The rewards and loyalty program of TAP Air Portugal is called “Miles & Go”, formerly known as Victoria. TAP has undergone a make-over under repeat-airline innovator David Neeleman. They are a StarAlliance member, have renovated their fleet and aggressively grown their transatlantic flights, often with very low fares. Their reward program TAP Miles & Go also has some interesting features, like the ability to buy miles and status, that can make it interesting beyond people living in Portugal! Let’s find out if it is worth signing up to earn & redeem miles or take advantage of elite benefits – read my review below!
Reach – TAP Portugal is one of the smaller StarAlliance members, serving 87 destinations in 36 countries with a fleet of 84 planes. It serves a lot of destinations in Brazil and Northern Africa, in addition to Europe and Northern America, making them an interesting choice to those destinations for StarAlliance travelers. Get more details about their young fleet and destinations in TAP Air Portugal – Facts & Figures!
Earn – how do I earn miles? You can earn miles by flying TAP Air Portugal, based on the fare category purchased and the distance flown – in a world with more and more airlines awarding miles based on purchase price, that is a plus! The earning rates are higher for intercontinental flights that for flights to Europe and Northen Africa:
The earning structure is a little more complicated for StarAlliance partner flights. It’s also based on distance and fare class, but it is different for each airline, ranging from 0-150% for Economy Class, 150-200% for Business Class and up to 300% for First Class. You can find all partner earning options here!
You can also earn miles in the program with hotel stays, car rentals or shopping. TAP Air Portugal offers a number of credit cards with interesting earning and bonus options, but only to members with an account at a bank in Portugal.
One of the more innovative and interesting features of the program is Club TAP Miles & Go. For an annual fee starting at $122, you can purchase a membership that give you status and bonus points. You also earn a bonus on miles earned from flights. The top tier Club Platinum (at $887) gives you instant Silver status – one of the few loyalty programs that allows you to outright buy status. You can see the different levels and prices below:
Miles expire three years after they were earned, without notice and regardless of activity. That’s a harsh policy, similar what other European carriers, like Lufthansa, do. You can extend your miles one time for three years by paying a fee. This makes the program a lot less interesting for infrequent flyers, as it’ll be difficult to earn enough miles for a meaningful award.
Redeem – what do I get for my miles? You can redeem your miles for free flights on TAP Air Portugal and any of their partners. You can redeem for one-way or roundtrip tickets at half the price of a round-trip ticket. Roundtrip tickets can include one stop-overs and open-jaws are allowed, charged at the rate of the most expensive flight. Those rules are fairly standard.
The miles required for flight redemptions are based on zones, below is the table for TAP flights from Portugal in Economy:
Prices for domestic flights from only 3,250 miles and to Central Europe from 7,500 are very good deals, much lower than what for example United MileagePlus charges. Flights to North America at 29,000 miles are competitive. (all miles for one-way.
The picture is a lot less attractive for Business Class – flights for a one-way flight to North America are 100,000 – shockingly high considering my one-way business class ticket was only $580!
The redemption picture gets worse when you are considering StarAlliance flights – the same business class transatlantic fare goes up to 160,000 miles one-way, more than what many programs charge for First Class!
TAP Air Portugal introduced “flexible” prices this year, so the prices listed above can change, based on how early or late you book, the season, dates or how full flights are. You’ll also have to pay a fee for booking an award ticket, even when you do it online. At least you can change your ticket or refund the miles up to 24h prior to the flight for a fee of $80-120, depending on the route.
You can also use miles for upgrades (for example 40,000 miles from Portugal to US one-way from Economy to Business), a fairly reasonable price.
If you only have smaller amounts of miles or they expire, you can use them at the TAP online store, but I would not recommend it. A TAP branded desk pad will cost you 1,375 miles or EUR5.50 – only a value of 0.4cents/mile. At least even the smallest amount of miles doesn’t have to go to waste – you can get discounts on your cash tickets for as little as 200 miles when buying TAP Portugal tickets online, as Cash & Miles tickets.
Status Benefits – what perks will I get? TAP Miles & Go only has three levels, the basic TAP Miles & Go, Silver and Gold. You need 30,000 miles or 25 flights to qualify for Silver or 20,000/15 to renew. As a Silver member, you’ll get priority check-in, luggage handling and boarding as well as fast-track immigration. You’ll also have a shot at last-minute upgrades. You even get lounge access for the member, a rare benefit for low-level elites in other programs. As TAP sells seat assignments on economy class tickets, the benefit of free standard seats is a nice perk.
You require 70,000 miles or 50 flights to qualify for the top-level status Gold – that’s significantly more than on other StarAlliance carriers. The renewal requirement of 50,000 miles/40 flights is more in line with other airlines. In addition to Silver benefits, you get additional luggage allowance, free assignment of any seat, the ability to gift Gold status and miles that don’t expire as long as you are Gold. These benefits are better than what other StarAlliance Gold status will get. You can see all the details below.
What makes the status achievement a little easier is that you can convert 10,000 bonus miles to 5,000 status miles as a base member (or 20,000>10,000 as Silver), making it faster to achieve the next status tier. This is especially helpful for re-qualification and in combination with Club TAP Miles & Go, giving you a leg up!
The elite benefits of TAP Miles & Go are quite interesting. While the entry barrier to status looks high at first glance, the ability to pay for Silver or get a faster start through the conversion of bonus miles makes elite status accessible even for not-so frequent travelers. And the benefits you do get are better than most other StarAlliance partners.
Who should join TAP Air Portugal Miles & Go? If you live in Portugal or fly regularly between Europe and North America or Brazil, TAP Miles & Go is an interesting alternative – you still earn miles based on distance, you have the ability to buy additional miles and even status with Club Miles & Go and you receive generous benefits as Silver and Gold Elite members.
It works best if you are planning to redeem on TAP Air Portugal flights in Economy where redemptions are reasonable. My favorite redemptions on premium cabins are too expensive, making TAP Miles & Go much less interesting for anybody targeting Business or First Class flight.