Monday, October 13, 2014

Tunisia Trip Day 11

Travel day back to LAX via CDG/Paris. No Roman ruins but lots of airplane pics.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I had to leave the hotel at 4:30am. Originally I was going to take a taxi but our driver said he would take me since the airport transfer was part of the tour package. When we arrived at the hotel last night, he then said a "friend" would pick me up. Are you sure? No problem! So at 4:30am, another driver shows up and asks me for the transfer form or something; he didn't speak English. I said I don't have anything, he hesitated, then took me to the airport anyway, with a busted seatbelt in the passenger seat. At the airport, he followed me around, trying to show me where to go. I was trying to explain that I've been to many airports and I'll be fine, but he waited until I got my boarding pass, then asked for money. Sigh. The smallest I had was 10 dinar so I gave him that. I paid for the ride beforehand, gave our regular driver a large tip, and I'm still being nickeled and dimed. It's like the scamming employees at the Bardo Museum.

Same thing for the Tunisian government. They just implemented an exit tax effective 10/1/2014 of 30 dinars. Welcome to Tunisia... now you need to pay for us to let you go home. I had to find a bank counter at the airport to buy the exit stamp to stick in my passport. I did this but when I went through security at the airport, the border guy was complaining about the stamp in French. I gave him a blank look so after a few moments, he looked at me like I was an idiot, then dismissed me. Huh? Later I find out that since I arrived on 9/30/2014, I didn't have to pay the exit tax. Whatever. Just let me go home.

Finally, since I'm complaining, Air France sucks. When I bought the tickets originally, I purchased premium economy seats thinking that I would be able to pre-select (aisle) seats, but that wasn't the case. After much complaining on Twitter, they were suddenly able to assign me a window seat from LAX-CDG, which I was then able to change online. Cool... not. Then Air France pilots go on strike for two weeks, fortunately ending the day before I was to leave. I was able to get to Paris but the flight arrived late so I had to run like crazy through CDG airport to make my connection though my luggage did not. At Tunis, my bag made it on a later flight but I had to go back to the airport to get it myself as they did not deliver. I wonder if they treat first class customers the same way. On the way back home, I tried for two days to check-in online but it would only process the TUN-CDG flight; the website said I was on standby for the CDG-LAX flight. WUWT?! I tried a direct Twitter message and a phone call to the AF US customer service number but both were unable (or unwilling) to do anything. At Tunis airport, the gate agent said that I had to check with a customer service agent in Paris for seats. When I arrived at CDG, the only seat available was a window seat. Arg, I paid AF $1700 four months before the trip! Frustrating. I'm never ever flying Air France again. I hope I can at least trade my miles from this trip for some useful stuff.


Carthage-Tunis Airport sunrise

CDG airport was pretty nice. There were a lot of shops and everything was clean though expensive. I bought a bottle of French wine at the duty free shop. They also had these "billboards" but with live plants.

Vietnamese Airlines Boeing 777-200ER. Never seen one at LAX.

British Aerospace 146 (Avro RJ85)

Air France Airbus A380-800. This is the same type of plane for my LAX-CDG trip. Very large plane.

Air France Boeing 777-300ER. This was my ride home. Unlike the A380, the interior was a bit worn. The in-flight entertainment system stopped working for me and my neighbor about an hour into the flight. Fortunately, there was an empty seat but it had a broken leg rest (thus unoccupied). I ended up sitting there for most of the 11.5 hour flight since I couldn't deal with my window seat. Also, the food seems to be worse than the A380 as well. More importantly, the premium economy seats were similar and both sucked.

Entry and exit stamps... and the 30 dinar exit tax stamp that I didn't have to buy

Back to sleep!

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