Abrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5000 posts, RR: 55 Posted (5 years 4 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Feedback always appreciated.
Trip Report: 053
Flight Category: J-ILR (See Report End)
Date: 10 Jun-08
SDT/SAT/Delay: 1835/0840+1/10:05 hrs (Delayed: 00:55 hrs)
Flight: TAP Air Portugal TP 192, 5067 miles
Seat: Business “Top Executive”, 2J
I > Background:
I had been on a tough away assignment for 3 months and earned a well deserved break by the time the engagement was over and June had rolled in. Instead of going back to Caracas directly, I decided to visit a few random places I had not been to in a while. After a trip to Chile, I decided to visit some friends in one of my favorite cities … Barcelona. After a pit stop in Sao Paulo to have a café with my friend Gustavo, it was off to redeem some award points for a TAP routed GRU-OPO-BCN … much more calming than a GRU-LIS-BCN routing.
A quick search on A.Net tells me that this is the first report on TAP’s “new” J class, and the first involving an intercontinental routing to OPO.
II > Pre-Flight:
a) Before Airport:
TAP Air Portugal is the “flag” carrier of Portugal. An often overlooked member of the Star Alliance, TAP provides extensive European connections from their antiquated Lisbon hub, and also has extensive services to almost all their ex-colonies and the U.S. Besides Lisbon, they also link Oporto with reduced frequency and/or seasonal service to several cities including GRU and EWR. Of all the airlines that have “milked” Varig’s demise, TAP probably ranks first by utilizing every market opportunity and serving a plethora of cities in Brazil. As my Brasilian friend Gustavo pointed out, “uugh…it is like a new wave of colonization” …
Since this was an award ticket, it was done through Lufthansa and their Chile office. In the past, I have tried to understand TAP’s website at www.flytap.com, and have failed miserably. I tried to book seats online (failed), and later called their office in Newark only to be told by a rather unhappy matron that they “cannot touch non-TAP” bookings. Strange, because I was able to chose the seat to one of their Brasilian workers at GRU a few months later. C’est la vie.
b) At Airport:
I have to admit something. I love Sao Paulo. While not a particularly attractive city, I am just mesmerized by the sheer energy of the city. Few places in the world can match the absolute chaotic energy of the place (HK, Bombay, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Beirut, Cairo, NY come to mind). It is almost like being part of one big rave that lifts your spirit because the only constant is rapid change. GRU exemplifies all these virtues. It is not a modern or pleasant airport … and in some weird way, I like it like that. It is chaotic and unruly … but at the same time, it has a “joie de vivre” where anything can happen. It is exactly what the doctor ordered after the sterility of Santiago and the IKEA like design of SCL.
TAP has several flights leaving and each set of counters were marked by the flight destination (very old school). There as a separate counter for J passengers (and Star Gold) … but by the time I went to check-in (with Gustavo paranoid that I’d miss my flight), there was literally no one else. Weird. The check-in woman issued me my boarding pass and was super paranoid that I’d miss my flight and directed me to pay for the airport tax and “run to board”. Ok, I had no idea what all the fuss was about. Quick goodbye’s later, I went to the immigration line and began to understand what the big deal was. It was like I had teleported to Delhi airport in the mad midnight bank of flights. The line at immigration and security was HUGE and it took every patience (and over an hour to get through). Now, my Brasilian friends can correct me on this, I could have sworn that there used to be a special line for premium passengers right off the immigration line for everyone else. Perhaps I am wrong here?
After the long lines, I needed a nice café, and made my way to the Varig lounge on the 2nd floor. Now, this lounge is nothing special … but it embodies so much of why I just love Sao Paulo. The attendant (who recognized me and my Liechtenstein passport) was all excited to see me … got up from his chair for a warm handshake, ask me about life, and how long the Varig brand would last. I did not have the stomach to tell him what I thought. It was like I was being welcomed back to my home or something. Ok, a quick café and some phone calls later, I was off to the “final boarding call” … only after I picked up as many random Varig branded trinkets.
Boarding was a serious mess. I am usually OK with the ILBST, but this flight was nothing like I have ever seen before. I was convinced that the riot police had to come at some point. On a separate occasion, I had noticed that TP’s EWR-LIS flight had chaotic boarding … but this was the absolute cake. By the time I made it to the cabin, the flight was over 30 minutes delayed … it would be an hour delay by the time wheels were off the ground. Entering a packed J class, I got no greeting from the crew, and no assistance with my bags. A lot of the J clientele seemed to be VFR’s and many were being “upgraded” from Y. Interestingly, EVERY upgraded passenger to the J section were Portuguese, white, and old.
Both J and Y load were 100%. I am sure some ticketed passengers did not make it.
Airport - External:
(Sao Paulo Airport)
Airport - Internal:
Scenes of the tarmac:
(Excellent café – the Brasilians seem to have perfected this!)
(Chaos and lines)
a) Service Schedule + Impressions:
Port wine served while on ground along with newspapers and magazines. TAP shows its strong Lussophone roots as NOT A SINGLE daily is in English. Post take-off, a skimpy luke warm hot towel, and dinner. Prior to landing, TAP gift distributed (CD) and a quick breakfast service. No towel (cold or hot) service after waking up. Weird for trans-continental J. Attendants had NO cabin walk-thru during the entire flight.
b) Aircraft + Seats:
TAP uses a 2-2-2 J layout in their 332. These are the same Recaro (?) seats utilized by Air France J. The seats were fine in a vertical position, but felt claustrophobic (a la AF-J) when reclined. Legroom became abysmal and the weird points of the seat made it uncomfortable and gave a continuous sense of “slipping off”. Also, what is up with the super complicated tray table which I struggled to open! J bathroom had NO amenities!
Views from Aircraft:
General Seat Views + Seat Legroom
Seat Recline + Angle View:
(Bathroom without amenities)
c) Meal + Beverage:
Let me get the good thing out of the way. I liked their wine menu and was delighted to sample the heavily Portuguese influenced listings.
Upon embarkation, port wine was served … with no water or juice being offered as substitues. Weird.
Dinner was served soon after take-off. TAP has a LONG way to go before truly understanding customer service. The entire meal was conducted without a smile by 2 FA’s. They did both aisles of this widebody (despite their being an abundance of other FA’s.) This meant that several people were skipped during dinner service (including me when the dessert service rolled in), it took a record shattering 29 minutes between my appetizer and main course, and 3 attempts to have Bailey’s served with my dessert. Not good. Moreover, the 2 FA’s forgot things … like giving me cutlery, and then bringing me linens. Topping it off, the lines were dirty and just nasty! The service lacked any aura of finesse and this can be summed by the way the food was presented … without having the tacky plastic wrap removed from each plate. Who would have thought this was J class??! Oh, and what’s up with not a single drinks run during dinner. One last thing … the FA was shocked when I wanted to see a tea menu after dinner. They had no tea on board.
The food itself was average, and the breakfast served prior to arrival was also average at best.
(Pre-take off port)
(Dirty table clothes)
d) In-flight Entertainment:
While TP has the right hardware (clear big screens, great responsive touch-screen buttons, keyboard, etc.), it lacks the software for the flight to go smoothly. There are only 10 movies shown and none of it is in English. No, English subtitles either. Thankfully, I speak Portuguese and ended up watching the Isabel Abreu hit “Dot.Com”. Head-sets were of pretty decent quality. Additionally, the in-flight magazine was actually a pleasant read.
(There are many attractive Portuguese women. Why did TP select these 2? It was so annoying having to sit and see their face for 10+ hours)
(Moving map with our route)
(IFE had issues several times)
(“In-flight magazines”, Boarding Passes, etc.)
Quite possibly one of the laziest group of crew members I have encountered in a while in J. They made no attempt to make passengers feel welcome. This started with the absence during boarding, and continued throughout the flight. I mean, they were only visible during the meal service and nothing else. I did not see a single of them smile … which is so bizarre because most Portuguese I know have such a great sense of joie de vivre. Oh, and then there was this “jefe” (old man, team leader) who did NOTHING during the flight. He literally had a room behind the cockpit with a leather seat (across from the bathroom) and everytime I passed by he was seated in a nice padded leader seat reading a newspaper. Does anyone know what this guy’s role is? It is not like anything I have ever seen before.
