Saturday June 16th 2012
Traveling with my mother is anything but convenient. Over the years I've endured the constant ordeals with oversized luggage (one time we managed to bring 140 kilograms without being charged a single penny for overweight. A pure stroke of luck since the agent was more than eager to end her shift), and today was no exception. Four large suitcases packed to the brim weighting a total of 80 kilos, three of which were my mother's. For me I brought along my trustworthy Lowepro® backpack, and packed some additional items in my sister's suitcase.
Getting to the airport as you'd might already have imagined was anything but smooth. I was the one forced to carry the two heaviest suitcases, up and down the stairs and through the pouring rain. After a total of three bus&train connections we finally arrived at the departure's level of Arlanda Terminal 5, just past 12.30.
Early June is when the holiday season kicks-in, and as expected the airport was packed with your stereotypical "fly-once-a-year" holidaymakers. After zig-zagging our trolley through the crowds we finally reached the designated counters for our TAP flight to Lisbon.
Check-In At Arlanda
A total of three counters were assigned for TP787 today, two for Economy and one for Business/*Gold. With two people ahead at the Biz counter we were soon served by friendly Menzies Service Agent Jasmine.
Me: "-Hello" [presents card at the counter]
J: "-Hi. May I see your travel documents please?"
Me: [hands over all three passports]
J: "-I see that you're going all the way to Casablanca, is that correct?"
Me: "-Yes indeed. I would be very thankful if you could check the bags all the way, if it's possible despite the long layover?"
J: "-That's no problem at all. You can put the bags on the scale now." [prints boarding passes]
Me: [puts heavy bags on the belt]
J: [attaches tags and *priority tags] "-Here are your boarding passes for all sectors. Have a nice flight!"
Me: "-Thank you, have a nice day!" [smile]
Having completed all the check-in formalities, we headed for the security check which was just a few steps away. Despite the holiday season and the fairly crowded screening area, the check took less than 2 minutes. I can see why FlyingFinn76 prefers this security area over the one at the SAS concourse.
Airside At Arlanda
Having some 90 minutes to kill before boarding, my sister and I headed to the Lounge while mom was happy enough to stroll around the shops. We agreed to meet up again at our gate 15A, just in time for boarding.
SAS Scandinavian Lounge Arlanda
After emerging from the glass elevators I was finally back at the familiar turfs of the SAS Lounge. At the reception we were greeted welcome by the same elderly woman as during my previous visit. Upon presenting our BP
's I was asked to show my card as well which is very unusual at SAS Lounges. Nevertheless, after having the card swiped to confirm its validity we were allowed to enter the lounge.
Lounge overview. Place has been fairly covered already.
I was fairly surprised to find the place so empty, and in spite of the holiday season the guests consisted mostly of suit travellers. A nice sophisticated milieu compared to the chaos down below, I thought to myself. Shortly after settling down in one of the couches, one of the attendants came to greet my sister personally, wishing her a pleasant stay. A rather odd occurrence I thought, given the fact that the staff mostly shrug when they see me, but nevertheless a nice touch.
Food offerings today consisted of raw bacon with lettuce, black olives, red onions, cream cheese and garlic dressing. The bacon looked rather unappetising, so we settled for some salad and bread, along with a glass of Ginger Ale for me.
While the salad tasted fresh it was very unsubstantial, and the bread was chewy like a sponge, just like you'd usually expect. Not that it mattered much since there would be food on the plane. After some coffee, Bailey's and Newsweek it was time to leave for the gate early as the departure time had been moved forward by 10 minutes.
TP787 Stockholm Arlanda – Lisbon Portela
Flight: TP787 ARN-LIS
Duration: 4h 25m
Date: June 16th 2012
Seat & Class: 22A Economy Class
Aircraft & Reg: Airbus A320-214 CS-TNR
At the gate we met up with our mom who was already part of the massive line that had been formed in-front of the boarding gate. No priority call was made, and people simply flooded the gate. It soon became our turn to board, and after our BP
's had been scanned, we were released down the jetway.
At the door, two female pursers greeted the passengers welcome. I did however not receive a welcome, which given my previous crew experiences on TAP was not surprising. Upon entering the cabin, I noticed that the aircraft had the new interior linings indicating that this was a fairly new plane. Turns out it was the same plane that flew me home from LIS
during my last TAP flight two years ago. How ironic? Soon we reached our seats on row 22ABC. Backpack, jacket and Docs were stowed in the overhead compartment.
The cabin was fitted with the same old-style faux leather seats as on previous flights. Seat was fairly comfortable, and the legroom sufficient.
Soon the doors were closed, but no "boarding complete" or "arm slides, cross-check and report" announcement was made over the PA. Neither was any announcement made regarding the safety video, the screens simply dropped down and the video began playing. The video itself was made to look near identical to a children's cartoon. The scenes seemed to make people laugh rather than pay attention to the safety details. Nobody from the crew even bothered to make sure that the cabin was prepared for takeoff, and landing for that matter. I felt slightly worried that the TAP crews might be skipping on some important safety routines.
