Review: TAP Portugal Business Class A321 Lisbon To Milan

Introduction: Italy, With A Refueling Stop In The Azores
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Review: TAP Portugal Business Class A321 Lisbon To Milan
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Originally we had a 1hr45min connection in Lisbon, though we arrived from Ponta Delgada about 25 minutes late. Then we had to go through passport control (even though the Azores is part of Portugal, it’s still considered separate for these purposes). I was through in no time with my German passport, though Ford had to queue for over 20 minutes with his non-EU passport.

So we didn’t have any time to use the lounge, but rather headed straight to our departure gate, S24, where we arrived just minutes before the scheduled 2:10PM boarding time. Boarding was delayed by a few minutes, and actually started at 2:15PM.


Lisbon Airport departure gate

TAP Portugal 804
Lisbon (LIS) – Milan (MXP)
Friday, June 23
Depart: 2:40PM
Arrive: 6:15PM
Duration: 2hr35min
Aircraft: Airbus A321
Seat: 4F (Business Class)

My initial impression of the cabin was favorable. The plane had new seats, and the legroom was solid, at least for intra-Europe business class (which is basically just economy with a blocked middle seat).


TAP Portugal A321 seats

While other airlines install tray tables on the center seat in intra-Europe business class, TAP Portugal doesn’t, so from the appearance of the seat you really can’t tell whether it’s business class or not.


TAP Portugal business class A321

The legroom was pretty decent in these seats, and all the reading material was located in either a leather pouch towards the bottom of the seat, or a hard-case near the top of the seat.


TAP Portugal business class legroom A321


TAP Portugal business class seatback A321

What I was happiest to see was that the seats had power outlets, including both a 110v and USB outlet. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen power outlets in intra-Europe business class before, so I was thrilled to find that, especially given that my previous flight didn’t have power outlets.


TAP Portugal business class power outlet A321

There were also pillows and blankets, which aren’t always available in intra-Europe business class.


TAP Portugal business class pillow & blanket

There were a total of four rows of business class, and spread across those four rows were 11 passengers.

Unfortunately that’s where the good things that I have to say about TAP business class end. A couple of times during boarding the crew announced “this flight is operating with reduced cabin crew and for that reason there will be no meal service on this flight.”

At 2:40PM the door closed, at which point the crew sprayed the cabin. At this point the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, informing us of our flight time of 2hr5min. However, he said that a few passengers had no showed, and their bags needed to be offloaded. That delay lasted quite a while, and at 3:10PM he apologized for a further delay, as he said we were now slightly delayed due to ATC.

Sure enough at 3:15PM we began our pushback, at which point the safety video was screened. Off our right wing was a gorgeous Swiss CSeries, which I still need to fly.


Swiss CS100 Lisbon Airport


Pushing back Lisbon Airport

As we taxied out we crossed the runway where two TAP A330s were parked, including one in a retro livery.


TAP Portugal A330 parked on runway


TAP Portugal A330 retro jet

Our taxi to the runway was quick, and by 3:20PM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 3.


Holding short of departure runway Lisbon Airport


Taking off Lisbon Airport

We had a quick takeoff roll, and gorgeous views of Lisbon and the water as we climbed out.


View after takeoff from Lisbon


View after takeoff from Lisbon


View after takeoff from Lisbon

Five minutes after takeoff the crew drew the curtain between the cabin and galley. The seatbelt sign stayed on for over 30 minutes, even though it was a smooth ride.


TAP Portugal business class cabin

Once it was turned off, I visited the forward lavatory, which was simple.


TAP Portugal business class lavatory

I smelled food in the oven, so I figured that maybe business class passengers would at least get meals, since surely they can serve a dozen meals on a two hour flight. Nope, those were just crew meals.

Finally 45 minutes after takeoff the crew made a pass through the cabin with just water and orange juice. Later in the flight I asked for a refill of water, and I was told “one per person.”


TAP Portugal business class service

Ultimately this comes down to an issue between management and the union, where they’re technically not staffing these flights to the agreed upon levels. So while the crews are still encouraged to provide the service, they’re not going to on principle. So the crews didn’t make another pass through the cabin until they did their landing safety checks, but rather sat in the galley chatting the whole flight.

