Review: ICARE Lounge Paris Charles de Gaulle

Filed Under: Other Airlines

I was in such a rush when I took the train to Paris that I forgot to check which terminal La Compagnie departs from. My flight wasn’t listed on the departures board, so I went to the information desk to ask. The following conversation ensued:

“Excuse me, from which terminal does La Compagnie fly?”
“Sir, which compagnie?”
La Compagnie, they are the new airline flying to Newark.”
“Which compagnie are you flying to New York?”
La Compagnie, that’s the name of the airline. La Compagnie. They’re brand new. They only fly Paris to Newark.”
“Yes, but which compagnie do you fly with?”

Perhaps the French version of “Who’s On First?”

After connecting to the internet on my phone I figured out that they leave from Terminal 1, so I took the train over there.

Paris Charles de Gaulle departures board

Paris Charles de Gaulle terminal

Unfortunately even when in Terminal 1 I couldn’t figure out where their check-in desk was. The person at the information desk didn’t know, they weren’t listed on the departure board, etc. I began to wonder if they were even operating at all.

Paris Charles de Gaulle terminal

So I decided to sit down in the departures hall and get some work done on my laptop. Eventually the flight appeared on the departures board, so I headed to the La Compagnie counter for check-in, where a queue was starting to form.

La Compagnie flight on departures board

Departures hall Charles de Gaulle Airport

I was second in line, and waited and waited and waited. The person in front of me took at least 30 minutes. There was a guy in a suit – actually several people in suits – working for the airline standing around. So I figured I’d ask him what’s going on:

“Excuse me, what’s taking so long? I don’t have any checked bags, is there another way I can get my boarding pass?”
“Oh, check-in just opened two minutes ago.”
“Really? There are so many of us waiting in line and the check-in agents have been there all along, but you couldn’t tell us that check-in isn’t even open yet?”
“Well I thought you would know check-in opens 2hr20min before departure.”
“How would I know that?”
“Is it not on our website?”
“No, actually you have very little information on your website.”
“Well the reason we open check in so late is since we have business travelers and they can check in up until 20 minutes before departure.”
“So you’re saying I can show up at Charles de Gaulle 20 minutes before departure and make the flight? Maybe it’s time to reconsider that so your passengers don’t show up more than 2hr20min before departure, since there are already a lot of people here waiting.”

I wasn’t trying to be a d*&$, but rather was kind of amazed at how unapologetic he was at my frustration for the lack of communication. Would it have killed him to go around to people, smile, thank them for flying La Compagnie, and explain when check-in would open? I mean it’s a brand new airline, and this is their first impression to customers.

What I really wanted to point out to him was that I was just about the only person in line not wearing Juicy Couture, so he should probably rethink the whole “business travelers want _____” approach.

Departures hall Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

I was handed a boarding pass for my flight along with a premium immigration card.

La Compagnie boarding pass

I headed towards the departures hall, which involved taking one of the super weird, angled moving walkways, which can’t help but make you feel like a hamster.

Departures hall Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

Departures hall Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

There was no wait at the priority immigration queue, so I was through within seconds.

Departures hall Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

I followed the signage towards the ICARE lounge, which is the contract lounge that La Compagnie uses in Paris.

Lounge signage Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

I took the elevator up a level, to where the lounge is located.

Lounge elevator Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

The ICARE Lounge is located at the far end of the hallway, and is also accessible with a Priority Pass membership through any number of credit cards with lounge access.

ICARE Lounge entrance Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

ICARE Lounge signage Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

It was almost blocked off by a cleaning cart. Which is ironic, because I can assure you there were no cleaners in the lounge based on how messy it was.

ICARE Lounge entrance Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

Holy freaking crap. I don’t have high expectations from contract lounges, but this was possibly one of the worst I’ve been to. It was tiny and way overcrowded.

ICARE Lounge Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

ICARE Lounge Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

ICARE Lounge Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

The only empty seat I could find was by one of the PCs, in the far back corner. And keep in mind the above pictures were taken right when I got to the lounge, before 30+ other La Compagnie passengers showed up.

ICARE Lounge Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

ICARE Lounge bar Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

In terms of the snack selection, it was pretty abysmal, though that’s usually the norm for contract lounges.

ICARE Lounge buffet Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

It exclusively featured packaged snacks, including chips and cookies, mini-cakes, and snack mix.

