They bring massive benefits to Portugal, they offer cheap and affordable seats, and that’s what a lot of people want. But what happened to flying being a pleasure rather than something to be endured.
I don’t fly as much as I used to, but when I do fly, I would like to enjoy the journey. Long gone are the days when flying was glamorous, but some airlines, not many within Europe, still offer business class. TAP is one of them, and I have never had a disappointing flight. Service is excellent, catering is good and the selection of wines is very good.
You enjoy a private cabin at the front of the aircraft, more space and a dedicated and very attentive crew. You get a reserved check-in, fast track, and a superb lounge (in Lisbon). At the gate you receive priority boarding. What’s not to like? You get VIP treatment from check-in to arrival. Flying can still be a pleasure, and that’s something the low-cost airlines can’t offer.
In fact, looking at ticket prices as we approach the summer season, low cost is far from accurate. Tickets to the UK, single, are selling at around €200. The ticket might be expensive, but you won’t get any better service or any catering, it’s simply supply and demand. It remains a bus service, but that’s what a lot of people want, and in fairness the low costs have a very high safety record, are usually very punctual but forget the super deals of €20 or €30, its summer (nearly).
Business Class is too expensive
Not if you play your cards right. Tickets can be free, or upgrades can be free, you simply need to know what’s on offer. TAP Credit cards are available from Millennium BCP, you will get air miles on everything you spend on your card. Use the card for everything from fuel to your supermarket shopping. TAP have an offer known as TAP Miles and Go. For a monthly or annual fee you can get as many as 8,000 air miles every month, plus a bonus for joining of up to 18,000 miles. Air miles build up fast. I take advantage of all the offers, and I always travel business class and I haven’t paid for a ticket for years. You can also buy an economy ticket and upgrade with miles. Simply put, if you want to enjoy flying again, work the system.
We are all aware of the problems TAP have been through but in reality they are common to many airlines as we went through the crisis of Covid-19. The same, justified, criticism of many airlines during and immediately after the Covid-19 crises. Phones not answered, refunds not made, flights cancelled or delayed, compensation not received. It was an unmitigated disaster, but not just for TAP.
TAP back in profit
As so often, political ‘scandals’ are all too frequent. In this case, it involved a compensation payment to a past TAP CEO. The rights and wrong of this are not for us to understand in any depth, but the departure of CEO Christine Ourmiéres at a time when TAP will close the last financial year with a profit, which has not happened for several years, is sad. With a capacity in seats offered very close to that of 2019 and above the targets agreed with Brussels. Minister of Finance, Fernando Medina noted “the good results of the current management team in implementing the restructuring plan”. The new CEO and chairman of TAP is Luís Manuel da Silva Rodrigues, until now executive president of SATA, the Azorean airlines.
Strikes are a problem, but it’s not just TAP. The low costs have been plagued by strikes, even this year. Strikes are becoming far too frequent, not just in the airline industry. Are they justified; I don’t know. People will have their own opinions, all we, the general travelling public know is that they cause us a lot of problems. I travelled to Barcelona last December in the midst of the strike, but whatever the cabin crew may have felt about the strike, the service was of the highest standard. Their dispute with the management didn’t affect their attitude to passengers.
TAP takes Portugal all over the World
TAP is Portugal’s ‘flag carrier’ and takes the image and hospitality of the nation all over Europe and North America, South America and Africa. The problem is that only the complainers grab publicity, but there are many thousands of passengers who are impressed with TAP and its service.
One long-time passenger told me, “if you have been travelling away from Portugal, it’s great to step onboard a TAP flight and get the warm welcome that Portugal is so famous for”. According to SKYTRAX TAP is Certified as a 3-Star Airline (maximum 5 stars) for the quality of its airport and onboard product and staff service. Product rating includes seats, amenities, food & beverages, cleanliness etc, and service rating is for both cabin staff and ground staff. That’s an average. The Lisbon Business Class lounge gets 4 stars, as does the quality of meals. Personal space and service score highly.
Personally, although I live in the Algarve, I fly from Lisbon. It’s another hour up the motorway. Being a much more business-oriented airport it offers many benefits. Services like valet parking, a superb TAP lounge and many amenities. Faro is a more tourist-based airport, that’s not a criticism, it’s a reality that services like valet parking wouldn’t appeal to the vast majority of passengers. There is a lounge, but with little business class flights operating out of Faro, the lounge is designed to cater for a different type of passenger. Many low-cost airlines offer the lounge for a premium payment. The services offered are limited to what the airlines pay for this service. No doubt a lot less than what they charge their passengers who will pay the extra cost.
TAP Business Class product has a lot to offer if you want to bring back some of the pleasure of flying. Supporting Portugal’s ‘flag carrier’ can benefit you, Portugal and the airline.
