Review: TAP Air Portugal Business Class A320 Brussels To Lisbon

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Review: TAP Air Portugal Business Class A320 Brussels To Lisbon
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As some of you may remember, my last intra-Europe flight on TAP Air Portugal left a bit to be desired. Specifically, the flight had virtually no service in business class, apparently due to a labor dispute. So the flight attendants just sat in the galley the whole flight chatting, and business class passengers got exactly one glass of water the entire flight, and nothing else.

Suffice to say I was curious how my second flight in TAP Air Portugal’s intra-Europe business class would be.

TAP Air Portugal 611
Brussels (BRU) – Lisbon (LIS)
Tuesday, January 9
Depart: 6:15AM
Arrive: 7:50AM
Duration: 2hr35min
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Seat: 2A (Business Class)

At the door I was greeted by the two flight attendants. Much like my last flight on TAP Air Portugal, this one featured fairly new seats. I like TAP Air Portugal’s seat finishes, as they look clean, yet there’s a bit of color thanks to the red trim on the headrests.


TAP Air Portugal A320 business class seats

I was in seat 2A, and legroom was excellent, at least by intra-Europe business class standards (given that business class is just economy with a blocked middle seat). Pitch was about 32″, which SeatGuru suggests is the legroom in the first seven rows, while the remaining rows have 30″ of pitch.


TAP Air Portugal A320 business class legroom


TAP Air Portugal A320 business class legroom


TAP Air Portugal A320 business class legroom

As is the norm on intra-Europe flights, the size of the business class cabin is flexible thanks to the seats being (mostly) identical, and they just move the curtain with each flight based on how full the cabin is. On this flight there were a total of three rows of business class.


TAP Air Portugal A320 cabin

TAP Air Portugal’s seats have some cool features. On the seatback was a clip, so you could latch an iPad or other tablet to the seat for easy viewing.


TAP Air Portugal A320 business class iPad holder

The seat also had both a 110v and USB power outlet, which I appreciate. TAP Air Portugal is one of the only airlines I’ve flown on a shorthaul flight within Europe that has this feature.


TAP Air Portugal A320 power outlets

The tray table was pretty standard, and had two cup “indents.”


TAP Air Portugal A320 business class tray table

There was an individual air vent at each seat, which far too many airlines don’t have.

At first I was confused why they started boarding behind schedule, but I guess it’s because the flight was just really empty. In total there were about 50 passengers on the plane, so it was less than a third full. While boarding only started at 6AM, it was complete just 10 minutes later, and the door was closed ahead of schedule. In total there were three business class passengers.

The purser welcomed everyone aboard and informed us of our 2hr15min flight time. Moments later the manual safety demonstration began. I was confused by why we weren’t pushing back, but then I noticed that the plane was in the process of being deiced. I hadn’t even realized it was that cold.


De-icing at Brussels Airport

At 6:20AM we began our pushback, and five minutes after that we started our taxi.


Brussels Airlines A319 Brussels Airport

Five minutes later we were cleared for takeoff on runway 25R.

While the seatbelt sign stayed on for 30 minutes (despite smooth air), the service began just 10 minutes after takeoff. First I was presented with a packaged refreshing towel.


TAP Air Portugal business class refreshing towel

Then I was asked if I wanted breakfast, all of which was served on one tray.


TAP Air Portugal business class snack

Breakfast included a plate with two types of cheese, chicken, and ham (I believe).


TAP Air Portugal business class breakfast

Then there was a side of fruit, including kiwi, strawberries, grapes, and pineapple.


TAP Air Portugal business class breakfast

There was also some fruit yogurt.


TAP Air Portugal business class breakfast

A few minutes after serving breakfast, the crew came around with a breadbasket, from which I selected a croissant and a pretzel roll.


TAP Air Portugal business class breakfast

To drink I ordered a water and coffee.


TAP Air Portugal business class drinks

After breakfast I asked for a pillow and blanket. TAP Air Portugal has among the best blankets I’ve gotten in intra-Europe business class, which helped with getting a bit more comfortable.


TAP Air Portugal business class pillow & blanket

Service throughout the flight was excellent. I didn’t see the purser much, though the male flight attendant working business class constantly checked on the three of us, and my water glass must have been refilled close to a dozen times.

