The picture taken is from TAP’s advertisement of the Casablanca route
B A C K G R O U N D
It had now been more than two years since my last visit to my parent’s homeland Morocco, and I was really starting to miss my relatives down there. A lot of things had changed since last, and it would be nice to catch up with them, and see how they’re doing.
My initial plan this summer was to go to Morocco, but just a few weeks before summer my mother made a rather spontaneous four week trip to Egypt, and with very limited contact with her, this meant that my plans for morocco were put on ice.
When my mother returned home a month later, we made up the plan for my summer trip, and started looking for flights. Since I wanted to travel as soon as possible and make the visit relatively short this time, which meant that I had to look for some cheap flights for a trip on short notice. Normally this is a rather challenging thing to do, and it sure was. We started by looking around at the airlines that fly to Casablanca, which are Air France, Lufthansa, TAP Portugal, Alitalia, Iberia and Brussels Airlines/Royal Air Maroc, all of them showing fares of over EUR 500. Things were looking pretty dark, until I found out that it was possible to fly with Lufthansa from GOT to Casablanca via FRA for EUR 380. This meant that I had to take the train to Gothenburg which would cost more than EUR 80 o/w. Luckily I had some award miles on SJ to buy a return trip to GOT on the X2000 in 1st Class. But still was this really worth it?
When I went to look for the fare again the next day, only to find out that it was now gone, my hope was starting to fade. And as a last attempt of trying my luck in finding a cheap ticket, I decided to use one of the many search engines for cheap flights; you know those who tend to spam you as pop-ups or pointless website advertisements. I found one called flygresor.se, so I typed in the dates and destination, and after a minute of searching… Success at last! I managed to find a EUR 360 return trip to Casablanca on TAP Portugal via the online travel agency Seat24.com, not bad for booking one week in advance. So without hesitation I booked this itinerary.
At the moment I was looking forward to trying this to me new airline, and I was also very happy to finally get to fly on the ERJ-145 for the first time. Originally my first ERJ-145 flight was the inaugural VST-GOT flight, on City Airline. But as we all know, the volcanic ash did not only cancel the flight, it did also shut down the route. This was announced only one day after the flights had resumed.
TWO DAYS PRE FLIGHT
Two days prior to departure, I received a phone call from my aunt in Stockholm. It turned out that she was also traveling on the exact same flights to Casablanca. She was traveling with her two daughters, three and four years old, and she asked me if I could check in some of her luggage since she feared that it would be overweight.
I knew that this would give me a bit of hassle, but to be kind I offered to help her out. After all, she helped me out with the accommodation, on the day before my trip to OSD.
A little less than one hour later, I received another phone call. This one was completely unexpected. It turned out to be a representative from SJ’s onboard and staff magazines that asked me if I could give her an interview. She had noticed that I had been very active on SJ’s Facebook page, answering people’s questions, and she was quite amazed in how I had gained all knowledge and if I could share some tips. I decided to take the interview, but I told her that I would be leaving the country very soon, so we arranged a meet at the SJ Lounge in Stockholm, on the morning of the 18th June. This was the same day that I would be traveling to Morocco.
THE DAY OF DEPARTURE
It was the morning of June the 18th 2010. I woke up at 4am, after having slept for less than three hours during the night. I normally don’t sleep very well before traveling. Getting up from bed was easy, and after a cold and refreshing shower, four cups of coffee and some last minute packing, I was ready to leave the house to catch my 6am train to Stockholm, for the interview. I had booked the train tickets in 1st class, which was very cheap, only EUR 10.50, and the ticket included access to the SJ Lounge. I had to make a quick change in Eskilstuna, luckily it all went smooth and all trains were on time. I arrived in Stockholm at 8am.
The first segment was operated by a Double Decker train
Basically all you get in 1st on these trains is a free token to the coffee machine located downstairs, I normally get it for free with the silver card anyway.
The second segment was operated by an InterCity train. The seats may look comfy, but they’re not!
After having arrived at Stockholm Central, at nine minutes past eight in the morning, I made my way to the central hall, and up the stairs to the SJ Lounge.
The Lounge was packed with people when I arrived, all of them business travelers; I was the only one who wasn’t wearing a suit. I only had a trolley and a shoulder bag with me, I decided to leave the trolley at the luggage deposit, and after that sat down at a nice table with a good view of the central hall. Since I still had more than one hour before the interview, I decided to have some breakfast.
The breakfast offerings were rather limited, so I ended up taking from everything that was on offer. My breakfast consisted of two types of smoothie, various types of crisp bread, Philadelphia cheese spread, butter, marmalade, coffee and a banana. The breakfast was very nice and filling, and after that I went to take a few pics for the report. But as I was about to snap my first shot of the Lounge, one of the attendants stopped me, telling me that I had to take permission from SJ’s Press department if I wanted to take any pics of the facility. He offered to call them for me, but I told him that it wasn’t necessary. Instead I will feature some pics of the Lounge from a previous report.
