PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6507 posts, RR: 79 Posted (3 years 1 month 2 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 19258 times:
My girlfriend and I had wanted to visit Madeira for a long time and in January an attractive package tour caught our attention: The vacation would include three days in Lisbon and seven days on Madeira - and all four flights would be operated by TAP Portugal which was still missing in my log. We decided to go in mid-June and finally booked the tour.
Monday, 14 June 2010
Munich (MUC) - Lisbon (LIS)
TAP Portugal TP557
Flying time: 02:46 (hrs)
Economy Class, Seat 27B
CS-TNK (MSN 1206), named "Teófilo Braga"
Delivered in 04/2000
We had checked in online in the evening before and selected seats in row 27, so there was no need to hurry at the airport. After dropping off the luggage we went to the gate where we would soon watch the arrival of CS-TNK, one of 17 A320s in the TAP fleet:
Boarding commenced on time and a friendly flight attendant welcomed us at the door. The plane - unlike some younger sister ships - was still equipped with (rather worn) old-style leather seats. The seating comfort was sufficient, though.
Legroom was acceptable, too:
After most passengers had taken their seats (load factor 80-90 percent), some announcements were made. The very flight attendant's German was in need of improvement, but I guess all passengers understood what she meant. Interestingly, she referred to TP550 instead of TP557. And what I also found remarkable was the statement that the number of alcoholic drinks would be limited. Probably they had had some issues with drunk passengers recently?
Anyway, we took off slightly late into the cloudy Bavarian skies:
I knew we would receive a hot meal/snack on that relatively long European flight, but I wasn't happy when I got this box:
The hot (sort of) ham and cheese sandwich didn't look appetizing - and it wasn't easy to unwrap:
However, the sandwich tasted better than expected and the muffin as well as the white wine weren't bad either:
The plane was equipped with foldout screens, but I didn't care about the TV comedy features shown most of the time. Unfortunately, the airshow didn't appear very often:
While walking around in the cabin I grabbed some postcards. The picture even showed CS-TNK - which was a coincidence, of course:
Some 20 minutes prior to landing the captain talked to us for the first time, giving basic information about the arrival. During approach we enjoyed great views of Lisbon. Here's Portela Airport...
...and here's the 25 de Abril Bridge:
We touched down after a flying time of 2 hours and 46 minutes and came to stop next to A319 CS-TTI:
After grabbing our luggage, we were welcomed by the local tour guide and brought to the Holiday Inn near Alameda metro station. The building is a bit outdated, but the rooms were nice and the service was really good.
Impressions from Lisbon and its Environs
On the next day we took part in a city tour and visited Lisbon's most important sights. Here's the Belém area with the Jerónimos Monastery...
...the Discoveries Monument...
...and the Belém Tower:
Of course we took a ride on the famous Tram 28 through steep and narrow streets - that's really recommendable:
The Santa Justa Elevator (finished in 1902) connects the lower streets of the Baixa with the higher Carmo Square:
Once you reach the top you can enjoy splendid views of downtown Lisbon:
Our favorite place in the city was the Holiday Inn's rooftop pool area...
...which offered great views of the surrounding area...
...and turned out to be ideally located for plane spotting. What's better than logging registrations from a deck chair?
The Campo Pequeno bullring was only a stone's throw away from our hotel. It was a popular meeting place during the FIFA World Cup:
On the next day we made a trip to Sintra, Cascais and Estoril. Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a truly beautiful town:
This is the Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of mainland Europe - and probably the windiest place I have ever been to:
On the next day we spent some more hours on the hotel’s fabulous rooftop terrace before checking out and going to the airport.
Thursday, 17 June 2010
Lisbon (LIS) - Madeira (FNC)
TAP Portugal TP1627
Flying time: 01:30 (hrs)
Economy Class, Seat 21F
CS-TTA (MSN 750), named "Vieira da Silva"
Delivered in 12/1997
1st flight on CS-TTA
14th A319-100 flight
58th A32X flight
Two hours prior to departure we were dropped off at the new low-cost-style Terminal 2 which is used for scheduled domestic flights (including Madeira and Azores). In order to avoid getting stuck in a long queue with our fellow tour group members we had already checked in online in the evening before. However, numerous counters were staffed and we already got our boarding passes ten minutes later.
The gate area is located on ground level and viewing options weren't optimal, but I was able to log registrations of all departing and numerous arriving planes:
Boarding commenced on time and a bus brought us to the aircraft - even though the walking distance would have been quite short. I was pleased to see that our flight would be operated by CS-TTA, the first of 19 A319s delivered to TAP:
The seats were the same ones as on the A320 three days ago...
