Trip Report: TAP Portugal Business Class Boston to Lisbon A330-200

Introduction

I needed to go back home to Vienna on short notice and found some great business class fares between the U.S. and Lisbon on Azores Airlines, a very small carrier based on the Azores islands - the flight was even cheaper than a coach ticket so I booked it right away. The routing was from Dallas to Lisbon via Boston, with the first flight operated by jetBlue. I bought a separate ticket on TAP Portugal for my flight from Lisbon to Vienna.

As I found out later, Azores Airlines has a number of narrow-body aircraft but just one single A330-200 aircraft, which was scheduled to operate my Boston to Lisbon flight. I was really looking forward to my trip on this somewhat niche carrier.

Day of Departure

As I woke up in the morning of my day of departure, I noticed a text message on my phone from Azores Airlines. It informed me that my flight from Boston was delayed by six hours - great. I usually would have been happy since it meant that I would get about $650 in EC261 compensation, but as I had a separate ticket on to Vienna, I probably would have had to book a new ticket - not something I really wanted to do. I saw on Expertflyer.com that TAP Portugal also had a Boston to Lisbon flight, which would get me into Lisbon in time to catch my connecting flight to Vienna. A quick call to Azores Airlines and I was rebooked on TAP Portugal. I honestly expected some kind of push-back, but the agent was extremely nice and got the whole rebooking done within 5 minutes.

Five hour delay on Azores Airlines

Five hour delay on Azores Airlines image courtesy of Flightstats.com

Boston Airport

I still had about two hours in Boston until my TAP Portugal flight was scheduled to leave so I explored the airport a little bit. I landed in Terminal C and luckily, my TAP Portugal flight was also scheduled to depart from Terminal C. While most international airlines depart from Terminal E, some depart from Terminal C, such as Aer Lingus, Emirates and TAP Portugal. Boston Airport recently opened an airside connector to Terminal E so I was able to check out the Air France lounge, which has a partnership with Priority Pass. On my way over to Terminal E, I saw the aircraft for my flight to Lisbon getting towed to its gate.

TAP Portugal A330-200

TAP Portugal A330-200

I decided to head to the gate a bit early, so that I could be one of the first to board the aircraft. TAP Portugal uses a jetBlue-branded gate, which I found interesting. According to Expertflyer, the flight still had a few seats left in Coach but was completely full in business class.

TAP Portugal gate at BOS

TAP Portugal gate at BOS

Now the aircraft operating the Boston to Lisbon route is actually an aircraft previously owned by AZUL Airlines of Brazil. TAP Portugal acquired a sub-fleet of two A330-200, which it operates on its EWR to LIS and BOS to LIS routes. The aircraft have refurbished seats in both business and coach cabins.

TAP Portugal A330-200

TAP Portugal A330-200

I was very excited to try TAP's "new" lie-flat business class product, which definitely beats the slopey seats they have installed on the rest of their fleet. After a short wait, it was time to board the aircraft that would fly me to Lisbon tonight.

Upon entering the cabin, I couldn't help but notice that the AZUL or TAP Portugal Business Class product is identical to the seats on Iberia.

TAP Portugal Business Class Cabin

TAP Portugal Business Class Cabin

The coach cabin looked comfortable as well and I was very impressed about how "new" this aircraft felt given its age of 12 years - AZUL really did a good job in refurbishing these birds.

TAP Portugal Coach

TAP Portugal Coach

Since I was booked on this flight at the very last minute, there were only two seats available to chose from 5C and 1H, I picked 5C, which is in the last row of the business cabin.

TAP Portugal Seat 5C

TAP Portugal Seat 5C

Since the layout is staggered, you would want to pick an A or K seat to have the maximum amount of privacy if traveling alone.

TAP Portugal Window Seats

TAP Portugal Window Seats

For couples, the middle seats in rows 1, 3 and 5 are best since they have no table in-between.

TAP Seat Map

TAP Seat Map

I quickly settled into my seat and noticed that the amenity kit, the menu and a headset were waiting for me on the side table.

TAP Portugal Business

TAP Portugal Business

The seat is identical to the one in Iberia's business class cabin and has a decent amount of personal space.

TAP Portugal Seat 5C

TAP Portugal Seat 5C

The seat controls are located in the left armrest and were pretty standard and self-explanatory. The seat does go completely flat.

TAP Portugal Seat and IFE Controls

TAP Portugal Seat and IFE Controls

There was a power outlet available as well.

TAP Portugal Power Port

TAP Portugal Power Port

The main table was of the fold down nature and was quite big.

TAP Business Class Table

TAP Business Class Table

I was a big fan of the amenity kit. It looked like a sardine can.

TAP Portugal Amenity Kit

TAP Portugal Amenity Kit

It was definitely one of the better amenity kits and contained L'Occitane products.

