Off To Lisbon In TAP Portugal Business Class!

I was going to fly to India this week, but Avianca’s LifeMiles program is a disaster. An absolute, freaking disaster. I was trying to book Air India first class from Chicago to Delhi using LifeMiles, but their website kept erroring out, and after combined efforts of over seven hours on the phone with them, gave up.

In looking at where I could otherwise go, I eventually decided on flying TAP Portugal business class to Lisbon. They had plenty of award space from Miami to Lisbon, which is operated by their A330, featuring their newer (compared to the A340), though still not fully flat, business class product.

TAP-Portugal-Business-Class

I’m always looking to try new premium cabin products, so I figured the opportunity to fly TAP and visit a new city that I’ve heard good things about was a good opportunity. Also, while hotels in most European cities are outrageously expensive this time of year due to the number of tourists, the rate at several Lisbon hotels I was looking at were quite reasonable.

So it might not be the most glamorous product in the world, but I am excited to try a new airline, visit a new city, and review a new hotel. Besides, I did say back in May that I’d try to review TAP Portugal business class… it just took a bit longer than I was expecting.

As far as the booking process goes, originally I was going to redeem 52,500 LifeMiles for the ticket, though again had issues with their website, and the call center was totally useless. Instead I redeemed 45,000 Aeroplan miles, transferred from American Express Membership Rewards. There were mild fuel surcharges of ~$100 one-way, which seemed reasonable enough, especially since Aeroplan charges 7,500 fewer miles than LifeMiles.

Aerplan-TAP-Booking

If you’ve flown TAP or been to Lisbon before, any tips? Would love any recommendations you guys might have!

After Lisbon I’m hoping to finally make it to some of my other “bucket list” destinations in Europe, like Stockholm, Longyearbyen, and/or Reykjavik.

Comments

  1. Lisbon is a great city – try to get a table at O Ramiro (featured on Anthony Bourdain), amazing seafood joint.

    Since you’re a SPG guy, do the Sheraton – not the most touristy area, but one of the nicer Sheratons you’ll ever go to (esp. outside of Asia). Has touches of a Luxury Collection IMO.

  2. Looking forward to your report. I’ve always enjoyed Lisbon and in fact will be returning there next April, but by an 88 (max.) passenger cruise ship, Paul Gauguin Cruises’ Tere Moana, from St Maarten, then flying TAP to Paris. Eager to read a future report on Air India (less so Jet Airways), but you may want to do that in conjunction with a longer trip to India as there are some great hotel bargains, including some excellent SPG 2 & 3 category properties (Like the Meridien in New Delhi, where you might want to stay of a week or more).

  3. Don’t leave without trying the pasties the Belem. And have a coffee at the bar of a brasileira.

  4. Go to Belem area and try the Pasteis custard tart. I thought it would be hokey,but it was so good!

  5. Lisbon is a charming city. I stayed at the Four Seasons but if you can’t stash up (it was wonderful) then get yourself a room at the Sheraton. Not the best, but nice. Also you could do SAS to NRT via CPH (with a stopover – duh) and go to SFO (I have no idea about what alliance SAS is, so you could book an open jaw from MIA to CPH (or NRT if it’s allowed), fly from CPH to NRT on revenue then from NRT to SFO book the best way to book the route…

  6. I flew TAP business from EWR connecting in LIS onward to BCN a couple of years ago. From what I remember, it wasn’t bad and wasn’t great. The plane was an A330 but wasn’t lie flat. The hard product, food and service were just ok. It wasn’t memorable so really interested in seeing your report to see if they’ve improved. I’m planning a trip later this year to IST and debating whether to exclusively use Austrian on their new EWR route or split Austrian for the outbound and TAP for the inbound.

  7. Go to Castle Sao Jorge even if you aren’t into that sort of thing as you get great views of the city. Also the tram in that area is fun to ride (hills and curves).

  8. Lucky – I’m both a Lisboner and a fan of your blog. I have a Lisbon in 4 days email on the ready that has had great success with many friends and acquaintances. Would love to share it with you. Is the first email address at the end of the “Press” section on your site the right place to send it to?

  9. Check out Sintra – it’s a short train ride from Lisbon on commuter rail, and one of the coolest towns full of old castles and hunting grounds.

  10. I’ve visited Lisbon 7-8 times (my family was born in Portugal and many of my relatives still live there). Here are the key things imo:
    -train to Sintra to visit castles and great views
    -check out “miradouros”, they’re lookout points all over Lisbon offering great views of the city.
    -hop on tram 28, it will take you all over town.
    -nightlife in the bairro alto neighborhood, if you’re up for it.

  11. @pavel, I would love to use Turkish. However, it’s so difficult to find 2 business class award seats on Turkish from JFK to IST or even IST to JFK. Even if I use Austrian and/or TAP, I would be connecting on TK to IST from VIE or LIS. I know it’s intra-Europe flights, but I’ve had good experiences on TK intra-Europe compared with the other European Star Alliance members.

  12. @Adriano – I will be in Lisbon next week for 4 days.Would you mind sharing your suggestions? I’m on FT as econjon.

    Many thanks~!!

  13. My two favorite upscale restaurants (about 30 years ago) were Gambrinus and Tavares. Tavares had the best service and good food; Gambrinus had great prawns with garlic and their young maître d’ did Crêpe Suzette that involved a fireball hitting the ceiling. 10 years ago, the (now old) maître d’ was still up to his tricks. I’d stop by and see what they have to offer.