Looking back, the indifferent service was just what I had received in last year in Y between OSL and LIS … reviewed here: TAP Portugal TP 507: 29/MAY/07: OSL-LIS: Y Cabin (by Abrelosojos Jun 30 2007 in Trip Reports)
Porto is a charming little airport reminiscent architecturally of CDG … without the chaos. It has actually become one of my preferred connection points in Europe with its tranquillity and helpful staff. I was out of the door clearing immigration and picking up my bags in 20 minutes. Later on, I got to experience a great little TAP lounge with some wonderfully attentive personnel and a great ticketing agent. Why are these staffers not the ones serving on board?!
(Video telling us of landing procedures @ GRU. I thought it was very useful.)
(I love this view from GRU where all the aircraft are stored like a junkyard)
(Landing @ Porto – beautiful city – beautiful coastline)
(FID – outside security)
V> Impressions + Scores:
I wish I could say positive things about TAP’s J class product. While I could live with the cramped angle-lie seat, its overall service just lacked any sense of class and finesse. Service was sloppy throughout and on board you are made to feel like a burden more than a guest. The crew was detached, the movie selection poor, and the food service lacked grace. If given a choice, I would avoid TAP. One does pay J class to get such aloof service.
1.0 > RESERVATION: 7.0
2.0 > CHECK-IN: 9.0
0.5 > LOUNGE: 7.0
0.5 > BOARDING: 2.0
2.0 > SEAT: 6.0
0.5 > AIRCRAFT OVERALL AMBIENCE: 6.0
1.0 > IFE: 6.0
2.0 > CREW: 2.0
2.0 > FOOD: 6.0
0.5 > BEVERAGES: 7.0
0.5 > A.KITS + OTHER FREEBIES: 8.0
0.5 > DISEMBARKATION: 9.0
1.0 > ON-TIME RECORD: 7.0 WEIGHTED OVERALL IMPRESSION (WOI): 6.11
(Pre-flight WOI of all reviews: 6.44)
* Weighted Overall Impression (WOI) aligns scores with what matters most. Weights are indicated alongside each category.
(Scores are based on comparison with other airlines in THAT class of service – No comparison of Y vs. F for example)
LX64A332 From Switzerland, joined Aug 2007, 273 posts, RR: 0 Reply 1, posted (5 years 4 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
I agree that TP's product lacks many details. At least the seat and IFE where the new kind.
The last time I flew TP, on their EWR-LIS route, I had the same crappy service, and the older seats and IFE, a la LX A330.
= Jaja. Perhaps after the flight, you needed hot people to provide a sense of escapism . Realism was all around.
Couple of random other thoughts:
1/ Sorry for the sloppy job with leaving the pictures of GRU approach and GRU video from LX in. I really wanted to post it before hitting the gym.
2/ Interestingly, while there was "no tea on board" during dinner, it miraculously appeared for breakfast ... maybe they got some refilled mid-air .
3/ Airlines are a representation of their country ... and TAP's service is disappointing because I find the Portuguese to be one of the most warm people in Europe. What a shameful introduction to a great country.
PHLstudent From United States of America, joined May 2006, 498 posts, RR: 7 Reply 5, posted (5 years 4 months 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 32525 times:
i've been looking at business class fares for a march trip to europe is TAP is the cheapest from Newark, although they are the cheapest thanks for letting me know to steer clear. I like the new seats though, a HUGE improvement over the previous ones. I'm curious to know if they have put them in all of their 330s.
Of course another great report. Whenever I see your reports I know its gunna be a good read and interesting.
Ryanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4706 posts, RR: 26 Reply 7, posted (5 years 4 months 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 32343 times:
Quoting Abrelosojos (Reply 4): 3/ Airlines are a representation of their country ... and TAP's service is disappointing because I find the Portuguese to be one of the most warm people in Europe. What a shameful introduction to a great country.
I have to stop you there... Unfortunately that is most certainly not the case. One very BIG and GLARING example, look at the US carriers. Such warm, cheerful, laid back people on the ground but look what happens once the cabin is presurised - something in the brain also become pressurised.
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
DALCE From Netherlands, joined Feb 2007, 1636 posts, RR: 7 Reply 10, posted (5 years 4 months 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 32043 times:
Another very detailed and well written report from your hand. You seem to be one of the most frequent reporters on here together with Flieger67
As usual your report covers nearly every detail of the whole proces, which makes it possible to get a clear idea of in this case TP.
