I recently flew with TAP Air Portugal A330-900neo from San Francisco to Lisbon in early June. It was my first time flying with TAP, as their advanced purchase fares are some of the lowest in Trans-Atlantic. You can often find round-trip fares between the US and Europe for less than $2,000.
The flight I was on turned out to be the first TAP Air Portugal flight to/from San Francisco in 2021, after a 10 month temporary suspension due to COVID. We had a healthy load of about 230 passengers onboard, which was great to see. TAP currently flies to Newark, Boston, Washington DC, Miami, Chicago and San Francisco in the US.
Currently, there is no lounge open at the San Francisco International Terminal. I was connecting at SFO from LAX on United, I had checked in on-line and got my boarding pass ahead of time so I didn't have to go outside to the Int'l terminal to check-in. I simply walked from the domestic walkway to the connected international concourse G.
Business Class on TAP A330neo is arranged in a staggered 1-2-1 seating, it looks very similar to United Polaris or EL AL Business Class. I'd strongly recommend a window seat for best privacy, as the aisle seats are quite close to each other. The cabin was surprisingly fresh, given that the plane is a 2 year old A330-900neo. I do quite like the colour scheme used by TAP.
We taxied out to the bay and took off from Runway 01R, we then flew over Oakland and the bay area. Flight time to Lisbon was 10 hours and 20 minutes and the plane registration was CS-TUF. I was able to visit the cockpit prior to take-off and asked the pilot about the differences in performance on the A330neo.
Our cruise speed was Mach 0.82, which is faster than the previous generation; also the cabin is noticeably quieter.
Dinner was served 2 hours after take-off . TAP surprised me with some very good food, I chose the beef with Madeira sauce and a glass of Portuguese red wine.
There was free Wi-Fi for messaging on board, but it was a bit pricey for anything more.
I was able to sleep for 4 hours after food, however the seat is a bit to narrow for my large body size. Just like any staggered 1-2-1 seating, my foot was inside a box, which I always find to be a little restrictive. However, the bed is long enough for my height (6'1). Although the seat is similar to United Polaris, I can honestly say I that I feel like there is a bit more room on TAP.
A cold continental breakfast was served 1.5 hours prior to landing.
Passengers were treated to a scenic arrival into Lisbon International. It seemed that most of the passengers were in transit at Lisbon, given that TAP Air Portugal has one of the lowest Trans-Atlantic fares as a full service carrier.
To be honest, I have been avoiding TAP for years. I have been warned by a few fellow travellers that TAP don't have the best reputation; but my flight was pleasant enough. TAP has a good catering standard from my experience.
Prior to COVID, TAP had been in expansion mode into North America and promoting Lisbon as connecting gateway . With over 20 A330neo's in their fleet, a lot of planes are currently parked so the timing of expansion was not in their favour. The good news is that, Portugal is opening to vaccinated US tourists from 15th June. I know the airline offers a free Portugal stopover, so if the price is right it can be a good option for a Europe holiday on TAP Air Portugal.