While Lufthansa and British Airways continue to acquire nearly every European legacy carrier in existence, TAP Portugal is the odd ball left out. Based in LIS, its small-ish operation would make it a seemingly perfect candidate for a LH / BA takeover. However, TAP is one of the few remaining European state-owned airlines, which changes everything. Rumors have been floating around for years about privatization, but similar to most government-owned entities, progress has been slow to non-existent.
I would say that TAP’s international reputation is rather weak. Most of TAP’s long-haul aircraft have outdated cabins, TAP’s employees are not known for their politeness, and their hub in LIS is a pain in the a** with its multitude of bus gates. From a business perspective, the airline itself usually manages to at least break even. TAP’s subsidies such as Groundforce handling, however, continue to lose a lot of money. Being some of the highest paid airline employees in the world, TAP’s employees naturally love to go on strike about once a year or so. I was definitely looking forward to seeing what this airline had in store for me.
Having flown down from TPA on one of my least favorite U.S. carriers, American Airlines, I had a lot of time to kill. I spent most of my time in the AA terminal downloading music and just messing around. About 3 hours before my TAP flight, I meandered over to concourse J.
When I noticed the ridiculous amount of the baggage-wrapping stations, I realized quickly that the clientele of concourse J and H was not your average American traveler. In fact, I think I was one of the few Americans in this terminal. And this is a U.S. airport! It was good preparation for the week ahead of me.
I had checked-in online the night before, but of course I left my boarding pass at home. No problem, the friendly and efficient check-in agent printed me another boarding pass in less than 10 seconds. Having an extreme fear of airlines losing checked baggage, I had crammed everything into my carry-on suitcase and managed to avoid checking a bag. Like most foreign carriers operating in the U.S., TAP outsources their ground handling to a local company.
TAP operates out of concourse H in MIA, and while it’s a fundamentally nice building, I did not think it was well taken care of. There were a few food options, but I just went to the gate played Temple Run on my iPhone.
My ride to LIS tonight, CS-TOO christened Fernão de Magalhães.
Boarding commenced about 45 minutes before departure, with no less than 6 gate agents assisting with the boarding process. They attempted to board Business class first, which failed miserably as the Economy passengers completely blocked all possible paths to the jetway.
Shortly after, us lowly steerage pax were invited to board. Yay!
Date: 10 August 2011
Airline: TAP Portugal
Flight: TP 112
Aircraft: Airbus A330-202
Aircraft Reg: CS-TOO
Departure City: Miami, Florida
Departure Airport: Miami International Airport (MIA / KMIA)
Arrival City: Lisbon, Portugal
Arrival Airport: Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS / LPPT)
Scheduled Departure Time: 5:00 PM
Actual Departure Time: 4:57 (from gate, 3 min early)
Scheduled Arrival Time: 6:15 AM
Actual Arrival Time: 5:53 AM (on parking stand, 22 min early)
Estimated Load: 80%
I was welcomed aboard by a flight attendant and promptly directed to my seat. This aircraft is one of the newly-built A330s delivered directly to TAP from Airbus. This meant extra “perks” such as AVOD and new seats.
The cabin looked good and new, and the seats were pretty comfortable with footrests. Pitch was standard at 32 inches I believe.
Why so serious?
As the flight filled up, I couldn’t help but notice that the seat next to me remained unoccupied. No… could it be? Doors closed shortly after, and I did a victory cheer as I moved all my stuff to the adjacent seat and sprawled out across the row. It was to be a comfortable flight!
Ready for pushback. Miami clearance delivery, AIR PORTUGAL 112 requesting IFR clearance to Lisbon as filed.
The TAP flight attendants were young, well-kept, and looked good. A far cry from what I’m used to in the U.S.!
The captain welcomed us on board with a very detailed announcement. He announced a flight time of just 7 hours. Wow, I had no idea MIA-LIS was so short! He spoke excellent English; I was impressed.
Pushback commenced 3 minutes early at 4:57 PM, and we began a slow taxi to runway 8R. Oddly enough, the safety video was only in Portuguese with English subtitles. I’ve never seen this before; usually airlines have a full English portion.
Takeoff was powerful (A330 is the only long-haul Airbus aircraft I like), and we quickly ascended into the hovering thunderstorms.
Climbout was a little rough because of the scattered thunderstorms. Bring on the turbulence!
The purser introduced herself, welcomed us aboard, and detailed the in-flight service.
I began to explore the IFE, which was a standard AVOD system by Panasonic. I watched the Hunger Games, which I thought was excellent.
Shortly after reaching our cruise altitude, the captain once again came over the P/A to welcome us on-board. He gave us details about our route, and thanked us again for flying TAP.
