The Best Meal I’ve Had On An Intra-Europe Flight

TAP Air Portugal is a funny airline. I’ve flown them three times within Europe in the past year in business class, and have had three different experiences. On my first flight with them, there was no service. That was because the flight wasn’t staffed correctly, and as a result the crew wasn’t required to provide service, per their contract. The crazy part is that this apparently isn’t even an isolated incident, as many people reported having a similar experience.

My second flight with them was a breakfast flight, and was great. I especially love TAP’s new seats, power ports, and nice pillows and blankets, which many airlines don’t offer within Europe.

Last night I flew TAP from London to Lisbon, and was extremely impressed. On the two hour flight they first handed out menus and refreshing towels.

The menu was appealing, unlike Lufthansa’s typical snack selection, which consistently leaves me wondering what I’m eating.

They also had a nice selection of Portuguese wines.

Most important, the food actually tasted really good. For the main course I selected the steamed sea bass with peas and fennel salad. It was one of the best fish dishes I’ve had on a plane in a long time. The rice pudding with cinnamon was worth the calories as well.

I had a coffee after the meal, which was served with a chocolate.

When TAP is actually providing service, it sure seems to me like they provide one of the better intra-Europe business class experiences. This meal was better than anything I’ve had within Europe on British Airways or Lufthansa, for example.

The one oddity with the flight was with the power ports. TAP has power ports on their Airbus narrowbody fleet, which is great. However, about 10 minutes after I started using one it stopped working. When I brought this to the attention of the crew they offered to move me to another row, where it was working. The same exact thing happened on my last TAP flight. Are the power ports just not designed to work?

What’s the best meal you’ve had on an intra-Europe flight?

Comments

  1. Hey Ben, considering you’re now using a MacBook Pro that could be why the powerpoints stopped working. Some airlines restrict the maximum wattage to 60W. A Macbook Pro 13″ is above that amount for the power brick. You could be tripping the circuit somehow

  2. TAP consistently serves wonderful meals – both intra Europe, and on long-haul flights. Among European airlines, it has the best catering, along with TK.

  3. If you get a flight during their “evening meal” service (as u obviously did) you’re in luck but I still find it confusing to find out what times that actually is..

  4. It has been years since I have flown TAP… but, in terms of longer haul European carrier flights, I have been impressed with the food on AF business, plus their dessert selection in the Paris lounges is something too.

  5. Those seats look like the “slimline” seats that domestic carriers are putting into their newer planes, no? Hey look nice and clean but with very minimal padding. Personally I hate them and prefer older seats like on pmUA/pmCO aircraft that haven’t been retrofitted yet, even if the seats are kind of old and maybe dirty. The older seats are just so much more comfortable.

  6. Thanks to the blockade of Qatar in/out of Egypt, I was switched to MEA, Lebanon’s national airline, for the 1 hour flight from Cairo to Beirut. Breakfast in business was 3 (!) slabs of foie gras plus smoked salmon with all the garnishes and bread you could imagine. Burp.

  7. Air France, surprisingly, usually has a decent meals. So does Austrian.

    Serbia used to have good food, but haven’t flown on them in a while so not sure how the recent stuff with Etihad has affected them with regards to their catering.

    KLM is ok. Nothing exceptional, but usually consistently above average, quality wise.

    But British and Lufthansa have gone down in quality quite a bit. Swiss is still ok, but portions are decreasing and you can feel they are making cutbacks in their catering budget.

  8. “Thanks to the blockade of Qatar in/out of Egypt, I was switched to MEA, Lebanon’s national airline, for the 1 hour flight from Cairo to Beirut.”

    So…before the blockade, you would fly CAI-DOH-BEY? Just to fly on Qatar? Seems like a bit out of the way, no?

  9. Juno, sad you missed the point of my post but anyway, no, I was rerouted CAI – BEY -DOH instead of CAI – DOH direct.

  10. Air France on a very short flight from Geneva to Paris. Recently SWISS offered an excellent beef tartar also on a short hop from Zurich to Paris.

