While Europe has been in a lockdown for quite some time and making it almost impossible for us to travel within Europe or outside, I decided to book myself a flight as soon as possible when Europe announced that borders are opening within the Schengen countries to promote tourism as well.
While Portugal opened it's borders on the first of July for tourists and the Dutch authorities considered Portugal to be a ''yellow'' country (Yellow translates to caution, but generally safe) , I decided to book a short trip to Porto on the 4th of July to return to my country the day after. A few days ahead of my departure, the Dutch government without explanation changed the Lisbon and Porto districts to ''Orange'', which means that it is only advised to go there for essential travel and all insurances will not cover your expenses if needed.
After this change I investigated it a bit of myself and verified other information/advisory travel to Portugal with neighbouring countries like Germany and Belgium and decided that I'm willing to take a chance and go ahead with my travel, so the itinerary I booked is as followed.
While Porto is connected to Amsterdam with direct flights, I chose to fly with TAP Air Portugal via Lisbon to Amsterdam as it was the cheapest option, the flight that would depart the latest and I never flew with them before, so I wanted to try them out. On the day of travel I decided to grab an Uber ride at around 9.45 am from Porto's city centre to the airport for approximately 12 euros, which I consider cheap as the ride takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
The Uber driver dropped me off in front of the departure hall, which was pretty spacious and clean, yet very quiet. TAP's gate section was definitely overstaffed for the amount of people that were checking in.
Grabbed myself a boarding card with one of those self check-in machines, which was flawless as it was very responsive and clear with details.
After receiving my boarding card, I immediately went to security. Security took longer than I expected, but after ten minutes of waiting, it was finally my turn to pass it and ended up airside with pretty much 98% of the shops being closed. Only one restaurant, a clothing shop and a souvenir shop were opened as there were obviously not enough people to even be profitable. Most likely most owners calculated that opening up would cost them more money than simply be closed.
Did explore the terminal with little activity, so I decided to have a stare off with this seagull which I definitely won!
The first movement I've seen since I was airside for about 30 minutes was this Boeing 777 freighter of Turkish Cargo who would depart to Istanbul Ataturk Airport, which is still open for cargo traffic as TK6215.
While the terminal itself looked very clean and spacious, the lavatories on the other hand I found quite dirty and very old school with these iron toilets and lots of stains and mold around.
My gate was announced about 40 minutes to departure and the aircraft had just arrived a few minutes ahead of it's announcement. Gate 32 it would be for today.
Boarding was called on time and was done with respect to the boarding zones. It is also reminded that face masks are absolutely mandatory to wear at all times during the flight with exception to when you consume some food, otherwise you would be denied boarding.
While walking through the jetway, I had some beautiful view over this Airbus A319 in Star Alliance livery of Lufthansa Cityline. D-AILT, the aircraft in question and named after the German city Straubing was preparing for it's flight to Munich as LH1783.
Our aircraft for today's flight to Lisbon was CS-DJD, a 5.4 year old ATR 72-600 named after the city of Braga. It was newly delivered to Azul as PR-AQX on the 14th of March 2015 and merely a year later on the 21st of March 2016 it already changed ownership to White Airways who flies on behalf of TAP Express.
After being greeted by one of the flight attendants, I moved up to my seat 2D which was in the forward compartment of the aircraft and noticed that the cabin was in an excellent state with little signs of wear.
Legroom was very generous too.
It also comes with a nice view over the wing and engines, however I preferred the windows to be a bit bigger than they currently are as it is hard to take a proper photo.
While the cabin was extremely hot without the engines running (which is necessary for air circulation in propeller planes), I am glad to see that those ATRs are equipped with an individual air vent, which is definitely helping a lot to cover the stuffy feeling of wearing face masks.
Boarding did not take long and we were pushed back shortly after for our departure to Lisbon. The flight attendants gave us a quick safety demolition and we received a warm welcome by the captain of today's flight. About three minutes past our departure time, we were rolling for a northerly take off with a quick left turn to fly south to Lisbon.
The coast line of Portugal is definitely fascinating to see from above.
Also there was limited literature as only a safety card and a sick bag were available with as little detail as possible.
Also the only complimentary service given to us was two small chocolates, while the email I received a day earlier stated that service was only limited to complimentary tea or coffee service, which was not given to us. The chocolate itself was nothing memoriable.
After fourty minute into our flight, we were already descent for our arrival into Lisbon Airport with an excellent view of the coast line of Portugal.
Lining up for runway 03, which gave us an excellent view over Lisbon and the river for landing.
The landing was better to be forgotten as soon as possible and we were parked shortly after at one of Lisbon's remote stand. While KLM did not follow any procedure of disembarking the aircraft, TAP instructed us to remain seated and wait for the instructions of the flight attendants to minimize contact between passengers.
While I definitely understand the reasoning for this, I can't understand why one would use such procedure in the plane and completely forget to apply this social distancing in the overcrowded bus with no airconditioning…. They seem to be contradicting their own policy by doing this.
The rest of this story will continue in my last flight report of this short trip.
Porto - OPO
Lisbon - LIS
The ATR 72-600 of White Airways operating on behalf of TAP Express was in an excellent state with generous legroom, yet catering was very poor and TAP seemed to be contradicting their own social distancing policies when disembarking an aircraft by putting us in an overcrowded bus.
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Other than that, a pretty decent right on the normally very busy "Ponte Aerea"
Thanks for sharing Thomas!
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