The A320 safety card, neaty presented by my sister.
Registrations were written on the back side of the card, a nice touch for us a.nutters!
Without further ado, the plane pushed back and the CFM power plants spooled to life. The captain came over the PA announcing the flightpath and welcoming us aboard. Meanwhile we began our taxi towards runway 08-26, which was soon followed by a long and heavy'ish takeoff.
Taking off in the heavy rain. Sorry for the un-focused image.
Flying into thick rain clouds shortly after takeoff.
Finally breaking through the thick cloud layer, 10 minutes into the flight.
Seatbelt signs were kept on until we had reached cruising altitude around 25 minutes into the flight. The crew were nowhere to be seen, which was an indication of the service not commencing anytime soon. So I made a short visit to the lavatorial facilities for some freshening up.
This very same lavatory has been covered in my previous TAP report from 2010.
Cabin view after my lavatorial visit.
As I returned to my seat, the service had yet not begun and quite frankly I was beginning to starve. To pass the time I continued reading my copy of Newsweek which had been ”liberated” from the lounge. I was slightly disappointed that the moving map function was not present on the overhead screens.
My sister however found a different source of entertainment.
Some 90 minutes into the flight, the crew finally appeared from the galley, rolling out the carts to commence the meal service.
Lunch Menu Economy Class TP787
Starter: Tunafish salad with rucola leaves, cherry tomatoes, and bread croutons
Main Corse: Paella with chicken sausage, and chicken breast
Dessert: Orange parfait with coconut flakes
Cheese and Crackers
Bread and butter
A selection of non-alcoholic beverages, beer, wine, coffee or tea
Coffee or tea
The rather generous hot meal tray offered on this 4 hour flight.
being one of the longer intra-European sectors, a full hot meal was served in Economy Class.
The tuna salad starter was very fresh and delicious with lots of flavour. Perhaps one of the better starters I've had in recent days when most airlines either take them off the tray, or serve up a small bowl of leaves á la SWISS.
The main course however was a big letdown. The paella wasn't much of a paella as there were no vegetables, and I only found some 4 tiny pieces of chicken. It was basically just a bowl of coloured rice, and it tasted very bland and dry. The dessert wasn't much better either, as the so called "parfait" tasted incredibly sweet with hardly any hints of orange. Several cups of coffee were required to wash it down. All in all the meal was a bit of a letdown, and with its lack of proteins it didn't leave me very full.
Soon the trays were cleared, and I requested another glass of Diet Pepsi while spending the reminder of the flight listening to music, and enjoying the spectacular views from the window.
Overflying the city of Paris. Dedicated to AYA333.
Coming in over the Bay of Biscay.
Soon the nose was tipped down, and the plane commenced its descent towards Lisbon Portela Airport. The crew made very little efforts in making sure that the cabin was secured for landing. The descent offered some spectacular views of Lisbon Town.
Coming in over the metropolitan areas of Lisbon. Portela Airport also visible right below the wing.
Flying out over the sea... Before lining up towards the runway.
Short on finals. Sorry about the massive glare.
Following the smooth touchdown was a quick taxi towards our remote parking position. Interestingly it was the very same position that we parked at two years ago after my last flight to LIS
Taxiing towards our remote stand.
Shortly after parking on the stand, airstairs were docked to the plane and the doors opened. Passengers seated in the back were allowed to use the rear door for disembarking. "Don't mind if I do!".
Underwing shot for Markus!
Shortly after disembarking the plane, we headed into the waiting bus that would take us all the way to the terminal. Instantly upon entering the terminal we headed straight for the exit before catching a cab into town. 15 minutes or €8,60 later we arrived to the heart of Lisbon.
The Lisbon Night Stop
Having a 23 hour overnight layover in the city, I chose not to book one of the hotels near the airport as our flight was leaving in the late afternoon, so instead I looked for a nice place in the city.
Finding a room for 3 people turned out to be rather difficult as hotels either force you to book two rooms, or require you to pay shameless overprices for an extra bed. Cheapest rooms were priced at €100 which was quite hefty considering a normal room costing roughly half.
Luckily the night prior to departure I found a nice newly renovated suite apartment hotel located in the Old Town (Baixa) of Lisbon. For €50 per night, it was an absolute steal!
After having been dropped off by the friendly taxi driver, he provided us instructions on how to reach our street by foot. After a 100 meter walk, we arrived to the door of our building. As there was no physical reception at this apartment hotel, we got in contact by a staff member by using the "virtual reception", which was basically an intercom connected to a call centre . After having obtained the access codes, we were finally able to access the building, and enter our apartment on the top floor. As we walked through the door, we couldn't help being impressed by the place.
View of the small living room.
The Master Bedroom, that offers a nice corner view of the street.
