TAP Air Portugal is a member of the Star Alliance, and has a frequent flyer program that’s often overlooked (including by me). I wanted to take a closer look at award redemptions through TAP’s frequent flyer program, Miles&Go. Let me explain why, and then we’ll get into the actual details of the program.
Why should we care about TAP Miles&Go?
Maybe most of us shouldn’t actually care. But there’s no denying that in 2020 TAP Air Portugal has really been trying to make its Miles&Go loyalty program more popular.
We’ve seen TAP Air Portugal offer a generous status match campaign, offer good deals on membership in its Club TAP program, and the program also frequently sells miles with significant bonuses.
Historically I’ve avoided the TAP Miles&Go program, because award redemption rates are high, and there are fuel surcharges for redemptions on some partner airlines. When it comes to Star Alliance redemptions, you’re generally much better off booking through Air Canada Aeroplan or Avianca LifeMiles.
However, that overlooks one important aspect of the program — TAP Miles&Go miles can pretty consistently be acquired for under a cent each when there’s a promotion, so they’re among the cheapest miles to acquire.
I do find it rather odd that TAP doesn’t partner with any of the major transferable points currencies, given how aggressive the program has gotten with selling miles.
TAP Air Portugal frequently sells miles at a discount
The basics of redeeming TAP Miles&Go miles
Before we get into TAP’s redemption rates, let’s talk briefly about some of the fees you can expect to pay when redeeming TAP Air Portugal miles, as well as how you can book awards.
Fuel surcharges when redeeming with TAP Miles&Go
TAP Miles&Go does impose fuel surcharges on some redemptions, but not on others. The problem is that there seems to be some inconsistency here, and some partners have fuel surcharges for some awards, but not others.
Based on the searches I’ve run, TAP Miles&Go does impose fuel surcharges on the following airlines:
Meanwhile TAP Miles&Go doesn’t impose fuel surcharges on the following airlines:
- Air Canada
- All Nippon Airways
- EVA Air
- LOT Polish
- TAP Air Portugal
Again, you may find some inconsistency here, but the above reflects what I’ve noticed.
There are no fuel surcharges when redeeming TAP miles on ANA
Change, cancelation, and service fees with TAP Miles&Go
In the event that you need to make a change or redeposit a TAP Miles&Go award, you can expect to pay the following amounts:
- Changing the date or time on an award ticket is subjected to a 50 EUR fee
- Redepositing an award ticket is subjected to a 120 EUR fee (the fee is 80 EUR for domestic flights and flights within Europe), and that can be done up to 24 hours before departure
- There are service fees for all award tickets (whether on TAP or a partner airline), ranging from 10 EUR to 40 EUR for awards via the service center, and ranging from 5 EUR to 25 EUR online
Stopover & maximum segment policy with TAP Miles&Go
TAP Miles&Go has different policies, depending on the airline you’re flying:
- For travel on TAP Air Portugal, no stopovers are permitted, and you’re allowed a maximum of two segments per one-way
- For travel on all partner airlines (whether Star Alliance or not), one stopover is permitted on a roundtrip, and you’re allowed up to three segments per direction (for a roundtrip you’re allowed up to six segments, and you could do more than three segments in one direction); no stopovers are permitted on one-way awards
How to book TAP Miles&Go awards
You can redeem TAP miles directly on flytap.com for travel on TAP Air Portugal and all Star Alliance member airlines. For non-Star Alliance partners, including Azul and Emirates, you need to redeem by phone.
Personally I’ve found TAP’s award search to be usable but certainly not amazing. You can enter the origin and destination, along with the dates. If you select flexible dates when you’ll see a calendar with a week of availability.
Once you get to the results page you’ll definitely want to use the “Filters” option, as you can select to just show business class (by clicking the “tap|executive” button). You can also filter just by direct flights if you want. This can all come in handy when you see how many options are sometimes presented.
If you do have to book by phone, I’ve found that the hold times for the call center are often long, but once you get connected to an agent they’re quite helpful.
TAP Miles&Go award redemption rates
TAP Miles&Go publishes award charts. A few general notes on these award charts upfront:
- You can book awards one-way or roundtrip, and one-ways are half the cost of a roundtrip
- The award charts are the same for travel on all partner airlines, including both Star Alliance and non-Star Alliance partners
- Award pricing for travel on TAP Air Portugal is at least somewhat dynamic, and in my experience award rates are often lower than what the chart suggests
- You can mix Star Alliance partners on a single award, and you can mix TAP Air Portugal with non-Star Alliance partners on a single award, but you can’t mix Star Alliance partners and non-Star Alliance partners on a single award
With that out of the way, let’s look at some details. I’m focusing specifically on premium cabin redemptions, since I think that’s where there’s the most value to be had.
