On the Ground: Check-in at Porto International Airport was pleasant and stress-free. Though there was only one agent handling Executive Class and only one person ahead of me in line, that passenger was having some issue related to luggage weight. Anticipating the possibility of a delay, a second TAP agent immediately stepped forward to assist me, with a smile, and I was on my way in minutes. The security line was short and efficiently handled. Total time from check-in to stepping into the elevator going to the lounge one level up was less than 15 minutes.
Pre-Flight: I arrived early for my 11:30 a.m. flight, and the ANA lounge in Terminal 1 used by TAP passengers was not at all crowded. There was a nice spread of fresh juices, teas, coffee, small sandwiches, fruit and freshly baked breads and pastries, including Portugal’s famed custard tarts, pasteis de nata, on which I promptly focused. The interior space was nicely sectioned for privacy and working. The bathrooms, though immaculately clean, were located outside of the main lounge area across from the lounge check-in desk.
The Porto airport is relatively small, but a constant flood of natural light worked into the architecture and design gives the impression of spaciousness, which directly carries through to the lounge. Plate in hand, I chose an armchair on the open deck overlooking part of the terminal’s retail zone. Though open to the surrounding area, the sound coming from below was muted and not at all distracting.
When the boarding call came, I was greeted by a hearty “Bom dia” by one of the cabin attendants, who took my coat and quickly offered me a glass of sparkling wine. A good selection of magazines and newspapers was offered, but I bypassed those in favor of a book I’d just acquired.
In-Flight: Following a fairly amusing safety video featuring TAP passengers, I explored my seat’s adjustment options, which allowed an excellent range of positions and fully reclined for sleeping. The recently introduced headphones featured cutting-edge noise-canceling technology and did exactly that while also being extremely comfortable to wear. Another pleasant and recent change: Large, dark blue quilts have replaced the less cozy polar blankets previously used. Another surprise — and an especially nice touch — was the amenity kit, a pencil box-shaped tin with a lid decorated in original art, part of a project involving designs by three separate international artists commissioned by TAP specifically for this amenity.
During meal service, cabin lights were slightly dimmed, which had the pleasing effect of creating an intimate dining room ambience. My flight included lunch and a second, lighter meal prior to landing. Canapés with shrimp, blue cheese and nuts were offered following takeoff. Lunch included a beautiful salad prepared to order from a trolley seatside, with additional choices that included fresh mango and marinated scallops. Following a creamy basil soup finished with pesto and toasted pine nuts, I chose a main course of beef filet au poivre with an herb butter sauce, blanched potatoes and vegetables, and a glass of excellent Monte da Cal Reserva from the Alentejo region. Three additional choices, including a vegetarian meal, were also available. Though there was a tempting cheesecake for dessert, I selected the cheese plate with raspberry purée and a glass of sweet Vinho Porto Doce.
The Experience: Though I’ve flown TAP multiple times over the years and have always found the service friendly and extremely efficient, I would rate this flight experience as especially pleasurable.
- Less than 10 minutes for check-in
- Friendly and helpful agents
- Priority tagged baggage
- Airport lounge
- Complimentary in-lounge food
- Priority boarding
- Helpful and courteous flight attendants
- Pre-flight beverage service
- Pre-flight newspapers and magazines
- Extensive on-demand entertainment
- Amenity kits
- Lie-flat seat/bed
- Turn-down service
- In-flight menu with three entrée choices
- Top-shelf wines and liquors
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