The Bizarre Reason There Was No Service On My TAP Portugal Flight

Filed Under: TAP Portugal, Travel

I’ve seen a lot of laziness from airline crews in my day, though I’ve never seen anything quite like what I just experienced on my TAP Portugal flight.

I just flew TAP Portugal from Lisbon to Milan, which was a 2hr5min flight. As soon as we boarded 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.”

My assumption was that maybe they wouldn’t do the full service in economy (maybe only drinks of choice and not whatever food they’d usually serve), but I figured they’d still serve something in business class.

Nope. Instead the crew passed through economy with water cups shortly after takeoff, and then came through business class with glasses of water or orange juice. That was the extent of the service.

I asked if I could have another glass of water, and was told “one per person.”

I smelled food in the oven, but go figure those were crew meals. The crew spent the rest of the flight in the galley eating, talking, and reading. The next time we saw them was when the cabin had to be prepared for landing, and the curtains were no longer blocking the galley. I can’t say I blame them, because I’d be embarrassed to make an appearance in the cabin as well under such circumstances.

Here’s the thing. It seems like this isn’t the first time this has happened, which is the even more concerning part of this. When I Tweeted about this earlier, someone reported having exactly the same experience.

So it seems like this is some sort of a company sanctioned practice. As much as I want to call the crew lazy, it seems like this was actually management’s idea.

For what it’s worth, I was on a 206 seat A321 with just four flight attendants. I was under the impression that you need at least one flight attendant for every 50 seats (not necessarily 50 passengers) — is that not the case in Portugal? Maybe it’s just an FAA regulation.

I asked a flight attendant about the lack of service, and he said “company policy, you must write in to complain.” Go figure at the end of the flight they announced over the PA “it has been a pleasure having you onboard today” — I’m sure it has!

I’ve just never seen anything like this before. At a minimum, even the laziest US airline crew could do a full drink service on a two hour flight, so it blows my mind how they couldn’t serve anything more than a single glass of water or orange juice in business class on this flight. They couldn’t do a full drink service in economy in two hours, and couldn’t at least hand out packaged snacks or serve real drinks in business class.

I must be missing something here… hopefully someone can enlighten me. The only possible explanation I can come up with is that there’s some union regulation stating that the crew can’t perform service if the flight is below certain staffing levels. But even that doesn’t make much sense.

In the meantime, I absolutely do plan to write in to complain, mainly to see how they respond. I paid (cash) for business class, and in reality I didn’t get any additional service.

Can anyone make sense of this?

  1. Yeah, carriers from third world socialist countries often have their own definition of ‘service’.

  2. Again, stop flying TAP and SATA – they are truly the worse non-service minded airlines. They operate under the assumption it’s a commoditized product and the race to the bottom is on… they’re just in the lead. Sure they blame Ryanair, but I’d take Ryanair service over TAP any day. At least it looks like you were on a decent A321 aircraft with those Recaro seats instead of the total dumpy POS they usually operate.

  3. That seems to be the European standard. I was on a 1hr flight on AZ last month, and there was no service at all, not even water, nothing.

  4. I flew TAP this morning Orly to Porto and we had a full service flight with a great crew… Personally i don’t hesitate to fly with TAP

  5. I wouldn’t be surprised if this ‘company policy’ was one which is enforced by a Trade Union. I’ve no idea how unionised TAP is, but most European countries, and European airlines have a strong Union culture

  6. Cheap fares, cheap service, which I would surely avoid. I think the only redeeming point is you earn 200% in J when credited to Aeroplan.

  7. TP is definitely not alone. I was once on a 1.5 hr flight on Avianca from CUZ-LIM. The one FA who was serving up front couldn’t have moved any slower to serve the cabin a snack. As soon as she finally rolled out the cart to the cabin, we started our descent and she rolled the cart back into galley and returned with glasses of water for everyone. For a 1.5 hour flight, I couldn’t have cared less, except that the Y cabin FAs managed to squeeze in two full rounds of drinks in the time that the J cabin was served a glass of water.

    I once flew UA from NRT-EWR. About 2.5 hours before landing, we hit a few bumps and seatbelt sign came on. By the time the turbulence was over, we had just under 2 hours to landing. The FAs took it upon themselves to interpret that having less than 2 hours to landing as an excuse to not serve a meal or even drinks to the Y cabin. So for a 12.5 hour flight, all we got was one after-takeoff meal. Thankfully that was the last time I ever flew United on an international flight.

  8. I’m curious with what’s their explanation for it. I’ve flown tap both short and long haul and both business and economy. Not the most polished service but better than many other carriers. Full service to/from LIS-OPO, both Y and C.

  9. I flew LPA-TFN on Binter Airlines (ATR72 45min flight time) and I got a glass of water+snack, which means it depends of the airline management… when they want to make $$$ they will find a way to cut services with an excuse.