Redeeming on TAP Air Portugal
Here’s the published award chart for one-way travel on TAP Air Portugal in business class originating in North America:
For example, I’m finding that business class awards on TAP Air Portugal between the US and Europe typically cost 80,000 miles one-way, with no fuel surcharges.
Redeeming on Star Alliance airline partners
Here’s the published award chart for one-way travel on airline partners in business class originating in North America:
And here’s the first class award chart, though let me note that in most cases it appears to me that TAP blocks first class awards, so I wouldn’t put too much weight into this chart:
Redemption rates are definitely on the high side, but that doesn’t account for how inexpensive it can be to acquire TAP miles.
For example, a US to Europe business class award costs 80,000 miles — some airlines (like United) have no fuel surcharges, while other airlines (like Lufthansa) have huge fuel surcharges of over $700 one-way, so pick your airlines carefully.
It seems to me like one of the best redemption values is being able to travel from the US to South America for 50,000 miles one-way in business class.
Meanwhile 110,000 miles for one-way ANA business class between New York and Tokyo is steep. That’s more than Virgin Atlantic Flying Club would charge for such an award roundtrip.
Redeeming on other airline partners (including Azul & Emirates)
Here’s where the program perhaps gets a bit interesting. TAP Air Portugal has some non-alliance partner airlines, including:
- Azores Airlines
- Beijing Capital Airlines
Two redemptions seem most interesting to me. One cool redemption opportunity is being able to fly from the US to South America in Azul’s excellent business class for just 50,000 miles one-way.
Another interesting redemption opportunity is for travel on Emirates. Note that you can’t redeem TAP miles for Emirates first class, but you can redeem them for Emirates business class, and there are no fuel surcharges
- You could book Los Angeles to Dubai in business class for 115,000 miles one-way
- You could book New York to Dubai to Auckland in business class for 130,000 miles one-way
Are these redemption rates low? No, not on the surface. But when you consider that there are ways to acquire TAP miles for well under a penny each, there’s potentially some value to be had here.
Redeem TAP miles for Emirates business class
Redeeming for round the world awards
There’s another intriguing redemption opportunity. You can redeem Miles&Go miles for round the world awards on Star Alliance airlines. The cost is 250,000 miles in economy, or 350,000 miles in business class.
What are the restrictions on round the world awards?
- You can fly up to 10 segments
- You are allowed a maximum of six stopovers longer than 24 hours
- You can cross the Atlantic and Pacific once
- The itinerary must end in the country of origin
- You can travel in an easterly or westerly direction, but you continuously have to go in the same direction
- Once a ticket is purchased, you can only change the flight dates and times, and not the route, class, or airline
- Tickets are valid one year from the date of issue
If you acquire miles inexpensively enough this could be an interesting opportunity, but personally I’d shy away from it due to the complexity of booking.
Book a Star Alliance round the world award with TAP Miles&Go miles
So, is TAP’s frequent flyer program worth it?
I’m more intrigued by TAP’s frequent flyer program than I was before I started investigating. Are TAP’s redemption rates competitive on a per-mile basis? Absolutely not, especially when you consider the fuel surcharges on some partner airlines.
However, TAP miles are also ridiculously inexpensive to acquire when good promotions are being run, and in those circumstances the program could absolutely be worth considering. For example, with the current Club TAP promotion, you can acquire TAP miles for 0.67 cents each (though admittedly you only earn those over the course of a year).
If you could reliably earn TAP miles at that rate, think of the possibilities:
- You could redeem 50,000 miles one-way between the US and South America on Azul without fuel surcharges (that’s like paying ~$335)
- You could redeem 80,000 miles one-way between the US and Europe without fuel surcharges (that’s like paying ~$536)
- You could redeem 115,000 miles one-way between the US and Dubai on Emirates without fuel surcharges (that’s like paying ~$770)
All of these are definitely niche opportunities that could make sense if the acquisition costs are right. However, I definitely wouldn’t be crediting my flights to TAP, unless the program offered significantly more miles than another Star Alliance program.
TAP Air Portugal’s Miles&Go frequent flyer program is one that I haven’t done much research on in the past. On the surface the program isn’t appealing — award redemption rates are high, and there are fuel surcharges on some partner airlines.
However, if TAP is offering a good promotion on acquiring miles (we’re talking well under a cent per mile), then the program could be worth considering. Redemptions like 50,000 miles for business class to South America on Azul, 80,000 miles for business class to Europe on United, and 115,000 miles for business class to the Middle East on Emirates, are all potentially solid deals.
If you’ve redeemed through the TAP Miles&Go program, what was your experience like? Any particular sweet spots to know of?