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This was my first time flying with TAP Air Portugal and I was a little nervous since I’ve never flew with them before and there were very mixed reviews online. I needed a roundtrip ticket from Barcelona to Lisbon and my only two options were Vueling or TAP Air Portgual. I did some research online to see which one would be better but they both had the same mixed reviews. TAP Air Portugal seemed to be a bit better with their reviews so I decided to go with them.
EXECUTIVE CLASS EXPERIENCE
Buying the ticket online was fairly easy and they have a user-friendly website in English. About a week before the flight, I received an email asking if I wanted to make a bid to upgrade my flights to executive class. I thought I’d bid the lowest amount, which was 100 Euros (this is in addition to the regular price of the ticket), to see if I would even get it.
To my surprise, I got the upgrade and was notified a few days before my flight. The executive class ticket came with priority check-in, priority security, priority boarding, club access lounge and breakfast in-flight.
I am so glad I made the upgrade because the line to check-in was ridiculous in the morning (I took the first flight at 6:40am) and the security line looked chaotic. I was able to skip both of the long lines entirely and made it to my gate within 15 minutes. It probably would have taken me an hour if I had regular economy tickets.
The club access lounge was called Pau Casals. It was a very nice and spacious lounge with complimentary breakfast and drinks. For drinks, they offered soft drinks, juices, wines, beers and even champagne. I was impressed that hey had Nespresso coffee and really enjoyed that. For food, they had an assortment of breads, cereal, cheese and a toast station. They also had a fruit station on the other side that I missed.
I arrived a bit late to my gate because I was enjoying the lounge so much, so again, I was glad I upgraded because I was able to skip through the unorganized long line of economy boarding. Seemed like everyone boarded at once so the sooner you line up the better to secure that luggage space if needed.
Executive class seats were pretty normal with more leg room. There was a nice, thick blanket and a pillow for each business class seat. I believe there were 2-3 rows of business class seats total with 3 seats in each section. There was nobody sitting in the middle seat in my section, so I had more room to store my things. There was also a handy outlet that I used to charge my Skyroam device and iPhone at the same time.
Shortly after the plane took off, we were given hand towels. Then came the complimentary breakfast with yogurt, deli meat, cheese and fruits. The flight attendant also followed with a warm basket of breads and I chose the croissant which was delicious! If you want more bread, they are more than happy to give you more. The food was pretty good but I wasn't that hungry at 6:30 in the morning so I didn't eat too much.
The flight was a short 1.5 hours and the flight attendants took great care of us making sure we had everything we needed.
ECONOMY CLASS EXPERIENCE
Economy class was a whole different experience. I received an email the day before my flight to Barcelona letting me know that I was checked in. I clicked on the link to receive my mobile boarding pass via email and text. I tried both options and they both worked fine.
Since I didn’t have any luggage to check-in, I bypassed the long lines at check-in and proceeded to the boarding gates. The security line was rather empty and I went through in about 5 minutes.
I had about an hour before my flight and didn’t have the information on my gate yet, so I headed up to the club lounge since I have the Priority Pass. By the way, I’ve noticed that in several European airports, you won’t know your gate number until an hour or so before your flight. It’ll usually give you a time of when they will have your gate information ready such as, “Gate Info at 10”.
If you decide to upgrade to Executive Class from Lisbon to Barcelona, their club lounge was very nice with plenty of space, outlets, drinks and food. They had two Nespresso coffee stations, two refrigerators full of juices, sodas and beer, champagne, wine, sandwiches, pastries, cereal and cheeses.
Their wifi (they have cards up front with the login information) connected right away and worked very well both on my laptop and phone. I was very impressed with the amount of outlets they had in the lounge as well. Practically every seat had an outlet.
There is also a digital board with flight information so you can check your gate number in the lounge without having to leave.
I arrived at my gate as soon as I saw my gate number appear on the board, which was 55 minutes before my flight. The gate room was already starting to get crowded when I arrived (took me about 8 minutes to walk to the gate). The staff started putting signs up, separating the lines into 4 groups: Business Class, Passengers with Backpacks Only, Group A and Group B. I was in Group B but the first person in line. I thought I was at a decent place in line but I was dead wrong.
As the boarding process started, the Business Class and families boarded first. Then hoards of Backpack Only passengers boarded before the A group. This Backpack Only line was a little questionable as I saw some passengers board with guitars and very large backpacks that pretty much equals to the size of luggage with wheels. Obviously, they’re going to take up that space in the overhead bins and not put that underneath their seat as this line implies.
Next, Group A started boarding and I noticed that some passengers were getting stopped with their roll-on luggage. Some were asked to check-in their luggage and others passed by with no questions asked. They were all different sizes as well. Some were smaller suitcases compared to others that got asked to check-in their luggage. Their luggage was also checked-in two different ways: 1) you would get a red tag and you could pick up your luggage right by the door when we landed or 2) you would have to check in your luggage and pick up through baggage claim.
I thought I would be able to take my rolling suitcase with me since the lady that checked my boarding ticket let me through but there was a checkpoint of two other staff members measuring the passengers’ bags. My carry-on suitcase did not pass the test, so I had to check-in my luggage and pick it up at baggage claim. I take my Away Bigger Carry-On Suitcase with me everywhere and this was the first time I was not allowed to take it on with me. I know it fits in the overhead bins because it fit perfectly fine when I flew Business Class on the flight before (and these are the same aircrafts with the same bin space).
When I reached my seat at 10D, there were several bins that still had plenty of space and I was one of the last ones to board. I know for sure my suitcase would have fit up there. There were a couple of passengers that were really unhappy that they had to check-in their luggage since they paid extra online to take their luggage with them on board. I could I understand their frustrations. I wasn’t happy that I had to check-in my luggage but at least I didn’t pay extra fees.
The flight to Barcelona was quite pleasant. They had plenty of leg room and even provided a couple of outlets in each seat section. I was also surprised that they provided sandwiches, custard tarts, soft drinks and wine free of charge. The flight attendants were professional and kind as well. I was fairly comfortable and enjoyed my leg room while charging my phone.
Overall, I had a nice experience with TAP Air Portugal. It was actually a lot nicer than I thought. Both flights were on time and everything went pretty smoothly. I wish I didn’t have to check-in my luggage but it arrived quickly and safely in Barcelona. I think the upgrade is worth it for the minimum amount of 100 Euros if you want to skip all those lines, get access to the VIP lounge and take your rolling suitcase with you on-board without any hassle. Other than that, you have the same amount of leg room and you also get free food and beverages including beer and wine.