  11. Also, sad you missed the point of Lucky’s post, as I wasn’t aware the CAI-BEY route was considered an intra-Europen flight 😉

  12. It depends if they are enough flight attendants on TAP. Flight Lisbon-Frankfurt, one flight attended missing so they only served water on this 3 hour flight. Even in Business Class, does anyone understand this policy? Why pay Business Class??
    I fly a lot lufthansa between Spain/Portugal and Germany. Can’t complain about lufthansa catering at all. On Frankfurt-Madrid, roughly over 2 hours they even serve you a decent hot meal in Economy Class, and several drink rounds. Iberia/Air Europa on the same route only buy on board, Latam a small snack. So generally happy with lufthansa catering. And from May you can preorder a premium meal with them, Lucky.

  13. Portugal has amazing seafood, especially if you’re around a city near the coast. If their airline didn’t serve quality fish dishes that would be an abomination, as their own citizenry would surely be outraged.

  14. Had two intra europe flights with them this year and food was fantastic

    Also they have one of the best lounge bars I’ve been to, you have to check

  15. @ Robert Tew

    Knightofmalta had a trip report last month, Fra – Mla on Lufthansa. Over a 2 hour trip on that flight, and no hot meal, just a continental breakfast in business class.

    In fact, I recommend people check out his blog, since a good portion of his flights are intra-European, and a good insight into the (sad) state of intra-European flights these days.

  16. Don’t forget that Jet Blue and/or Jet Blue owners have poured a lot of money into Tap Air Portugal. That’s probably why the quality is getting better. While Tap is in Star Alliance the relationship between Tap and United is almost non-existent. At New York JFK and Boston, Jet Blue handles everything for Tap.

  17. Airplane power ports get a lot of use (insertion/removal), well in excess of normal power outlets. The connections can easily become loose over time. Do you carry a type G adapter like some folks recommend?

  18. Swiss seems to be the best for me. I often do LHR- ZUR and always has a good meal regardless of time of day. Always choose them over BA when possible.

  19. @FNT Delta Diamond

    “While Tap is in Star Alliance the relationship between Tap and United is almost non-existent.”

    Not sure what you mean but I can tell you that from EWR I can easily redeem United miles for award flights on TAP to Lisbon or Porto and back (non-stop flights included). There is a huge Portuguese community near EWR, so maybe that’s why. And it has been this way for years.

  20. Lucky, you just flew AF for the long haul review a few time and super short haul to Germany

    If you try Air France on longer flights (1.5 hrs up), especially out of Paris, food on short haul are 300% better than DL long haul J. See how good AF food on FCL is like… that reflects how the country cares about good food.

  21. @Jay

    Newark is like 50% Portuguese it feels like. Ferry St has some amazing Portuguese food. I think we just landed in America and said, “OK here’s good enough. Let’s get to work”.

  22. @Jay, Yes, of course, but what I meant was that Tap Air Portugal and Jet Blue share owners/major investors. Tap is much closer to Jet Blue than United.

  23. Once upon a time, TAP stood for “Take Another Plane.” No longer. TAP is on time, and — yes — the food is quite good!

  24. @cariverga – really, that’s your name, cariverga?
    Did you know that it translates to Spanish as ‘dick face’?…. jus fyi…

  25. Glad to read a positive review of TAP. I fly them several times a year, to and from Madeira, and have never had a bad flight. Cabin crews are friendly, professional, and perfectly groomed, and the meals are fresh and tasty. Along with Air France, TAP is one of my favorite European carriers.

  26. A few years ago, one of the best intra-Europe catered J flights was on Iberia, on the very short flight from MAD to LIS. A full, hot meal was served on the hour-long flight. Pasta, excellent cheese, salad, and desert (all on one tray). I was pleasantly surprised, and really thought it was over the top. On the same trip I flew TAP from LIS to FRA and was not at all impressed with the meal service (granted it was breakfast, but it was just cold cuts, yogurt and fruit for a 3-hr flight. Not to mention that a man on the TP flight self-upgraded and sat in the “blocked” middle seat in the row across from me so he could sit with his wife. I mention this as well, because on the Iberia flight another passenger attempted the same thing, but the IB crew were much more vigilant and put a stop to it immediately.

  27. I can’t rememebr the last time I ate on an intra europe flight. I’m either full from the long haul flight before or the pit stop at the lounge.

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