Review of TAP Air Portugal flight Lisbon Chicago in Business

Airline TAP Air Portugal
Flight TP243
Class Business
Seat 3A
Flight time 07:40
Take-off 01 Dec 19, 13:20
Arrival at 01 Dec 19, 15:43
TP   #84 out of 142 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 213 reviews
YGeorgeW
By GOLD 1797
Published on 18th December 2019

thanksgiving trip


This is the U.S.-bound leg of my Thanksgiving trip to Scandinavia.


Routing


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This leg of the journey, and the ARN-LIS segment, was booked with cash. TAP often offers excellent one-way fares from Europe in business. Award availability was lacking the day I wanted to travel or else had incredibly inconvenient routing. Since a one-way in economy to Austin was costing over $1,000 - I just booked this cheaper fare to Chicago and redeemed UA miles for ORD-AUS.


LIsbon portela airport


TAP operates out of Terminal 1. The premium check-in counters can be found to the left. I had already checked in online when before departing Stockholm, but I wanted a paper boarding pass in case I needed to argue my case for United Club access when I got to Chicago (spoiler: did not need to). There were no lines and I was quickly given a printed boarding pass. The agent also informed me that I would have to go through passport control much earlier today because the passport checkers were on strike. He suggested leaving the lounge an hour early.


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I was finally given fast-track security here in Lisbon. It went quickly, though the adjacent normal security lines were literally empty. I did not see any staff manning the machines.

Once past security, Lisbon Airport is more obvious than most when it comes to duty-free shops. You literally are forced to wind your way through a spiral of them before getting to the gates. Eventually you emerge in an atrium area.


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One thing to note, after passport control - there is this cute Portuguese sardine shop. I looked it up later and realized they (sardines) were a big deal in Lisbon.


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TAP portugal Premium lounge


The TAP Premium Lounge can be found up a clearly marked escalator. When you get to the top, immediately in front is the ANA Lounge (not to be confused with the Japanese carrier).


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The TAP Lounge can be found to the left. Christmas decorations are already up here as well.


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The Lounge is one large rectangular space with various sitting areas and little alcoves. Immediately in front and to the right are some circular couch-like seats. Further right is a semi-circular area with small two-person table setups. To the left is the dining area. The tables are mostly set up for two people, but can be pushed together.



Right behind you after you enter is a magazine shelf. There are options in both Portuguese and English. At the furthest right you can find a business center, a sleep area, and a children's room. I did not take any pictures of the sleep area because it was fully occupied.


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The buffet spread is at the far left end of the lounge.


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All things considered, it was a decent spread, though the hot options were only a few hot options. For a breakfast spread though, it was fairly large.



On a separate counter were various pastries and desserts, including Portugal's famous pastel de nata.


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The beverage selection by the buffet was fairly standard, though the alcoholic beverage selection was very sparse there.



If you want an alcoholic drink, I'd recommend going to the bar to the right of the entrance. In addition to various liquors and wines, the bartenders are more than happy to make you a cocktail.


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I grabbed some food as well as a pastel de nata. I also ordered a glass of espumante, the Portugese sparkling wine (not pictured). The hot food was meh at best, but the pastel de nata was pretty decent (though you can obviously find better in the city). I actually ended up having three total. The espumante was not bad, but not great either.


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The lounge would have had great views for plane spotting, but unfortunately there were bars in the way of the windows that blocked any good pictures. See below:


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The restrooms were kept fairly clean throughout my stay and were basic. There are no showers that I am aware of in this lounge.


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Close to the bar was a little TAP duty free display. TAP has removed duty free from their flights, so you can only find these stores at various airports. I tried to check out their selection on the attached computer screen, but couldn't get it to work. Oh well. I'm not sure why the TAP A330neo model is twice as expensive as the KLM 787-9 model I bought earlier in the week.


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I ended up settling in the circular seats adjacent to the bar. While comfortable, the setup of the outlets made it difficult for me to plug in my travel adapter. I eventually got it to fit, but these outlets can be better designed.


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I left the lounge approximately 50 minutes before boarding. When I arrived at passport control a few minutes later, the line was more than 100 deep and barely moving. For the first 15 or so minutes I was a little worried as the line was barely budging, but all of a sudden several passport checkers arrived and the line began to move much more quickly. I ended getting to my gate area around noon, 20 minutes before boarding. Not sure what caused the change - maybe negotiations went through?


tp243


There is an additional check at the gate area, though it moved pretty quickly. I think this is just for US-bound flights as I did not observe this setup for other international destinations. At the gate area, there are vending machines and seats, but no restrooms. So make sure you take of business before going through the gate.


