I'm trying to book a flight from LA with Delta miles and my options to get to Europe are either Air France with a 4 hour layover til my Ljubljana flight, or KLM with a 4 hour layover to a Zagreb flight. With the caveat of us not knowing exactly how these transfers will work with Covid testing/etc, in the past do you prefer one airline over the other? and also one airport over another. Thanks!
Sorry for the non-responsive answer, but if this is for a 2021 trip, are you aware that Americans cannot currently transfer at Paris-CDG or Amsterdam-Schipol if they are going to a Schengen-Zone or EU country? https://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/news/everything-you-need-to-know-about-transiting-through-european-airports-during-the-pandemic/ar-BB1fRyqa?ocid=msedgntp
That situation could change at any time, and the news suggests it might happen fairly soon, but at the moment, it appears you would not be able to fly to Ljubljana (Slovenia's in the Schengen Zone) with a transfer at Paris-CDG. I'm guessing that's what the Air France flight would require.
The Schipol transfer on the way to Croatia appears to be permissible. Croatia is not (yet) part of the Schengen Zone. Obviously, you should check this information very carefully; don't trust me or that MSN article without verification.
I have changed planes at Schipol once or twice within the last five years without incident. I have carefully avoided having to change at CDG, based on comments on this forum. It sounds like a somewhat trickier airport to negotiate when changing planes, and after a usually-sleepless overnight flight, I do not need any extra challenges.
I've never flown KLM because they generally don't cater to the likes of me, but last time I flew Air France, the seat on that 10 hour flight made me curse the day God gave us butts. I'm not sure if that answers your question, but data points are sometimes helpful.
-- Mike Beebe
I prefer Air France over KLM. But to be fair, it’s been a few years since we flew Air France, so the differences might not apply today. The food was better, and we just enjoyed hearing more French from the flight attendants.
This flight isn’t until August 31, at which time I am assuming things will change for Americans. Sorry not to state that! Mike, it’s so funny but I’m so anxious to get to Europe, I’m not even worried about the comfort!!
I would take KLM as I know that the 2-3 times when I have had a tight (1 hr Delta) connection at AMS, airport employees are at immigration ensuring I get into a fast track lane to make it to my next flight. I think they provide excellent service. We have not had the same consideration at CDG and avoid it if possible.
Part of the equation, for me, is what equipment is being used for the flights. Generally, for a long haul in economy, I prefer Airbus over Boeing.
We tend to fly Delta or KLM from SeaTac because we prefer the layover at Schipol vs CDG. It's easy to negotiate, and they are well organized! I concur with another contributor above that we have always had "excellent service and had not had the same consideration at CDG." Our usual layover at Schipol is about 3.5-4 hours.
I fly Delta and will do anything reasonable to avoid transferring through CDG. Therefore, I prefer KLM partners and AMS. I don't get lost in Schiphol (better signage?) and I have seen the staff actively manage the passport control queues to identify passengers with tight connections and bring them forward in line.
I know that everyone says to avoid CDG, but we had a 6-hour layover at Schiphol once and it was sooo boring. I'd go for CDG. At least you'll get a good croissant and some boutiques. You've got four hours.
If you are in economy it probably will make little difference.
I love Air France and have taken them to Paris before. However, I get a direct flight from LAX to CDG so no layovers/changing planes.
Looking at your scenario I would go with Air France.
I feel like it wouldn't make much difference. It's interesting about what Scudder said about preferring Airbus over Boeing; if that is something that interests you, you could try to find out what aircraft is usually flown on those routes.
Just one note: this probably won't be the case by late August, but currently the hurdles you have to jump to fly into Amsterdam (with regard to Covid requirements) are more onerous than those for Paris.
Amsterdam Schipol is a much better airport for transfers than Paris CDG. Based on that, I would choose KLM.
KLM and AMS yes.
AF and CDG no.
Great comments, thanks! I too prefer Airbus but both flights are Boeing. AF a better plane ( I fly economy so I like the 2x2 seats in the back.) appreciate everyone’s input!
I’ve flown Air France numerous times in the last two decades on flights to Paris as well as other cities in Europe with the usual stopover at CDG. They normally fly AirBus and the food and service is fairly good. I also enjoy the food at CDG more than that at Schipol. My only flight on KLM was on a Super Constellation in 1953. The crew let me sit in the co-pilot’s seat, so between the two I’d opt for Royal Dutch! Also the 4am breakfast in Shannon, Ireland was great cuz the waiters all wore tails!
I too prefer Airbus but both flights are Boeing.
If that is important, Air France's intra European-fleet is mostly Airbus while KLM's is mostly Boeing.
