So, What Exactly Happened On My Serviceless TAP Portugal Flight?

Filed Under: TAP Portugal

Last week I wrote about the bizarre experience I had on TAP Portugal, where there was no service on my flight from Lisbon to Milan. During boarding it was announced that “this flight is operating with reduced cabin crew and for that reason there will be no meal service on this flight.”

Sure enough, even in business class, there wasn’t really any service. Everyone on the plane was offered one cup of water, but that was it. When I asked for a refill, I was told each person could have only one.

I’ve flown millions of miles and have experienced some pretty terrible service, but never anything quite like this, as this seemed to be a company sanctioned practice.

Since the time I wrote that post, I received dozens of comments, messages, emails, etc., from readers indicating that they had a similar experience. I also had several TAP Portugal flight attendants reach out to me to share why this happens, though they spoke on the condition of anonymity.

I even had the chance to speak to a senior executive at TAP Portugal, though unfortunately he wanted the conversation to be off the record. I have to respect that, so I won’t be sharing anything he said, but rather am basing this post on the information I was given by the flight attendants who had reached out to me to share why this is a reasonably common occurrence.

So how does this practice happen? According to the flight attendants I spoke with:

  • Management and the union have agreed to have a certain number of flight attendants staffed per flight to perform service, which is different from the minimum number of flight attendants needed to operate the flight safely; when the minimum number for service isn’t on the flight, the crew doesn’t have to provide service
  • The crew can still provide service, and is even encouraged by management to provide service, but there’s quite a bit of contention between management and the union, so flight attendants are going to do the minimum possible on principle, since they think it gives them more room to bargain
  • These shortages are caused when flight attendants call in sick, though the airline should have standby flight attendants who are there when people call in sick

That’s the information that has been shared with me by employees, but it still leaves some unanswered questions:

  • Lots of airlines have flight attendants call in sick last minute which could lead to crew shortages, but somehow they manage to still staff flights; why doesn’t TAP Portugal have enough crew reserves?
  • While I wouldn’t say it’s common, what I experienced isn’t an isolated issue either, and it’s pretty clear to me this happens a lot more frequently than you’d expect; given that, why doesn’t the airline do something for customers who are impacted by this? How insulting to pay for business class and be served a cup of water and nothing else due to the issues between the union and the airline… does the airline not care about the passengers they’re losing because of this practice?

I respect both sides here and don’t know enough about the inner workings of their contracts firsthand to really blame one party. However, one thing is for sure — this current situation puts everyone in an awkward position (including the crew), and they need to address this ASAP. I’ve flown millions of miles, and have never experienced anything like this before.

  1. Thanks for fairly posting both sides of the argument. This lose/lose situation is hard to win for the consumer.

  2. and they wonder why the legacy airlines are struggling? people paying a premium over discount carriers for good service, right?

  3. The TAP Portugal website clearly advertises food and drink on Business Class flights. Anything other than a full refund of the cash or miles for all Business Class passengers is completely unacceptable. Everybody who experiences such a flight MUST do a chargeback on their credit card. Only then will the airline go out of business (less ideal) or properly staff its cabin (preferable). Issues between the airline and the union are none of the passengers’ business, as TAP is still collecting the full amount of money from every passenger. Thank you Lucky for educating me and the entire Internet. Now every person who googles “TAP Portugal business class” will know to stay away from this garbage airline.

  4. I wouldn’t be surprised if Al Baker commented on this post saying “This is the reason why we don’t have Unions in Qatar.”

  5. Funny. Union thinks they defended the crew by requiring no service or minimum service if the FAs understaffed. However, dissatisfied paid passenger may avoid the airline alltogether upon experiencing the minimum services. Even a potential passenger will be discouraged to fly with them upon reading/hearing this experience. Less passenger, less profit. No bonus or raise for airline employees, with possible job cuts. Europe is small region. With competing airlines, even high speed trains, will they survive in the long run?

    It is evident that TAP (or even portuguese in general) culture didn’t see passenger as the customer, rather a burden.

    As long as they got paid, who cares about services?

  6. Also, question, on flights like these where there aren’t enough crews, is food still catered for the flight? If yes, isn’t that a waste of a lot of food. Also, why can’t TAP Portugal have some sort of self-serve area in the cabin during such flights, where by you can pour yourself some juice or water. So, technically the crew don’t have to serve you.

    TAP Portugal: Full Fare airline giving you LCC service.

  7. Regarding your conversation with the TAP Executive, was there any indication or talk of a partial refund to premium passengers who encounter these ‘short staffed’ flights?

