Right in the thick of a pandemic, I found myself with an opportunity to fly to Portugal. Before you grab your passport in excitement, I must caution you that as an American you need special permission to go (during the pandemic). In fact, you must show proof of this special permission to be allowed on board during this crazy time. Some examples include a resident visa or a special press pass. You must also show proof of a negative Covid 19 test within 72 hours of your flight. However, if you can swing it (safely), I highly recommend flying TAP business class!
I have flown TAP as an economy passenger before. TAP is Portugal’s flagship airline. Even as an economy passenger in the past the service I experienced was outstanding. I actually flew with my dog last time and they were extremely accommodating and caring. You could tell that they really cared for their customers.
This was my first time flying in business class with TAP. I flew in October of 2020. Here is my experience:
Booking was easy. Due to the pandemic, we were able to snag an excellent price. In fact, the price was comparable to what an economy ticket to Europe would normally cost. We recommend using the ITA Matrix to find the best prices. It takes a bit of time and practice, but it can save you hundreds of dollars, sometimes more. We were able to book first class directly on their website. A good thing to remember is that TAP allows you to upgrade, even from basic economy. You can either bid on a first class seat the night before or you can upgrade at the airport (at check-in). Sometimes you can also find opportunities to upgrade before then (after booking).
Miami airport (where we started our journey) was mostly shut down, therefore it was very difficult to find the check in desk. Once we found the desk, we were able to check in quickly in the first class line. She quickly checked our documents and printed out our tickets. She was not overly friendly and did not really acknowledge us, but she was not rude either. We each checked a bag and we were on our way. One big bummer of flying in the midst of the pandemic was that the cool lounge we should have enjoyed was shut down. So, there was no lounge, or anything open for that matter. However, that was no fault of TAP’s.
While there were fewer people on this flight than normal, the usual “hustle to the front” was still happening when they called first class to board. We had to fight out way through a crowd who were standing around even though their area had not been called yet. I think they could have done a bit better with instructing people not to gather so close together in the midst of a pandemic. We were actually a bit nervous by the large crowd that was gathered, so much so, that we almost waited until last to board. However, we wanted a chance at a welcome aboard drink, especially since everything in the airport was closed.
Once on board, we were able to settle in with plenty of space. Spoiler alert, there was no welcome drink. The bummer of Covid continues to resound.
The Space: 5/5
The space was very fancy and nice. I will say, there was a piece of chewed gum on my side arm rest, in plain view. First of all, ew. Second of all, that made me a bit nervous about the cleaning job that was done after the last flight. However, when I told the flight attendant about it, she quickly cleaned it up. The bed laid all the way flat. There were a few different modes on the controls. You could also manually lift or lower the legs or back. There was a very nice control for lumbar support. There was a side compartment that opened and closed. You could keep small things, like a phone or vanity kit, inside. Speaking of vanity kits, they provided a very cute one. Inside you had you usual socks, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste and lip balm.
At your seat, you also have a water. The pillow was especially nice as well as the blanket. There was a lower compartment for my purse and room for my shoes as well. When you lay the bed flat, your feet go into a small v-shaped area. This seemed roomy enough for me, but my husband felt a bit cramped in there. When you are laid flat, you cannot bend your knees, you must sit up to do so. Also, a minor annoyance, but we did bump knees a few times during the night when we were trying to sleep.
The entertainment system is very good. The seats are at a slant, so you can pop out the screen to see it straight on. The headphones were dreamy with great sound and noise cancelling abilities. There were a lot of good movie and series options. There were also games and a lot of music. There was a lot to do, I was a bit sad that it was time to sleep.
The Service: 4/5
The flight attendants were not overly attentive as I have experienced previously on other first class or business class flights, but they were around. I am not sure if this is Covid related, but I suspect it may be their attempt to limit contact. One flight attendant rudely reached in to change my husband’s recline at one point, which made him feel a bit violated of his personal space, but other than that they seemed to be nice and polite. One thing to note is right after take off, we were told that “Portuguese law prohibited drinking more than a few.” We found this confusing, but we were able to have wine and drinks with no issue.
The food: 5/5
This is by far my favorite part of this flight. Well, besides the ability to lay flat and sleep. The food was by far the best airplane food I have ever had. It really does not feel right to call it airplane food. It was gourmet food. My husband had the veal and I had the salmon. Everything was cooked to perfection. We each tried both dishes. The veal was cooked medium rare and absolutely melted in my mouth. There were cheesy cauliflower with the salmon and there were cheesy potatoes with the veal. All of the sides were phenomenal. I felt like I was dining out at a nice restaurant with a chef. It was truly impressive!
They had a good selection of wine on board. And, of course, they had great port! They also had a few liquors and beer as well. One annoying thing was that we could not look at the menu (again, Covid), but they were knowledgeable and told us what was on it.
The breakfast was not really anything to write about, but it was there. Honestly, I am never really sure if I want to eat when they serve it. It was cold bread with cold ham and cheese. However, they did have espresso, which was a great treat.
For some reason, the front bathrooms were closed. So, we had to share the bathroom with economy. However, it was not bad. It was fairly clean, for an airplane bathroom. In the future, I am curious to know if the business class bathroom is different.
Again, the gum on my seat was a bit disturbing. First of all, who would do that? Anyway, aside from that and the overflowing trash in the bathroom, it seemed very clean.
Overall, I would definitely fly TAP business class again. From the seat to the food, it was a true treat. I am curious to experience it post-Covid, as I am sure it would be even better. However, it felt luxurious. The plane was very new feeling. It was quiet and had very nice lighting in the cabin. I think this is one that should definitely be enjoyed!
Have you flown TAP? What was your experience? Comment below!