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I arrived at the TAP Portugal
check-in counter two hours before the flight, and there was no line. The agent was friendly, yet surprised when she saw a note in the computer stating that I had an upgradeable ticket and that it went through. I guess not that many passengers get those notes. Yeah baby! It pays to have friends at the airline -- thank you M.C. for making my day. On top of that, a business class seat gives a free pass to their lounge. TAP is in the Star Alliance
Group (United, USAir, ThaiÖ), so they use their partner SASí lounge. I was in this same lounge a few months ago, when I flew to Copenhagen on SAS (here's the link), and it was nicer the first time. SAS offered much better food and beverages choices (including sleek bottles of VOSS water). It turns out that each airline is in charge of catering for its passengers. Because flights are staggered, passengers seldom mix with each other at this lounge. For example, SAS flights depart in the early evening, while TAP flights leave a few hours later. Our flight was late by 45 minutes, so Singapore Airline passengers were starting to arrive in the lounge. Their caterers brought in some tasty Singapore noodles and other treats. It didnít make much difference to me though, because it I wasnít there to eat. I just wanted to relax and enjoy one of their three computers with free internet. (Unfortunately, there is a charge for wireless).
NEWARK TO PORTO, PORTUGAL TAP Portugal, in business for 60 years, flies to 46 destinations in 27 countries around the world. They have 47 planes, and use a widebody Airbus A310 on their new Newark to Porto
route which began in June. There are two classes of service: Economy and Top Executive (business class). The seats in Top Executive
fully recline on a slope and have plenty of legroom. Iím not sure how new they were, though, because the volume on the armrest was a dial like in the old days. I was surprised the flight attendants didnít offer individual DVD players to me or the other Top Executive Class passengers (as they claim they do on their website). However, I did not want to watch a movie. I worked on my laptop using the electrical outlet in my seat.
NO PICS ON TAP
I got off to a bad start with the flight attendant, because when I first sat down I took a picture. He came over and said, "no pictures allowed on the plane." I thought he was joking, but he wasnít. Have you ever heard of such a stupid thing? I reverted to sneaking pictures (not using a flash) so I could share my experiences with you.
FOOD ON TAP PORTUGAL
After we took off the flight attendants warmed up (or should I say cooled down) and showed their friendly Portuguese hospitality. When they brought over the after-takeoff drink and cold stale nuts in a small plastic shot glass, they handed me two menus in both English and Portuguese. One was an extensive and quite impressive wine list, featuring 11 bottles of Portuguese wine. The other was the dinner menu that read: Appetizer: Tomato and Basil Soup or Salmon with Cucumber Salad. Main Course: Seared Beef Filet with Herb Butter Mashed Sweet Potato or Red Snapper with Lemon Butter Stir Fried Vegetables and Rice or Barbeque Chicken with Cornbread Pilaf
or Cheese and Broccoli Tortellini. Dessert: A Selection of Portuguese Cheeses with a choice of Marmalade, Apricot or Wild Berry Jam. Passion Fruit Mousse Cake or Fresh Fruit. It all sounded good, but unfortunately the menu looked better than it tasted. The only dish worth mentioning was the hot soup
poured fresh from a thermos. It was outstanding Ė probably the best soup I ever had on a plane. Breakfast, served 45 minutes before landing, consisted of a single slice of cheese on a small roll, and a mini- Toblerone bar. I was taken aback when all the meals arrived with the Saran Wrap still in place, forcing passengers to remove it (flight attendants usually handle this task). Overall, the flight was very smooth and comfortable. I slept a couple of hours, and the flight time was only 5 hours, 45 minutes. Who knew that mainland Europe was so close to NY? Heck -- it takes that long to get to L.A.!
Copyright 2007 JohnnyJet, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
TAP Portugal Counter
Inside SAS' Lounge
TAP's Airbus A310
Newark to Porto
Top Executive Class
Nuts In Plastic Cups
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