I fully agree on OPO being a nice airport, I went there with LH during Euro 2004 with a A300, and I was fully happy with OPO.
Thanks for sharing and Brgds,
Joost ( D-ALCE )
flown on : F50,F70,CR1,CR2,CR9,E75,143,AR8,AR1,733,735,736,73G,738,753,744,319,320,321,333,AB6.
Semsem From Israel, joined Jul 2005, 1779 posts, RR: 3 Reply 11, posted (5 years 4 months 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 31817 times:
I flew TAP in Y from Barcelona to Funchal to Porto; 3 segments. The crews also did not smile but they were very well groomed. The standard sandwich was very average and on only 1 segment was the bread decent.
However we were delayed on 2 segments and were offered 1 voucher for a sandwich in the cafeteria and another voucher for a full dinner in the airport restaurant. They seem to be very generous on giving meal vouchers when flights are delayed.
I also liked the Porto Airport. Large and quiet. Thanks for your interesting report.
Abrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5000 posts, RR: 55 Reply 12, posted (5 years 4 months 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 31813 times:
Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 7): I have to stop you there... Unfortunately that is most certainly not the case. One very BIG and GLARING example, look at the US carriers. Such warm, cheerful, laid back people on the ground but look what happens once the cabin is presurised - something in the brain also become pressurised.
= Wait and see . But you can expect another transcontinental on a smaller Star partner, Conviasa perhaps, and some really random airlines out there.
Quoting PHLstudent (Reply 5): i've been looking at business class fares for a march trip to europe is TAP is the cheapest from Newark, although they are the cheapest thanks for letting me know to steer clear. I like the new seats though, a HUGE improvement over the previous ones. I'm curious to know if they have put them in all of their 330s.
= I think all 332's are reconfigured. If the price is right, why not ?
BA319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8353 posts, RR: 55 Reply 18, posted (5 years 4 months 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 31279 times:
Great report and pictures, just as expected
Quoting Abrelosojos (Thread starter): Port wine served while on ground along with newspapers and magazines. TAP shows its strong Lussophone roots as NOT A SINGLE daily is in English. Post take-off, a skimpy luke warm hot towel, and dinner. Prior to landing, TAP gift distributed (CD) and a quick breakfast service. No towel (cold or hot) service after waking up. Weird for trans-continental J. Attendants had NO cabin walk-thru during the entire flight.
- I must say, looks like a pretty crummy flight, such a shame, TAP could be a really good niche carrier.
Food looks poor, service sounded rubbish, J seats look pretty tight, just plane poor.
Lesson learned, don't waste $$ or FF miles in J on TAP!
Abrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5000 posts, RR: 55 Reply 22, posted (5 years 4 months 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 30837 times:
Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 18): - I must say, looks like a pretty crummy flight, such a shame, TAP could be a really good niche carrier.
= Part of it is, they are a niche carrier - it is just that it has ZERO competition in those niche markets - especially after RG's demise. If JJ becomes a bigger player (and I have every reason to believe it will), expect TP to start hurting.
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 19): Very enjoyable report - TP's J class product is definitely one to avoid. What a poor catering in particular. Would be interesting to know about the Y class product, too.
Hardiwv From Brazil, joined Oct 2004, 8780 posts, RR: 51 Reply 23, posted (5 years 4 months 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 30728 times:
Quoting Abrelosojos (Thread starter): Besides Lisbon, they also link Oporto with reduced frequency and/or seasonal service to several cities including GRU and EWR
TP operates intercontinental flights from OPO to GRU, GIG, SSA and EWR. SSA is the newest destination served from OPO.
Quoting Abrelosojos (Thread starter): have to admit something. I love Sao Paulo. While not a particularly attractive city, I am just mesmerized by the sheer energy of the city. Few places in the world can match the absolute chaotic energy of the place (HK, Bombay, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Beirut, Cairo, NY come to mind).
Indeed, and Rio offers the same as Sao Paulo...but with a view!