    Complain to TP to see if you can get something back, after all you paid for a Business Class service right?

  10. stop flying European Airlines…either they on strike or each one got a tiara on her head and freshly painted nails aka no service

  11. Had the same issue on TAP. MAD- LIS. No service at all. They said it was due to turbulence. But it was just a normal flight. THere was not really a turbulence at all.

  12. I think this is quite typical of Tap. Their service is a hit or miss.

    Last month i flew them Opo-Lis and a few days later LIS-MUC. I had fantastic service on both legs. On the 3hr flight to Munich the service was brilliant and the recaro seats were great on a A319. The crew couldn’t have been nicer.

    Cue to my portuguese friends worryingly asking how bad my flights were and already apologizing for what they presumed was a bad service – because it’s what they’re used to and what Tap is apparently known for.

    I remember being asked “Did you even get a glass of water?” I had wine! They couldn’t believe that i very much enjoyed my flights and would fly them again.

    So yea i guess it’s a hit or miss with Tap Portugal.

  13. You really didn’t miss out. The light meal service on short TAP flights is usually dreadful. Super cheap and nasty food. Made even worse by the smell of the good food being prepared for the crew. On flights over 3 hours it’s better, menu with 2 different hot options.
    Booking Euro-biz on a 2 hour flight? Definitely a bad decision.

  14. On a very short TAP Express flight from LIS-SVQ we were served a full drink service and a meal, which included a sandwich and a *delicious* pastry of some kind. In coach (plane did not have a biz cabin).

    The flight was about 45 minutes. Maybe because it was technically operated by White Airways? Seems to definitely be hit or miss.

  15. You guys are ridiculous! You get on a short two-hour flight, pay business class for it, and expect the world to be served on a silver platter?

  16. A fiend of mine used to be inter European cabin crew with BA flying out of London City and Glasgow. I know that several times when they were a crew member down and if one of the crew members onboard were heavily unionised they would seek advice from the Union as to whether they should offer a service. More often than not the union said “no service” so the crew would remain hidden away for the entire flight. My friend said she was always mortified when this happened and she really disliked the unionised culture that some of her colleagues lived by. This was on BRITISH AIRWAYS!!

  17. @Andrew
    Maybe it does indeed make a difference if operated by White Airways (TAP Metal). My flight from OPO to LIS was operated by White Airways and there was full service and wine on that short 1hr (or less) hop on a ATR in economy class! And the wine was good.

  18. This is really bad, expecially for a two hour flight which as a European I find quite long (because you can cross half of Europe within two hours). From my own experiences, Turkish Airlines is one of the only ‘European’ carriers that provides a full meal and drink service in business class even on very short flights. On a 45min domestic flight from Istanbul to Ankara they serve the same main course, as on a long haul Business Class flight such as from Istanbul to Dubai. If you ever flew Turkish Airlines, you know how great their food is.

  19. @william
    “Just don’t fly southern European airlines. Lazy cultures, lazy employees.” I hardly ever reply on boards like these, but you have to be kidding me. Generalize much? I don’t live in Southern Europe but have a decent amount of employees who do. What an ignorant stupid statement! Wherever you come from, I shall now generalize: “Don’t go to the country William is from. It’s filled with assholes.”

  20. I had my 2.5 hour flight from ORY to LIS and it was amazing full service, delicious food and very attentive staff. I’m shocked by this!!!

  21. Oh dear. We’re about to fly TAP JFK-GVA round trip in biz… I’ll let you know what happens.

  22. Thy are Portuguese man, get a grip, didn’t you hear about the PIGS when it all went south in Euro zone ( for the great unwashed Americans, PIGS equals Portugal Ireland, Greece and of course Spain. Lazy fuckers, lazy fuckin’ Europeans, handout mentality, victims.

    Why wouldnt you expect this of the recalcitrance of Portugal, lazy people, lazy country, if they worked for me, fired. Too lazy

  23. So….no service, same seat, seems the only difference from Y is the blocked middle? Nope, not worth the $$

  24. My guess:
    1) Old union contract stipulates 5 FAs per A321 flight
    2) Management wants to go down to 4
    3) Union: We cannot provide service with just 4 FAs
    4) Some weird compromise is made. Sometimes they fly with 5, sometimes with 4. With 4, no service need to be done.

  25. My husband & I had the same experience June 21st TAP 1272 Lis -VIE. A 3hr 20min flight. We were the only 2 in business class and after mentioning we could smell food we were given 2 stale warmed bread products and 1 hot drink. The rest of the journey we heard talking through the curtain.
    We had a fantastic flight from BOS – LIS on June 13th and my husband had flown 2 round trips on TAP from BOS to Europe this year and had great service. He plans to contact TAP after we return from vacation.

