Airlines

The Complete Guide to Booking and Flying on TAP Air Portugal

By
Lucie Grace
|
Freelancer
TAP Air Portugal plane.
February 14, 2022
|
7 min read

Portugal’s national airline TAP Air Portugal flies across Europe, Africa, North America, and South America.

What’s TAP Air Portugal?

Established in 1945, Portugal’s state owned national airline Transportes Aéreos Portugueses, or TAP Air Portugal as it’s now known, has a fleet of 100 aircraft that offer reasonably priced Transatlantic flights as well as serving a network of 93 destinations across Europe, Africa, North America, and South America.

What we love about TAP: 

  • Great fares in economy—we find dozens of great deals on TAP for Scott's Cheap Flights members every month
  • Free stopovers in Portugal
  • Some of the cheapest business class flights
  • Some of the cheapest routes across the Atlantic; NYC to Lisbon starts from $200, while Brazil to Lisbon often comes in under the $300 mark
  • Very good onboard customer service and excellent food (compared to US airlines particularly)
  • Their extensive network provides some of the best value to smaller European cities and further afield destinations out there—Florence, Naples, Nice, Bordeaux, Dusseldorf, Morocco, Cape Verde, São Tomé, The Azores and the Canary Islands; most of these would be totally out of most travelers' budgets if it weren't for TAP

What we don’t love about it:

  • Customer service isn’t great if something goes wrong 
  • Refunds can be slow
  • They enforce their weight limit for carry-on bags, which most full-service airlines don’t (though it’s up to the whim of the individual customer service agent)

Some of the best deals we've previously found on TAP Air Portugal for Scott's Cheap Flights members

About TAP

  • Founded in: Lisbon, Portugal
  • Hub cities: Lisbon, Porto, Madeira
  • Fleet: 100
  • Subsidiaries: TAP Express
  • CEO: Christine Ourmières-Widener 
  • Alliance: Star Alliance
  • Nonstop routes: 8 domestic, 80+ international
  • Safety rating: 7/7 in general. 4/5 covid-19 safety rating.
  • On time rating: 62%
  • Nationality: Portuguese  
  • Domestic classes of service: Economy discount, economy basic, economy plus, business executive, business top executive.
  • International classes of service: Economy discount, economy basic, economy XTRA (which has two offers; economy classic and economy plus), business executive, business top executive.
  • Website: Flytap.com

A brief history of TAP 

Founded in Lisbon in 1945, Transportes Aéreos Portugueses’ first flight from Lisbon departed for Madrid on September 19, 1946. The airline has been privatized and re-nationalized a number of times, most recently in the summer of 2020 with the Portuguese government now owning a 72% share of the company. In 1979, the airline modernized, changing its name to TAP Air Portugal. The earliest routes linked Portugal with its colonies (and former colonies) such as Brazil, Angola, Madeira, and The Azores.

Where TAP Portugal flies

TAP Air Portugal serves six American cities and 40 cities across Europe. Recent additions to the route map include Cancun and Punta Cana in Central America. You can fly from Lisbon direct to the destinations below:

  • North America: Boston, Chicago, Miami, New York (Newark), San Francisco, Toronto, Washington
  • Central America: Dominican Republic (Punta Cana) and Mexico (Cancun)
  • South America: Brazil (Belém, Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Fortaleza, Maceió, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, San Paolo) and Caracas, Venezuela. 
  • Europe: Austria (Vienna), Belgium (Brussels), Croatia (Zagreb), Czech Republic (Prague), Denmark (Copenhagen), France (Lyon, Marseilles, Nice, Paris, Toulouse), Germany (Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich), Ireland (Dublin), Italy (Bologna, Florence, Milan, Naples, Rome, Venice), Luxembourg, The Netherlands (Amsterdam), Norway (Oslo), Poland (Warsaw), Portugal (Faro, Funchal, Lisbon, Ponta Delgada, Porto, Porto Santo, Terceira) Russia (Moscow), Spain (Alicante, Barcelona, Bilbao, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Ibiza, Madrid, Malaga,Seville, Tenerife, Valencia), Sweden (Stockholm), Switzerland (Geneva, Zurich), United Kingdom (London, Manchester)
  • Africa: Angola (Luanda), Cape Verde (Boa Vista, Praia, Sal, São Vicente), Gâmbia (Banjul), Ghana (Accra), Guinea (Banjul), Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast (Abidjan), Morocco (Agadir, Casablanca, Marrakech, Oujda, Tangier), Mozambique (Maputo), São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal (Dakar), South Africa (Cape Town), Tunísia (Djerba, Monastir)
  • Middle East: Dubai, Israel (Tel Aviv)
TAP Air Portugal route map.

TAP’s hubs

  • Lisbon
  • Porto
  • Madeira

Tips for booking a TAP flight

Find the cheapest fare

If you’re flexible on dates for your trip or vacation and are searching for the best deals TAP has to offer, be sure to tick the box “Show all dates and best offers” on the top right corner of the booking page.

flight search page on TAP.

