Los Angeles to Paris

From curbside to security at Tom Bradley, including stopping to check our gate on the Big Board (to the right as you enter), about 6 minutes. Security, including passport and boarding pass check – 13 minutes to when I sat down to put my shoes back on. Lots of yelling in English, didn’t help for those who didn’t understand to have it yelled louder. Some people had the wrong things in their bags, or it would have been even faster. No belts, jackets, coats or scarves – nothing in pockets at all. But glasses and jewelry were fine. Just inside the North Area (Air France gates are to your right as you go through Bradley) there’s a See’s Candy, a place to rent a mobile hotspot and to buy a global SIM card and other misc. phone stuff. Also the usual news stand. Outside the sterile area is duty free shopping. There’s a very limited Duty Free shop inside the sterile area – so if you want anything besides cigarettes and hard liquor, you’re out of luck once inside.

No problem getting my extra bag of contact lens related stuff (lenses, salines, hand wipes) through security (I carry the prescription just in case) in addition to the quart bag. Got through with my travel scissors and my TSA approved wine bottle opener.

Good place for spotting unusual and expensive Hermes bags (no proper accent on my Logitech LIghtweight Travel board) and Louis Vuitton bags. My Balenciaga Velo is inside her sleeper bag in the bottom of my carry-on, after reading about a poor young woman who posted on The Purse Forum about catching her Bal-bag on the underseat hardware on a plane and ripping it…so mine is protected.

I’m wearing skinny jeans, mephisto oxfords, compression socks (once you learn to put them on they aren’t so bad), Épice scarf, Ann Klein beaded V-neck top with tank tops underneath, my Balenciaga bracelet and other costume jewelry.

Services inside security are pretty limited. There’s one bar (Sam Adams) with paninis and juice and fruit. There’s a coke machine nearer to the gates, but in the Air France area, the snack bar is (as usual) closed. The line is out the door at Sam Adams right after we got the last table. Music is horrible (cheesy hip hop and screechy no-name R & B, there oughta be a law against auto-tuned songs).

Gotta say these Southern California girls rock their outfits. The younger crowd is especially chic, lots of skinny jeans (black and denim) and cute tops, and oh, Louis Vuitton would go out of business without the Paris-bound. The older ladies, like me, have made some effort too. The most notable is a 60ish woman in white jeans and white top with a red sweater carefully tied in a rakish manor around her neck. Another is a woman in a dark blue pant outfit with a very carefully tied light and dark blue floral scarf. Am going to try and retie mine.

Since we’re still in L.A., we can break all the rules of vigilance and leave our cell phones on our table while I type and drink my bourbon and coke. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying hearing French to the left of me (a man in a pink shirt and a straw cowboy hat discussed with a man with a huge Ralph Lauren logo how long it took them to plan their trip to Los Angeles, and how they didn’t get to doing all the things they wanted to do. Traffic is bad in L.A., they say. One man says that his wife was fearful the whole time they were driving.

But, oh, the shoes and the hand-bags!! So many adorable ballet flats!

On flying Air France: attendants are very nice and the plane is brand new. Seat back entertainment units work, and there’s a wide selection of offerings. Service of drinks and food is slow by American standards, but the wine and other beverages are free. At 2 hours into the flight, most of us are ready for dinner and a nap, but we’re getting a second round of beverages. One thing I will say: these new air buses are great and they have worked out the seats so that if you have a big, bouncy person sitting in front of you (as I do), your food tray does not jerk around as in some older plans and the entertainment screen is barely affected.

In a fit of excitement, when Air France sent me a pre-flight message about 10 days ago, I ordered my husband a special seafood meal for $20. It did not materialize and after some phone calls around the plane, no $20 seafood meal could be found for him. He made do. However, I would not spend any extra money on AF food next flight. I suppose I’ll email their customer service about it – but not real hopeful about getting the $ back. Says right on his ticket that he is supposed to have the meal…I figure it went to some picky eater in first class.

On the Paris side, it took 20 minutes for us to set foot on the jetway after our jet rolled up to it (it was about 25 minutes after landing; AF has a camera on the tail of the plane so you get see just how close you are to the end of the runway before the thing actually comes to a stop). We were in row 35. Then, it was 40 minutes from the moment we exited the plane until we were through passport control. We did not speed walk, but we weren’t walking all that slowly, either. After that, some people had to go get their luggage – we didn’t have anything checked through. We went past exit/taxi area (unusually long line), and down to the RER ticket area. We don’t have a chip and pin card, so didn’t even try the machines. The line looked long, but it was only 15 minutes before we had our cards recharged and another 5 minutes – and we were seated (almost the only people) in the RER B train which – unfortunately for us – was not going, that day, to Notre-Dame-Saint-Michell (or Chatelet), which was where we were intending to go. But more on that later – the RER B did take us to Gare du Nord – so, technically, we were in Paris!


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