Booked: I’m Going To The Azores!

A few months ago I wrote about Azores Airlines, which at the time was my latest airline obsession. For those of you not familiar, the Azores is an archipelago in the mid-Atlantic that belongs to Portugal. Azores Airlines has an old fleet, but does have some unique routes — they fly from the Azores to Boston, Providence, and Oakland. That’s not your average transatlantic route network for an airline (though I get why they operate flights to those cities).

Azores Airlines has very reasonable business class fares out of the US, though that’s probably partly because they have a horrible business class product. The cool thing is that they let you book a stopover in the Azores enroute to mainland Europe at no additional cost.

Ford and I are headed to Europe this summer, so while there are certainly more glamorous ways we could get there, I couldn’t help but book a routing that lets me try a new airline, and lets us visit a new area.

So we decided to book tickets from Boston to Lisbon via Ponta Delgada, with a stopover there for a few days.

BOS-LIS

The flight from Boston to Ponta Delgada is operated by an A310 with business class seats that look marginally better than domestic first class. The flight is only 2,400 miles, so it’s shorter than many US transcons.

Meanwhile the flight from Ponta Delgada to Lisbon is operated by a plane that Azores Airlines is leasing from HiFly. Specifically, it’s a former Emirates A340-300, and they haven’t reconfigured the interior. So it looks like we’ll get the business class seat below, which looks pretty cool to me.

Emirates-A340-Business

The business class fare, including the stopover, was $900 one-way, which I’d consider to be a very good deal. Like I said, I’m not expecting this to be a great business class product, though it is something new, and it also allows us visit a new place.

This is even working out well on the hotel front, as the Azor Hotel is a member of Design Hotels, so I could book it for just 7,000 Starpoints per night, when the paid rate would have been about 250EUR.

Azor-Hotel-1

I can’t wait to report back on this experience. If anyone has any tips on what to do in Ponta Delgada and surrounding areas, or if there’s anything we should know before visiting the Azores, I’d love to hear it. Thanks!

Comments

  1. Rent a car and drive around the entire island. Does not take that much time and you get to see every part of the island. Hot springs is a must 🙂

  2. I’m heading there this summer too! Amazed to see you actually use SPG points 😀

  3. I just went there with SATA from Toronto, it was actually a pretty good flight overall on the A330 in J, given that I paid €450.

    Definitely get a car and drive around, the scenery is amazing, and the people are wonderful.

  4. To Andrew and almost all others: For sure DON’T rent a car! For the same price or less you contract a Taxi who drives you on the Island and knows every good place, so you can both admire every square meter. And be sure, PDL isn’t the best Island to visit, but worth for a Stopover of a few days. What makes the Azores great are the total 9 Islands, and that’s what cost’s the most, the “national” flights. Food is almost for free and be sure at PDL you don’t hate Americans, because there are a lot there due to the Military base.
    My opinion Lucky; book a Flt to the Azores only and explore the 9 Islands, not only as a Stopover.

  5. We made a stop here on our way to Madeira, out of Toronto, in February. The island looks fantastic and my wife and I both agreed that we would need to make a return visit. Will look forward to your comments.

  6. I’m flying there at the end of August for a week. I actually decided that at $217 for BOS-PDL, I could tough it out in coach, since the flight is less than five hours. I’m only going to spend two days on Sao Miguel, though, as there’s plenty to see on the other islands, and you can hop around for under $100 per flight. I’m going to spend a day on Terceira, and my other three nights on Pico, as I want to hike up the mountain.

  7. Visited last summer, and it is amazing. Depending on how many days you are there, I would really recommend driving to Furnas as well, where there is another Designhotel and where you use the hot springs.

  8. I have been a couple of times to the Azores and have seen several islands. 3 days on Sao Miguel Island seems just perfect. I would highly recommend the 2 following day trips:
    1 day to Lagoa Sete Cidades. From Miradouro da vista do Rei you have a gorgeous view on the 2 crater lakes, one is green and the other one is blue… but you need good weather to see this, so this tour should be on the day with the best weather conditions.
    The other tour is to the Caldeiras of Furnas. Lots of volcanic hot pools to see. Don’t miss Jardim Terra Nostra, a wonderful old garden. There is a large natural pool with warm water, so don’t forget your swimsuits. A walk around lake Furnas is also highly recommended, takes about an hour and you pass some old deserted mansions. I always rented a car when on the island and enjoyed driving around a lot.

