Review: TAP Portugal Business Class Lisbon-Barcelona

Tested October 2017

TAP Business Class Lisbon-Barcelona
TAP Business Class Lisbon-Barcelona

TAP Portugal, or Transportes Aéreos Portugueses, is the main and largest airline of Portugal with its base at Lisbon Portela airport. The airline is a member of Star Alliance and serves around 80 destinations, both cities around Europe but also some longhaul destinations, obviously with some focus on Portuguese-speaking countries such as Brazil, Angola, Cape Verde and Mozambique but also to some other countries in the Americas and Africa.

Departure experience

I arrived in Lisbon the previous day on another TAP flight. Since the stay in Lisbon was less than 24 hours, which in technical terms meant a transfer rather than a stopover, I was issued a boarding pass for the Lisbon-Barcelona flight already at the departure airport.

I arrived at Lisbon airport around 9.30 in the morning by taxi, around 90 minutes before the flight. Travelling with only hand luggage and already holding a boarding pass for the flight meant there was no need to visit a check-in desk, but travelling in business class and holding a Star Alliance gold card meant I could have used the TAP Premium check-in, located in a separate part of the departure hall with several desks open.

TAP Business Class Lisbon-Barcelona
TAP premium check-in in Lisbon

TAP business class also gives access to the fast track channel through security which was a breeze, significantly faster than the regular lines.

And finally there is now, once again, a dedicated TAP premium lounge in Lisbon. The old one closed a few years ago and for a while it looked like there would never be a TAP lounge again at the airport. TAP premium passengers were instead directed to the ANA Lounge nextdoor (ANA the airport operator, not to be confused with the Japanese airline).

The new TAP lounge is located in the same area as the ANA Lounge, on the upper floor on top of the escalator in the main transit hall, and it is a much appreciated addition.

TAP Business Class Lisbon-Barcelona
Inside the new TAP Premium Lounge in Lisbon, with some passengers taking a rest

The lounge is stylish and very colourful but may be on the smaller side at peak times when there are many longhaul flights. This morning the situation was not too bad and I had no problem finding a seat.

TAP Business Class Lisbon-Barcelona
Colourful lounge interior

The self-service buffet had a good selection of sandwiches and cold cuts. There were also wine dispensers in the buffet area and the wines seemed to be the same served onboard in business class, all Portuguese of course.

A highlight of the lounge is the manned bar where you can order all kinds of wines, cocktails and spirits, and if you order a cocktail, such as a gin & tonic, they mix them very properly. It was a bit too early for that during this visit though, especially as I had a bit of work to do.

TAP Business Class Lisbon-Barcelona
The manned bar in the lounge

The flight

Lisbon-Barcelona
TAP Portugal flight TP 1038
Departure: 10.55
Arrival: 13.45
Business Class
Airbus A319
Seat 02D

Proper priority boarding was offered at the gate with a special lane for business class and Star Alliance Gold. However it soon turned out we were to board a bus, and as there was no dedicated bus for business class it really made little difference, possibly being able to get one of the very few seats in the bus.

TAP Business Class Lisbon-Barcelona
Priority boarding

The Airbus A319 was parked at a remote stand, quite a drive from the terminal building. The terminal as Lisbon airport is really too small nowadays with far too few parking stands at the terminal. Hopefully it will all be sorted out in the future, apparently they are even investigating the possibilities to build a new airport.

TAP Business Class Lisbon-Barcelona
The TAP Airbus A319

First impression

There were two rows of business class on the Airbus A319 with all but one seat taken. The seats were in grey leather with red design details and overall the cabin design felt a bit dark. Pushback a few minutes behind timetable with an expected flight time of one hour and 25 minutes to Barcelona.

TAP Business Class Lisbon-Barcelona
The TAP business class cabin on the Airbus A319

Seat and cabin

Standard European setup on the Airbus A319 with the same seats in business class as in economy class. However presumably there should be a few more inches of legroom in business class (on the first few rows of the cabin, that is), about 3-5 inches (7-12 cm) and of course, as is standard on intra-European business class flights, the middle seats were kept free, giving a 2-2 configuration rather than 3-3. The seat comfort was perfectly adequate for a 90-minute flight.

TAP Business Class Lisbon-Barcelona
The TAP business class seat on the Airbus A319

Food and drinks

The inflight service started with a refreshing towel given by the cabin crew.

TAP Business Class Lisbon-Barcelona
Refreshing towel

And this was the inflight service in business class to Barcelona. This is what they serve on a flight departing at 11 am, arriving at 2 pm (one hour time difference between Portugal and Spain). The meal, or rather the snack, consisted of some slices of cheese, some ham and some fresh fruits. Bread rolls were offered by the cabin crew from a basket.

TAP Business Class Lisbon-Barcelona
Inflight meal to Barcelona

Not really sure what this is supposed to be but I presume this is some kind of very late breakfast. When the meal was eventually served it was approaching 11.30 am Portuguese, 12.30 Spanish time, and it just felt very strange. I really cannot imagine, and sincerely hope, this is not the regular lunch service on TAP on a flight of 90 minutes. I guess the cut-off time for breakfast is at 11 am, and the official departure time of the flight was 10.55 am.

A full bar service was available onboard and I had a glass of white wine to drink with the meal. The ones available onboard were not surprisingly all of Portuguese origin.

TAP Business Class Lisbon-Barcelona
White wine

Later during the flight I also ordered a gin & tonic. And no matter what you may think of TAP Portugal, at least they should win an award for having possibly one of the coolest cocktail pin in the industry in their business class.

TAP Business Class Lisbon-Barcelona
A gin & tonic

The service

The service was friendly but very low-key. Everything was done by the book, no more, no less. No extra initiatives, no small talk and no special recognition of me as a gold card holder. The cabin crew performed the inflight service in business class, offered some refills, collected the trays and then the remaining glasses a couple of minutes later, and then disappeared inside the galley for the rest of the flight. If you wanted something else to drink, or some kind of attention whatsoever, you had to press the call button.

Arrival experience

We landed at a sunny Barcelona El Prat airport right on time and sitting on the second row of the cabin with only hand luggage the arrival experience was quick and easy.

TAP Business Class Lisbon-Barcelona
The transit hall in Barcelona

As it was approaching 2 pm in Barcelona, and feeling the need to have some kind of proper lunch, something more than what was served on the flight, I managed to get access to the Sala VIP Pau Casals Lounge in the transit hall using my Priority Pass, where they had a good cold buffet with some pasta dishes.

Final impression

The new TAP lounge in Lisbon is quite nice and a major improvement but the inflight service left a bit to be desired. The basic snack felt a bit strange given the time of the day and the service was very low-key and lacked some enthusiasm.

About MorePremium.com 1018 Articles
My interest in premium travels and frequent travels started in the 90’s, so to date I have over 20 years of premium travel experience. MorePremium.com will mostly be about my own experiences, based on my own knowledge and my travel history, but you will also find news items, analyses, tips and tricks and reports from events.

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