  8. It’s worth pointing out that it is management who provides no compensation to passengers for advertising and selling a service that they subsequently fail to provide. The crew – union or not – have no input into that part of the equation.

    So save your union bashing, and focus on the people who are actually ripping you off. That’d be management.

  9. Not providing meal service can be excused as a staffing issue. Not even refilling a water cup is the crew using the excuse of understaffing to spend the flight sitting on their rumps. The origin or nationality of the flight attendants and airline are irrelevant. This is simple laziness writ large in any language.

  10. @Bin & @Chandan Bhat.
    Union is not necessarily a bad thing. They were created so that employer don’t abuse their power upon the employee.
    However, its weird that Union and employer didn’t work out a favorable outcome in this issue. They forgot that their primary source of income is the passenger. No passenger, no money. No money, no pay.

    Maybe they just basically lazy people in their culture, thus such justification imposed.

  11. I understand that the company have to negotiate these things with the employee union, but you just have to ask this question, “where does the company’s priorities lie”? If they are willing to cut back on operating costs, you can only imagine how much – or little – money they invest on customer’s safety. I wouldn’t fly this carrier even if it’s for free.

  12. I’ve flown tap before and live in England. Based on this occurrence I will never fly them again. It’s unacceptable and a complete joke.

  13. @John.
    The crew actively refused to give any service. Eventough encouraged by the airline, they choose to follow directives from the Union.

    How come its not Union’s fault? Oh wait…. only those LAZY people are willing to support lazyness of others.

  14. “The TAP Portugal website clearly advertises food and drink on Business Class flights. Anything other than a full refund of the cash or miles for all Business Class passengers is completely unacceptable.”


  15. Chadan above said “TAP Portugal: Full Fare airline giving you LCC service.” But that isn’t even fair to LCCs, who at least have service items for sale. TAP won’t even do that.
    Business class passengers in particular need to do whatever they can to book away from TAP until they get their crew scheduling and labor relations issues settled.

  16. @ James. If management actually cared enough the service, there wouldn’t still be a dispute.

    You can blame the crew for being lazy, but you have to blame the bait-and-switch (“Buy a Business Class ticket but Get Economy Class Service”) on management. They know what they’re selling, and they fail to disclose it to customers.

    Or maybe THEY are just “lazy”.

  17. It’s easy blame both. Self service should be considered for flights like this. That said I’m sorry but a full refund should be given for business seats. That’s just bullshit.

  18. This sounds a bit weird to me. Per the applicable laws and regulations airlines must staff an aircraft with a defined number of people. TAP does that, as do all other airlines. On all other airlines however the crew also does the service. But at TAP not, only if extra staff is available. Workers paradise while it lasts. for the paying customer less so. Is this airline really needed?

  19. @james

    I agree union is not necessarily a bad thing. Actually it was founded with a good purpose but nowadays it grows out of control especially in transportation industries.

  20. Without knowing exactly what the contract terms are, it’s hard to say objectively whether the unions or management are being unnecessarily combative in this dispute. (Why aren’t there spare FAs to fill in for sick calls? are FAs too expensive to keep on call or is management just being cheap?) The fact of the matter is that refusing to refill a water glass comes across as nasty, and no union has ever won their case without the support of customers and the public at large.

    PS I’d be tempted to dispute the charge or complain to the EU — seat identical to economy, with service identical to economy should be priced as economy. Smacks of an involuntary downgrade.

  21. @John.
    Well, the fact that airline encouraged services while FAs hiding behind Union’s directives, its crystal clear who is who.

  22. @Bin – are you a douche or are you simply aspiring a-hole?

    Without a Union, the workers would be treated like the southeast asians in Qatar, Dubai etc. so please GROW UP!

  23. @Bin.
    Well, they didn’t think in the long run this situation would cost them their job (employee) and bussiness (employer).

    Or maybe they just LAZY to do a negotiation in good faith. For example, with understaffed, service would take longer and the servicing crew would get reasonable compensation. Nobody wants to be sick afterall…..

  24. Hey guys, let’s look at this from a different perspective. Your boss agrees that 4 people are necessary for your workload to be completed. On a said day your team is one person short, so that’s a 25% reduction, but your crew still manages to get the job done. So if 3 are enough, why would management ever put 4 peiple there again? It goes on the premise of “proved performance”. By refusing to provide a a complete service with an incomplete crew, the crew is protecting themselves from becoming abused by management. We might not like it, but it’s definitely not the crew’s fault that we live in a world of fierce cost cutting and corporate abuse, while a few guys make a fortune up top.

  25. @Petter N.
    At least those worker still have work to do, and can feed their family at home. With Union like this, who wants to fly TAP? Even LCC you still get services. With no one wants to fly TAP, how those Union member gonna get paid?