...and legroom was identical, too:
However, the nearest foldout screen didn't work and after swinging in and out a few times it disappeared for the rest of the flight. The load was in the 60 to 70 percent range and the aisle seat in our row remained empty.
We left the gate early and passed two good old A310s, one operated by SATA Int'l, the other one by HiFly:
...and here you can see a part of yet another A310, operated by White:
Some minutes later we took off from runway 03 and passed the 17.2 km-long Ponte Vasco da Gama, the longest bridge in Europe:
TAP still serves free drinks and snacks on the domestic flights to Madeira:
While the (cold) ham and cheese sandwich tasted quite good, the muffin was a bit dry. The Sagres beer wasn't bad, though.
Thick clouds over the ocean near Madeira:
Prior to the trip I had been wondering for a long time whether I should choose seats on the right or the left side for the infamous approach to Funchal Airport. I had finally selected seats on the right side and I was glad about that decision when I discovered Madeira's rocky coast:
This is Caniçal which used to be one of the last European bases for whalers:
I was expecting a straight approach to runway 23, but it got even better: We would pass the airport, turn right and land on runway 05:
When the runway got expanded, it had to be put on stilts, making the whole thing look like an oversized aircraft carrier, with water at both ends of the runway:
Funchal Airport is also famous for wind shear and go-arounds, but our final approach was quite smooth. Only a few more moments to go:
We touched down after a flying time of 1 hour and 30 minutes and back-taxied to the terminal:
It wasn't very busy at the airport in the afternoon, only an Air Berlin 737-800 and a SATA Air Acores DHC-8-200 were parked on the apron:
After we had grabbed our luggage, a bus brought us to the Hotel Panoramico situated in the western hillside of Funchal.
Impressions from Madeira
The four-star hotel's exterior is unimpressive, but the modernized interior is quite nice and the rooms are very comfortable. We were also satisfied with the friendly service and the food - but what we liked most were the superb views of the sea, the bay and the surrounding mountains:
There's a lot to see on the island so we made several tours. During a Funchal city tour we visited the market hall where you can buy fresh tuna...
...or (deep sea) black scabbard fish:
Countless vendors offer fruit, vegetables and - of course - flowers:
2500 exotic plants can be found in the city’s Botanical Garden:
During a day trip we visited several sights in the eastern part of Madeira. One of them is the Pico do Arieiro, the island's third highest peak. The scenery was breathtaking:
Viewpoints on the eastern shore:
The village of Santana is characterized by small triangular houses that are built of natural stone and thatched with straw:
High cliffs can be found at Ponte de São Lourenço which is the easternmost peninsula of Madeira:
Levada walking belongs to the most popular activities on the island - there's a big choice of trails and all of them offer great views of the beautiful landscape:
During the Atlantic Festival which usually takes place in June you can witness a fireworks contest in Funchal, comprising of four 20-minute shows. I took this picture during the show on 19 June:
The 15-minute ride on the cable car to Monte is a great way to get a good perspective of Funchal and the surrounding area:
Monte's main church:
Stunning views from Monte:
Back in Funchal we walked through the old parts of the city. This is the pretty Banco de Portugal building:
On the last day we took part in a whale and dolphin watching trip on the "Bonita da Madeira":
You never know if and how many animals show up - but cruising through the crystal blue ocean and being able to see the island from the sea was already worth it:
We didn't see any whales, but some dolphins kept swimming around our boat for a while - really nice experience:
During our stay we also made an enjoyable trip to the neighboring island of Porto Santo by ship and plane, but I'll write a separate report about that.
Thursday, 24 June 2010
Madeira (FNC) - Lisbon (LIS)
TAP Portugal TP1626
Flying time: 01:26 (hrs)
Economy Class, Seat 21F
CS-TTH (MSN 917), named "António Sérgio"
Delivered in 11/1998
1st flight on CS-TTH
15th A319-100 flight
59th A32X flight
Two hours prior to departure were dropped off at the terminal. Our local tour guide accompanied us to the check-in counters and even assisted during the check-in process - I guess non-experienced travellers appreciate that. Of course she was surprised when she heard that we had already checked in online. Once we had received the boarding passes we passed security and went to the observation deck. Actually there are two facilities - one for the public and one for passengers.
SATA Air Acores DHC-8-200 and (ex-GB Airways) easyJet A320:
TAP A319 touching down on runway 05 - our plane for the flight to Lisbon:
It was CS-TTH, delivered in November 1998:
The easyJet A320 finally took off - more than three hours late:
Boarding commenced on time and I managed to take some pictures without being seen by the ground staff who had asked a fellow tour group member to stop one week earlier:
I didn't take any more seat pictures this time, because the interior was identical to that on CS-TTA. The load factor was in the 75-85 percent range and again the aisle seat remained empty. Takeoff was powerful as expected...