The power ports in my row broke in the middle of the flight (oops?), but the flight attendant took the cord from my laptop and put it in the power port in the row behind, which was helpful.

The only other memorable aspect of the flight was that the lady in front of me was passing gas nonstop from the moment we boarded until we deplaned. About halfway through the flight I wanted to remind her that the plane has a bathroom, because I’m not sure she was aware.

Towards the end of the flight I checked out the lavatory at the front of the cabin, which was reasonably clean but fairly no frills.


TAP Air Portugal business class lavatory

At 7:20AM Lisbon time, the captain announced that we’d be descending shortly, and would be landing at 7:50AM. It was dark the entire flight, and only started to get light as we descended. Even then it was a pretty gloomy morning.


View approaching Lisbon


View approaching Lisbon

We touched down in Lisbon at 7:55AM.


Taxiing Lisbon Airport

From there we had a two minute taxi, and arrived at our gate a few minutes behind schedule (on the plus side, we had a gate and not a remote stand).

TAP Air Portugal business class bottom line

Overall this was a pleasant flight. Among European airlines, TAP Air Portugal has one of the better business class products, assuming the crew is working. The legroom is good, they have individual power outlets, the service was friendly, and the blanket was nice as well. There are a few airlines that offer better seats in business class on intra-Europe flights (like Aeroflot, Turkish, etc.), but aside from that, TAP Air Portugal offers among the better experiences out there. This was in stark contrast to my previous flight on them.

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Comments

  1. @ Ben — We flew this POS airline three years ago. Worst business class flight ever, by far. I swear you were on a different airline. I will go out of my way to never fly them again.

    We had 3 x 2 seating with no blocked seats, no food or alcohol was served, and I was refused a refill of my water, which was served in a plastic cup. All this for an extra 15,000 miles per person. COMPLETE RIP OFF.

  2. @Gene

    Trust me….it is a different airline compared to 3 years ago. Your experience may vary, of course. No 2 flights are the same, even on the same airline….but things are quite different these days.

  3. Don’t trust Mauricio. TAP is the same sh.. it was. Customer satisfaction is an incomprehensible concept for TAP employees. The best they can think of it is sticking to the regulation and customer unfriendly company policies. Also the tension that existed between flight attendants and company has not been fully resolved yet. You are rolling a worse than fair wheel each time you fly TAP, you may occasionally get a good flight and that’s it.

  4. ^^ Things change? I doubt it. I am nearly certain that this woman still passes gas repeatedly. Remember, Lucky wrote…

    The only other memorable aspect of the flight was that the lady in front of me was passing gas nonstop from the moment we boarded until we deplaned. About halfway through the flight I wanted to remind her that the plane has a bathroom, because I’m not sure she was aware.

    Towards the end of the flight I checked out the lavatory at the front of the cabin, which was reasonably clean but fairly no frills.

    One reason the lavatory was clean was because that woman didn’t use it to go potty.

    Passengers who habitually pass gas should be given miles to self report that they are such a passenger then seated in a special Flatus Class.

  5. You should try and compare with Iberia intra-european business class. And if you can catch one of the A319 with a real business class seat, it’s even better

  6. I fly TAP when I can get ultra-low-cost tickets. For example, that legendarily cheap JFK to LIS to GRU flight in 2016 or between Europe and Africa. Otherwise it’s not worth the money.

  7. I actually really like TAP – though I feel like I’m relatively alone in that opinion.

    Fares to anywhere in Europe from the East Coast are generally super cheap in J or Y, crews generally seem young and happy to be there, and I think Lisbon is a great airport to transit – small enough that there are no miles long treks involved, but good shopping and food options. I also like that they leave from the JetBlue terminal at JFK – it’s nearly empty later in the evening, so security is a breeze.

    I’ve largely switched my business to them from BA for one-stop Europe hops.

  8. This trip report is completely devoid of the pertinent details.

    Where they silent but violent? Audible with a nasal je ne sais quoi? Probability of minor follow through which rendered lady partly paralysed in seat for fear of leakage en route to toilet?

    Please ensure greater focus is given the most important details going forward.

