LISBON – AviationSource recently visited TAP Air Portugal’s campus in Lisbon, Portugal. Join us on our review of the airline’s oldest and newest short-haul aircraft en route to the campus.
The aircraft were contrasting, with our outbound flight being in a 22-year-old Airbus A319 and return on a three-year-old Airbus A321neo.
London – Lisbon
- Flight Number: TP1351
- Departure Airport: London Heathrow, United Kingdom (EGLL/LHR)
- Arrival Airport: Lisbon, Portugal (LPPT/LIS)
- Aircraft Type: Airbus A319
- Aircraft Registration: CS-TTP, 22 Years Old
TAP operates from Heathrow’s Terminal 2, also known as the Queen’s Terminal. Due to its renovations throughout the 2000s and 2010s, it is the newest terminal at Heathrow, despite originally being opened in the 1950s.
I had already been checked in by the organizers of my flight. However, from what I saw, there were minimal queues for the automatic check-in kiosks. These function in much the same way as the ones I used during my JetBlue transatlantic flight.
We had access to fast-track security. As you’d expect, the queues were minimal, and we were through to the airside within around 10 minutes.
We spent time in the American Express lounge once we were airside. It was fairly busy, but we got enough seats for our group to relax prior to boarding our flight.
Our gate was very close to the lounge, and within 15 minutes of leaving the lounge, we were on our aircraft
The first thing I noticed while boarding the aircraft was the cold temperature on board. This did sort itself rather quickly after the doors were closed and engines started.
The next thing I noted was how bad the legroom was on the aircraft. I’m 183cm/6ft tall, and my knees were up against the seat back. Luckily, the seat next to me was empty, so I was able to sit diagonally.
As an economy passenger, I got a free cup of water. I also bought a small tube of Pringles as a snack to get me through the flight. It came to €3.50. Pretty expensive when a regular tube of Pringles costs £1.70 in my local Tesco, but that’s the downside of buying on board.
After eating my snack, I wanted to catch up on some sleep. This is where I found the second biggest problem with the cabin. The seat backs do not have any adjustment for neck support, which means my head had nothing to rest against when I wanted to get some sleep.
Eventually, with the diagonal sitting and using the side of the aircraft, I did manage some much-needed sleep.
I continued to sleep throughout the remainder of the cruise and most of the descent. So, unfortunately, I can’t say what the flight was like, but I assume it was good as I was able to sleep!
After landing in a rather miserable Lisbon, I was disappointed to discover we were put on to a remote stand, quite a distance from the airport.
After a short wait, stairs were against the front left door, and we disembarked onto the busses.
After a drive to the terminal, we arrived at immigration. This was well organized and very quick. After a walk through the airside area, we ended up at baggage reclaim and through customs.
From here, we started our day around the TAP Campus. Our other articles from this trip can be found here.
Lisbon – London
- Flight Number: TP1358
- Departure Airport: Lisbon, Portugal (LPPT/LIS)
- Arrival Airport: London Heathrow, United Kingdom (EGLL/LHR)
- Aircraft Type: Airbus A321neo
- Aircraft Registration: CS-TJI, 4 Years Old
Once again, in Lisbon, I had been checked in before arrival, so I cannot comment on the process here. My immediate reaction to Terminal 1 was how airless it felt.
You can see why the airport doesn’t rank highly compared to others in its class.
As with Heathrow, fast-track security was painless, and we were quickly through to the airside. After some quick duty-free shopping, it was time to head to my gate.
We were boarding via one of the N Gates at Lisbon. These are where the Non-Schengen Area flights depart.
I found these to be poorly signposted when leaving a shop, which resulted in me walking to the entirely wrong end of the terminal looking for them.
Getting through immigration was easy, and I was quickly at the departure gate. The waiting area was basic but functional, with enough standard seating for everyone to be there.
Boarding was called, and we were quickly on a bus to be taken to the remote stand our aircraft was waiting for us on.
The waiting time on the bus at both ends of the boarding was higher than usual but nothing unreasonable.
Once on board the aircraft, I immediately noticed the aircraft was at a much better temperature when compared to the flight to Lisbon.
Unsurprisingly, with an 18-year age difference between the two aircraft, the cabin in the A321neo was nicer than my A319.
The biggest improvement for me was the USB ports built into the aircraft.
During the cruise, one of the passengers I was with attempted to charge his laptop with the power plug, and after trying a few, was unable to do so; it is worth noting.
For this flight, I sat in an extra legroom seat. Compared to my flight earlier in the day, it felt like I had all the space in the world to stretch out. I’ve not had similar legroom in Economy before and it was noticeably more than BA’s Club Europe product.
The feature I appreciated about this seat was the adjustable headrest. I hoped that it had been rolled out entirely in the economy.
Sadly, it appears that it’s just available to extra legroom and business class passengers.
Once again, during the cruise, I had my free water and Pringles, and once again, it was €3.50.
The flight overall was very comfortable. I certainly have no complaints.
After a smooth landing at Heathrow, we quickly taxied to stand back at Terminal 3. Thankfully, it was a stand with an air bridge, no more busses!
As has become a familiar experience in every trip I’ve done to Heathrow since my JetBlue flight in December 2021, the immigration queue went quickly, and within a few minutes, I ended up at an E-Gate to enter the UK.
Unfortunately, it wouldn’t recognize my passport, and I ended up having to be checked manually, but this didn’t add any time on.
It was then a quick walk through customs into the arrivals area to continue with my onward journey.
If I was to fly TAP again and try and avoid their standard legroom economy seat.
I was lucky to have space to stretch out to the middle seat area, otherwise, I don’t think the experience would have been as positive as I found it.
Luck was also on my side, in that the passenger in front of me didn’t recline their seat.
That being said, if there was more legroom available (either in an extra legroom seat or a cabin layout change down the line), then I’d have no hesitation in flying TAP again.
Both aircraft I flew on were in a good state, the crews were friendly, and overall there was nothing wrong with the flights.