Our flight from Lisbon to Luanda in TAAG Angola’s first class was in some ways pleasant, and in other ways subpar. However, there was nothing about the experience that was actively bad or uncomfortable. It was about what I was expecting the experience to be, except the pleasant surprise of the seats and Wi-Fi.
I was very much looking forward to the second flight from Luanda to Sao Paulo, which was operated by a 777-300ER with TAAG’s old first class product. The first excitement with this flight came with the delay. We were made to sit in the departure lounge (as they take your boarding pass when you enter, and there are no bathrooms) for three hours, and our flight kept getting delayed, five minutes at a time. At first the ground staff denied there was a technical fault, and then eventually they admitted that was the issue.
Fortunately the flight ended up departing, and a two hour delay wasn’t a huge deal. How could I not be excited boarding this beauty of a plane?!
Once onboard the plane I was thrilled to find a retro first class cabin. There were 12 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, and I couldn’t have been happier with it. In many was I prefer this to the new first class product we had on the previous flight, as the cabin just feels so spacious. By the way, big props to Oman Air, because their A330 business class is basically like this.
Unfortunately this is where the mess began. Let me note that up until this point I had been asked probably almost a dozen times why I was taking so many pictures. Everyone was curious, and when I explained, they said “okay.” So it’s clear the airline and Luanda Airport don’t have a policy against photography as such, as everyone asked me why, acknowledged it, and let me go on doing what I was doing.
Not the cabin manager on this flight. I recognize that sometimes things are lost in translation, so I don’t want to judge the words someone uses too much. However, one thing that’s universal is aggression, and this cabin manager was aggressive and downright rude.
I took some pictures during boarding, and the guy walked past me and flailed his hands in the air, basically sarcastically signaling that something is wrong with me. Fair enough, I don’t really care what he thinks. I stopped taking pictures for a bit.
Two minutes later he returned and the following transpired (I’d mention that he was speaking in an incredibly confrontational and aggressive tone):
“What do you think you are doing? You can’t take photos.”
“Oh I’m sorry, it’s my first time flying with TAAG and the first class cabin is so beautiful. I really like trying different airplanes.”
“You can’t do this, it is wrong, it is against the security policy.”
“I don’t have pictures with any people in them, but I won’t take any more pictures of the cabin. I will just take pictures of the food and drinks.”
“You can’t do that, it violates the security policy.”
“Taking pictures of food does?”
He walked off. Again, it’s not what he said, but how he said it. There’s a polite way to address people and a not polite way.
A minute later another flight attendant came by my seat.
“What is wrong with you? Why? Why do you take pictures of everything? Why? Why?”
Are you freaking kidding me?
I figured I’d explain it to her.
“I just want you to understand nothing is wrong, I am just really enjoying the experience and wanted to take pictures for memories.”
“Oh okay, so nothing is wrong?”
“No, everything is great” (maybe a bit of a stretch, but…).
Then a minute later the cabin manager returned, with another male flight attendant behind him, and the captain watching from the galley.
“Delete all your pictures right now. I want to see your phone. Do it now.”
I had been writing in my “notes” app, as I always do on flights to take notes, and I guess he saw me typing.
“What are you writing? I want to see it.”
So, what was the 7hr40min flight straight across the Atlantic like?
The amenity kit was the same as on the previous flight, as was the horrible bedding. There were no pajamas or anything.
The meal service began right after takeoff. I felt comfortable taking pictures of the food because the cabin manager fell asleep in the jumpseat right after takeoff, and stayed asleep throughout the dinner service. Since the other flight attendant seemed fine with my picture taking (and since it doesn’t violate TAAG’s policy as such), I figured I’d take my chances and subtly photograph the food.
Dinner began with a salad and an appetizer with salmon and squid.
For the main course I had an excellent fish dish.
For dessert there was a chocolate tart with caramelized apples.
Then there was also a cheese course.
Even though the flight attendant was okay with me taking pictures, she was actively rude. Nothing would be delicately placed on the tray, but rather she’d put it down with force, she’d intentionally ignore things I asked for (like I very loudly said “excuse me” as she walked away because I wanted some more water, I could tell she heard it, but she kept walking), and she was just awful.
Between meals I went to the lavatory and found all three first class flight attendants asleep in the forward jumpseats. I guess I should at least be impressed that they didn’t sit in the empty first class seats?
I was never asked if I wanted to be woken up for breakfast. I woke up 30 minutes before landing, and had absolutely no expectation of being served breakfast. I didn’t ask for it, but rather just started to put my seat upright.
At this point the flight attendant lectured me — “why did you sleep so long? We only have 30 minutes, you need to eat fast.”
Good morning to you too…
Rather than bidding farewell to passengers, the crew was dividing up the leftover food as passengers deplaned.
I think the only award that TAAG is going to win for their premium cabin is that they have the world’s best (and only) firts class.
With a crew fully dedicated to satisfy your needs, this is the right flight class for those who seek a true luxury flight experience.
I can appreciate we came across as strange, and that some things may have been lost in translation, but I couldn’t believe the level of aggression that I got from the crew.