Review: TAP Air Portugal Business Class Airbus A320neo (LIS-GVA)

Review: TAP Air Portugal Business Class Airbus A320neo (LIS-GVA)

FROM: LIS
TO: GVA
CABIN: Business
DATE: March 2024
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: TAP Air Portugal's A320neo business class offers comfortable enough seats, charging ports, and friendly service. However, the food isn't necessarily my favorite, and I wish there were Wi-Fi or streaming entertainment.
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For the second segment of our trip to Geneva, we flew TAP Air Portugal’s Airbus A320neo business class on the 2hr10min flight from Lisbon (LIS) to Geneva (GVA). This came after our TAP Air Portugal Airbus A330-900neo business class flight from Miami (MIA).

Intra-Europe business class isn’t much to get excited about, and this flight was no exception. Nonetheless, I found this to be a pleasant experience, with friendly service, respectable legroom, and power outlets. However, I thought the food was just okay, and I do wish that TAP Air Portugal had Wi-Fi on regional flights.

How I booked my TAP Air Portugal business class ticket

I booked our TAP Air Portugal business class tickets using avianca lifemiles. Specifically, I booked the following award in business class for 63,000 avianca lifemiles plus $72.60 per person in taxes and fees per person:

3/06 TP224 Miami to Lisbon departing 4:30PM arriving 5:35AM (+1 day)
3/07 TP940 Lisbon to Geneva departing 7:40AM arriving 11:10AM

Points with lifemiles are easy to come by, as the program is transfer partners with Amex Membership RewardsBilt RewardsCapital One, and Citi ThankYou. On top of that, lifemiles often sells miles at a discount, and also awards miles through a lifemiles+ subscription.

TAP Air Portugal business class lounge & boarding

We had a roughly two hour layover at Lisbon Airport, though that didn’t leave all that much extra time. For one, we had to clear security at the airport, in addition to going through immigration.

That’s interesting, because most other gateways in the region don’t require you to clear security when arriving from the United States. I’m not sure if this policy at Lisbon Airport is intentional, or if it’s just due to logistics as a result of the terminal layout.

We briefly stopped at the TAP Air Portugal Lounge Lisbon, which is perfectly okay, but nothing special. I didn’t have enough time to fully review it this time around, but I’ve done so in the past. Fortunately the lounge was still quiet at this early hour.

TAP Air Portugal Lounge Lisbon Airport

The flight to Geneva was departing from gate 15A, which is a bus gate for a remote stand. Boarding was scheduled for 6:40AM, a full hour before departure. In reality, boarding only started at 7AM, with premium passengers invited to board first.

TAP Air Portugal departure gate Lisbon Airport

By the time the bus was loaded up and we made the long drive to the plane, it was around 7:20AM. It must have been one of the longest bus rides I’ve ever had to a remote stand.

Bus to remote stand Lisbon Airport

It wasn’t a nice day in Lisbon, as it was raining outside, which certainly isn’t ideal for remote stand operations. Our flight was operated by an almost brand new Airbus A320neo with the registration code CS-TVL.

TAP Air Portugal Airbus A320neo Lisbon Airport

TAP Air Portugal A320 business class cabin & seats

At the forward door we were greeted by the friendly crew, and headed toward our seats. As is standard on intra-Europe flights, business class simply consists of economy seats in the front of the cabin with blocked middle seats. This gives airlines lots of flexibility, as they can adjust the size of the cabin between each flight, by moving the curtain.

TAP Air Portugal’s A320neos are configured with 174 seats, and the airline selected the Recaro BL3530 product. On this flight, the first seven rows of the cabin were business class, for a total capacity of 28 business class seats (the cabin was half full on this flight).

TAP Air Portugal business class cabin Airbus A320neo

The good news is that legroom is actually quite good in the front half of the plane. Up until the exit row (row 12), the airline has a generous 33″ of pitch, while behind the exit row, the airline has a tight 28″ of pitch. Furthermore, up until the exit row seats have comfortable four-way adjustable headrests, while you won’t find that behind the exit row.

As you can see, there’s a big incentive to sit in front of the exit row, even if you’re not in business class. It’s actually kind of amazing how different of an experience an economy passenger would have if seated in row nine vs. row 29.

TAP Air Portugal business class seats Airbus A320neo
TAP Air Portugal business class seats Airbus A320neo

I assigned us seats 6A and 6C, the window and aisle seat on the left side in the second to last row. Unlike some other airlines, TAP Air Portugal doesn’t have a little tray that it puts on the center seats in business class, so there’s nothing physically blocking someone from sitting there.