The crew promptly began the meal service, which was a choice between fish and pasta. I got the pasta, which was a standard airline meal. It was edible, but I would be outraged if I had to pay for it at a restaurant. But the good news is that I got to drink alcohol (legally)! One of the advantages of international travel. TAP uses metal utensils in Economy class, which I really appreciated.
After dinner I paused my movie, popped an Ambien, and dawned my Tempur-Pedic eye shield around my head. I was out until about 2 hours before arrival in LIS.
Upon waking from my nice slumber, I resumed watching the Hunder Games. A small breakfast was served, which was standard for a short-ish TATL flight. It wasn’t warm, but I thought it was sufficient.
The flight attendants on this flight were nice and friendly. This was obviously no Emirates or Singapore Airlines, but TAP’s crew members were definitely competitive with fellow European rivals. Nice job TAP cabin crew!
Descent into LIS commenced before the sun began to rise. I was hoping for daylight landing, but this was not to be the case.
Touchdown on runway 03 was firm, and taxi to the remote stand was quick.
Disembarkation was from door 2L, and as usual with LIS, the bus ride to the terminal was a lengthy affair offering an extensive tour of the entire airfield.
The bus dropped us off at immigration, where the arrival boards displayed aircraft regs for all incoming flights. I LOVE this, and have never seen this anywhere else.
Since LIS was not my final destination, I began of the process of transiting to my next flight. I’ll give you all a quick hint of what is to come:
I had a really nice flight with TAP. We departed on-time and arrived early into LIS. The aircraft was very nice, seats were comfortable, and the IFE was more than sufficient for this flight. The food was acceptable and the cabin crew was friendly. Based on this flight, TAP is definitely competitive with other European rivals, and I’d say a notch above most U.S. carriers. I know TAP’s hard product is significantly worse on the A340 and some A330s, but this review is based strictly on the flight I took. I would probably recommend TAP to others assuming the price is competitive.
I hope you enjoyed my Trip Report!
Past trip reports:
Aborted Landing And Diversion: Qantas 738 SYD-ZQN (by MHTripple7 Jul 13 2011 in Trip Reports)
Virgin Blue 737-800 Sydney-Cairns In Y (by MHTripple7 May 9 2011 in Trip Reports)
V Australia 777-300ER Brisbane-Los Angeles In Y (by MHTripple7 Apr 20 2011 in Trip Reports)
Taag Angola 737-700 Windhoek-Luanda In Y W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Sep 12 2010 in Trip Reports)
Taag Angola 777-200ER Lisbon-Luanda In Y W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Aug 29 2010 in Trip Reports)
Asiana Airlines 777-200ER ICN-LAX In J W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Apr 16 2010 in Trip Reports)
Thai Airways A340-500 CNX-BKK In Y W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Apr 6 2010 in Trip Reports)
Bangkok Airways A319 BKK-REP In Y W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Mar 30 2010 in Trip Reports)
Asiana Airlines 747-400 LAX-ICN In J W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Mar 28 2010 in Trip Reports)
Delta 737-700 ATL-SXM In Y W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Aug 5 2009 in Trip Reports)
Air India 777-200LR DEL-JFK In J W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Jan 11 2009 in Trip Reports)
Drukair A319 PBH-DEL In Y W/TONS Of Pix/Vid (by MHTripple7 Jan 10 2009 in Trip Reports)
Air India 777-200LR JFK-DEL In C W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Jan 5 2009 in Trip Reports)
South African 737-800 JNB-CPT In C W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Sep 21 2008 in Trip Reports)
South African BAe 146-200 LVI-JNB In Y W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Aug 13 2008 in Trip Reports)
Delta 767-400ER JNB-ATL In J W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Aug 1 2008 in Trip Reports)
Air Botswana BAe 146-100 JNB-MUB In Y W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Jul 23 2008 in Trip Reports)
Air France 777-300ER CDG-JNB In J W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Jul 23 2008 in Trip Reports)
Air France A330-200 DTW-CDG In J W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Jul 22 2008 in Trip Reports)
Delta 737-800 JFK-TPA (Pix And Vid) (by MHTripple7 Apr 18 2008 in Trip Reports)
Jet Airways 777 DEL-JFK Mar 28 2008 Pix (by MHTripple7 Mar 29 2008 in Trip Reports)
Jet Airways 9W707 W/Diversion (Pix) (by MHTripple7 Mar 22 2008 in Trip Reports)
Jet Airways 777-300ER JFK-DEL ( Pix) (by MHTripple7 Mar 21 2008 in Trip Reports)
[Edited 2012-08-19 15:18:22]