The airline with the best average rating is TAP Air Portugal with 7.2/10.
The average flight time is 1 hours and 33 minutes.More information
As promised, I am continuing with my flight reports from the trip to Madeira with TAP Air Portugal, a new airline to me. In this report, I'm going to start with a few memories back from this beautiful island. If you don't want me to tempt you to go there, I'd suggest jumping to section "The airport" ;-) Otherwise, please enjoy some of my favourite pics from Madeira. Later on in the report, I will focus on the experience at Funchal Airport and my very early morning flight from Funchal to Lisbon.
I hope you will enjoy the read.
Flight number TP1690
Route Funchal Madeira - Lisbon Portela
Flight date 10th April 2021, 0600-0735 (actual 0604-0728)
Scheduled flight time 1:35 (actual 1:24)
Aircraft model Airbus A320
Aircraft registration CS-TNX
Seating configuration CY174
Aircraft age (at the time of flight) 14.9 years
Seat number 12D
Departure gate 5 (walking gate)
Arrival gate Bus gate in Lisbon, a very remote stand
Load factor (approx.) 50%
Flight price 250 EUR (whole itinerary)
I can't possibly describe with words how much I felt in love with this island. It's been my little dream to go there for quite some time and I finally got the opportunity to fulfil it! Many would say, Madeira is like any other touristic holiday destination, where people come on package holidays, but that's not true! This island gives you so much more: amazing sights, breathtaking nature and delicious food. It's a place to be active, a place to relax, a place to enjoy your best life. Definitely.
1. Madeira - views
This is the main thing of interest here. If you don't like juicy green landscapes, breathtaking waterfalls and the views of the ocean twining with cliffs, don't go there.
2. Madeira - nature
Continuing from amazing landscapes, the richness of plant species - colours and scents is out of this world too.
3. Madeira - sights and local food
Well, what can I say - you just need to go there and try everything yourself. I hope I incentivised you :-)
If you have any questions about Madeira, what to do, where to stay or you want any other tips, please post them in the comment section, I'll be more than happy to answer!
Our journey begins in a very early morning, actually at night eheh. We set off from Savoy Palace in Funchal a few minutes before 4 at night, from where we had a 25-minute ride to Madeira Airport which is located in Santa Cruz. The flight was scheduled to depart at 6am.
Let me give a short digression at this point… For both the flights TO Madeira and FROM Madeira, TAP offered flights with shorter connection times than the ones we chose (we could easily depart Funchal on a 9:30 flight and would have made it to our flight to Warsaw), however these "more convenient" options were more expensive. And from what I've seen, this is usually the case with TAP. They seem to be putting much effort into their "Stopover programme" at Portuguese airports, and hence the longer connections are better priced than the short ones.
We arrived at the airport in the middle of the night or early morning depending who you ask :p
From the parking, where we left our rented car, it's a 5 minute walk to the terminal. Obviously it was empty all round, as we were the only flight departing that early in the morning. There were no temperature or document checks at the entrance. Everyone can enter the terminal.
Quite a few flights scheduled for today - but Saturday explains that. There was even a direct flight to Warsaw later, in the evening - operated by Enter Air - a polish charter airline - on a 737 MAX 8.
Quite unexpectedly, a day before departure, both of us, Asia and me, received an email from TAP, saying we've been automatically checked in. It was quite strange because neither of us selected the automated check in option and also for the outbound flight (from WAW to FNC) this automatic check in did not happen to us. Unfortunately, as we had two separate bookings, the system seated us separately. To change it, I decided to go to the check in desk and ask the agent if he could reassign our seats.
The man at the counter said it was not possible and we should just try reseating ourselves once on board. He also asked us, again quite unexpectedly, to show our COVID test and this question chilled our blood, because neither of us had a COVID test. Fortunately, we knew our rights and Poland does not require a negative test before departure - you can take it after arrival into the country. Vaccinated people are also exempt from test/quarantine. But the guy at the counter seemed to be a bit under informed and had no clue about that (well, the regulations only changed two weeks earlier, it's not easy to keep track). Luckily, the man at the next counter was aware of the law and explained to our agent that we did not need a test. But anyway, quite a stressful experience in the very early morning (and not the last one that day!). Even though I understand the restrictions change daily, I would appreciate if the ground staff knew what the should and should not demand from passengers, because otherwise it all becomes really stressful (applies to both Funchal and Lisbon airports).
Security was a breeze and generally the whole airport was super empty (about 70 people at the whole airport). In the photo above is the only cafe open. The big duty free store opened only at 5am, but before that everything else apart from Cockpit cafe was closed. And now I come to the best feature of Funchal Airport - "the smokers' terrace", which should rather be called "an avgeek terrace", since no one was smoking there, everyone used it to spot some planes (and get some fresh air).
A very large outside terrace just in front of the apron. It gives an amazing feeling of how close the airplanes and the runway are. It's just a pity, it was so dark and that nothing was taking off/landing. But still it's a really nice feature of the airport. The TAP's A320 in picture two is the one that's going to take us to Lisbon, CS-TNX.
Boarding started at 5:20, so 40 mins before take off time and like all my boardings with TAP, was carried out in well-organised groups: priority and then back to front.
Gate 5 area. It's nice to see how people try to keep at least minimal distance from each other when it's possible.
There is no better way to start the morning, than walking down the apron, next to an A320, smelling the aviation fuel in the air… We boarded through rear doors. We were greeted by a bit sleepy crew and were given a refreshing tissue, as on previous flights with TAP. Whilst the tissue is not of the best quality, it's still a nice gesture to receive it. Also as on previous flights, I asked whether I would be allowed to take the exit row, as long as it's free :-) They said to wait until the boarding is finished (but Expertflyer already assured me there shouldn't be anyone seated there, and wasn't wrong).
Oops! A blurred picture of the rear "green" cabin. I must've been a bit sleepy ;)
I initially took my assigned seat in row 13, just behind the exit row. And actually it's the best seat of the "green" zone - even though it already has the worse legroom, it features more seat pockets and the tablet holder, like the "red" zone seats.
…or maybe even the legroom is a bit better than the one you get further back (?) It looks to me for a 30" and not 28" as it is at the back. But definitely not the 34" that you get in the front.
And here is the seat itself, a "Recaro ironing board", as @KevinDC would call it :-) We all know, unfortunately, what the comfort level of these seats is. I won't comment on it. At least the seat looks nice (my personal opinion).
Once boarding was finished, one of the crew members, who I previously asked about the exit row, came to me and confirmed that I can take row 12DEF. By the way, we had an all-female crew this morning. I moved my things quickly and realised once again that yes, exit row makes a huge difference for my long legs (but I always stint money on it and never reserve seats :p).
Cabin view after boarding, before departure. Even though our Airbus wasn't brand new this time (rather 15 years old), the new interior design has been implemented throughout the whole TAP's fleet so also in the older jets. Thanks to it, the age of the aircraft wasn't that clearly palpable - you could feel it's not a Neo but neither did you feel like in a 15-year-old airplane.
Here's the legroom in 12D, exit row. And again, the seat features: 2 pockets, literature compartment, tablet holder, movable headrest, recline and a power socket + USB port (2 per each 3 seats) - so quite a decent offering.
Yet before departure, one of the crew members walked through the cabin and sprayed all the luggage in the overhead compartments. I assume, it was some kind of insecticide to kill the insects endemic to Madeira, since it's quite a unique ecosystem in terms of its fauna and flora - but correct me if I'm wrong. To my eye, she did not do it thoroughly but maybe that's the procedure…
One more view of the cabin before the doors get closed. You can see, by looking at the windows or overhead panels, it's one of the older generation Airbus A320. But the good thing is that every row seemed to feature personal lights and air vents.
We had a very pleasant, smooth and on time departure. I must say, we were quite lucky to not experience the infamous turbulent Madeiran landing or takeoff - but only a weekend before we came they had such terrible storms on Madeira that many airplanes were forced to land on Porto Santo, an island nearby. Everyone seemed to be half-asleep due to the early departure time, well, everyone except for me :p. I nearly never sleep in any means of transport, be it an airplane, a train, a bus or a car which I don't think is a good thing.
