Flight from Hamburg to Lisbon with new TAP Portugal A319 – finally!

As frequent readers of this blog now I am often travelling from Germany to Lisbon, Portugal and vise versa. The route has not really many options if you want to fly in a full service carrier since only Portugals national airline TAP Portugal and Lufthansa fly.

I am not a big fan of TAP Portugal as mentioned several times before due to their LCC alike price unbundling, rather bad service, bad on time track record and outdated fleet. While said fleet should have been retrofitted with new seats by the beginning of this year that hasn’t happened. When I flew from Hamburg to Lisbon in August I finally got lucky tho and boarded onto one of the updated A319 in the TAP fleet.

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State of TAP Portugal short/medium retrofit: it can’t be so much progressed

Due to my family and business setup I am a frequent visitor to Portugal and usually fly multiple times every year into Lisbon. Being based in Asia I am struck with very limited options to get into Portugal, in fact there is no direct flight at all and the only carrier with a good product that flies one stop is Emirates. Sure you could fly BA or Lufthansa, but frequencies are limited and it is by far not as comfortable as Emirates, simply by having one leg on a short haul plane and one long flight on a sub-par long haul configuration.

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ANA lounge Lisbon – one of Europes worst lounges

I know I said I wouldn’t be flying TAP Portugal in business so soon again after my last, rather unsatisfying, experience with them. But TAP runs a upgrade program through plusgrade, which I was aware of before but never used it. This time I thought I just give it a try and bid the minimum amount of EUR100 to be able to review their ground service at Lisbon airport – it looks like there weren’t too many other people bidding so I got upgraded.

Knowing that TAP operates one of Europes oldest fleets and does virtually nothing to provide a competitive product on most routes to Portugal, where they basically have a monopoly, I went into this not exactly thrilled, but little did I know what I was about to endure.

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TAP Portugal A319 business class Frankfurt to Lisbon

Since I frequently visit a part of my family in Portugal I also have flown many times with TAP Portugal (TP) but never actually reviewed them. This time for New Year I had an other trip here and managed to get a very good deal for a multi city ticket from Frankfurt (FRA) to Lisbon (LIS) and back to Munich (MUC) where FRA to LIS was in J, my first time business class with TP so I thought it is worth writing a review.

Intra Europe business class is really nothing to write home about on almost all carriers, so I had very low expectations on this flight. Since it started with an invitation to a rather average Lufthansa business class lounge in Frankfurt I was looking forward to an uneventful and rather underwhelming experience.

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Lufthansa business class lounge Frankfurt

On my recent flight to Lisbon (LIS) with TAP Portugal I was invited to the Lufthansa business class lounge in Frankfurt international airport (FRA) terminal 1. Since terminal 1 is the Lufthansa/Star Alliance terminal at FRA they have a very strong presence, in fact everything is Lufthansa branded – even including the gate desks.

I have been flying multiple times from Frankfurt with Etihad and Emirates, but only in terminal 2 so it was a first time for me to go to the ‘Lufthansa terminal’. Since I did not really know how big of a presence they have there I asked the check-in agent about which lounge I should use, which she replied to with ‘yes’. I then tried to clarify if there is a TAP Portugal lounge or which one I would be invited to which again she replied to with ‘yes’. I found that quite surprising since TP has only a few daily flights from FRA and it wouldn’t make sense to have their own lounge. After I realised there are only LH lounges at FRA terminal 1 now I am not sure if the agent just assumed I would know about it or if she herself didn’t know what kind of lounges there are…

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Lisbon Portela Airport LIS Blue lounge

For one of my last flights from Portugal to Germany with Tap Portugal I decided to stop by the Blue lounge in Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS) where I was admitted for free with my Visa infinite card (I honestly think it was a mistake by the lounge attendant but oh well…).

Lisbon airport is alright for Europe, but the check-in area is quite chaotic (especially the TAP Portugal counters) and despite its decent size I find LIS to be more crowded than I would enjoy. Hence being able to wait in a lounge instead of the crowded remote gate area was exactly the right thing for me.

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