Sunday, 11 January 2009

How Slow Is Air Travel? London To Paris Time Trial

For those of you who do not know I embarked upon a round the world trip in the latter end of 2007 and took 7 international and 13 internal flights. When you visit that many airports in a relatively short period of time you begin to realise how much time is actually wasted queuing in airports and passing through check points.

For international flights you are always advised to arrive at the airport 2 hours before take off and you need to allow enough time to get to the airport which in my experience is always on the outskirts of the city and can take ages without a Metro system. Once at the terminal, you need to queue to check in, queue to go through security, queue at the gate, queue on the runway and that is if there are no delays and is just for the outbound leg. There is still baggage collection, customs and security when you land! So this started me thinking. “I wonder if I could drive from my home in London to a hotel in Paris quicker than a plane doing the exact same route.” I did some research on the internet into distances and times and used my own experience of travelling to Paris.

I will start with driving. The metrics have been calculated assuming the car is travelling at 110 kph roughly 70 mph (UK speed limit). I have factored in some traffic but I would be leaving after rush hour so would expect no hold ups, and also check in times at the channel tunnel.

By Car

London to Dover: 102km = 1 hour 12
Channel tunnel: 1 hour
Calais to Paris centre: 293km = 2 hours 49

Total: 5 hr 01

For flying I have assumed the car is parked at Gatwick and not in an out of area long term car park, and the transfer from the airport in Paris is by Metro.

By Air

Home to Gatwick airport: 60km = 1 hour
Airport time (UK) = 2 hours
Flight time = 1 hour
Airport Time = 1 hour
Transfer Time = 30 minutes

Total: 5 hr 30

As I suspected flying London to Paris is only 1 hour in the air but is also 5 hours of waiting around and transfers to and from the airport. This is an exceptional circumstance because there are not many other countries I would even consider driving to, but the main point of the article was to highlight the amount of time spent messing around at airports especially now security is much tighter. Flying is clearly the quickest and only option for long haul flights but I would like to see airport time significantly reduced for intercontinental flights and domestic. I can only dream.



At 13 January 2009 at 18:37 , Blogger Saadia said...

Interestingly, we took a local flight within Spain on Vueling, and then another from Spain to Italy on the same carrier, and they checked us in 30 minutes before departure. No problems. I wonder if that's the case with all budget airlines, like EasyJet, for instance?

At 13 January 2009 at 19:23 , Blogger Alex @ The Travel Blurb said...

I think budget airlines are quicker with their check ins times but services are speding up (only at checkin) thanks to e-tickets and online check ins. The main hold ups are security and the be at the airport 2 hours before the flight rule. The 2 hours is only sen as a guide but most people adhere to it (particularly on budget airlines) because people get seated first come first served and if you want to sit together then you need to arrive early.

In my experience EasyJet are a pretty good budget airline for service but the leg room could be increased and the food prices reduced - but that is where the budget airlines recoup their money.

At 14 January 2009 at 05:32 , Blogger Tazeen said...

loved your analysis :)

At 14 January 2009 at 21:01 , Blogger Saadia said...

Pack patience for world’s most-delayed airports


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