I spent most of the rest of the flight working and looking out the window, as the views were beautiful.


View enroute to Milan

Finally around 30 minutes before landing we began our descent, and there was a bit of chop.


View enroute to Milan


View approaching Milan


View approaching Milan

We touched down in Milan at 6:30PM.


View approaching Milan

As we taxied to the gate the crew made the standard after landing announcements, including “it was a pleasure having you with us onboard today.” I feel like they should modify these announcements on flights with no service.


Taxiing Milan Airport

Our taxi to our arrival gate was quick, and we arrived by 6:35PM, about 20 minutes behind schedule.


Taxiing Milan Airport


Arrival gate Milan Airport

TAP business class bottom line

I was impressed that TAP Portugal had power ports on these planes, which sadly most airlines don’t on intra-Europe flights. Unfortunately that’s where my compliments of the product end. TAP Portugal needs to figure out their management and union issues ASAP, because this is just plain embarrassing. This issue is also shockingly common. Since publishing my post, I’ve received dozens of messages from readers who have experienced the same.

So if you’re flying TAP Portugal, make sure you bring some bottled water and snacks. We were so hungry when we landed in Milan that we headed straight to the airport food court. That’s not usually what you want your first meal in Italy to be!

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Comments

  1. How pathetic. I hope you at least petitioned management to refund the fare (or mileage) difference between business and economy as what you received on this flight was by no means a business class experience, from the treatment to lack of meal, etc.

  2. Flew TAP in business last year and had a similar experience. They served a meal but did the absolute minimum required. Never again. I’ve decide TAP stands for Take Another Plane.

  3. Judging from your past posts I suppose this is still better than British Airways Business Class, Lucky?

  4. Wow! This is probably the shortest ever flight review I’ve ever read:) Technically speaking, it could include something like: getting on the plane and getting off it later on.

  5. You should definitely lodge a compensation request with customer service… if nothing else, the rest of us will be interested to hear what happens!

  6. Thanks Lucky for this review. I have been looking at cheap business class tickets to BUD, and TAP came up around $2,200 from WAS, NYC, BOS (with a 22hr layover in LIS though). I was contemplating this option, but after reading your your post, I will not look at TAP anymore. I think when it comes to airlines selection, your posts help us in two ways: 1) what to choose, and 2) what to AVOID.

  7. Wait…. you’ve done this report previously. You even got some FA confess the truth under anonymity.

    Conclusion: their culture is a LAZY culture. All that amazed with lack of service or even corteous response while Lucky asking another glass of water MUST understand their culture.

  8. TAP use the same planes for a 8 hours flight from Lisbon to São Tomé! Business class is the same as economic. The only difference is the price!

  9. In my view, this is absolutely unacceptable. I think you should put the ticket in for full refund, and litigate, if necessary.

  10. Why flying such a shitty airline again??? I remember a past review where you described the appealing lack of service in their business class. Were the cabin crew members attractive?

  11. A bit disappointing that you just let it go, Lucky. If I had paid for business class from my own money and had that experience I would have been seriously upset. It would be useful for those of us who use TAP often, since we live in the region, to know what they have to say to a complaint from you and whether you would get any compensation or goodwill gesture.

  12. I had the “chance” to fly TAP on the segment LIS-BRU with this new cabin.

    I was very surprised to see that they installed two types of seats: the one shown by Lucky until the exit row, and then plain yellow seats without headrests or power, and with uncomfortable armrests two times smaller for some reason… As for the “meal” promised in economy during booking, it turned out to be only a tiny sandwich. Absolutely terrible.

    Make sure to select a seat before the exit row or consider flying another airline as I can’t say flying TAP was a particularly nice experience.

  13. Your lucky I didn’t even get on my flight with my luggage, it was lost for a week and no holiday I will never fly with them again

  14. Strange, I didn’t have to go through passport control when flying PDL-LIS earlier this year …

  15. I understand the FA decided to stage a fallen arms strike to punish the pax for flying an airline that puts profit before crew comfort. The still unanswered question is: how was management affected by this decision? Did the crew care for the pax with medical conditions that require proper hydration and food to prevent medication side-effects? Were children provided for? Were elderly pax asked how to attend to their special needs? Was the idea of leaving a cart for self-service discussed?

