TAP Portugal A320 business class Frankfurt to Lisbon

TAP Portugal A320 business class Frankfurt to Lisbon

I was feeling pretty darn good during the walk to the gate to catch my first ever TAP Portugal A320 business class experience. I mean, everything about my trip had been a smashing success so far. The Condor business class flight from San Diego to Frankfurt was much better than I was expecting it would be, and staying at the airport Hilton was a very good decision due to its proximity to the airport and overall value for the money.

Things were definitely going well – though it was obnoxiously early still and a few more hours of sleep would have been really nice.

It was so early as a matter fact, that I was pretty much running on autopilot this morning and I wasn’t even paying attention to the flight information boards hanging around the airport. I simply went through the security checkpoint and started walking, confident I would end up at the right place.

Frankfurt, Germany (FRA) – Lisbon, Portugal (LIS)
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Aircraft: A320-214
Registration: CS-TNU
Duration: 2 hours 49 minutes
Seat: 5A (business class)

TAP A320 side view rendering
TAP Portugal A320 (CS-TNU) side view illustration by norebbo.com.
FRA-LIS route map
Our route from FRA to LIS today.

It was only after about 20 minutes of walking down a very empty terminal that I started to realize that maybe I was in a place where I shouldn’t have been. Seriously – I was all alone in this massive terminal and it was starting to feel a bit weird. The kind of weird which would imply that somehow I managed to unknowingly pass a sealed-off barrier of some kind, and I was in a section of the airport that was completely off limits.

Frankfurt Airport check in hall
I love walking into an empty airport in the early hours!
TAP Portugal check in Frankfurt Airport
My TAP Portugal flight to Lisbon was pretty much the first one out this morning.
Empty Frankfurt Airport terminal
Looks like I pretty much have the entire airport to myself! Where the hell is everybody?
SANspotter airport selfie Frankfurt
Pretending like I own the joint.

The thought of being someplace I shouldn’t have been didn’t phase me at all. I was simply enjoying the moment of being all alone at Frankfurt airport and having an entire terminal to myself. It was at about 20 minutes until scheduled boarding time that I started to think that I needed to find out where my flight would be departing from. That’s where things got a little bit stressful.

A quick check of the nearest flight information board revealed that my flight was departing from the very far end of a completely different terminal. No, I wouldn’t have to go outside of security to reach it, but I was facing a very long walk due the size of this freaking airport.

At first I wasn’t able to fully comprehend how long it was going to take me to walk all the way over to the end of the other terminal, but after 10 minutes of walking and not even being halfway there yet, I was starting to get a little bit nervous. Frankfurt airport is huge. I learned the hard way.

Gate A38 Frankfurt Airport
I made it! Gate A38..all the way at the end, of course.
TAP Portugal A320 Frankfurt Airport
For some reason I was expecting an A321, but this’ll do. I love that livery!

Thankfully they hadn’t even started boarding yet by the time I reached the gate. It was still very early morning here and none of the other gates were being used, so it was baffling to me as to why they chose to use this gate way out here in no man’s land.

The guys watching the security cameras were probably laughing their asses off watching me run a marathon through the airport this morning, purposefully assigning this flight to this particular gate in order to make me squirm.

Making matters worse was the fact that it felt like it was 1000° inside the airport. Combine that with the fact I probably just walked 10 miles (ok, slight exaggeration), and I wasn’t in the cheeriest of moods. A little air conditioning would’ve felt great at that point, which was the complete opposite of my experience in the hotel room last night.

Boarding began about 10 minutes late, which was perfectly fine by me since it gave me a chance to cool down a little bit before getting on the airplane.

TAP Portugal mobile boarding pass
Any airline that offers mobile boarding passes is a good one in my book.
Frankfurt Airport jet bridge
Even the jet bridge felt like a sauna – I just couldn’t get away from all that heat and humidity.
Boarding TAP Portugal A320
TAP Portugal gives Sun Country a run for the money in the “best livery” category. That green rocks!
TAP Portugal A320 boarding door
My very first step onto a new-to-me airline. A very satisfying feeling indeed.
TAP Portugal A320 business class
TAP Portugal A320 business class cabin.
TAP Portugal A320 business class seats
TAP Portugal A320 business class seats look like freaking La-Z-Boy recliners compared to other the regional premium seats on other European Airlines  (such as KLM 737-800 business class).

Two things immediately jumped out at me once I stepped on board and sat down in my seat. First of all, even though I was in a business class seat, it sure as heck did not look and feel like a proper business class seat. This is typical of intra-European business class though, and I definitely wasn’t expecting a large(ish) recliner of any kind like we would get on a domestic US flight.

But there was absolutely no additional legroom – and as a matter fact, the legroom was as bad as what you saw in my Spirit Airlines A320 Standard seat review. Hey TAP – that is pretty far from a compliment as you can get in the airline industry. A couple more inches would be very much appreciated!

TAP Portugal A320 business class seat pitch
TAP Portugal A320 business class seat pitch. Uhh…

The second thing that I noticed was that it was hotter on the airplane than it was in the terminal. Between having my knees pressed up against the seat in front of me, and feeling like I was going to burst into flames at any second, I was not having fun. This was definitely a very warm welcome to TAP Portugal business class, and not in the good way.

SANspotter airplane selfie TAP Portugal
Feeling like a hot mess sitting here at the gate. So far this was not the business class experience I was expecting…

Just when I thought things couldn’t possibly get any worse, the husband of the woman in the aisle seat decided that he wanted to sit next to her and claimed the middle seat as his own.

The lead flight attendant watched the entire thing happen, and I actually made eye-contact with her in a Jedi mind-trick sort of attempt to persuade her to say something to him, but all she did was gave me a look of like “sorry there’s nothing I can do.” So much for the blocked middle seat.