ICARE Lounge snacks Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

ICARE Lounge snacks Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

ICARE Lounge snacks Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

ICARE Lounge coffee Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

The terminals in Charles de Gaulle Airport are possibly my least favorite in Europe. They’re dark, retro, and usually smell pretty bad as well. But after 20 minutes in the lounge I decided to leave the lounge and go sit in the gate area instead, since I figured it couldn’t be worse.

Walking to departure gate Charles de Gaulle

At Charles de Gaulle, security is at the individual “piers.” That’s kind of good news, since it means the queues don’t get too long when there aren’t many flights leaving from that area. Quite possibly the coolest retro thing about CDG are the “dipping” moving walkways in the tunnels. So strange and… awesome.

Walking to departure gate Charles de Gaulle

Walking to departure gate Charles de Gaulle

The security process was surprisingly easy, I guess thanks largely to the fact that there weren’t any other flights leaving around that time.

La Compagnie departure gate Charles de Gaulle

La Compagnie departure gate Charles de Gaulle

La Compagnie departure gate Charles de Gaulle

The La Compagnie flight to Newark was departing from Gate 15, located just past the checkpoint and to the left.

La Compagnie departure gate Charles de Gaulle

I was sort of giddy to actually see the La Compagnie 757 at the gate. Up until that point I wasn’t actually convinced the airline existed.

La Compagnie 757 Paris Charles de Gaulle

La Compagnie 757 Paris Charles de Gaulle

The flight was scheduled to depart at 5:50PM, and at 5:20PM I was a bit surprised that there wasn’t more action at the gate, given that it was the scheduled boarding time.

About 10 minutes later, at 5:30PM, the crew showed up. There were six flight attendants and two captains (both had four stripes). They just sat down in the gate area.

At this point the guy in the suit that I had a “conversation” with earlier came up to me to apologize for the delay, and said the flight should be about 30 minutes late for boarding. Okay, fair enough. At 5:50PM we were 30 minutes from the supposed “revised” departure time, but the crew was still sitting in the gate area. The guy came up to me again to apologize, and said boarding should begin shortly.

Oddly they didn’t make an announcement in the gate area even though most passengers were there at this point. Instead they went up to everyone individually.

Then at 5:55PM the crew finally boarded the plane. The guy in the suit came up to me again and said boarding should begin in 10 minutes. Okay… except it didn’t.

At 6:45PM boarding finally began, about an 1hr25min late, without so much as an explanation.

I mean, the plane had been sitting in Paris for days, I’m not sure what excuse there could possibly be for a departure delay.

But I wasn’t going to let the boarding experience ruin the flight. The onboard product had that taken care of, instead. 😉

Bottom line on ICARE Lounge Paris

Whether you’re entering thanks to a Priority Pass membership, La Compagnie business class ticket, or ticket on another airline, don’t bother. The gate area is more spacious…

  1. That lounge (I swear!) is the old United Red Carpet Club . . . Can anyone else please confirm or correct this haunting feeling of mine?

  2. Bad memories of CDG are flooding back to me. What a depressing, horribly outdated airport. What a depressing, horribly ghastly pre-flight experience. Thank you, we shall consider ourselves warned….

  3. @ Lantean — Ouch, in doing some research it does indeed seem that they use that lounge at CDG. For an A380 no less — eek!

  4. @ Justin — Hmmm, they used to use the Star Alliance lounge, but I’m not sure if they’ve moved terminals since switching alliances.

  5. Ha!! The ICARE lounge actually looks grand compared to HA’s “First Class” lounges in LAX and HNL. Basically, they are the airport equivalent of Mexican bus stations. Ben, have you ever gone to either HA lounge? If not, you really ought to on some trip to HI/HNL.

  6. One of my least favorite lounges, second only to the one in Beijing, which at least had more space. I walked in and walked right out.

  7. I spent a couple of hours there a couple of years ago. All of CDG is a disaster, but T1 is a special kind of hell. Anyplace that makes the C1-C7 gate area at IAD look plush and modern is a special place. Was there a flight to the Middle East or Asia leaving around that same time? I ask because when I was there it was from about 12:30-2:30pm, and it was much less crowded.

  8. @JK-SFO No it’s not the old UA Red Carpet Club. Same general area, a floor below if memory serves, and virtually identical sad space, but definitely not in the same place.

    I’ve always wondered how crappy this lounge was… Everything about it feels ghetto even from outside. Thanks for confirming my suspicions!

  9. I see at least 3 open seats in your pics where you could have sat down. Overcrowded is when its standing room only. Clearly you have a warped sense of entitled space.

