TAP Portugal A330-200 business class Lisbon to Toronto

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01. Introduction: Why the hell is Edelweiss Air so expensive?
02. Condor 767-300 business class San Diego to Frankfurt
03. Hilton Frankfurt Airport
04. TAP Portugal A320 business class Frankfurt to Lisbon
05. Sofitel Lisbon Liberdade
06. 4 important things every first time visitor to Lisbon should know
07. TAP Premium Lounge, Lisbon Airport
08. TAP Portugal A330-200 business class Lisbon to Toronto
09. Sheraton Gateway Hotel Toronto International Airport
10. Air Canada Rouge A321 economy class Toronto to San Diego

The temptation to get up and wander around the airport while I was sitting in the lounge ended up being too strong to fight against, and it eventually got to a point where I just had to get up and go explore. I left the lounge nearly 2 and a half hours before boarding was scheduled to begin for my flight to Toronto, but there was so much that I wanted to see down there in the main terminal that I deemed it to be totally worth it. LIS isn’t the most interesting airport that I’ve ever been to, but it is pretty neat and I wanted to make sure that I had time to see it all.

lisbon airport interior

The main hall of the Lisbon Airport. This isn’t a very big place, but it sure is nice.

Unfortunately, the international departures area is kind of small and I sort of screwed myself by entering so early. I suppose I could’ve exited back out into the main terminal, but then I’d have to pass through passport control again, and I did not want to do that. That line sucked the first time I went through it.

SANspotter airport selfie lisbon

This pic pretty much sums up my two hours in the international departures area. There’s not much happening in this section of the airport!

TP259
Lisbon, Portugal (LIS) – Toronto, Canada (YYZ)
Sunday, July 23, 2017
Aircraft: A330-223
Registration: CS-TOG
Duration: 7 hours 34 minutes
Seat: 4A (business class)

TAP A330 side view

TAP Portugal A330-200 (CS-TOG) side view illustration by norebbo.com.

TAP A330-200 seat map

Seat map of this TAP Portugal A330-200 (courtesy of seatguru.com) showing my seat (4A) for this flight to Toronto.

LIS-YYZ air route

Our route from LIS to YYZ this evening: TAFFY169032 MIILS LETAK IMEBA3

I must’ve walked up and down that international departures terminal 30 times in those two hours, and it was starting to get annoying at round-trip number 20. There was really anything to see or do in this terminal, and it felt a bit torturous to sit there with nothing to do but wait. Heck, there weren’t even any airplanes to look at – the afternoon wave of international departures had already left and our flight to Toronto was one of the last of this group to go.

lisbon airport terminal interior

A scene that will forever be burned into my brain. I don’t think I’ve ever walked up and down an airport terminal as many times as I did this afternoon.

lisbon airport departures

As you can see, we weren’t the last flight of the day, but we were certainly the last of this particular bank of flights. This place was a ghost town.

Unfortunately, even with 30 minutes until the scheduled boarding time, there was no airplane at the gate. 20 minutes to go, and still no airplane. The overhead departures board still kept showing an on-time departure, which was confirmed by the display behind the gate agents at the gate. Everything was still showing on time, but we didn’t have an airplane yet. All I was doing at that point was waiting for that delay announcement. I knew it was coming. I was sure of it.

lisbon airport gate 43A

Everyone looks ready to go, but our plane isn’t even here yet!

Confident that our flight was going to be delayed by quite a bit, I decided to take a walk of shame down to the end of the terminal once again just prepare myself for another hour or so of sitting in this very empty place with nothing to do. However, much to my delight, I heard the announcements for the initiation of the boarding process blast over the loudspeakers just as I was walking away. What the hell? There’s no airplane out there!

It was then that I realized that we were going to be bused to a remote gate. On one hand, I thought this is really cool because I love boarding airplanes via air stairs. On the other hand, it made absolutely no sense to me because this terminal was basically empty with no airplanes at any gate – why was it necessary to bus us to a remote stand? There’s no way I would’ve figured that one out on my own, so I just put it out of my mind and walked down to the bus with an energetic spring in my step.

lisbon airport boarding gate

Moments after having my boarding pass scanned and making my way downstairs to catch the bus.

lisbon airport transfer bus

I wonder what the business class experience will be like on this bad boy?

lisbon airport remote gate bus

It was standing room only on the way out to the plane, but the view I had more than made up for it!

lisbon airport remote boarding gates

Waiting for a brief moment before they let us off. More time to gawk at that beautiful livery…

boarding TAP A330 LIS

I had only paused 2 seconds to get this pic and suddenly I was the last one from this bus to board. I snooze I lose I guess!