TAP Air Portugal business class seats Airbus A320neo

As far as seat features go, there was a standard tray table, a literature pocket, and also a personal device holder with a cupholder. I quite like how the airline has that extra panel that can be folded down for entertainment and drinks.

TAP Air Portugal business class seat back A320neo
TAP Air Portugal business class tray table A320neo
TAP Air Portugal business class personal device holder A320neo

There was also a USB-A and AC power outlet underneath the seat and to the side, making it easy to keep electronics charged. An AC power outlet is an amenity that’s all too rare on flights within Europe.

TAP Air Portugal business class seat power port A320neo

Lastly, the overhead console on the Airbus A320neo had both reading lights and individual air nozzles.

TAP Air Portugal overhead console Airbus A320neo

As far as intra-Europe business class goes, I’d say this is one of the better setups there is. Legroom is excellent, the seat is functionally designed, and the charging options are great.

TAP Air Portugal A320 business class entertainment & Wi-Fi

While TAP Air Portugal does a good job with power outlets, unfortunately the airline falls flat when it comes to Wi-Fi and entertainment on short haul flights. There’s no Wi-Fi and no streaming entertainment on the carrier’s short haul fleet, so plan your flight accordingly, and bring your own entertainment.

TAP Air Portugal A320 departure from Lisbon

At 7:40AM, boarding was complete. At this point the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, while standing at the front of the cabin facing all passengers. I always find this to be a nice, personal touch, and wish it’s something more pilots would do (time permitting).

He advised us of the flight time of 2hr10min, and stated that we were just waiting on some paperwork, which should arrive within 10 minutes. Everything ended up taking a bit longer than planned. At 7:55AM the main cabin door closed, and then the safety demonstration was performed. However, we didn’t push back for another 20 minutes, until 8:15AM. There was no communication as to what was causing that additional delay.

It was hard to take pictures out the window due to the rain, but can you identify that sexy(ish) AF (not Air France) plane in the distance?!

Pushing back Lisbon Airport

At 8:20AM we began our taxi, and then 10 minutes later we were cleared for departure on runway 20, where we had a midfield takeoff.

Taking off Lisbon Airport

While it wasn’t the prettiest day outside, I did enjoy the views of Lisbon on departure. It sure is a pretty city!

View after takeoff from Lisbon Airport
View after takeoff from Lisbon Airport

Despite a smooth climb out, the seatbelt sign stayed on for around 20 minutes.

View after takeoff from Lisbon Airport

Once it was off, the crew sprung into action, starting with closing the curtains between cabins.

TAP Air Portugal Airbus A320neo business class cabin
TAP Air Portugal Airbus A320neo business class curtains

TAP Air Portugal business class snack service

Just over 30 minutes after takeoff, the crew passed through the cabin with the snack service. There were no choices, but rather each passenger was provided with a tray containing a cold snack. This included some cold cuts and cheese, tomato and mozzarella, carrots, and a mini-quiche. There was also a bread roll, plus some fresh fruit.

TAP Air Portugal business class snack

The snack was fine by European airline standards, but could’ve definitely been better. To British Airways’ credit, I appreciate how the airline typically has multiple choices for short haul catering, while so many airlines don’t. For example, I’m not a huge fan of cold cuts, so I didn’t eat most of the snack.

The crew then came through the cabin with drinks, and I had a coffee and a water.

TAP Air Portugal business class drinks

The best part of the meal was enjoying the views outside the window…

Views enroute to Geneva

TAP Air Portugal A320 business class lavatory

There was a lavatory at the front of the cabin, reserved exclusively for business class passengers. It was as no frills as they get, with no special amenities. But at least it wasn’t as heavily trafficked (presumably) as the economy one.

TAP Air Portugal business class lavatory A320neo
TAP Air Portugal business class lavatory A320neo

TAP Air Portugal business class service

Much like on my transatlantic flight, the crew on this TAP Air Portugal flight was excellent. They were friendly, and they offered passengers bread multiple times, and constantly came around with drink refills. I don’t know if the airline has had a change in culture, or if I just got lucky, because this doesn’t match my previous experience with the airline.

TAP Air Portugal A320 arrival in Geneva

At 10:50AM Geneva time, around 70 minutes after takeoff, we began our initial descent for Geneva. Five minutes later, the seatbelt sign was turned on, and 15 minutes later, the captain announced that we’d be landing in around 20 minutes.

The area around Geneva has among the most beautiful views you’ll find at any major airport, so my eyes were glued out the window throughout the descent.