I would have surely burst into a ball of flames at that point if it weren’t for the fact that they finally turned on the air conditioning and it was starting to cool off nicely inside the plane.

I actually didn’t mind that man sitting there in the middle seat, but only because this was scheduled to be a relatively short flight and it didn’t really matter anyway. If this was a long-haul flight I probably would’ve said something to the flight attendant.

TAP Portugal A320 safety card
TAP Portugal A320 safety card – which also doubles as a really nice fan if, say, the interior of the airplane you’re sitting in is as hot as molten lava.
TAP Portugal A320 safety card back side
TAP Portugal A320 safety card reverse side.
TAP Portugal A320 forward bulkhead
Getting all buttoned up in here. I’m so ready to go to Lisbon!

Despite it being a gloomy and rainy morning when I arrived at the airport, the clouds were starting to break and the sun was rising as we pushed off the gate and taxied out to the runway. It was quite scenic as a matter of fact, and it was fun to watch the Frankfurt airport come alive on such a beautiful summer morning.

TAP Portugal A320 Frankfurt Airport
A few splashes of rain on the window from overnight storms, but otherwise the weather is starting to shape up!
Seat 5A view Airbus A320
As you can see, seat 5A is a pretty good vantage point on these TAP A320s.
Taxiing at Frankfurt Airport
Just like I mentioned in my trip report from yesterday’s flight, this airport is nothing like I remember from my last visit in 2005. A lot has changed since then.
Lufthansa at Frankfurt Airport
The scenery is just as interesting though. Lufthansa everywhere!
Departing Frankfurt Airport
Is it shaping up to be a beautiful morning, or what?
TAP Portugal A320 takeoff
Make sure you check out the video to hear how awesome this sounded!
Amazing sunrise in flight
It’s views like this that make getting up early totally worth it.
Middle seat occupied TAP business class
Still a bit bummed about the lack of a blocked middle seat. Business class isn’t always worth it, unfortunately.

It was a relatively smooth departure out of Frankfurt, but it did surprise me a bit that the cabin service didn’t start until 30 minutes into the flight. I’m not sure what it was they were waiting for, but part of me believes that perhaps it was just the slower way of life and relaxed culture in this part of Europe which was the culprit.

Prepackaged hand wipes came first, then drinks, then breakfast. Speaking of breakfast, it’s worth noting that I was slightly disappointed with the offering. I remember on my last intra-Europe Business class flight being served a full hot breakfast with eggs, sausage, potatoes, and various kinds of breads.

All we got today was a few slices of meat and cheese and a small bread roll. It was all actually quite good, but overall disappointing considering the lack of robustness.

TAP Portugal prepackaged hand wipes
There was no hot towel service on today’s flight, but we did get this prepackaged hand wipe thing.
TAP Portugal business class drinks
You know me – the guy who drinks water in business class.
TAP Portugal intra-Europe business class breakfast
TAP Portugal intra-Europe business class breakfast. Just a wee less exciting than what I got in ITA Airways A320neo business class

Despite the lackluster meal service, I thought the flight attendants were highly attentive and very friendly. So if you’re keeping score, I would grade the meal service as a C+ and the flight attendants an A-.

Oh, and it was during the meal service that the middle seat guy and I finally broke the ice and it turned out that he was actually really nice and slightly apologetic for taking the middle seat. He even offered me half of his breakfast since he wasn’t all that hungry, which I thought was very kind.

A320 wing and engine view
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to see out there during the first portion of the flight.
SANspotter business class selfie
At least the sun was shining though!

There wasn’t much flying time left after they cleared our meal trays, and I spent that time just gazing down on the terrain below getting excited for my first ever trip to Portugal. I’ve been to Spain before, and I was expecting that Portugal would be very much the same. I was definitely looking forward to finding out for myself as to what the place is really like.

TAP Portugal A320 business class interior
Post-meal laziness. Not much happening in here now!
TAP Portugal business class passengers
Middle seat guy was still knocked out. Why all the effort to sit next to his wife when he slept 90% of the time anyway? Oh well. I’m not bitter.
Flying over Portugal
Alright, here we go – we’ve started the descent into LIS!
Approaching Lisbon airport
Making the turn out over the water to get lined up for the approach.

My first impressions of Lisbon were, in a word, awesome. The circling we did over the city on our approach was getting me really excited as to what I was going to see over the next two days. Lisbon is absolutely stunning from the air, and my eyes were glued to the window all the way in. My apologies to TAP Portugal for the big forehead grease spot on the window at seat 5A of this A320.

Lisbon coastline
Making landfall. Looks a lot like SoCal to me!
Lisbon airport final approach
Looking good so far…
Flying into Lisbon airport
Just moments to go…
Arriving at Lisbon airport
Welcome to Lisbon!
SATA A310 Lisbon airport
Wow, a SATA International A310…that’s quite a rarity! I’d love to get a flight on that.

Much to the delight of the AvGeek inside of me, they parked us at a remote gate and had us deplane using air stairs. Woo-hoo! I love getting up close looks of the exterior of planes like that. Yes, I am a nerd, but you probably already knew that.

Lisbon airport remote gate
A sight every AvGeek loves to see: air stairs pulling up to your plane!
TAP Portugal A320 Lisbon airport remote gate
The money shot. Horribly backlit, but still fun to get a shot of this TAP A320 from this perspective.

There you have it. TAP Portugal A320 business class didn’t really impress me at all, but I give the flight attendants high scores for trying so hard to keep us (the passengers) happy.

A slightly better seat and a heartier meal service would be an excellent addition to match the enthusiastic performance of the flight crew, and would certainly help to make the TAP Portugal intra-Europe business class something I would be eager to try again. But as long as it remains like the experience that I had on this particular flight, I’d be tempted to look at other options first.

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