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The giant headache of transferring from Terminal 2E to 2F at CDG

It is now almost noon on Tuesday and I'm sitting in the Air France lounge at CDG with a cappuccino, trying to cool down and relax before my 3 pm flight to Berlin.

It was a mess this morning. First of all, it's April 26th and the airport is very crowded - I imagine it will get worse as the summer goes on. Second, if you aren't familiar with CDG, it will be very frustrating trying to figure out where to go because there just is not enough signage. I haven't been to CDG in over 20 years, and I was totally lost at times. And it wasn't just me - most of the other passengers were clueless about where to go and there wasn't much help.

The beginning was okay - we got off the plane at Gate M48 in Terminal 2E around 8:30 am and started heading for the 2F signs. After about 7-8 minutes of walking, we got on a train that took us to 2F, where we got off. First we went to passport control, which went relatively quickly. You just show your passport and boarding pass and then pass through.

That's when it got more frustrating. There were no signs for Terminal F - only signs for Baggage and Sortie (exit). We went in one direction, which turned out to be wrong, then got turned in the right direction. We finally got through this chaos and found signs for 2F again. At first it looks like you are boarding a bus (based on the signage) but you pass that and wind up in HUGE lines to have your luggage checked. That took forever. I felt very sorry for the people near me who had imminent connections as they were frantic, and no one was really helping them. They had one person for each line to inspect the luggage and some of them were very slow. After that, we were done - I got to the lounge around 9:50 am and the others may or may not have caught their flights. The above process took about an hour and 15-20 minutes. And I was in Premier Select, so I vacated the plane fairly early. If you're sitting in the back, add another 5-10 minutes.

If you have a transfer here (at least during high season) that is under 1 and 1/2 hours, I would strongly suggest these things.

  1. Look at the CDG map of Terminal E and F a LOT before you go so that you are familiar with it. It looks much smaller than it really is. There is a lot of walking.
  2. Limit your carry on items if you can. You will have to put all your bags on a conveyer for them to be inspected and remove the liquids and electronics. It's a lot easier with less bags and you can walk a lot faster, too. Which brings me to no. 3...
  3. Walk fast from the beginning - assume that you will need every minute of time available to get through.
  4. Make sure your 3-1-1 items are in a clear quart-size bag. I had mine in a Tom Bihn clear toiletries bag (you can see through both sides) but they made me take everything out and put it in a quart-size ziplock bag that she gave me.

I'll be honest, if I was booking a flight from April through October, I would not book anything that had a connection at CDG that is under 90 minutes and preferably 2 hours.

Posted by
8599 posts

Gate M48 in Terminal 2E

I have never been there. I am at a complete loss to understand the terminal/gate designation 'system'(?)

To those have been there, does it make sense in person?

Posted by
929 posts

Here's a map of CDG - https://www.parisaeroport.fr/en/passengers/access/paris-charles-de-gaulle/terminals-map

Terminal E is generally the terminal that flights from the US come in. Terminal F is the Schengen terminal - this is what flights to and from Schengen countries use (for example, CDG to BER, or CDG to AMS). So usually if you have a flight from the US and you have to transfer to a connecting flight at CDG, you will use Terminals E and F.

Posted by
929 posts

I love going to Paris but I don’t like connecting through Paris CDG. Even if your final destination is Paris it can be a tough place to navigate when busy. Once I arrived at CDG 3 hours before departure and it was so crowded that we made our flight home by 10 minutes, I was really sweating it! My favorite airport for connections is AMS, just seems easy to get from gate to gate.

Posted by
715 posts

To those have been there, does it make sense in person?

Not really. It exists in person, but it never really makes sense.

Posted by
8386 posts

To those have been there, does it make sense in person?

Yes, absolutely, Joe, I understand, but I go through there regularly.
Because they are using the word Gate, it's confusing to English speakers.
In Fact, Terminal 2E is further divided into sub-terminals they chose to call "gates," Gate K and Gate L and possibly Gate M (don't remember). You reach these gates by a small train internal to Terminal 2E. Each of these so-called Gates is as large as an independent terminal in most airports. So the English word "gate" is being used to designate a completely separate wing of the complex. To find your plane, you'd go to Terminal 2E, follow the signs and take the internal shuttle train (not CDGVal) to the "Gate" K or L or M area. Finally, your plane will be at Porte 1, or 10, or.... Each of these new sub-terminals is huge, sparkling, well lit, with large lounges, a lot of seating and a lot of shopping.