    Request goverment subsidies?

  26. @Bitzer.
    If 4 people job can be done by 3 people while doesn’t violate any laws/rules thereto, its good. Management can reduce man power and cost, and employee entitled to a raise since they got to do more job. A logical solution, quality worker over quantity worker.

    Offcourse if you are basically LAZY, you loved a raise but would never welcome extra works.

  27. Hi all, not sure where to post this …

    but there was a small plane crash on the 405 freeway near John Wayne Airport.
    Thankfully, no cars were involved and the pilot/passengers of the plane are while reported to be injured are still alive.

    The airport is closed for arrivals but departures are still on schedule.

  28. I would demand a partial refund. The TAP business model now involves ripping off its own customers.

  29. Daniel m a chargeback when you were transported from a-b is theft and the airline can legally pursue you

    A reasonable commercial gesture from the airline would be the sensible option such as a refund between the economy and bussiness fare in the form of a voucher

    Agree there should be a minimum level of service even in economy

    The fare still has other benefits such as lounge access , extra baggage etc

  30. This happened to my in-laws two weeks ago flying from Lisbon to Rome. Seems to be quite common for TAP these days….

  31. Give credit to them for the insanely low flight prices they’ve been offering — I’ve had two unbeatable deals on TAP in the past year. One was JFK – LIS – GRU, the other from Europe to Morocco via Lisbon. At the low low prices I paid somehow it seems like this sort of nonsense could result.

  32. Ryanair boss O’Leary once said that discount airlines’ employees are happier because they „do not remember the good old days“.

    For employees of full service airlines, wages, perks and working conditions have generally gotten worse over time. They are still much better off than their colleagues at the discount airlines, but they do not look at nor appreciate that. They compare themselves to the own (more glamorous) past, feel unhappy, and sometimes let the passengers feel their unhappiness.

    This is why it is much tougher to manage an airline in decline than an upstart.

    Let’s see how David Neeleman, who runs TAP now, deals with this.

  33. what, blame the union for under staffing the flight? Should those crew members attempt to do the service required without additional staffing, guess what, the company no longer has incentive to follow the contract and staff their flights correctly when a meal service is involved. Blame the company!

  34. @frank.
    Yes. Union is one of to blame:
    1. Cannot negotiate with employer a way out in the event a flight is understaffed.
    2. Instructing crews to disregard services which passenger entitled.

    I’m not saying the airline and/or the FA is not to be blamed tough…..

    Maybe their corporate culture is simply LAZY and off course is always easier to point fingers to blame rather than work a way out. Afterall, nobody wants to be sick….

  35. Icarus, that is nonsense. Service not as described is grounds for a 100% refund. I don’t fly economy. If I pay for business and don’t get business seat & service, I get my money back. Simples.

  36. Hey Bob. No disrespect, but you were also transported from a-b.

    The understanding here is that the customer was in the business class cabin

    If downgraded to economy then one is legally entitled to a refund difference according to EC261.

    If you agree to the terms and condts when you buy a ticket certain services are not guaranteed. If there had been excessive turbulence it may not have been possible to offer a meal service.

    You purchased a ( business class) ticket with flexibility , lounge access , additional baggage , priority boarding , a premium seat.

    The only thing lacking it appears was a meal and beverage. The contract doesn’t say the crew need to smile although that’s naturally expected. Discourtesy is not acceptable

    In that case you may consider a refund between economy and business as reasonable,however to think one is entitled to an full refund is absurd

  37. One point nobody has addressed…. If they don’t have enough FA’s to provide full service to the whole plane… Then why provide NO service to the ENTIRE plane when there is only the FA’s for legal safety limit? I’m sure the minimum number of FA’s for safety could easily provide full service to business and give economy minimal service. For everyone at TAP screwing over the business cabin by charging for business a d providing less than economy service is a bad idea.

  38. I think you managed to get a group of bad apples that happens to exist at TAP Portugal. Unfortunately.

    I’ve met some great and friendly TAP crew. But I’ve also met some people that does not leave you feeling “saudade” at all.

  39. I don’t recall the details by I seem to remember being told by a UA flight attendant I knew that per their contract, they got a pay bump on flights that fell under standard staffing levels. (But of course still flew with legal crew requirements.)

    This would have been in the early aughts.

  40. Uh oh. Flying TAP Toronto to Lisbon in September, and then back again in October. Maybe better bring food and drink! But yeah, tix were a bargain.

  41. Hmmmm….union and management didn’t get along at Eastern Airlines either. I can’t remember, does anyone recall how that worked out?

