I arrived at the airport and picked up my bag, checked in for my flight, and had a quick breakfast.

Then I remembered one of the advantages of having Platinum status with American Airlines. American and Finnair are both part of the oneworld alliance of airlines that includes American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Malev, Qantas, and Royal Jordanian. Since I have Platinum status on American, I can use the lounge of any of those airlines as long as I am flying that day on an international ticket. (If I had Gold status, the fact that I have an Admiral’s Club membership would not matter, I would not have access to those lounges.) So, I visited the Finnair Lounge.

The representative at the desk had to make a call to verify that I really was allowed in, but once she did she allowed me in. I had a glass of orange juice, coffee, and cheese, meat slices, and crackers. A good snack while I used their computer to check my e-mail. After relaxing, I went to the gate for my flight to Paris.

My flight from Frankfurt had stopped at the far end of the airport and I had to take a bus to the terminal. At least my Paris flight would depart from the terminal. The aircraft was an Airbus A-319 and had something I had never seen before: an all-female crew, the flight attendants and the cockpit crew were all female.

I boarded the plane and fell asleep immediately after take-off. I slept until they woke me to prepare for landing at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle International Airport. As we approached the airport I looked out the window to the right and saw the Eiffel Tower rising majestically from the Paris haze. Oh how I wish I could have gotten to my camera to take a picture of that view!

I had a one-hour forty-minute layover in Paris. I assumed the was more than enough time to transfer from one international flight to another. How wrong I was!

When I walked off the jetway there were two ladies holding signs, “American Airlines Dallas” and “American Airlines Miami,” and saying “wait here if you are taking either of these flights.”

There must have been 30 of us taking the Dallas flight. As I stood waiting for the other passengers to get off the plane, I decided I would take a picture of the airport. You can see that picture below. Nothing very exciting or top secret about it, but as soon as I took the shot, a member of airport security came up to me and said, “Monsieur, please put your camera away, you do not have permission to take pictures of the airport.”

Charles de Gaulee airport

This does not look like a very dramatic photo of Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris, but airport security was not happy with me taking this shot.

What????? I can’t take a picture of an airport???? I had never heard of anything so absurd: this isn’t a photo of a top secret military base, the French President’s plane isn’t in the shot. I didn’t think I had done anything wrong, but also realized this was not the time to see if they were joking or not.

So, with a quick “Pas de probleme” I put the camera away. Enjoy the photo, there may not be another one like it anywhere else! haha!

When everyone had gotten off the plane we set off for our Dallas flight. It seemed like the lady leading our group received a bonus if she could get us where we were going as soon as possible. Many of us had a hard time keeping up with her as we marched like little chicks trying to follow the momma hen back to the barn.

I tried to follow our route, but frankly could not. Normally, if you change from one terminal to another you see signs saying “Terminal 2″ with an arrow pointing the way, or something similar. I never saw anything like that.

Eventually we ended up at the other terminal. I thought we could go directly to our gate, but instead we had to check in to get our boarding passes. By now I had little more than an hour until my Dallas flight left, and the line I was on was very long and not moving.

After 15 minutes I remembered that I was Platinum and this meant I did not have to stand on the very long check in line for coach, I could go to the much shorter First Class line and check in there! (Love those Platinum benefits!)

The first stop was a security check in where I had to answer the standard questions: “Did you pack your bag? Has anyone you don’t know given you anything to take on the plane?” And so on. We have not asked those questions in the US for a few years, I did not know anyone was still asking them. The representative seemed a bit puzzled that I was on an international flight but had not checked any luggage, she kept asking me if I was sure I had not checked bags in Helsinki. After a few minutes of this she decided I was not a threat and let me go.

Now I had to go to the American Airlines counter to get my boarding pass. The American clerk also seemed puzzled by my lack of luggage, but did not make a big deal out of it. After that I cleared through the X-ray machine and was on my way to my gate.

The flight departed from gate 45. I saw a sign for the high-numbered gates and went that way. I have to admit, I was not impressed by Charles de Gaulle airport, it did not appear to have the best design in the world.

I walked towards gate 45 and saw a wall after gate 37. An arrow pointed up and to the right to get to 45. I had to go up a flight of stairs, walk through a restaurant, then back down the stairs, to get to my gate. No problem for me, but what would a parent with several young children do?

I eventually got to the gate and found that the flight would be completely full: an earlier flight to JFK in New York had been canceled and many of those passengers had been rebooked on my flight. After the First Class passengers boarded I got on the plane (another Platinum benefit!). The early boarding gave me the space in the overhead compartment for my coat and bag. I had an exit row seat which gave me plenty of leg room (another Platinum benefit!).

I had a smooth flight to Dallas: once they served the meal I fell asleep and slept most of the way to Dallas.

Once I arrived in Dallas I quickly cleared Customs (and finally got my passport stamped!) My Austin flight was from Terminal A: I took the train to that terminal and headed straight for the Admirals Club.

The ACs in terminals A, B, and C are virtually the same except for one thing: the showers. Terminal A has what we call “the car wash shower.” Water not only comes from the hand-held nozzle and from above, but also from the side! It is a very relaxing treat after a long flight.

The famous “car wash” showers at the Terminal A Admirals Club at DFW.

After my shower I left for my Austin flight. Everything went smoothly with that and my return to Austin. I was home, very very tired, but home, by 7:30 that night.

Looking back, I wish I had planned my time in Helsinki better. I spent too much time walking around. And, I am not in my 20s any more, that long overnight stay may have been a bit much.

But I got home safely, 26,708 miles have posted to my account, and all is well.

Mission accomplished!