Flying to Paris

In November, my wife and I talked about where we would like to spend a few days after Christmas… and we agreed almost immediately… “Why not Paris?” We’ve been fortunate to visit this incredible city many times, and one NEVER grows weary of Paris!

The Phillips Clan on Christmas Day!

The Phillips Clan on Christmas Day!

We decided to fly out late on Christmas Day… and after hosting a celebratory Christmas brunch, we hopped on the MARTA train and headed to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. For us, living in downtown Atlanta and just two blocks from a MARTA station, we can travel easily to and from ATL… It’s quite similar to our journeys to the Copenhagen Airport, Kastrup when we lived in downtown Copenhagen – No traffic, no parking worries!

Because we both are Trusted Travlers, we were able to skip the longer security lines, did not have to remove our shoes, pull out our laptops… and quickly scooted through Airport Security. Well worth the investment.

Beer Departure at ATL Airport - 20131225_173936 (a)One of our travel traditions – which started in Copenhagen – was the “Departure Beer.” We often left CPH on Fridays for weekend getaways throughout Europe. My wife taught at the Copenhagen International School and we would both ride separate metro and trains, meeting at the airport. As it was Friday afternoon – and we were in Copenhagen – having a beer ALWAYS sounded like a good idea… And thus began the “Departure Beer! Here’s the Christmas Day edition from Atlanta’s Terminal E – Cheers!

We spent a few minutes talking with a traveling client – David and his family were connecting at ATL on their way to London – and then boarded Delta flight #32, heading to our connection in Amsterdam.

Ron at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol - 20131226_051403Our flight was very smooth, and with a strong tailwind, only 7.5 hours… one of our quickest trips from ATL to Europe! Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) is perhaps our favorite airport in Europe. It has a casino, a spa, and plenty of shopping and dining options… and although it is large and spread out, it’s generally easy to transition from one terminal to another. As this was our first stop upon entering the Schengen Zone, we would have to go through Immigration (Passport Control) before making our KLM connection to Paris.

We had a 90 minute layover and fortunately the lines were quite light. One interesting AMS travel fact: If you’re connecting at AMS, and you are a KLM Business Class passenger, Flying Blue or SkyTeam Elite Plus member, or GOING TO PARIS ON KLM (like we were), you can use an expedited line at Immigration. This is indeed a time saver. Also, I’ve had tight connections here and when the lines are long, there is often a Airport Representative that clears passengers with tight connections to use “expedited security” lines. Good to know!

We boarded our KLM flight to Paris, arriving at CDG. Like many travelers to Paris, I’ve had my share of bad experiences at Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG). I could probably write a book on my bad experiences here … and repeatedly, this airport has been voted as the World’s Worst Airport. But our arrival experience with KLM was flawless, our checked bags arrived in less than 15 minutes, and we actually were out of the airport less than 30 minutes after landing. Wow, a great start to our Paris vacation.

We have been to Paris often and know our way around the city. Before leaving the Airport, we did stop at one of the Tourist Information Centers (outside Portal 11) and purchased 4-day Museum Passes, two RER (train) tickets into town, and two carnet (10 metro tickets). Keep in mind that non-smart chip credit cards will not work at either the automated ticket machines or some ticket windows. Thus, unless you have Euro cash or coin, you will have to head to a counter. Stopping here, using a credit card, we purchased all our items at one time – a great time saver… From there, we jumped on the RER train and rode into town… delighted to be in Paris!

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