  42. Their remarks, and even the remarks of mgmt to “keep it off the record” is absurd and a slap in the face to customers! I would hate to think how they would handle a situation similar to the “United Airlines drag-off”. Thanks for the heads up Lucky, I was ready to book them on a upcoming trip but now will AVOID THEM AT ALL COSTS!

  43. I really don’t see how this is the union/employees faults. They have a negotiated contract which states that (for example) they must have 4 FA to offer service on a flight. If there is only 3, the flight is still legal, but no service (or severely limited) will be offered. That is what the company agreed to and the union agreed to. In this case, the union is holding up their end of the bargain. It is the company who is not holding up their end of the bargain to the customer, by selling a product as x, but only delivering y.

    I don’t understand why people think that the employees should be doing more work than negotiated, unless compensated. Do you also think the company should be expected to give out extra money or other benefits each day to employees that is above and beyond the contract without expecting anything in return? This is the point of a contract, spelling out the you get x for doing y. Do you think that if your company suddenly decides it has a big project that needs to be done by next Friday you should have to work this holiday weekend, for free, because hey, without projects you won’t have a job?

    The bottom line is that the company has agreed and promised a certain service to customers and is not honoring that. They have agreed to certain staffing levels with the union. It is up to them to hire/staff appropriately to be able to provide what they promised to customers within the terms they negotiated with the union.

    One final point. If this was an occasional thing, I bet you the FA’s would work together to get whatever service needed done. It sounds, however, like this is a regular and consistent issue with not staffing flights per the contract. I am guessing nearly everyone would do just what these FA’s are doing if you were in their shoes.

  44. @James
    Of course, I agree with you, however there are 2 problems in this picture.
    1- my car has 4 cylinders, one stops working. I tow my car to the mechanic, why? It can function on 3, but it’s life span is going to be reduced, same as humans, we can push harder and harder, but we pay the price in the future.
    2 – even if number 1 doesn’t apply, we all know that a 25% increase in work Ioad does not signify a 25% increase in wages. The reduction in costs however means that some big wig is taking home a fat bonus. Why would any one want to kill himself for some douche bag up top to get a bonus and move on?

    Some companies are good to the employees (delta, southwest?) and have them going the extra mile when needed, not tap, not alitalia and definitely not united, 3 of the old dinosaurs that will sooner or later disappear.

  45. Come on my man….what b.s….I personally do not give a f about what union relations are, cabin crew emotions, if the sun shines or not or seeing flying unicorns in the sky,… were denied proper service as what you would expect when flying C class on a certain flight…as simple as that….no need for you try and justify, explain or look at both management and crew….service as reported by you in your report was rubbish and so it should be called as such….shame on TAP management and shame on TAP cabin crew….as simple as that …
    no excuse !

  46. And may I add when you write “I even had the chance to speak to a senior executive at TAP Portugal, though unfortunately he wanted the conversation to be off the record. I have to respect that, so I won’t be sharing anything he said” is even worse…..if it was off the record, do not even mention at all….

  47. “…does the airline not care about the passengers they’re losing because of this practice?”

    No. Or as TAP puts it, não.

  48. I flew TAP couple years ago from Barcelona to Lisbon and Lisbon to Funchal and back in business class. I don’t recall getting bad service from the crew. With that said, you get what you paid. Given the comments above, I have to assume people are getting “great deals” when booking a business class seat on TAP. Well, now you know why as service part is missing hence the lower price. I think it’s important the company let perspective customers know that this is the reason their prices are lower. People can then make their own informed decisions: cheaper price with no service but bigger seats/ empty middle seat versus higher price with other airline with full service. For a short haul, I can careless if I only get a glass of water or not. But anything over couple hours, I would stay away from TAP.

  49. I agree with Daniel M. TAP’s labor issues are not my problem. If this ever happened to me, I’d ask for a full refund and I would not pay my credit card for this flight. The “one glass of water” is a total cop out. Money, money, money…

  50. Well. Some of its still remember what the auto workers union did to the US auto industry in the 80’s.

  51. Flew TAP opposite direction (MXP-LIS) and had service but … @TAP_Portugal Watch out when checking bags. TAP baggage handlers in Lisbon will steal from you. On my MXP-LIS flight, TAP asked me to check my carry on as the flight was full. Tried to be nice. Cost me some small items from my bag (zippers nicely closed after removal so nothing “fell” out). @taportugal

  52. No judgy, but why then does Air Koryo get 1 star in ratings. You get food, drink, and service. Moreover, seems like passengers have plenty of space. I’m not trying to start a comment battle here, but what am I missing?

  53. So as far as I can tell, because of the union, the airline is obliged to fly with extra crew (ie more than minimum) if it is to offer the service which it promised its customers.

