Review: TAP Air Portugal Business Class A330 Lisbon To Newark

Filed Under: TAP Portugal

TAP Air Portugal 201
Lisbon (LIS) – Newark (EWR)
Tuesday, January 9
Depart: 11:20AM
Arrive: 2:30PM
Duration: 8hr10min
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
Seat: 5J (Business Class)

I boarded through door two, and upon turning left was happy to see that my flight did indeed feature TAP’s new business class. The airline has several different business class configurations, and the Newark flight doesn’t consistently get the new business class.

TAP Air Portugal A330 business class cabin

TAP’s new business class is a huge improvement over their old product. The cabin consisted of a total of 25 seats, spread across six rows (the first row had just two seats). Rows alternated between having four and five seats. This is a staggered fully flat configuration, meaning that the footwell for one seat is to the side or inbetween the seats in front.

TAP Air Portugal new business class cabin

TAP new business class cabin A330

On the left side of the cabin you have just one seat along the windows in each row, while on the right side of the cabin you have three rows with two seats, and two rows with one seat. These three seat pairs are the only ones where you don’t have direct aisle access from every seat.

TAP Air Portugal new business class seats A330

TAP Air Portugal new business class seats A330

The center section has two seats per row. Overall this is a solid business class cabin that was in good condition, though I thought that TAP selected especially generic finishes for their seats. Other than the finishes, the seats are almost identical to Aer Lingus’ new business class, which they also have on their A330s.

TAP Air Portugal A330 new business class seats

I got lucky and managed to select one of the two best business class seats in the cabin. Specifically, I’m talking about the “throne” seats, which are 3J & 5J. These seats are superior because of the amount of personal space they have.

TAP Air Portugal business class “throne” seat A330

TAP Air Portugal business class “throne” seat A330

To the right of my seat was a big counter, which was a good place to keep my laptop throughout the flight.

TAP Air Portugal business class seat counter

Behind the counter was a literature pocket.

TAP Air Portugal business class seat literature pocket

Underneath that counter were a couple of fairly large exposed storage areas.

TAP Air Portugal business class seat storage

To the left of the seat was even more space, as well as many of the seat’s features.

TAP Air Portugal business class seat console

There was a reading light, the headphone jack, the entertainment controls, a headphone clip, and an enclosed storage compartment.

TAP Air Portugal business class seat storage & controls

This is also where the seat pre-sets were.

TAP Air Portugal business class seat controls

The tray table could be folded out from the left side of the seat. It was easy to use, and was a single, big tray.

TAP business class tray table A330

The power outlet was located underneath the seat, and there was both a 110v and USB outlet.

TAP Air Portugal business class seat power outlet

The one downside to these throne seats is that the footwell is quite tight, so if you’re tall or have big feet, it can be tough to move around when you’re in bed mode, which isn’t ideal.

TAP Air Portugal business class seat footwell

I should also mention that TAP Air Portugal doesn’t have individual air nozzles on the A330, which I find annoying.

Waiting at my seat upon boarding was a pillow & blanket. The blanket was fairly large, though wasn’t particularly soft or cuddly. Meanwhile the pillow was thin.

TAP Air Portugal business class pillow & blanket

There were also a pair of headphones, as well as some earbuds. The headphones were quite low quality, and they give you earbuds because they collect the headphones before landing.

TAP Air Portugal business class headphones

Also waiting at my seat was the amenity kit, which was supposed to look like a sardine can (not unlike most planes nowadays). 😉

TAP Air Portugal business class amenity kit

While it’s a cute concept, I couldn’t close the tin once I first opened it, so I didn’t find it to be a practical design. In terms of contents, the kit had eyeshades, earplugs, a pen, socks, a toothbrush set, and basic Rituals amenities.

TAP Air Portugal business class amenity kit contents

Every seat on this flight was taken, and even though boarding happened through door two, boarding was still quite chaotic. It seemed like a vast majority of the passengers were operationally upgraded from economy (the seatmap had just a few seats taken in business class hours before departure), so there were lots of people trying to switch seats, and lots of picture taking (not just from me, for once).

TAP also doesn’t have overhead bins in the middle of the cabin in business class, presumably to make the cabin feel more spacious. While that looks nicer, there was a real shortage of overhead bin space as a result.

