Introduction: Swiping Left On TAAG Angola

Filed Under: Lufthansa, Other Airlines
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Welcome to my next trip report, covering travel in Lufthansa first class, TAAG Angola first class, and American 787-9 business class! I spent a weekend flying to Germany, the UK, Portugal, Angola, and then Brazil, as one does. 😉

Planning the trip

The primary motivation for this trip was to fly TAAG Angola, though given that they don’t fly to the US (and aren’t allowed to), that requires quite a bit of positioning. We all have things that we’re perhaps irrationally into. Some people might be into feet, I’m into flying really random airlines (from a US-centric perspective) for fun. In May 2016 I saw a TAAG Angola plane for the first time at Cape Town Airport, and there was something about it that fascinated me. As I titled my post at the time “My New Airline Crush: TAAG, You’re It!”

I was so excited to finally fly my “crush” airline, though I guess you could say it was a bad first date. Like, really, really bad. I should’ve swiped left.

Booking flights

Let me share the flights in the order in which I booked them, rather than the order in which I flew them.

There are no practical ways to redeem partner airline miles for TAAG Angola first class, so a paid first class fare was the only option. For the past year I’ve been looking for good fares in TAAG Angola first class, which is surprisingly challenging, given that they don’t sell tickets through most online travel agencies, and their website is horrible.

In January I wrote a post about the only three international first class products I haven’t yet reviewed, and I pointed out how I wasn’t seeing any great TAAG Angola first class fares. An awesome reader in the comments section pointed to a fare I hadn’t yet seen. Specifically, you can fly from Lisbon to Luanda to Sao Paulo for ~$1,850 in TAAG first class, which is by far the best first class fare I’ve ever seen on them.

That itinerary looked as follows, with both segments being on 777s configured with different first class products:

3/11 DT651 Lisbon to Luanda departing 10:00AM arriving 6:30PM [First Class]
3/11 DT745 Luanda to Sao Paulo departing 11:15PM arriving 3:30AM (+1 day) [First Class]

From Sao Paulo I wanted to get back to the US, and as luck would have it, American had business class award availability nonstop to Los Angeles. While that might not sound that exciting, this was a flight featuring B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seats. I haven’t yet flown that configuration on American, so thought it would make an interesting review. It would also allow me to check out the oneworld lounges at Sao Paulo Airport.

I booked the following for just 57,500 AAdvantage miles plus $52.11 in taxes:

3/12 AA216 Sao Paulo to Los Angeles departing 10:30PM arriving 7:10AM (+1 day) [Business Class]

I only ended up ticketing the outbound the day before departure. For transatlantic premium cabin flights, award space reliably opens up in the days leading up to departure. Unfortunately I was leaving during what must have been the first busy Friday of spring break season, as virtually all transatlantic flights were sold out even a week out. I’m usually really good at this stuff, but for a moment I was sweating wondering whether or not I’d find a non-economy way to get to Europe.

A day before departure Lufthansa first class award availability opened up, and I booked the following for 70,000 Aeroplan miles plus $506 in taxes and fees:

3/09 LH453 Los Angeles to Munich departing 5:15PM arriving 1:40PM (+1 day) [First Class]
3/10 LH2478 Munich to London departing 4:00PM arriving 5:05PM [Business Class]
3/10 TP357 London to Lisbon departing 6:30PM arriving 9:05PM [Business Class]

While I’ve reviewed Lufthansa first class before, this was my first time checking out Lufthansa’s fairly new first class lounge in Munich, so I look forward to reviewing that.

I got those 70,000 Aeroplan miles by transferring them over from Amex Membership Rewards, through Aeroplan is also transfer partners with Starwood Preferred Guest.

The routing for the entire ~21,000 mile trip looked as follows (I always make maps for my trips, but I especially love how this one looks):

Booking hotels

This was basically a weekend trip, as I took off from Los Angeles Friday evening, and landed back in Los Angeles Tuesday morning. I only needed two hotel stays:

  • One night in Lisbon
  • One night(ish) in Sao Paulo — I was landing at 3AM and departing at 10PM, so wanted to have somewhere to rest and a quiet place to work

In Lisbon I booked the Sheraton for ~$150.

Then in Sao Paulo I booked the Marriott Sao Paulo Airport. During Marriott’s MegaBonus promotion last fall, they offered a Category 1-5 free night certificate after making just two stays at any Marriott family property. I earned a certificate there, and decided to redeem it for this stay. I just booked it for the night prior to when I landed, and thanks to my Platinum status knew I would get 4PM check-out, meaning that I’d have the hotel room for about 12 hours.