Some pics showing an overview of the lounge and the food section.
Shortly afterwards the representative from SJ’s magazines came in to the Lounge, and she quickly recognized me by waving at me. She came over to my table and we quickly got started. We talked for more than one hour, and we had a good conversation about the company, the service concept with it being very similar to what airlines offer, and of course the delays. After the interview we had a quick photo session, before it was time for her to get back to the office, and time for me to start making my way to the airport.
But when I was about to leave, the Lounge staff came out with a big wedding cake on the trolley, and placed it next to the coffee machine. Of course this was to celebrate Princess Victoria’s wedding that would be taking place in Stockholm the following day. I was in a bit of a hurry but I still managed to get a piece of the cake.
Taking the Arlanda Express train to ARN would be a bit too expensive for me, so instead I decided to try out the public transport way of getting to Arlanda. This meant that I had to take a commuter train to Märsta and from there a bus to the airport.
This would however only cost EUR 3, instead of EUR 24 that Arlanda Express cost. The journey would take a bit less than one hour, which is considerably longer than the Arlanda Express, but still it’s worth it considering the price is so low. The trip to Arlanda went by very smooth, and by 13.32pm I arrived at Arlanda Terminal 5, a bit less than two hours prior to departure.
As I made my way to the TAP check in desks I noticed that my aunt was already standing in line, so I walked over to them to say hi. From what it seemed, my aunt had already prepared the bag that I would check in for her, it was a big sports bag and she told me to put my trolley bag inside it. Of course this was going to weight a lot more than the 20 kilograms that I am allowed to take.
Soon it was our turn to check in, so I went first with the sports bag. The friendly agent greeted me with a smile and told me to put the bag on the scale. It turned out to weight 27kg, which meant that it was overweight. She asked me if the shoulder bag I was wearing would be my only piece of hand luggage, and I replied yes. So she checked in the sports bag despite the 7kg overweight.
The agent printed out my boarding passes and handed them over with a smile and “have a nice flight”. After having finished my check in, I asked my aunt if it was OK for me to leave her now, and she said yes. So I went straight for the security check. The security check was a breeze, and the agents at ARN are very friendly. I was airside after less than five minutes.
Flight: TP511 ARN-LIS
Duration: 4 hours, 25 minutes
Seat and Class: 6A, Economy Class
Aircraft and Registration: Airbus A320-214, CS-TMW
Photo © Denis Lyaskovskiy
After having passed the security check, I still had more than one hour before the boarding would start, so I decided to have a walk around the terminal. I hadn’t had a chance to take a good look at the newly built parts of the departure hall of T5 yet. During my walk around the terminal, I made a visit to the new tax-free mall that had been built, not too long ago. I’m guessing that this was the only way of trying to spend my time at the airport now when my mom didn’t want to borrow me her VISA Gold card, that would have given me access to the Novia Lounge.
Some renovation wokrs being made at some of the gates in T5
ARN offers quite a good amount of shops, most of them are overpriced and uninteresting though
View of the newly built hallway that leads to the F-pier. Note that there’s also a WHSmith there
The new tax-free mall
Very comfortable Lounge chairs at the KLM gate.
When I returned to my gate in time for boarding, I noticed that the aircraft still wasn’t there yet. So asked one of the gate agents, and she told me that there had been a slight delay, but the aircraft would show up at any minute. The delay was expected to be around 30 minutes. At the gate, I noticed that my aunt was sitting there with her daughters, they were making running around and playing with some other children.
I decided not to stay with them, since I had a bad night’s sleep, and couldn’t bare the sound of screaming children. So I took a walk around the terminal again, this time I went by the newly opened Starbucks Café. The place looked really nice, but it was packed with a gang of youths who were chatting and laughing loudly, so I went back to the gate. When I returned to the gate, I noticed that the aircraft had pulled in at the gate, which meant that boarding would soon begin.
My A320 that would take me to LIS, parked at the gate.
Very soon the boarding started, with business class passengers and Star Alliance Gold members to board first, then people with children and at last the regular economy passengers. The Load for this flight seemed pretty full for Y class, while J only had three passengers, and an additional two were upgraded onboard, during taxi! I decided to wait until everyone had boarded.
Boarding the aircraft, via a jetway.
As I entered the aircraft with the camera around my neck, I wasn’t greeted at the door by the friendly crew as one had normally expected. In fact the crew didn’t even bother to welcome me, instead they told me in a strict and rude manner not to take any pics inside the aircraft. I was fully aware of that TAP had this no-photo policy and rude crews before I even choose to fly with them, but still they could have been a bit friendlier.
