Review of Portugalia flight Casablanca Lisbon in Business

Airline Portugalia
Flight TP1443
Class Business
Seat 1C
Aircraft Fokker 100
Flight time 01:25
Take-off 15 Dec 14, 17:25
Arrival at 15 Dec 14, 18:50
NI 19 reviews
Nick
By 1712
Published on 15th December 2015
This is the fourth report about my complicated Johannesburg to Casablanca roundtrip on Star Alliance. If you've read any of the prior entries, go ahead and skip the preamble.

Intra-Africa travel can yield a great value when using United MileagePlus awards, if done correctly. Travel between most city pairs in Africa are usually the same award price, whether they're an hour apart or across the continent. When travelling from far southern Africa to far northern Africa, you can often get a complicated routing through Europe. For someone looking to get from point A to point B, this may be viewed negatively, but for a backpacking AvGeek, it's a huge positive. My itinerary below cost 52,500 Mileage Plus Miles and $192.30 in taxes and fees. It was ticketed as a roundtrip from Johannesburg to Casablanca, but it afforded me an 8 hour daytime layover in Frankfurt, a two night stopover in Cairo, and a 17.5 hour overnight layover in Lisbon. For comparison's sake, a one way Business Saver Award from Frankfurt to Johannesburg is 55,000 miles plus taxes and fees. Even Frankfurt to Casablanca would cost 55,000 miles, a bad value for such a short distance, but that's the price of Europe region to Northern Africa region. I was technically just travelling from Southern Africa region to Northern Africa region and back. The value of itineraries like this are even greater when you consider the high cash price of intra-Africa airfares.

Johannesburg to Frankfurt (Economy, Lufthansa): http://flight-report.com/en/report-12213.html
Frankfurt to Cairo (Economy, Lufthansa): Mentioned in the prior report, full report skipped
Cairo to Casablanca (Economy, EgyptAir): http://flight-report.com/en/report-12363.html
(Side trip) Laayoune to Casablanca (Economy, Royal Air Maroc): http://flight-report.com/en/report-12400.html
Casablanca to Lisbon (Business, Portugalia): You Are Here
Lisbon to Frankfurt (Business, Lufthansa):
Frankfurt to Johannesburg (Business, South African):

photo December 2014 Flight Route


After flying back from Laayoune, I stayed in Casablanca for a night then headed to Fez (shown below). After staying in Fez, I made my way back to CMN on the train via Rabat.




I stayed in the Medina in Fez, which was very cool and the place was well kept, but these buildings that are hundreds or thousands of years old don't have many creature comforts.

photo DSC00407


The rail system in Morocco is very impressive. You can get to any major city in the northern part of the country on the train. The trip from Fez to Casablanca is about 4 hours, 15 minutes and has great scenery along the way.

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This is the very sharp train station in Rabat, which is about three quarters of the way from Fez to Casablanca.

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Check in at the airport went fine. There was no line and the agent nicely explained how to get to their contracted business lounge.

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The contract business lounge was a decent size for a relatively small airport and there was only one other person in there with me. There was a fridge with alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. They also had some finger food, but I steered clear as it looked like it had been sitting out for quite some time.




The main terminal is just one long corridor with duty free shops. I was planning on blowing all the Moroccan Dirham I had in cash, but most of these places only accepted Euros. I found one place that accepted Dirham for candy, so I ended up with quite a stash for the rest of my trip.

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For my flight, we walked down the stairs from the gate into the waiting bus and caught a glimpse of this RAM 737 getting prepped for flight.




The bus drove us out to our parked Fokker 100 and I tried to do some brief spotting, but the only interesting thing was the Saudi Arabian aircraft at its gate.




No early boarding for the business pax on this flight, we all just crowded around and waited our turn.




The business class seats on this plane were pretty old, but much more comfortable than the standard short haul business seats you often get in Europe which are re-purposed economy seats that have the middle blocked out. We had a pretty long maintenance delay before we finally got going.

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The food wasn't good, but this was a very short flight. Hard to complain.

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Managed to get some GPS reception during the middle of the flight.

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This trip was just after the height of the Ebola epidemic.

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After we arrived I hustled to the immigration counters and got through quickly. There weren't many other people in the airport at this time. I took the Metro downtown from the airport, very clean and efficient.

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I stayed at HOME Lisbon Hostel, which was the best hostel I've ever stayed in. The bed and bathroom were comfortable and clean, but the fact that the staff makes you feel like a part of the family is what sets this place apart. They had a plaque up from Hostelworld naming them the second best hostel in the entire world one year.