  26. This explains the flight I took from Madeira to Nantes a few years ago. The FA made herself a cup of tea, put her feet up and read a book for the first hour. Then reluctantly gave us (just a few passengers) some water…then went back to her book. IT was truly very strange to see her in the regular seats feet up!

  27. @Bernardo Ng asking to have two whole glasses of water is “having the world served on a silver platter”?

    Do people like you post these ridiculous comments just to play the cool down-to-earth guy?

  28. Quit being such a spoiled snob. Try travelling in economy for a year and write reviews on that. Level with the 95%.

  29. I wouldn’t jump so easy to conclusions based on stereotypes and blame “lazy people, lazy country, lazy culture” or something similar.
    In this sense I could also come up with traits for the person who comments like this or the whole country or culture with which she/he identifies herself/himself.
    I think it’s unfair.
    Ben’s incident is unfortunate and I would be angry having paid for a differentiated service but not getting it. At least the airline should have offered a compensation.
    My guess is that it was/is a union’s decision. I would write a complaint letter and try to get a response on this. I would also ask for legal advice on how to handle it.
    As simple as that.

  30. Ignorance is bliss, right? Amazing how white trash all of sudden get all snobby when referring to the PIGS.
    Self entitled little pricks, who expect heaven and earth to be moved everytime they put their fat arses on a plane. If only they applied the same standards in their lives/work they demand from airlines the world would be better place.
    Be glad you arrived safely at your destination you piss-ant knobs.

  31. This has been going on for years. I flew TAP three of four years ago from Lisbon to Paris. I was in business class (for those who have posted and apparently don’t know, economy on intra-Europe flights is effectively non-refundable and non-changeable; business class is changeable–when traveling for work, I need to have the flexibility as my schedule changes frequently based on client demand).

    At boarding, the gate agents handed out paper bags to each passenger with a crummy sandwich and a small bottle of water.

    When we boarded, we were told there would be no service. And there wasn’t. As in no service of any kind whatsoever.

    So what is going on?

    It’s a flight attendant union rule. If there is less than the designated number of flight attendants working the flight (i.e., sufficient to meet Portugal/E.U. regulations, but less than called for in the flight attendant contract), then there is zero service.

    The airline has concluded it is cheaper to short flight attendants on the flight so the passengers go without service.

    Looks like, in the interim, TAP has even given up on the paper bags.

    @Bernardo Ng and @Alex: When you make stupid comments, you simply convince everyone that you truly are an idiot.

  32. Illegal flight: one F/A per 50 seats. You are right Lucky. Even Air India served a lunch on a 1 h 15 m BOM GOI flight. Timely advice will strive to avoid TP to Portugal next year but only other direct choice is AC Scrouge who can be worse. Of course TP have that shining star AZ as their role model :0)

  33. NO WAAAAY ! She really told you “one per person” in Biz class ?!?!?!?

    What CHUTZPAH !!!!
    And the even bigger CHUTZPAH, is that they ate heated up meals. I never ever heard of crews, eating hot meals on intra EU flights !!!! I’ll bet they probably ate the biz class meals !!! Were there at least 2 cabin crew in biz ? Even with one, there’s no reason for no service in biz. You really need to let TAP have it. What a disgrace !!! SHAME ON TAP !

  34. Thats why all these legacy airlines will never survive. Alitalia, TAP, Olympic, and there’s more. They are lazy bum’s. Cathay dishes out a full hot breakfast on a packed 777-300 in first, biz & economy on a 1:10 hrs flight between Hong Kong and Taipei. What sheisters TAP crews.

  35. British Air changed over to ‘selling’ beverages in short haul Economy this past January. Problem is that the onboard system only takes UK credit cards (no cash, US cards or other country’s ccard). They’ll serve you coffee or water if you have a GB/UK credit card. Otherwise, no go. Hard to believe w the high# of International passengers served by BA.

  36. One flight attendant per 50 seats is a legal requirement in Europe as well. There are exceptions to the rule, though I can’t remember the details. But they would need to file with the authorities before take off. So you can check if they did, or it would indeed be an illegal flight.

  37. What a shame… I had a great return flight LHR-LIS with TAP recently. Food and wine both ways and great service.

  38. Hmmm not sure. I flew Tap from MXP-LIS-MXP in March, full service not an issue. I do not doubt these things are happening on certain flights, so yes you should complain….but honestly for the most part, intra Europe C class is shit, why bother?? You arrived into a sweltering heatwave gripping Milan!…enjoy if you like brutal heat.

  39. I’ve been pretty happy with longhaul service (e.g. JFK-LIS), but interEuropean business is always meager quality. I got a meal on LIS-PRG, but nothing too special.

    Google says the airport security and airport staff planned to strike this summer, but didn’t see anything about TAP employees. Could be a way to raise passenger complaints as a precursor for a strike? If it were just shitty service, I wouldn’t expect any sort of heads-up announcement at all (e.g. Saudia).