And the bathroom, that came fully stocked with amenities.
View from the balcony, that runs alongside the facade.
It didn't take long before realising that we had made a great deal. Given the great location, even a lesser apartment would've been good enough. After packing up our stuff, we headed out to explore the city. With most of the main attractions at short walking distance, it was possible to explore much of the city at a relatively short time. After having taken a stroll down the main shopping street, we walked over to the main square where we had a lovely seafood dinner. Feeling tired after dinner, we went back to the apartment at midnight, where I passed out on the sofa and slept like a child for a solid 9 hours.
Sunday June 17th 2012
I woke up from the sound of my alarm clock at 9.00, feeling more rested than ever before. I suppose that one hour time difference really makes a difference in terms of sleep, at least for me. While I was in the bathroom taking a shower, mom and sister headed off to a nearby supermarket to pick up some croissants and coffee for breakfast.
Following breakfast, I packed up my backpack and headed out for a walk around town. This time on my own.
The Arch at "Parca do Comcércio"
The Santa Justa Lift
The Central Square
After having spent a nice, albeit hot afternoon walking around the old town and its surroundings, I met up with mom and sis at the square, from where we took a taxi to the airport. The ride took roughly 15 minutes and ended up costing us €10,20 due to some Sunday surcharge.
Landside at Portela
LIS T1 interior. Looks like a parking garage or an empty shopping mall to me.
After having been dropped off at the departures level, we made our way through the check-in halls to the security area.
View of the check-in area used by Lufthansa.
After a closer inspection of my BP
it turned out that I was eligible to use the fasttrack security lane, or "Greenway" as TAP prefer to call it. An agent was guarding the entrance, and after my BP
was scanned I kindly asked if mom and sis could come along. The agent strictly denied, so we decided to meet up at the other end. The "Greenway" wasn't much faster than the regular lane though, as a man with two oversized trolleys was taking far too much time re-arranging his laptop and liquids. And to add more "insult" the security officers decided to take me in for a "random" additional screening, involving frisking.
Airside at Portela
Shortly after reuniting with my family, we headed over to the TAP Premium Lounge. Since it was my mother's turn to be guested, my sister headed off to sit at the gate to finish up some drawings.
TAP Premium Lounge Lisbon
The lounge entrance was a fairly discrete, but at the same time a lavish affair. After walking through a long purple neon light corridor, we reached the reception where a young female agent inspected our boarding passes. After being given the green light we were allowed inside.
View of the main seating area located upstairs.
A very comfy seating group of relaxing chairs.
The food and drinks section.
Given the location of the lounge, there are no outside views hence no natural light. Instead various lightning arrangements have been set up in the different areas to substitute for the lack of daylight. While it at some places may have looked much like a nightclub, I actually found it to be a nice and relaxing environment.
Various seating areas were scattered throughout the lounge, consisting mostly of plush leather armchairs. Since it was fairly crowded upstairs, I settled for a nice relaxing chair downstairs.
The food offerings consisted mostly of light finger foods such as open faced sandwiches, various cold cuts, cheese, savoury tartlets, along with various sweet pastries such as the famous custard cream tarts. The drinks section included a basic selection of hard liquor, sodas, beer, and a coffee machine. In addition to this was a very extensive selection of premium wines. Several kinds of white, red, port and sparkling were available.
While there may not have been any "real" food á la LH
or SAS, I still found the offerings to be sufficient enough for my likings.
I settled for some spinach and mushroom tarts, along with a Ginger Ale.
...Followed by a 4x shot espresso and a sinful custard tart.
Having spent a grand total of two hours in the lounge, surfing the web and reading magazines, it now became time to head to the gate. Our flight would depart from gate 42A which was a bus gate located in the non-Schengen part of Terminal 1.
TP234 Lisbon Portela – Casablanca Mohamed V
Flight: TP234 LIS-CMN
Operated by: Omni Air International, on behalf of Portigalia Express, for TAP Portugal and Star Alliance
Duration: 1h 45m
Date: June 17th 2012
Seat & Class: 2A Economy Class
Aircraft & Reg: Beechcraft 1900D CS-TMV
Despite the full load of the flight, the gate area looked very deserted. As mom and I arrived, my sister was already seated near one of the windows. A quick visit to the loo was made, as I wasn't sure whether there would be any lavatorial facilities onboard the plane.
Very soon boarding was called over the PA. No priority call was made for *G. Not that it was necessary thanks to the small passenger count, which made the boarding process very civilised. Shortly after everyone had boarded the Cobus 3000, we set off for the two minute drive to the plane.
As we arrived to the PGA
Maintenance hangar, our Beech was undergoing some maintenance work which made me slightly worried that there had been a last minute aircraft change (a Fokker F100, catered and ready to go was parked nearby). Luckily the mechanics soon cleared the plane and we were allowed to board.
My chariot for this short intercontinental hop.