My husband and I are used to navigating 2E and flow through, but one of our sons came to visit recently and thought he was going on a multi-day hike getting through 2E to his connecting flight in 2F. He made the flight :--)

Posted by
929 posts

Bets, I do think that if you are very familiar with CDG, it's probably quite easy to go through. But many travelers aren't (like me). I was so hot and tired and frustrated by the time I go to the AF lounge. That being said, I will agree that the wings in Terminal 2E have some great shopping - if you have the time to shop. 😊 I saw a Longchamp shop that I was lusting to go in. But unless you have a 3+ hour layover, I wouldn't risk it.

And yes, M is in 2E - that's where I flew into today on Delta.

Posted by
8386 posts

It's quite confusing and tiring the first few times you navigate 2E.

Longchamp is 10% less on everything at the airport than in town, so do make time on your way back. Their prices never vary, otherwise.

Posted by
25 posts

Thank you so much for this report of your experience. I've got a transfer there this Saturday that I'm nervous about. I will now make sure my liquids are in a clear ziploc bag and the map you provided was very helpful.

Posted by
186 posts

I’ve found navigating CDG very easy. However, I cringe whenever I see a connection option that is less than two and 1/2 hours and opt to avoid that itinerary. From gate to gate (nonstop) my average time has been about ninety minutes. The bottleneck typically occurs at security checkpoints. The priority lanes (that I end up in) are also used/interrupted by flight crew, staff and special assistance passengers who understandably receive and deserve preference. Unfortunately I always seem to be going through during the onslaught. I have no complaint. This is just my experience.

Edit - I do dread having to use terminal 2G. There is nothing wrong with it. I simply prefer a more user friendly layout.

Posted by
183 posts

We flew LAX to Toulouse via CDG last month without any problems. I was anxious because we had 1:50 connection time which we made without any problem. It is a long way from Gate M to Terminal F but we had no problem...immigration/passport was less than 10 min. Security to get back into Terminal F was more like 30 min, one fo the guards told me that it could be much longer. Terminal F was a mob scene...not a seat in sight, insane lines at all shops/restaurants and no way to get out of the mob...almost shoulder to shoulder. I almost forgot... hope you don't need the WC. Other than that all was OK.
Brad

Posted by
325 posts

Yes, absolutely, Joe, I understand, but I go through there regularly.

Bets, we will be coming into CDG from MRS (2F, I think) and going to 2E for a flight to MSP. Will we have to go through both passport control and security in CDG?

Mardee, I hope you are settled in now at your hotel. We will be taking the same flight from MSP on Saturday!

Posted by
3652 posts

we will be coming into CDG from MRS (2F, I think) and going to 2E for a flight to MSP. Will we have to go through both passport control and security in CDG?

Yes to both. Normally coming from MRS Delta offers the option to transfer at AMS instead, and that is a better choice than CDG: better organization and no security for connections.

Just keep in mind that Terminal 2E is a concept, not a place. There are 3 concourses (or halls) that are stand alone buildings that fall under the "Terminal 2E" moniker. Maybe the MSP flights always leave from M (concourse, hall, gates, portes, however it is signed). But if you are leaving from K head another direction for immigration, see the map.

I really think it would be less confusing if they dropped the "Terminal" language for the sub terminals and just used Hall A, Hall F, Hall M, etc.

Posted by
8599 posts

Thank you to all who helped in deciphering the nomenclature of CDG.

I know I will never go through so frequently as for it to become familiar; after all I have read I might use it as a destination or origin, but as a transfer point, I doubt it. What comes to mind is Tom Hanks ( The Terminal) -- I suspect I would be forever wandering in search of the 'next' flight.

Posted by
325 posts

Yes to both. Normally coming from MRS Delta offers the option to transfer at AMS instead, and that is a better choice than CDG: better organization and no security for connections.

Thanks, Tom! Our original plan was to fly into Amsterdam and spend some time there and Germany before starting our tour in Reims. With the unknowns of Covid-19, we changed the plan and decided to only visit one country. Now we are going to Paris, instead!

Posted by
1015 posts

Joe: Just in case you end up at Terminal 1 (Icelandair uses this one)

Terminal 1 is still closed.

Normally coming from MRS Delta offers the option to transfer at AMS instead, and that is a better choice than CDG

Would generally agree with this, but until KLM gets their baggage handling issues sorted, AMS is no picnic. 61% of KLM's flights were delayed today, 76% yesterday.

https://flightaware.com/live/cancelled

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/delta-air-lines-skymiles/2077039-delays-ams-past-weekend-ques.html

Posted by
249 posts

I, too, find the signage at CDG confusing....and on several occasions I've been concerned that I would get through security long security lines in time to make my flight. My love/hate relationship with CDG began in May 2004 when a section of the <1 year old Terminal 2E collapsed a few days after I walked through it. 4 people died. Apparently caused by faulty design. Obviously Terminal 2E was rebuilt and I'm not suggesting there would ever be a repeat of the 2004 tragedy. Just saying there are several reasons I fly through AMS over CDG if I'm flying Delta and connecting in Europe.

