BERLIN & LISBON – Last summer, I planned a trip to Madeira, which got canceled due to covid.
I have been keen on revisiting the island since my last visit in 2018. So as I was planning my summer vacation this year, not knowing where to go, I scanned Google flights for some decent airfares across Europe, finding some good deals on flights to Portugal with TAP.
As I was checking out the TAP website, I found some decent flights to Madeira for a solid price, with a 2-night stopover in Lisbon.
Come join me on the first leg of this disastrous trip to Madeira, featuring delays, cancellations, scams, and bad customer service.
Airline: TAP Portugal (op. By Portugalia Express)
Flight number: TP531
Aircraft: Embraer E190
The first flight of my journey took me from Berlin to Lisbon. To get the most out of my short stay in Lisbon, I booked the morning flight to Lisbon, departing at 6 am and arriving shortly before 9 am in Lisbon.
Check-In & Security:
I checked in online to avoid any issues with document checks. I arrived at the airport at 4 am, to leave enough time for security and bag drop. I dropped my bags at the Business Class counter from TAP.
The agent was very kind and checked in my 2 bags quite fast. As a passenger in business class on TAP Portugal, you get 2 pieces of luggage of 32 kg each.
The agent highlighted that we got access to a fast track at the security line, which I found to be very attentive.
I headed through security straight away, sadly, the fast lane was closed as I arrived due to the staff being delayed.
Though within a matter of minutes, someone led me to the front of the economy line, which made me feel like someone flying first class, not European Business, on a low-cost carrier.
So the thing with TAP is, that they always advertise that you get Lounge Access and wrong opening times.
This fooled me – I stood in front of closed doors in Berlin. This will be an interesting point for trip report #3 of this journey as I also didn’t have Lounge Access on this flight as well, though it was advertised. Empty-handed I went to the gate.
Boarding started exactly as shown on the ticket, we boarded in groups. At the door, I was welcomed by a lovely flight attendant, thinking this would be a great flight.
I turned right and immediately saw my seat 2A. To my surprise, the seat next to me was taken. Keep in mind that TAP explicitly advertised the free adjacent seat for this flight.
As I had indefinite leg room, this was somehow bearable. I forgot about that within minutes as I was very keen to see what TAP offers on this 4-hour flight.
As this was a flight departing early in the morning, I expected the service to be as soon as possible after departure, to maximize the time the passengers could rest though that didn’t happen.
Meal service kicked off about 60 minutes after departure into a 4-hour flight, making me lose 30+ minutes of rest.
I thought they might start the meal service that late because they had to warm it up. That wasn’t the case. Yes, you read that right. There was only a cold service on a 4-hour flight.
The service consisted of a plate of grapes, cold cuts, a blueberry muffin, a yogurt, and some rock-hard bread with frozen butter.
This wasn’t what I was hoping to get. The service wasn’t presented badly. Instead, I really liked the presentation. Though I thought it was just not enough on a flight that long for Business Class.
The cold cuts didn’t taste good, the grapes were sour, and the muffin was frozen. If I owned an airline, I’d not even serve that in economy class.
With the meal service, I had a coke, which was the only drink I had onboard.
After the service, I never saw the crew offering drinks again. I tried to sleep during the rest of the flight, but as I didn’t have the space I usually would have with the middle seat available, I just couldn’t fall asleep.
At the point of this flight, I thought this might’ve been my worst flying experience ever. However, I was proven otherwise on my next flights with TAP.
All in all, I’d consider nothing on this flight as Business Class, very, very disappointing. This flight is one of the many reasons I’ll be avoiding this carrier in the future.
From the crew to the meal, to the seating arrangement, it was all on the lowest standard. Bad job by every component on this flight, apart from the ground staff.