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Boarding began precisely at 12:20 as scheduled. Priority boarding was enforced. With business class, TAP elites, and Star Gold given priority. Then customers with no carry-ons, followed by the regular boarding zones. I thought this was a good innovation to reduce boarding time. However, it turned out not to matter at all because we were boarding from a remote stand. I kind of felt baited - there was a beautiful plane waiting right at the gate. There was a lot of equipment around our actual plane so I didn't move around to try to get a better picture. Plus, the second set of stairs blocked half of the plane.

Here's our ride: CS-TUH, a fairly new A330neo delivered to TAP in April. 


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Business class boarded through the first set of doors while economy boarded through the second. This made for an easier flow of service during boarding.

TAP A330neos have Recaro CL6710 seats for their business class. It is a staggered configuration that you can also find on El Al. Middle seats alternated between close-to-the-aisle and close-to-each-other while window seats alternated between close-to-the-aisle and close-to-the-window. Boarding was very crowded as it was a completely full cabin and all of the business class passengers boarded at once.


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Here is my seat, 3A. When I booked this flight, this was the last-available "true" window seat except those in row 9. I would avoid row 9 because those seats are missing a window. I considered myself lucky to get one of the seats close to the window. You can see in the second picture below seat 2C, which is closer to the aisle. The privacy difference is huge and exacerbated by the angling of the seats.


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Here is another look inflight for comparison. You can see that 2D is very exposed whereas I can barely see 3E.


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The seat itself was fairly comfortable. At your side is a nifty storage area that slides close for takeoff and landing. The footwell is also fairly spacious. Unfortunately, there is no individual air nozzle. More storage can be found by the side of the seat and the various power outlets are right below that. In addition to a remote control, there are seat controls to the side of the small table separating the seat from the aisle. An armrest can be folded up or down right below it. In front is a hanger hook and a small pocket right in front. The papers are mine - just to give you an idea of the size of the pocket. The tray table folded out from below the IFE and was a decent size.



There were foam cushions in between the fuselage and the seats.


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One thing that was odd about boarding was that no one offered to take my coat. I eventually just put it in the overhead bin, but thought it strange, especially as when we were landing I noticed the crew bringing coats back to multiple passengers. Perhaps I was just forgotten in the rush of boarding.

The amenity kit and menu were already at the seat upon boarding. I was quickly offered a predeparture beverage and chose the espumante again. 


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The kit comes from Castelbel, a Porto-based company. There are different kit designs available. Mine was a Lisbon kit. The contents were rather basic. Toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, hand lotion, and the other usuals. The fragrant sachet was a nice touch - you put it inside your luggage and it fragrances your clothes. I also appreciate the pen.


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You can see some of the other TAP operations around us. There is a lot of boarding from remote gates at LIS it seems.


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We began moving (I guess the equivalent of pushing back) on time at 1:20pm. The captain soon welcomed us on board and told us our flight time would be 8 hours 15 minutes. 


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We took off at 1:32.

Beautiful view of Portugal's coastline:


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Now inflight, it was time to test out the IFE. TAP has the latest flight map setup, including the cockpit view. What's more interesting is they also have a map for kids - it tells you where different animals are in the world. Not sure if other airlines also have this feature and I just didn't notice it before.



TAP also has their wine menu on the IFE. I got the sense they are very proud of the list of Portugese wines, as they should be.


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The movie selection was quite good, but the TV selection was very lacking. I appreciated the screen-in-screen view.


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Here is the menu, three choices for entrees and three choices for dessert. Orders were taken starting at 20 minutes after takeoff.



TAP offers a pre-order online, but this was not acknowledged by any of the crew (I also didn't ask about it). You'll also notice that the veal tenderloin option was not available online for whatever reason. I had pre-selected the cod, but ordered it normally from the menu. I chose the cod because I had the veal tenderloin on the flight from Stockholm and the description was exactly the same.


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Service began with a hot towel 35 minutes after takeoff. The captain gave us her welcome shortly afterwards.


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I had the espumante (again) to start, with a small bowl of nuts. The nuts came with a plastic cap that the flight attendant took off. After that, service was interrupted for a while due to turbulence.


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After service resumed, the appetizer and soup courses were served together. The soup, as you can see, was poured out of a canister. The shrimp cocktail was the same as the flight from Stockholm and was pretty decent. The carrot soup was also fairly good. With it, I had a glass of the Monte Cascas Reserva and a glass of the Vinho Moscatel. Moscatel is normally served with dessert, but I asked if I could have it with my appetizer and the flight attendant was kind enough to oblige even though she did not have a bottle on her cart. She had to go back to the galley to grab it.


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The main course of the cod confit was alright . . . a bit bland.


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I opted for ice cream for dessert. It came in a plastic container, but was very enjoyable. To go with it, I had a cup of coffee because I was planning on working most of the flight. Maybe this trip is turning me into a coffee drinker? Probably not.


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After the dessert was collected, the flight attendant came around with a box of chocolates.