And because of their rudeness, I decided to keep taking pics of the cabin. But as I was about to snap my first shot of the business section, one of the flight attendants tapped me on the shoulder yelling “NO CAMERAS”.
I didn’t feel like taking any further discussions with the crew, so I turned off the camera and made my way to my seat row. The cabin was fitted with some old-type leather seats, they weren’t very comfortable. Apart from that, the cabin seemed to be in pretty good condition. I was seated at 6A, with a Portuguese businessman seated in the aisle seat, the middle seat remained empty.
Being 6ft tall, I found the legroom to be pretty ok at first, but after a few hours it started to feel a bit cramped.
Shortly after having settled down in the seat, the aircraft pushed back and shortly after that, the crew began a manual safety demonstration, despite the aircraft being equipped with drop-down screens. The crew on today’s flight consisted of five female flight attendants, all of them wearing different uniforms, and all of them acting very rude, except for the senior F/A serving the business section.
I couldn’t take any pics during taxi since one of the flight attendants were standing next to my row, and I didn’t feel like being yelled at again.
After a five minute taxi, we took off from runway 01L-19R. The take-off was rather long, and not so powerful.
Take off, from a stormy Arlanda.
A few minutes after take-off, we broke through the thick layer of storm clouds.
Shortly after the seatbelt sigh had been switched off, the crew rolled out a newspaper trolley through the cabin, distributing newspapers. I found this to be a very nice touch for economy class, given the fact that this was an intra-EU flight. I’m not sure if any other airlines in Europe offer this to their Y costumers? As the F/A reached my row, I requested an Aftonbladet. But it turned out to be a bit difficult, since she couldn’t understand the name pronounced in Swedish, so I tried pronouncing it in English, still didn’t work. In the end she showed me all Swedish newspapers on offer, and I was able to point out the one I was requesting.
Aftonbladet, a Swedish tabloid. And since it was the day before Victoria’s wedding, they had written lots and lots of it!
Around one and a half hour into the flight, the crew began the meal service. Since this was one of the longer European sectors, a full three course hot meal was served. As the flight attendant reached my row, she handed me over the tray in a strict and almost robot-like manner, without saying a word. Shortly afterwards, the drink cart arrived. I went for a coke and some apple juice, both of them delivered with a smile. I really wasn’t expecting that!
Starter: Tabbouleh, Lebanese couscous salad.
Main Course: Beef Casserole, served with rice and summer vegetables.
Dessert: A Delicato ball.
Cheese and Crackers
Bread and Butter
A selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
Tea or Coffee
Dessert and coffee.
Since my sister flew with TAP last year, she took some pics of the meal for me, so I knew what to expect. Still I was rather impressed with the presentation of the meal, and of course the quantity. The meal was served on proper table wear, with real metal cutlery.
The starter tasted pretty nice and fresh, though it was a bit dry, and I would have expected it to have some more “salad” instead of just couscous, it also needed some more lemon juice.
The main course tasted rather OK, the beef was diced in perfectly cubic dices and the gravy had a strong tarragon flavor, personally tarragon goes better with fish. Luckily the rice helped taking off some of that strong flavor. The vegetables tasted very nice and fresh, the texture was perfect!
The dessert on the other hand was a bit of a letdown, mostly since I’m not a big fan of airlines serving pre-packed desserts, not that I have anything against Delicato-balls, they’re delicious but I would have expected something better. At least it went well with the coffee.
All in all it was a nice meal, in my opinion far above EU standards. I guess the meal service is one very good reason to fly TAP in the future.
After my tray was cleared away, I got up from my seat to make a visit to the lavatory. I couldn’t take any pics of the cabin because the crew was now keeping an eye on me. The lavatory was nothing special. On my way back, I requested a glass of OJ from the galley. The crew seemed a bit annoyed of me interrupting their meal for this request, so my OJ was delivered without a word or smile.
When I got back to my seat, I took out my pair of Bose® QuietComfort® 3, Acoustic Noise Cancelling® Headphones, dozed off and slept for more than one hour and a half.
When I woke up, I noticed that we had already begun our descent to Lisbon Portela Airport. The descent and approach gave some spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and the city of Lisbon; sadly the dirty windows didn’t give very good picture results. This was followed by a bumpy landing on runway 03/21.
View of the cabin during descent.
Coming in over mainland Portugal.
Portela Airports is one of very few major airports in the world, that are located inside an urban area. This of course gives some spectacular approaches.
View of the newly built Terminal 2.
After touchdown the aircraft taxied to a remote stand, from there a bus would be taking us to the terminal. As the seatbelt sign was turned off, everyone flooded the aisle to get off the aircraft. I decided to remain seated until everyone had left the cabin. I didn’t take any pics of the cabin on my way out, and at the door I said goodbye to the crew.