Views enroute to Geneva
Views enroute to Geneva
Views enroute to Geneva
Views enroute to Geneva
Views enroute to Geneva

We ended up touching down in Geneva at 11:30AM.

Taxiing Geneva Airport

From there we had a five minute taxi to our arrival gate, where we pulled at 11:35AM, around 25 minutes behind schedule.

Arrival gate Geneva Airport

Bottom line

I tend to think that Europe has the worst short haul premium cabins you’ll find anywhere in the world, so I try to manage my expectations accordingly. With that in mind, I thought the TAP Air Portugal flight was good for the most part.

The cabin was actually quite comfortable, with plenty of legroom, power outlets, and a useful personal device holder. Furthermore, the crew on this flight was friendly. That being said, I didn’t particularly love the snack, and I do wish that TAP Air Portugal had Wi-Fi or streaming entertainment on short haul flights.

What’s your take on TAP Air Portugal’s Airbus A320neo business class?

Conversations (23)
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  1. iamhere Guest

    Cold cuts may not be great but are better than airline food eggs.
    "That’s interesting, because most other gateways in the region don’t require you to clear security when arriving from the United States." - this is untrue. In many cities even in Europe one has to go through security again.
    It is common knowledge that inter-european flights have economy seats with a blocked middle, so why the complaint.....

  2. CPH-Flyer Gold

    @Ben

    When you take pictures through a rain wet airplane window, use the manual focus function, you can get much better pictures even with the rain drops there. I assume iPhones do have this camera feature....

  3. glenn t Diamond

    I also have experienced the inexpicably long bus 'tour' of LIS and its surroundings from remote stand to arrivals terminal . Being only a mid-size international airport is is way too long. Also you'd think that TAP would have proper airbridge facilities since they are the national flagbearer airline.
    The snack you refer to is really breakfast so cold cuts, a croissant and some fruit seems in line for Europe. However since your flight...

    I also have experienced the inexpicably long bus 'tour' of LIS and its surroundings from remote stand to arrivals terminal . Being only a mid-size international airport is is way too long. Also you'd think that TAP would have proper airbridge facilities since they are the national flagbearer airline.
    The snack you refer to is really breakfast so cold cuts, a croissant and some fruit seems in line for Europe. However since your flight originated at LIS I'm surprised it did not include a hot breakfast dish, which Portugal excels at.

  4. Andrew from Yucatan Guest

    Ben,
    As have You said before: Business class its about the hard product.
    That its not a business class, its just economy plus in the front of the airplane.
    I really cannot stand this verbal engineering that airlines use to call things that they are not and trick you and sell you an illusion.
    Most European airlines do not want to invest in a good intra-european business class hard product, let´s...

    Ben,
    As have You said before: Business class its about the hard product.
    That its not a business class, its just economy plus in the front of the airplane.
    I really cannot stand this verbal engineering that airlines use to call things that they are not and trick you and sell you an illusion.
    Most European airlines do not want to invest in a good intra-european business class hard product, let´s hope one day they invest and have a better product, even US airlines have better.

    1. Samo Guest

      If there was a demand, the "real business class" would exist. The reality is that no one is gonna pay extra money for a better hard product on two hours flights, there's just no benefit, the current seats are just fine.

      US airlines don't even give you lounge access and while EU catering sometimes leaves a lot to be desired, it still better than a pack of peanuts. I hardly see the US product being better just because I have some empty space next to my body.

  5. Tim Guest

    Hey Ben, you seem to begin to forget you’re German ;-) How can you not love cold cuts (esp since this doesn’t look like pork)? Sitting here in Germany and having an elderflower Ricola, I’m actually offended by that…

  6. NS Member

    It wasn’t a nice day in Lisbon, as it was raining outside, which certainly isn’t ideal for remote stand operations.

    That reminds me of something... one day, I flew a domestic flight in Korea on a rainy day (I forgot which airline and route was that). That flight was also departing from a remote stand, and when I arrived at the aircraft, one of the ground agent, who seemed to be a manager of...

    It wasn’t a nice day in Lisbon, as it was raining outside, which certainly isn’t ideal for remote stand operations.

    That reminds me of something... one day, I flew a domestic flight in Korea on a rainy day (I forgot which airline and route was that). That flight was also departing from a remote stand, and when I arrived at the aircraft, one of the ground agent, who seemed to be a manager of some sort (given that he wasn't wearing the uniform), was holding an umbrella in between the bus and the step car so we wouldn't get wet, although he had to get wet. Not saying this as a 'only in Korea/Japan' thing, but I've really appreciated that.

  7. LCC Euro Points Guest

    "I tend to think that Europe has the worst short haul premium cabins you’ll find anywhere in the world, so I try to manage my expectations accordingly."

