Paris Orly-Lisbon on TAP in business: good catering, deficient operations

In this month of February, I decided to flee the Parisian greyness for a week, since remote work is in fashion, to go and work in a warmer place, Portugal, in Algarve.

This will be an opportunity for me to add a new airline to my roster as I have never flown on TAP.

Here is the routing of this flight which begins with an Orly-Lisbon.

And the details of the articles related to this trip :

#1TypeReview
1FlightParis Orly-Lisbon on TAP in Business Class
2FlightLisbon-Faro on TAP en business Class
3HotelPine Cliffs Hotel Ocean Suites – Albufeira
4FlightFaro-Lisbon in business on TAP
5FlightLisbon-Paris Orly in business on TAP

Booking

I go to the TAP website, choose my flights and then...I can’t go through with the process. Each time an error message tells me that the flights are no longer available.

I won’t talk about the ergonomics, the interface and the appalling experience of the site. I haven’t seen worse since maybe China Eastern a few years ago and even then…because in that case I ended up making my booking.

After half a dozen unsuccessful attempts, I went through American Express Travel and my reservation was made on the first try on the flights I had initially selected.

Check-in and ground experience

Online check-in is just as much of a hassle as buying a ticket. Added to this is the filling in of the Portuguese “Passenger Locator Form” which looks to me like it was developed by the same incompetents. An insult to the digital experience. And of course after spending long minutes filling it in the middle of the check-in process my session was cut off so I have to start over.

Anyway, after spending a good 20 minutes on my phone I am finally checked in.

When I arrived at Orly I found an airport that had not yet recovered from COVID. All the stores or almost all of them are closed in terminal 2.

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Having read here and there that TAP was quite fussy about cabin luggage and that the airline only accepts the minimum size, and since I have time and a connection, I decide for once to check my luggage.

Lots of people in line, but nobody in the premium line. Good for me.

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Only two counters are open, one of which is for premium customers, so I think that the “eco” ones had better not be in a hurry.

For my part, everything is settled in two minutes, they check my vaccination pass and verify that I have filled in the location form and off we go.

TAP does not have a lounge at Orly and since everything is closed “landside” I decide to hang out and walk around this airport that I have not seen for ages.

On the side of terminal 2 it is still as gloomy as before, even worse with the stores closed. However, we are a few weeks away from the end of the pass and the mask.

So I go to the terminal 3 from where TAP departs (even if the check-in is at terminal 2) and there the brand new building is a bit more cheerful.

Let’s head to the security controls. No one in the ” Access N°1 ” line and I pass in less than 5 minutes. It’s well sized and fluid anyway.

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As in any modern airport, it is no longer possible to access the boarding area without passing through a duty free shop.

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Then a food court…

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Of course the gate is not yet indicated. For lack of lounge I will find a place to sit and to pass the time I prepare some stories for the TravelGuys Instagram account, which I invite you to follow.

Time passes and 10 minutes before boarding nothing is indicated. In fact, TAP indicates boarding times almost 50 minutes before the flight’s departure to be sure that everyone will be at the gate on time. But the real time being only 30 minutes before, it creates a little legitimate stress for the passengers who wonder if they are not late.

Once the door is indicated I take the direction and there it is a little mess.

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No “premium” line materialized...well yes, but you have to pass everyone to see it otherwise it is useless since it is only accessible near the boarding pass control.

Everyone is in line and waiting. We are at 50 min from the departure : it is totally useless.

The boarding of premium passengers begins. And we find ourselves stuck in the jetway without being able to go further because the plane is of course not ready.

I’ve seen poorly handled boarding but getting people to move on so early before departure and knowing that the plane isn’t ready is not proof of well-organized operations.

I take the opportunity to take pictures of an Air France A330 parked next to it, probably departing for the French overseas territories.

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That’s it, we can go on…until the next stop.

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We have been standing for 25 minutes for nothing.

We are finally released and I can enter the cabin.

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The cabin of TAP’s A321 Neo

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We are of course in a 3-3 configuration. The leather seat makes a good impression. For the connoisseurs it is the Recaro SL3710.

