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Sunday 17 March 2024

Flying with TAP Air Portugal From London Heathrow To Lisbon

 Welcome to my trip report on TAP Air Portugal Part 1! 

This 8wc my ride CS-TVL, photographed her after arriving at Lisbon. 


Once the destination Lisbon was decided, the fun part was deciding which airline to fly. TAP Air Portugal came into my mind immediately as I am intrigued by the airline's history and beautiful livery. The other options were (LGW- Gatwick with Easyjet) and (STN - Stansted with Ryanair) but since they were far away and had flown them before, I decided to fly from LHR to LIS (Lisbon). LGW was another option but in the end, LHR was more convenient for us. I would have love to fly to LIS from LCY (London City) but for some strange reason, at this point, there isn't any flights on this route. 

Next was to choose the flight timing and for both flights, I decided on the afternoon flight, one way on the A320neo and the return on the A321neo. There was a small chance of getting the special livery aircraft on both aircraft types. The airline's A321neo has 3 different configuration and more on this on my next trip report. Anyway, let's begin this trip report! 

Booking with TAP Airlines 

The airline offers different pricing for all the classes. As I was booking for 3 passengers, I had to look for the best price to avoid paying too much. The price difference between the savers and discounted airfare was quite a bit and after much consideration, I decided to go with the discounted airfare.

Flying with this airline, you thought, should be straightforward, however when I look at the pricing and the airline's reputation (general review of the airline), I was disappointed. This reminds me very much of fellow Star Alliance member, Avianca. 

For the discounted fare, I saved a total of Euro $300 but I had to sacrifice the check-in luggage allowance and seat selection. It was not a big deal as we ended up manage to fit in our belonging into the cabin luggage and all were within the airline's allowance. 

Once everything was finalised, I received my booking within seconds after the payment was made. 

What I dislike is the need to key in the OTP password each time I went through my booking. This is the first airline I encountered this and it is a hassle. There were a few times I had to wait for a quite a while for the OTP to arrive but fortunately you can receive the 6-digit passcode via phone or email. Personally i feel there should be an option for us to opt out this system. 

A few weeks before our flight, I did consider paying for our seat selection but looking at the exoribitant airfare, I decided to go try our luck and see where the computer system put us during the check-in process. 

About TAP Airlines 

TAP Air Portugal is the national airline of Portugal, based at Lisbon Airport. TAP stands for Transportes Aereos Portugueses and is founded in March 1945. So next year, the airline will be celebrating its 80th birthday. This Star Alliance member (joined in 2005) has a fleet of almost 100 aircraft comprises of majority Airbus and the remaining Embraer fleet making up the minority. This Embraer ERJ-190 fleet operates on behalf of the regional airline TAP Express while the main airline TAP operates A319, A320 and A321 (CEO), A320 and A321 (NEO) and A330-200 and A330-900neo. 

Currently the airline focus on domestic routes with Porto as the secondary hub, European routes, North and South American routes. The A330-900neo is currently the flagship aircraft and operates mostly to South America and the west coast of U.S while the A321neo-LR operates to some of the east-coast of North America. With numerous codeshares with fellow star alliance members on flights to Asia, I doubt TAP will venture to Asia anytime soon. 

On the day of departure 

This is where I stayed at an Airbnb apartment near Aldgate East. 

As the Piccadilly line was having issues, we took the expensive Elizebeth line to LHR airport. 

TAP Air Portugal is based at Terminal 2 of LHR airport. 

Busy morning as air travel is back to pre-covid times. 

As we are travelling without luggage, we decided to collect the boarding pass from the self-check in kiosk instead of using our mobile boarding pass. 

For this check-in process, instead of being able to print all 3 boarding passes at one go since it was under the same PNR, I had to do the check-in process 3 times just to obtain all of our boarding passes, that's ridiculous. 

That's the self check-in luggage kiosk. 

My boarding pass  to Lisbon with TAP! 

Not fun waiting at the queue for your turn, so having the self check-in kiosk around may not be a bad thing. 

Security check took about 15 minutes and once that's done, we headed to a nearby cafe to enjoy some breakfast and coffee. 

I had to wait for a while for the gate assignment but luckily I had the Flighty app that notify me of my gate assignment. 

Pret is one of the sandwiches cafes I like to go to enjoy one of these delicious sandwiches. 

This is the crayfish sandwich. 

Checking on my aircraft's status, she was on her way. At that time, CS-TVL was one of the newest A320neo in the airline's fleet. 

I did a check on the weather and I noticed how windy the condition is at Lisbon so one thing for sure, this was probably a bumpy flight. Was it? Read on to find out. 

Aegean Airlines! I flew this at the beginning of this year, you can check out the trip report over here.

This is Virgin Atlantic A330-300, this aircraft type is being retired in favour of the A330-900neo. 

This is my ride to Lisbon, it certainly looks small compared to Air Canada and United's Boeing 777 aircraft. 

I like departing from this terminal as it is spacious and there are lots of shops to check out. In addition, the airport offers complimentary wifi though one has to register in order to use. 

This was the assigned gate for my flight, gate A16.