Since this was TAP, I didn’t dare to ask for a cockpit visit or the registration. When I got out of the aircraft, I took out the camera to take a picture of the aircraft, but again I was stopped. This time by a Groundforce ground agent, but since I needed a pic of the aircraft, I took one anyway.
Leaving the aircraft.
The bus ride to the terminal was short and rather uneventful; it didn’t offer any good views of the aircraft. Soon the bus arrived to Terminal 1, and I was one of the first to leave, this was followed by a short walk to the stairways that were leading up to the gate area. As I came up the stairs and entered the gate area, I was unpleasantly surprised to see how dull, dark and cramped it was. I
didn’t like it at all, in fact I didn’t even bother to take a look around the shops or café’s despite the fact that my layover was almost four hours long. Instead I took a look at the departure screens to see that my flight to Casablanca was departing from Terminal 2, so I decided to go there instead.
Interior view of airside, Terminal 1.
Since Terminal 2 was the non-Schengen terminal at this airport, I had to pass the passport control to get there. I noticed that they had self-service passport checks, so I decided to try one out. Sadly they didn’t seem to be working, so I had to stand in line for the more traditional type of passport control. After passing the passport control with no problems, I entered Terminal 2, with high expectations of it being a nicer place than Terminal 1. But I was wrong.
Interior view of Terminal 2.
Terminal 2 was in fact even worse than Terminal 1, and yes it was a bit more bright and spacious, but it felt very cold and sterile. In fact, T2 was like one long corridor that never seemed to end, with a tax-free shop or café, every two miles. All the gates looked exactly the same, with the same chairs and vending machines, this made me a bit confused and I got lost several times. In the end, I managed to find the end of the terminal, so I sat down there for a couple of hours, reading some newspapers I had brought with me from the SJ Lounge, earlier that day.
After a while, I got bored of reading, so I went by the only tax-free shop in the terminal, to cash in a kilo or so of euro coins, I had lying around in my bag. The lady in the show was more than happy to take all my coins, and in the end I walked away with a five Euro bill. I decided to spend the money on some coffee and a small pastry at the very classy (NOT) café called “First Class Café”, where I spent the last hour before the boarding for my flight to Casablanca would start.
The only café in Terminal 2.
Flight: TP230 LIS-CMN (operated by Portugalia Airlines, PGA)
Duration: 1 hour and 25 minutes
Seat and Class: 5A, Economy Class
Aircraft and Registration: Embraer ERJ-145EP, CS-TPN
Photo © João Toste
As the boarding call for TAP flight 230 to Casablanca was made, I noticed that many people, including myself, got up from the tables at the café for a short walk over to the gate. Since this was an ERJ flight, it was a bus-gate, so instead of having to stand in a bus waiting for everyone to show up, I decided to remain seated until everyone had boarded the bus. Soon it was my turn to board, and the gate agent wished me a pleasant flight as he handed me over the stub from my boarding pass. I walked down the stairs and stepped onboard the bus as one of the last pax.
By now, I was expecting the bus to start moving pretty soon, but instead we were standing still for almost half an hour. People were starting to get inpatient, and children started screaming, but still we hadn’t even got any explanation to why we were standing still. Soon though, the doors were closed and we began our short ride to the apron, where our ERJ to Casablanca was waiting. But as we arrived to the aircraft, we still weren’t allowed to leave the bus; in fact the doors hadn’t opened yet. After some five minutes or so we were finally able to disembark, but then a new problem aroused.
Since 90 percent of the passengers on this flight were Moroccans, they had of course brought oversized pieces of hand luggage that couldn’t be taken inside the cabin. So they simply had tag them, and leave them at the apron to the luggage handlers. This of course took some time, so during the time I tried to take some pics of the aircraft. But almost suddenly a luggage handler came over to me and told me not to take any pictures, so I complied.
This was in fact going to be my first flight on a regional yet, boy was I exited!
As I entered the aircraft, I was greeted by the friendly crew that consisted of a male and a female flight attendant. When they noticed the camera around my neck, they told me in a strict manner not to take any pictures; and yes I’ve heard enough of it today! When I was making my way down the aisle to my seat, I noticed that the cabin didn’t feel as cramped as I thought it would be, I could even manage to stand up in it. Though the cabin seemed to be in a bit of a rough condition, and the leather seats felt a bit worn out, still comfortable!
Cabin during boarding.
Despite it being a regional jet, the legroom was very generous!
My first thoughts about the seat were how comfortable it was, in fact it was much better than the seats on the A320, and the legroom was bigger as well. I wouldn’t hesitate to fly on a plane like this on a longer flight.
View of the Apron.
