Not all airlines are created equal...

Not all airlines are created equal…

This was my first experience of flying Air Portugal, also known as TAP. After reading the odd horror review online, I was pleasantly relieved to discover an airline as small and perfectly formed as the country whose flag it flies so proudly.

Admittedly, both flights were only in the order of two and a half hours each; a round trip between London Gatwick and Porto, Portugal’s second city. Boarding at both ends was simple and efficient; the airline flies Airbus A320’s on this route, twice a day from Gatwick.

Inside, the planes offer a three seat across configuration, with seats on both sides upholstered in blue leather. Both planes were clean and seemed free of any real wear and tear. Seat pitch of thirty one inches in economy is the same as it is in business. This was more than enough for me, but I’m only five foot six in height.

I didn’t try the recline. Ceiling mounted, drop down screens delivered the safety briefing, and an episode of Mister Bean on the way out. I thought it odd that we were not offered any means of listening, but it was still diverting enough to pass the flight.

Flight staff on both legs were pleasant, attentive and genuinely courteous. Food is as advertised on their website for short haul- a cold sandwich, usually ham and cheese, with coffee or tea and some kind of fruit juice. The sandwich was actually edible, in contrast to the grenade strength bread rolls offered as inflight fodder on some other airlines.

Drinks were free, and I enjoyed a pre arrival glass of zesty vinho verde, poured from a full sized bottle on the trolley. I was offered another without having to ask for it. Bear in mind that this is economy, too.

One duty free run was announced and made on both flights, and the seat in front of you contains the usual inflight magazine and duty free guide. Unlike some airlines- especially the budget ones (I’m looking at you, Easyjet and Ryanair)- landing cards were announced as available, and brought through the cabin. Well done TAP on that one. Airlines take note; not every passenger on a European flight is a citizen of the EU.

Outward flight was bang on time, but the return one pushed back twenty five minutes late, as a consequence of it being late inbound. This was announced to us by the pilot in flight, and not on the ground at the airport.

That said, the lovely check in staff at Porto gave me an extra leg room exit seat without me even requesting it, so happy feet on the way home, too. And yes, I did enjoy that feeling of being just a little extra pampered, as well.

I will happily use TAP again in the future, and would certainly consider them for a long haul flight out to the USA, or even Brazil. The airline flies A330/A340 planes on these routes.

All in all, a nice, understated start and finish to a wonderful holiday. Kudos to Air Portugal. Obrigada!


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