TRAVEL with pat and lew

* Paris to Nice was an adventure … kudos to Air France for dealing with a baggage handlers’ strike

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 3, 2014

air france

Earlier in the week, we had dinner with our Paris friends Marilyn and Bernard. When we told them we were planning to fly to Nice on Saturday they told us it was the absolute worst travel day of the year, which the French call Black Saturday, the first Saturday of the August vacation season. We were advised to leave plenty of extra time, or even go to Orly on Friday night and stay in a nearby hotel.

We opted to arrange a taxi at 8:00 am for a 12:20 flight. and were pleasantly surprised when the drive to Orly took only 15 minutes, half the usual time in normal traffic. We quickly used the kiosk to get both our boarding passes and our luggage tags. So far so good, but it still turned out to have been a really good idea to have left early.

By 8:30 we were in line to drop the already tagged luggage. The airport was crowded and it was a long line, but one which should have taken no more than 20-30 minutes. It took over 2 hours. A baggage-handlers strike had put the Orly terminal into chaos. There are automated machines for taking the pre-tagged luggage, but most passengers could not figure out how to make them work, and the baggage handlers stood by and did not help. It was taking 5-15 minutes to process each piece of luggage.

air france composite

Air France management personnel did a terrific job answering questions and supplementing the baggage handlers, who stood there but did nothing. I tried to find out what the strike was about, and was told it had to do with “working conditions.” When I asked for more details, the condition they were complaining about seemed to be that they were being asked to work.

We finally got through the line and had time for coffee and croissants. Then the flight was delayed, probably due to the baggage handlers not moving the luggage quickly onto the plane. We took off over an hour late, but amazingly, our luggage arrived with us in Nice.

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