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What You Need to Know About Flying Tap Portugal to Lisbon

If you are planning to travel with your children to Portugal or just planning a budget-conscious trip to Lisbon, you will eventually come across TAP Portugal as an option for your journey.  If it doesn’t sound familiar to you, that’s okay, rest assured that you will still be in great hands.  They are a reliable airline with good service and good prices. SO, let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions about flying TAP Portugal to Lisbon.

Who is TAP Portugal?

TAP ( Transportes Aéreos Portugueses) is a Portuguese airline based in Lisbon. They have been a member of Star Alliance since 2005 which provides the opportunity for improved travel experiences across 26 member airlines.

Is TAP Portugal a safe airline?

According to Airline Rating, TAP Portugal is one of the safest with a 7/7 score for safety. That score is based on a variety of data including having no fatal crashes for the last 10 years.

Is TAP a Budget airline?

Yes, similar to Norway Air. TAP Portugal offers flights that are affordable and can be booked at a low cost.  When paying for budget flights, you should not expect full service but you can pay for more services if you want.

What can I expect on a long haul flight via TAP Portugal from the United States to Europe?

While TAP has been compared to U.S. budget airlines like Spirit and Frontier, it is important to note that a long haul flight does have more included than can normally be expected on a 6 hour domestic flight in economy.  Their international flights have several different levels of service and you should choose the one that suits you best when you are booking.  It can be hard to upgrade to that level of service as you get closer to your flight if the flight fills up.

However, you can generally expect a meal included, a light snack, audio and video on demand, a pillow, and a blanket.  WiFi is available for an additional cost.

What can I expect if something goes wrong?

When something goes wrong, complaints have been that they are not as accommodating as American carriers but they do adhere to European Union guidelines when it comes to passenger’s rights.   This means that a long delay (4 hours or more for flights over 3,500km) could entitle you to certain standards of care including refreshments, meals, and/or accommodations.  Refunds can take awhile to process and you should always contact the airline directly to file any claims.

While care can include many things, it can also have limits that don’t cover the full costs of emergency expenses.  This is why we always advise you to get insurance for your travels, read more about our advice on insurance so you’ll always be prepared.

Is TAP Portugal strict about baggage?

Absolutely, positively YES.  Don’t even think that you can try to get away with anything at all when it comes to their limits on baggage.  Purchase what you truly need before check-in to avoid extra costs.  They regularly check and their weight limits are less than American standards so you really do have to pack light or pay.

Baggage limits vary by destinations.  A basic fare on an intercontinental flight has an allowance of 1 checked bag up to 50lbs and a carry-on of up to 23lbs. While normally carry-ons in the US are not weighed, do not be shocked if your carry-on gets weighed when traveling on TAP.  Even personal items have size and weight limits.

Should I check-in online?

Yes, while the App may not always be easy to maneuver, you should always check in for your flights early and online to avoid issues later.  It gives you a chance to confirm that everything is in place, your seating, your baggage, flight status, and just generally be prepared while limiting unexpected surprises or delays.

Fly to Lisbon this Spring – find your best fare.

A Review of Our Experience Flying on TAP Portugal

We booked a one-way award flight through Star Alliance that sent us on United Airlines for the first leg, connecting in Newark, NJ to TAP for our flight to Lisbon.

United in Newark has a great shortcut that puts you on a private United shuttle ride from one terminal to the next to make your connection much easier.  However, be sure your carry-on meets the limits or you will find yourself scurrying back to the check-in to drop those bags as checked luggage in order to avoid the surcharges.  

Imagine our surprise when the gate agent pulled out a hand scale, similar to our own that we travel with, to weigh each of our 5 carry-on bags.  3 of them didn’t make the cut.  By the time that half of the family ran to check those bags as our included checked luggage and made it back, it was time to board.  We expected that this could happen and the gate agent was very friendly and helpful with determining what to do.

Even though we researched online and tried to set a healthy expectation, the bad reviews had us a little unsure and we were actually pleasantly surprised by what we saw on board.  We didn’t want to take any chances and opted for the Economy Extra upgrade prior to check-in which provided a few more benefits and certainly helped our comfort levels.  I highly recommend it if you prefer more baggage, a reclining seat, or premium seating.

The one thing I absolutely recommend for your long haul flight (maybe even short ones) is disposable lavender steam eye masks.  I gave one to each of the kids and we slept from mealtime to snack time on our flight which was about 3 – 4 hours of rest.

Meals and Snacks on TAP Portugal:

About an hour into our flight, (around 1 AM for us) the meal service began.  There were 2 options: a BBQ chicken or a cheese pasta.  Knowing that whatever I chose would be stolen by one of my children, I made sure to order at least one of each.  It was served with a dinner roll, side salad, and a dessert.  

The snack was served about an hour before landing, it appeared to be a dry looking granola bar but was truthfully, pretty tasty.

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Cheese Pasta on TAP Portugal

TAP Portugal On-Board Entertainment

Ear buds were provided for the entertainment system which has 13” HD screens for you to enjoy a TV series, movies, or music.  The one thing I really enjoyed was the Practice Portuguese series which quickly pointed out to me that I had been studying Brazilian Portuguese on Duolingo instead of European, a highly disappointing discovery.  

If you are looking for quick conversational skills and understanding, head over to Practice Portuguese

To login on the entertainment system and create a playlist or save preferences, you use the 5 digit keycode on your boarding pass.

Overall Review:

Every encounter with the agents that we dealt with was positive including on our flight from Lisbon to Funchal as well.  Of course, experiences vary but we found everything to be better than expected.  Our own personal experiences left us with a desire to more than likely travel on TAP again and to be prepared by knowing we would probably want a higher service level than regular economy for inclusions like Fast track (similar to TSA Pre-check), checked baggage, and premium seating.

We hope this helps you when making your next travel decisions.  Be sure to ask questions in the comments if there is something we didn’t cover for you.

Happy Wandering with TAP Portugal!

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