  10. I was in the care lounge this past February and thought it was relatively small but was overall decent. Granted when I went, there were only a handful of passengers in the lounge and they had fresh croissants, muffins, and orange juice in addition to all of the pre packed food that you mentioned and pictured. If I am not mistaken, the coffee machine also made cappuccinos as well. Granted, I was at the lounge relatively early in the morning probably around 7:00 am so that may very well be why it had maybe only a half dozen people in it. It appeared that the lounge had seating for maybe 60-75 people at most.

    The iCare lounge is part of Airport Angel as well, which is how I accessed it back in February, but I can imagine that all of la Compagnie’s customers alone could not fit in the lounge making for an extremely crowded lounge when customers from other airlines and programs like airport angel also have access.

  11. That was a very “special” experience, in the French sense of the word. T1 is the old part of CDG. Back in 1974 CDG was wildly futuristic, with its satellites and rolling passageways and outer-space-like announcement chimes. Today it’s just dated.

    As an AA/OneWorld flyer I spend more time in T2A-C, which finally has been renovated. The new Admiral’s Club isn’t bad; the CX lounge is better. Both have plenty of light and nice runway views; Cathay has better champagne and a made-to-order noodle bar. Haven’t tried the Emirates lounge.

  12. BTW iCare isn’t “eye care” but “ee-carr” or Icarus, in Greek mythology the son of the craftsman Daedalus. To enable their escape from Crete, Deadalus crafted wings from feathers and wax so they could fly away. Icarus flew too close to the sun, melting the wax and dumping Icarus into the sea. You have to wonder what marketing genius came up with that name for an airport lounge. Kinda like naming a car Nova.

    A section of T2E collapsed about 10 years ago; I thought I heard of another collapse recently but can’t find anything.

  13. @Pat+ – Thanks for the info! It was the “virtually identical sad space” look that had me wondering!

    CDG T1 is what the planners thought the future would be. Oh how it all went such a different direction!

  14. I flew MH J from CDG recently and can confirm they use the ICARE lounge. It is, in a word, HIDEOUS. I went in, helped myself to a can of Sprite, sat down for all of 5 minutes, and promptly left for the gate area.

  15. The only positive thing I would say about the Icare lounge is that they do have excellent Ruinart champagne there

  16. @ Nick — Don’t actually know what other flight was using the lounge and leaving around the same time. Don’t think so, though.

  17. Apparently you didn’t follow La Compagnie’s logic. Why would you waste time in the lounge when you could spend it more productively somewhere else (shopping in a Juicy Couture boutique?), then arrive at the airport 20 minutes before departure to checkin/board your flight? 🙂

  18. In their defense, it does seem like you could have gotten there 20 minutes before scheduled departure time and still made the flight.

    ICARE sounds like an urban juvenile delinquency reduction program.

  19. Honestly even AF domestic lounges can’t match up to how bad the ICARE lounge is. But i generally try to avoid T1 as much as possible and use 2C/E/F/G who aren’t bad terminals at all.

  20. Admittedly a trivial question, but is their IATA ticketing number really 002 (based on your BP)? If not, which airline is that? I hadn’t thought that they had any ticketing agreements in place.

  21. The thought of returning to CDG makes me feel somewhat nausious. Long, complex, confusing, and feels like it should have had an upgrade many years ago. I visited the ICARE lounge back in August, when our Air France flight was delayed (which resulted in 600EUR compensation which was lovely). It was great – there were few other people in there, and staff were happy to ply us with unlimited champagne.

    ICARE = good memories. Air France + CDG = bad memories. Delay = profit on flight 🙂

  22. Looking at a long layover at CDG, waiting for a 9pm flight. I have access to the Admirals Club in Terminal 2, but everything I read says it closes at 5:30pm. Can that be true! Yikes!

  23. so … I will be at CDG for a bit of time in October, waiting for a flight. What is the best lounge to purchase access to? for those that can be purchased for a one shot deal. Thanks in advance for any info you can share!

  24. don’t be an ass, many of the smaller airlines only open up 1-2 hours prior to departure. what’s with your picture taking etiquette in the lounge too? at least have the courtesy to blur out people’s faces

  25. CDG Terminal 1 is awful, generally. UA flies out of Terminal 1, and at least the Star Alliance lounge there is nicer than the iCare, but still not as nice as the AF Affaires lounges in Terminal 2. I don’t think the iCare lounge would be that bad if it were not so crowded. Oddly, I understand that Terminal 1 was designed by the same architect that did Terminal 2, just at different times.

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