The marquis event here is Mama's dinner. It only costs an extra €10 and gets you a fantastic multi-course home cooked meal to eat with good company. I was lucky I got here in time to catch it due to the maintenance delay back at CMN.




In the morning they also have a hot breakfast included with your stay.

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I didn't have much time for sightseeing, but I managed to walk around a bit and snap some pics before heading to the airport for my next flight. I'd definitely like to spend more time here in the future. There were also a bunch of Chinese in town and even Chinese advertisements at the airport. They have an affinity for scooping up Portuguese real estate.

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Verdict

Portugalia

6.0/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew7.0
Entertainment5.0
Meal/catering4.0

Casablanca - CMN

5.9/10
Efficiency6.5
Access8.0
Services3.0
Cleanliness6.0

Lisbon - LIS

7.4/10
Efficiency8.5
Access7.0
Services7.0
Cleanliness7.0

Conclusion

The only aggravating thing about this flight was the maintenance delay after boarding. I'm not sure how old this Fokker 100 was, but maybe such maintenance issues are common with them. I had a dinner to get to in Lisbon and nearly missed it. Other than that, the in-flight service was good. I didn't like the food, but this was a very short flight and I wasn't expecting much anyway. The boarding procedure in Casablanca wasn't very smooth as we had to take a bus out to the plane, but that can be expected with a smaller plane at a small airport. Immigration in Lisbon was surprisingly fast (thanks to me hustling to the front of the pack) and I was impressed at how clean and efficient the Metro system was in Lisbon.

Informations on the route Casablanca (CMN) Lisbon (LIS)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 4 reviews of 3 airlines on the route Casablanca (CMN) → Lisbon (LIS).


Useful

The airline with the best average grade is with /10.

The average flight time is 3.0 hours and 51.0 minutes.

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8 Comments

  • Comment 152678 by
    East African 1388 Comments

    Nice wee FR Nick!

    Flying Blue works the same way with KQ, i.e. a Nairobi - Dakar (a 10h journey) costs the same as a mere 0h45 Bujumbura - Kigali... go figure!

    Never been to Morocco so interesting to discover how modern are their trains!
    For a such short flight, food offering looks enough in term of quantity, but i would rather have mama's dinner. Seat seems comfy.

    Thanks for sharing and looking forward to the SAA leg

    • Comment 330684 by
      Nick AUTHOR 172 Comments

      Yeah, I can see how Morocco is able to draw so many tourists due to having a very unique cultural experience but also modern infrastructure that makes traveling pretty painless.

      Mama's dinner was fantastic!

  • Comment 152703 by
    NGO85 1624 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this unique report, what a treat to fly a Fokker 100! I’m surprised TP still has these in its fleet. I figured OS was the last of the major carriers in Europe to use these. Those seats look very 1980s, lol, but I’m sure they were much more comfortable than the modern ironing board seats you’ll get in European C these days. The catering… no comment, this was a meal time flight in the early evening, that’s not a very good offering at all (quality or quantity). And the lounge at CMN looks very strange, it seems to have a lot of circular seating areas, which don’t necessarily exude privacy if traveling solo.

    • Comment 330683 by
      Nick AUTHOR 172 Comments

      Agree with all your comments, especially with regards to the lounge at CMN. It was much different than normal business lounges where you have lots of individual (but comfortable) seats that have maybe a small table and power outlets. For me, this lounge wasn't bad because there was only one person in there and I usually don't fly business class so I don't have much to compare it to, haha.

    • Comment 330682 by
      Nick AUTHOR 172 Comments

      Very true about Portugalia's business class being more comfortable than the blocked-middle scheme. Fez was a great city. I know it has its tourist traps, but to me it seemed more authentic than Marrakesh. Thanks for commenting!

  • Comment 152808 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4475 Comments

    52.5K miles would have been a great deal if the whole itinerary were Economy, but with half of the segments in Business, it's an amazing deal! Haven't seen too many reviews of Portugalia Business class. It's nice that they have what seems like true business class seats in a 2-2 layout as opposed to the usual blocked middle. The meal looks bleh, but it's a short flight. Nice pics of Fez, it's a beautiful city in a beautiful setting with the Atlas mountains. Thanks for sharing!

  • Comment 153088 by
    jetsetpanda SILVER 2279 Comments

    I was in LIS recently and your bonus pics brought some memories back. Gorgeous shots by the way of both LIS and Fez.

    I am surprised that Portugalia is operating as a separate entity instead of being integrated into TP. Your flight looked comfortable and at least you were served something of a meal.

    The hostel looks like a great place to make some new friends and has a charming atmosphere. Thanks for sharing this nice FR.

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