Like on my previous TAP flights, the seatbelt signs were kept on for very long after departure. The Buy on Board service started 30 mins into the flight. The menu differs from the one available online in a few places and was displayed on the trolley. I decided to have a little breakfast. The offering was much better than on my flight from WAW to LIS, where I was forced to take the Lasagne which was pretty much the only option available.
I had a black tea, a Belgian waffle and a toast with turkey ham and cheese. Whilst the pricing is alright in my opinion (10.5 EUR altogether), the quality leaves a lot to be desired. The waffle was dry and the toast was probably the fattest I had ever eaten. It was so greasy, that I felt as if I was eating butter and a toast and not a toast with some butter. But at least it filled my stomach for some time. I would also like to comment on another snack - the tapas box - which the people seating in the row next to us chose to buy. I don't know how to describe it, but it's packed in such a way that it's really hard to eat in airplane conditions. You might want to avoid it.
On the other hand, the lady serving me was very kind and smiling despite the early time. She seemed to be the most cheerful of all crew on that flight. She said that she can always give me a refill for my tea should I want it.
Whilst they were serving me, I asked the crew, if they have layovers in Funchal since the flight departs so early in the morning. And they are very lucky to actually have a 2-night layover there!
Excuse my little digression, but I'd like to comment on the cabin divider. You might call me grumpy but in my opinion, a cabin divider like that - literally covers half of the aisle and that's it - doesn't make too much sense. I heard about these cabin dividers already before… but they are different in Neos - there they work like in most other European airlines (see next report).
After the meal, with my greasy fingers, I desperately needed to go to the toilet to wash them (hahah). We were already half-way through the flight and most of people were still sleeping. Lavatory was pretty standard, clean, and amenities were consistent with those on the previous legs. I really do appreciate that they had extra refreshing tissues left in the lavatories, even though, like I said, their quality wasn't the finest.
Going back to my seat, I managed to capture the cabin from the back and also some photos of the lovely sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.
For the rest of the flight, I kept watching an episode of Suits, taking advantage of the phone/tablet holder installed in the seats. I really really would like to say, it's an amazingly useful feature for people who want to watch something on their phone. I finished the episode exactly in the moment of touchdown, which was after a very long "cloud surfing session". Oh my God, it was such bad weather in Lisbon that morning, stormy, rainy and windy. I hadn't had a more turbulent landing probably since my flight to London last January when I was landing during one of the winter storms. I was really hoping we were going to get a jet bridge gate so that we can avoid being exposed to the bad weather… but how unlucky were we to be parked at one of the remotest stands at Lisbon Airport (what an irony) - I don't have to add that most jet bridges were available at LIS at that time.
Alright, it did not rain for w while when we were boarding the bus. The ride to the terminal was obviously quite long but once we arrived at T1 LIS, there was no additional control (domestic arrival) and we went straight into the mid part of the terminal which was surprisingly empty at that time. It would get much busier later on in the day, which I'm going to talk about in the next report (to be released soon) - of my last flight with TAP Air Portugal from LIS to WAW on an A320neo. For now, I hope you enjoyed this one and that I incentivised you to go and explore Madeira. As always, any questions or comments - feel free to post.
Thanks for reading,
Whilst I think TAP Air Portugal is a decent airline, a good value for money, they have a few areas for improvement definitely. I know, most of the European carriers are getting very similar to low cost airlines, but TAP seems to be the closest one to crossing the line. In my opinion, they are more low-cost-carrier-like than LH, BA, LX or LO.
Crew, like I once heard, is a bit of hit and miss - depending on the member. Buy on Board offer, despite being well-priced, is of a poor quality. The flight connections with better timings are deliberately more expensive. Some features of the cabin, like the dividers or seat padding could also be better.
Apologies for pointing out only the downsides in this conclusion, but I hope that after having read this report, you can see that TAP has many assets too. And like I said, it is a decent airline - I wouldn't hesitate to choose it again.