Posted by
12875 posts

I like flying to Paris, be it with Air France or United , but luckily never have had to connect through CDG. So far I've managed to avoid connecting at CDG. Maybe it is exactly that , having CDG as the final destination, that I don't have any problems with the place. The last time landing at CDG was in June 2015 after the non-stop flight from SFO.

Posted by
488 posts

We connected through CDG in the opposite direction on our flights home from Spain in January. It was a horrible experience, and I will never, ever fly through CDG again.

We were traveling with my 15-yo disabled son and 2 daughters (ages 17 and 27). 2 hour connection time. Entering terminal 2E, passport control was a mob scene -- hundreds of people packed on to the stairs and down the hallway, filling the entire corridor. We eventually squeezed our way through the crowd and to the elevator (40 minutes later), and made our way to the roped line in front of the booths, where we were able to find an airport employee who directed us to the priority line for disabled passengers. 5 people in line there ahead of us, whew, we thought we were in good shape.

Nope. An airport manager came over and literally yelled at us, telling us that our daughters needed to return to the "regular" line and that they could not go through immigration with my husband, son, and myself. We explained that the younger daughter was a minor and needed to stay with her parents; he continued to insist (using very forceful language; he was obnoxiously rude) that she move to the other line. We continued to insist that she stay with us. Finally, he relented, but still insisted that our 27-year-old make her way to the BACK of the regular line. Mind you, we'd already been in line for over 45 minutes.

So, we separated and the 4 of us went through the priority line while the older daughter went through the regular line on her own. Very dumb, given the number of people in the priority line, and this has never happened to us at any other airport, anywhere; families are allowed to stay together.

We made it to our gate as the plane was boarding. My husband boarded with my son and younger daughter while I waited at the gate for my older daughter. She made it at a dead run 30 minutes later, as the plane was nearly full and preparing to close up.

Never again. If they're going to treat disabled passengers and families rudely, I have no desire to travel there; I'll take my business elsewhere.

Posted by
43 posts

I try to avoid CDG at all costs. My husband absolutely refuses to fly into or out of the airport. I have flown through CDG several times and have always found it to be impossible to maneuver because of the busses and what seems like numerous security stops.

Posted by
8386 posts

Another offspring and wife went through two days ago. He said it was easy and wondered why I even asked.

Posted by
929 posts

Bets, I'm sure there are times where it is easy. But I wouldn't count on it, and as the summer travel gets busier, it will probably get worse.

DebVT, that's a horrible situation! I have a grandson with severe special needs and if anyone treated him or his family like that, I'd be extremely pissed off. Did you contact your airline about that?

Posted by
12875 posts

I have always been at CDG both landing from SFO or departing in the summer, usually June and before the end of July, ie, peak season.

Admittedly and undoubtedly, I have seen at CDG the lack of or customer service at a minimum, and the pushing and shoving , or situations where no one seemed to know what was going on, or better still , no one seemed to care either, basically indifferent to the concerns of the passengers, etc, other negative aspects ; nevertheless, no real problems with me there. Immigration took from 15 minutes to close to one hour...all depends.

They don't deter me from choosing CDG in spite of the drawbacks. Regardless, I still like going there, prefer arrival in the morning than departing . It seems more more problems could arise at departure perception-wise. It's also not my #1 airport since I find Heathrow much better.

Posted by
838 posts

I’ve been watching some clips on the yootoobs from folks who prefer to enter Europe at ANY airport other than deGaulle and then travel by train to Paris. One must have the extra time and, of course, enjoy trains. But this sure looks like a good idea to me.

Posted by
48 posts

Thank you for this. We've never had the opportunity to transfer at CDG, most often doing so at FRA since we fly Star Alliance. As confusing and crowded at it may be, it's preferable to be in Europe than any US airport!

Posted by
8386 posts

My kids are flying back to NY tomorrow from the south, where we are based. They have 1:10 minutes to transfer, including passport and security. Yikes. They are young and fast walkers, but still. I'll ad to this tomorrow when we find out if they made their NY flight.

Update: their connecting time was reduced to one hour and they missed their flight to NY. Passport took 20 minutes, the internal shuttle train, and the boarding gate in 2E M was at the end. They've been put on a flight two hours later. They didn't find it as easy as it was upon arrival last week.