I won’t be reviewing either of the hotels, given how short my stays were, and since I didn’t have the chance to fully experience them.

Bottom line

I was so looking forward to this trip, given how little I knew about TAAG Angola coming in. I was even more excited since I was being joined by two aviation geek friends on the TAAG Angola flights, which made them all the more fun. Unfortunately TAAG ended up being a complete disaster, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have fun.

Thanks for reading, and for making all of this possible!

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  1. Ahh what a shame we cant have a review of the hotels 🙁

    Nonetheless really looking forward for this trip report

  2. Hey Lucky,

    I agree that not reviewing the hotels is a missed opportunity. Even if they’re brief, I think most readers would appreciate an article on your general thoughts, vibe, whether you’d stay again, etc.

    Jake P

  3. actually I have enough of TAAG. Are there more negative experiences you have withhold is an audacity to be scolded by the crews as a First class cannot even compare the experience with LH F…there is really a world apart…it does not look like as if TAAG is doing some efforts to improve themselves…oh dear, this makes AA like 5* airline.

  4. Ben..I agree from previous should have at least written a small report about the hotels…I am interested in knowing Marriott GRU airport hotel…

  5. @Lucky: I find your reviews of the “random” airlines very entertaining/interesting and a key differentiator from other travel blogs. Keep ’em up!

  6. @Lucky. Oh boy…I have just realized how old I am when I had to google what it means to “swipe left” :-)))

  7. This is a bit nitpicky, but there’s no way that your GRU-LAX flight only cost $5.60 in addition to the miles. A flight leaving America can cost $5.60, but entering America requires the APHIS, Customs, and Federal Inspection fee. Plus I think Brazil slaps on a departure fee. You probably paid more like $50. Easily worth paying, but a big enough difference to mention to your readers

  8. You could have gone lounge hopping in GRU. Star Alliance lounge (the best overall) is acessible with Priority Pass, Executive Lounge with Amex TPC and Mastercard Lounge with Black/World/Elite Mastercard cards, all of them in T3. With enough time, it´s even possible to go to T2 to enter Smiles Lounge (which is nice) using a Priority Pass.

  9. Ben..that happenes often with superficial “crushes”….no substance and does not last long…

  10. It’s a shame you’re not doing the Sheraton review, as I believe you’ve mentioned staying there before but I was recently looking for your review and I couldn’t find it doing a Google search or using your trip report search — not sure if you never actually did a review or if it’s just miscategorized?

  11. @ Jim — I had a connecting flight that day, but didn’t include it since I won’t be reviewing it and it doesn’t change any of the pricing.

  12. @ Bgriff — I would have liked to, but I got in so late and left so early, and I’m trying to be more responsible and actually get some rest on layovers so I don’t get sick. I have stayed at the property before, but didn’t end up reviewing it. Next time! Sorry about that.

  13. Thank you for adding in South America!

    I”m very excited about this trip report, especially GRU-LAX on American and the LATAM lounge.

    I’d love it if you would do “mini reviews”
    for instance: Mini review of the MUC to LIS flight.
    Mini review of the hotels.

    I think many people would appreciate a “mini review,” and (I hope) Mini reviews would be quick for you to put together, and post on days when you don’t post real reviews!
    You could rebrand them as “At A Glance” or something, to differentiate these from your primary trip review product line.

    best regards,

  14. When are you going to post the review of Delta A350 business class and Cathey Pacific Buisness Class? I remember seeing the 10 picture post for those but not the review.

  15. Just stopping by to say how excited I am for the GRU-LAX AA flight (feel free to be as detailed as possible 😉 ) and the reviews for the two lounges at GRU. 🙂

  16. OMG I can not wait for this review. Most anticipated review since you flee the residence ( and I suspect a world apart ! )

  17. Absolutely cannot wait for the TAAG reviews. Random airlines like TAAG are what makes your blog special. There are a million reviews of British Airways, Cathay, American and the like but nobody else reviews airlines like TAAG. Keep it up Lucky.

  18. FWIW, I’ve stayed at Lisbon Sheraton.

    It’s very good for a Sheraton.

    Excellent top floor lounge.

    Very good breakfast buffet.

    Small gym but it did the job.

    About 10 minute cab ride from main shopping center and old town (if I remember correctly).

    So very good, but a little out of the way.

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