Once boarding started, we were soon on our way after waiting for the different tier level of passengers to board before our turn came. 

This has to be one of the longest aerobridges I have seen so far. 

The excitement of flying a new airline for my flight logbook is definitely one of the highlights of this trip.

Almost there! 

Are you a fan of this livery? I certainly am. 

Welcome on board TAP Air Portugal Airbus A320neo! 

My ride: CS-TVL (Photo: Rui Sequeira)

Airbus A320-251N (Owned)
Configuration: CY174
Engines: 2 X CFM Leap-1A
Delivered on November 2023 
Age: 4 months old (March 2024)
11813th Airbus built 
Built in TLS (Toulouse)

Flight route: LHR-LIS 

Miles: 972 

My seat: 18A (Photo: Aerolopa.com)

Date of departure: 26th February 2024
Airline: TAP Air Portugal 
Aircraft: Airbus A320neo 
Registration: CS-TVL
Flight number: TP1359
Departure terminal: 2 
Gate: A16 
Schedule departure: 1340 
Boarding: 1315 
Push back: 1429 
Take off: 1450 
Flight Time: 2 hours 10 minutes 
Actual Flight Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Schedule arrival: 1625
Actual arrival: 1700 
Departure runway: 09R
Arrival runway: 02 

My inflight experience 

Once on board, what caught my attention is the stylish uniform of both the male and female crew, they greeted us, welcoming us on board as we passed by them to our seats. Looking at the seats, there are 2 types (shown below) and of course you have to pay more for the better seats. I wished the normal seats had the charging port as well but what is disappointing is no entertainment on board, not even streaming wifi system. So if you have your own entertainment, no issue at all. As far as I know the A321neo-LR is the only narrow-body aircraft in TAP's fleet that has seatback screens in both Economy and Business Class.

Although we boarded on time, we didn't push back until around 40 minutes after departure time and the reason the Captain gave wasn't really clear. He mentioned about the airport control having issue which I assumed has to be in Lisbon as the aircraft besides us arrived later but departed before us. Anyway, once we were ready, we pushed back and taxied to the active runway. The Captain apologised for the delay and promised to make up for loss time, but we still arrived late. 

Once we were on our way, we encountered some expected turbulence especially flying through the clouds but once we reached our assigned flight level, it was smooth all the way until we were on final approach. 

During the flight, we were expecting a beverage or snack but didn't received any. Later on I found out that that for beverage, the airline offers complimentary water upon request. Looking at the prices on the menu, it was better to have a meal at Lisbon after reaching there. I noticed there were quite a bit of transaction as others were willing to purchase their items. 

My entertainment on this flight was enjoying the view outside and chatting with my partner, fortunately time went past quickly and we were on our descent. During that time, we were warned of turbulence during approach and yes, it was indeed turbulent with the wing swaying strongly from side to side as the pilots were battling hard to control the aircraft but the landing was fantastic. Well done to the PIC (Pilot-in-command)! 

Once touched down, we taxied for about 5 minutes to our parking lot and from there we took a bus over to the terminal. For those with connecting flights, all the best to them especially after the late arrival. 

BL3530 seats

Rows 1 to 12 are fitted with Recaro BL3530 slimlime upholstered seat with 4-way adjustable headrest and they can be set up as business class when required. If that happens, the middle seat remains vacant. However, the airline usually uses row 1-6 for the premium passengers while for the remaining rows of the seats are catered for high elite economy class travellers or for those willing to pay more for these seats. 

Row 1 to 10 = About 33 inches legroom space
Row 11 and 12 = emergency rows which offer around 35 inches of legroom space

Row 1 to 12 passengers get access to universal and USB-A ports. 

For this flight, business class passengers were seated from row 1 to 4. 

The adjustable headrest 

Slightly more legroom space in this section. 

The other noticable difference is the literature holder being placed near the top of the seatback.

For longer sector flights (3 hours and longer), I would certainly picked these seats. 

 SL3510 Seats

Row 13 to 29 features these slimline seats that do not offer headrest. In addition, these seats do not come with USB charging ports and offer a tighter legroom space of 28 inches. 

This was my seat. 

The view from my seat. 

Do notice that for the seas at this section has the literature holder located at the seat pocket below the tray holder, that's the difference between these seats and the seats between row 1 to 12. 

TAP's A320neo's cabin is configured with the standard smaller size overhead compartment so it was not a surprise when some passengers were not able to fit their cabin baggage at their section, fortunately the friendly crew sorted it out. 

This is the last row of the economy class cabin. 

The view of the cabin 

The crew's working space at the rear of the aircraft. 

A few more photos of the slim seats near the rear of the aircraft. 

Overall I find the cabin to be clean and tidy. However, for an airline like TAP, I expect more especially with the offerings for every passenger. USB ports should be installed for every seat and also online streaming (wifi) should also be available on aircraft without seatback screen.

More photos of the SL3510 seat 

Recaro is well known for it's airline seats and even though this seat product is basic, I find it comfortable for my back but the legroom space is an issue for my long legs. 

