TAP, Portugal’s flag carrier, has a decent European network, as well as an impressive range of destinations in South America, particularly Brasil. The airline offers two daily departures from Porto to Madrid, this one departing at 20.15.
Check-in was a simple process. At Porto, it’s possible to check in at the counter, or, if you don’t have bags to check-in, you can use the electronic check-in machines, which rarely seem to have a queue. TAP is a member of Star Alliance, and as such also has dedicated check-in desks which can be used by Star Alliance Gold members, or those travelling in Business. One particular advantage of TAP is the ability to check-in bags on their basic fares if you have Star Alliance Gold Status – something I took advantage of on this flight. If you’re travelling in business or hold Star Alliance Gold, you’ll be able to use the fast track lane – this is a blessing at Porto, where the normal security queue is often a complete nightmare, and incredibly slow. Sadly, my regular experiences travelling through Porto have not been positive, and the check-in and security staff are often bordering on rude.
If you’re travelling in Business, or are Star Alliance Gold, it is possible to use Porto’s ANA lounge. It’s a basic but adequate space to wait for your flight, although I wouldn’t bother arriving at the airport too early to experience it.
Boarding was from gate 30, and began 25 minutes prior to departure. Priority boarding was available, and the boarding process was efficient and well managed.
— On-board —
The Embraer 190 offers seating in a 2-2 format. All seats offer plenty of legroom, and are comfortable – indeed, they offer superior comfort to the more commonly used Airbus and Boeing’s on shorthaul sectors.
TAP is unique – in so far resisting the move to a buy-on-board product for short-haul sectors (take note, British Airways…). Therefore food and drink were provided on a complimentary basis. Although the food offering was basic (essentially just a biscuit, although a pastel de nata appears to be the morning offering) it was still better than nothing – and more than adequate for a flight of less than an hour. Soft drinks and wine were also available – and of a good standard.
— Conclusion —
TAP offers a solid product – and depending on the route, is often very competitively priced. Their complimentary offering is appreciated, and it’s refreshing to see a flag carrier which continues to resist the move to buy on board.