Lisbon- Porto, TAP, Business Class: catastrophic boarding (as always) and useless staff.

While my return to Paris had all the makings of a routine flight, the two flights that await me will be among the worst I have ever experienced. Starting with this Lisbon-Porto.

For the record the articles related to this trip.

#TypeSubject
1FlightParis Orly-Lisbon, TAP, Business Class
2HotelMoxy Lisbon City Center
3RestaurantDown Under by Justin Jennings, Lisbon
4RestaurantElevador, Lisbon
5HotelSheraton Cascais & Resort
6HotelPenha Longa Resort, Sintra
7LoungeTAP Premium Lounge – Lisbon
8FlightLisbonne- Porto, TAP, Business Class
9FlightPorto-Paris Orly, TAP, Business Class (Operated by Portugalia)

Check-in and ground course

To my surprise the online check-in on the TAP application worked perfectly well and on the first try. A great first in the long ordeal that is the history of my digital interactions with the Portuguese airline.

J’arrive à l’aéroport et me mets en quête du comptoir d’eI arrive at the airport and start looking for the check-in counter.nregistrement. Usually I always keep my luggage in the cabin, but as you may have read in one of the previous articles, the Sheraton Cascais offered me a bottle of port wine that I didn’t drink and so I decided to take it back with me. A big mistake on my part and you will understand why in a few days.

I notice a self drop-off area and head towards it. There is a fairly large queue but further on I see a premium drop off that is almost deserted. Perfect.

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The machine is quite simple to use and in a few seconds the suitcase goes on the conveyor belt.

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This is the last time I will see it. But we’ll talk about the soap opera that this generated another time.

I head for the security checks. Here too no one in premium line.

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In two minutes the matter is settled.

Let’s go to the lounge I told you about here.

As usual with TAP the flight is announced as “Go to gate” 55 minutes before departure. This time I won’t be fooled and I’ll stay in the lounge a little longer. I’m starting to know their practices in this matter and no more arriving at the gate 55 minutes before the flight to wait for boarding for more than half an hour.

I eventually made my way to the gate, taking my time.

Boarding

Arrived at the gate, no surprise, the boarding has not started. And it is already a beautiful mess.

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The boarding will start 5 minutes later so, as I had planned, 30 min after the call and 5 minutes after the theoretical time of a normal boarding.

We quickly find ourselvesblocked in the gateway. The advantage with TAP is that you always know what to expect in terms of boarding.

The sun strikes, no air-conditioning, we are dying.

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In my opinion we will never leave on time. The premium passengers are stuck in the jetway, the others have not yet started to pre-board and we are supposed to take off in 10 minutes. I have a 50-minute connection in Porto and I’m starting to think that it’s going to be complicated…

And guess what? We are told that the flight is delayed and the airline is unable to give an estimated departure time. I talk to the staff,they look at my ticket and admit that my connection is compromised. I was advised to check with customer service to see if it was possible to rebook me on another flight.

So I go to the lounge, thinking that the staff there would quickly solve my problem. No way!The staff at the reception desk tells me that it’s not their job to do customer serviceand they don’t have the competence for that so I’m invited to go to the customer service counter at the end of the terminal.

I sprint to the counter. An impressive line is already formed, no priority queue… so it won’t be any more helpful to me than the lounge staff.

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This is the first time I’ve seen an airline that doesn’t do servicing in the lounge for its premium and elite customers. But the future will prove to me that one should not expect anything from TAP in terms of service except when you are in the plane.

For lack of better, I go back to the boarding gate saying to myself that if I miss my connection they will manage it there.

Later I will realize the incompetence of the staff who advised me after looking at my file. IndeedI did not have a connection but a stop! I was going back to Paris with the same plane, so it was impossible for me to miss it.

But at this point I don’t know so I’m starting to think it’s going to start looking like an impossible mission.

They finally announce a 30 minute delay in take-off. This leaves 20 minutes for the connection provided that they don’t close the door too early (once again I don’t realize at this moment that I will be using the same aircraft).

Start of the boarding and… again blocked in the gateway.

Miracle…we finally board.

The business class cabin of TAP’s Embraer 195

The boarding takes place in the confusion and the haste thus not the time to take too many pictures.

The cabin isvery comfortable and premiumwith its soft leather seats.

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There are individual screens…that won’t be of any use.

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The legroom is comfortable, even in bulkhead.

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The cabin is in a 2-2 configuration and, unfortunately,the adjacent seat is not neutralized. This is the only downside of this cabin.

The cabin is full, everyone is seated and the staff takes its time and chats in the galley. As if we were not late. It makes me even more angry.

We will be 6 in business class. 3 passengers and 3 crew members.

It’s time to leave our parking spot.

The captain makes an announcement to announce the departure, not even a word to apologize for the delay. Distressing

The flight and the service

The taxi is quite long, which allows me to do some spotting. Considering the duration of the flight there won’t be much to see anyway.

A TAP A330Neo.

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A Transavia 737.

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A TAP A320

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More rare, an Azores Airlines

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We finally take off and the service begins.

We are served a lunchbox.

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Considering the duration of the flight I was not expecting anything so I am pleasantly surprised. That said, when we see that Turkish Airlines serves a hot meal on an Istanbul-Izmir flight where we spend less than 30 minutes in flight, I sometimes have too high expectations…

If TAP has the knack of exasperating me as soon as they deal with off-flight operations (booking, check-in, boarding), I have always found their in-flight services very good on medium-haul business class. Let’s see if the tradition continues.

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Well…it doesn’t look like much and it has absolutely no taste. In the end, it’s better not to offer anything like they do on Lisbon-Faro if it’s to serve such a thing.

I don’t have time to mull over it for too long…we already start our descent.

Landing and arrival in Porto

Very quickly the ground appears.

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We touch the ground quickly and we are going to park beside an Air Europa after a short taxi.

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The staff takes forever to open the doors and I sprint to make sure I don’t miss my connection, convinced that I’m leaving on another plane! In my head the boarding has started and I have at best 10 minutes before the doors close.

The staff

In flight nice but a bit dilettante, especially given the context.

At the boarding gates: incompetent.

Customer service: inaccessible.

At the lounge: useless.

Bottom line

A really bad experience. Not only because of the delay, it happens, but once again because of a poorly managed boarding (once again) and the total lack of information and assistance provided by the airline.

And I was not at the end of my (bad) surprises.

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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