What Is It Like To Fly TAP Portugal Economy Class?

TAP Portugal Economy

Flying TAP Portugal Economy between NY and Lisbon was a bit better than expected.

Our first-person experience flying TAP Portugal economy

The choices when flying nonstop between New York and Lisbon are limited.

We had the choice of flying United Airlines (departing from Newark Liberty International Airport) or TAP Portugal (departing from Newark or John F. Kennedy International Airport).

Because JFK was more convenient to get to from our home, we opted for TAP, booking TAP Portugal flight #TP208 from JFK to Lisbon.

A little background on TAP

Flying since 1945, TAP is Portugal’s flag carrier. Both its headquarters and hub are based at Lisbon Humberto Delgado Airport.

Like many other airlines, it has experienced a series of economic downturns over the years, resulting in ownership changes. The airline is now State-owned; it has been a member of the global Star Alliance since 2005, allowing passengers to earn and spend miles on TAP Air Portugal. 

TAP’s network covers 90 destinations in 36 countries worldwide. Operating on average about 2,000 flights per week, TAP is an Airbus-only fleet with Airbus A319, A320, and A321 aircraft. In addition, the company operates 22 Embraer and ATR aircraft on TAP Express, the company’s trademark for its regional network.

The airline offers direct flights to many of its destinations departing from Boston, Chicago, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Washington in the U.S. and from Toronto and Montreal in Canada. 

You can view the list of TAP destinations on the company website.

With an average flight time of just under seven hours for direct flights from New York, Portugal is one of the easiest European countries to travel to for U.S. citizens. 

Is TAP Portugal safe to fly?

I’m always a bit squeamish about flying a “new-to-me” airline so it was reassuring to learn that according to a 2021 JACDEC Airliner Safety Report, TAP was considered 22nd safest on the list of the 100 largest airlines in terms of accidents and incidents.

TAP was awarded “favorite airline in Europe” by readers in August 2023 in the Global Traveler Trazee Awards. 

But before-you-go, note that customer TAP Portugal reviews on Trip Advisor and other airline review sites are quite mixed. They describe disappointing experiences in terms of food, customer service, the attitude of crew, and adequacy of seats (In fact, some travelers reported they were the worst they had ever flown in). So how did our flight experience turn out?

Living room (as it’s called in the trade)

By the time we booked our flight, not many seats were available to choose from. We reserved two Economy seats, 22 A and B, a window and aisle.

View of the Economy Cabin on TAP Porugal
TAP AIRLINES: View of the Economy Cabin on TAP Portugal

Our Airbus A330 plane had three cabins (one business class and two Economy cabins) with a 2-4-2 seating configuration in Economy.

We were happy to secure two seats on one side of the plane. Although we probably would have opted for premium economy seats on United, TAP offers no premium economy seats (or first-class service.)

Our plane had some 260 steel blue leather seats with gray plastic frames that looked clean and modern.

Compared to other long-haul flights I’ve taken, I found my seat remarkably uncomfortable over the six-hour flight. Whether I reclined or sat erect, it was impossible to get comfortable. It’s hard to imagine how someone with longer legs could tolerate it. I began thinking that perhaps the seats were designed for Portuguese bodies rather than American ones.

Oddly, my traveling companion wasn’t as bothered by the seats and thought the seat padding was thicker than United.

One passenger who slept very well under her blanket
On TAP Air Portugal: One passenger who slept very well under her blanket

In addition, our area of the plane was annoyingly noisy, with the cacophony of rattling noises coming from the airplane’s body and the frequent flushes from the toilets just two rows behind us.

The lavatories had interesting neon lighting (like the cabin) and a nice toothbrush/toothpaste amenity but they didn’t compensate for the lack of toilet paper midway through the flight.

TAP Portugal toothbrush amenity
TAP Portugal toothbrush amenity


We were served two meals during the flight.

Dinner was served well after midnight EST time (5 AM Lisbon time) when it would have made more sense to serve a snack at that late hour.

Put a dish before me, though…and I’ll eat it.

