Even in business class, flying around Europe is not a matter of luxury. The space onboard and the basic bones of a good product were surprising to your author, who had low expectations on a connecting flight from London to the US over the Lisbon hub of TAP Air Portugal.
The flight was on a non-LR version of the A321neo, which was about to celebrate its second birthday. The planned and scheduled A320neo was upgraded to this aircraft.
The seats on board were comfortable, but they didn't seem to be the newest ones, and they were probably the previous generation. The delivery date of the aircraft is January 2020.
British Airways comes in at a measly 30” for European business class, which is quite generous for European business class within the last few years.
Even for a 6'3" journalist, Legroom was ample, and the amount of personal space was pleasant at the end. There isn't as much room down the back with the overwing exits and behind-the-wing door active.
When the creamy seafood starter and rather stodgy beef pie with faintly inexplicable asparagus arrived, there were no surprises. It was hot, filling and served by an amiable crew.
The delicious eggs and almond pudding went down a treat, as did a few glasses of the light, fruity vinho verde that TAP serves alongside other Portuguese wines. There was no proper Champagne on offer, but a Portuguese sparkling was flowing freely, with a very forward acidity and little complexity, but it was fine.
The seat had both AC and AC mains power, which meant the flight passed quickly, and the seat had an effective tablet/phone holder in the seatback.
All of the luggage from Lisbon made the plane across the Atlantic, despite the fact that it wasn't put to the test.
The preflight situation was the only real fault.
To the extent that the airline would do well to consider binning the entire thing and starting again, the website is challenging. There was no digitalisation of the vaccine certification process, the booking was a pain, and the information was unclear.
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The only bright spark here was the response of the TAP team on their website, which was helpful and prompt, and they were able to change connecting flights after a timetable change to one leg.
The airport was the second fault. The UK was in the midst of its early January Omicron variant spike, but you wouldn't have known it from the way that the ground handler lined up passengers cheek by cheek during the boarding process.
Information was given out by staff shouting, but they didn't come close enough to where passengers were sitting to be audible.
This was poor and something for TAP to look to improve on, as Portugal is fairly strict on COVID regulations.
It's high marks to TAP for spacious seating, power and a tablet holder, pleasant crew, and very low fares. This could be a new standard for Eurobusiness.
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All images are credited to the author.