15 minutes after settling in, one of the flight attendants came by to offer pre-departure beverages, with the choice between champagne, orange juice, and water. This particular flight attendant had zero personality. She held out the tray, didn’t say anything, and looked at me with complete indifference.

I selected a glass of champagne, which was possibly the smallest pour of champagne I’ve ever been offered on a plane.

TAP Air Portugal business class pre-departure champagne

A few minutes later the crew rolled a cart down the aisle with menus, newspapers, and magazines.

TAP Air Portugal business class menu

The boarding process took a long time, and finally at 11:45AM the door closed, a full 55 minutes after boarding started. There was no announcement regarding our delayed departure, and the safety video was screened the minute the door closed.

TAP A330 Lisbon Airport

Within a few minutes we began our pushback, and during our taxi out the crew came through the cabin to make sure people had their shoulder harnesses on.

Also during taxi, one of the flight attendants came through the cabin to take meal orders. She jumped around the cabin (I was among the first people she asked), so I assume they were first taking meal orders from paid passengers, and then later from those who were upgraded, or something.

Our taxi was fairly quick, and at 11:55AM we were cleared for takeoff.

Taxiing Lisbon Airport

Taking off from Lisbon Airport

View after takeoff from Lisbon

We hit some turbulence on the climb out, so the seatbelt sign stayed on for about 40 minutes. As we climbed out I browsed the entertainment selection, starting with the airshow, for our 7hr40min flight to Newark.

Airshow enroute to Newark

Airshow enroute to Newark

Airshow enroute to Newark

The movie selection was reasonably decent, and I managed to find a couple of movies of interest. There were a few dozen movies, though there was a shortage of sitcoms.

TAP business class entertainment selection

TAP business class entertainment selection

TAP business class entertainment selection

TAP business class entertainment selection

I don’t often watch movies on planes, but I decided to watch The Heat, which I thought was hilarious (though I love anything with Melissa McCarthy).

TAP business class entertainment selection

The crew began the meal service about 40 minutes after takeoff.

TAP business class cabin A330

The menu read as follows:

The drink list read as follows:

Service began with warm towels being distributed.

TAP business class warm towel

About 60 minutes after takeoff a cart was rolled down the aisle with canapés and drinks. The canapés consisted of roast beef with pepper jam and roasted almonds. To drink I ordered a glass of the white wine and a sparkling water.

Portugal is known for the wines, and while the drink list indicated that there would be two whites and two reds, they only loaded one of each. I didn’t especially like the one they had on offer (which was the first one on the menu).

TAP business class lunch — canapĂ©s and drinks 

It was during the meal service, about 70 minutes after takeoff, that captain David added his welcome aboard, and informed us we were cruising at 35,000 feet and would eventually work our way up to 40,000 feet. He said our route of flight took us north of the Azores, over Gander and Halifax, and then north of Boston, and that we should be landing at 3PM. One interesting thing he mentioned was that the cabin would be kept at 21 degrees celsius, which I don’t think I’ve ever heard a pilot announce before.

About 80 minutes after takeoff the next course was served, which was the appetizer and soup. Some nearly stale bread was served with it.

TAP business class lunch — appetizer and soup

The appetizer consisted of partridge confit escabeche, which I wasn’t a fan of.

TAP business class lunch appetizer — partridge confit escabeche

The tomato soup was quite good, though.

TAP business class lunch soup — tomato soup, cottage cheese, and olives

The main course was served about 1hr40min after takeoff. I ordered the shrimp with sweet potato sauce, almond milk, farofa, and rice. The dish wasn’t good at all. There were just three shrimp, and they were soft and flavorless.

TAP business class lunch main course — shrimp with sweet potato sauce, almond milk, farofa, and rice

Dessert was served 2hr5min after takeoff, and consisted of the choice between cheese and ice cream. The ice cream was served in a plastic cup (which I found to be cheap for business class), but the ice cream itself tasted quite good (it seemed to have some sort of a cinnamon flavor).

TAP business class lunch dessert — ice cream

TAP business class lunch dessert — ice cream

To finish off the meal a coffee, tea, and chocolate trolley was rolled through the cabin. I noticed on the menu they had espressos, so I asked if I could have one of those. They served it to me about 10 minutes later, along with some chocolate.