    How is this a reasonable position? It’s a complete waste of manpower and resources and jacks up costs unnecessarily. I respect that a union must negotiate a fair deal for its members but creating jobs that simply don’t exist is madness. If the airline needs only 3 crew members to fly, then there are 3 jobs available. Not 4.

  54. For all those who say they should have a full refund because they didn’t get orange juice , glass of wine or sandwich, I reiterate that your contract was fulfilled when the airline transported you

    As I mentioned, at the very least the airline could consider a refund of the fare difference between economy and business class since you received what you perceived as an economy service

    Then again if you received other benefits such as lounge access, extra baggage, ticket flexibility and also sat in the business class cabin you still received 90% of the other services

    We are alluding to a meal and beverage service that was lacking

    You are entitled to your opinions even if some of them are risible

  55. Lounge access is worthless as vast majority who fly business already have it. Same goes for early check in.

    Business class is more so for seat benefits if available, then service then food. When you receive none of them, you are flying with Ryan air. I agree through, only a 80% refund is necessary. Because at least the plane didn’t crash and 20% is about the cost of a Ryan air seat with no extras besides a front row seat.

  56. The real problem is that in LLCs as rule they don’t serve tap water at all – even no bottles for self refill in the galley. Although this is part of the terms, I think because:
    1. They take out water in the security
    2. Water in the terminal is price comprehensive (& same on board)
    3. Excessive dehydration in pressurized cabin
    Tap water should be accessible for everyone.
    I once raised this concern to EASA (this happens in Europe) – Imagine situation where you don’t have $ + some problem with your credit card – So you can’t buy small bottle of water on board (priced at Walmart’s 6 pack) when you need water to take headache pills.

  57. I was about to organise an international conference in Lisbon. Thanks for the warning !

  58. @Bitzer.
    That’s exactly where Union comes into play. To defend the rights of its member, so there’s no abuse from the employer.

    Then again, if you are lazy, there’s always justification for everything and blame someone else.

  59. @Adrian There is a difference between the regulatory minimum crew staffing to safely evacuate the aircraft in the event of an emergency and the staffing required to offer any particular in-flight service.

    If the airline agrees with the union that the service is only reasonably performed with a minimum number of crew, it is unreasonable to expect understaffed crew to perform that service. It seems management has already agreed to an extremely abbreviated service in the union contract, only serving one glass of water. If the crew performs the full service understaffed the management has little incentive to comply with the negotiated staffing minimums.

    Frankly it’s rather revolting to see some people pillory the crew for simply demanding that their contract is honored. Honoring the contract of carriage is the minimum you expect as a customer of the airline, why don’t employees deserve the same consideration?

  60. @julie.
    As you mentioned, this is not a single isolated incident. Means, it happens a lot. Rather than work a way out, FAs and Union seems to be happy with the existing condition.

    And who isn’t?

    You got your paycheck. You didn’t need to do anywork. You can eat hotmeals while your customer only drink a cup of water. And if such attitude leads customer away, just blame the employer.

    Is there any rewards for anyone who goes above and beyond? Well, at some point its called SUCCESS. However, the path is not easy and needs a lot hardwork.

    Then again, people with LAZYNESS in culture would never understand…..

  61. @BrewerSEA.
    As per Lucky’s story as informed by several TAP’s FA, they were encouraged by the airline to still performed services in the event of understaffed.

    Then again, its fairly easy to blame the airline by saying its all written in the contract. Thus, FA as employee is only honoring the contract.

    Or is it?

    As Lucky has written, “it gives them more room to bargain”. Purposedly ignoring paid customers to justifies your own ends, and refused to be blamed when all the facts are crystal clear.

    Maybe they were not just lazy. They were LAZY and PROUD of it….

  62. @Adrian.
    In the Union points of view, more members is more beneficial to them. They can create bigger pressure in numbers, not to mention they can get their relatives to apply for work there. The Union can brag to the public that they create more jobs, feed more people.

    If somehow it is a burden of cost, and TAP ends up like Alitalia, just blame the management.

    That’s how LAZY cultured people think…. maybe…

  63. @James

    Yes, this does seem to be happening a lot. So the company needs to find a solution to keep up their end of the contract with their customers and with their employees.

    I don’t know why you are saying the FA’s and union are happy with this. I am guessing they are not. I think they would be happy if their employer honored the contract that they signed and had the proper staffing on flights. As they have not, the FA’s are just complying with the contract and doing exactly what they promised to do.

    This has nothing to do with being lazy, unless you are referring to the company being lazy about holding up their end of contracts.