At the door, the senior captain was greeting the passengers prior to climbing onboard. As I entered the plane, I was stunned by how small and cramped the cabin felt. This is after all the world's smallest airliner in commercial service (or well suppose there might be some debate on that).
Despite the small cabin, the legroom on this plane was fairly sufficient.
After having squeezed my way through the door, I got settled in seat 2A. Due to the lack of overhead bins my backpack was stowed at my feet. A small paper lunchbox was placed on every seat, presumably containing the in-flight service items. A nice surprise since I didn't expect to be served anything on this flight.
View from our parking position.
Soon the co-pilot closed the door, and the turboprops buzzed into life. No announcements whatsoever were made from the flight deck. Instead a recorded message was played over the PA system. Shortly afterwards the plane began its taxi to the runway.
Taxiing past Terminal 1 on our way to the runway.
Due to the lack of window blinds, the windows were tinted with sun-reflective coating giving a "Ray Ban" effect, not good for taking pictures. Luckily some fiddling with the white balance settings helped solving that problem. Soon the plane lined up towards the runway, and the captain performed a long takeoff roll.
Takeoff was done at a very un-steep angle.
Climbing out over the city of Lisbon.
Making a right turn to line up towards south.
Following takeoff was a slow climb during which we encountered some light turbulence, and it took us nearly 30 minutes before reaching our initial cruising altitude of 21000 feet. Feeling quite hungry, I decided to check out the contents of the box.
The box containing the in-flight service items.
The boxed contents were a chicken breast and spinach ciabatta sandwich, a bottle of mineral water, a refreshing towelette, two napkins, and a pair of earplugs. While the thrill of flying a Beech was more than enough for me to please, I found the contents to be sufficient enough for a flight of this duration. The sandwich tasted fairly dry, and required the whole bottle of water to wash it down.
After finishing my food, we had already left the subcontinent of Europe. One big disadvantage of seat 2A was the fact that the window quickly developed a layer of haze which made picture taking nearly impossible. So I was forced to nick a view from my sister who was seated behind me.
Bye bye Europe, see you in a month... ‘ish
Cabin view of this small Beech. I think there was a small lavatory in the back.
Cruising along nicely over the Atlantic Ocean.
View of the cockpit in-flight. Yes Eric, I asked the captain for permission.
A small plane over such a vastness of blue.
Time surely flies when you're having fun, and soon the props were throttled back as we came in over african soil. Lucky for me, the haze on my window had slowly began dissipating. A recorded safety message was soon played over the PA.
Coming in over Moroccan farmlands
Soon the aircraft lined up towards the runway, followed by a smooth touchdown, and a lengthy taxi to the commuter plane's apron.
Short on finals to Mohamed V.
Taxiing to our remote parking stand.
Shortly after the props had been turned off, the co-pilot got out from his seat to open up the door and greet passengers goodbye at the apron.
Disembarking the plane at CMN. That Beech sure is ugly!
Soon as all passengers had boarded the bus, we set off for the one minute drive to the terminal. Given the fact that immigration forms had not been handed out on the plane, we were forced to fill those in at the terminal. In total the immigration process took nearly 40 minutes due to the long lines, and I wasn't able to use the fasttrack lane.
Soon as we entered the baggage hall, our *priority tagged suitcases had been taken off the belt, and neatly placed nearby, resulting in a very swift and quick luggage pickup.
After having collected our luggage, we were met up by my mother's friend and his wife who were very kind to give us a lift to our apartment in town.
To me, a trip to Morocco is never really a vacation. It’s a mere change of scenery, going from one hell to another, and while we did our best in staying away from our dysfunctional relatives, we were forced to see them from time to time when visiting my grandmother. I chose not to take many pictures while in the country, mostly due to the high criminal rates.Also there are no longer police officers guarding the streets, due to fears of protests (just like that Arab Spring, in Egypt and Tunisia).
I did however use my camera at one occasion in the City of Rabat, but sadly it drew quite a lot of attention, especially from beggars. Yes, I had at least 5 of them following me at the same time, begging me for money... I did however manage to take a few pics.
Moroccan tea time!
The official beverage of the country, and a must have if you ever chose to visit the country.
Some beautiful weather at the traditional l’Oudaya district in Rabat.
And of course some charmy looking streets in l’Oudaya.
Civil War reenactments, Moroccan style!
Oh, and I also turned 20 this summer. Celebrating with a gelato cake from my favourite ice cream shop Oliveri, Casablanca. Perhaps the best ice cream on the planet!
Saturday July 14th 2012
My four week stay in the godforsaken land of Morocco had finally come to an end, and I just couldn’t wait go get the hell away from there! Once again I was woken up at dawn by the sound of my alarm clock. I was only able to get 3 hours of sleep, which for the record was not caused by pre-flight excitement, but more my mother who decided to stay up all night and finish up her packing.