Dinner tray on TAP Portugal Economy class
Dinner tray on TAP AIR Portugal Economy class

While the food was edible, it was typical airline food without anything to distinguish it as better than that.

When I asked the flight attendant if it was some Portuguese recipe, she told me the Goulash-like concoction was chunks of American beef in a savory sauce with mashed potatoes with green beans.

It came with three small dishes: one with lettuce and tomato; one a portion of potato salad; and the third, a light non-descript dessert cake. The meal was served with real silverware, and beer and wine were complimentary.

The flight attendant told us that Portuguese specialties are served on flights departing from Lisbon.

About an hour before our arrival in Lisbon, we were served a barely adequate morning snack of a small sandwich (with cold bread, a slice of cheese and a slice of ham), a granola bar, and beverages.

Breakfast - TAP Portugal Economy cabin
Breakfast – TAP Portugal Economy cabin

Entertainment and service

Map display on TAP Portugal
Map display on TAP Portugal

Our seat-back entertainment system had a touch screen with audio and visual on-demand maps and games.

It offered 30 films, 15 television channels (including news in English, Portuguese and French, 12 radio channels, and 60 CDs. No headphones were provided, and programs ran in a continuous loop so you couldn’t choose where to begin them.

Seat backs also had a handy USB port at eye level for charging your phone or iPad. A copy of the bilingual (Portuguese/English) UP Magazine, TAP´s in-flight magazine, was in the seatback pocket.

Instructions were given in Portuguese and English but the audio system was barely audible. The safety instruction video was Olympic-themed (after the Olympics) and failed to hold my attention. No Wi-Fi was available onboard.

Olympic-themed safety instructional video on TAP Portugal
Olympic-themed safety instructional video on TAP Portugal

There seemed to be an adequate number of flight attendants who did their job professionally but they weren’t very friendly. Blankets and pillows were provided to passengers at the beginning of the flight.

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Is TAP Portugal a good airline? 

Flying on TAP Portugal is quite basic, no-frills flying—something akin to a bus ride in the sky but without a commensurate price reduction. The Trazee awards claim that it is a favorite of the millennial traveler.

Although this wasn’t one of our most pleasant flights, it did turn out better than expected. The flight departed and landed safely on time.

The major drawback for me, however, was the seat design. Depending on your own body architecture, you might remember this flight for several days.

An article in the industry publication Travel Weekly reported that TAP Portugal topped the list in terms of refund complaints received by the U.S. Department of Transportation in November 2020. The carrier said the backlog was due to COVID-19 flight cancellations and capacity-constrained IT systems. It also noted that it was reinforcing its customer service teams to address this problem. 

The TAP Stopover Program

One very interesting offer worth exploring is the airline’s Portugal stopover program. At no additional cost, travelers on eligible routes can arrange free stopovers of up to 10 days in Lisbon or Porto on an outbound or returning trip.

It is the only airline that allows stopovers in two cities: Lisbon and Porto. 

There are so many things to do in Porto. The airline has also arranged discount offers on hotels, restaurants, tours, and more with certain partners as part of this program.

The airline offers direct flights to 65 destinations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa from Boston, Chicago, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Washington in the U.S., and from Toronto and Montreal in Canada.

A new TAP Air Portugal lounge in Lisbon

In December 2023, TAP Air Portugal announced it would be opening a new lounge at the Lisbon Airport for passengers traveling to countries outside the European Union.  

Modest in size, the lounge will be able to accommodate about 100 people.  

“Improving customer service is a priority for TAP,” said Sofia Lufinha, TAP’s Chief Customer Officer. “This new lounge was a need we identified and now have been able to fulfill. TAP has a very strong presence in markets such as Brazil, the United States or Africa and now we can provide a more comfortable experience for passengers on non-Schengen flights.”  

The lounge, which will be open every day between 5am and midnight, will include designated spaces for food, work, meetings and relaxation. It will also feature a gallery space for temporary exhibitions by Portuguese artists with works that reflect the country’s cultural heritage.

See additional information about TAP lounge access.


  • With a direct flight time of just under seven hours from New York to Lisbon, Portugal is one of the easiest destinations for Americans to reach in Europe.
  • TAP Portugal participates in TSA pre-check at all U.S. gateways.