...and the plane turned right almost immediately after lifting off:
30 minutes after takeoff the flight attendants served a cold snack. I still don't know exactly what the sandwich was filled with - creamy stuff with fish - but it tasted quite good:
The flight attendants were really friendly, but a tall male had a tough job on this flight. Some teenage girls belonging to a handball team permanently tried to flirt with him - by asking questions, repeatedly pressing the call button and even handing out to him small pieces of paper. He remained friendly, but it was obvious that he was pissed off by the girls' childish behavior.
I hadn't taken a cabin picture on the two other TAP flights, so it was about time:
Back again over the European continent:
We touched down after a flying time of 1 hour and 26 minutes, taxied to a remote parking position and stopped next to a PGA Embraer 145:
During the bus ride to Terminal 1 I spotted CS-TNK being parked at a gate and I was really hoping that it wouldn't operate our flight to Munich. However, after leaving the bus I discovered a flight departures screen which even showed the registrations - and I was glad to see we would get CS-TNI and not the same bird again.
Thursday, 24 June 2010
Lisbon (LIS) - Munich (MUC)
TAP Portugal TP552
Flying time: 03:33 (hrs)
Economy Class, Seat 27B
CS-TNI (MSN 982), named "Aquilino Ribeiro"
Delivered in 05/1999
The gate area was crowded in the early evening, but at least I found a good spot at a window and could log some more registrations. Some time later another bus brought us to the aircraft:
CS-TNI was equipped with the same interior as CS-TNK and the two A319s. However, I finally took some pictures of TAP's safety video. Real crew members...
...were soon replaced by alien-like green figures:
Despite the good load (70-80 percent) the aisle seat had remained empty again - for the fourth consecutive time on that trip. We left the gate slightly delayed and took off from runway 03. Taking pictures against the sun wouldn't have made sense at all.
Shortly after takeoff the captain made an announcement, but it was hard to understand. However, I had clearly heard that the flight would take 3 hours and 30 minutes which was very unusual. Our MUC-LIS flight took only 2 hours and 46 minutes and that had even been west-bound. Some time later the airshow confirmed that our flight would indeed take longer than usual:
The well-known snack box was served again on this evening flight, containing a hot ham sandwich and a muffin:
After the flight attendants had completed dinner service I went to the galley and asked them about the reason for the routing. A friendly male flight attendant confirmed what I had assumed - he referred to a strike in France, adding that similar actions had been affecting TAP's operations several times recently. It was really interesting to see how we flew around French airspace:
After a flying time of 3 hours and 33 minutes we touched down at Munich Airport and arrived at the gate shortly after midnight, almost an hour late.
Conclusion TAP Portugal offers a decent product on European and domestic routes. The seating comfort was sufficient - however, I cannot comment on the newer A320s' interior. Unlike many other European carriers, TAP has equipped its narrowbody fleet with TV screens which can be rated positively. It was good to see that TAP still serves snacks and drinks - even alcoholic ones - free of charge. The food quality was okay, but some more variety would be welcome. In contrast to other posters here, I was positively surprised about the staff: the vast majority flight attendants was friendly and motivated, and I cannot complain about the ground staff either. No doubts, I wouldn't hesitate to fly TAP again.
akhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2421 posts, RR: 53 Reply 1, posted (3 years 1 month 2 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 19188 times:
Excellent installment with lots of high quality pictures. I was deeply impressed by your non aviation pictures. I was thinking while browsing your report that I was reading a travel guide. But no, it is just another PH's trademark.
WOW! The pictures are stunning. How high up were you exactly as it was above the clouds. Look's spectacular.
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter): Our local tour guide accompanied us to the check-in counters and even assisted during the check-in process - I guess non-experienced travellers appreciate that. Of course she was surprised when she heard that we had already checked in online.
LOL! Has she never seen a frequent flyer before?
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter): However, after leaving the bus I discovered a flight departures screen which even showed the registrations - and I was glad to see we would get CS-TNI and not the same bird again.
That's one thing I hate. Travelling on the same aircraft twice on one trip is something I don't like. That's why I was so happy when I got both KU's B772's on my trip to New York.
Contact Air From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 1154 posts, RR: 14 Reply 5, posted (3 years 1 month 2 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 19081 times:
Great report and fantastic pictures - from your flights and from your travel experiences on the ground as well. Lisbon and the Isle of Madeira both seem to be great destinations with lots of things to see and do.
