According to the independent Canadian travel site, sleepinginairports.net, which conducts a permanent survey of its users, Roissy CDG is the worst airport in the world, ahead of Moscow, New York, Los Angeles and Delhi. The best being Singapore, Seoul and Hong Kong. The best in Europe being Amsterdam, San Francisco for North America, Rio for America and Dubai for the Middle East. No doubt this is unfair: there are many people, at ADP, at Roissy as at Orly, who do their best to be friendly, to help passengers, and to facilitate their passage; especially those dealing with baggage security and passenger security checks. And there are much worse airports than Roissy in France, in Europe and in the world, on all continents.
But, even if it’s unfair, that’s how it is, that’s the image that the world has of our airport, and it’s true that, in relative terms, taking into account the per capita income of the country, and in comparing to many other airports, Roissy airport is mind-boggling.
At any time of the day, the arrival there is appalling and I imagine the idea that someone who arrives there for the first time can have of France: a few vague and hideous welcome signs worthy of East Berlin, scattered in poorly marked corridors. No human figure, no welcome. Worse still, when you get there early in the morning, there are usually only two police officers, doing their best to deal with the thousands of people disembarked from dozens of jumbo jets arriving from America and Asia. It is still necessary to find their location, so often enigmatic. And worst of all: everything there is too often dirty or at least questionable: the corridors, the escalators, the toilets, not to mention some restaurants…
At any hour of the day, the departure is pathetic. Great difficulties to reach the airport from Paris: no decent and convenient public transport. No lanes reserved for taxis. Remote and often very dirty car parks. Escalators to reach the departure lounges very often broken down. A more than approximate air conditioning. Check-in counters almost impossible to find because the signs announcing their positions are, more often still, broken, and when they are not, the position of the check-in counters is very poorly indicated. Only a few homeless people seem to find pleasure in the rare, dirty and uncomfortable seats that we dare to offer travelers.
The staff are doing their best, visibly under pressure because they are too few and insufficiently trained.
The only places of humanity are, sometimes, the shops or the restaurants: in other words, everything that is free is terrible, everything that has to be paid for is paid for. And again: the shops themselves are sometimes surprising: why, for example, under customs, so many luxury shops and no pharmacies?
An airport is a business, a department store, which sells lots of things and provides countless services. The passenger pays to enter the airport; he finances the airport through his passage He would have the right to expect when he arrives, like when you enter a store, that there is someone to say hello to him, to ask him what he needs.
As for the lounges reserved for business classes, they are at Roissy a thousand miles from what you find in many airports such as Abu Dhabi or Istanbul, not to mention Singapore, Seoul or Hong Kong. Let’s not pretend that we need money that we don’t have: we’ve spent, we’re spending fortunes at Roissy on useless things. And it is also in Air France’s interest for ADP to be competitive, otherwise many people will refuse to use Paris and ADP as a transit airport and the national company will not succeed in having the large hub she’s dreaming.
One can even wonder if General de Gaulle would be happy to see his name associated with this.
France, the world’s leading tourist nation, which claims to once again become a world intellectual and cultural center, can only decline if nothing is done to radically change the image it gives of itself. And nothing is more important, for a country as for a person, than to show respect for oneself: it is even the first condition to be fulfilled in order to hope to be respected by others.