Using advanced search options

You can also hit the ‘Show advance search’ option for a number of additional filters to become available, including the cabin class, refundable fares only, direct flights only, checked baggage included.

show advanced options on flight search on TAP.


Viewing the day by day price

After you’ve checked “Show all dates and best offers” and hit the red ‘Select Dates’ button, the next page will show monthly tabs displaying the cheapest flight option in that month. Click the month you are interested in for a day by day price breakdown. If the prices are displayed in Euros, check that the website has your correct country of origin. It may display “Portugal '' and the Portuguese flag, in which case switch it to USA / Canada or wherever you are based for your own currency to be displayed.

price by day on flyTAp

You can compare the cheapest option day by day and month by month here. Once you select the date and the flight that you wish to purchase, it’s time to decide which fare class you want to go for. Read our guide to what’s included in each fare type, below.

How to book a free stopover on TAP

If your final destination is not Portugal but you’d like to make a stopover in Lisbon or Porto, TAP Air gives you the option to stay for up to five nights before continuing on with the second connecting flight, depending on the route available. To book this, select the dark green “Add a TAP stopover halfway” tab which you’ll see under the destination box of the booking form.

adding a stopover on TAP,

After clicking that option, a pop up box will appear asking where you’d like to stopover. Both Lisbon and Porto are main hubs for TAP Air, but which of the cities you can stopover in will depend on where you’re flying from and to, as not all flights transit through Porto. Lisbon is possible on all routes though.

adding a stopover on TAP.

After you’ve filled out the date you wish to fly and ticked “Portugal” for your stopover, the following screen will pop up, asking where you’d like to stay, Lisbon or Porto, and the length of your stay.

adding stopover on TAP Air Portugal booking.


Once you’ve selected your destination, stopover city, length of stop over and dates required, you’ll be shown the main booking screen again. Check it all looks right, then click the red “Search flights” button.

You will then be shown your options for the two flights with the Portugal stopover. All the available fare types will be shown, with a “what’s included in these flights” tab underneath. To read about the different TAP fare types before you begin your search, scroll down to the next section of this article where we break them down. 

Adding extras

Once you’ve chosen your flights, click the red “Reserve these flights” button. You will then be given the option to pay for extras, such as choosing your seat, adding checked luggage or sporting equipment for example. It may work out cheapest to go for the lowest fare but just add individual extras you need, particularly if you’re traveling light but want to pick your seat. 

If you opt to “Add more to your flight” and book a piece of luggage, this price is for both of your flights, even including the Portugal stopover, if you selected that. It’s generally cheaper to opt for the next fare up however, so be sure to compare the difference in price between ‘discount’ and ‘budget’. We’ll run through those fares next. Remember it’s also worth adding those extras at the time of booking, as it can be more expensive to add them later. Definitely don’t leave it until you show up at the airport!

adding bags on TAP.

TAP fare types

TAP Air has four different fare types in economy class; economy discount, economy basic, economy classic (economy Xtra), and economy plus (economy Xtra). It’s always tempting to go for the cheapest possible option but do spend a little time researching what’s available as some routes allow you to upgrade from discount to basic for just $5. On longer transatlantic routes it’s $95 dollars to add a piece of luggage to the ‘discount’ fare but only $65 to book the ‘basic’ fare which includes a checked bag, so don’t rush to ‘discount’ unless you’re completely sure you don’t need checked luggage.

Economy discount

  • Comes with a 8kg (17.6lbs) carry-on bag and a 2kg (4.4lbs) personal item. 
  • Checked baggage and seat selection cost extra. 

Economy basic 

  • Same conditions as discount but includes a checked bag for free.
  • You can earn basic air miles. 

Economy classic

  • Includes a carry-on and two checked bags.
  • Includes seat selection.
  • Additional air miles earned. 

Economy plus

  • Includes priority check-in.
  • Includes a carry-on and two checked bags.
  • Includes seat selection.
  • Fully refundable and changing flight dates is free.  
  • Additional air miles earned than all other economy fares

Baggage fees on TAP

If you are planning to check a bag, it’s pretty essential to upgrade to a “economy basic” fare while booking. For example, if traveling transatlantic “economy basic” costs roughly $65 extra each way—which is $10 less than most other airlines that fly transatlantic. If you opt to add a checked bag to your “economy discount” fare, it costs $95 each way, which is a chunk more than necessary.

Example baggage fees for one additional piece of luggage:

  • San Francisco to Lisbon: $95
  • Rio de Janeiro to Lisbon: $95
  • Lisbon to Oslo:  $58
  • Lisbon to Marrakech: $39 

In all cases booking “economy basic” costs less than adding a bag to “economy discount”. 

You can also check sports equipment from $100 and musical instruments from $185 (each way).

Seat selection fees on TAP

The below seat price examples are for transatlantic flights to Portugal:

  • $32 for a middle row seat
  • $40 for an aisle or window seat at the back of the plane
  • $78 for a middle row seat nearer to the front, in economy Xtra (seats are a bit bigger).
  • $84  for an aisle or window seat nearer to the front, in economy Xtra (seats are a bit bigger).
  • $101 for extra leg-room aisle or window seats, near the escape doors.