Posted by
325 posts

We have 1:55 between flights back to the US. It should be fine if the flight from MRS is on time. The last 3 weeks it seems to be late more than on time.

Posted by
929 posts

I just realized that I have a 2 hour and 5 minute layover coming home on the 25th. I'm sure it will be fine (knock on wood).

Good luck, mnannie - and Bets' kids!

Posted by
325 posts

Mardee, We are actually 2:15, also. But, they told me they close the gate 20 minutes early, so I figured that in. I will let you know how it goes. Are you on the 3:30 to MSP.

In northern MN home news, my daughter just sent a picture of her at recess with her students wearing snow pants and mittens!

Posted by
929 posts

Annie, no I'm on the 10:10 to MSP (my flight leaves Berlin at 6:15 (gak!!!) and gets into CDG at 8:05. But i get into DLH at 4:30 pm so I'm happy about that.

Ha, I haven't heard anything about Duluth - my daughter knows that as long as the snow is gone by the time i get back, I'll be happy. :)

And I just saw your post way up above about your Saturday flight - how did it go? I still have 3 weeks + 2 days here in Germany (well, plus 3 days in Copenhagen) and I'm really hoping things aren't too crowded when I fly back. At least it's a mid-week flight.

Posted by
325 posts

Our flight was great, but we didn't have to transfer at CDG like you did. We are in Paris until Friday and then head to Reims to start our tour. We are hoping to get a negative test and fly on the 21st. We don't get to MSP until 5, so we might overnight there unless one of us can sleep on the plane. Continued safe travels!

Posted by
2 posts

We are flying Air France into CDG and transferring to Air France to Florence. We do have good layover time, but any guidance as to the terminal we will arrive in and the best way to get to the terminal we will leave from would be much appreciated. Thank you!

Posted by
159 posts

Well. I have to commiserate and to say thanks for making me feel less looney.

We were there at the beginning of April and, not only is the airport confusing, but the employees seem confused as well.

I split up with my teen daughters to get luggage out of a locker while they went to go to the bathroom and wait by the security line. They had their travel documents, I had mine. I went toward the gate listed on my boarding pass once I got the luggage. At the beginning of the terminal, you have to scan the boarding pass to get through a turnstile. I went to the security line and could quickly see my daughters weren't there. I asked an employee where the other security lines were for international departure and she said that we were standing in front of the only one in the airport. I knew that wasn't true because we'd gone through a different area the day before when we flew out (and got flown right back in due to mechanical issues).

They would not let me leave the area to find my daughters because they said I had scanned the boarding pass and would not be allowed to re enter. The airport employee wanted the airport police to go escort the girls back but they said it wasn't their problem, the airport employees said it wasn't their problem, but they both wanted the other to do something instead of just letting me go and then having someone let me back in when I returned.

In the end, my resourceful chicks found their panicked way to me and they thought the signs were less than helpful as well, but the layout is something else. They asked for help and were told they'd need to walk over a mile to walk inside the airport by the time they backtracked out of one terminal and went the length of the other, and I'm pretty sure she was right.

Posted by
325 posts

Renee, that is a great site! I printed copies of our route before we left Minnesota.

Posted by
242 posts

Yesterday we had a connection of 1hr50 at CDG to end our southern Spain trip. We were coming from Malaga arriving in 2F, departing to Detroit in 2E. We were a little nervous since we'd nearly missed a connection of over 2 hours a few years back due to backups in immigration. Luckily they held the flight that time since there were 40+ of us caught up in the line.

Yesterday was super easy though. Had no trouble following the signs, immigration line was short (through in less than 10 minutes), and we had lots of time (although we walked fast knowing how far it is). Of course then we had a 4 hour delay, but that's another story ☹️

Posted by
325 posts

/We have 1:55 between flights back to the US. It should be fine if the flight from MRS is on time. The last 3 weeks it seems to be late more than on time.

Mardee, we made it home last night! When I started checking the daily flight status of our connecting flight 5 weeks ago, I noticed that it was frequently late to CDG. I tried to change to an earlier connecting flight, but it would have been almost $300 more for the two of us, so we kept the original plan. We usually do carryon both ways,, but I had brought an extra bag for gifts, and the smooth talking AF agent in MRS had convinced us to check all 3 bags with no extra charge for the third. Winning! Our MRS to CDG flight was delayed, and we arrived at CDG at 13:47 (32 minutes late) with our MSP flight scheduled to leave at 15:30. We sailed through CDG and were at our gate, K35 to MSP, by 2:15. With a negative covid test and making that flight, it felt like we had won the lottery. That lucky feeling road the plane with us all the way to MSP, but fortunately none of our luggage did. We spent a lot of time with a lot of people in the Delta missing baggage line, and got home over five hours after our flight landed (6 AM France time). They told us got bags would get to our house on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Is anyone familiar with insurance or airline reimbursement with luggage delay at the end of a trip?

