I recently took an American Airlines flight from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to Chicago. The time between stepping out of the taxi in front of the airport and getting on my seat on the plane was a case study of the effect of no logistical planning. Insanity 101 would be the course title.
As you approach terminal 2, American planes are parked on the little spoke to the right of the terminal, so when I walked in, I instinctively went to the right to find the check in area. What I found were machine gun wielding El Al security guys guarding the entrance to El Al check in. Nothing needed to be said, this was clearly not the American Airlines check-in counter. It turns out, it is at the far left side of the terminal. Fine. I get there, and even though I checked in online and printed my boarding card, I still needed to go through preliminary security clearance because it was an international flight. I do that, and this part of the process was the most logical of the morning. I was then directed through security which was close to check-in. Makes sense. Once through security, you are directed to the American gates, that are, of course, on the other end of the terminal. No big deal. I get halfway, and see a sign that directs those for gates 37-51 (give or take a gate or two) up a flight of stairs. No escalator. So now there is a logjam, because the group of senior citizens on their European excursion are all struggling to get their wheel-aboards hauled up the stairs. In fact, they are struggling to get themselves up the stairs. Once up to the top, you basically walk around a 2nd floor restaurant, then... BACK DOWN the stairs. Awesome. The sign for the Admirals club takes you out to the little spoke on the side of the terminal that you noticed coming up in the taxi. OK, cool. The zig up and around the cafe thing was a bit weird, but all good now. Into the club. French pastry. Coffee. All good still. Flight called.. "Gate 45". I go out of the club, up the escalator to the main level, and look for it, thinking it's on our little pod. Nope. It's back in the middle of the terminal, right near the restaraunt we climbed over. No big deal. The gate area is pretty small. It's one of those "Gate along the hallway" type of deals. Then I notice that basically the same gate is for gates 45 and 44. It turns out, they are actually boarding the flight to Chicago and the flight to Dallas at the same time from the same gate ramp. Now we have Dallas people and Chicago people converging like it's a Bears-Cowboys game. I go through the gate agent scanning the tickets (which alone seems to be an epic process) and then come to a revolving door that has four very big quadrants. As it happens, the hallway routing people coming off planes and Into customs CROSSES the gate ramp to the plane. There are a series of doors opening and closing to keep the right people on the right track. It is somewhat akin to the revolving door under the clown on a putt-putt course, except it make sense for putt-putt. So you get through to the other side, where there is a guy waiting to make sure the Dallas people go to the Dallas plane, and tine Chicago people go to the Chicago plane. Of course, there is no Chicago plane, only stairs (again) down the ground,where you proceed onto a bus to take you to the real Chicago gate, which isn't a gate at all, just a stairway up to the plane that is parked out near the tarmac.
I really like Paris. Just not the airport.