Frantic Fred's Travel Tips: France
by Miles O'Neal, Jetlag, Ltd.
It is suggested you arrive for international flights 1.5
or 2 hours early. Casey and I threw caution to the wind and
arrived 40 minutes before departure. We therefore spent
every minute of the time in the airport either hurrying
to get into a line, waiting in a line, doing business at
the head of the line, etc, culminating in sitting down on
the plane about 10 minutes before scheduled takeoff, which
we missed by a monumental 7 seconds or something. This is
not a good idea. One computer terminal with an attitude can
delay you enough to miss your flight, in which case they
will happily put you on the next available flight, which
happens to be through an area currently under dispute
by Israel and its neighbors. (On the other hand,
the American Airlines personnel were most helpful, hunting
down late international passengers (by name!), bumping them (us)
to the heads of queues, and essentially hand-carrying us through
At the airport, be prepared for intense questioning by the
French anti-terrorist squads when you arrive for your return
trip. They will descend upon you while you are waiting in line at
the ticket counter. They will ask such questions as who packed your
luggage and when, whether it has been out of your sight since then,
if your grandmother gave you anything to carry on the plane for her,
where you stayed, the names of people you worked with, the names of
the maids at the hotel, the types of tires on the taxi you took, the
cost of a zone four Orange Card that week, which lines you can transfer
between at the Porte Surlee subway station, how many linear feet of
steel girders are used in the Eiffel Tower, and other basic, everyday
questions to establish your credibility as a legitimate traveler, as
opposed to an illegitimate child of Mohammar Khadaffy, etc...
Oh, yes, and who pitched the third inning of the World Series for
the underdog team in 1933?
Make sure you don't speak anything besides English around these
people, or they will give you really HARD questions.
I suggest an interested, helpful, cordial approach with these
people. They do have a sense of humor, but it involves forms of
torture outlawed since the Spanish Inquisition.
Weekday trips to/from the airport typically take twice as
long as weekend trips, so plan accordingly.
Sharon and I departed as we arrived, skipping merrily across the
English Channel, from Calais. Customs was much easier here, and
apparently the boats aren't usually terrorist targets, so nobody
asked us anything. Several trips were cancelled for unknown
reasons (too few passengers), so a bunch of us wandered down to
the beach, waded in the surf, collected shells, etc. Eventually
a ferry arrived. We were in its driveway, and I still suspect
they would have run us over had we not moved. We floated merrily
back to Dover.
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Last Update: 01 Oct 2002
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