    So what is Delta serving on their flights less than 2 hours?
    What lounge access do you get on a standard LGA - ATL?
    Or MIA - JFK on AA?

    1. JJ Guest

      Ben is specifically talking about the hard product in the cabin, in which case he is correct. At least flying LGA-ATL or MIA-JFK you'll have a nice "first class" seat 2-2 wide instead of a 3-3 wide "business class" seat with a blocked/unoccupied middle seat.

    2. Julia Guest

      The age old American versus European business class debate...better seat versus more food and lounge access.

    3. alex Guest

      Cabins as in hard product, not soft product

  8. ArnoldB Guest

    Honestly whats even the point of reviewing airplane breakfast, its always s**t in 99% of cases...

  9. Raylan Guest

    For whatever it's worth, I connected in LIS onto another city in Portugal last week and did not need to clear security in addition to customs.

  10. CP@YOW Guest

    Isn't the plane with the red tail TAAG Angola? (which would make sense given Portugal's colonial history)

  11. JoeMart Guest

    I'm surprised TAP doesn't offer all 231 episodes of Xica da Silva. Try downloading it and watching while flying. Let me know if you figure out what made her popular with senhor contratador ;)

  12. Kevin Guest

    Having to go through security in Europe when connecting from a US flight also happens at LHR and CDG. The only place where I haven't had to go through security again is at AMS (again, only talking when connecting from a US flight to another flight). I think at MAD you also have to go through security again

    1. TravelCat2 Diamond

      The last time I connected at MAD from the US (arriving at terminal 4S) to another European city (departing from terminal 4), I had to go through security. I think that has been the case for some time.

    2. Chris Guest

      I think at CDG it depends on where exactly the ex-US plane lands. Last Spring I arrived SFO-CDG and did not have to clear security again. Of course I did clear passport control but that makes perfect sense.

    3. Daniel from Finland Guest

      HEL is also equipped to receive non-Schengen flights from clean countries, so no security theatre for US arrivals.

    4. Hugo Guest

      I am not sure what you meant by this Ben. When arriving from the USA you enter Schengen space and clear immigration on your first entry point. In this case it was Lisbon - Switzerland is part of Schengen. You wouldn't clear immigration if you were transiting in Lisbon but flying to LHR. Am I wrong?

  13. TravelinWilly Diamond

    Ew.

    The TAAG 777 is in the background out the window.

    I am so sorry you had to see that.

  14. FrozenKiwi Guest

    @ben in the future, since you used lifemiless, would you choose Y for the intro-Europe flight since you’d already have lounge access with your connecting trans-Atlantic J flight. Just wondering since lifemiles actually allows you to reduce the price of the mileage ticket unlike other programs. I find if J is included in my connecting flight I’ll take it, but if I’m able to reduce costs with Y I do that. Thoughts?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ FrozenKiwi -- That's a great question. So crunching the numbers, it seems that booking the second segment in economy would save 7,730 miles. I usually earn lifemiles with a transfer bonus, so let's assume those miles are worth somewhere around $100.

      I don't want to say it's a slam dunk, but I do think I'd probably pay an extra $100 in order to be guaranteed an empty seat next to me, receive extra legroom,...

      @ FrozenKiwi -- That's a great question. So crunching the numbers, it seems that booking the second segment in economy would save 7,730 miles. I usually earn lifemiles with a transfer bonus, so let's assume those miles are worth somewhere around $100.

      I don't want to say it's a slam dunk, but I do think I'd probably pay an extra $100 in order to be guaranteed an empty seat next to me, receive extra legroom, etc. After all, we were on the plane for roughly three hours.

      So I think I'd probably do the same, though you're right, it's unique how lifemiles lets you save on connecting itineraries if you book those in economy.

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Raylan Guest

For whatever it's worth, I connected in LIS onto another city in Portugal last week and did not need to clear security in addition to customs.

1
Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ FrozenKiwi -- That's a great question. So crunching the numbers, it seems that booking the second segment in economy would save 7,730 miles. I usually earn lifemiles with a transfer bonus, so let's assume those miles are worth somewhere around $100. I don't want to say it's a slam dunk, but I do think I'd probably pay an extra $100 in order to be guaranteed an empty seat next to me, receive extra legroom, etc. After all, we were on the plane for roughly three hours. So I think I'd probably do the same, though you're right, it's unique how lifemiles lets you save on connecting itineraries if you book those in economy.

1
TravelinWilly Diamond

Ew. The TAAG 777 is in the background out the window. I am so sorry you had to see that.

1
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