  9. @Lucky
    I’m just curious, how did you know that it was that specific woman passing the gas? Was it audible? 😀

  10. Lucky,
    Unfortunately its not like this everywhere so you cant say that TAP has one of the best business product in UE. Depends on the plane and the route. I used to fly with them in business between Warsaw and Lisbon and the crew was lazy and unhappy, the food was untasty and the cabin was dirty. Sorry… As always everything depends on the plane and people.

  11. @n As stated by Lucky, all intra-European flights in business class are identical to economy class, but the difference is that the middle seat is blocked. Also, there is a different level of service, meal, and amenities provided.

  12. I can’t believe they call that Business Class! Looks exactly like economy to me! I don’t want a blocked seat next to me I want a proper business class seat. If all the European airlines are the same they need to come to Asia or Australia to see how business class should be done.

  13. I have a flight booked with TAP from Porto (OPO) to Frankfurt later this year. I was not looking forward to it at all given your review of TAP previously. It was simply the quickest non-stop available so suited me. However I noticed that all OPO-FRA flights that day were marked ‘operated by Lufthansa’ which cheered me up somewhat.
    Incidently, it was much better value by far to pay cash for the ticket rather than use Avianca LifeMiles! Maybe LM needs to catch up with reality.

  14. Sally – They are well aware what other countries do. Europeans however are not willing to spend the extra money required to make such a cabin profitable.

  15. @Steve
    It happens from time to time, almost always up the front , in my observation. From Timpani-like ‘performances’ to nauseating assaults on the olfactory system. Some shameless , thoughtless DYKWIAs …probably having consumed thousands and thousands of gas inducing foods and champagnes.Unpleasant.
    Less likely behind the curtains: the horny-handed sons and daughters of toil in economy are much more respectful of their fellow travelers.

  16. @derek

    My things change comment was referring to someone’s experience on the flight from 3 years ago, not the flatulence of one of the other passengers.

    @callum

    Plus, most inter-European flights aren’t long enough for people to care about the seat itself.

  17. The best intra-Europe business class would be Turkish or Aeroflot…..the rest are totally crap…. be it Lufthansa or be it Swiss!

  18. The best intra-Europe business class would be Turkish or Aeroflot…..the rest are totally crap…. be it Lufthansa or be it Swiss!

  19. @Red

    The problem with Turkish or Aeroflot is neither are well placed for true intra-Europe flights, you will either end up using the whole day flying back and forth or spend the night in their main hubs.

    Spending the night bring with it problem of their own due to visa in both countries, and the security situation in Turkey.

    Great product if you are connecting to/from a long haul flight, but basically useless intra-Europe for passengers who need to get some where in timely manner.

    Hence while it’s a great product, it’s not an great intra-European business class.

    If time and money is in endless supply and the plane trip is main part of the journey, you would be better of taking a long haul flight to another continent before doubling back to your destination.

    Flying BRU-DXB-LIS in EK F would beat SU or TK recliner seats any time, not than any of these airlines sell tickets BRU-Home hub-LIS

  20. @red Latam between madrid and frankfurt is quite good.

    Apart from that, Swiss is not bad, there’s more legroom space at least and the food is actually delicious (at least on the flight from FCO to ZRH I took). It’s lightyear’s better than BA

  21. I’ve flown TAP a half-dozen times over the past two years, mostly between various European cities and Madeira – with airplane changes at Lisbon or Oporto. All my flights have been pretty much on-time, they have been staffed with friendly, immaculately-groomed flight attendants, and even when traveling in Economy, a light meal has been served on every single flight. Ground staff have been friendly and helpful as well.

    Most recently I traveled in Business Class aboard an ERJ-190, (operated by Portugalia) from Lisbon to Toulouse, and despite the short flight time a very tasty breakfast was served.

    I never used to be a fan of TAP, but I’m certainly becoming one!

  22. @Lucky
    Gotta disagree with you on several points:

    1. Blankets and pillows aren’t always available… I just flew the same route and there were none on board; the crew wasn’t even apologetic and just told me they are now only given on long-haul flights.

    2. You were quite fortunate with a nice crew, for the crew I had wasn’t particularly friendly and they explicitly told me that I couldn’t take pictures (but I did anyway, haha).

    3. One point you don’t mention is that on short-haul flights, the TAP Executive Cabin is only separated from Economy by a small curtain in the aisle, i.e., there are no small curtains on either side of the cabin meaning that Economy passengers can directly look into Business the entire flight.

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