We actively try to avoid CDG. I loathe that airport. After bypassing it for 10 years, we came through again only to find it every bit as awful as I remembered. Every time we have said that our memory was faulty and that it wasn't that bad, we end up in a long line, trying desperately to find our next gate only to end up backtracking a lot, and annoyed at the employees. We literally got on a bus that we were pretty sure went to our desired terminal once. To confirm, my husband asked the bus driver if the bus went to Terminal whatever. The bus driver said he did not know. We have had many similar experiences over the years. We have come to a T intersection and seen signs that say Baggage Claim and arrows pointing both directions. While the rest of the world uses up arrows to mean straight ahead, CDG uses down arrows, which mean go straight and not down the staircase to the lower level right beside you. The terminals are not as dirty as they used to be, but that is a small consolation when you can't figure out where you are going. I have also literally asked an agent at the gate whether this gate was where I needed to be for my flight to city. The agent said no, I needed to backtrack to a completely different terminal. So off I went, then decided to ask someone else, who sent me back to that gate. The same agent, not 15 minutes later, confirmed I was in the right place. Glad I didn't go back to another terminal and miss my flight.
I HATE CDG.
Schipol, while not the most exciting of airports, does offer things like a bike charging station (you pedal to charge your devices and get some exercise), a terrace so you can be outdoors, a chocolate fountain, and your normal airport amenities. And yes, staff actively getting those most in need through lines so people make their connections.
I think in terms of the airlines themselves there is not much of a difference; it would simply be a few minor cultural differences, language, and aircraft preferences. That said, the Dutch tend to speak better English than the French across the board (general airport and airline staff), so if you are stuck for a long time, have flight trouble, or lose your luggage, I would prefer to deal with the Dutch.
That adds up to KLM for me every time. Of course, that is without the Covid considerations.
AMS is my home airport, so I'm a little biased. Regardless, as an international traveler, I'd prefer to connect at AMS, rather than CDG. And because AMS is our home airport, we fly KLM most frequently, although primarily on Schengen-only flights. But yes, traveling to the US 4-5 times a year before COVID, we have plenty of international KLM experience. As there are usually just two of us, we tend to stay away from the KLM 777 flights (3-4-3 seating alignment in the main cabin), so we're often on their 767 product into and out of ATL.
Surprisingly, because we travel to Paris now primarily by train or car, almost all our flights into CDG are for connections. I have to say that in the last few years there has been a tremendous improvement when connecting at CDG (many would say, that's not a high bar given their history of being ranked "the worst airport in the world for five consecutive years").
Yet, AMS is still an easier connection point for a USA traveler. First, AMS is primarily one big terminal with separate areas for Schengen and Non-Schengen flights. You can easily walk from one terminal (or gate area) to another. At CDG on Air France, you would probably be going from Terminal 2E to 2F - a fairly easy transition - but there's always that chance you would have to connect through the dreaded Terminal G - where you have to catch a shuttle bus! From personal experience, that was no fun!
At AMS, coming from the USA, you'll land in the Non-Schengen E, F, G, and lower D gates. (For me, almost always in lower D). From there, you simply walk to the passport control area and, after clearing immigration, you enter into the Schengen section of the terminal (made up of B, C, and upper D gates). It's that simple - no trains or shuttle buses to catch, which might be the case at CDG. At AMS, when you transition from Non-Schengen to Schengen (or vice versa), there's also NO security to deal with; you simply walk into the other area after clearing immigration.
One tip... if you have a LONG layover - say four hours - I'd probably stay in the Non-Schengen zone for dining and shopping for the first couple of hours. there are simply MORE options in the International section of the terminals. Then, you can transition to the Schengen area for your next connection.
if you have KLM Lounge Access, there are KLM lounges in both the Schengen and Non-Schengen terminals. If you are a Priority Pass Member, again, there are Aspire lounges in the Schengen (Aspire 26) and Non-Schengen (Aspire 41) areas. We spend a lot of time in the Aspire 26 lounge as we're primarily flying intra-Europe flights. It's pretty basic, so I'd opt for the Non-Schengen option before you enter the Schengen zone - but only if you have an extended layover. ONE CHALLENGE: the Non-Schengen Aspire lounge FREQUENTLY fills up between 8 AM - 10 AM, so be prepared to seek other options.
With the "one-large-terminal" approach which provides you the opportunity to walk to all gates and English far more common in AMS, I'd suggest connecting through AMS. ONE DISCLAIMER - currently, the Netherlands has one of the most stringent entry requirements in the EU (which we are hoping they will drop soon), so check with the airline to make sure your pre-trip COVID testing will meet the requirements of connecting through AMS.
I prefer KLM to Air France.
I’ll jump onto the ledger side for AMS. Two connection trips through CDG and two stressful marathons to my departure gate even with a 2 hour layover made me a never-again CDG’er. The CDG immigration services are neither efficient or customer service-oriented. I will only go into CDG as a final destination.
Fantastic advice! Thanks so much! I just booked my flight thru AMS on KLM. Very happy to have something to look forward to!
Air France was the only airline that weighed my overhead bag (which fit the dimensions they required) and said it was too heavy and had to be checked. This was at CDG. The three other airlines I traveled with on my first trip to Europe had no problem with it.