By Kimberly Krol
I was lucky to be onboard TAP Air Portugal’s first flight from San Francisco to Lisbon, the first-ever route directly connecting the U.S. West Coast to Portugal. I enjoyed the fanfare at the gate, which included Portuguese cuisine, a cake, a fado singer and speeches. You could feel the buzz and excitement in the air, and it was palpable what an important moment this was for both the airline and the San Francisco and Lisbon communities. A baggage snafu at SFO, outside of the airline’s control, delayed us, but once boarding commenced, it was quick and efficient.
A brand-new Airbus A330-900neo jet serves the SFO–LIS route, and the modern aircraft was pristine, comfortable and offered a peaceful in-flight environment. TAP’s Executive Class features a 1-2-1 configuration. On this flight, I was in the two-seat, middle section; however, each row features a different seat layout. For instance, on some single-aisle seats, the seat is right against the window, with the storage area to the aisle; in the next row, it’s swapped. In the middle section, either the two seats are separated by the middle storage areas, or the seats are next to each other with the storage areas to the aisle. I was seated in the former.
As it was a long flight, I unloaded my laptop, book and a few magazines before placing my belongings in the overhead compartment. I also plugged in my phone to charge before settling in. Flight attendants passed around welcome beverages — it was a celebration, so it seemed only fitting to opt for Champagne. Amenity kits and noise-cancelling headphones, as well as a small, Portugal-made gift in honor of the inaugural flight, awaited business-class passengers at their seat.
This was my first time flying TAP Air Portugal, and I was eager to see what awaited me. I was familiar with the airline’s Taste the Stars chefs program, so I was surprised to see a description of the program in the menu, but none of the food options boasted the program’s logo to indicate they were chef-curated meals. I saw the designation on my return flight from Lisbon to Newark, however. The meal began with a tuna and cream cheese canapé, as well as mixed nuts, followed by veal tonnato with radish and herb salad, and mint pea soup. I chose the filet of beef with Madeira sauce for my entree. I particularly enjoyed the au gratin potatoes on the side. I finished with strawberry ice cream. I found the Casa de Compostela Vinho Verde pleasant. The service was efficient if not overly effusive.
After purchasing an enhanced WiFi option onboard in order to get some work done, I settled in to watch a few movies and sleep. I thought the onboard movie selection lacked a bit when it came to new releases, but I found, overall, plenty of films I wanted to watch. I appreciated the complimentary in-flight messaging that allowed me to send What’s App and iMessages during the more than 10-hour flight.
Before landing, a light breakfast was served, including cold cuts and cheese, jam, butter, fresh fruit, a bread and pastry selection and coffee and tea. I will say, caffeine addicts beware, the coffee/tea cups are quite small, so you’ll need several cups to satisfy your cravings.
San Francisco (SFO)–Lisbon (LIS)
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