At 6.30, my uncle came by and picked us up in his car, and gave us a lift to the airport. Already feeling quite grumpy due to the lack of sleep, I was forced to listen to another family argument throughout the 30 minute drive which didn’t leave much jollier. At 7.00 we were dropped off at the departures level of Terminal 2 at Mohamed V International Airport.
Check-In at Mohamed V International Airport = Disaster!
In most 3rd world countries, you need to pass a series of security screenings and baggage checks in order to access the terminal, and at CMN
that was no exception. Scanning our 4 oversized suitcases took some time, but we were soon able to proceed to the check-in area.
View of the departures hall at the new’ish T2 at CMN.
Upon gazing at the FIDS board, it became apparent that check-in counter 22 and 23 were dedicated for this morning’s TAP flight to Lisbon. However as I looked over towards the designated counters, the overhead screens only showed a picture of the screensaver, consisting of a picture of the old Terminal 1 and some safety messages.
However, a small queue had formed behind counter 22 which indicated that some form of check-in activity was taking place. Counter 23 however was designated to the low cost airline Air Arabia Maroc. As the line was moving very slowly, I parked our luggage trolley at the back and headed over to the infodesk (not manned by Hannah) to ask what’s going on. A rather disinterested agent was reluctant to serve me.
Me: Excuse me miss, but is check-in for the TAP Lisbon flight open yet?
Agent: Yes, people are being checked in for the flight as we speak.
As I made my way back to counter 22 some three minutes later, my luggage trolley had been moved aside, and the queue had tripled in size. Not feeling like queueing behind 100+ people, I kindly asked the family standing where I was supposed to stand (the queue had not moved) if it was okay for me to retake my place in the line. My request was sadly denied, as the man told me to get to the back of the line like anyone else. Apparently he claimed to have been queueing the whole morning, which frankly was a lie since I didn’t see him five minutes ago.
Being a Star Alliance Gold member, queueing behind 100 other people is simply beyond my spectrum of tolerance, and even more so was the fact that the adjacent counter 21 remained closed, instead of being used as a Priority desk. As I looked around the place, I could see ground agents gathered around in circles behind the desks playing cards and chatting loudly, and from time to time, the occasional disinterested agent came over to counter 22, said a word to the agent and walked away.
This level unprofessionalism is something that we would never have to encounter in the civilised world, and quite frankly I was pissed beyond my mind. So I took things in my own hands, and walked up to a disinterested male agent, who was just sitting at a chair watching the chaos take place instead of doing something about it.
Me: Excuse me Sir, but why isn’t there a priority counter open? [presenting *G card]
Male Agent: Eh, go and talk to the girl at the counter 22. Maybe she can help you.
So I walked over to counter 22, located just a few steps away. At the counter, a man with a group booking in Business Class was experiencing some issues finding the reservation it the system. After the man had been instructed to go to the ticket desk to sort it out, I jumped over to the counter. Manning the desk was the young Mar Ground Handling agent Sara, she seemed to be under a lot of pressure handling the chaos all by her own.
Me: Hello, will you by any chance open up the priority counter? [handing over *G card]
S: [takes a long look at the card] Sure, do you have your passports? Will check you in right away.
Me: I’ll get you those in just a second!
Having been given permission to jump the whole 100+ people queue sounded like music to my ears, so I called out to mom, telling her to come over. As I rolled the trolley past the queue, many of the other passengers got seemingly pissed, and yelled out their anger.
Pax: Don’t you have any manners, you impatient son of a b*tch!?! [I head one of the pax saying]
Me: [hands over passports, along with custom forms] Here you go.
S: Thank you, Sir. [typing on the computer and printing BP’s] Please put your luggage on the scale.
Me: [putting on the bags] Don’t forget the priority tags!
S: Here are your passports and boarding passes, have a nice flight!
I later found out that many of the passengers in the queue came from a cancelled TAP flight, originally scheduled to depart from Marrakech, that had been rebooked to LIS
, hence spending the whole night on a bus through the desert. On top of that, the check-in system had malfunctioned which resulted in some reservations not showing up on the system, and passengers needing to be checked in fully manually (luckily not us).
While I felt sorry for the pax who had to go through all the trouble, the situation itself was handed very very poorly by the ground handling company, Mar. I just don’t see how they can have 10 agents not doing s*it, and at least 3 adjacent counters unmanned. Heck this s*itful company of a ground handler even chose to open check-in counters for flights scheduled to leave six hours later. I simply could not understand why they chose not to do anything to try and solve a crisis situation.
I really hope the TAP management decide to file a lawsuit against this company, if such situations are handed this poorly on a regular basis. I did however really appreciate the service I was given as a *G customer (flying on a high booking class, for the record as well!), the situation was handled in a service minded, hence ad-hoc manner. I didn’t even have to pay for the 15kg overweight!
Customs at Mohamed V International Airport
Soon, mother, sister and I made our way over to the passport control. The lines were luckily short, and soon we were served by a very unfriendly police officer.