  40. @Joe and I: in which trailer park do you live because; your choice of words make me believe you don’t even own a passport so why do you read this blog? To Troll?

  41. Basically what I am seeing here is a bunch of emotional responses and prejudiced slander without much attempt at rational argument. Due to unforeseen circumstances, airlines are sometimes forced to operate with minimum crew staffing, aka skeleton crews, staffed at a minimum required by aviation authorities in order to safely operate a flight and open and evacuate exits, if needed. This minimum staffing is NOT adequate to provide satisfactory service in any cabin. Moreover, crews often work 17+ hour work days. I myself have worked a flight a full widebody coach cabin with three flight attendants – unacceptable but beyond flight attendants’ control. We made a PA informing the pax that the service may take longer than usual, explained why and solicited patience. As far as turbulence – galleys take time to set up, as well as break down before landing – they usually must be put away 30m prior to landing. On an INTL wide body flight, you need at least 30 minutes to set up a galley, 1h30 MINIMUM to execute service (delivery and pick up), 30 minutes to put valley away, count liquor and do inventory, and then 30 minutes to prepare cabin for landing (30m prior initial descent, 20 minutes final walkthrough). There is ABSOLUTELY no way that the NRT – EWR crew could accomplish a full service in under 2 hours, especially if anticipating further turbulence. The crew could offer a modified service with cart/tray beverage and maybe a snack. Which brings me to my final point. US and European carriers are forcing crews to work longer duty days with more work periods and less staffing than ever. Where one would’ve had 18 cabin crew on a full 747, today you have 13 or 14. Faced with stiff competition from both subsidised carriers (Emirates, Singapore) and super deregulated low cost carriers (Norweigan, Wow), traditional carriers are being squeezed from both ends. Corporate greed doesn’t help either. A consumer today wants the best, most rested crew, latest onboard technology, plentiful snacks and food…for the cheapest price, when the reality and the actual working conditions are far from ideal. Something has to give. The next time you fly, keep in mind, that for the most part, airline crews sacrifice their time with their families and loved ones (and sometimes their lives), so that you can safely spend your time with yours. Cheers

  42. Athough you may not feel so inclined, I would be interested to see you review TAP J class from, say, JFK-LIS. I expect this will be very different from intra-Europe flights.
    Feel like taking one for your readers, Ben?

  43. This is a common practice for TAP Portugal! It happens constantly! It is not for the first time, but for years. Lastly, I had a flight between Lisbon and Vienna for about four hours, even no water, for the same reason. Write to TAP to claim to you some miles for compensation if you are a member of the program TAP Victoria!

  44. Lucky, I love your blog and have been a daily follower and occasional commenter for years. I am close to my last straw because of the commenters your blog seems to attract lately. I know there may not be much you can do, and I know you’ve posted too about it but it has gone from bad to unpleasant to repulsive. It used to be a strength but it’s now just a bummer. I sincerely hope you can find some way of curbing it. I am to the point where I often don’t read them anymore but occasionally when I do I am disappointed more than half the time. As your content gets better and better your comments get more and more like a cesspool, ironically. It’s dragging you down. Maybe your hits and traffic are prospering so you don’t care But it really has become a thing I’m afraid.

  45. To the people being negative and idiots here, this is how it is. You fly business class whether it’s paid or redemption then you should be given the appropriate service. This crap of you shouldn’t expect the world on a silver platter is total bollocks. Qantas and Virgin Australia can provide full service on a Melbourne Sydney flight with refills of wine etc.

  46. I’m with Larry. It’s beginning to sound like the comment section on Breitbart. Too bad because Lucky is really good.
    To the clod that is said everyone in the PIGS is a lazy taker, I would like to see you go up again any Greek fisherman. They will leave you far behind.

  47. There is a fine line. Portuguese law states that when a flight operates with minimum staffing, the crews’ primary focus is on safety and compliance with safety procedures. It does not preclude crews from assisting and supporting passengers, but it does not require them to do a meal or beverage service, or any other component of their normal duties, i.e. duty free sales, because that may interfere with their primary duty. Any Portuguese airline has the option to operate a flight with more flight attendants in order to provide the service levels required. Minimum staffing means the lowest number of flight attendants required to operate the doors and exits in an emergency. Pretty simple: If they had normal staffing they would have done the service. Don’t blame the crews. They are following Portuguese law.

  48. Dear Lucky,
    Yes please file your complaint and share the response please. Indeed I suspect a union action behind this so I would say, in the end … they’ll think “at least we didn’t cancel the flight?”

    Now my major issue here is, and I join Harry: what’s going on here with your horrible followers? What a bunch of stereotype reaction on Europeans?!

    Shall I now write “what can we expect from a country who elected such a clown in the White House?” ??? 🙂
    Let’s not go there please? Lucky is doing an amazing job … show a minimum of respect. Thank you

    P.S. flew 2 months ago TAP from FCO to LIS, upgraded for 110 € to C and had a delicious lunch! Even discovered a wonderful PT sparkling wine, could rival with Champagne or better Cavas.
    Next morning flew LIS-OPO, 50 mins in Y, delicious coffee with a pastei de Nata. So yes, you must have been victim of an union action 🙂

  49. I live in the UK and love Portugal, I personally find the people are amongst the friendliest on the planet and I’ve visited many countries. I love the culture and helpfulness and they are certainly not lazy. Like the place so much bought property there. I fly on TAP often usually MAN-LIS-FAO, I like the airline , I go in Y and C, always food and drink included including wine, and certainly top ups in C. TAP may not be the best airline in the world but they are pretty good, I never hesitate to fly with them and find their crew normally charming….but then they are Portuguese.

  50. Dear Lucky,

    This happens because there was an FA missing. According to the union rules, when there is only the minimum crew, no service is done.

  51. “I asked if I could have another glass of water, and was told “one per person.””

    I wonder if that’s better or worse than the self-service I experienced a few nights ago on Brussels Airlines returning from Africa. They don’t bother to come around with water in the middle of the night because they’ve already done the minimum necessary to get the paycheck. So I went to the rear galley, which was a mess with crumpled newspapers everywhere. The stewardess looked up briefly from her newspaper to see I noticed where the water was and then went right back to her newspaper after she correctly deduced I could figure out how to pour from the bottle myself.

    I’d still take TAP any day over Brussels despite how shabbily you were treated.

  52. I am disappointed that Star Alliance – as an “Alliance” – does not insist on a minimum standard of service, cleanliness, equipment safety etc. from those members they are so anxious to add to their burgeoning alliance. I have written to Star Alliance and cc’d them on communications to the airlines (on deficiencies in service etc) in question with little to no reaction! I recall writing about the horrendous conditions of the toilet on an AI Flight to be met with a “shrug” of the shoulders. On the one hand one has the elevated standards of LH, LX, SQ and here we have the utterly abominable service from TAP or dirty broken bathrooms without hand towels at AI .. how do you justify the 2 extremes belonging to the same alliance? If someone chooses to buy the Star Alliance product and wishes, for whatever reason, to spend money on an Intra Europe Biz Class fare or an Intra India Biz Class are – a min. standard ought to be demanded and maintained. And the Alliance SHOULD be proactive in mandating and maintaining that standard. And, Senior members of the Alliance (are you listening LH, LX, SQ, UA et al) should push the Alliance management to manage this.

    The debate on whether or not to use an Alliance carrier versus a No Frills Airline (RyanAir/EasyJet etc.) is a separate issue and a matter of personal choice (FF Points, More leg room, whatever!) and should not be conflated with the idea of getting a least a little bit of what one paid for. To not offer the service AFTER having taken one’s money is nothing short of mugging the passenger!

  53. @AliW – US credit cards, at least those with a chip, can be used on BA. I used one yesterday from HAM-LHR. BA did live up to it’s nickname of Bloody Awful throughout the trip.

  54. The ethnic/religious bigotry shown on online travel forums as a way of trying to explain bad or inconsistent service by using or otherwise promoting bigoted narratives against large groups of people just goes to show that travel is not fatal to ethnic and religious prejudices.

    I’ve received lousy and inconsistent in flight service from carriers across Europe and the US, and it certainly has nothing to do with ethnicity, nationality or religion. Lousy and inconsistent service has to do with business decisions, business management and the labor and customer environment applicable to the market participants.

  55. ” With arms wide open is just” a marketing talk.
    This is happening a lot in TAP. And in certain situatuons they don´t have enough crew to serve the meal but they are sufficient to sell TAP’s souveniers

  56. Lucky, as you know, I am Portuguese. And as you may know, I never ever fly TAP. TAP for me means ‘Take another plane’

    From a flight origInating at their Lisbon home base, there is no excuse for not enough crew. Over the last 6 years I have manage to successfully avoid flying them except on short direct routes (Lisbon to Malaga).

    Would be curious to know if you’d be entitled to any compensation.

  57. This is the kind of article that you post when you don’t have anything more to write. You will be listed on blogs to avoid because you are an ignorant passenger and still don’t understand that the safety or work of all crew members are not of your business since they work for their company and not for you. Get a job and stop writing stupidity. If you stil have free time change your blog name to: one poop at the time.

  58. Guys first of all get the insults correct;

    PIGS = Portugal Italy Greece Spain

    Secondly I also agree if your in a business class seat the minimum expectation is at least a drink service. I’ve flown TAP a few times from AMS to LIS but never had this issues. Must be bad luck about the scheduling issue but something easy to fix when it’s a flight from your Home Hub!! I think a bit more acceptable when it is a remote satellite station. Personally have never been impressed with tap but I got in on those cheap biz scandinavian to usa fares for USA next February so can only how they staff the plane as needed. I guess for less then 800 usd for biz I can’t complain though!!

  59. Your flight had 1 purser + 4 cabin crew hence 5. Not 4 as you said.
    TAP’s safety standards are away better than any US airline. Just check independent rankings.
    Reduced cabin crew can happen if for some reason an employee got sick last minute and they didn’t want to delay the flight to get a replacement. Safety is the priority not serving meals. I don’t remember get served a whole lot in US domestic flights but somehow we don’t complain about that at home but enjoy complaining abroad.
    In a normal flight which does not have reduced cabin crew (which account for 95% of EU flights), TAP’s service in C is way better than most EU carriers (an certainly better than all US carriers operating domestic flights).

  60. I have never flied TAP. I will tell you that flying across the Pacific is totally different as is Asia. In Vietnam on VietJet, a costcutter where you have to order food separately when you purchase the ticket, the crew was always looking for food buyers among the seats. Apparently that is their moneymaker. Also when flying international in Asia they load you up with food. EVA took good care of my elderly mother on a flight from Chicago to Taiwan and connecting flight to Vietnam. She is vegetarian and she was given good quality food.

  61. @ Hugo — I counted, and only saw a total of four. Shouldn’t there be some reserve flight attendant standbys at LIS? And not sure on what grounds you say TAP has better safety standards than the US carriers? Curious what independent rankings you’re referring to?

  62. @Hugo: So five flight attendants couldn’t handle a meal service in business class?

    TAP doesn’t have reserve flight attendants?

    The airline had time to arrange bagged lunches but not another flight attendant on my flight? It’s cost cutting by the airline, the union demanded it, and the passengers suffer. I’ll bet it’s a lot more than 5% of the time. It’s institutionalized at TAP when they have set procedures on how to deal with it.

    Skytrax rates TAP as a three-star airline. Three. Yeah, stellar service there. I fly 250,000 miles a year and have for two-decades. I flew TAP once. It sucked. It totally sucked. I won’t go back.

    TAP has better safety standards than U.S. carriers? I’d love to see the authority for that assertion. Perhaps you mean a better safety record? Well, if we ignore the 131 killed on TAP 425.

    Give the “we are here primarily for your safety” routine a break. Mid-flight incidents are almost unheard of these days. There is a reason customer service (serving meals and beverages) are part of the job description.

  63. Year ago, I flew flydubia from DXB to Muscat in J. An hour (?) flight with warm sandwich + dessert and 2 beverage services. This was on top of a separate waiting area and van ride to the plane.

  64. They should have tried Bangkok airways once. Flight from BKK to CNX will offer passengers light hot meal, OJ , coffee or Tea.

  65. And here I am who got a full service in India in Economy flying from BOM-DEL in a ~2 hr flight on Vistara!

  66. The service on this flight sounds abysmal. I’d ask for nothing less than the full difference in price between economy and business. If this is a union issue, TAP should resist the union, not sell out its customers. Beyond writing a letter, letting all of us know of your experiencs, asking for a refund, and avoiding TAP in the future, there’s not much you can do.

    But, Ben, the racism evident in this comment thread is appalling. Please restart banning people, this is disgusting. That is something you can do.

  67. Ok….so I got in touch with TAP to know what was going on. I was just curious about it. Now….this is their response, there’s no way for me to know if it’s true or not….but here it goes.

    “When, for medical reasons or other reason, a FA who was on duty on a flight can’t be there, it may not be possible to replace him/her with another one, without compromising the time schedule (I guess delaying or cancel flight).

    In exceptional situations, some flights might be done with the so called minimum safe crew. In that case, the crew may go ahead with the flight service but, acording with the regulations in place, they can decide that there are no conditions to do so. We’re sorry for any inconvenience to our customers”

    So that’s it. i’m sorry if the translation is far from perfect. I did it in a hurry.

  68. @Lucky – you can look at Jacdec who publishes safety rankings year after year.
    TAP has constantly been one of the top european airlines when it comes to safety. Best US carrier is DL and comes behind.
    When you have a reduced crew for whatever reason, there is no meal neither in C nor in Y.
    Write a complain. it also sucked when I flew Delta and had an emergency landing in Glasgow and everything went wrong after landing. No hotel for three hours, no drinks (not even a glass of water let alone two). I was flying Business, BRU-JFK-SFO and paid over 3500 USD for the ticket. I wrote a complain, I got 150 USD in a voucher to use in another flight. We all have sometimes less positive experiences when flying – but again, over 95% of TAP’s intra EU flights take off with the normal crew.
    By the way, TAP’s normal crew in the A321 is (purser + 5 = 6) and A319/A320 is purser + 3 = 4.
    All best wishes and safe flights

  69. I flew emirates first class dubai to doha
    Less than an hour in the air.
    Breakfast cutting edge service under an hour and no fa looked frazzled

  70. What Joe and I, Dan Allen, Fedup an some more said..

    of course, the truth always hurt so useful idiots come in defense.
    just don’t patronize them.

    As much as I love Lufthansa for example, I just can’t give them my business so they pay the privileged first world salary earners, that want more and more and show their absolute lack of respect for us passengers, company and country with their strikes.

  71. British Airways pulls equally stupid stunts… Flying J from Milano to LHR, on a noon flight, there was no lunch served, the excuse being that it was 11 am in England. They provided a plastic wrapped bagel or some other extravagant dish. 🙂

  72. Did the plane crashed? No. So you went from location A to location B, safely. That is what cabin crew are there for. Stop complaining. The crew even made the announcement. What were you expecting for?
    If You have to complain, do so. To the CEO and the decisions he makes.

  73. @JoeandI
    I’m not really sure where you got the idea that Portugal was either Socialist or Third Worls.

  74. INC. Just published an article about your flight and how it had no service. Don’t worry though, they stated you and your blog as a source.

  75. One last comment: normally in TAP, everyone gets service, both economy and business. It can even be a 45 minute flight from LIS to MAD. In economy you get a cake + sandwich and in business a full course meal – when flying for whatever reason with reduced crew, nobody gets it. In companies like Iberia or now BA, in economy you pay for a drink. In TAP, KLM or LH you get food and drinks for free unless reduced crews. Full service in economy in an intra-EU flight is much more than what we get in a domestic US flight when flying economy.

  76. It also happened to me LIS-FNC… so I made a complaint asking for them to reimburse me half of the plane ticked I paid… since we always have to comply with the demands of the fare when we need to change a flight… they also need to deliver what they sold and when I bought the ticked it said SNACK or MEAL AND BEVERAGES… so let’s see what is their answer to my complaint… not my problem if they don’t have enough staff to handle their summer IATA operation…

  77. You were spot on Ben, the issue is TAP is strongly unionised and there’s this union rule that prevents them from providing passenger service without the required crew number. You were right again, it’s supposed to the 50 seats per crew and now, it’s not only an FAA regulation. It’s worldwide.
    They prefer to follow union rules, regardless of customer service. I’m Portuguese, my father worked at TAP and I’ve flown TAP for ages. Unfortunately, they prefer to stick to their guns than to lose some of their privileges.
    I hope that’s about to change with the companies privatisation. I hope they’ll become more customer oriented, for their sake and our flag company sake.

  78. Fly Aegean airlines from Greece. They are an example of an amazing airline. What happened to you also happened to me twice. I didn’t read all the comments here but the explanation the crew gave me for not serving passengers is because the plane need a minimum number of crew to guarantee the safety of the flight. Let’s say your flight should have 6 crew members but because of lack of free (crew that flew the maximum hours per day) , your flight had 4 crew members and if something happen to the plane the 4 crew must be available to secure the safety of the flight/passengers.

  79. Although it is indeed strange, the last time I flew they still had something to eat. And yes, it is because of union rules, still, the constant demanding for more and cheaper service is what turns us into one another exploiters, anyway…. Think this way… What’s your PRIME goal when flying at 36000ft, 900km/h… Maybe getting to your destination in one piece, and preferably, on schedule, right?

    No go check the last time a TAP aircraft had a deadly crash… Like… I don’t know… A fatal malfunctioning, splashed down by a missile, a terrorist on board, a crash into some buildings, or mountains, on purpose, being shot by a missile, lost in the ocean deep never to be heard again… Keep looking… Yes… keep going backwards… back… back… Ah, you found it… 1977!!!

    And it was while landing on one of the most dofficult runways in the world, under the usually bad weather circumstances there and BEFORE the runway was extended, as it is nowadays.

    So stop talking about “Southern European Arilines” because this Southern European Airline picks his pilots well and does not flies planes into mountains on purpose (like northern european airlines), doesn’t even bother to look at who carries aboard and then fly their aicraft into towering buildings, (like northern american airlines), does not loses parts in flight (like African airlines), leaves them on the tarmac for destroying supersonic jets, or flies straight into thunderstorms to avoid fuel costs (like center european airlines) and does not gets shot by missiles, or gets lost in the ocean, (like asian airlines)…

    You concearn about your caviar and champagne while flying into a mountain while I drink my glass of water watching the fireball from 36000ft…

  80. @Jaeleth, stop being a moron.

    If a passenger pays 500€ for a 2h plane ticket expecting to get business class service it is obvious that he’ll be pissed if he only receives a glass of water, or not even that. If he’d be interested in a no-service flight he could have paid 50€ for an Easyjet or Ryanair flight.

