Who Would You Fly: British Airways, Kuwait Airways, or TAP Portugal?

I’m incredibly fortunate to have incredible flexibility with my schedule. I can work from anywhere with an internet connection, whether it’s a Lufthansa plane with wifi, a hotel in the middle of nowhere, or my mother’s basement.

So when I’m presented with less-than-ideal flight choices I’m almost always able to adjust my schedule so that I can make those flights more enjoyable and/or economical.

However, I have an upcoming situation where I need to fly from London to Miami on a particular date, and I need to arrive reasonably well rested.

Now, usually I do what I can to avoid originating in the UK to begin with. That’s because in addition to all of the taxes, fees, and surcharges, you’re hit with the UK Air Passenger Duty right off the top, which is ~$232. There’s no way to avoid that short of originating somewhere else. So under other circumstances I would have maybe visited Dublin and then originated there, but I’m somewhat crunched for time here.

I have a few options for this trip, and am trying to decide which to go with — I’m curious what you guys would choose:

Route-To-Miami

Option 1: British Airways first class London to Miami
Cost: 62,500 AAdvantage miles + $604 taxes/fees/fuel surcharges


British Airways 747-400 first class

So in theory I should be thrilled that British Airways has nonstop first class award space available. I mean, does it really get better than that traveling between London and Miami?

British-Airways-Fare-1

The catch is that you’re not only paying the UK Air Passenger Duty, but also paying fuel surcharges. So while I think 62,500 AAdvantage miles is a great rate for first class, paying over $600 out of pocket kind of stings.

British-Airways-Fare-2

In terms of other considerations, on one hand I’d probably arrive well rested with this itinerary, and this is even a “mixed fleet” route (meaning chances are I’ll be served champagne by flight attendants that aren’t old enough to legally drink in the US). On the other hand, I’ve reviewed British Airways first class before:

I also have upcoming travel on British Airways, and I do what I can to review new products.

Option 2: Kuwait Airways business class London to New York
Cost: ~$1,200 paid ticket

I had — and for that matter still have — aspirations of flying Kuwait Airways business class. They’re in the running for offering the least luxurious service between the UK and US (though they have tough competition, as Air India and Pakistan International Airlines also operate in the market). But at ~$1,200 I think it’s not a totally horrible idea.

Kuwait-Airways-Fare

With American I would pay 62,500 miles plus $600. So basically I’m paying an extra $600 in place of 62,500 miles, though:

  • I’d have to book a separate ticket from New York to Miami, which isn’t that expensive (whether paid in cash or with British Airways Avios)
  • At the end of the day Kuwait Airways business class isn’t nearly as comfortable as British Airways first class
  • But it might be a more interesting trip report šŸ˜‰

Option 3: TAP Portugal business class London to Lisbon to Miami
Cost: 52,500 LifeMiles miles + $353 taxes/fees

I suppose this is kind of a compromise between the other two options. I’ve reviewed most Star Alliance business class products, though have never flown TAP Portugal. They happen to have availability through Lisbon in business class for my date. If booking through Avianca LifeMiles the cost would be 52,500 LifeMiles plus $353 in taxes/fees (which accounts for the Air Passenger Duty and other taxes/fees, though there are no fuel surcharges).

TAP-Award

TAP’s business class doesn’t look great, though doesn’t look horrible either. But it is a new product, and isn’t quite as extreme as Kuwait Airways.

So if you were in this situation, what would you do? Or is there another option altogether you would consider?

Comments

  1. The question I have for you is… What is the most important thing to you? Time or money? If your on a time schedule then BA (option 1( If you have the time to “chill” while on route then TAP (option 3)..

  2. I have flown TAP C a couple of times this year. Food is good, wine is good, but the dated angled flat seat leaves a lot to be desired. My guess is that you will not arrive well rested. This would not be a very good compromise between BA and Kuwait Airways, IMHO.

    I would choose BA F for myself. However, since we are talking about you (and not me), and since I would love to read a trip report about Kuwait Airways, I say go for it!

  3. BA hands down.

    BUT…since you’re a blogger and need to keep the product fresh, I agree with franz (above) on Kuwait, and TAP is a good option as well in terms of new news/reviews. So if *I* were doing this trip, BA, but since *you’re* doing this trip, Kuwait or TAP. šŸ™‚

  4. TAP shouldn’t even be a consideration. You don’t save that much to warrant a connection and inferior product compared to BA. The BA upgrade is worth it.

    The relevant question is BA F award vs Kuwaiti J paid and a domestic flight.

    Kuwaiti will be interesting to experience, and interesting to read about. And you do not even have to transit KWI to do it! No 3 segment commitment here, just a daytime transatlantic.

    This one decides itself.

  5. As a reader, I like the TAP Portugal or Kuwait Air options…always love reviews of ‘new’ products to you, and some business class service can be not at all luxurious, but still very functional…

  6. Option 4: Lufthansa via FRA. Rumor has it you fantasize…um, I mean like their F product. šŸ˜‰

  7. I might cry if I saw the TR on Kuwait Airways. If only because my dad used to be a flight engineer for them, and they actually used to have a good product in the 80s and 90s (even if there was no booze).