TAP portugal a330 closeup

Sorry, more pics from the ground. This isn’t a perspective I get to experience very often so I was definitely soaking it all in.

lisbon airport air stairs

Too bad this canopy blocked the views on the way up though.

Even before boarding the plane, I knew that this particular aircraft hadn’t yet received the new business class updates (I saw the seat map when I was checking in). TAP Portugal has all new business class which they are deploying on their wide-body aircraft, and it looks really great, but I wasn’t lucky enough to get it today. Oh well – as much as I’d like to try the latest and greatest business class cabin, I get equal enjoyment from documenting the old cabins as they’re on their way out. You know, for historical reasons at all. At least that’s what I was trying to tell myself is soon as I saw the seats on this particular airplane.

Holy crap. I hadn’t even sat down yet and I was feeling as if this might be the worst international business class product I’ve ever seen. It just screamed “1999!” to me, complete with the six-inch video screens and yellowed plastic around the seats. The entire business class cabin of this aircraft was in very rough shape, and right away I was starting to understand why I got such a good deal when booking this flight.

TAP Portugal A330-200 business class seats

TAP Portugal A330-200 business class seats.

TAP A330 business class seats

TAP Portugal A330-200 business class seats 4A and 4B.

TAP portugal business class cabin A330

Those video screens! A stark reminder of how good business class has become on other airlines I guess. This cabin is in dire need of an update, that’s for sure.

TAP portugal a330 business class small screens

Just…damn. This was actually more funny to me than disappointing. I’ve seen bigger screens in economy class lately!

TAP portugal business class cabin A330

Overall, this business class cabin wasn’t so bad. Their new layout (from what I hear) is very good, and very competitive.

tap portugal a330 business class privacy

Privacy is lacking in this layout as well. You better hope your seat mate is friendly, otherwise it will be a miserable ride…

Despite the complete lack of a competitive hard product, the flight attendants were simply awesome. I was offered complementary champagne and orange juice moments after sitting down, and right away I felt completely at home. I could only imagine how nice of an experience this would’ve been with the new seats.

TAP portugal business class pre departure beverage

Thanks for the orange juice! That hit the spot.

TAP portugal a330 business class leg room

Leg room is decent. No complaints here.

tap portugal a330 business class entertainment remote

The entertainment remote in the center arm rest was the same style that we’ve seen for the last 25 years. I could use this thing with my eyes closed…

tap portugal a330 business class seat controls

The seat controls. I’ve got a lot of shitty things to say about this in a minute, so stay tuned…

dirty tap portugal a330 business class seat

These seats have seen some action, that’s for sure.

Thankfully, The only empty seat today was the one right next to me. Normally this doesn’t matter so much in premium cabins like this due to all the extra space, but this particular configuration isn’t very private so it would’ve been a little bit awkward having a complete stranger sit so close right next to me.

TAP portugal a330 safety card

“Sua atenção por favor…” Safety card check!

tap portugal a330 safety card

I should have been taking notice of where all the emergency exits were, but all I could think about was how much larger this safety card was compared to the video screens.

TAP portugal a340 lisbon airport

Well, hello there, good lookin’! Apparently these A340’s are scheduled to remain in the TAP fleet for quite some time.

tap portugal a330 GE engine

Pushback! The light was getting to be just about perfect for some awesome departure shots.

tap portugal a330 lisbon airport

One of the benefits of having boarded at a remote stand is a shorter taxi time.

a330 takeoff lisbon airport

Ok, this wasn’t the kind of light I was hoping to get for the takeoff sequence, but this’ll have to do.

tap portugal a330 takeoff

Fairly light load today, or just an aggressive pilot? I was certainly enjoying the ride though!

tap portugal a330 engine and wing

That’s it…swing around all the way so I can get some nicely lit engine shots…

Lisbon from the air

Man I’m going to miss this place. I’ll be back again someday Lisbon. Don’t go changing on me!

tap portugal a330 engine

Ka-ching! There it is. That’s the shot I wanted to get with the low sun illuminating the engine.

tap portugal a330 windows

My favorite part of any long flight in a premium cabin: 10 minutes after takeoff, settling in, and getting ready for the service to start.

lisbon to toronto in flight map

Oppositely, this may be my least favorite portion of the flight: looking at the map, watching my plane leaving such an amazing place.