  9. Don’t go to Ponta Delgada!! Go to Terceira… far prettier and less touristy. It’s like the Newfoundland of the Azores. I stayed in a BEAUTIFUL Airbnb on top of a private nature reserve with endangered species. Drop me a note if you’d like the link.

  10. Was there a few weeks ago (chekc out my instagram @phili90000 :P) with satas a310! Truly unique experience! In ponta delgada, try to visit a restaurant called anfiteatro, its right in the marina, aswell as one called o aviao, which is an airline geek restaurant with great authentic food!

  11. Oh and two more things,
    LIS-PDL on azores airlines (sata) is operated by an a310 aswell as as a340, so look out for that!
    Also make sure to either rent a quad, take a hike around cidades craters and visit the military museum, all from pdl!

  12. Very cool, looking forward to this report. Maybe the Azores will be the new Iceland in terms of TATL stopovers.

  13. As well as being a pleasant and relaxing spot for a (brief) vacation, for anyone with an interest in aviation it has the added attraction of the history of the trans-Atlantic air link ( although not especially visible); the air facilities permitted by neutral ( although notionally fascist) Portugal were important in the war effort; after the war, The Azores were central to the management of a large part of the air corridor, as well as the co-axial cable link.
    Many flights in the era prior to jets stopped in The Azores. Marcel Cerdan, French/Algerian World Champion boxer and paramour of Edith Piaf was killed in the crash of an AF Super Constellation there in 1949 while enroute to propose to her. She wrote Hymne a L’amour in memory of him, including references to the sky, obliquely referencing the crash.

  14. I was once in Madeira and the approach was really windy (have you seen the pillars they added on the water to increase the runway length?). While not a member of any famous programs, I would strongly recommend you to visit the Pestana CR7 Funchal. It opened by Cristiano Ronal relatively recently.

  15. @Scott isn’t CR7’s hotel in Madeira (and soonnin lisbon too)? He’s going to the Açores not Madeira!

  16. To some coments here I write the following.
    Ponta Delgada is the city where you land and the biggest of the islands.
    The island is São Miguel, one of nine that form “Arquipélago dos Açores”.
    Cristiano Ronaldo is Portuguese but different archipelago, in a different part of the Atlantic and certainly different island.
    Now to the blogger I can say that you should rent a car to drive around, don’t forget Furnas, and some scenery around Ponta Delgada, if the weather allows you should try the scenery over Lagoa do Fogo, this is possible if you check the live feed/images from cameras on http://www.spotazores.com/ilha/2, something like this:
    You area visiting the Gorreana tea area (the only european place that have tea plantations) and before you leave you check how is the weather on Lagoa do Fogo, if it’s clear you just drive there for a few minutes and pray that there are no sudden changes, from clear blue skies and warm hot sun to like thick clouds, heavy rain, strong wind, hazel falling and so on in a few minutes.
    In all there are several places with live cameras to check the local weather conditions, because the weather predictions can sometimes end up completely off for some of the places, due to the specifics of our location, ocean, island topography.
    All in all enjoy and have a nice stay at my island.
    Best
    José

  17. The first (and so far only) time I ever flew business class was with Emirates from DXB-ATH back in 2014 with an A330-200. Certainly not the most glamorous of business classes out there, but it would be amazing to have that same product reviewed!!! I believe this also used to be the same hard product as Virgin Australia had in their A330s before they reconfigured them. Thx Lucky, I just read your post about how you started your blog and I’ve been reading since 2014, and since then every single day I’ve checked your blog for news, and have followed your trips around the world reviewing the biggest and best airlines. i also have a passion for planes and like you talk about them nonstop, e.g which airlines are launching flights to Athens (my home) this year. My parents and brother can’t stand me!! I really wish I could become a blogger but as you put it I would probably need a lot of luck before I began to make some sort of profit. Thanks for being my number one source for aviation-related news, trip reports and advice!