    To say that the FA’s didn’t do any work is inflammatory. If their contract is like those in the US (I have no idea) they worked to board every one and get them settled before they closed the door, all without being paid for that time, as that is what is in the contract (as I said, it is in the US not sure about there). They did the safety checks, announcements, and an abbreviated service, per the contract. Had someone pushed their call button or approached with an issue, I am sure they would have taken care of that (if they didn’t, then I would say they were not doing what they should have).

    When a company doesn’t do what they agreed to in the contract, why would an employee go out of their way to go above and beyond for that company? This is the airlines issue, they need to live up to their contracts. I bet if they did, their employees would be much happier about their work situation and would likely be more willing to go above and beyond occasionally.

    Everyone view success as different things. Your version of success might be working 80 hours a week for a company no matter how you are treated or compensated. Others would have a very different view. That doesn’t make anyone lazy, it makes everyone an individual.

  64. This reaffirms my decision never to fly with TAP Portugal and to tell everyone I know to do the same.

  65. @Icarus

    You sound like an airline lawyer.

    The product being sold is the totality of the premium experience, not components thereof. While reasonable latitude can be given for things outside of the airline’s control, willful failure to provide the advertised level of service and therefore fulfill the expected experience which was paid for means that the service which was contracted for was not provided, period. Therefore it is only reasonable to expect a full refund, and a smart service provider would also offer some sort of future service recovery in this instance.

  66. @julie
    Assuming it is clearly stipulated black and white in the contract that FAs have no obligation whatsoever to do service in understaffed circumstances there would be:
    1. No need of directives from the Union.
    2. No negotiation whatsoever.
    3. Contingency plan prepared by the airlines.
    4. No encouragement whatsoever from the airline to continue provide services.

    And please, no sugarcoating saying FA will come and help should a button pressed, while a bussiness passenger was refused a additiinal glass of water and the FA is eating hotmeals.

    Using a facility on the airplane provided for passenger comfort and wellbeing for your ownself and disregard your paid duty because your teammate is sick?

    Simply LAZY.

    To state that there’s no need to go above and beyond, also lazyness is inflamatory, clearly verified my points that LAZYNESS is implanted within their general culture and maybe also in you.

  67. I encountered a bad e experience with TAP airlines this past March. My first time going to Porto, my flight was to land in Lisbon @6:00 am and leave for Porto at 8:00am.

    Due to some mornning fog my flight was delayed at first then changed to cancelled along with others which cause a domino effect. Things were poorly handled by TAP. As the day went on they could not offer any information to passengers. Things were getting pretty heated with travelers. Time passed planes arriving from Porto to board passengers to continue the connecting flights. I was supposed to be in Porto by 9am. I was boarding the last express plane Porto. 12 hours in the airport, losing 1 full day of my vacation. The reason I was getting pushed around ? Because my ticket was only $829.00
    as i was told the rude TAP employee. Welcome to Portugal!!

  68. I understand keeping management comments off the record but would be nice to hear from TAP publicly

  69. My final words in the matter
    Did you go for a meal or to be transported?
    The value of the meal had it been served would probably be about €20
    Some of the comments suggesting the only way forward is a full refund are frankly hysterical.
    Has anyone ever received a full refund of a ticket due to the lack of a service but the contract being fulfilled to transport the customer ?
    Had the been a tech delay you would want to be transported , eu compensation, a refund and additional compensation
    Pure greed

  70. I accidentally crossed an Eastern Airlines union picket line back in the early 80’s. A pilot ripped into me…. “You watch, the union is going to show management who’s boss”. A couple of weeks later I was flying through Atlanta. At least 50 Eastern aircraft parked at their maintenance base. Yes sir, the union showed them who was boss. Sad. They were a good company.

  71. I guess the crews and union wanted the airline to shut down and wait to be compensated at that point. They do not care about jobs at TAP anymore as they are able to find their next job from another airline. If they quit themselves, they won’t be compensated. So the best is wait on company to fold. Obviously they do not care to do their job, so they are just waiting for the time to come and get the money, go to the next job. They aren’t worrying about losing their current job as they knew they can find next.

  72. This crew and union deserve what they’ll eventually get: unemployment.

    To keep with the percentage argument, if they had 3 of 4 employees, for example, how is doing 20% of your normal role acceptable? If you did that in a normal job because someone else was sick you’d lose your job. Maybe only 75% of the normal service gets done because you only have 75% of the crew, fine, but they should’ve still done their own jobs.

    Also, management shouldn’t heave agreed to a contract that allows this to happen in the first place. They should also have backups to keep this from happening.

    So, goodbye TAP. You’ll die soon enough and quite frankly you’ll deserve to go away.