The colors are sober. In business class the middle seat is of course neutralized.

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The legroom is comfortable.

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The seat is equipped with easy access USB ports and power outlets.

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The tablet is a good size but not sure if it is enough to put a computer on comfortably.

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Very interestingly, it has a “tablet holder” that allows you to position your iPad ideally to watch a movie during the flight, in the same way as the A220 of Air France.

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However, after only a few minutes I found the seat to be very hard. Those who are already complaining about the Lufthansa/Swiss NEK will surely have something to complain about this one.

The boarding is endless. Next to us is a photo of the Air France family with a cousin from Transavia.

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Finally we finish on time for a departure almost on time but after a process where the passengers will have made the queue and advanced by blow during more than 40 minutes! Still happy that I was in the first ones but I really pity the eco passengers.

So we are ready to go.

On this flight there will be 3 business rows so 12 passengers maximum and we will be 5.

The flight and the service

The taxiing to align on the runway will be short and we finally take off. We say goodbye to the Eiffel and Montparnasse towers before making a turn which brings us towards the west.

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The menus are distributed very quickly.

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You will notice that on this two-hour flight TAP does not offer just one hot dish but a choice between two hot dishes. Afterwards, one wonders why we avoid Air France as much as possible on medium-haul business class flights.

The orders are taken and I will choose the pasta.

From that moment on, the staff concentrates in the galley to prepare the service and nothing happens for the next 35 minutes. Okay, they are preparing the dishes and heating them up, but there is no beverage service either.

The service finally begins and I open the tablet of the neighboring seat to put the drinks without cluttering mine. Surprise… the cleaning was botched…

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The hostess noticed immediately and rushed to clean up.

My meal finally arrives.

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I am finally asked if I want to drink something. I let the flight attendant advise me and I’ll have an excellent Douro.

It was a long wait but well worth it. Really a nice set for a 2h flight.

Let’s start with the appetizer.

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Overall good and with taste but it lacks salt and pepper, which are not available on the side. I will have to make do with the standard seasoning.

Then the main course.

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The ravioli are good, the sauce is very tasty and the quantity is right.

The dessert is correct, maybe a little bland.

But overall for this kind of flight I am very satisfied with the service that puts a smile back on my face after a not always convincing start of the flight. For a medium-haul European business on a 2-hour flight, we are well above the average of what I have already experienced for 3 reasons:

  • There are hot dishes
  • We have a choice of dishes
  • Quantity and quality are there

Add to that a very pleasant service…well when the staff was accessible.

Once the meal is over, the trays will be cleared and the staff will return to the galley, curtain drawn.

Let’s just say that the service was very good…when it happened. We had a total absence of staff for almost 40 min, a sprint during lunch, then an equally total disappearance until the end of the flight.

The end of the flight goes smoothly but not without experiencing a small turbulence zone.

Landing and disembarkation in Lisbon

The descent begins and I enjoy as usual the arrival in Lisbon…

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We land and after a long taxiing we find ourselves parked remotely We will therefore disembark by bus , not always of the most pleasant.

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After being dropped off in the terminal and at the turn of a corridor, control of the sanitary documents.

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This time it’s over and I can go to the lounge to wait for my flight to Faro.

The crew and the service

A double-sided service: pleasant and efficient during the 20/30 minutes of effective presence of the crew in the cabin. Inexistent the rest of the time it was hidden in the galley, curtain drawn.

Conclusion

If my discovery of TAP was globally positive I will note however two things

1°) A very nice lunch service and a very good service

2°) Overall unsatisfactory operations: a long and messy boarding process that mobilizes passengers 50 minutes before departure, nearly 40 minutes on board without seeing a crew member except for taking orders, no drinks during this time and a crew that disappears again afterwards and a disembarkation by bus (even if on this point the airline is not necessarily responsible). I add to that the lousy site for online booking and its mediocrity for check-in.

I am all the more severe with the operations as the rest was of very good level compared to the competition on flights of this duration in Europe.

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrinhttp://www.duperrin.com
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.
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