Soon the Rolls Royce engines in the back spooled up to life, and we began our taxi. During the crew made a manual safety demonstration. A few minutes later we had reached the runway. This was followed by a very powerful takeoff, followed by a rocket-like climb-out! The aircraft then made a sharp left turn, pushing me really hard into my seat.
The seatbelt sign was turned off after 10 minutes, and the crew quickly sprang into action. On this flight a light snack would be served, the snack consisted of a sandwich. The crew promptly handed me over the snack box, followed by a beverage run. I went for some Ginger Ale and OJ.
Baguette with cream cheese, salmon and capers filling.
A selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
Tea or Coffee
I found the portion to be rather generous; it was perfect for a flight of this duration. The baguette was absolutely delicious, salmon and cream cheese is one of my favorite combinations, and along with the capers it tasted even better! Everything tasted nice and fresh, maybe one of the best sandwiches I’ve had on an airplane so far!
The muffin however was nothing to write home about, it was pretty dry and bland. I decided to wait for the F/A to serve me some coffee before finishing the muffin. She served me the coffee in a very dull and tired manner, and I must say that the coffee tasted as bad as the look on her face when serving it to me.
It was maybe the worst coffee I’ve had in years, it didn’t even look like coffee, nor did it taste like it. To me it was just some lukewarm cup of mud mixed with water; it was really a shame that they had the guts to call this coffee!
After the snack, I pushed the attendant call button for some more Ginger Ale, but the male F/A misunderstood what I said, and brought me another sandwich along with the Ginger Ale, I did appreciate this a lot, though.
After having eaten the very filling midnight snack, I made a visit to the lavatory located in the rear cabin. To my big surprise, it was a lot more spacious that I first thought, in fact I’ve been to lavatories on 737’s that are more cramped! After my visit to the lav, I took out the headphones and enjoyed some peace and tranquility during the remainder of the flight.
By now we had already began our descent to Casablanca Mohamed V Airport, and soon it was time for landing. Touchdown was very smooth, and after a five minute taxi we had parked at our remote stand. A bus took us to the new built Terminal 2, at CMN.
On my way to the passport control, I met up with my aunt and her daughters; the reason to why I was keeping my distance from them during the flight was because of the children, I have nothing against them, they would only just spoil the trip for me. And I had informed her about this, two days earlier and she was OK with it. Besides, she had already ordered special assistance to help on and off the flights. I decided to follow her through the passport control, since she could take the line for people with assistance, this meant that I didn’t have to queue for very long.
The passport control went pretty smooth, and in only a matter of minutes, my passport was stamped and I was allowed to enter the Kingdom of Morocco.
After having cleared the customs, we took the elevator down to the baggage reclaim, luckily all bags had arrived safely and unharmed, so we proceeded out to the arrivals hall where my uncle and his family were waiting. It was nice to see them again, after such a long time, and during the ride to their house in central Casablanca we had a good conversation, catching up on all kind of stuff. When we finally arrived home 1am, I passed out on their guestroom bed and spelt like a child throughout the night.
THE MOROCCAN TRAVESTY
Unlike previous reports, I will not very deep into the details of my stay. But what I can say is that it wasn’t as good as I had expected it to be. The first five days were really nice, it was great to meet everyone in the family and so, but after a while you tend to get in contact with all the problems they’re facing, the arguments, screaming children, cousins that failed to graduate from school who were now just hanging around outside the house all day smoking cigarettes and showing up drunk at home every night.
Neither was I taken out to see the city, since neither my uncle nor his wife had time. They were both busy refurnishing their beach house, and rebuilding one of the gas stations they own.
I spent most of my time at home doing pretty much nothing, and I didn’t even get a chance to relax since all the small children were screaming and fighting around me. It was horrible, and I wanted to get home as soon as possible. This wasn’t a holiday; it was just like going from one hell to another!
Luckily, it wasn’t like this all the time, during my last five days, the beach house and the gas station were both finished, so they had now some extra time to take me out for some sightseeing in Casablanca, etc. I spent the last couple of days in the beach house, where we also celebrated my 18th birthday.
All in all it was an ok trip, it could have been better, but I guess that I showed up at the wrong time, and since it was a spontaneous visit, they didn’t have time to make up a good program for me. Here are some pics from my stay!
Our beach house is located in a resort called Palm Beach, which is a 50 minute drive north of Casablanca.
And of course, my Moroccan birthday cake!
THE JOURNEY HOME
It was midnight, July the 10th 2010. After having had a dinner with my uncle and his wife at a restaurant in central Casablanca earlier that night, I didn’t have much time for sleep since my flight was going to depart early in the morning. Instead, I decided to use the night for packing my belongings and making sure that nothing was lost. I also took a shower and made a pot of espresso, just to keep me awake.