Tram 28 in Lisbon, Portugal

Tram 28 in Lisbon (Gordon Calder/Turismo de Portugal)

*For information and flight schedules, check the TAP website.


Portugal offers travel insurance for international visitors

To promote travel, Portugal announced that International visitors planning their travel to Portugal can purchase Portugal Travel Insurance, a travel insurance policy that includes medical, surgical, pharmaceutical and hospital expenses associated with Covid-19, as well as expenses due to cancellation, interruption, or extension of travel due to the pandemic.

The goal is to ensure that all who visit Portugal can travel around the country, safely and confidently. 

Ribeiro District in Porto, Portugal
Ribeiro District in Porto, Portugal (credit: Jerome Levine)
Arabian Room in Palacio da Balsa in Lisbon (credit: Jerome Levine) 

More reasons to visit Portugal:

This is one of a series of posts about my experiences on new-to-me airlines. Surely, each flight is different but it’s always helpful to get general impressions of what to expect before you fly. If you fly TAP Portugal and have a very different experience, please feel free to comment below. 

Learn more about how and why to visit Portugal.

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TAP Portugal Economy pin

TAP Air Portugal pin

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  1. Hi Irene,

    My husband and I lead tour groups in Provence and, sadly, 4 people associated with our tours had the distinct misfortune of choosing TAP Portugal from Boston to Marseille.

    The first couple (our chef and sous chef) were delayed hours in Boston such that they missed their connection in Lisbon. All told, they were over 24 hours late and had to cancel their plans for their first night in Provence.

    The second couple, arriving about 10 days later, also missed their flight in Lisbon. They were then booked on an Iberia flight, via Madrid, for Marseille. They arrived about 8 hours late–without their luggage. They missed the first few hours of the tour and the opening wine tasting and dinner. We had to arrange for transportation for them from the airport. To make matters worse, their luggage did not arrive for two days(apparently–hard to tell as there was so little communication from a service Iberia hired, TAP absolving themselves of any responsibility). The service intended to “mail” the luggage to our clients, who were a mere hour away from the airport; it would have arrived the day before their return to Boston. (Every other airplane has delivered missing luggage, although missing luggage rarely happens.) Apparently, the village where we were staying (Lourmarin) was 5 kilometers beyond their delivery range. So, we were left with the task of retrieving the luggage for our clients.

    Last I heard, neither couple has not gotten any satisfactory recompense for their respective experience.

    A flight through Lisbon from Boston, especially if there was the opportunity to spend some time in lovely Lisbon, would be nice. But, I won’t be taking this flight–and will advise clients not to–until I hear that the service has radically changed.

    Glad to know, from your article, that the amenities are satisfactory. But, thought you’d want to know about this side of the flight.

    1. Beware TAP Portugal Airlines

      “outrageous last minute extra baggage fee”
      Susan Scott (Canada) 25th July 2019

      ✅ Trip Verified | Porto to Zurich with TAP Portugal, connecting to Calgary from Zurich with Edelweiss Air. On June 20/19 my husband & I were charged an outrageous “last minute extra baggage fee” of 250 Euros per person to fly our bikes back to Canada compared to the 110 Euros/bike advertised on TAP’s website. We were shocked to learn when we arrived at the airport that we were supposed to “reserve” the bikes 36 hours in advance. There is nothing on TAP’s website or online check-in information re: travelling with bicycles that communicates this yet there is very specific and detailed information about how to pack your bike. When we checked in online we tried to pay for our luggage/bikes (as we did with Air Canada for the flight over to Portugal) but TAP’s communication only says “contact the Contact Centre or TAP desk to ensure sports equipment is registered correctly indicating weight & dimensions.” This is far too vague and certainly isn’t clear and explicit that this is required to avoid a very punitive last minute extra baggage fee. This reservation requirement is not standard practice among airlines (and we’ve flown at least 12 different airlines over the years with our bikes). The weight & dimensions of bikes must be confirmed by airline staff at check-in anyway (why would the airline simply accept verbal communication?). It is the airlines responsibility to clearly communicate the requirement to reserve bikes in advance and the consequences of not doing so. Our request for a partial refund of the difference has been denied twice. Clearly TAP is not accepting responsibility for inadequate website communication and poor business practice. As such we can only conclude that this an opportunistic cash grab by the airline which takes advantage of unsuspecting travellers / cyclists who have never flown TAP before.