Posted by
929 posts

Oh, Annie, I'm so glad you made it home okay! But that sucks about your bags, although at least it's at the tail end of your trip instead of the beginning.

I'm starting to check my flight times but they are all okay this past week. My flight leaves Berlin at 6:15 am, though, so I'm hoping that since it's early in the morning, it might work better. I'm planning to check one bag that will only have stuff I don't really need right away, just in case. Coming back, I will have 2 hrs and 5 min. at CDG and 3 hrs and about 3 hrs and 25 min at MSP. So I'm thinking I will be okay. Of course, I still have to pass the Covid test on Tuesday. I feel good and I've been careful so I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

I hope your luggage gets there in one piece - I have no personal experience with a luggage claim but they have a lot of information on the Delta site about it (which you may already know). https://www.delta.com/us/en/baggage/delayed-lost-damaged-baggage

Posted by
195 posts

I have been flying in and out of Europe all my life, doing my first international transfer as an unaccompanied minor at age 6. I am neither timid nor inexperienced when it comes to airports and have even worked at Atlanta Hartsfield. And despite my total comfort with air travel, we will pay extra to avoid CDG.

--We have arrived at a gate after much frustration only to be told that this was the wrong gate, sent back, then returned to the gate 20 minutes later only to see the board showing our flight and the gate agent vehemently denying that she had sent us toward another terminal not 20 minutes prior.

--We have taken 3 hours to transfer terminals

--We have taken a bus to the next terminal, and when hubby asked the bus driver, "is this the bus to terminal [whatever]", the man said he did not know (and yes, he spoke perfect English with another passenger). Thankfully, we were right to get on the bus.

--Signs meaning "go straight" have arrows pointing down, not up as one would expect. Those arrows do NOT mean go down the stairwell right next to the sign.

--When you come to a T intersection, you should not be faced with a sign that says the exit/baggage claim is in both directions with no other information. I have a picture of that sign somewhere.

These are just some of the experiences of CDG. I've had a few easy transfers, but the bad still outnumber the good.

I HATE that airport.

Posted by
325 posts

I'm hoping to never go back through CDG, again!

Mardee, even with our delay we had 1:45 minutes at CDG. From the time we landed to get through passport control and all the way to our gate was only 30 minutes. At the gate we had to fill out an easy form verifying we had tested negative. Had our luggage actually been on the plane, we would have been out of MSP quickly. Unfortunately, we had to spend a lot of time waiting in line to file a claim for our luggage at the desk which is located by baggage carousel 8 (hope you don't need to stop there).

I'm crossing my fingers that you get a negative test and that your trip back to the Northland goes better than ours;)

Posted by
12875 posts

Very true about the pointing of the arrows. I noticed that contrast for the first time in 1987 when taking trains departing from Paris and noticed arrows pointing down in France meant arrows pointing upward in Germany. If you want to go straight ahead in German train stations, the arrow is pointed upwards whereas in French train stations that arrow is pointed downwards. That's French logic, as they say: Vive la difference ! This difference I jotted down in my 1987 trip notebook.

Posted by
30 posts

Mardee, you nailed CDG. Confusing, what a mess. It took us over two hours to get through security. They are understaffed, cranky, hundreds of pax showing up at the same time, just awful. Given a choice, I wouldn't book through security, but if I had to, I would give myself as much time as possible (four hours worked out well for us, and we had very little extra time). And definitely don't linger getting off your plane and into that security line, get your food and drinks after you've gone through the gauntlet! A delay of five minutes could put a hundred people in front of you.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for sharing! My husband and I will be flying in to CDG terminal 2A at 1:25pm and departing Terminal 2F at 5:05pm. I function better with inconvenience when I know to expect a stressful experience in advance. So thankful I booked a longer connection too!

Posted by
12875 posts

"Had no trouble following the signs".....That has always been my experience too at CDG....no problems. Getting through Immigration Control at CDG has taken me 15 mins or less or one half hour, which is all right too , since it allows me time to catch my breath but then I am not under time pressure to connect.

The longest time spent in line at Border Control was one time at LHR; waiting over one hour then was an exception because I landed in the late afternoon. Whenever I took the overnight flight SFO to LHR arriving in the morning, ca. 10 AM, the wait was relatively short, ca. 20 mins. or so.