Business at Charles De Gaulle

finding a lounge

 
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I’ve officially been given the boot from the United non-revenue stand by ring of honor, and can no longer enjoy luxurious international first class flights on my modest budget. However, I’ve experienced the good life, and I’m drawn to the complimentary champagne in tiny plastic glasses like a grizzly to the seafood counter at Safeway – I have no business being there, but it doesn’t make me want it any less. So, like many frequent travelers, I now try to use points and miles when I can to occasionally indulge in these sumptuous luxuries. I’m no expert, so please keep that in mind. I’m just turning in a freshman homework assignment, not defending my doctoral dissertation.

Due in large part to credit card bonuses, I found myself with enough points to upgrade my ticket from Paris CDG to Chicago ORD to United Polaris business class. I was aware that this would not be the exciting new Polaris seat, but the older, 6 across product, but to me, that’s still pretty good. I went ahead and pulled the trigger. Since I don’t have the war chest of miles that many frequent travelers have, I really only consider using them on business class for return trips from overseas, when the excitement of the trip isn’t enough to keep me comfortable. The fact that these award seats were actually open, and I could actually afford them, and it was for a flight I would actually be on, convinced me that this would be as good a use for my points as I might find in the near future.

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Anyway, once the day of the flight arrived, I knew I would have access to lounges both at CDG, and at ORD, where I would be connecting. I figured the real prize would be the Polaris lounge in Chicago, as it is currently the only one that’s up and running, but I nevertheless wanted to explore the options in Paris and was looking forward to a pre-flight beverage. To the United agent’s credit, she did try to describe where the Paris lounge that I had access to would be located, but even her instructions weren’t enough to overcome my ignorance of Charles De Gaulle.

In the states, and in most airports I’ve encountered, lounges are located somewhere between security and the gates themselves, and because of this, I never really start looking for them until I’ve cleared security. I assumed that would be the case at CDG, but was mistaken. There are several checkpoints, at which boarding passes and passports are checked, as well as the final checkpoint, where security screening takes place. The lounge, as it turns out, was between the penultimate and the final security checkpoint, a fact not realized until it was too late. Once you reach the gate area, you are essentially marooned with only a coffee shop, one bathroom, and duty free to satisfy your needs.

This may not be the case for all gates at CDG, it’s a pretty substantial airport, but it certainly was for the United departures to IAD and ORD at Terminal 1, so be advised.