  2. The food looks awful, I would rather pack my own snacks,and the seat sounds so uncomfortable 🙁 However, you arrived safe and sound and on time, which are 2 big plusses!

  3. Sorry. That sounds like a terrible ride but luckily short. I just flew BA from Dallas to Marseille with a connection at London Heathrow. Since I live in DAllas I usually fly American. BA plane was a 777 so 3 4 3 configuration. No more 2 4 2. Sigh. So every time I wanted to use the ladies I had to climb over not just one but 2 people. Also I had a window seat in the main cabin and the way the seats are set I couldn’t really lean against the window as I normally do. This was my first international flight on a 777 and I’ll be sure to remember that in the future. If I were a tall person the leg room would have been a drag too. That metal whatever it was in from of my left foot was a bummer. Not a great seat at all. The food was typical. American usually serves dinner and breakfast. BA only served breakfast. Well I’m writing a review here. LOL

  4. Not having had the Transatlantic experience I have nothing bad to say about TAP. Recently I (am my GF) flew Amsterdam to Lisbon R/T. We are both tall I 6’5”she 6’2” and fit into the Airbus 319 seats OK. The price was better than the Dutch (I live in NL) flag carrier (half French these days) KLM and there was no extra fee for checked luggage as is so often nowadays intra-Europe as most airlines (including flag carriers) have gone low cost these days. Sure the food was nothing I will remember but neither is it ever on other flights, however it was included in the ticket price (including complimentary wine and beer), which is often not the case with the real low cost airlines such as Transavia (a KLM subsidiary) and Easyjet etc. The return leg was somewhat delayed due to a late inbound Airbus 321 aircraft. However we were (upon request) given Emergency exit seats without having to pay extra something other Airlines (including KLM) charge extra for. In conclusion I would not hesitate to fly TAP again if they fly a route I need at a competitive price.

  5. Have to say, my experience with TAP has been excellent in the past. Flew TP BOS-LIS on Azul’s A332 this past Thursday and it was more than adequate in back of the bus. At T24 their “Economy Plus” section opened up and I was able to select one of those seats for free. AVOD was fast and responsive and flight crew very cordial. Seat reclined almost excessively. Not a single empty seat. Lav’s were very clean throughout the flight. Food was standard but no complaints. Arrived almost an hour early due to the tailwinds. Returned to BOS yesterday and we did have a 1.5hr mechanical delay in LIS but again overall fine experience. Last month flew MAS-LIS on TP and at the gate received an upgrade to biz (operational upgrade but perhaps because I’m *G).

  6. I am planning to book a flight with TAP and I have never booked a flight with them before. What happens if there really is a delay and you can not reach the other connecting flight. Do you have to buy an other ticket to get where you wanted to go?

  7. I appreciate that TAP flies nonstop between BOS-LIS. However, if going to any other destination besides Portugal, I’d fly w/ another carrier.

    My wife & I recently completed a RT BOS-LIS trip using United miles. On the BOS-LIS flight we were in the A330-200 V2, which we very much liked the refurbished interior w/ newer, larger entertainment screens, USB port & larger overheads. Unfortunately on the LIS-BOS flight, we flew in the A330-200 V1 which arrived from Rio; the interior was quite dated and uncomfortable, with the window-side overheads quite small for any A330-200 I’ve ever flown in.

    The boarding process @ both BOS and LIS left something to be desired. Boarding @ BOS was quite unorganized, further hampered by surly gate agents. Boarding @ LIS was orderly, but took 1 hour and 15 minutes (!!!) b/c the gate was staffed with only 1 agent for 250+ passengers! Furthermore shortly prior to boarding they made all passengers leave the gate area to queue up with security doing another round of passport checks and interrogation!

