GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
My meeting yesterday was close to the airport, which is why I decided to stay at the TRYP Lisbon airport hotel for just the one night. The TRYP is a nice hotel with spacious rooms and all the amenities you might expect from an airport hotel. My only grippe about it, is that the breakfast is not very nice.
Originally, I had planned to walk from the hotel to the terminal building. It’s not more than five minutes to walk. But when I woke up this morning, it had started raining and I could even see the occasional burst of lightning in the distance. And so, instead of walking, I decide to take the complimentary shuttle, which runs every twenty minutes and takes approximately five minutes as well to complete the journey from the hotel to the terminal.
I’ve checked in online the day before. TAP Air Portugal has its own check-in area, and there is even a dedicated, separate section for Business Class passengers. Despite the fact that the terminal complex is a labyrinth of halls, corridors and building sites, all of which have been added haphazardly over the years, it’s still fairly easy to navigate and well signposted.
There is a fast track for security, which is brilliant. First of all, because the queue is much, much shorter than the regular Economy Class queue. And secondly, because the staff here are just so relaxed and friendly!
Since I was here last, TAP has moved its lounge. Or rather, they now have their own lounge and no longer use the contractor lounge next door. Which is, quite frankly, a shame because the new TAP lounge is definitely not as nice as the other place. I also think it’s quite apparent that it’s not large enough to handle all the traffic at the airport.
Boarding is from gate S26, which is the last gate in the newest part of the terminal. There are three queues for boarding: one for premium passengers, another for zone A and a third one for zone B passengers.
The aircraft I am flying on has already been refitted with the new cabin interior. It’s the regular RECARO slimline seat but the colours TAP has selected are quite elegant. Every seat has an adjustable headrest and there are two power plugs for the three seats.
The seats are arranged in a typical 2 + 2 configuration, with the middle seat left empty in Business Class. As my luck would have it, the aisle seat on my row remains empty and I have it all to myself to spread out. I am seated by the window on 1F.
The crew consists of four young ladies who are all very nicely turned out. Their make-up is subtle and they wear TAP Air Portugal’s bright uniform well!
Once we’re airborne, the service begins with the distribution of pre-packaged, scented towels. But unlike many other carriers, who normally have very flimsy towels made out of paper, this is actually a real cloth towel.
Every passenger is served individually. The whole meal is served on one tray and it is quite a large breakfast. It consists of:
- a plate of fresh fruit,
- a bowl of yoghurt with Mango coulis, which is served with a side order of Müsli,
- a plate with cold cuts, cheese and some salad,
- a piece of Portuguese milk chocolate,
- a selection of breads from the breadbasket,
- butter and jam.
The meal is tasty and the quality of the food good. I try two different types of bread roll. One is a brioche type dough with coconut on top, while the other is savoury and goes well with the cheese.
Throughout the meal service the crew make repeated runs through the cabin, offering more drinks and bread.
As soon as I’ve finished, one of the cabin crew comes to remove my tray and asks me if there’s anything else I’d like to drink.
And so the flight passes quickly, and before long we’re already descending into Luxembourg. It’s much cooler here today than it was yesterday when I left and certainly cooler than the weather in Lisbon.
ABOUT TAP AIR PORTUGAL…
I guess it really speaks for how old I am that I was working for Swissair at the time when the Portuguese government was planning to privatise TAP by selling it off to the Swiss. Ironically, Swissair went bankrupt in the meantime, while TAP Air Portugal seems to be going strong. Right now the airline’s future looks bright, with an order book of new Airbuses the renew and rejuvenate the fleet. The service on board TAP is quite good, but it remains to be seen whether the airport at their hub in Lisbon will be able to keep up with the pace at which the airline and traffic to Lisbon in general is growing.