    Regarding the rest of the BS you wrote, having no crashes doesn’t mean you are a good airline. It means you’re a safe one, yep, no doubt, but doesn’t mean you’re good. And with all the competition available an airline doesn’t have to only be safe, it also needs to provide good and friendly service. If possible on every flight. And that’s what TAP is lacking, a consistently good and friendly service.

  81. I defy any of the people who’ve said Portugal is filled of lazy people and is a lazy culture to visit Portugal and it’s people. I’ve been all over and haven’t met a more open, kind-hearted, multilingual and hard-working people. A lot of bigoted people commenting on here…

  82. @AliW: As Brian said, non-UK credit cards can be used on BA if they have a chip.

    Most of the world uses chip + PIN for card transactions now. Don’t blame the other 7 billion people just because Americans still swipe cards like it’s 1982. As with metric vs. imperial measurements, you guys are the outliers, not us.

  83. @Tony, We flew them JFK-LIS-GVA-OPO-JFK in business and it was fine. Service was hit or miss and the FA’s just get the job done which was fine. The only real anomaly was that on the trans-Atlantic legs they only carry limited hard alcohol. They made an announcement to this prior to departure — something about Portuguese law. There was only one miniature bottle of vodka on the entire plane for JFK-LIS which was strange and I think two OPO-JFK. They do have a pretty decent wine list though so was more of a small inconvenience than anything else. We had meals even on the short intra-European legs and I have celiac disease and the amount of really good gluten-free bread they served was probably the most impressive part of the trip in my opinion. Their business class fares are relatively inexpensive and I would not hesitate to fly them again. Hopefully you will have a similar experience on your flights.

  84. Minimum crew means that there are not enough people in the cabin to guarantee the regular service standards. Due to the newly privatized management seeemingly stretching the crews to do more work … in case they stretch too much the crew simply refuse to do double workload … for safety reasons of course.

    As they (the cabin crew) say to the passengers … those complaint/review papers have their uses …

  85. And one must remember that TAP competition is RyanAir and Easyjet with 9,99€ tickets …

  86. Did you arrive safely at your destination? There you go…the price of your ticket basically entitles you to transportation from point A to point B. Everything else is just fluff. I have read numerous explanations as to why you may not have received the level of service you expected on this flight, and while you seem disappointed and most anxious to label the flight attendants as “lazy”, it appears they were merely operating under guidelines stipulated by their company and by their union. I’m sure you felt very let down, (don’t blame you) but I’m surprised that you would write an article like this without doing some research first. Continued safe travels!

  87. I made exactly the same experience yesterday from LIS to FRA…. One glas water and no service, wether in Economy class nor in Business Class. People who are paying a lot of money for a c ticket – should get the c service. And not only a transportation…. Wrong Tamster and all the others in this sense….

  88. Hello. Unfornutalety this is basically a scam that they pull on most flights nowadays. If you complain, they will just offer you a 10€ TAP voucher. Not really useful, because I bet you surely do not want to fly with them again. Even though I am portuguese I would advise you to go with foreign low cost airlines, because you will surely have a nicer trip for way less money. Maybe if there is a massive boycott against TAP they will start giving a f*** about their costumers and stop being a reason for national embarassment.

  89. Same happened to me and my family. (wife and two kids, 9 and 5 yo). flight GVA-OPO, running on a transfer from another 3 hour flight, didn’t even had the time to eat or drink in the airport.
    They announced on the gate there would be no service, but that was before we were there, so we boarded the plane without knowing, and starved until reaching our destination.
    Answering my complaints they offered us 10€ voucher or 1000 miles each passenger. I told them that even if they gave us 10 € cash BEFORE boarding that wouldn’t be enough for a drink and a sandwich, so this compensation is downright insulting. Then they offered me 16€ or 7500 miles, but I will probably ask them for more.
    It’s sad. 8 years ago I would told anyone that TAP was along with Lufthansa the best company in the world, but since then it’s spiralling down and I have problems in each and every flight. If it continues this way it will become as bad as any low cost company.

  90. UK, have tea with milk tastes like pig piss.
    Buy the way, love lazy holidays.

    “having no crashes doesn’t mean you are a good airline” ohh really?
    next time go in a crash airline.

  91. Tap is not portuguese, it was sold and it belongs to a brazilian american consorcium.

    So probably the problems have to due with brazilian workers, they have a lot of brazilians 3rth world employees, working there. about having no crashes, probably has to due with the portugueses mechanics, they remained there, but ima not sure it will be for a lot of time.

  92. To clear up some of the nonsense I’ve seen here. TAP is and has always been the property of the Portuguese government. No, there is no union contract stipulating anything when it comes to number of staff and service or not. I know that kind of nonsense exists in places like the US with unions, wouldn’t even be legal in Portugal.

    Lastly, there were a lot of strikes around the time this was written, so that was most likely the cause

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