TAP Business Class Review
When the opportunity popped up to use some frequent flier miles and secure business class seats on TAP Portugal Airlines, we jumped into action. Never having flown with TAP, we did some quick research for on-line reviews of their service. Not surprising, reviews were all over the place from 'really bad' to 'excellent.' We decided to roll the dice and take our chances. We booked two Executive Class R/T MIA - LIS - MIA.
TAP would be using one of their A330-200s and the forward cabin would be outfitted with Recaro reclining seats (not 180° as in a true flat bed, but a comfortable 172°). A common complaint about 'slant seats' is the problem of constantly sliding 'down hill' while trying to sleep. Didn't seem like a big issue, since we often get similar 'slants' in business class on American Airlines B-767 flights to South America.
On departure day, we arrived MIA in time to clear TSA (soft hands make for smiles) and spend about half an hour in Club America on Concourse J, (Club America provides contract lounge privileges for TAP business class passengers). The lounge seats were plentiful and comfortable, the drinks were free and the snacks about average. Checking www.FlightAware.com on our iPad, we noticed the departure time for TP112 had been delayed 30 minutes. So we took a few extra minutes for the walk to Concourse H, passing up opportunities to shop at several duty free stores.
Pre-boarding was being announced as we arrived at H-8 and we got our first glimpse at the plane that would be our B&B for the next 8 + hours. Pretty impressive piece of equipment. Once inside the cabin, we were quickly shown to our adjoining seats 2A &2B and invited to enjoy a pre-departure drink (mineral water sounded just fine for us). I was immediately intrigued with the IFE video screen positioned directly ahead of me. The view was from a camera in the forward section of the fuselage and would provided live video of the push back, taxi to active and eventual take off (since I had already stored my camera, I missed the 'lift-off' shot - quite impressive as we rolled out over the Miami skyline and over the Atlantic).
Here's the short version:
- Cabin service was attentive, with four attendants and a purser for 24 passengers
- Our special request meals were on board and delicious
- Each course was served individually on china and excellent paired wines were offered
- The Racaro seats provided a comfortable sleeping platform (didn't miss the 8°)
- Cabin lights were dimmed for sleeping about 2.5 hours after take off
- Nice touch, the two bathrooms were spacious and even had fresh flowers
- The flight deck crew managed to find clean air with minimal turbulence
- Breakfast was served 1 hour before our on-time arrival (tail wind!)
Although Aeroporto de Lisboa seems quite dated and in need of terminal modernization. The immigration processed moved quickly and we were pleased to find our luggage arrived, customs was just a simply walk-thru and we located (after some searching of the master arrivals and departure boards) the onward flight check-in counter for Madeira.
* * * *
Fifteen days later, we boarded TAP113 and settled into our comfortable Racaro seats again. This time we would spent 9.5 hours on the return (slight head winds) and the cabin service would be much more leisurely paced to help with the passage of time.
We had mixed emotions as the captain applied full thrust and we climbed out over Cabo da Roca....which we could just identify out in the distance (only 18 hours earlier.... we were standing at the very spot, aware it is the westernmost extent of mainland Portugal and continental Europe).
We were obviously sadden to be leaving behind such a wonderful holiday. Portugal is a country we had quickly gained to love, populated with new friends we hoped to see again. We were happy for the experience and look forward to a return visit in the not too distant future.
Our purser must have noticed our mixed expressions and assured us, we would be welcomed back aboard a TAP flight to Portugal anytime. He appeased us by generously pouring Churchill’s Tawny Port http://www.churchills-port.com/ (we had just been 'treading' these premium port grapes in their lagar deep in the Douro Valley only one week earlier). We sipped our lovely port as we watch the miles tick away on the seat back display and passed through 38,000 or our way to a smooth 40,000 return to MIA.
TAP Portugal Airlines gained high marks from us for their trans-Atlantic and domestic service. We would fly them again.
Adeus Portugal e amigos!