  73. I’ve read the assorted comments in regards to TAP, here is my take. You decide to fly, you decide the class you will fly based on your comfort level. You pick an airline and contract your flight business with who? The airline, not the flight crew, not with the union! You have an expectation of service based on the ticket you purchased. If you do not get the level of service promised in the advertisements or their web site, your beef is with the airline management who is holding your money!! Wasting your time pointing fingers at anyone else is fruitless! They are or the ones who owe you a refund of any sort!
    My thoughts!

  74. @Anne k.
    Sure, blame everything on the airline, as the FAs and Union expected.

    You seem to forget that some FAs reach out to Lucky to tell the stories. Trying to justified their action but ends up laying the facts that they are simply LAZY. And the Union, instead of fighting for their members decides to drag the battle sacrificing the passenger, the customer who paid their salaries.

    Look at the comments. Those defending FA and/or Union are probably FA and/or Union member themselves. In a desperate attempt to defend their LAZYNESS, ends up verifying it.

  75. It is pretty clear that all the union supporters are idealists who have no idea what is happening to TAP. Rightly or wrongly the union is “working to rule”. In this case – NOT WORKING.

    Here is how it works. Each flight has a union steward who checks the list of scheduled FA’s. He then instructs or forces x employees to be sick and miss the flight at the last minute. The flight is now below ‘working staff levels’ so all the FA’s on the flight get paid to sit in the kitchen, drink whatever, and eat like pigs while the passengers get a glass of water.

    So a couple of days a month the FA’s miss a shift pay – but the reward is that they fly around doing nothing at all for full salary and get (probably) the J class meal for free.

    Are the passengers happy? Hmm – lets re-read the entire blog. Who do they blame? All the lefties blame the bad old company for not giving in to blackmail of the worst sort in a part of Europe notorious for entitlement and lack of work ethic.

    This scheme will eventually bankrupt TAP – just like the similar problems that plagued Alitalia. (Both countries with similar union problems).

    So I am sure that a few nuts from above will call me a db and worse – but grow up yourselves – this is the dirty business of politics and union blackmail. The passenger is just a pawn.

  76. @BrewerSEA

    I don’t disagree with you about the airline keeping to its contract with its employees/union. The point I was making was a different one, and that is that it is, IMHO, insane that an airline will put itself in a situation in which it agrees to hire more crew than necessary, or to agree that crew may, where applicable, perform their jobs in such a way as to tarnish the reputation of the airline. I’ve flown a ton of flights with minimum crew, and there has NEVER been a problem with providing the promised service. Clearly it can be done.

    Now, I’m in Asia, where perspectives on unions and employee’s rights are different. But from an efficiency and business perspective, this doesn’t make sense, whatever the culture.

  77. Two options – 1) boycott TAP, it goes under, everyone out of a job. Sorry not full time union officials as they are not employed by the airline. 2) Sack the employees. But can’t sack the full time union officials as they are not employed by the airline. Lose lose for airline staff, win win for union. Employees – resign from the union!

  78. I had the exact same experience this week – DO NOT BOOK C ON TAP is all I can say.

    2 days ago I had an experience with Tap that was an utter disappointment from the service level that was not provided. My fiancé and I were both booked in C class from VIE to LIS on Tap1271 on Tues Aug 29 as part of an extensive euro trip – just got engaged in Vienna! Check in was normal and no comment was made about reduced service on the flight, we arrived 10 minutes prior to the boarding time printed on our boarding passes at the gate and no announcements were made either that there would be reduced service on this flight. We were one of the first passengers to board. After getting seated one of the male flight attendants came over and asked “English?” We confirmed that English was our language since neither of us spoke Portuguese. The attendant then said quote “Have you been warned?” Being a Star Gold member I have flown a lot but never have had the welcoming words of a flight attendant been “have you been warned”. My fiancée and I both said no to his odd question. The attendant then said that there would be no service on this flight since the crew was short staffed. He was upset that we weren’t warned at the gate and said that the inbound flight to VIE from LIS was rough due to those passengers also not being warned about the shortage and lack of service and that they got a lot of complaints.
    There were 10 passengers seated in the C cabin and about 25/35 minutes after departure the flight attendant that had asked us during boarding if we had been warned came through with a tray of water glasses and gave everyone in the C cabin a glass of still water. When he reached my seat I asked for a Coke and he said that he does not have any beverages except for water. I then asked him if he was joking that the only beverage was water? If I would have booked a ticked on EasyJet/Ryan Air I would understand but why would I pay for two tickets in C class on TAP to only get one glass of water on a 3 hour flight? My fiancée and I also planned our day around getting a meal service on the flight, i.e. we both knew that we would get a meal on our flight hence we didn’t purchase any meal to take with us onto our flight prior to boarding the plane.
    The sad thing is the 1 water service was the only time during the 3 hour flight that the attendants came around the cabin, the entire remainder of the flight they were up front sitting in the galley with the curtain closed, It was pathetic. Best of all was when I went to use the restroom in the front of the plane there wasn’t even any toilet paper, roll was empty, and the soap was out as well. So my questions is if the crew was so short staffed (I counted 5 flight attendants on the flight, 3 males/2 female – is that short staffed on an A321?) not to offer any service except for one round of water, they didn’t have enough time to check the restroom to make sure that there is toilet paper and soap? Keep in mind this is the C restroom only used by a handful of passengers on the flight. It was really a joke and my fiancée and I were joking saying that TAP = TAP Water airlines.
    Bottom line is that tickets were sold to us offering C class service. I have reached out to TAP today asking for compensation and let them know that those services were not offered and it was not weather related since the seat belt sign was off for the majority of the flight and no announcements were made indicating any kind of weather interference, hence my expectation is to get refund for both my ticket and the ticket of my fiancée or at least a heavy discount. I could have booked the same on Ryan Air for $100 vs. the $900 I paid for those tickets. I will keep you posted once I hear back form them but my advice… stay clear from booking TAP and use alternatives, there are enough to choose from in Europe to get to LIS. Service by the in flight crew was horrendous and no smiles.

  79. So basically, for your J ticket you got a plastic cup with water in it, and maybe lounge access. Same seat as an economy passenger with an empty seat beside them.

    What terrible value.

  80. I flew TAP business class this morning from Lisbon to Brussel and the same thing occurred – except they did provide meal boxes for business class that were waiting on our seats when we boarded. They also did two rounds of water. But no coffee!! I was desperate after an overnight flight from the US, a short connection, and of course I had assumed I would at least get coffee on the European 7 am flight. I smelt the crew meals heating up, too.

  81. Wow! Is there an update on this? Has the management/union issue been resolved?? I do business in Lisbon and may be moving there, and I was very happy to see that they had a partnership with Jet Blue that allowed for a seamless transfer on the East Coast from Long Beach to Lisbon. Recently, I also read about the TAP pilot who was stone cold drunk at the airport in a bar about to fly a plane and was arrested I believe in Frankfurt. now hearing about the service issues, I hesitate to fly TAP at all. I might have to stick with British Airways from London or Iberia from Madrid. Portugal is coming along great as a country, but this reminds me of how for many years they were the poorest country in Western Europe. And I don’t think the people are “lazy.“ Just like people have said about the Greeks. I caution against the characterization of any group of people in any particular way. My sales rep in Portugal is a young man who seemed quite industrious actually, working long hours. Then again, he was rewarded for that. I also worked in a healthcare environment that had unionized employees, and I was over my career both in the union and in management. The issues are definitely complex and you see them differently depending on which side of the table you’re on. I would’ve loved to have a fired certain employees that because of the convoluted discipline process, is a lifetime in the making. Then again, when layoffs were happening and my job was in danger due to lack of seniority, I was really glad I had a union behind me negotiating and supporting me in that time period. I kept my job. The Union fight for me, they didn’t abandon mean or sacrifice me as a member of low seniority. In that instance, we all knew who the hatchet man was.
    And Europe has very strong consumer protection rules for air travel. I would definitely inquire about your rights in this situation and file a complaint with the regulating body for Airlines with the European Union. If they got involved and that things would change pretty quickly.

    For the past ELEVEN WEEKS I have been trying to get my money back in vain.
    Since I heard about the TRAVEL BAN on March 12, I sent an Email asking TAP to simply change the dates of my FULLY FLEXIBLE AND FULLY REFUNDABLE TOP EXECUTIVE tickets but nobody ever bothered to answer my TEN messages sent in 4 weeks.
    Then, 5 weeks later, I received a USELES VOUCHER for the exact amount that I paid for my second TOP EXECUTIVE BUSINESS ticket, scheduled to fly from Paris to Lisbon April 20, then Lisbon to Miami April 25. Worthless because fares have outrageously increased!
    BUT AT THIS DAY, MAY 28, 2020, I AM STILL AWAITING THE SOLUTION for my first ticket, to fly from Miami to Lisbon April 7, then Lisbon to Paris April 10. NOTHING AT ALL, NOT EVEN A USELESS VOUCHER!!! ONLY ROBOT MESSAGES bla, bla, bla.
    I filed an OFFICIAL COMPLAINT with the US DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (DOT) but I am still waiting to recover my money!

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