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Service concluded about 75 minutes after takeoff, which is pretty good considering the disruption from turbulence. I checked out the lavatory at this time. It was very bare, no amenities whatsoever. Even the A321neo lavatory had a drawer with towelettes, why is the long-haul lavatory more bare?


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Before I started work though, I planned for a one-hour nap and so asked for a cup of chamomile tea. I was trying to time it with the coffee so it would be a proper caffeine nap. TAP's blanket turned out to be quite comfortable.


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After napping for about an hour, I woke up and was fairly productive for the rest of the flight.

Breakfast service began with 1:08 left in the air. Everything was served on one tray. I only now realized that I covered the main with my slice of bread. My apologies for that mishap. It consisted of some greens and several slices of cold cut. I turned it into a sandwich. It was, like dinner, fairly bland. 


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The captain announced our descent with a little more than 30 minutes left in the air and we touched down at 3:37pm CT. We got to the gate a short while later, Gate M10. Two gates down, I could see a KLM 787-9 getting ready for KL612, the very same flight I took exactly a week before.

Transiting from T5 to T1 at O'Hare the Sunday after Thanksgiving was an absolute nightmare (due to the air train still being under renovation). I'll spare you the details of that journey though. 


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See more

Verdict

TAP Air Portugal

7.4/10
Cabin7.5
Cabin crew7.5
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Meal/catering6.5

TAP Premium Lounge

7.5/10
Comfort7.0
Meal/catering7.0
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Services8.0

Lisbon - LIS

7.4/10
Efficiency5.0
Access8.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness9.0

Chicago - ORD

5.6/10
Efficiency4.0
Access5.0
Services5.0
Cleanliness8.5

Conclusion

Lounge: The TAP Premium Lounge was actually a bit better than I expected. The spread was pretty decent for breakfast and pastel de natas are always enjoyable. It would be nice if they added that to the catering on board.

Cabin & Seat: The Recaro CL6710 seats were decent, though I would prefer reverse herringbone seats. There is a big disparity in privacy between the aisle-facing and window-facing seats. That said, if you do get a true window seat, the seat had all the necessary components: decent footwell, storage, etc . . .

Service: Service was friendly though not polished. I've read several reviews decrying TAP as having indifferent service. I have not found that to be the case in my two flights with them. Generally flight attendants were friendly and accommodated reasonable requests.

Meal & Catering: The wine list is decent, though more or less the same as what they have on a longer intra-European flight. The meal was also similar, though served in different courses with a soup added on. Like on the ARN-LIS segment, the appetizer and dessert were tasty and the main leaving a bit to be desired.

Bottom Line: TAP offers great business fares to the U.S. and that is primarily why I booked them. The A330neo cabins are fairly good if you can get a true window seat. Catering was a weakness but still fairly reasonable. I'd book them again if the schedule and price was right.

Related

6 Comments

  • Comment 533986 by
    TonTonChristian SILVER 382 Comments

    Thanks for this report . As other "FRistes", you do not discribe "honeymoon" seats. Are they totally flat ? Do they have little matress to do a double bed ?

    • Comment 534032 by
      YGeorgeW GOLD AUTHOR 183 Comments

      Hi TonTonChristian and thanks for reading!

      I did not sit in the honeymoon seats and so cannot confirm all the details for you. I can confirm that they are completely lie-flat but do not convert into a true double bed like you see on Singapore's business class or QSuites.

      Hope that helps!

  • Comment 534011 by
    airberlin GOLD 736 Comments

    Thanks once more for the last leg of the series. ENjoyable flight on board TAP. Nothing special but modern cabin and quick service. These are the most important features to have good rest :)

    • Comment 534033 by
      YGeorgeW GOLD AUTHOR 183 Comments

      Thanks for reading Airberlin!

      I agree, these transatlantic flights are ultimately all about the seat and speed. That said, it matters less on a daytime flight than a redeye. I'd be curious how it runs going the other way.

      Thanks again!

  • Comment 534036 by
    Rewardflying GOLD 494 Comments

    Hi YGeorgeW: You beat me to the punch on this one. Flying this route (in reverse) in Feb. Even sitting in 3A. Now that you've been my virtual experience, maybe I'll switch to LH F???

    There were foam cushions in between the fuselage and the seats.

    Classy.

    Thanksgiving was an absolute nightmare (due to the air train still being under renovation). I'll spare you the details of that journey though.

    Being from Chicago I feel your pain on days like this!

    Great report, awesome photos!

    • Comment 534037 by
      YGeorgeW GOLD AUTHOR 183 Comments

      Thanks for reading and commenting Rewardflying!

      I would probably jump at every opportunity to fly LH F, though the East Coast flights are never long enough to truly enjoy it.

      Being from Chicago I feel your pain on days like this!

      - Being an United guy, I probably complain about ORD more than anything, but once they get the air train running again, it honestly won't be that bad.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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