P: Passports please!
Me: Hands over passports and BP’s.
P: What’s this!? I don’t see and custom forms.
Me: Ah dammit! I think the check-in agent must’ve accidentally taken them.
P: Step aside sir, there is a stand with custom forms over there. Fill out new ones and come back.
In a hurry, we picked up some new forms and filled them out. In order to speed things up, we filled out one form each, using three different pens. Five minutes later, we got served by the same agent.
Me: Here you go. Passports and custom forms! [smile]
P: [inspecting the documents] No, I can’t accept these two.
Me: How comes?
P: They’re filled out with pencils, how do you expect us to keep storage of there forms when the writings will wear off almost right away. Please fill out new ones using a proper ink pen.
The forms in question happened to belong to my mom and sister, so they were forced to repeat the process while I was able to proceed to security. We agreed to meet up again at the departure gate, just around boarding time. The security check was a breeze, and luckily the agents didn’t go through my luggage.
I was told by my mother that back in the olden days the officers would often take stuff they liked from your luggage, e.g if you happened to carry some gifts to the family or so. Either that or they would force you to pay them a bribe. Luckily things have changed since then, but still the police officers in Casablanca Airport are some of the worst in the entire country!
Airside at Mohamed V International Airport
View of the airside part of CMN T2. Quite dull and boring. I liked T1 better.
Having been in contact with TAP a few days earlier, I was told that they used the Priority Pass 3rd party lounge at CMN
. So after a quick escalator ride, I was at the lounge floor located below the departures level. Manning the reception was the cleaning lady, who looked very strangely at my *G card. I was told to sit down and wait until the agent showed up, which she soon did.
After some discussions I was told that the lounge could only be accessed with a Business Class ticket, and not *G. Quite strange since TAP said that *G would do fine. I’m suspecting that some sort of invitation card would have been needed, and quite frankly the check-in agent forgot to give me one.
Nevertheless, the lounge did not look spectacular. Just a small room with some chairs, a sub-standard coffee machine, a bottle of whiskey and some supermarket biscuits. Having only 15 minutes until boarding, I figured that spotting was a more fun way to kill time.
TP233 Casablanca Mohamed V – Lisbon Portela
Flight: TP233 CMN-LIS
Operated by: Portugalia Airlines, for TAP Portugal and Star Alliance
Duration: 1h 25m
Date: July 14th 2012
Seat & Class: 17A Economy Class
Aircraft & Reg: Fokker F100 CS-TPD
At the gate, I met up with my mom and sister, who had already kept a seat free for me. The gate area was however not as full as I’d imagined, and very soon boarding was called. I was suspecting that many of the passengers had yet not been checked in, but in spite of that we were allowed to board the bus. The bus remained stationary for another 15 minutes while waiting for some remaining pax to board, before making the short 2 minute drive to the apron.
Underwing shot for Markus again. Fokker style!
Upon leaving the bus, I figured I’d be better off enjoying the fresh air and beautiful sunshine while waiting for the other passengers to board, rather than shuffing in line. A couple of minutes later, I entered the aircraft as the last person. At the door, a senior purser asked to see my boarding pass. Something which is standard practice only on long haul flights, and Ryanair. As I went through my backpack to find it, the purser made a loud ”sigh” and rolled her eyes. Quite unprofessional in my opinion. Soon, I found my BP
stub and I was allowed down the aisle.
The cabin on this machine was clad with dark blue leather seats, very similar to those found on BA
. While the seats were quite worn, I still found the cabin to be in acceptable condition. Soon I made my way to my seat 17A. Backpack (but not the Docs) was stowed in the overhead compartment, before settling down.
The legroom was a bit on the tight side, but sufficient enough for this 1hr flight.
View from our parking position.
Soon the captain came over the PA announcing a one hour delay caused by the malfunctioning check-in system. Around half of the remaining passengers were still at check-in, many of those coming from the canceled RAK flight. Since we still had some time left on the ground, I thought it was appropriate to make a little visit to the lavatorial facilities to freshen up.
Very retro-looking lavatory on this Fokker.
Upon returning to my seat, the remaining passengers had finally arrived. Minutes later, all passengers were comfortably strapped to their seats, so the purser closed the door, the engines spooled to life, and a manual safety demonstration was made as we taxied towards the runway. A powerful takeoff was later performed.
Taxiing by some RAM planes at Terminal 2. I bet this airline is on FF76’s to-fly list!
And of course the DHL Building, complete with its very own B757. Dedicated to AYA333.
Lining up on the runway, just before takeoff.
”Wheels Up!” at 11.15.
Banking left towards the Atlantic. Overflying some suburbia along the way.
Climbing out over the Moroccan countryside.
This was my first takeoff in a Fokker F100, and I was quite surprise by the fact that it didn’t use any flaps for takeoff. I thought the F28 was the only jet certified for takeoffs in clean wing configuration. Engines weren’t as noisy as the MD
-80 either, despite being seated towards the back.