  8. Kuwait! With TAP, you have to go through customs four times (departing the UK, entering Portugal, departing Portugal and arriving Miami)

  9. Invest in your business. Give your readers the review they most want, if it’s about the same price. In this case, that’s surely Kuwait. We all know BA, and TAP’s reach is limited.

  10. Not sure of your particular date and whether this would work, but Norweigan will be flying LGW-FLL from July on their 787s. One-way all inclusive can be had for less than the BA fuel surcharges.

  11. Agree with others. If I flew myself, definitely BA F. But I would like to read a review of TAP J.

  12. Hi lucky,

    For the sake of specianess go for Kuwait Airways, otherwise I think TAP would be worth reading for your community, too.

    Honestly: BA is not worth another tripreport, however if your meeting is of greater importance to you first class will of course always get you more rested than a business class flight.

  13. Go with Kuwait Airways . Many of your readers (myself included) are very curious about it and the price is reasonable. They also have a number of fifth-freedom routes, so it is an airline that could be useful for some of us – if they are not horrible of course.

    BA is a safe, but a very boring choice – there have been hundreds of trip reports and everyone already knows exactly what to expect there – not to mention that BA’s fuel surcharges are insanely high for such a short flight.

    TAP is also a “usual” choice, but their business class is outdated and the number of destinations is limited. Not too interesting.

  14. My vote is for TAP. BA would be a boring trip report and Kuwait is a carrier I am unlikely to fly, while TAP is more of a possibility for getting to Europe with AA miles while avoiding BA. I really don’t know about TAP but assume it is second rate for some reason, so I am interested.

  15. Not because I’m portuguese, but if you haven’t flown TAP, give it a try. There’s a shortage of reviews out there.

    As some have already said, it’s not the fanciest product. Nevertheless, the new seats are lie-flat, and service is actually quite good compared to most transatlantic alternatives.

  16. Be careful with the LHR/MIA route on BA. It currently has <50% chance of New First with its 747 service. Although if you get old First, they will compensate you with bonus Avios. That's why on our flight home this week we chose to fly LHR/PHL instead, as you're guaranteed NF on their 777 fleet.

  17. Have you checked out Norwegian Air? They fly their new 787 from Oslo to Fort Lauderdale, which is close enough to Miami. I looked at fares for this summer and costs for their premium cabin is roughly $700-$800 one-way London Gatwick – Oslo – Ft Lauderdale. Just another option if the timing works better for you. Of the three you gave, I’d say go for BA F but the TAP and Kuwait options are pretty good too.

  18. This is simple. I suggest CX to JFK via HKG and YVR and then a rental car drive down to Miami.

  19. The portuguese community in effect šŸ˜€

    Please review TAP. We all know it’s not an usual first choice, but, they’re trying harder.

  20. @ Ben — Your mother has a basement, in Tampa? I grew up there and basements are uncommon.

  21. I agree with Marcus šŸ˜‰ ….but for real, Kuwait! Since you have low expectations, you might be surprised.

  22. I vote for Kuwait as well. There are only so many times you can review the same product (*cough* LH F *cough*) before things start to get stale.

    Remember, this is your JOB, so take one for the team and review a new (old) product.

  23. Just FYI, in the photo of TAP availability you can see the name of the account owner you used to search the availability and how many miles she has… Might want to black that out

  24. TAP is a very important airline not to have a Trip report in your Blog! They have a huge flow between Latin America and Europe (they flight to most of Brazilian capital cities). They also have a large avalibility for partners and release a lot in advance! So instead of doing a report of the same, you could do something diferent for your blog and also help a different audience! And Sorry for my english mistakes! I am sure NYC –> LONDOND is somethng you could do anytime latter!

  25. TAP naturally. šŸ˜€

    @Max J (11), there are new customs checks going from UK to Portugal (both part of EU, where there’s free movement of goods). Also there are no customs checks when departing Portugal (unless you wanna declare something you will be taking back to the EU at a later date). You might be confusing with border checks.

  26. Why not try going to Paris using the EuroStar and then take AF90 to Miami? You can then review the EuroStar experience!

  27. Kuwait would probably have a bit more entertainment value, but in reality a TAP review would be more useful. Honestly I’ll almost certainly never fly Kuwait, but I could definitely fly TAP at some point. I assume this is probably true for most people.

    Also, wouldn’t you be violating some kind of rule to fly a transatlantic paid business class ticket and not collect any (useable) miles? šŸ˜‰

  28. I would love to see a review of Kuwait as I would like to know if it is a viable option for paid business class when my budget won’t allow flying a better carrier. Take one for the team Lucky!

  29. While I’d love to read a Kuwait review, I’d wait to fly them when you have more flexibility (and may be able to get a better deal). Since you want to be well-rested, BA would seem to make the most sense, but if you can sleep in an angle flat bed, then this is a great opportunity to review TAP, which I’d also love to see! šŸ™‚

  30. LH? IB from MAD?
    (I am on my smart phone so am working of memory on these)

    Kuwait would be interesting though.

