We all know Charles de Gaulle Airport is not easy to navigate. The new shuttles connecting all the terminals are pretty esthetic and logical but also very slow. The people at the gate or at the security checkpoints have never been fast, sometimes arrogant and often more focused on conversing with a fellow French friend the speeding up the queue for travelers that have a short connection.

But all that can happen anywhere. What happened to me this weekend though took it to a new French bureaucratic level.

I was sitting down to have a quick lunch during my connection. Before being helped I saw one of the waitresses run after a customer with a few Euros worth of change. I am impressed by this customer focus. But I am soon to find out why she really ran after her…

After the customary 10 min wait time I order in my best French.  After being served my food (thus no way back…) the waitress tells me that I can only get a knife and fork if I hand over my passport for security collateral…  Of course I hesitate, but my lunch is staring at me and I see no other alternatives then eating salmon on cream cheese with my bare hands.  SO I agree, and hand over my passport to a complete stranger, in a foreign country.  Of course I don’t get a receipt, just a deadly fork and knife to eat my food.

The inevitable happened. Murphy’s law struck.

After finishing my lunch (and spending 20+ minutes to get some form of airport Wi-Fi…) I paid, and after a nice thank you from the waitress went on to go find my gate….

15 min later I get at my gate. Panic. No passport. It took me five minutes of anxiety to remember I had been so stupid to hand it to my waitress (who also forgot to remind me to take it back when she collected the check…).

Running back. 10 min later at the restaurant they tell me they don’t have my passport anymore. In their wisdom they had sent someone after me without knowing what gate I was at.  But they would call her back. Just wait.

6 min. 9 min. 15 min. My plane is about to leave in 20 min now….

The staff shares with me that this happens all the time. They are getting in shape running after all the travelers forgetting they exchanged their passport for a Croissant and cafe au lait…

After 30 min someone comes running back with my passport. She had gone to the j-gates instead of the m-gates where my plane had been moved too. I make my flight since it was delayed. First time I’m happy with a CDG delay.

Unbelievable. But in hindsight also very typical. Flying over Amsterdam again next time.