The climb on this plane was very rapid, and the seatbelt sign remained on until we reached cruising altitude.
Reaching cruising altitude over the atlantic.
Shortly after the seatbelt sign had been switched off, the purser made an announcement asking everyone to remain seated as the in-flight service would commence immediately. I suppose they didn’t want people blocking the aisle, slowing things down. Crew on this flight was all female, consisting of one senior purser and three younger attendants. All of them good looking, and very friendly. Nonetheless, the carts were soon rolled out and I was soon handed my ”breakfast” by one of the younger crew members.
Catering was very generous for a 1hr flight. Must say I’m impressed with TAP!
The breakfast consisted of a traditional Portuguese croissant, filled with gouda cheese and turkey. In addition to that was a tiny bottle of strawberry smoothie. Coffee or tea, along with additional beverages were served soon after.
While I had expected the ”croissant” to be as dry and dull as the sandwiches I’ve been served previously on Portugalia flights, I was pleasantly surprised to find it very moist and delicious. The filling consisting of three generous slices of turkey breast and gouda cheese, made this seemingly small bun (or croissant or whatever) into a very sufficient and filling breakfast. The strawberry smoothie packed with vitamins added a very tasty and energising ending to the breakfast. I must say that TAP are really on the forefront when it comes to short haul catering.
Making landfall over the southern tip of Portugal.
Very soon, the seatbelt sign was switched back on, and the captain announced our descent into Lisbon Portela Airport. Almost instantly the crew were back up and running through the aisle to collect the trash from the breakfast service. Once again though, they didn’t bother much in making sure that the cabin was secured for landing, as both passengers seated in front of me had their seats fully reclined.
Coming in right above the city centre, overflying the Old Town Baixa.
Coming in short on finals, with my hotel visible from a distance.
A very smooth touchdown at 12.11, 56 minutes behind schedule.
Following the smooth touchdown, we made a quick taxi to the Portugalia apron, located right in front of the maintenance hangars.
Taxiing by an old friend, CS-TMV: The son of a Beech who took me to CMN!
Very soon we parked on the apron, and passengers immediately began disembarking from the front door. Two busses were waiting to take the passengers to the terminal, and as my mom and sister were seated at 7A&B they managed to get onboard the first bus. I chose to wait until all passengers had disembarked, before slowly making my way out to the apron and into the waiting bus. A few minutes later, I arrived to the terminal where I found mom and sister already waiting in line for the passport control. Being a EU citizen, we were quickly allowed through, before proceeding straight to the arrivals hall.
The Lisbon Night Stop: Take Two!
A few months earlier, fellow a.netter and friend Daniel (aka LH4532
) notified me about his summer plans. He would be spending two weeks in July (10th – 24th) visiting his grandmother. With this in mind, I specifically booked my return segments to make a meet possible.
Daniel agreed to meet us up at the arrivals hall at the time of arrival, and having notified him in advance about the delay he didn’t have to wait for us too long, and nonetheless we spotted each other almost instantly upon emerging from the baggage claim. After meeting and introducing the rest of my family, we took a taxi to the home of Daniel’s grandmother in Lisbon town, who had invited us over for lunch.
While the taxi ride took less than 15 minutes, the driver purposely took a wrong turn, resulting in an extra €4 on the taximeter. Those driver simply seem to pull off every single scam they can think of. Soon, we entered the apartment at the 11th floor, where we were greeted welcome by Daniel’s grandmother. In spite of her impressive age of 93, she was still a very active and cheerful woman. After exchanging the usual pleasantries, lunch was soon served.
On the menu today was seafood, mainly due to religious reasons for my mom and sis. A very impressive four course lunch consisting of a cold cucumber soup, and kind prawns with Grandma’s signature seafood sauce for starters. A main course consisting of Stockfish gratin, and chocolate ice cream for dessert. Both taste and presentation wise, the lunch was very impressive given the fact that it was home cooked. Everything tasted absolutely delicious, and I must say that the prawns were much better than the ones we had at the restaurant in central Lisbon a month earlier.
Lunch was ended some traditional Portuguese at the downstairs café. Following the meal, we discussed our plans for the day. My sister would be visiting a friend of hers in Belem, while my mother decided to head over to the hotel for a Siesta. Since the room was booked in my name, I had to come along and be present at check-in. We agreed to all meet up again at Grandma’s place at 8pm.
The Radisson Blu Hotel Lisboa
Originally my mother had requested me to book the same apartment hotel in Baixa as on the outbound, and in order to score a good deal I was forced to wait until last minute. Sadly though the hotel got fully booked two days prior, and I had to settle for other alternatives. After examining the different alternatives for Lisbon, we decided to simply play it safe by booking the Radisson Blu Lisboa, located very close to the airport. Rate for a twin room was the reasonable €80, including breakfast and complimentary airport shuttle. Very handy for catching an early morning flight. On top of that was the Club Carlson 50 000 points campaign, which was valid for our dates. Since 50K is enough for a free night at any Radisson hotel the €80 rate (and the excellent currency exchange rate. €1 = SEK 8,49! I can see why FlyingFinn76 is so upset about Greece, hah!), provided some excellent value for the money.
After being checked in at the Carlson priority counter, we were given key cards for our room on the 7th floor. Expectations for this hotel were set quite low, as the pictures on the website made the rooms look very old and worn. I was pleasantly surprised to find the facility in such great shape.
Our standard room with two queen beds. Sorry about the ”mess”.
Some nice chairs by the window. We had an excellent view towards the airport terminal, and runway from our room. Could’ve easily spent hours spotting from the room.
A desk with coffee/tea maker and TV. Standard in most 4* hotels.
The bathroom. A bit too dark for my likings, but sufficient enough.
My mother and I were both very satisfied with the room, and I really think the hotel should update the pictures on their website. But then again it’s always nice to have expectations exceeded. I didn’t stay long at the hotel, since mom needed to get some rest. Having a couple of hours to kill before dinner, I asked Daniel if he wanted to join me for a walk around town. Sadly however, he was too lazy and very determined to have his usual 3 hour siesta. Convincing him was near impossible, so I decided to just explore the city on my own.
Having seen enough of old town and the city centre during my previous visit, I decided to explore the Parque das Nações district. A place I for long had wanted to visit, which luckily happened to be a short 15 minute metro ride away.
First stop was a visit to the Nespresso® store, to pick up a small gift for Daniel’s grandmother. Never have I imagined the capsules being so cheap, heck even those 3rd party capsule makers charge more. Perhaps it’s about time I get a machine of my own. And no PettEric, I didn’t drink any of her capsules.
Weather was wonderful on this particular day.
The cable car built for the 1998 World Expo was an impressive structure.
Sadly they charged too much for a ride.
So instead I settled for a nice walk down the seaside promenade.
After having walked around, smelling the fresh air and soaking up the sunshine for two hours, my legs were starting to feel a bit tired. So I took the Metro back to meet Daniel at his grandma’s place, where I arrived at 19.20. We spent some 40 minutes chilling and catching up at the downstairs café, while waiting for my mom and sis to arrive. Roughly one hour later, we all gathered up and headed over to a nearby Brazilian restaurant for some dinner.
The dinner in question was a traditional Brazilian Churrascaria or ”meat on a skewer”, which turned out to be an interesting experience. While the food tasted absolutely delicious, I don’t think I’ve eaten such large quantities of red meat in a single meal before in my entire life. At €65 for the entire 5 people party on a saturday evening, it was really a bargain too!
Following the very heavy dinner, my mother and sister headed back to the Radisson to catch some well needed sleep, whereas I decided to stay for some G&T’s with Daniel. At half past eleven, I bid Daniel goodbye at the metro station, before heading back to the hotel.
Sunday July 15th 2012
The familiar marimba tone of my iPhone once again woke me up at 5.30 in the morning. I only managed some five hours of sleep, which was way below my required limits of rest as I only spelt thee hours during the night before. Nonetheless, I quickly jumped in for a refreshing shower before ”packing my junk” into the trustworthy Lowepro®. At 6.30 I met up with my mom who was already enjoying the extensive breakfast buffet. My sister opted to have her breakfast in the lounge, in favour for some more sleep. Given the previous night’s heavy dinner, I settled for a cup of freshly brewed coffee and a brioche.
At 6.50 my sister came down to the reception with the bags, and following a quick checkout we boarded the airport shuttle van at 7.00.
Check-In, Security & Airside at Lisbon Portela
The shuttle ride took less than five minutes, and after having been dropped off by the friendly driver at Terminal 1, we quickly made our way into the departures hall. On this particular sunday morning the place was absolutely packed, and even worse so a security officer was guarding the entrance to the check-in area. Luckily we were able to access the area after showing our luggage receipts for the ARN
I quickly made my way to an empty SSCI machine where I printed out the boarding passes for the ARN
sector. My sister made some remarks about the flimsy paperstock, asking me to print out proper ones instead. Heck, I thought only a.netter cared for such things.
We soon headed off to the security area, and once again I was able to access the ”Greenway”. As there was no point arguing with the officers, we agreed to meet up again at airside. This particular morning the regular screening area was quite full, whereas the fast track lane was completely empty. After a leisurely stroll through the metal detector, I was airside in less than one minute.
View of the airside at LIS. Just like most other airports these days, security dumps you rtght into the duty-free.
TAP Premium Lounge Lisbon
I spent a total of five minutes exploring the offerings of the duty-free shop, before finally meeting up the rest of my family. Since mom had already eaten breakfast at the hotel, she headed off to Gate 16 whereas my sister and I went to the lounge.
SAS Plus is Business Class made faux!