TAP Business Class Amenity Kit Contents

TAP Business Class Amenity Kit Contents

Before we pushed back, the flight attendants distributed pre-departure beverages, which consisted of water, OJ and champagne. I stuck to water as I have been trying to minimize my intake of alcohol recently.

TAP Portugal PDB

TAP Portugal PDB

In no time, we were ready for departure and taxied to the runway. TAP's safety video is kind of odd - it tells the story of people flying for the first time. I don't have a problem with that but the video shows safety features on aircraft but no aircraft interior or even interior replicas are shown - a really odd video. People sit in trains and cabs and talk about safety on-board - just odd.

Safety Video

Safety Video

About 10-15 minutes after we took off, the flight attendants got up and started preparations for dinner. I could tell that I made the wrong choice in terms of seat as the galley behind me was extensively used and the flight attendants did not really close to curtain so all the light and noise bled right to my seat.

Dinner service commenced with a hot towel, which I used to clean my seat area.

TAP Portugal Hot Towel

TAP Portugal Hot Towel

The menu looked interesting and read as follows:

TAP Business Class Menu

TAP Business Class Menu

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TAP Business Class Menu

Canapes were served along with a glass of white wine. The nuts actually had a plastic lid still on, which I always find odd. The Thai chicken curry on Red Endive was pretty tasty.

TAP Portugal Canapes

TAP Portugal Canapes

Service continued with a scallops and bacon jam salad. The soup was a tomato soup with pumpernickel croutons - both dishes were pretty tasty and I was very impressed with the quality of the food so far.

TAP Portugal Appetizer

TAP Portugal Appetizer

For my main course, I had the pasta, which was the biggest let-down - it was greasy and soggy, it tasted OK but it certainly wasn't a great dish - it is something I would expect in coach but not in business class.

TAP Portugal Pasta

TAP Portugal Pasta

Throughout dinner service, the flight attendants very attentive, but not overly friendly. The service was very drawn out unfortunately, and after finishing my main course, we were already 90 minutes into the flight.

For dessert, I had the strawberry ice cream and the fruit plate. The fruits were ripe and tasty!

TAP Portugal Dessert

TAP Portugal Dessert

The ice cream, however, was rock hard - I had to wait a good five minutes before I could eat it.

TAP Portugal Ice Cream

TAP Portugal Ice Cream

Dinner service concluded with a piece of chocolate.

TAP Portugal Chocolates

TAP Portugal Chocolates

I was looking forward to the "espresso" coffee listed in the menu and ordered one. When I got the espresso, I was kind of surprised by the amount of coffee served - it looked like I got a triple espresso. The coffee was quite good, however.

TAP Portugal Espresso

TAP Portugal Espresso

After dinner service concluded, the flight attendants dimmed the lights and switched on the mood lights.

Mood lights

Mood lights

I looked at the in-flight map and noticed that we were expected to land in about 2.5 hours already - certainly a very short flight over the Atlantic. I fired up the IFE system and the selection was definitely sufficient for such a short flight.

TAP Portugal IFE System

TAP Portugal IFE System

TAP Portugal IFE System

TAP Portugal IFE System

I watched a movie and after finishing, I could already hear the flight attendants prepare for breakfast service in the galley behind my seat. Unfortunately, there was quite a lot of traffic between the cockpit area and the galley. The flight attendants unfortunately did not really pay attention to closing the curtain, so the light from the galley would often shine directly on me - if you can, definitely avoid row 5.

Continental breakfast was served and it was definitely sufficient for such a short flight. I ordered some coffee with it.

TAP Portugal Business Class Breakfast

TAP Portugal Business Class Breakfast

Shortly after breakfast, we commenced our descend into Lisbon Airport.

In-flight Map

In-flight Map

We landed and taxied to a remote parking spot. Luckily, business class passengers received a separate bus. We were parked right next to this completely black HiFly aircraft.

HiFly Aircraft

HiFly A340-300

I took a last shot of the business class cabin after all the other passengers had left.

TAP Portugal Business Class Cabin

TAP Portugal Business Class Cabin

Unfortunately, one of the business class passengers forgot something on board and took his sweet time retrieving the item - I could see him first talking to his wife for 10 minutes and the then slowly walking up the stairs. This meant that all the other buses left before us, which lead to some wait at immigration.

Conclusion

TAP Portugal has a very competitive hard-product on this sub-fleet of A330-200 aircraft. Along with decent service and polite crew, I would definitely recommend this product to anyone looking for flights between JFK and Boston to Lisbon - just make sure that Expertflyer or flyTAP.com shows this new business class configuration before you book your flights. TAP's old business class product, which I got to "enjoy" on my short flight to Vienna, definitely needs to be avoided - it is very similar to the seat found in Malaysian's old business class cabin and is not very comfortable.

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