    I hope to return to Portugal again and hope when that happens TAP will have improved both its fleet and on-ground customer service at terminal gates. But at least the bar has been set low enough for me to set my expectations low for any future travel on TAP.

  8. Dear Irene.
    Although I have not flown a transatlantic flight with TAP, I flew a total of 24 flights last year from Azores to Lisbon connecting to Copenhagen which totals a five and a half hour trip each leg of my trip. Although I must agree with the restrictive legroom found in the economy class seats (green ones) I strongly disagree with your opinion regarding the quality of the food served on the plane which I find more than acceptable for airplane food. I also find the TAP cabin crew to be very pleasant and very presentable and always helpfull (btw, they have been voted best looking cabin crew in Europe in a recent poll)

    1. Previous message submitted prematurely…
      Also for an extra 10 euros, you can upgrade to a business class seat( the red ones) which will provide you with ample legroom, reclining seat, adjustable head rest, USB charger point, standard charger socket points for European and American equipment, a fancy tablet holder so u can watch whatever you like and in your own time.
      No excuse not to travel comfortably with TAP. Don’t be a scrudge and pay the extra for a front seat if you wish yourself a comfortable flight.You can thank the arrival of low cost airlines for the lack of legroom and the need for flag carrier airlines to mirror this business model in order to survive. Long live TAP and it’s beautiful crews, you represent this little country so well.
      Gwennaël Contini.

      1. Thanks so much for sharing the experience of your 24 flights and for the upgrade tip! The price sounds quite reasonable.

        Perhaps, the food on my flight was an aberration. As stated in the caveat at the end of the post, experiences can vary from flight to flight.

        Happy travels and thanks for visiting here, Gwennael!

        1. Hi Irene,
          may you want to get more information about TAP company security or conditions as a world’s airline I suggest you to check:
          https://www.publico.pt/2020/01/02/fugas/noticia/tap-companhias-aereas-seguras-mundo-1899011 as it states TAP as one of the safest airlines in the world. ( Sorry its in Portuguese 😉 :D)
          Gastronomy on board is as much as our quality cousine shows as full of varity, delicious and rich.
          Much more than a portion of fries & burgers I must emphasize.
          Just wanted to leave my comment here as of course, a proud portuguese citizen, but mostly because one specific experience doesnt determine its whole package naturally!!
          NOT mentioning that we are the airline with “the most handsome cabin crew” in the world.

          Enjoy 😉

          Vanda M.

  9. Years ago, TAP (Take Another Plane), tried to throw me out of their flight (LIS-NY) because I was not properly dressed for their then 1st class – I had shorts and flip-flops…ha ha ha. Never again I flew TAP, wherever I live or go, I always fly someone else.

  10. Irene – Did you check your bags or carry on? I’m flying TAP early next year and purchased the discount fare (carry on only). The specs of my carryon technically meet their criteria but I worry once it’s packed with clothes that it won’t fit in a “cage” for measuring. Curious if you did a carry-on and what you experience was with them measuring/weighing.

      1. Yeah, I’ll definitely be packing lightly. Just curious what people’s experience with TAP discount fares has been. They’re only just rolling out of Washington Dulles this June. I’ll keep an eye on the blogs!

  11. You’re hardly alone…I’ve heard many other negative stories about TAP. And yours doesn’t sound like it’s worth remembering for anything actually good. Except that it did get you to a great place to visit!

    1. I don’t remember myself but I found this online:

      “If your flight into Lisbon approaches the airport from the south (as they often do) then you must sit on the right-hand side of the plane to get the best view. The airport is very close to the city centre so you’ll get a great first view of the city as you fly in and will feel like you can touch the roofs of the buildings. Of course, it’s luck of the draw if your flight approaches from the south or north but I think it’s a risk worth taking to sit on the right hand.”

