Smoother travel than ever!
We have switched our flight to Lyon Airport for this winter. It is a world-class airport, under new management (no longer the dreaded Chamber of Commerce), and is now possibly the most modern and dynamic in France.
Much as we love tiny, friendly Grenoble Airport, the recent tightening of controls on people from outside the Schengen Zone (including the UK) meant that our guests were waiting for up to two hours in a crowded, overheated hall before even showing their passports! Grenoble is doing everything possible to sort out the problems, but it is a tiny airport with a lot of other non-Schengen ski charters (Britain, Russia, Israel…), and we don’t see how its waiting times can be shortened.
Lyon, on the other hand, is vast and under-used. We are sharing the ultra-modern Terminal 2 with Air France, and ours may well be the only charter flight on a Sunday. Our coaches drop guests close to check-in, and collect them just outside Arrivals. Dedicated staff will collect skis and boards at the check-in desks. There is an air bridge from the aircraft, and short queues (we are assured) at passport control. Even the loos are magnificent!
We never underestimate winter’s propensity for testing one’s patience. Fog at Gatwick, snow in France, icy roads, avalanches, strikes – there’s a lot that can go wrong. But our 9.50am Sunday Boeing has almost never had to do a flight before ours, so it takes off on time 99% of the time from a relatively uncrowded Gatwick, and will land at a very quiet Lyon. The transfer on a Sunday is invariably rapid and easy, taking about 2hrs 45 mins, the same as from Grenoble.
You may ask why we don’t use Chambéry, nearly an hour closer to Val d’Isère. It is true that when everything runs perfectly, Chambéry is very convenient. But its short runway is surrounded by mountains, can only be used in one direction, requires special radar on the aircraft and special training for its pilots, and is an absolute nightmare when there is bad weather – in other words, rather frequently in the winter! It is even smaller than Grenoble, and has the same difficulties with passport control, security etc. And anyway, if our staff had two hours less to prepare the chalets, they couldn’t do it properly, so we’d have to take the scenic route via Turin!
We may be wrong, but we think that travelling through Terminal 2 at Lyon St Exupéry is going to be rapid and civilised. We can’t wait to meet our first Boeing 737 on 23 December.
See Flight Details for flight numbers and departure and arrival times. See Baggage Allowance for details about ski and snowboard carriage, and luggage allowances.
Header image ©O.Chassignole/Aéroports de Lyon