  16. I didn’t go through passport control between Porto and Ponda Delgada either. Maybe there’s just an issue with capacity and certain flights land in non-Schengen gates? There certainly shouldn’t be systematic checks on the route given it’s not only domestic but both areas are also within Schengen.

    Did you both really need to go in separate passport queues as well? The few times I’ve travelled back to Europe with someone without an EU passport I’ve just gone in the “other” queue with them and never been questioned why I’ve done so (“we’re travelling together” would surely suffice if they did ask anyway?).

  17. TAP is shameful to any Portuguese with morals. Most however love their flag carrier… You guessed it. Btw I am Portuguese.

  18. DB, you are rigth that’s how it goes, but for some reason the author keeps on posting every time that passport control “must be normal”, well i am starting to think that no one here reads their ticket, flight code, or anything related to their flight. I was an INTERNATIONAL NON SCHEGEN AREA FLIGHT, read again INTERNATIONAL NON SCHEGEN FLIGHT, got it?

  19. A union working to rule with paying customers as the victim, thereby ensuring those customers never return. And some people I know ask me why I’m a political conservative.

  20. Ben, you had to go through passport control upon departure in Ponta Delgada and arrival in Lisbon for the sole reason that your flight was YUL-PDL-LIS, ie, an international non-Schengen flight. If it had been a purely domestic or an international Schengen flight, you’d have skipped passport control.

  21. Same experience here on a flight last year. FNC-LIS. We were informed at check-in that there wouldn’t be any meals onboard. I could also smell the food as I was booked on business class. But only for the crew, not even a glass of water for us. FRA-LIS was strange, breakfast was served and then the crew vanished for the rest of the flight. No refills etc. So TAP, welcome on my personal black list. By the by, LIS-FRA was then on LH. Although there were almost 50 passengers in C, we got refills galore and very friendly treatment.

  22. KLM has power ports in her intra-EU business class (EBC) and economy comfort on 737 aircrafts. No USB though

  23. I recently flew NYC-LIS-LHR in Business Class. The old J class is laughable. The cheap business class fares are just not worth it. The meals are served with plastic covers. In fact everything is covered in plastic. The crew laud over the non revs in the cabin, and ignore paying passengers.

    Also, there is no access to a lounge from International to non Shengen transit unless you go through passport control and enter/exit Portugal. The queues were terrible so not worth the effort.

    I will never fly TP again.

  24. I never understood why flight crews (cockpit and cabin) take their frustrations out on passengers when the pissing contests begin.

    Guess what? I AVOID airlines where this happens. I’ll gladly fly another airline where I don’t have to deal with their crap, even if it’s more expensive. My time is money.

  25. Good review – only thing that seems too much for me is when you write it is shockingly common. It is not and based on one flight that you took that you can say it is so common- it is strange someone like you would make that statement.
    Even with the dozens of comments you got (TAP carries several million per year). It is not common. Surely if you make a ratio of the comments you got and the number of passengers they take you will get a similar conclusion.
    What is shockingly common is that it has been happening every summer year after year and affects about 5-10% of their short-medium haul flights (last year exactly the same happened) – It only happens during the high peak summer period when everything is strechted, from planes to crews…this is bad management. If a problem repeats itself every summer, it is bad planning.
    I am a TK Platinum member now living in Maputo, Mozambique, so I end up taking TAP on average 30 times/year (including intercontinental and european flights) in Business. It has never happened to me, so it can’t be that common.
    TAP has a better service in their european flights than most European carriers. Lisbon is also nicer to connect, because it is smaller. To Maputo I tend to get their A340 which has one of their oldest business class versions so I can’t say very good things about it. It is an old product that they use to Maputo and Luanda apparently. But frankly, they are perfectly decent and better than any other EU carrier for intra European flights in terms of service. BA is now charging for food. When I was a Platinum with Skyteam, in Y, Air France would give one cookie only. One cookie! With TAP you get a sandwich and a choice of wines. In business they usually have a good hot meal. I personally never found the service in C in Europe to be disappointing.

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