The flight to Paris-Charles de Gaulle is a quick one – it takes just about 8 hours from Chicago. This post will not include elaborate photos of the caviar courses offered in some premium cabins nor will I be opining about the fully flat enclosed seats. Why? We flew economy. I struggle spending the miles on a premium cabin flights to Europe from Chicago – the flight is so short and the offerings aren’t worth the points, in my opinion. Plus, the airfare itself was just about $900, while not free by any means, it’s still a couple hundred dollars cheaper than really good priced tickets during peak season.
Flight: United Airlines 987
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300
Seat: 20 A&B
Departure: 18h25 (19h30)
Arrival: 09h30 (10h00)
Since we left on a Saturday (we usually maximize our vacation time by leaving after work on a Friday, but the airfare was about 25% more to do that), we had all day to finish packing and to get the house ready for the house sitter (#PoorMissLillly needed a caretaker since we were going to be gone for a week). We called an UberX and left the house around 15h50 and arrived at ORD right at 16h20, with plenty of time to check a bag (god forbid, I know) and make our way to the lounge for a couple of mediocre wines and some Tilamook Cheese (which reminds me dearly of growing up in Oregon).
Our flight was delayed about 40 minutes, which allowed us more time in the lounge. Since we didn’t need to fight for space in the bins for our larger roller bags we waited to board until Group 3 had already started – this allowed us to walk through the Group 2 line and bypass everyone already queued. I hate queuing.
We took our regular seats (20A&B – which are the second row of Economy and exit rows – so full recline and extra leg room, but the only downside is that they are very cold in flight) and waited. And Waited. And Waited. The flight was full with just a seat or two empty.
The flight was delayed waiting for cabin crew – and we left with the minimally staffed cabin, full of ‘On-Callers” who were given notice of their trip to Paris shortly before they actually boarded the plane. Since the cabin crew was short, drink and meal service took quite a while and the lovely gentlemen in the row in front of us would have no part of it. He demanded First Class Service (on Cathay or Singapore, not even United First) on an Economy ticket price. He didn’t like the food (who does?), his entertainment system didn’t work and he demanded the purser fix it, while she was trying to serve meals in Economy. When he was finished with his meal, he rang the call button asking the tray to be taken away – mind you, the Stews were still serving the back of the plane. This guy was a dick. No he wasn’t French, he was American. The Stew working our aisle was great and was able to shrug it off like a true professional.
We landed about 30 minutes late and made it through customs and immigration to baggage claim in just a few minutes. We picked up our rental car (more on that later) and headed directly to the hotel. Sunday traffic in Paris was non-existent and we were pulling into the Prince de Galles hotel around 11h10.
For the price and the length of the trip, I couldn’t complain. I know what to expect on ORD to Europe. I come prepare with water, entertainment and the realization that while I’d like First Class service on Thai (refresh your memory on that here), I know I’m not going to get it, nor will I pay for it on these routes. Go in with realistic expectations and it’ll be great.
Do you find value in buying up or upgrading to Business or First on an 8 hour Trans-Atlantic Flight?