  18. Flew this exact route to Lisbon last summer on the A310. Azores are awesome as is mainland Portugal. Top 3 best spots in Europe. The a310 is terrible, but you’ll live, it’s a short flight. Flew th a330 on the way back, which is much better. Enjoy, my friend.

  19. There so many things to do at Ponta Delgada 🙂

    – Sete Cidades with its two lakes with different colour;
    – At Furnas or Caldeira there’s the funky smell (like rotten eggs), but there’s a nice hot springs;
    – take a hike at Lago do Fogo;
    – at Vila Franca do Campo you can go and swim at Ilhéu da Vila “island”;
    – if you like churches, it is like mainland Portugal. There are tons of it;
    – pay attention to the amount of american and canadian flags in the houses. Pretty much a lot of people from the Azores have immigrated to N. America;

    It’s a nice place to relax and take it slow. I don’t think it is that crowded despite the LCC having some daily flights.

    About renting a car. I would do it.

  20. “Horrible” seems a bit much even with older equipment. I mean – it’s only 4.5 hour hours gate-to-gate from the US to Azores and then a 2 hour hop to LIS. How luxurious does it need to be? I wouldn’t even waste my money for business class for something that short.

  21. Note that their flight out of Boston isn’t the most consistent, so plan for a 100% chance you get delayed by an hour and a 5% chance you get delayed by a day

  22. Hi Ben!

    Almost everything about Sao Miguel was already said in previous posts, like the ones from George, José T. or Lukas.
    So rent a car to discover the island on your own and take time to just relax. If possible, hop to the other islands. You will not be disappointed!

    Enjoy and come to Oporto again!

  23. @stvr: Tenerife is not one of the Azores, it’s one of the Canaries. (Spanish speaking, not Portuguese, and belonging to Spain, not Portugal.)

  24. AV Geek speaking is also interesting that Azores was the refueling stop for the Concorde from flights originating in South America.

  25. I was born in Sao Miguel, Azores. I go back add often as I can. You need to go visit the geothermal spas. There is a more “touristy” one called Poça da Beja in Furnas, it has been recently updated and is a must go. To be honest though, there is another site with Geothermal pools, it is called Caldeira Velha. It is on the way up the mountain to the Lagoa da Fogo. The view up there is just absolutely amazing. Even the walk in to where the pools are is gorgeous. You walk in a wide paved pathway through a forest that is filled with lush green native vegetation. There are many beautiful viewing sites along the roadways with cement tables that are a great place to stop for breathtaking pictures and even to have a picnic. One of my husband and my favorite things to have for a quick lunch are the rotisserie chickens from the supermarket called Continente. We just buy a chicken, they cut it into pieces for you, and small loaves of fresh homestyle bread. There is also a big beautiful picnic area in a town called Povoacao. There are tables under gazebos, grills that are prestocked with firewood and the views are amazing. Don’t forget to go to the picnic area in North end of the island in Pedreira, on the way there you need to stop at Ponta do Sossego and Ponta da Madrugada. The views from there look like they are postcards. Take your time to just drive around and enjoy your surroundings. It is good for your soul.

  26. While on a cruise we had a port of call in Ponta Delgada. We booked a tour with Belazorica Azores Tours, http://www.azores-tours.com/en/, and loved it. The included lunch, cozida das Furnas, a boiled dinner of sort that is slow cooked with the steam of a volcano was excellent.

  27. The Azores is one of my favorit places places in the world. And I have been non stop on the road for 28 years.
    Sao Miguel island has some very scenic volcanoes that you can get to the crater rim of quite easily with a rented car. There are many spectacular viewpoints around the island, as you are driving around. The Terra Nostra botanical garden in Furnas is well worth a visit. Ont eh north coast of the island, you have the only commercial tea plantations in Europe. And the restaurant at Hotel Talisman in Ponta Delgada is quite good and so is the place called Mercado do Peixe.

  28. Hey, LUCKY , This is not the cheapest , I found that out that YYZ-LIS direct will cost USD658 and YYZ-PDL-LIS will cost USD 671

  29. Lucky, when will you be in Lisbon? Ill be there with some friends in early june. Lets grab a drink if you are around! would be cool to meet you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *