TAP Portugal Newark-Lisbon Flight Review - A+

 

We had been so comfortable after our 6+hour flight from Newark to Lisbon in TAP Portugal Business Class seats that we were actually disappointed that the flight was so short.  The reclining seats really would have allowed us a full night’s sleep if the flight had been longer.

 

TAP unveiled their new planes shortly after our trip to Portugal

 

The seats, the food, the wine, the fashionable flight attendant uniforms, the comfy headsets and good quality sound, and with all the other thoughtfully compiled “extras” ---  we arrived in Lisbon’s airport without the usual jetlag drain. This enabled us to hit the ground running—giving us extra time to soak up what Lisbon has to offer even on our first day.  

 

 

As first-time visitors to Portugal though, we especially appreciated how TAP was starting our tour as soon as we stepped on the plane.

 

 

For example, it might seem odd to crow about a safety video, but it really was special.   These were the air safety instructions you’ve heard so many times before, now made NEW because instead of actors or TAP employees the cast were first-time air passengers of various backgrounds and ages that combined to paint an image of who the people of Portugal really are.  As first time fliers, they relay these instructions in the context of their overflowing excitement about the journey they are about to take.  

 

 

Similarly, little vignettes of Portugal sites with top-rate photos in “We are Portugal” movies play on a loop as you wait for your flight to take off.   How interesting that the sites included in each video were selected by a crowdsource process. 

 

Then came the wine.  (Read “TAP Wines Review – Wine Tasting on Ground vs. In Air”.  )If you hadn’t realized how important wine is in Portugal you begin to understand it on a TAP flight.  Little did we realize that our first sips of “Deu la Deu, Vinho Verde Branco Alvarinho” would be starting a newfound obsession with Portuguese unique “green” wines made from unripe grapes.

 

 

The meal was gourmet and satisfying.  With several selections to choose from, our meals included:  an amuse bouche of roast beef canapé with pepper jam and roasted almonds; starters of smoked Serrano ham with black olives and grape and mango salad with grilled white asparagus; cream of pear and cauliflower with spinach soup (the only dish we felt a bit lacking); grilled beef tenderloin with Rossini sauce and boletus mushrooms and duck cottage pie made with sausages and rosemary; dessert of a cinnamon flavored custard cream that we soon learned was a Portuguese standard and fresh fruit, though we could have opted for a luxurious Monte da Vinha cheese if we had had more room.

 

TAP had enlisted two Portuguese fashion designers to create their stylish crew uniforms, and they did standout.  (Read “TAP Portugal Airlines Fashion Review – Fashion in Flight” here.)

 

And though the box with socks, toothbrush and other flight comfort aids was nice, it was actually their tile design and the small explanatory booklet called “Tapetes de Pedra” (Stone Carpets), that was the better treasure. This was our first introduction to the iconic Lisbon mosaic sidewalks that we would later realize are so integral to the Lisbon cityscape and how the city’s distinctive charms get encoded in your memory.

 

Lisbon has the fourth highest growth rate in Europe for foreign visitors.

There were an estimated 3.56 million foreign visitors to Portugal’s capital in 2015, spending €1.620 billion, reflecting a tourism growth of 8% per year since 2012.

 

One of TAP's hubs is Newark International Airport, which is a relatively easy one to navigate and move from point A to point B on its airtran. Photo: Peter Kachergis

 

We expect that North Americans’ share of burgeoning Portugal tourism will be growing too.  TAP Portugal seems to be both riding this wave of increased interest and also helping to create it, especially with the new Stopover Program they just announced for US flights to 38 European destinations. 

 

This TAP Portugal tourism incentive is to do a 3-day layover in Lisbon and/or add a free flight to Porto as part of a teaser Portugal tour.  There is no extra charge for the layover.   TAP is also rallying hotels and restaurants in these destinations to give Stopover passengers extras.

 

Even without this layover program it’s easy to give a TAP Portugal Business Class flight an A+, mostly because it felt like we were starting our Portugal tour off in a uniquely Portuguese way.

 

Economy class

 

Tip:  Every economy class passenger can bid to win business class seats in TAP’s Priceline-like quasi-lottery.

 

Our business class tickets on TAP allowed us to while away wait time in the SAS airways lounge. The food and wine were fine, but we soon regretted our snack because the food on our TAP flight was far superior. Photo: Peter Kachergis

 

Tip:  If you are treated to an executive lounge waiting for your flight, as we were waiting for connections in Newark after flying in from Chicago, don’t overeat in their attractive buffets.  The temptation is great but much better food awaits you on board TAP Portugal.

 

Tip:  If you are flying Business Class try to skip the middle front seats.  It may look like you get even more extra leg room, but you don’t need it, and both passengers and flight attendants habituate to use it as a path.

 

Tip:  There is WiFi on these flights, but it is not free.

 

For tickets and more information visit the TAP Portugal website.

 

 Photos courtesy of TAP Portugal Airlines, except if indicated otherwise

 

 

 

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