Thats great. BUT. TAP do not fly everywhere. My two main destinations are Dublin and Tallinn. TAP do not serve them.
At the moment I can get a direct flight FNC>DUB for 40€. With TAP I have to fly via Lisbon and the best price I can find is over 300€. Nice work if you can get it, but TAP are simply not competitive and it is a competitive market.
By Richard from Madeira on 31 Mar 2023, 12:26
The question is not the quality of service provided by TAP, but rather the necessity of ownership by the government. TAP has cost the people of Portugal billions of euros, with little to no benefit to the average Portuguese person. As much as it TAP "feels good" to Portugal, it is not a prudent use of taxpayer money. Portugal will continue to have many options with other carriers regardless of the final ownership of TAP. Let it go, set it free, the world will be a better place (and Portugal will be a little less poor!).
By Dirk Driedger from Algarve on 31 Mar 2023, 16:28
I have to wonder about the impartiality of this advertorial. I still travel frequently, and used to have TAP top tier status until I made a conscious decision not to chase TAP status.. The advertorial does not, in my experience, reflect the reality.
On 2 occasions from Rome to Lisbon, in TAP Executive, the cabin crew have been on work to rule and refused to serve more than water. To be fair, in Executive class, our water was served in a glass, not a plastic beaker. Same situation from Gatwick to Lisbon.
The claim of "free" flights is like a teenager having "free" minutes on the phone that the parent pays for. Yes, if you pay a monthly, or annual, fee you buy miles which can be used for flights, but you still have to pay a fee in addition to the miles that you use.
I just looked at a Faro to Barcelona trip in July. I could book the 1-way using mile, via Lisbon, and it would be €127 plus 15,000 miles, or I could book with cash and make a like for like booking and pay €130, no miles.
Although nobody would claim Ryanair, or similar, as their favourite airline, you get what you pay for and, as the writer said, a generally reliable and predictable service. We book 2 seats, with priority, then book the middle seat so we have some space. If we want to eat in flight we pre-pay for food & drink. The seats do not recline, as they do at the front in TAP, but that is a small price to pay.
By Michael from Algarve on 31 Mar 2023, 19:43
I love this article. Finally some positive things said for TAP. I have traveled on TAP for 40 years every summer to Algarve and I wouldn't switch airlines ever! Instead of criticizing TAP I think you all need to think about how horrible Lisbon airport is and has always been. It only gets worse every year. Thank you for the tips on how to earn points. I always pay full price for Executive tickets. Oh and by the way people, all of the flight attendants are very professional and know how to handle any health issues onboard. TAP Fan!
By Jacqueline Marie Jayson Fricchione from USA on 31 Mar 2023, 21:27
* When I call United, I get an experienced customer service agent within a minute. Conversely:
* When I call TAP, I wait over an hour, then they hang up. I call back and wait for another hour. They provide no help whatsoever, with a snarl. Consistently.
* When I cancel a fully refundable TAP ticket, TAP never processes the refund.
* I bought a ticket. TAP sent a confirmation email. When I arrived at the airport, my reservation code was invalid and there was no ticket. TAP cancelled the ticket with no notice or explanation. I had to fly the following day, at the highest possible fare, with no apology or restitution from TAP.
* TAP often fails to credit my United account with my miles. It takes months of calls to United to get satisfaction. (Calling TAP is futile, as noted earlier.)
* I missed my connection in Lisbon because of a 2 hour mechanical delay, during peak tourist season. Arriving at midnight, there were no TAP employees around. I wandering around in a panic for an hour until I found a Groundforce employee to issue a hotel voucher.
* TAP didn't do a great job of notifying me about my rescheduled connection to Madeira, very early the next morning. Unnecessary stress. And see above about the dreadful--basically unavailable--telephone support.
* TAP loses my bags more often than any other airline I've experienced. Whenever I'm flying TAP, I pack especially defensively so that the loss of my checked bag(s) won't ruin my trip.
* On board, TAP flights are fine. The business class menu is heavy but the service is pleasant. Business class cabin staff are friendly and attentive.
Will a new CEO build a better airline? I hope so.
By Dan Park from USA on 01 Apr 2023, 04:11
TAP Executive Class is very good. Low cost airlines treat you like cattle, TAP treats you like a valued passenger. TAP aren't perfect, nor are any other airline, but TAP wins hands down. I will follow the authors suggestion and start collecting air miles on a credit card. Its a no brainer
By Joe from Algarve on 01 Apr 2023, 11:02
I recently flew TAP business class to Mexico and have to say, that whilst the aircraft was clean and seating was comfortable I was disappointed by the service, particularly when compared to other airlines such as Iberia, Swiss and even BA. Has all the potential to be a great airline, but grumpy and unfriendly staff, lack of options, poor service, and dismissive attitude let it down.
By Mark Barber from Algarve on 01 Apr 2023, 16:13