SAN FRANCISCO (SFO) TO LISBON (LIS)
On the Ground: I was lucky to be on board 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’d traveled from Newark (EWR) that morning, so I didn’t check in at SFO, and because of the special circumstances, I opted to forgo the lounge in order to enjoy the fanfare at the gate. This 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.
Pre-Flight: 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 noisecancelling headphones, as well as a small, Portugal-made gift in honor of the inaugural flight, awaited business-class passengers at their seats.
In-Flight: 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 entrée. I particularly enjoyed the au gratin potatoes on the side. I finished with strawberry ice cream. After recently completing our wine survey, I recognized some of the served wines from the tasting, and I was eager to try them. I found the Casa de Compostela Vinho Verde pleasant. The service was efficient if not overly effusive.
After purchasing an enhanced WiFi option on board 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. 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.
◆ 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.
◆ I appreciated the complimentary in-flight messaging that allowed me to send What’s App and iMessages during the more than 10-hour flight.
◆ I usually sleep rather fitfully on flights, but the 180-degree, lie-flat seat and calm in-flight environment were conducive to sleep; and I arrived in Lisbon the next day feeling refreshed. However, as my seat was on the aisle, I found the provided blanket a bit too large for the space, as it kept falling into the aisle or getting stuck under the cart’s wheels.
◆ The amenity kit bags feature cute scenes from Portuguese destinations. I don’t always keep the bags, but this one was unique enough to save!
Expansion plans involving a new 14-gate concourse at Mineta San Jose International Airport in California must clear environmental review before moving forward.
Looking for a truly unique travel experience and considering a new vehicle? The Volvo Overseas Delivery Program is the perfect solution to create your own adventure of a lifetime. Volvo allows you to custom order your new automobile tailored to fit your needs and desires. They will fly you to Sweden to pick up your Volvo so you can drive and explore Scandinavia and Europe on your terms for up to two weeks.
Hyatt Regency Barcelona Tower opened following full renovations to its 280 guestrooms and public spaces. The property is the second Hyatt Regency in Spain. The hotel sits in a Barcelona skyline landmark, a 29-story tower topped with a glass dome that provides travelers with 360-degree views and an unparalleled dining experience.
Opened this past November, Osaka Excel Tokyu Hotel rethinks the classic Japanese business hotel format in a delightful way. While the basic design concept is rooted in generations-old Japanese aesthetics, its wow factor comes from the interior designers’ approach of filtering them through a kaleidoscope. This effect is accomplished with ornate hexagonal lamps, carpeting with geometric shape motifs and pops of happy gold and blue hues. The lobby adds to that with a whimsical, but sophisticated mix of artwork and decorative ornaments, with a color palette and ornamentation that extends to 364 private rooms and suites throughout 17 floors.
Since 1970, Goway Travel has been committed to providing customized travel experiences for world travelers. Few things are better evidence of this commitment than being awarded the 2019 Trazees award for Favorite Tour Operator. Goway Travel heartily thanks the readers of Trazee Travel for this honor and for their confidence in Goway’s work in creating travel memories that’ll last a lifetime.
In an age where airlines continually look for new ways to increase connectivity and offer passengers more options, a new agreement gives United Airlines passengers the ability to book spots on 68 Vistara-operated flights to 26 destinations in India. The agreement goes into effect Feb. 28.
Reconnect with nature and step outside your comfort zone at Palmaïa, The House of AïA. The new Riviera Maya resort focuses on inner exploration and a respect for nature, offering visitors an array of experiences promoting self-discovery and spiritual wellness.
United Airlines’ environmentally friendly efforts lessen the impact on local U.S. communities.
Qatar Airways is expanding this year, adding eight new destinations to its network. The list includes: