This series covers a short trip to Catalunya and Veneto, please refer back to Part 1 for routing information. This report will cover the trans-Iberian flight from Lisbon to Barcelona on TAP Air Portugal.
After clearing security, I was deposited into the circus that is LIS in peak holiday season. I tried to go upstairs to the TP Lounge, but it was absolutely filled to the brim with a long line to enter. There was barely room to walk in there, much less find a seat. I used the bathroom and grabbed a quick espresso before leaving the lounge immediately to sit in the hallway, where it was much quieter.
I sat there catching up on some e-mails until my gate was announced. Like most European airports, gates aren't announced until ~50 minutes before departure and it is a rat race to the gate.
TAP Air Portugal, TP 1042
Equipment: Airbus 320 [CS-TNJ “Florbela Espanca", delivered March 2000]
Departure: 14:05 (ATD: 14:35)
Arrival: 16:55 (ATA: 17:06)
Flight Time: 1:31
By the time I got to the gate, boarding was already commenced so I joined the priority line and was quickly sent into the jet bridge. At the end of the jet bridge we were directed downstairs where buses awaited us. The TP A321 that was stationed at our gate.
After the 10 minute ride out to the remote stands, I waited for the horde to disembark to get some shots of our plane on the tarmac.
Here is CS-TNJ, a 20+ year veteran of the TP fleet. When I booked this flight, it was advertised as A320neo, but clearly we got swapped out for a A320ceo.
A picture of 1L for those door fanatics.
Since I was the last passenger to board from Bus #1, my seat mate was already there, so here is a picture of the row behind us (Row 3). These are still the older Recaro TP seats on this plane in the Y174 configuration. We had 2 rows of J and it was 8/8 load factor.
The seat pitch is good for Euro-J with a solid 5-6" from my knees to the seat back.
These seats have the device holder installed along with a coat hook on the side. I didn't see any signage for WiFi on this plane, nor did I try to connect.
In between the seats are AC and USB outlets.
Since there were 3 buses sent, it was about ~30 minutes to board the plane. In the distance is a LY B738 with a couple of police cars parked next to it for security.
Next to us was a FR B738 and TP ERJ-190. A LX A320 joined the row later on.
By the time the 3rd and final bus arrived, all of the overhead bins were full so they had to start gate checking bags on the stairs. The ground crew opened up the cargo hold below me to pull out a luggage container and started manually filling it.
About 15 minutes after our ETD, we finally pushed back from the stand.
We taxied out past the remote stands filled with TPs.
And then past some exotics like a T3 ATR 72, S4 A320, and EK B77W.
The EK B77W wanted to play chicken with us as we raced each other to the runway.
We won the race and aligned onto 03 first.
And away we go…
We lifted out of Lisbon past the Vasco da Gama Bridge.
Signs of drought in eastern Portugal.
The purser came through the cabin welcoming passengers and handed out menus for this flight. A menu is bit unnecessary if there are no options, but still a nice gesture. Hope you don't have a nut allergy! At the bottom there was a link to pre-order meals online, which is not something that I had seen prior to flying, but it is worth noting for anyone else.
The trays were walked out one by one from the galley and then warm breads were offered from a basket. Drinks were also offered, I just had a glass of water, which was placed on the center tray table. TAP catering didn't disappoint, I thought this was a very full tray with good quality. It may not be at TK level, but it is close.
The starter was nicely presented and fresh.
The main was again a pasta dish similar to the previous flight. They called this tortellini on the menu, but it definitely looked more like a ravioli by shape. Either way, they were very good with the pesto sauce, roasted tomatoes, and hazelnuts.
The dessert was good, but on the sweet side for my taste.
Flying over Madrid.
Aerial of MAD.
The meal concluded with coffee/tea service. I sipped my coffee as we continued with great aerials of the Spanish countryside. We began our final descent as Tarragona came into view in the horizon.
Aerial of BCN as we initiate our arrival.
Continuing past L'Hospitalet.
Aerial of Barcelona with the aptly named Diagonal in the center.
We complete our U-turn to align our final descent into BCN.
Final descent into BCN was along the coast giving some great city view.
We had a smooth landing and taxied back to Terminal 1 passing by the older Terminal 2 where a hodgepodge of airlines operate out of, including FR.
Taxing to our gate at Terminal 1.
We pull into our gate next to some Spanish locals.
I didn't take any pictures in the terminal since I was in a hurry to get into the city, but my plan was foiled when I reached the baggage claim to find that priority tags were not respected and my bag was one of the last to come off the carousel. At least they had the Nations League matches on the TVs to kill time.
With bag finally in hand, I went down stairs to the taxi queue and was into the city 30 minutes later. This is where I'll leave off this FR.
TP short haul is a decent product with good catering and friendly crews. I didn't get to try their newer A320neo cabins due to an aircraft swap, but the older A320ceo cabin is quite comfortable for Euro-J standards. The catering was quite good, the meal is on par with what they offer on their long-haul flights in terms of quantity and quality. The crew was friendly, responsive, and engaging with passengers. The lack of WiFi on this flight is the only criticism, but again, for a short 90-minute flight it certainly isn't a deal breaker.
LIS could do with a lot of work, it's looking very tired and is struggling with the boom in tourism in Portugal. The TAP Lounge in their hub is inadequate for the volume of passengers. Transits in LIS are not as enjoyable as other major hubs so should be accounted for when evaluating layover length.