After a beautiful departure over the city and out over the ocean, I began to settle in for the long flight across the Atlantic to Toronto. First things first, I had to get my seat reclined properly. This ended up being a horrible mistake. The seat I was in was so old that once reclined, it wouldn’t return to its upright state. I noticed the problem immediately because as soon as I pressed the “down” button, all the tension on the seat was released and it reclined all the way back to it’s lowest position. I then tried to bring it forward by holding the “up” button, but nothing was happening. It was completely stuck. Dammit.

It was right about then that I was thankful for having an empty seat next to me that I could retreat to in case I couldn’t bring this one back from the dead. Luckily it didn’t come to that, as I was able to recover some of the recline by simply mashing my finger on the up button really hard for about 30 seconds. It came up slowly, albeit a quarter inch at a time (in chunked increments) but at least I was able to recover it enough to be able to enjoy a snack and a beverage without feeling and looking like a total dork.

The welcoming cabin announcements were just getting started as I finished the battle with my seat, but unfortunately, the volume was so low and muddied that I couldn’t hear a word. As you can imagine, it was somewhat of a frustrating start to this flight that I was hoping would only get better from here.

Once cabin service started, things indeed began looking up. First they came around with Canadian immigration forms, followed up by menus, noise-canceling headphones, and then the amenity kit. To be honest I’m not even sure why they bothered with the headphones at all since the video screens were so archaic and impossible to watch. Heck, it wasn’t even possible to choose what to watch since it was one of those old-school looped video systems which forced you into whatever was playing at the time. I didn’t have any interest in what was playing, so I didn’t even bother. The amenity kits were really cool though.

tap portugal business class noise-cancelling headphones

Noise-cancelling headphones. Thanks, I guess. Kind of overkill for the outdated video system on this plane IMHO. It actually would have been much cooler if they would have given us those old tube-style headsets (you know, the kind from the 70’s and 80’s)!

TAP portugal business class amenity kit

Ok, now these amenity kits were nothing short of cool. Very unique!

TAP portugal business class amenity kit

Close up detail of the reverse side.

TAP portugal business class amenity kit

Just the act of opening it was highly satisfying – whoever designed this thing is a genius.

TAP portugal business class amenity kit unboxing

Pull away the packaging to reveal the contents. It felt like I was taking a brand new iPhone out of the box or something…

TAP portugal business class amenity kit contents

To be honest I didn’t even care about the contents – the packaging was most impressive to me!

The pace of the cabin service on today’s flight was generally laid-back and casual, though still what I would consider pretty good. Dinner orders were taken about 15 minutes after the amenity kits were distributed, with hot towels coming about 10 minutes after that. They certainly weren’t in a hurry today, that’s for sure.

Having to wait so long between interactions with the flight attendants gave me ample time to play with the seat and discover something else which was really annoying: the power ports didn’t work. Dammit. I was planning on listening to Podcasts on today’s flight (as opposed to struggling to watch the archaic video system), but my phone didn’t have very much charge left in it and there’s no way it would’ve lasted another hour two of use. I needed to save that power for any urgent data-retrieval needed upon landing (you know, like checking Instagram), so I decided to turn it off completely and sit there in silence free of any tech-based stimulation. The first 10 minutes or so were really weird, and I may have started twitching for a moment or two, but eventually it felt pretty good to be completely unplugged and just enjoying the moment.

tap portugal a330 business class seat power ports

It was a nice gesture by TAP to offer power ports at every seat, but there was no power to dispense. By now I was thinking that they needed to take this particular seat out back behind the barn and shoot it.

Not being bombarded with video in my eyes or sound in my ears during the meal service made it all that much more pleasurable of a situation. I could deal with this.

tap portugal a330 business class menu

Perhaps some food will take my mind off this seat that I despise so much. Here’s the menu.

tap portugal a330 business class menu

The full menu for both meals, in English and Portuguese.

tap portugal business class wine list

I wish I knew more about wine, because I imagine the selections on this flight were pretty darn good (being a Portuguese airline and all).

tap portugal business class drinks

The second page of the drink menu.

tap portugal business class drinks

I can’t remember what wine I chose, but all I can recall is that it was red, Portuguese, and really good. One of the best glasses of wine I’ve ever had actually (which, admittedly, isn’t saying much).

tap portugal business class appetizer

The appetizer: cod fish hamburger, and roasted sunflower seeds.

tap portugal business class meal first course

The second course: smoked salmon, with pumpkin soup and beetroot mouse.

delicious tap portugal business class food

My compliments to the chef.

tap portugal business class dinner main course

The main course: panzerotti pasta with porcini mushroom sauce.

tap portugal business class meal dessert

And finally, for dessert: rock hard cookies & cream ice cream.

