Review TAP Air Portugal Business Class long-haul – Solid product and fantastic value

TAP Air Portugal offers modern lie-flat seats with direct aisle access in long-haul business class at fantastic value. You’ll also get friendly onboard service, a complete amenity kit and a nice lounge in Lisbon. You’ll have to make do with well intended, but poorly executed meals and limited entertainment choices. But I consider those issues small niggles at a price that’s less than other airlines premium economy. Check out my full review and photos below!

Online Booking & Check-In Experience: I booked my Business Class trip directly with Tap Portugal during one of their business class sales. The web site is modern, easy to use and fully functional. One advantage of TAP is that their fares are calculated by flight, making one-way tickets inexpensive compared to legacy airlines where one-way flights are typically much more than half a round-trip ticket. 

Another pro is TAP Portugal offers a free stop-over – you are able to build in up to 5 days in their hubs Lisbon or Porto on connecting flights without penalty – I took advantage of that on my trip and added a short visit to Lisbon!

In Business Class (Executive) you are luggage allowance is 2 pieces of 32kg (70lbs) each, regardless of destination. You are also allowed to bring two pieces of carry-on up to 8kg (17lbs) each and a personal item of up to 2kg. 

I was able to complete online check-in on all my flights without issues. You can download the boarding passes to your wallet or pass app, print them or use the TAP Portugal app.
With online check-in, I was able to go straight to security and the gate and my luggage was never measured or weighed.
The TAP Portugal mobile app includes a “kiosk” for entertainment. You can download magazines or newspapers to read prior to your flight at no charge.

Ground Experience & Lounge: Executive Class passengers have access to Fast Track, a shorter line for security. It’s clearly stated on the boarding pass, making it very easy.
You also receive complimentary lounge access. In Lisbon, that is the very modern TAP Air Portugal lounge. During an early morning visit, it offered a good selection of breakfast items and was nearly empty. During my mid-day departure to the US, the lounge was full and a combination of snacks, hot food and beverages was served. I liked the decor of the lounge and found the food & beverage offerings slightly better than other European legacy lounges and significantly better than most US airline lounges. You can read my full review here!

TAP Air Portugal Lounge Lisbon

TAP Portugal’s boarding process was smooth, utilizing a jet bridge. Business Class passengers and elite members receive priority boarding through a separate lane and it was executed well, without the chaos frequently found at US airports. 

TAP Air Portugal A330neo Business Class

Business Class Seat A330neo: My flight from Lisbon to New York was on a brand-new Airbus A330 neo with their latest hard-product. Seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 layout, giving each passenger direct aisle access. The single window seats are either near the window for maximum privacy (which I chose) or near the aisle. Center seats are either close together (honeymoon seats, great for couples traveling together) or separated by a console for more privacy.
The seats recline gradually through a lounging position to a fully flat position for sleeping. The beds are long enough and have plenty of space in the footwell, making them very comfortable for sleeping.

Upon boarding, I found a thick pillow, thick comforter as well as a noise-cancelling headset, amenity kit and menu by my seat. I prefer having everything at the seat (over having it personally handed to me later) so I can get settled in quickly.

Next to the seat is a console to place a drink or personal item. There is also a small cubicle with a sliding door with the noise-cancelling headset and space for personal items. The entertainment controller is mounted next to it. 

Next to your seat you’ll find the panel to control your seat, as well as outlets for power, audio and USB. 

You have additional storage space under the footrest. The large, bright video screen is mounted at an angle and pops out for viewing. 
Keep in mind that TAP Portugal still utilizes a large number of old Airbus A330, mostly on routes to South America and Africa, that only have angled flat seats – make sure to check your seat map when booking to know what you are buying!

Service & Amenities: The amenity kit is a soft bag with a cartoon’ish landscape on the outside. It contains some colorful socks, a dental kit, eye mask, ear plugs and some lotion. I consider that the essentials and I like the unusual design. 

The flight attendants on my flight were friendly and attentive, welcoming everybody on board. They came around taking drink and food orders shortly after departure and, considering the short trans-atlantic flight, I appreciated the quick pace of service. They offered drink refills during the meal service and were responsive to requests. 
Overall, I would rate the service team on my flight somewhere below Turkish Airlines or Lufthansa, comparable to  SAS or KLM and better than United or American Airlines. 

Food: TAP Portugal invested into their onboard food & beverage offering and partnered with some Portugese chefs. I was looking forward to the meal after reading the menu.

Unfortunately, the good ideas and intentions didn’t survive the execution (literally) by the Lisbon catering service and the meal was disappointing.
The main meal service after departure started with an amuse bouche, nuts and a drink of your choice. 

It was followed by an appetizer of (tasty) ham and a (too soft) bread roll – so far so good.

The main course was some of the worst business class food I’d had in a long time. Not only were they out of choices by row 3 (!), the pasta that was left was horrible. It was overcooked, with the top a gooey mess and the bottom hard and stuck to the plate. That’s two out of two – both of my business class flights offered no choice and terrible pasta!

The dessert of ice cream was basic, but served at the perfect temperature. Luckily, the beverage list survived catering – the sparkling wine, red wine and porto all were pretty good.

Despite the short flight, a second meal was served prior to landing. It was all served on one tray and also executed quickly. It consisted of cold cuts, cheese, a breadroll and some fresh fruit – it tasted good and was perfectly adequate for a second service. 

Entertainment: The selection of magazines and news papers to download was mixed. While there were several top English language magazines available, some of them were several months old. There is a large selection of Portuguese language magazines. 

The onboard entertainment offers movies, TV shows, music and games. TAP claims more than 100 movies and 50 hours of shows in many European languages – that’s significantly less than what other airlines offer. The movies and TV shows mainly B- and C-rated features with few blockbusters among them. 

Value & Rewards: I booked my flight from Copenhagen via Lisbon to Newark online during a sale for only $580 in business class – that’s fantastic value and less than others charge for Premium Economy or even Economy one-way.

I credited my flight to Avianca’s Lifemiles program, which offered 200% of the distance flown, more than even TAP’s own program!

Bottomline: TAP Air Portugal offers a modern business class product on their newest planes. The lie-flat seats with direct aisle access are very competitive. The online experience, Lisbon lounge and onboard service are all competitive, too. The food  offers promise based on the menu, but has room for improvement in the delivery. The entertainment is below par. The availability of one-way fares and free stop-overs combined with frequent sales make TAP Air Portugal fantastic value. At prices like this, I’d be happy to fly them again across the Atlantic and hope to snatch one of their new San Francisco flights in the future. Especially when compared to the US carriers, TAP Air Portugal is a great choice and I’d highly recommend them.

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