Quoting Abrelosojos (Thread starter): GRU exemplifies all these virtues. It is not a modern or pleasant airport ... and in some weird way, I like it like that. It is chaotic and unruly ... but at the same time, it has a "joie de vivre" where anything can happen. It is exactly what the doctor ordered after the sterility of Santiago and the IKEA like design of SCL.
I also love to hang around in GRU, so much happening, so many airlines...a secret: the best view is from the inside airside glass tunnel that links the business lounges between T1 and T2. If you pass the RG lounge, continue walking onwards the UA lounge (which is located near the AF, DL and TAM F and C lounges) you will go thorough the airside glass connection tunnel which offers great views of aircraft landing and parking.
Quoting Abrelosojos (Thread starter): Now, my Brasilian friends can correct me on this, I could have sworn that there used to be a special line for premium passengers right off the immigration line for everyone else. Perhaps I am wrong here?
No separate or fast track line, the only fast track line are for employees or INFRAERO officials and their relatives.
Quoting Abrelosojos (Thread starter): Interestingly, EVERY upgraded passenger to the J section were Portuguese, white, and old.
Funny, it must be a coincidence. I can tell you that TP upgrades based on frequent flyer status.
Quoting Abrelosojos (Thread starter): Recaro (?) seats utilized by Air France J. The seats were fine in a vertical position, but felt claustrophobic (a la AF-J) when reclined. Legroom became abysmal and the weird points of the seat made it uncomfortable and gave a continuous sense of "slipping off". Also, what is up with the super complicated tray table which I struggled to open! J bathroom had NO amenities!
It seems a lot of airlines all use the same seats...AM, KL, LA also use the same type of Recaro-style angled seats.
Quoting Globetraveller (Reply 13): A poor service is one thing, but making a passenger feel like a burden is another. I am surprised that the load was actually 100% with that kind of service.
Of course, TAP has the monopoly of flights Brazil-Portugal, but more than 60% of the demand is for connections onwards to other European destinations, this means there are tons of competition and excellent C products from Brazil to Europe: BA, LH, LX, AF, KL, AZ (certainly TAP is better than AZ), IB, etc. Competition is tough and demand is high and airlines dont stop expanding in GRU. All European airlines use their new product to GRU so there is plenty to choose.
The modern (and award winning) livery, menu graphics, etc., are very deceptive. You expect a product that is cutting edge and sophisticated, but the reality just the opposite.
Quoting Abrelosojos (Thread starter): TAP has a LONG way to go before truly understanding customer service. The entire meal was conducted without a smile by 2 FA's.
As soon as we were at cruising altitude, it was a race to serve dinner. Dinner was served from a cart and they didn't bother to take off the plastic wrap. On my return flight from Lisbon to Newark lunch was served and then we didn't see the crew for the rest of the trip!
I agree with your comments about the Oporto airport as well. There was a calm sophistication about it.
Thanks for the report.
25 Abrelosojos: = Jaja. Something makes me think that you are a true Carioca . = Thanks for the tip. I actually have been airside (through a pass), as a former clien
26 Abrelosojos: = Of course so. But TAP still has a monopoly as a lot of its connections are outside GRU and GIG ... there residents are limited to mostly TP. Cheers
27 Pacifique75: Hi Abrelosojos, Jakeflyer! You should have asked for a comments card and write about the service you received... Probably I shouldnt be saying this bu
28 Hardiwv: No, I am from Santa Catarina but have a passion for Rio...and the cariocas... Nope, work in financing in the agricultural sector, which has nothing t
29 Abrelosojos: = Hey - if you work for TAP, I would encourage you to pass the information that J class passengers want a choice. If the flight departs early in the
30 AlexEU: Hi Alex, Very nice trip report ! I didn't even know that there are trans-continental flights from Oporto (apart from NYC). How come you have Liechtens
31 Hardiwv: There is an article of Sao Paulo's falling criminality rates in last week's The Ecoomist. http://www.economist.com/world/ameri...displaystory.cfm?sto
32 Hardiwv: Below is a link of a trip report with plenty of pictures on TAP LIS-GRU business class A330 which was made by a Brazilian online magazine Jetsite.: ht
33 Davescj: Great TR, thanks for posting! I'm a loyal CO customer, so will be flying something new come next year to go overseats (lately I've been going BA....pr