TAP Air Portugal offers a standard European Business Class product on short-haul flights – Economy seats with extra legroom and an empty middle seat, lounge access and fast-track on the ground and a full meal even on shorter flights. That’s a good deal on a connection to an intercontinental flight, but not worth to pay extra for on an intra-European flight only. Check out my review and photos of their new Airbus A320 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. Thanks to the generous allowance, was able to fly with carry-on only.
I completed 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. On short-haul flights using Airbus A320, this is the only entertainment available, so make sure to download before departure!
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 Copenhagen, TAP Portugal uses the Scandinavian SAS lounge. It has a Business Class area, that’s a little more spacious, as well as a StarAlliance Gold area upstairs that is a little quieter and offers better food and drink options. They are fairly standard for a European lounge and a good place to await your departure.
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.
Business Class Seat A320: TAP uses a standard European Business class layout, with Economy Class seats in a 3-3 layout with the middle seat kept empty. Seats have a seat pitch of 32in, more than in Economy and advantage over other European carriers like BA. On older A319/321 you get up to 34in legroom.
The slimline seats are clad in leather, have adjustable headrests and are reasonably comfortable on short flights. The seatback has a literature pocket with the inflight magazine on top and a device holder for a tablet (doesn’t fit for mobile phone). Power outlets to keep your personal devices charged are between the seats. There is unfortunately no personal video screen for entertainment.
Service & Amenities: TAP doesn’t provide an amenity kit on short-haul flights.
The flight attendants on my flight were reasonably friendly and welcomed everybody on board. They started the service shortly after departure with drinks – I enjoyed some sparkling wine and water in proper glasses.
For a poor 2-out-of-2 record, there was no choice of meals by the time they got to me and I ended up with the pasta. The meal was served on a tray and consisted of salmon and salad, a bread roll, pasta and a pudding. The salmon was fresh and tasty and made for a very nice appetizer. The pasta was (again) appaling. Just as on my long-haul flight, catering butchered the pasta and it was soggy on top and hard, glued to the dish at the bottom. The Portuguese red wine served alongside was very good and helped me past the food.
After the meal, a coffee and port wine were served, ending the meal service on a high note.
Entertainment:Your only choice of entertainment are the onboard magazine and a selection of magazines and newspapers to download in the TAP app. 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.
It would be nice if the Digital Kiosk would include some movies to download prior to the flight to upgrade the entertainment…
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 typical European business class product on short-haul flights. It can’t compete with short-haul Business Class in Asia or US domestic First Class, but I’d consider it slightly better than competing short-haul Business Class products from BA or SAS. You get an empty middle seat, more legroom than on competitors and a decent meal, as well as lounge access and FastTrack service at security. As part of the inexpensive long-haul flight, I consider this flight good value. When I searched for business class fares on European flights separately or tried to upgrade an Economy fare, prices were high and offered poor value. If you are booking TAP Air Portugal short-haul business as part of an intercontinental flight, you can expect a slightly above average experience for a European airline. But similar to their European competitors, it’s rarely worth paying extra for an intra-Europe flight in Business Class, considering the Economy-Plus product you are getting.