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter): And what I also found remarkable was the statement that the number of alcoholic drinks would be limited. Probably they had had some issues with drunk passengers recently?
Interesting indeed - I haven't yet heard such a statement on any flight.
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter): Once we had received the boarding passes we passed security and went to the observation deck. Actually there are two facilities - one for the public and one for passengers.
The observation deck looks nice - quite close to the apron action.
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter): After the flight attendants had completed dinner service I went to the galley and asked them about the reason for the routing. A friendly male flight attendant confirmed what I had assumed - he referred to a strike in France, adding that similar actions had been affecting TAP's operations several times recently. It was really interesting to see how we flew around French airspace:
Interesting routing - avoiding France isn't easy for Portuguese or Spanish carriers. That must really affect their schedules seriously.
CaptainRed From Germany, joined Oct 2010, 649 posts, RR: 21 Reply 8, posted (3 years 1 month 2 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 18920 times:
excellent report with awesome pictures. Definitely makes me want to go there as well
TAP seems to offer a good product, always nice to get a warm snack, even if it is just a sandwich.
Interesting routing on your way back. It seems to me that a southernly route over the mediteranean and Italy would have been shorter while still avoiding french airspace, but then I guess they knew what they were doing.
So, thank you for sharing this trip with us
Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 8): TAP seems to offer a good product, always nice to get a warm snack, even if it is just a sandwich.
Yes, and alcoholic drinks were also available free of charge.
Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 8): It seems to me that a southernly route over the mediteranean and Italy would have been shorter while still avoiding french airspace, but then I guess they knew what they were doing.
Probably that airspace was already too crowded, who knows.
EL-AL From Israel, joined Oct 2001, 1215 posts, RR: 5 Reply 12, posted (3 years 1 month 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 18758 times:
Fantastic report! Very interesting read with great photos.
I wanted to make the exact same trip that you had - Lisbon and Madeira in september, but getting there from Israel was expensive and would require long connections in Europe (getting to LIS alone was $450) so we passed it and choose Malta eventually, as you know.
Great job, as usual.
[Edited 2010-10-30 10:04:13]
"In our country, those who do not believe in miracles are irrational" - David Ben Gurion.
PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6507 posts, RR: 79 Reply 13, posted (3 years 1 month 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 18727 times:
Quoting EL-AL (Reply 12): Fantastic report! Very interesting read with great photos.
Thanks a lot, Jonathan, great to hear you liked it.
Quoting EL-AL (Reply 12): I wanted to make the exact same trip that you had - Lisbon and Madeira in september, but getting there from Israel would require long connections in Europe (getting to LIS alone was $450) so we passed it and choose Malta eventually, as you know.
That would have been quite expensive indeed. Which carrier would you have flown to LIS? Malta was a nice alternative, I guess.
infodesk From Switzerland, joined May 2006, 1368 posts, RR: 35 Reply 14, posted (3 years 1 month 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 18724 times:
It's always a delight to read TRs on Madeira with that stunning approach into FNC and yours is no exception. Thanks for posting so many non-aviation pics as well. I particularly like the ones of your trip into the mountains.
You certainly got a long flight for your money on the LIS-MUC leg! Although like Christoph, I'm wondering why you didn't fly over the Med?
That first sandwich on TAP looked a bit grim but apart from that they seem to offer a decent service.
"Do nothing in haste, look well to each step and from the beginning think what may be the end" - Edward Whymper
TravelsUK From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2007, 134 posts, RR: 0 Reply 15, posted (3 years 1 month 2 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 18676 times:
Many thanks for a great TR, it brought back many good memories from when I lived and worked in Madeira. TAP were always my airline of choice when I needed to get off the island and always found the service to be very good.
Quokka From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 17, posted (3 years 1 month 2 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 18634 times:
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your trip report. It brought fond memories of my own visit to Lisbon in August. Your photos of Sintra show a big contrast to when I was there. The traffic was banked up for miles and the place was crowded. Isn't the monastery with its Manueline architecture impressive?
I haven't yet reached Madeira, but your report makes me want to go there. Thanks for sharing your trip with us.
EL-AL From Israel, joined Oct 2001, 1215 posts, RR: 5 Reply 21, posted (3 years 1 month 2 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 18304 times:
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 13): That would have been quite expensive indeed. Which carrier would you have flown to LIS?
This was suppose to be KLM via AMS to Lisbon and back with AF via CDG. In the summer there are direct flights from Tel Aviv to Lisbon (operated by Sun D'or with B752) but those were even more expensive - 600 USD or so.
"In our country, those who do not believe in miracles are irrational" - David Ben Gurion.