As I was travelling with 2 family members, I went for the middle seat on condition that I was allowed to do window photography during the flight, thanks E! 

The foldable tray 

Where is the universal power socket? 

What's inside the seat pocket? 

Safety Card 

In-flight menu (Economy Class passengers have to purchase food and beverages) 

Just like any other airlines offering BOB service (Buy-on-board), the price is on the high-end side.

 Fortunately, the turbulence wasn't strong enough for any of us on board to use this bag. 

Lavatory check 

This A320neo lavatory in this configuration is certainly more spacious than the Airbus' Space-Flex Cabin.

Window view (Take off to Landing) 

This Lufthansa A320neo arrived after us. 

However, it departed before us as we were informed of a 30 minutes delay and that ended up 10 minutes longer. 

This blank livery Airbus A320 is operating for Austrian Airlines, registered as OE-LZR. Why isn't this aircraft in the airline's livery? I have no idea but I supposed the airline is in need of aircraft during this peak period and just deploy first and paint the aircraft later when there is time.

Finally we pushed back and on our way. 

The winglet livery is certainly very striking. 

We were at runway 09R for departure. 

Off we go! Emirates Airbus A380 was heading back to Dubai. 

It's been a while since I last saw Kuwait's Boeing 777-300ER. I flew on the airline's 77W from KUL to BKK many years ago. 

Delta's Airbus A330-900 heading for New York JFK. 

Virgin Atlantic A330-300

Nice to see Etihad's A380 back in the skies. 

Off we go, it was quite windy at LHR and was slightly bumpy during take-off. 

The view was magnificent but the windy condition makes the ride slightly uncomfortable. 

We flew through some nasty clouds and had a up and down-drift ride across the cloud. 

Once cleared of the nasty clouds, the ride towards Lisbon was smooth. 

This is the kind of weather that most of us like to fly in, smooth and clear blue skies. 

At this point, we started our descent into Lisbon (LIS) Airport. 

It was quite cloudy at Portugal but the ride was still smooth at this point. 

Once we were closer to ground, it started getting bumpy. 

At this point we were swaying from side to side. 

Almost there! 

Excellent landing from the PIC. 

The weather looks great at Lisbon though it was very windy. 

Welcome to the world of TAP! 

We taxied past a lot of aircraft but didn't spot either the retro livery A321neo or Star Alliance livery A320. 

This is our parking lot, we parked besides this Airbus A321neo which was waiting to depart. 

Disembarkment the old fashion way! 

This was our first encounter with the wind, it was quite strong but bearable. 

Thanks for the ride. CS-TVL. After a short rest, this aircraft departed for Munich. 

We enjoyed some view while travelling to the terminal. The ride took about 7-8 minutes. 

It was great to spot a few Euroatlantic's Boeing 777-200ER hanging around at the airport. 

This is Wizzair's A321neo and is an airline that I like to try in the near future. 

My flight summary 

Welcome to Humberto Delgado (Lisbon) Airport! 

It took quite a while to reach immigration. 

The terminal has plenty of  photography-friendly windows so plane spotting at this airport is not an issue.

Once we cleared immigration, it took about 20-30 minutes as there were a few flights arriving at that time. 

This is Lisbon Airport Terminal 1! 

The Metro station is located just outside these doors (below) and that is very convenient. 

The outside view of the terminal. 

My ratings:

Airline Mobile app/Website: 2/5 
Airport Experience: (LHR Terminal 2): 4/5 
In-Flight Experience: 3.5/5 
In-Flight Entertainment: 0/5 
Cabin and Amenities: 0/5
Seat Comfort: 3.5/5 
Cabin Ambiance: 4/5 
Cabin Cleanliness/Condition: 5/5 
Punctuality: 0/5 
In-Flight Meal/Snack: 0/5 
Overall rating: 22/50
Percentage: 44%


We were surprised that no in-flight meal or snack was served on this flight and even on my flight from Frankfurt to Athens (around the same flight time) with Aegean, we were given a choice of beverage and a sandwich. Flying with this airline, my partner and I agreed that this is not much of a difference flying this airline with a low cost carrier. Even Scoot offers complimentary online streaming on it's short hops. For TAP, it depends on your luck as there are A321neo-LR aircraft that does european flights during the long layover in Lisbon before their next flight to North America. These aircraft offer IFE system and charging ports for your devices which gives it an advantage over flying the standard A320 and A321 (ceo and neo) aircraft. In addition to the lack of amenities on this flight, the late departure and the lack of beverages and food forced me to deduct more points for my ratings on this flight and therefore I wasn't shocked with the overall score. Lastly, I find the airline's website and mobile app to be quite frustrating to use with frequent errors requiring refresh of app or website and the extra need to key in the otp on the website/app to access my booking and making changes to it. This would be my 2nd time failing an airline's flight experience, the last time was with Cebu Pacific A330-300 flight from Manila to Singapore. 

Hope you enjoyed this trip report and thanks for reading! 

For my previous trip report (Qantas Airbus A380 SIN-LHR), click here

For my next trip report (TAP Air Portugal Airbus A321neo LIS-LHR), click here

Have a good one! 

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