  31. +1 on Kuwait or Norweigan! Would be great to see a new airline review. Norweigan would be particularly interesting.

  32. Do TAP!! They have a nice lounge in LIS and i want to see a good trip report of that product

  33. I flew TAP in business in February from LIS to EWR. It was much better than I expected. The food and wine were quite good. I am a Lusophile, but honestly I had a good experience…

  34. Hi Lucky,
    I flew TAP from LIS-MIA last month in Business and it was perfectly fine. Seat is angled, not lie flat, but its a daytime flight so no crisis. The lounge in Lisbon left a lot to be desired (dark, crowded, lots of noisy kids), but the flight was fine and inflight service was perfectly acceptable. But that $353 in fees is crazy, so I’m not necessarily casting a vote in this direction. Not sure if that’s because you are originating in UK, but I paid a small fraction of that on a MileagePlus award ticket. Regardless of which you choose, I eagerly await your trip report!

  35. BA would be the safe choice, but I’d like to see a report on TAP. Otherwise if you’re open to a connection, why not expand your choices and think about Air Europa or Iberia via Madrid?

  36. I believe that seeing as you have never reviewed TAP, that would be a great option. Is that routing operated by an a330 or an a340? Because the a330 product is much better.

  37. Lucky – total taxes and fees on TAP from Lisbon are only $76.03. Save yourself about $250 by using 7500/15000 avios on BA (reward flight saver)to lisbon if the flight times work out. A review of TAP would definitely be the most useful, Kuwait the most fun, BA the best for you (depending on how important it is for you to arrive well rested). Norwegian would definitely be interesting as well if the fare is good.

  38. I would totally go for TAP Portugal! We all know hat BA First is like and I doubt any of us would pay or use miles (if even possible) on Kuwait. I’ve found lots of award space on TAP but have always been to afraid to try it out. Hopefully one of your reports will be helpful for future booking decisions. Good luck!

  39. TAP

    It’s the best use of points + cash and it is a product you haven’t reviewed. Plus, I might actually fly it.

  40. If it were me I would probably fly BA. But I hope you go with TAP for the trip report, as I might someday fly (or at least consider flying) them, while I think there’s more or less zero chance that a trip report about Kuwait Airlines would ever hold anything but academic interest.

  41. Kuwait NOW, to MIA
    then back on Air India and then return on Pakistan Int Airlines.
    Then finally TAP And Norwegian

    No questions!
    Do not forget Saudia

  42. If you have time for layovers in JFK/LIS, then why not quick hop to DUB and originate there instead?

  43. Kuwait Airways would be the most deliriously fun…for us, your beloved readers. That trip report would be priceless! However, I’d go with TAP as it probably has a more legitimate premium product. And your comfort does trump my giddy desire to read a review of Kuwait Airways.

  44. I believe the a330 has a fully flat hard product and the a340 has an angled flat hard product.

  45. I’d love to read your take on TAP, but it’d be nice to read about their lounge in LIS. I don’t think you’ll get to go there if you do this itinerary, as I recall, you won’t go through immigration in Portugal if you’re not going to another Schengen area country.
    Promise you’ll give TAP a shot in the near future and fly Kuwait now!

  46. @Lucky – Adrian Wattamaniuk speaks the truth! Make sure it’s the 332, the 343s are old and have not been fitted with the newer business class product.

  47. Definitely TAP. Since it’s part if an alliance, it’s got to be a more in-demand review, especially if you can score a new product. Using Avios to get to LIS to save on taxes sounds like a great trick as well.

  48. You would have to be out of your mind to travel on Kuwait Airways. Living in the God-foresaken hellhole, I am often forced to travel on this joke of an airline and it is a complete wonder most of their junk old planes don’t fall out of the sky. It can actually have good service and some excellent food (to make up for no entertainment system at all), but otherwise its like a return to the 70’s surrounded by obnoxious and arrogant passengers who think they own the world. A return to the 70’s may sound quant, but seats have not updated or even fixed since then, I doubt they have been properly cleaned since then, there is no booze at all, most flights are severely delayed and you are likely to get bumped off your seat to make way for a 15 year old kid who thinks his dad back home in Kuwait actually matters in the real world. I do always fly in First Class on this airline but would probably prefer economy on any other decent Middle East airline. People make the big mistake of thinking it may be something as world class as Qatar or Emirates. Don’t make that mistake, nothing could be a more polar opposite – it’s closest competitors must by airlines run by the likes of North Korea and Zimbabwe – and at least they may give you a glass of champagne of sorts in their First Class…

  49. I have done UK to USA on BA both in first class and business many times. First Class and Business class are 2 different products. BA first class and service business is five star…I just flew Portugal to Australia on BA business….besides the service found food and cabin space poor…feels you packed into a sardine can many reviews on cabin space on BA. First class top class…so for comfort BA 1st class worth the money. Business class world forget TAP maybe when they get they act together. I have flown many times with them Business class a more a premium economy class product then business. Most flights always delayed. Kuwait Airlines is a good choice in Business class selection and great value for money.

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