Is Paris An Airplane?

Air France

…it’s a challenge to get through to the person you really need to speak to on the phone.

…the amount of documentation you need seems excessive.

…when there’s a screw up, there’s no one to complain to.

…all the workers act like they can’t be fired—because they can’t.

…you’re sure the folks up ahead of you are getting better treatment.

…there aren’t nearly enough bathrooms.

…getting a refund is impossible.

…most improvements don’t quite work out as expected.

…sticking your hand in the seat pocket in front of you can be a risky proposition.

…the person in front of you doesn’t care about the person behind them.

…you don’t listen to safety warnings.

…you spend all your time eating, or anticipating eating.

…you wonder “How do they get anything done in those tiny kitchens?”

…you eat things you normally wouldn’t.

…you can’t return food if it’s not cooked to your liking.

…rice is served with almost everything.

…alcohol is crucial for survival.

…the seats are too small.

…you worry the person who’s going to sit next to you may stink.

…you realize the person who just sat down next to you stinks.

…you can’t (or don’t want to) sit down in the bathrooms.

…the sinks are uselessly small.

…the soap stinks to high heaven.

…the floor is icky.

…you realize that the person in front of you didn’t think that “As a courtesy to the next passenger” applied to them.

…the coffee is undrinkable.

…the pillows are too thin.

…no one really cares if you’re comfortable or not.

…the most direct route is often impossible to find to get to where you want to go.

…no one uses the ashtrays.

…the only fresh air is outside.

…it’s interdit to open any windows.

…it’s either too hot or too cold.

…it’s every man for himself.

…the people next to you expect you to listen to them, whether you want to or not.

…you look around and wonder who chooses some of those color schemes.

…you see a lot of exposed skin that would be better covered up.

…the help looks better than the guests.

…there’s always a movie showing with Gerard Depardieu. Or Sharon Stone.

…sex is no big deal.

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  • March 17, 2008 4:48am

    What a nice comparison :D
    So, if I’m flying to Paris this spring, there’s no need to step off the plane?

    PS! Love your blog and the humour in your attitude.
    In addition to all the delicious posts, the ones about Paris have been enormously useful in planning my trip. Thanks!

  • March 17, 2008 5:47am


    Just as well you only do short hops across the Atlantic!

    For true purgatory, you need to try flying a charter “airline” to Australia or New Zealand. All 24 hours of it – complete with a Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn movie. Twice. In one trip.

    It makes the human zoo that is Aéroport Charles de Gaulle look like a Buckingham Palace garden party.


  • March 17, 2008 5:50am

    where did the rest of that go?

    After that trip, living in any city – even one as frustrating as Paris – is an absolute delight!


    PS What are ashtrays? surely that is SO 2007!

  • March 17, 2008 9:02am

    Your humor is refreshing as always!

  • mb
    March 17, 2008 9:10am

    Hmm, you must be in the wrong places with the wrong crowd, lol!!!

  • March 17, 2008 1:10pm

    Great analogy!

    How about screaming children? Got those?

  • March 17, 2008 4:43pm

    Well, it appears to me that the whole Europe is a huge, titanic airplane. Not only Paris.
    And how about always looking at the bright side of life…?

  • March 17, 2008 4:51pm

    Joanna: Er…from watching the news, it’s appears there’s quite a few problems on the other side of the pond, too!

  • March 17, 2008 5:16pm

    Hmmmm…..definitely you’re right. I have just based my opinion on my very own experience. But if we go your direction, we have to assume there are simiar problems everywhere….Scary, isn’t it?
    Well…anyway…being an optimist really helps a lot ;-) You don’t focus on negatives so much :-)

  • flavia
    March 17, 2008 8:59pm

    It’s going to get worse: I heard they just took over ALITALIA (which stands for: Always Late In Takeoff Always Late In Arrival).


  • Kyria
    March 18, 2008 12:03am

    Bad day…

  • March 18, 2008 4:23am

    Another forgettable French moment…
    Taking an AF to Paris packed full of boisterously, ecstatic French tourist shopping groups, fresh from blowing their healthy Euros in super cheap New York.
    Not priceless :(

  • watao
    March 18, 2008 11:01am

    i had to laugh about many of the listed characteristics. and as long as all of them arent real problems to you, pls dont read any further ^^

    but if this was also a way to complain about real life in paris not keeping what movies & tourists promised – well, i think we got that already after the 1st dozens of points…

    i just dont like this kinda “its not heaven so must be hell” attitude (if this WOULD apply to you) thats so common everywhere. and especially when its about an american in france it somehow gets as mistakable as it can get.

    u know, if problems abroad would be about the size of sinks…

    anyway it was funny to me, too. just treasure your skills in food more than your humor ;-)

  • Ms B
    March 18, 2008 11:28am

    This all is true.

    My honeymoon trip to France was all about the airport . . . where my luggage was lost, for pretty much the entire trip, and returned to me the night before we departed. I suspect it was in the airport all along, but there was a “demi” strike at the time (some people working, some people not), so there was no sense of urgency by anyone to get my things to me.

    On the bright side, when I explained at check-in for the return fliight (in my best French with a tear in my eye) about how my new husband was upset that we were on our “lune de miel” and I had no “negligee” and that flying back to the Etats-Unis in “la premier classe” would save the new marriage, the kind counter attendant got his supervisor to give us free upgrades!

  • March 18, 2008 11:34am

    Hi watoo: As regular readers know, I spend most of my time here extolling the virtues of Paris. Most notably, the food. While it’s a great place to live, like anywhere, it does have a few quirks…like the lack of bathrooms and the heaps of rice on Caesar salads.

    And if you really want to hear someone complain about France, the French (les râleurs) are pretty good at that themselves!

    : )

    Ms. B: Wow, did you get the name of that ticket agent? If so, pass it along to me.

  • mb
    March 18, 2008 12:46pm

    I found this article funny! Although half-true. :P Anyway, I met an american last week, married to a french-man and waiting for a second baby. What does she miss about the US? Shopping malls.^^

  • March 18, 2008 2:47pm

    “…you can’t (or don’t want to) sit down in the bathrooms”

    And so true.

  • March 21, 2008 5:23pm

    1. Who sits down completely on a public toilet?
    2. Why would anyone on a business trip fly anything other than Premiere, Business, or First Class – especially when you can insist that your hosts pay for your ticket or you’ll send Ruhlman instead?
    3. What kind of professional traveler doesn’t take along a versht sandwich on rye with mustard and double kimmel?
    4. What kind of ‘Celebrity Chef’ travels through airports unescorted by professionals?
    5. Only shleppers drink alcohol on airplanes knowing they can ‘throw a clot en route’.
    6. Why fly Air France when you can rent-a-jet and split the cost with your friends so it costs you zilch.

  • March 25, 2008 7:52am

    That’s why I take pills when I fly to Paris.

  • March 25, 2008 1:32pm

    Mimi: But what do you do if you live here?

  • Phyllis
    March 26, 2008 6:02pm

    Sorry Watoo…David is on point. Truth cannot be denied. Love the food, love the architecture etc.; however, if one is giving a balanced look at a city, you have to deal with the not-so-glamourous truths. Mimi, when you or David discover the remedy to “living here” in Paris, please lemme know. Meanwhile, while I’m scouting out the boulangeries for that perfect “squirrel bread” on my way to work, I’ll keep holding my breath as I walk past the groups of chain smokers congregating on narrow Parisian sidewalks, engulfed in a white cloud of nicotine as they take their “pause”. Mahalo.