  12. Hi Irene, I enjoyed reading your review!
    I would like to say that this plane was one leased from TAP’s sister company Azul Brazil, that’s why it has blue interiors. Since when you flew in 2016, TAP has bought extra planes as the new A330neo (launch customer) with really nice interiors and renovated the rest of the fleet. They also have improved a lot of the soft product like the food and flight entertainment.
    I hope you can try them again after the pandemic and visit Portugal once more!
    Greeting form Portugal,

  13. Worst airline ever – avoid if possible!

    I tried to rebook my family flight before the departure by calling TAP. Nobody was answering. I tried to do it through their website – not working, showing error messages after every attempt.

    Finally after 1,5h I managed to contact the company. 1000 EUR additional costs – I was lied by the consultant about fare difference price which was bigger comparing to the offer available at their website. I hang up to see if I can afford it and decided to call them back and rebook.

    This time it was already 1300 EUR because they added no-show fee. All of this after they were not picking up the phone and website was not working. No show? Yeah, right. They blamed me for trying to rebook late (I have a full right to do it!). They didn’t take any responsibility for the website which is not working. Blamed me for it!

    One of the passengers was denied boarding so they said that this is a reason why they counted is as no show. So why they wanted to charge all passengers no-show fees? They didn’t know and couldn’t recall specific regulation for this in fare rules. Great, huh?

    I thought – ok, I really need this flight to happen. Even if I got cheated I decided to pay and later sort this out in the court. After another hours of calling (over 6h total!) they closed customer service phoneline. In meantime they hanged up twice.

    Next day I called at 8am. The price was 1700 EUR already, What’s more the consultant told me that only the first offer didn’t include the no-show fees and after I rejected it the next ones had to include it. Another LIE. I never rejected the offer – I needed to check if I can afford it. I was also not told by Mrs. Fernanda Ferreira that if I hang up I’ll have to pay more.

    To sum it up: I got lied to multiple times, cheated and additionally because of it I have to rebook my personal flight which costed me about 220 EUR.

    Never trust TAP, based on my experience they can lie, cheat and make you’re TAP experience really unforgettable. I have no words! Try to explain 4 year old that his dream holidays are not going to happen. AVOID THIS AIRLINE IF POSSIBLE. Customer service is way worse than Ryanair (at least they speak good English).

  14. I flew on TAP summer 2019 and the flight was amazing, tons of room in the overhead, no issues with baggage at all, the food was very good and the breakfast they served is a breakfast that is definitely Portuguese style from what we experienced there. on our flight to Portugal, we had the tv that plays on a loop but we had headphones provided, and on the flight home, we had a newer plane that let us choose from a very large variety of music, tv shows and movies, some even brand new ones. my mom has a pork allergy that she mentioned when we booked and she got meals that were perfect for her, they also offer vegan and gluten free meals. I have zero complaints.

  15. I must have flown over 50 return trips London to Lisbon in the past 7 years. More often than not I fly TAP (80% TAP, 15% BA and 5% low-cost) I have had one delayed departure, due to a late arriving purser on another flight. It was too late to depart because we would have arrived at London Heathrow during their overnight curfew and this meant we had to sit in Lisbon Airport until 4am. They could have done better here in terms of providing somewhere comfortable to put the head down, but there was no quibble about the delay compensation and gave me a voucher worth 110% of what would have been the cash equivalent – and sure enough come 4am we were boarding the flight and on our way (Note: A similar event happened the other way one time I was flying British Airways and they just told us to go home because their ‘tired’ Customer Services team needed to go home to rest and there was no way they would be able to put us all on flights the following day anyway – that is one of four bad experiences I have had with BA and generally TAP more courteous when things do go slightly wrong),.
    Other than that experience it been 7 years of incident free travel and recently swift reimbursement via voucher for all the COVID cancellations and reschedules. So my airline of choice on my regular trips to Portugal.

  16. AWFUL AIRLINE; Do not use them. Kept us in a plane on the tarmac for 1.5 hours. Then took us of as they hadn’t prepared the plane adequately. All they could do was put us on a plane 5.5 hours later which went to Heathrow and not Gatwick. We were informed we would be reimbursed the additional travel costs incurred. Have used their complaints service to try and get money back as there is no other means to do so. My emails have been ignored. Spent 45 minutes trying to get through their customer service on the phone; they simply suggested I email them another complaint. They are a dreadful airline. Will never use them again.

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