TAP business class lunch — espresso and chocolate

At the conclusion of the meal, small bottles of water were distributed.

TAP business class bottled water

It was about 2hr20min into the flight before the meal service was done. Overall the meal service didn’t impress me, and the service had zero charm. The crew was just so disinterested, and while they did everything they had to, they sure didn’t seem happy to be there.

Airshow enroute to Newark

Airshow enroute to Newark

After the meal I checked out the lavatory, located at the front of the cabin. It had a flower, but otherwise didn’t have any special amenities.

TAP business class lavatory

At this point I was really tired (it had been a crazy few days of flying), so I reclined my seat and managed to get some solid sleep. I slept for about four hours, and woke up roughly 90 minutes before landing at Newark, when the crew turned up the cabin lights. I slept really well, though I suspect that was a function of my exhaustion rather than TAP’s bedding, or anything.

Airshow approaching Newark

Airshow approaching Newark

Airshow approaching Newark

Warm towels were distributed a few minutes after the lights were turned on, and then the pre-landing snack was served. This was a really light snack, consisting of just a small plate of cold cuts, some orange, and a roll. While I assume you could have ordered something else to drink, the crew was encouraging coffee or tea for drinks.

TAP business class pre-landing snack

After the snack was cleared we had about 50 minutes until landing, at which point the crew already started preparing the cabin for landing. I find this to be an annoying practice, as that’s a long time to spend in the upright position with the window shades up. I know this is probably dictated by airline policy, but would it kill them to only prepare the cabin 30 minutes out, or so? They also collected the headphones around this time.

View approaching Newark

15 minutes later we began our descent towards Newark. It was a cold-looking but beautiful day.

View approaching Newark

View approaching Newark

View approaching Newark

Final approach to Newark Airport

We had a pretty direct approach, and touched down at Newark Airport at 2:55PM on runway 22L.

Landing at Newark Airport

We then had to cross runways 22R/4L, and a couple of minutes later were at our arrival gate, where we parked next to an SAS A330.

Taxiing Newark Airport

Arrival gate Newark Airport

I got a nice view of the TAP A330 from the terminal.

TAP A330 upon arrival at Newark Airport

I was through Global Entry in a matter of minutes, and then headed to JFK, as I’d be flying Qatar Airways’ Qsuites a few hours later to Doha. Two transatlantic crossings in a day is crazy, even by my standards. 😉

TAP Portugal business class bottom line

TAP’s new business class hard product is much improved. Getting a throne seat is a treat, but really any flat bed seat is more than sufficient on the short transatlantic flights that they operate to the US. Do be aware that they still have many A330s with angled seats, and plane swaps are common.

TAP’s soft product left a lot to be desired, though. The crew wasn’t friendly, the food was just alright, the wine selection was disappointing for an airline based in a country with incredible wines, and the amenities were unmemorable.

TAP consistently publishes low fares in business class, so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them, assuming you can get the new business class. The most important thing in business class is the seat, and that’s an area where TAP does well, assuming you get one of their reconfigured planes.

  1. Every time I’m in Portugal, I find the people to be warm, generous and hospitable.

    Thus I find it’s a shame and a disgrace to its country when the national carrier’s crew as “national embassadors” and being in the service industry provide poor service.

  2. Why do you think the air show map is programmed to show where the Civil War steamship, USS Tulip, exploded and sank in 1864? It seems slightly macabre.

  3. I think TAP FA’s will get better as well, eventually. The old generation was (and still is) used to a state owned airline, which was bleeding tens of millions of euros every single year while they had a lot of benefits while doing as less as possible. I think, or at least I hope, that new FA’s will be trained to be much more friendly. As a portuguese and TAP customer, I also think that FA’s is something that must be much improved. While the hard product is getting much better, the personel issues may take longer.

  4. I find that the people in Portugal are always warm and hospitable whenever I’ve visited. Too bad you didn’t have the same experience on this flight with this crew

  5. TAP is such a disappointing airline, because of its inconsistency. Which is a pity: otherwise they’d be a great European gateway to Brazil in particular.

