Hello Flight-Report community,
Warm welcome to this report, which sadly is the last one from my trip to Portugal - or as I realised I should call it the "Exit row trip" (you'll know what I mean if you read the previous reports haha). In this report, I will cover my connection at (a busy) Lisbon Airport T1, the flight to Warsaw on board A320neo and COVID-19 arrival procedures in Warsaw. I'll also try to point out a few features of TAP Air Portugal, which I haven't yet mentioned.
I hope it's going to be an enjoyable read.
Flight number TP1208
Route Lisbon Portela T1 - Warsaw Chopin
Flight date 10th April 2021, 1315-1815 (actual 1326-1753)
Scheduled flight time 4:00 (actual 3:27)
Aircraft model Airbus A320neo
Aircraft registration CS-TVG
Seating configuration CY174
Aircraft age (at the time of flight) 1.5 years
Seat number 12F
Departure gate S16 (jet bridge)
Arrival gate 28 (jet bridge)
Load factor (approx.) 20%
Flight price 250 EUR (whole itinerary)
Before I start the report, I'd like to mention a few words about TAP's webpage and mobile app, which I haven't yet done in previous reports. They both deserve appreciation, and although it's my subjective opinion, I think that TAP's webpage and mobile app are the best I've ever seen in any airline. They are functional, intuitive, easy to navigate and have attractive, modern graphics. Nothing more to ask for!
After our flight from Funchal, we were dropped by the bus directly into the departure gates area (no additional border checks). The terminal was initially very empty due to the early hour. We walked around T1 in an attempt to find somewhere to sit down and eat breakfast. I must say, LIS is not the easiest airport to navigate… and even though we spent there a few good hours, I still felt lost all the time. The layout is also quite strange with no toilets throughout a large region of the airport and then 2 or 3 toilets crammed one next to another. Definitely not my favourite airport in Europe.
The central area of the airport, quite empty at that time (8am).
Second breakfast that day for me, sweet this time!
We ordered our breakfasts in this cafe, Versailles. And although the products were quite expensive (they cost a bit more than in other cafes), they were of a very decent quality and the choice of sandwiches was quite extensive too. But due to COVID, they didn't serve any warm meals from the menu :(
After breakfast, we went to the seating area around gates 19-21 which was a bit quieter than the other parts of the airport (it started getting busier already). It was time for a little rest and some planespotting. But it was really hard to catch something else than TAP, an airport totally dominated by Portuguese tail fins, at least in these times.
6 x TAP :) I didn't mind that, because I really like their livery.
A few hours later, after some relaxation and a stroll through the shops (most of them were open), we went to the food court for another meal. I ordered myself something in McDonald's… and waited 40 mins for my order, unreal! But this tells you how busy the airport got at that time, it was an amazing view, to see so many people from so many different parts of the world again in one place!
Not a single free table in the food court. Oh actually I can see one now.
Soon after I finished "the meal", boarding was called at gate S16 and so we proceeded towards it, it wasn't too far. Like on our previous flights, boarding was very well organised in groups and also I have to say, Lisbon Airport is well prepared for TAP's group boarding. However, the overall boarding experience was quite stressful - the staff demanded negative COVID test from passengers and didn't want to let them on board (same situation as at FNC). We didn't have tests either, but again, Poland does not require a pre-departure tests, you can take one after arrival. After a good few minute heated discussion with airport staff and some calls, they let all passengers on board…
Our A320neo for today is this 1.5-year-old CS-TVG wearing classic TAP livery. It just arrived from Barcelona an hour before.
As we stepped on board, the same unbelievable freshness, as on other TAP's neos could be felt, and it's a really nice feeling. Cabin crew handed refreshing tissues at the entrance. (Did I previously say that I like TAP's uniforms? Especially the female ones!) There was also some kind of boarding music (which was also played on previous flights but I didn't mention it). I really appreciate it, because it's not often seen on intra-European flights and it definitely brightens the boarding procedure :)
Economy Xtra cabin, the "red" zone.
To nicely wrap up this whole trip, again we asked for exit row seats, and again we were given them - all in all we had exit row seats on every single flight in this itinerary without having to pay for it, which was obviously very nice.
View from 12F on the empty front of the cabin. Nearly all 40 passengers were crammed at the back of the cabin - that's how TAP's algorithm works - you'll always get a seat at the back if you haven't paid for the "red" zone. Not very COVID-secure…
Boarding finished well before our scheduled departure, since we only had about 40 pax on board. Captain announced a flight time of 3 hours 30 minutes. The doors were soon closed and whilst still at the gate, cabin crew manually did the safety demo.
We were pushed back on time and after a short taxi, we started our takeoff roll towards the south. I expected a bumpy takeoff after what we experienced during landing a few hours earlier but I was positively surprised. The weather cleared up and it was unexpectedly a very smooth departure!
I love that new and shiny wing of A320neo, and a very nice design of the Sharklet, featuring Portugal's national colours.
I must admit, I was quite tired after we had woken up early on Madeira that day. The takeoff was so smooth and quiet that I fell asleep for 10 minutes or so - it very rarely happens that I fall asleep on transport - be it a plane, a coach, a train or a car. So I was quite surprised this time.
Around 30 mins into the flight, crew handed out some COVID paperwork for Poland - locator form and declaration of health - both in the English and Polish languages.
And here's the collection of postcards for our friends. And a boarding pass for today's flights. Both legs of the journey on one pass.
After another 10 minutes, crew passed with a trolley to offer some Buy on Board snacks and drinks. They were neither nice nor unkind, very little interaction with passengers and the smiles were also missing on their faces :( For the first time in our 4 flights, the menu was actually available in the literature pocket in the seat, which was a nice surprise. I post the pictures below.
The menu was not very wide, and to make it even worse, many options were unavailable. And I swear, I saw a catering car loading meals onto the airplane just before our departure (after the airplane has arrived from BCN). Again, no sandwiches were available on the flight (like on WAW-LIS), so I assume they just don't load sandwiches on that route. I tried to take the waffle but it was, too, unavailable… So I ended up taking an Oreo chocolate bar, a can of coke and a bottle of Rose wine to share with Asia to celebrate a happy end of the trip.
The wine was called "Mateus", I guess it's how they spell my name in Portuguese?
I highly appreciate the branding on the glass, it's a nice additive.
After the snack, it is obviously time to show you the lavatory! It was of a decent size, clean, featured 2 coat hooks and plentiful amenities. However, in terms of design, it's probably the worst part of the aircraft (am I too demanding?).
On the way back to my seat, I tried to take a seat in the last row for a while to see what the legroom is like etc. But I received a warning from one of the crew members, who said that the last row is reserved for the crew. I apologised and didn't take a pic for you of the seats in "green" zone, but you can find a review of them in previous reports. How was I supposed to know, that the last row is only for crew? Or maybe I should've said, I will be crew soon hahah (though I probably won't!).
Anyway, I'll have a few photos of the seats in "red" zone, the Economy Xtra for you instead.
Here's the impressive legroom in Exit row (12F). I hope you can also see, there are 2 universal power outlets and 2 old USB ports per 3 seats. You also have 2 seat pockets at every seat.
For comparison, here is the legroom in the "red" zone but not in the exit row - still impressive (it's marketed as 34"). Plus there's a separate literature pocket and a tablet/smartphone holder - which proved very handy (actually one of the best features of these seats!).
A quick view outside the window ;)
I was lucky there were so many empty seats that I could actually take some nice pictures :) Here you can see the overall design of the seat which is very sleek and elegant. Maybe they lack a bit of padding and the headrests are a bit hard but I still think, these seats are above the average in terms of comfort on the European carriers that I tried.
As you can see, coat hooks are also there. The tray table is of decent size.
One last picture, I promise… I like when airlines care about these small details like the logo or the contrasting seam.
The rest of cruise was very uneventful. The crew passed once again, with duty free this time, and then remained in the galley until the end of the flight. I watched a film - "The Tourist", recommended by my travel companion - Asia. It's quite annoying that it's not possible to download Netflix movies onto laptop, so I had to watch it on my phone's screen - but at least these smartphone holders were helpful! I should probably also mention that all TAP passengers are entitled to download magazines/newspapers from e-Press. I did download one magazine but didn't even have time to read it ;)
Quite unexpectedly we started our descent into Warsaw, earlier than I thought and it was also a very quick descent. I was about to finish the film. In fact, the exact same thing happened as on my previous flight from Funchal - I finished the film in the moment we touched down hahah.
After landing, we taxied to our jet bridge gate, 28. We also passed by the 737 MAX 8 from lot (reg. SP-LVD) which I was going to fly a few days later to London-Heathrow. This jest has the Poland's Independence livery. We docked into gate quite a few minutes ahead of schedule.
All passengers were asked to leave the aircraft according to their seat number (front-to-back) but we were one of the first to leave anyway. Just past the exit from the jet bridge, a lady from the ground handling was waiting with a paper saying "COVID-19 TESTING" - this is for people who haven't done their test pre-departure and want to avoid quarantine in Poland (if you don't take the test either pre-departure or post-arrival you do have to self-isolate). I waited with the lady until all the passengers leave the aircraft, but it turned out I was only joined by two other people. Asia, who has already been fully vaccinated, was exempt from quarantine anyway so she just proceeded to the exit.
The three of us for the test, were taken by a mini bus to a testing site, which is located at gates 33-35 (ground level).
Our private transfer!
Leaving the A320neo behind.
The testing area was totally empty. You simply fill out a registration form (on paper, available in Polish and English), then pay 170 PLN (approx. 40 EUR), then you have a swab taken, then a very stressful 20 mins waiting… And done, you're free to go (as long as the result is negative of course!).
After you've received the result, you only need to show the test result to ladies at the border control which is just in the room next to the testing centre. They were surprisingly very happy, polite, and kind this time - a jackpot, I'd say - it very rarely (or never) happens in Warsaw. I didn't have any checked in luggage so I proceeded directly to the exit, where my private transfer (mum and dad) to home was already waiting for me.
I just wanted to say, it's really sad to finish this set of reports about TAP Air Portugal… I hope you enjoyed them. In case you missed the one with my pics from Madeira, you can find it here. Below, in the conclusions section, I will summarise my whole overall experience with TAP.
Best wishes to you all from Bristol,
After 4 flights with TAP Air Portugal, I can conclude that it was a solid, consistent and definitely pleasant experience. Overall, they'd get 7 out of 10 points from me.
+ Good value for money
+ Great website and mobile app
+ Beautifully designed and very fresh cabins, although the combination of two seating zones is a bit strange
+ Seats in the red zone (Economy Xtra) are very comfortable for European standards, and have many useful features (power sockets, tablet holder, multiple seat pockets, adjustable headrests to say the least)
+ Well organised boarding and disembarking procedures, and on time arrivals
+/- Crew was super nice on some flights and very unremarkable on others
- The Buy on Board menu is limited and my choices were often unavailable (plus TAP used to have free catering not so long ago)
- Seats in the green zone are very uncomfortable with super tight legroom (but we didn't have to use them fortunately)
I wouldn't hesitate to fly TAP again, if I ever have an opportunity :)