TAP Air Portugal : When incompetence turns into a scam!

Yes, on TravelGuys, it feels like we aretalking about TAP Air Portugal every single day. You must have followed Bertrand’s issues of the past weeks, that never saw his suitcase again.

Checked-in on a simple itinerary from Lisbon to Paris via Porto, TAP has never listened,refusing to compensate Bertrand for the loss of his suitcase, despite being fully responsible for it.

If baggage delays are inevitable, their loss is much less frequent, and the refusal of compensation never heard from my side.

Today, I’m going to tell a story about an incident related to a volountary change, then a volountary cancellation of a trip on TAP, which refuses since January 2023 to reimburse me, despite my repeated requests.

If I can understand the incompetence, when it’s repeated, turns out to be a scam.

The genesis of the problem

Early 2022, I took advantage ofexcellent promotional fares launched by TAP Air Portugal to organize a trip to Chicago and Boston from London.

For a little less than £1300, I book a first itinerary with dates in September 2022.

My initial itinerary, with the excellent rates found thanks to a promotion

For various personal reasons, I will be taking advantage of the airline’s flexibility conditions, which allowed a change of ticket without additional fees during the post-COVID period, to change the dates of this itinerary, this time to January 2023.

I pay a fare difference of £522, bringing the total value of the ticket to £1,817.07.

The fare adjustment of £522 related to the rescheduling of my flight in January 2023

Nevertheless, I finally had to cancel this ticket and made the decision to cancel in early January 2023, about three weeks before the departure of this trip to Chicago and New York.

A confusing website

To make this cancellation, I go to the TAP website, which has an ad hoc section.

Two possibilities are clearly outlined:

  • Either a coupon that corresponds to the value of the ticket,
  • Either a classic refund at the fare conditions of the purchased ticket.
Isn’t it clear that the refund conditions only apply to cash refunds on this screen?

Since I was moving to the U.S. soon, I chose the coupon, which I was pretty sure I would use within the year on what will probably be repeated trips to Europe.

So I confidently enter my ticket number and proceed with the coupon request.

So I was expecting to receive a coupon for the full value of the ticket, because if this was not the case, no one would choose a coupon, compared to the refund…

Well about 10 days after my refund request, I receive an email from TAP with a coupon not equal to the full value of the ticket paid for, but the value of the ticket minus the refund penalties, according to the nominal refund terms of the ticket.

So I send a claim but the airline doesn’t want to hear anything: Iinitiate in parallel a cashback request to American Express, limited to the amount of the refund penalties.

A non-existent customer service

You have already seen it with Bertrand’s adventures regarding his luggage: the airline ‘s customer service is absent, each interaction with the latter taking several hours on the phone, and in case of using the website forms, several weeks!

On my side, the complaint regarding the total amount of the coupon received was not taken into account until two weeks after my initial message.

A ridiculous response

On the other hand, to reject the chargeback on my American Express card, TAP was extremely reactive, since they answered American Express in less than 24 hours, with a detailed letter, of more than 10 pages, falsely resuming the fare conditions of the ticket that I do not contest… I just question the fact that the coupon should correspond to the total value of the ticket and not to the value minus the reimbursement fees. In which case, I would have asked for a refund.

Moreover, my claims to date with regard to TAP do not call for a refund of the total value of the ticket, but rather of the value of the ticket capped by the amount of the refund fees, or the issuance of a coupon for the total value of the ticket.

Compensation that doesn’t work

After several months of battle, I was about to give up. Also, for a professional requirement that imposes me to be in Paris in June, I tried, on the TAP website, and despite higher prices than other airlines within the Star Alliance, to book a ticket from my new home, Boston, to Paris. The reservation was going well, but when the coupon number was entered during payment, it was simply rejected by the payment system, which declared it invalid.

No matter, I will choose another airline for my June trip.

But, in this trip, I choose to include a weekend in Madrid. Weekend for which I choose TAP again to try to use the coupon. Once again, the system refused, declaring the coupon invalid. Not only was the coupon capped from my original trip cancellation fee, but it doesn’t work. So I simply got cheated out of £1800.

A voucher systematically rejected by the reservation system

American Express’ complacency in denying the obvious

As I said at the beginning, I tried to get the assistance of American Express, which has always been at my side against the sometimes malicious actions of some merchants on the web.

Nevertheless, this time, and despite my material evidence, American Express decided not to grant me the chargeback which was just the difference between the amount of the issued coupon account, and the total value of the ticket, corresponding to the redemption fee unduly removed from the value of the coupon.

But when I tried again to dispute the full value of the ticket this time, since the coupon didn’t work, American Express simply refused my request, telling me they couldn’t verify the validity of the coupon. So I find myself in the water, making a last claim to TAP, before going to trial.


I give TAP one last chance, by sending a complaint to the customer service this very day, to tell them that the coupon does not work and that I want a refund.

If customer service refuses, I will have to go to court. Stay Tuned.

Olivier Delestre-Levai
Olivier Delestre-Levai
Olivier has been into airline blogging since 2010. First a major contributor to the FlyerTalk forum, he created the FlyerPlan website in July 2012, and writes articles with a major echo among airline specialists. He now co-runs the TravelGuys blog with Bertrand, focusing on travel experience and loyalty programs.

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