At 3am, I knocked on my uncle’s door to tell him that it was time for him to drive me to the airport. He wasn’t very happy about me interrupting his sleep, and he kept whining about why I had chosen this ungodly early departure time. A few minutes later, he had made himself ready, so we took my luggage and went down his Mini Cooper that was parked outside the house.
The drive to the airport was rather uneventful, but it was very quick, and soon we arrived at the departures hall at Casablanca Mohamed V Airport. Since my uncle wanted to get back home as quick as possible, he decided not to follow me inside the terminal building. So I took out my luggage from the backseat of the Mini, said goodbye and went inside.
The fast drive to the airport.
My ride to the airport.
Just like most other African airports, CMN has security checks at the entrance, which also means that only passengers are allowed to enter the terminal. But the airport security officers let me pass despite the fact that the metal detector was beeping.
They didn’t even bother to check my luggage. In my opinion, I find it a bit unnecessary to have a security check at the entrance, so I did appreciate that they let me pass without any hassle. After that, I took the elevator up to the second floor where the departures hall is located.
View of the departures hall at CMN Terminal 2.
As I entered the departure hall, I took a quick glance at the departure board to see which check-in desks my flight would use. After that I walked over to the desks for my TAP flights to Lisbon, two desks were used and one for Business Class and STAR GOLD members. There was a short line at the Economy Class desk, but I was waved over by the agent to the empty Business Class desk.
I didn’t notice this until I saw a small sign with the STAR GOLD logo on. The rude check in agent didn’t bother to welcome me, instead she just asked for my passport. I also handed her over my SAS Eurobonus card, and without a word she printed out my BP’s and handed me over them.
As I was about to put my luggage on the scale, I decided to try my luck for a priority tag, so I asked her kindly if I could get one; we all know that airlines don’t make a big deal out of them these days. But the rude agent strictly said no, and then she made a bad joke about it in Arabic to her colleague. I had chosen to speak to the agent in English, so she thought that I didn’t understand Arabic, which I of course do. I was a bit offended by this, but decided not to say anything, instead I just left.
After check-in, I proceeded to the security check only to find that it hadn’t opened yet. So I went to one of the officers to ask him if they could open it now, a small queue had already formed. The friendly security officer agreed to open the customs and security check for us. I cleared them both without any hassle, frankly I didn’t like the fact that they had to open up my hand luggage and mess up all my clothes and camera equipment despite me already having X-rayed the bag. Despite the small mishap, I was airside a few minutes later.
Flight: TP231 CMN-LIS (operated by Portugalia, PGA)
Duration: 1 hour and 25 minutes
Seat and Class: 7A, Economy Class
Aircraft and Registration: Embraer ERJ-145EP, CS-TPH
Photo © Ignatiy Savranskiy - Russian AviaPhoto Team
View of the gate area at CMN Terminal 2.
I had still more than one hour to kill before my flight would board, so I decided to take a walk around the terminal for some pictures. By this early hour, all tax-free shops were closed, so I couldn’t do some last minute shopping with my last Dirhams.
CN-RGA parked at gate for its next flight to ORY.
Despite the terminal being less than three years old, the toilets were already in terrible condition.
View of the gate area. As usual, my flight departed from a bus-gate.
Very soon boarding was commenced. The load for this flight was full in Economy, but only one passenger seated in Business Class. As the gate agents arrived, I noticed that it was the same ones that checked me in earlier. By judging the bad experience I had with them earlier that morning, I didn’t even bare too look at them.
I decided not to wait at the boarding gate until everyone was onboard the bus, instead I was among the first ones to board, and I managed to secure a seat on the bus. Soon everyone was onboard the bus, and we began our five minute drive to the apron. When we arrived to the aircraft, we faced the exact same dilemma with the hand luggage as my previous flight. This time however it didn’t take as long, and I was able to board the aircraft in a matter of minutes.
Boarding the Embraer.
At the door, I was greeted by the not so friendly crew. The crew for today’s flight consisted of two female flight attendants in their 20’s. But as I was about to make my way to my seat, one of them tapped me on the shoulder. I thought it had something to do with the camera around my neck, but it turned out that they just wanted to take a look at my boarding pass. The cabin on this aircraft was in better condition than on my previous flight, and I quickly managed to find my seat.
Picture of the cabin taken after boarding.
The legroom was generous, and I was able to fit my hand luggage there as well.
My IFE for this flight.
Soon the doors were closed, engines started up, and we were on our way to the runway. During taxi, the crew made a manual safety demonstration. During the demo, I noticed that the passengers seated in the row behind J were stealing newspapers from the Business Class cabin.
After less than five minutes we had reached the runway, and the ERJ throttled up for yet another rocket-like takeoff and climb. I didn’t take any pics of the takeoff because it was still a bit dark outside.
Soon before reaching cruising altitude.
Cabin during climb.