SANspotter selfie TAP portugal

An ice pick rather than a spoon would have worked better here…

The meal was pretty good actually, and I had no complaints about it. It wasn’t the best business class meal that I’ve ever had, but it was decent and I felt well satisfied long after they cleared my tray.

flying over atlantic ocean

There isn’t much to see on these daytime transatlantic flights, especially with thick cloud cover such as this.

lisbon to toronto flight

Still a long way to go.

tap portugal a330 business class lavatory

Nothing special in the loo, though the flower is nice touch.

canadian immigration form

Might as well fill out my Canadian immigration form before I forget…

With nothing else to do after dinner and still nearly 6 hours of flying time remaining, I figured the best thing to do would be to get comfortable try to get some sleep. Unfortunately there were three things that prevented this from happening. First, the cabin lights were left on for at least an hour after the meal service had completed, which made it really hard to lay back and try and sleep. Second, there was one male flight attendant who just wouldn’t shut up in the galley immediately behind me. He had a very loud and projecting voice, and a whole heck of a lot to say. Unfortunately was all in Portuguese and I couldn’t understand any of it but he just kept talking and talking and talking and talking. It was very annoying, especially since I couldn’t hear the other person he was talking to and it sounded like he was just talking to himself forever without a break. Finally, there was a lot of activity in the cabin thanks to an energetic 10-year-old girl who just wouldn’t stay seated. Her parents were sitting directly behind her and she spent much of her time walking back-and-forth between her seat and her mother’s. And once she finally got tired of her mother, she wandered back to the galley (many times) to talk to the flight attendants – who apparently she knew. The fact that this family knew several of the flight attendants made it annoying due to all the conversation and talking going on.

business traveler

As a business owner, I’m always curious when I see stuff like this. I wonder what he’s working on? This was the father of the girl that wouldn’t sit still by the way…

flying west over atlantic ocean

Will the sun completely set before we land? I was thinking there was a chance it would be light out for the entire duration of the flight.

Just when things were starting to settle down and I had drifted off, the lights came on in a single jolt of full-on brightness – which is a painful (and trippy) way to wake from a dead sleep. All in all I thought the crew of this flight was very good in nearly every regard, but somebody needs to reprimand the one who switched on the lights that evening. Cabin lights need to be turned on gently and gradually – not abruptly. Don’t they teach that in flight attendant school? Maybe he or she was sick that day…

tap portugal business class hot towel

Hot towel before the second meal service. Don’t call it breakfast, as we’ll be landing at 10pm local time!

lisbon to toronto flight map

Nearly there!

The second meal service was served at a much faster pace than dinner, which didn’t really bother me at all since I wasn’t really all that hungry anyway. I just kind of picked at my meal a bit and then pushed it to the side in preparation for the landing in Toronto. I made sure to eat enough though, because that was considered my dinner that evening since my plan for arriving into Toronto was to check into the hotel and go to immediately to bed. There would be no time to find food while on the ground.

tap portugal business class breakfast

Meat and cheese slices…this seems to be standard-issue European breakfast.

SANspotter selfie TAP Portugal A330

Still not dark out there yet.

tap portugal engine and wing pic

Wow, that lighting! My nose was pretty much glued to the window by this point.

SANspotter a330 selfie

Unfortunately once the sun fell below the horizon it got dark really fast. Here I am starting to get nervous about facing the harsh Canadian Passport Control

landing at YYZ

Touchdown in 3, 2…

landing in Toronto TAP portugal A330

…1. Welcome to Toronto! On a side note, I think that big red sign in the center of this pic is the Sheraton I’ll be staying at tonight.

tap portugal a330 inside

Taxiing to the gate.

tap portugal a330 business class arrival

The seatbelt sign has been turned off, and I think I can read the faces of everyone quite clearly: “I’m never flying TAP again until the new business class seats are in!”

TAP A330 Toronto Pearson airport

One last look at CS-TOG before walking away. Overall a good flight (that damn seat though), and I’m very much looking forward to flying TAP again in the future.

In conclusion, I have to say that I have mixed feelings about my experience on this particular flight. TAP Portugal’s old business class configuration is abysmal, and they are in dire need of getting their aircraft updated as soon as possible. However, the flight attendants were really awesome on this flight (despite the loud talker behind me in the galley and the outlaw who turned on the lights so abruptly) and I think that kind of service is going to mix really well with their fancy new business class cabins being installed on thier long haul A330s and A340s. I can’t wait to try that!

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