    And as others have written, in stark contrast to the country itself.

  6. “While it’s a cute concept, I couldn’t close the tin once I first opened it”

    You could have asked the crew for assistance…but given how disinterested they seemed, it probably would not have helped.

  7. Always love your posts, but no need for pictures of flight scenery outside the plane – that’s how it looked for every plane that left Lisbon that morning

  8. Keep the flight scenery photos. I’ve been in and out of Lisbon many times but always on sunny days, have never seen it so gloomy as in your pics.

  9. You should have tried the cheese and port. When I had them on a flight from YYZ they were remarkably good, despite the cheese being wrapped in cellophane.

  10. I don’t see why you’re obsessed with those throne seats on these flights, virtually all reviews for these type of seats say the foot cubby is terrible, surely the better seat is the true window seat on the other side, just as private but without the footwell issue? To pay €/$100 that some airlines charge for this seat seems ludicrous in my opinion.

    I can’t help thinking that having this layout on an A330 seems tight, considering they’re only usually 8 across in economy.

  11. I’m not a fan of that seat, assuming it’s the same as those on Austrian ( “throne”, single seats). The footwell is too narrow and it’s difficult to turn over while sleeping. Also the height is too low and doesn’t give sufficient privacy from surrounding passengers. Nowehere near as good as Finnair, another “cheap and cheerful” alternative.

  12. Recently flew TAP from Morocco to Barcelona (with a stop in Lisbon). Awful experience all around and the sardine size of the economy seat was the least of it. The staff on the ground was atrocious. Both of our flights were delayed quite a bit, but rather than offer any help or information, one of the gate agents in Lisbon took it as an opportunity to wade thoughthe crowd and put every carry-on in a bag sizer. It didn’t get much better on-board. Take Another Plane is right. My wife and I both vowed never, ever again.

  13. Keep the flight scenery photos! Even if you don’t like them is it that hard to move your finger and keep scrolling? If you’ve read this blog for long at all you’d know Ben likes window seats … cause he likes looking out the window so your bound to get some out the window shots on an AvGeeks blog lol.

  14. I say this again:

    We had a wonderful time last year when , for a change, I was traveling more for pleasure than work and with my husband. We flew on from JFK on TAP through LIS to GVA in biz class. Both flights from/to JFK were staffed with excellent crews. On the return our really fabulous FA gave us a full wine tasting before our meal and was attentive the entire flight. The food was good and my only complaint is that the transfer at LIS to our GVA flight was hideously slow due to a massive line at immigration/tranfers.

    We also flew to and from GVA with “understaffed” A321s with no service but on the return the very nice purser brought us champagne “under-cover”.

  15. TAP sells upgrades to business-class pretty cheap so it’s possible they were not given an operational upgrade.

  16. Dear Lucky
    Dear all

    Does anybody know when TAP finally has updated its complete business class? In general their connection from Europe to Brazil is great, but the old business class is really disappointing.


  17. Update: September 2018- TAP are still regularly switching out their new business class for the old crappy configuration. It’s now happened to me twice- seat was marketed as “lie flat” but was switched day of departure. Beware.

  18. Do you know if ALL the BCN to Newark flights have lie flat seats?
    I can’t get a straight answer out of the airline?

  19. Just flew yesterday from LIS to JFK and had the A330 with the new business class config. Changed seat from 3E to 1E which has the very wide foot front space which is great. Had a similar experience with the crew that didn’t seem super interested…the only issue with being in 1E is that you can hear the crew talk…and gosh they talk quite loud…
    Otherwise food OK. Nothing amazing or terrible. A very good seat, not expensive from Europe to JFK in business class.
    Business class was much busier than eco. Maybe 40% empty in eco…

  20. Be careful with this airline.

    Some airports they sell business class tickets from don’t even have lounge access for TAP business passengers, like Manchester Airport.

    I have stopped booking with this airline and always look for an alternative.

  21. #ThoughtsAndPrayers for you @WR
    Cannot imagine how awful it must have been not have had access to a lounge that would cost ÂŁ15-ÂŁ30

  22. Does anyone see anywhere on Tap’s booking screen where you can choose to search for business class tickets?? It’s a frustrating and ridiculously missing option..

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