After 10 minutes the fasten seatbelt sign was switched off, and the crew began the meal service. On this flight, we would be served a light breakfast. Soon the F/A reached my row, and handed me over the box containing the breakfast items. As usual on TAP, she handed it over without a smile.
The drinks cart came by shortly afterwards, and I requested a glass of OJ and some coffee. But the coffee was the exact same rubbish they had on the previous flight, so I tapped the F/A on the arm, asking her for a glass of Scotch. At first she looked at me in a weird way and asked me again if I really wanted Scotch at 6 in the morning, I said yes. Without a single word she poured me a glass, threw in some ice cubes and almost slammed it into my table.
Baguette with cheese and cucumbers
A selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
Tea or Coffee
My digestif, along with some of that horrible coffee.
The baguette was absolutely awful, it was very dry and tasteless, in fact I couldn’t even taste the cheese. So I opened it up to see that no butter had been used for it, if it wasn’t for the OJ, I wouldn’t have been able to finish it. The yoghurt tasted pretty ok, though it was a bit too sweet for my likings.
The remainder of the flight was pretty uneventful, and before I knew it, we were already on approach to LIS. During the descent and approach I took some pics. Btw, the crew didn’t seem to mind that I was taking pics from the window and of the cabin. Could TAP have scrapped their no-photo policy, already?
The spectacular approach to Lisbon’s Portela Airport.
The touchdown was very smooth, and after a short taxi we had reached our remote parking position.
Parked at gate next to a company F100.
I decided to wait until everyone had de-boarded the aircraft, so that I could get some pics of the cabin.
Cabin after de-boarding.
Leaving the aircraft.
I was the last person to enter the bus, and moments later, we were on our way to Terminal 1 at LIS. The bus ride was pretty short, but it did give some good views of the aircraft.
Chasing a company A319.
I found this to be a very nice touch, a screen where you can see the registration of the aircraft that operated your flight!
Since my flight was arriving from a non-European country, I had to pass the security check and passport control. This time I noticed that the self-service passport controls were operating, so I decided to try them out. The check went by very quick and soon I was able to precede to the security checks. As I was making my way over to the security, an officer suddenly shouted at me “Passport please”, despite the fact that I had already passed that check. Luckily he handed me over the passport even before opening it, when he noticed that it was European.
The security officers on the other hand were rude to me, and they almost refused to speak English with me, but at least I was able to go through it without hassle. After that, I walked up the stairs to the gate area at Terminal 1. This time it felt a bit nicer, after having been to Terminal 2. And since I had more than one hour to kill before my next flight, I decided to spend my EUR 5 bill that I had lying in my wallet, in the tax-free shop.
The various shops and cafés in Terminal 1.
Flight: TP510 LIS-ARN
Seat and Class: 5F, Economy Class
Aircraft and Registration: Airbus A320-214, CS-TNR
Photo © Rui Sousa - Madeira Spotters
The tax-free shop didn’t have anything of interest, so I went back to the gate instead. The gate turned out to be a bus-gate for the third time during this trip, and it was starting to annoy me now. Soon though, boarding was called, with Business Class and Star Gold first, the people with children and at last regular economy pax. This time it seemed like nobody cared about these rules and everyone stood in line at the same time.
Soon, it was my turn to board, and my BP’s stub was torn off and handed over to me with a smile and “have a nice trip”. I then went down the stairs to the bus that would be taking us to the aircraft. Strangely, only one bus was needed for this flight, which meant that the load would be pretty low. In fact, the load in Y was only 50 percent, and J only had a single passenger. The bus ride was short, and soon we arrived at the aircraft.
Boarding the aircraft, for the last leg.
As I entered the aircraft for the last time now, I received a warm and friendly welcome from the smiling crew. This was of course very different from my previous TAP flights, but I did really appreciate it.
In fact, they didn’t even bother to tell me not to take any pics of the cabin, which was even better! But to be on the safe side, I didn’t take any pics during boarding. Shortly afterwards, I arrived at my seat row, only to find that it was already occupied by two elderly Portuguese ladies, one of them were sitting at my window seat. They kindly got up from their seats so that I could get seated. From what it seemed, our row was the only one that had all three seats occupied, and I noticed lots of empty seats in the other rows.
But I didn’t bother to ask the flight attendant for a seat change, since I would most likely receive a “no”, since we hadn’t taken off yet and that it would probably affect the aircraft’s weight and balance (Actually, I don’t think it does, but the FMS have already made pre-takeoff weight and balance calculations based on the seats that are occupied. But still a seat change doesn’t affect this). So I remained seated until we had taken off.
Despite it being an almost brand new aircraft, it was still fitted with the old-type leather seats. Legroom was OK.
Soon the doors were closed, and pushback occurred. During the taxi, a safety video was played on the overhead screens, and after that we were already in line for takeoff. We had to wait for a company ERJ to land, before it was our turn to take off.
