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Brighton to Paris, anyone?

Lewes, United...
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Brighton to Paris, anyone?

You couldn’t make this up! This is 2013, isn’t it, and not 1913?!

Ever since BA’s daily service to Paris was reduced and they dropped flights between CDG and LGW all together (my neighbourhood airport, 25 mins from home) I have been waiting for a replacement means of getting to one of my favourite cities. So imagine my delight when I learned that the newly formed Brighton City Airways would be offering a twice daily service from Shoreham airport, which is about 45 mins from home. Shoreham airport pretends to be Brighton’s airport - it is, after all, much closer as the crow flies to the heart of that seaside city than many airports that Ryanair uses are to other cities within Europe that they claim to serve!

Of course, the airport in Paris turns out to be Cergy-Pontoise-Corneilles airport (POX), which is further from the heart of Paris than either CDG or ORY. However, the marketing men claim it’s very convenient to the business quarters to the west of Paris, include at La Defense.

My local radio had a reporter at the airport this morning for the inaugural flight. It continues to be a comedy of errors. First, the aircraft (note the use of the singular noun) a LET-410 UVP-E turbo-prop leased to BCA with fancy orange and green livery has gone tech, so they have had to rustle up a replacement at the last minute, which had to fly in from the Isle of Man, of all places, to fill in. So this replacement doesn’t have the fancy new logo on it, and the flight will be at least an hour late departing ESH. Then it was revealed that POX has had no international services up to now, or not to outside of the Shengen zone, and the new facilities are not yet in place. What this means, for another week or so still, is that all flights from ESH to POX need to put down at either Rouen or Le Touquet airports to allow all passengers to go through immigration checks and show their passports, before continuing on. (It is claimed this will add no more than 10 mins to flight times – provided, of course, that no passenger’s passport fails to meet with an immigration officer’s approval.) Last I checked, the plane still hadn't taken off!

Some of the publicity claims that this will be a valuable business service, offering a convenient route between the south coast of the UK (where lots of businesses employ French natives) and the business heart of Paris-La Defense. As both airports are very compact, the maximum number of passengers per flight is 19, and with no other regular international services using either airport, check in and security at departure, and disembarkation procedures and baggage retrieval at arrival realistically are likely to be very swift. Unfortunately, at the moment, neither airport is served by any kind of public transport, so you have to rely on costly taxis instead. In the rush hour a taxi could take over 45 minutes to get from Shoreham airport to say Edward Street (where Brighton’s largest private employer has their main office). It would take nearly as long in a taxi to get to La Defense. At least, a short taxi ride from POX will get you to the last stop on the RER A line at Cergy, to get you into Etoile or Chatelet in the centre of Paris quite quickly.

There are proud boasts that complimentary tea and coffee are served in the airport in a small area that they claim is more like the lounge of a business class service than a normal airport terminal, but you’d better not make too free with the beverages – the plane has no loo! (I am wondering if they make an announcement before boarding to remind passengers of this fact, I’d love to have a first hand trip report!)

For the moment, the two best things about ESH is that, until the airport gets busier, the car park is free, and the transit times at either end of the supposedly one hour long flight will be very short!

Worthing, United...
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1. Re: Brighton to Paris, anyone?

Hi

I live in Shoreham and not in the flight path so this would be so convenient, but we are only about 15 mins from Brighton and the London trains run within feet of the airport so if they created a station you could be exactly one hour ten minutes from central London.

Hopefully this company will take off and start flights to Prague for me.

Jackie

Bingley, United...
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2. Re: Brighton to Paris, anyone?

It's closer to Paris than Beauvais.

Is it quicker and cheaper than travelling up to London, then taking the Eurostar?

Worthing, United...
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3. Re: Brighton to Paris, anyone?

Hi

I often pay about £4 each way to go to London, but you have to book two or three weeks in advance and can only use specific trains. There are lots of available trains but once you make your choice you are stuck with it.

The flights seem to be £69 each way.

Jackie

Lewes, United...
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4. Re: Brighton to Paris, anyone?

Yes, I agree, if, and the emphasis is on the if, they built a new airport right by the airport, then there would be a great, fast service all the way to London, Victoria station. It can be only 15 mins to Brighton from the airport, but it has taken me way longer than that to get from the traffic lights at the A27 to the roundabout by the pier during the rush hour!

If you get the best price flights, at £69, it would be cheaper for me to use this service from where I live than take the Eurostar because unless I returned from Paris the same day, the full fare single train ticket to London to get to the Eurostar terminal is almost as much as the Eurostar! It was claimed, when all is working well that it would be faster than the Eurostar, too. We shall see!

I agree, if it takes off, it would be a great base for short flights to any major city in continental Europe, or the rest of the UK.

SWT

Worthing, United...
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5. Re: Brighton to Paris, anyone?

From their website it looks like they have a shuttle bus at both ends,but with no indication of prices.They were trying to push it as a day trip, but that would leave hardly any time in Paris.

New York City, New...
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6. Re: Brighton to Paris, anyone?

If it lasts 6 months I'll be surprised.

London, United...
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7. Re: Brighton to Paris, anyone?

Hey, give them a break!

OK, if you want full service, plenty of time for overpriced shopping and the fun of long baggage check-in lines and interminable security queues then ESH-POX is definitely not for you. But.....

I travelled both ways past two weeks and thought it was a wonderful change from the hassles of LHR, CDG or the Eurostar lines – at similar cost. A companion flew back from France with me: she'd gone out from Glasgow with Ryanair – I'm assured the Shoreham journey was infinitely preferable, and Pontoise is much nearer to Paris than is Beauvais!

The shuttle to and from Porter Maillot was faultless and convenient (it goes via the RER at Cergy-Pointoise, so one can go into Paris that way even more cheaply).

Sure there are some "Cabin Pressure" touches: the brief touch-down in Rouen en route is a bit bizarre (even though we understand why); and the "Terminal" at Pontoise only opens an hour before the flight departs (so it is definitely NOT advantageous to arrive early).

Overall, I can recommend this new route and service. I hope it gets enough regular custom to keep going.

Shoreham-by-Sea...
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8. Re: Brighton to Paris, anyone?

My wife and I flew out with the service last week and I have to say it was quite simply brilliant. Took off bang on time, touched down for a few minutes in Rouen to clear immigration there (you stay on the plane) and off we went again to Pontoise. Arrived on time, walked through to the shuttle bus which whisked us into town to the RER station. There are loads of trains into the centre of Paris and even though we were bumbling around, by 10.30 UK time I was in a café by the Seine taking in a view of Notre Dame with a beer.

Oh and I have nothing to do with the airline and was happy to support them by booking flights in the week they went live online (we live in Shoreham so just had to try it).

The comments I would make are;

• Book the shuttle bus to the train station; Pontoise is a small airport with few services.

• Take some of those disposable ear plugs; small commuter planes like this are noisy.

• Make sure you understand where the shuttle bus picks you up from on the return journey; it is not completely clear.

• Travel light and enjoy!

If there was one criticism I have of the service, and this has nothing to do with the airline it is the attitude of UK Border Force when you get home to Shoreham (Brighton City Airport). I paused after my passport had been checked to wait for my wife to have hers looked at - she was right behind me. At that point this officious jobsworth barked at me that I must move away. I pointed out I was waiting for my wife, but he just raised his voice and in a brusque and rude manner pointed to the exit and barked at me to get out. Two days of lovely spring break evaporated in the face of this jumped up twit.

9. Re: Brighton to Paris, anyone?

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