured that my return to Boston was paid, that my Paris-Bratislava round trip was paid twice and I'd get a refund. But no... that itinerary email said "confirmed" for every flight, but not "ticketed" and, having read only two previous itineraries from the agency, that didn't jump out at me as a red flag. In Prague this morning after the first flight leg from Bratislava, I had a couple of hours and decided to check on the status of my Paris-Boston flight, and Air France told me once again that I had a reservation and no ticket. They also told me that the one-way business class fare was over $5,000.00, and that there were no coach seats available. There was no way I was going to put that on a credit card -- even though I had been assured by my director that the business class fare swould be approved. I wanted it direct billed so that in case someone over-ruled it wouldn't become an issue between me and Amex. So I called up the agency and had to talk to a supervisor and recite this whole litany to get them to book the ticket because "business class fare is against your company's policy"... to which I responded "That's what I told you in the first place, but you booked this trip that way anyhow, there's no coach available, I've cleared it with my manager, and you are not going to strand me in Europe over the holidays!

Update: The flight from CDG left a little more than an hour late due to "slow boarding". I guess the car that whisked me to the gate was probably unnecessary, and I guess I'm a little bit less impressed with CDG and Air France than I was earlier. It will be a long, but comfortable flight, and I'll be home tonight, and that's all that counts.

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