Today I’m on my way from Paris to Zagreb. My options are Croatia Airlines or Air France. Normally, I would go with Air France. However, this time around there were several good reasons to take Croatia Airlines instead. First, they use an A319 on the route, whereas Air France operates an Embraer 175. And second, the schedule with Croatia Airlines is more appealing, with an arrival in Zagreb at 13h10.
Getting to the Airport
I’m staying at the Sofitel Le Scribe in Paris, which is just around the corner from the Opéra Garnier. The car picks me up in front of the hotel at 08:35 to take me to the airport. Being early Sunday morning, the traffic is fairly smooth – right up until we join the access road to CDG airport, where the traffic comes to a grinding halt. As a result, the trip ends up taking just shy of 60 minutes in total.
Croatia Airlines checks in at Terminal 2D, Hall 3. Currently, they’re working on the outside of the terminal, so access to 2D is via 2B.
There are three counters open for Croatia Airlines passengers: one for Business Class and two for Economy Class.
Access to the security checkpoint is between terminals 2B and 2D. There is a separate queue for Business Class passengers and the process is quick.
CDG2 Extime Lounge
Croatia Airlines uses the Extime Lounge, which is in the Schengen area of the terminal building. There are no lounges in the non-Schengen part from where Croatia Airlines boards. Access to the lounge is via a corridor that leads off from the main area just in front of the Relay kiosk.
The lounge is certainly one of the better ones at CDG if you’re not travelling on Air France. And it’s certainly much better than the dreadful lounge I visited in July on my way to Australia!
The lounge has a large buffet with a good selection of hot and cold dishes.
At 10h45 I exit the lounge and make my way to passport control. It’s not very busy. I reach the gate for my flight at B29, where the last remaining passengers of the inbound are just disembarking.
Alas, taking a decent picture of my chariot is impossible.
Boarding starts ten minutes late. The first call is for Business Class passengers only.
Croatia Airlines operates six A 319s in two different configurations. This aircraft is configured for a capacity of 150 passengers, which is also why it has two overwing exits on each side, contrary to your usual, standard issue A 319, which only has one on either side.
Seat pitch on row 1 is good. It also helps that the Business Class cabin is not full. So once boarding is completed, the guy on 1C moves one row back so that we each have a whole row of three to ourselves.
There are three cabin crew on this flight and they’re lovely, very friendly and helpful. While we’re still on the ground, they offer a welcome drink and disinfectant towel.
Today’s traffic regime at CDG sees parallel approaches happening on the two southern runways, and departures on the inner one of the two northern runways. On our way there, we pass CDG 1, which is still closed, where I spot Conviasa’s A 340 and an Aerolineas Argentinas A 330. CDG 1 is scheduled to reopen next year.
The flight time to Zagreb is one hour and forty minutes. It’s difficult to find anything nice to say about the meal service. One could forgive the rather ugly presentation if the content were good but…
…we start with porc sausage slices…
…followed by a paté of sorts made of more porc (49%!) and then some porc.
Which basically leaves me with pickled vegetables and crackers and a piece of walnut cake. Tragically, the crackers are limp and the walnut cake is just dead boring.
And to drink with that, I have a Coke Zero.
I also order a coffee. To be honest, even if you normally have your coffee black, if you’re drinking the Croatia Airlines stuff you may want to add the cream and sugar they provide for the sake of your taste buds. It’s not their fault…
The tray also comes with cutlery, although I’m not sure what I’m supposed to use it for, except perhaps to stick the fork in my leg in the hope that the pain will distract from just how hungry I am by this stage.
Our route takes me overhead Basel, where I live, and then on to Innsbruck and Ljubljana. The flight is uneventful and the views of the mountains are beautiful, even though there’s still not much snow on them.
Eventually, we land with a delay of fifteen minutes.
Getting into Town
The airport bus runs to the city every thirty minutes. The journey takes 25 minutes to complete and will take you to the main bus terminus, which is still quite a walk away from the centre of town. The journey will cost you 45 Kuna, which is roughly EUR6.-. Only cash payment is possible on the bus, but there’s a telling machine at arrivals, just opposite the exit for the airport bus. The stop is on your far right as you exit the airport building.
In the sum of all things, I thought Croatia Airlines were quite okay. The aircraft was comfortable enough and the crew were really great and very friendly. On the down side, the food was seriously lacking. To be fair, they are the airline of Croatia. Even so, I think it would not be too much to ask for them to cater to a more international palate, shall we say.