Because of the light load on this flight, the takeoff was short and powerful, and with the engines at full power, you could hear that lawnmower-like noise, that is very distinct for the A320-Family at take off. I really love that sound, so I didn’t bother to wear the headphones during takeoff, like I normally do. The climb out offered some spectacular views of Lisbon and the Portuguese landscape. And after 20 minutes or so, we had reached our cruising altitude of 39000ft.
Lining up on the runway.
The powerful takeoff.
The climb out offered some great views of Lisbon, and the Lanscape
The overhead screens showed a moving map during climb and descent, during cruise different types of TV-shows were played.
By the time the seatbelt signs were turned off, I felt a bit too tired to get up from my seat. So I slipped on my headphones and slept for around 45 minutes. When I woke up, I could feel the smell of food going through the cabin, and shortly after that the crew rolled out the food and beverage carts.
Despite the flight departing at 9am, there would be a lunch service. Just like the outbound flight, a full three course hot meal would be served. The flight attendants handed me over the meal with a friendly smile, and a “have a nice meal”. By now, I was starting to doubt that I was flying TAP! The beverage cart came by moments later, and I requested a Ginger Ale and a Tonic, but I only received the former. I didn’t care that much, so I quickly began eating.
Starter: Green salad with lettuce, tomato, red onions, cucumber, olives and Ricotta cheese.
Main Course: Potato gratin with minced beef and peas.
Dessert: Mousse au chocolat.
Cheese and Crackers
Bread and Butter
A selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
Tea or Coffee
The meal. Sorry about the dark picture.
The starter tasted pretty nice and fresh, I did however find it to be very bland. When I finished, I noticed that there was a small pack of dressing right next to the bowl, I should have used that. The main course wasn’t that good really.
The potato gratin consisted mostly of mashed potatoes, and I only found tiny little traces of minced meat and peas. Neither did I like the big crust that was on top of it, but I was at least able to peel it off. The dessert however tasted pretty good, it was a bit sweet though but the coffee helped with taking off some of that sweetness. It’s good that they served a real desert this time, instead of some pre-packed supermarket pastry.
After the trays had been cleared, I took a visit to the lavatory to freshen up. On my way back, I asked one of the male flight attendants if it was ok for me to switch to an empty row, and he said yes.
So I went back to my seat at 5F, picked up my belongings in the seat pocket, took out my hand luggage from the overhead compartment and told the two ladies that they could take the window seat. I found myself an empty exit row. It was the front exit row which meant that the seats wouldn’t recline, but that wasn’t much of a concern for me.
View of the cabin in-flight. Note that is is fitted with the new Airbus interiors.
A very nice and fresh looking lavatory.
I moved to seat 10A, which is an exit row. It offered lots of personal space.
Since I had the entire row to myself, I decided to stretch out on all three seats, and I slept for almost two hours. When I woke up, I was feeling a bit thirsty, so I pushed the attendant call button. The F/A from J class came over to my row to answer my call, I requested a Gin and Tonic, and moments later it was delivered at my seat.
My G&T, delivered from the front galley.
I decided to spend the last hour of the flight zipping on my G&T, and going through pictures on my camera. Soon, we began our descent do Stockholm Arlanda Airport, and the seatbelt sign was switched off a couple of minutes later.
Picture taken at the start of our descent.
During our descent, we overflew my hometown of Vasteras, and ten minutes later we landed on runway 01L-19R. The aircraft made a hard brake, followed by a quick taxi to our gate at Terminal 5. Since I had to make a train connection at Stockholm Central, I decided to stand in line to leave the aircraft as quick as possible. As I left the aircraft, the crew greeted me goodbye at the door.
By now, I was running up through the Jetway, on my way to the baggage reclaim. When I got there, the first bags were already on the belt, and in a matter of minutes, I managed to find my two pieces of luggage, sadly my Samsonite was in pretty bad condition. I didn’t have time to take this discussion at the baggage desk; instead I proceeded out to the arrivals hall, and the bus station. I quickly found a coach that took me to Stockholm Central, and from there I managed to catch my train home to Vasteras.
C O N C L U S I O N
This was my first trip on TAP Portugal, and I must say that the airline has been on both good and bad. What I didn’t like was their crews, most of the times they were rude and acting very unfriendly. Lisbon wasn’t a nice airport either, and I wouldn’t want to make another 4 hour layover at Terminal 2 again.
The meal service however was very generous, and it was by far better than most other EU airlines. I wouldn’t hesitate to fly with TAP again to Casablanca, mostly because of the fares being very low, the food is good, and there’s a RJ flight involved.
That will mark the end of this report. I hope you have enjoyed reading it, and feel free to leave a comment, they’re much appreciated!