  14. Really looking forward to this report. Lisbon iscon my short list of cities to visit and I have thought about trying TAP Business, but have not read any recent reviews.

  15. The castle is definitely worth a visit. We ate at many good places in Lisbon and surroundings, but were very disappointed by Cerveijaria Romiro, so I don’t know that I would recommend it. If you happen to be in Evora though, stop by Botequim da Mouraria. In fact, I would recommend a visit to Evora just to go there.

    But, back to. Lisbon…
    Visit the museum of the. Gulbenkian Foundation-simply amazing.
    Buy yourself a pair of gloves at the tiny Luvaria Ulisses
    I would skip the Tram #28, which is always packed with tourists and pick pockets, and ride the funiculars instead.

    While there are certainly high-end things to do in Lisbon, it is a gritty city and some of its greatest charms are in simple restaurants and small cafes and neighborhood squares…and Fado singers in back-street places.

  16. Love Lisbon!
    The best tour guide is Paolo Scheffer, booked through Lisbon Explorer.
    Book him IMMEDIATELY. The Tripadvisor reviews are spot-on.
    I’m VERY well traveled, and he is the best guide I’ve ever had.
    We did the Hidden Lisbon and Around Alfama tours.
    JUST DO IT. You’ll miss the fascinating history if you just walk around on your own.

    We stay at the Avenida Palace Hotel. Great location, wonderful breakfast, metro stop right next to it. Easy to get to from the airport.

  17. @Adriano – could you share the itinerary as well? would love to learn more about the city!
    i’m on FT as homeone
    thanks in advance!

  18. i have flown that exact route before, it was an okay airline for me, standard meal, service, entertainment, seat and everything. the only thing i remember is that the immigration line. there were only a few windows opened because of the early arrival time, be prepared to wait.

  19. I remember the departue from Lisbon as being somewhat (O.K., very) chaotic. I don’t remember there being any priority lines. It took forever. It made me wonder if flying in and out of Porto would be better.

  20. @Adriano: Would love to see your Lisbon guide. Family and I are headed over next year. Username is Shaamus on FT. Thanks!

  21. Lucky, I’ve read your blog long enough to know you always stay in hotels, especially right now lol. But I noticed you were wanting to go to Stockholm so I thought I’d mention that I just read about an article about a 747-200 that was converted into a hostel. It’s called ‘JumboHostel.’ I wouldn’t expect you to stay there but if you have the chance maybe check it out to satisfy a readers curiosity haha.

  22. Lucky: Enjoy Lisbon! My partner and I are headed back there in a couple of weeks. Definitely walk up to Castelo Sao Jorge for amazing view of the city and walk around the Alfama district, which is the oldest part of the city and the only area not destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. Basically just get lost and wander round the city. I’d skip the tram, especially in summer.

    Everyone seems to like the Bairro Alto neighborhood for nightlife, which can be fun as everyone gets their drinks and heads into the street, but check out Principe Real around the park for more local fun, bars, and restaurants.

    And you must have a morangoska, made with muddled strawberries and black vodka. But be careful with those!

  23. @Adriano- Would love a copy of your 4 Days in Lisbon guide.
    Love to read recommendations from a Lisboner!
    I’m on Flyertalk as pbjag.

    Thanks so much-

  24. We went to Lisbon for a long weekend in January on the Wideroe fare. Check out the Pavilhao Chines – it’s a awesome bar packed with crazy kitsch: all over the walls, even hanging from the ceiling. You may have to knock on the door to enter. Also check out one of the Lisbon Walker tours. We learned a lot in a short time.

  25. Lisbon is a great! Make sure to check out the Port Institute, tons of ports to try for reasonable prices in a cool old building with couches and tapestries, very old school. I also recommend taking the train to Sintra like the others have mentioned. Lastly, if you’re into incredible roast chicken I had the best of my life at Bom Jardim just order the Frango Assado. Have fun!

  26. United flies a 757 to Lisbon, and in doing a random Kayak search for dates in September, they charge a little over $3000 more than TAP for the privilege of their lie flat seat, lousy food and surly service.

    Lucky, another great post – I think it’s amazing you Tapped Tap even once – ) You’ve never reviewed United in all the years I have read your blog (daily!). I totally understand why you don’t, but given you often try new products to: “take one for the team” I think it would be very amusing to read about your experience aboard a Jeff Smisek special 😉 Maybe you can fly back to NYC from Lisbon on a Continental plane, er, I mean United.

  27. Recommended restaurant: Sacramento in the Chiado area
    If you like bears then Bar Tr3s is a fun bar.

  28. Hi Lucky, I’ve been to Lisbon. I found it to be a charming little town by the sea! Very friendly locals with a view to outdoor living, steaming hot custard tarts, fresh seafood, and Fado singing.

    It’s history is a mix of Africa, the Arab world, and Europe which is reflected in their style of castles and historical buildings. Nightlife is pretty alright (I live in Berlin!), and the crowd is young. Lots of Americans.
    Recommend transport: the local funicular or just walk around through the backyards, if you’re that inclined!
    Have a great trip.

  29. @ Adriano – Lisbon is on my list of places to visit next time I’m in Europe, so I’d definitely appreciate an insider’s perspective 🙂 I’m on FT as Rusdude. Thanks in advance!

    @ Lucky – I was trying to cancel a Lifemiles ticket on August 1 (evening/night) but couldn’t do it because LM system was down per the agent (could see it myself because LM site kept going down). They might’ve been doing some maintenance. Called mid-day on August 2 and got everything done in 10 minutes.

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