This is my opinion on TAP Air Portugal, based on flying them dozens of times over the past few years.
I have flown TAP Air Portugal so many times that I can’t remember it, but probably around 200 times over the past 23 years. I am generally quite happy onboard TAP, but of course there is always room for improvement and I will talk about some of the pros and cons about Flying TAP in this article. I am mainly talking about economy class as this is what I tend to be flying when flying with TAP.
TAP has good inflight service.
TAP is one of the few european airlines that still has full service on economy class on their inter european flights. You get a meal and drinks, including alcoholic drinks even on a flight that just takes 2-3 hours. That is something I really enjoy as this has become a rarity in these days where shabby budget airlines have set the pace for the inflight service, or should we say lack of it, on european flights. TAP still gives you food and drink for free and their wine at the moment on economy class is a very decent middle of the road wine called Monte Velho. It’s from the Alentejo wine region in Portugal which produces some real nice wine. Whenever I have popped out back after they have ended their service and asked for another glass of wine, cup of coffee or whatever, I have never been refused. I have always gotten another glass for free from the friendly TAP staff.
TAP is a safe airline.
TAP has a good safety record and was recently (in 2011) put as the forth safest airline in the world by a set of international aviation experts. I like that an airline tales safety serious without getting paranoid with officers acting like military commanders. TAP does a good job in terms of having safe flights without turning things in to a wannabe police state.
TAP over does the fasten your seat belt thing.
Now here is a point where I am a little critical and annoyed with TAP. Sometimes when you fly there is turbulence and you turn the fasten your seatbelt sign on. This is something I respect a lot as I have been in some situations where the turbulence on a flight was so hard that I would have been thrown out of my seat, had I not been wearing my seatbelt. But TAP really likes to keep the sign on for a long time after the turbulence has ended. This is clearly in order to make life a little easier for the cabin crew, for whom it is easier if no one walks around the plane. But it’s really annoying if you are dying for a piss and is not allowed to get up cause the flight attendants wants to rest. I know that they will just come back and say that this is safety procedure and so on, but I have flown hundreds of times and it’s not just 1-2-3 times that I have experienced that TAP leaves the sign on for 1-2 hours after the turbulence has ended. It’s very very common there, especially on their overseas flights and it’s bloody annoying.
Lisbon airport is nice to transfer in.
If you fly TAP as part of a trip where you need to change flights in Lisbon, then you should not worry too much about your time in the airport. Lisbon Airport is in my opinion one of the most pleasant airports in Europe to be in transfer. Nice selection of cafes and shops and they have recently introduced free unlimited wifi at the airport. It’s a semi sized airport where you will not be changing to another terminal if you fly TAP, so transferring there is fast too.
TAP has a lot of delays.
TAP might be a very safe airline to fly, but they are unfortunately also often late. Having been on many delayed flights, I do not think it’s because they are going through extra safety that they are late, but they are simply suffering a bit from too many employees who have been sitting in the same chair for a little too long, so they have an arrogant attitude to service. It’s a shame that this happens higher up in the company as I find that the employees who does the actual dealing with the clients are doing a very good job, but this does not always transfer to those in the high paying job at TAP Air Portugal. TAP could do with a little shake up and some new blood in order to turn this very pleasant airline in to one of the top 10 airlines in the world. In my opinion it would not take much to reach that goal, but they need some changes in their leadership in order to get there.