Summary of all fees on TAP 

  • Carry-on bag: A carry-on bag weighing up to 8kg (17.6lbs) is free of charge.
  • Checked bag: Additional luggage ranges from $39 - $95 depending on your flight.
  • Seat selection: Paying for your seat ranges from $11 - $101 depending on the length of your flight and where you prefer to sit on the plane.
  • Food: On long-haul and intercontinental flights, passengers are served complimentary meals. When each meal is served, you can choose from among the various economy class meals and beverages. On medium haul flights a meal menu is available, where passengers can purchase a meal offered between $5 - $15.
  • Wifi: Three wifi packages are available on flights that travel above 10,000 feet altitude; Small (100MB), Medium (200MB) or Large (500MB) available for a fee, or use TAP Free Messaging which gives free access to iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp on your device, without images, text only.

What it’s like flying on TAP Air Portugal

Checking in

While you can check-in online via the website or the TAP Air app, in most cases currently you will need to collect your boarding pass at the airport. This is due to the need for ground staff to check you have all your documentation required, in order to land at your chosen destination. This may change as time goes on. 

Collecting your boarding pass and dropping your luggage at Lisbon airport is a very futuristic experience, as TAP Air’s Lisbon hub has gone fully automated and you’ll collect your boarding pass from a computer and drop your luggage with a computer. Passengers for all flights form one orderly queue for this process so expect it to be long, but it’s relatively fast moving. There are members of ground staff to support your use of the computer screens if you get really stuck.

Lounge access

TAP Air has a luxurious lounge in Lisbon airport, TAP Premium Lounge, which is available to all Executive Class passengers and TAP Miles & Go Silver, TAP Miles & Go Gold or Star Alliance Gold members, as well as any passengers who purchase lounge access which ranges from $23 - $56 depending on your flight. 

TAP Premium Lounge is open from 6.00 a.m. – 11.00 p.m and offers the best gastronomy, accompanied by renowned Portuguese wines.

TAP also offers executive class passengers access to a network of 60 lounges around the world.

Boarding

TAP are known to be strict about measuring and weighing your carry-on bag so do stay within the limits outlined, as some passengers report having to pay additional fees when overweight.

TAP staff are notoriously friendly and helpful so do ask for any assistance you may need during the boarding procedures. It is not hugely worth paying for priority boarding, as the process is organized into efficient boarding segments and your seat is already selected on your boarding pass. Additionally, at the Lisbon airport, all classes board the same shuttle bus to the plane, so you’d be paying to board the shuttle bus first, not the plane.

Flying TAP Air Portugal in economy class

economy class on TAP Air Portugal.

TAP Air invested in a big update a few years ago and now flies a host of new planes across all routes. Their average fleet age dropped to just 3.9 years in early 2020, from 15 years in 2018, making it one of the newest fleets in the industry. Almost all of the fleet has had Recaro’s seating installed, with slimline seats at the rear of the economy class and wider seats in economyXtra at the front. Recaro seats are extra reclining which passengers on longer flights love, making that all-hallowed nap more achievable. These seats also have handy six-way adjustable headrests. While all seats share the 5” recline and snazzy headrest, economy class is split in two sections, with economyXtra at the front offering extra-legroom.

"TAP crew is very nice" features in 200+ reviews on Tripadvisor, everyone’s favorite place to raise complaints, so take that positivity and inflate it, as it’s a miracle it got there. This is also true of our own personal experiences flying with TAP transatlantic and across Europe. The crew are super friendly and will do their best to make sure you have a great flight.

On long haul flights blankets, headphones and pillows are provided, plus each seat back has a personal entertainment system of a large tv screen offering movies, tv shows, music, games and documentaries. There’s also in-seat power outlets and USB ports at every seat. 

Free meals are provided on TAP’s long haul, transatlantic flights, no matter your ticket. Their food is pretty good quality compared to some other airlines too. Shorter continental flights do sell food onboard at an additional cost, try the cheese board with a glass of Portuguese wine if you’re feeling fabulous.

Flying TAP Air Portugal in business class

business class on TAP.

There are pros and cons to flying in TAP Air’s business classes. The seating is incredibly comfortable, laid out in a 1x2x1 arrangement, so you don’t have to climb over anyone to get out of your seat. This is ideal for solo travelers as well as couples who could take the middle two seats and lower the blind between the two. The single seats are either pointing inwards at the window, or facing the aisle—the perfect setting for privacy and a good sleep. Pillows and blankets are provided on long haul and transatlantic flights as well as a sweet refreshment bag containing toiletries. 

Before take off the usual choice of champagne, orange juice, or water is offered, followed by nuts and a hot towel delivered from the refreshments trolley. Come meal time, the food is some of the best available in the air. An example menu is carrot and ginger soup, warm bread rolls or rustic bread slices, three choices of main course, including cod filet, chicken, or vegetarian orecchiette pasta with marinara sauce. TAP also serves a solid selection of Portuguese wine.

food service on TAP in business class.

Some complaints pop up from business class passengers of their experiences before and after the flight though. TAP Air doesn't offer a premium lane for immigration or security and there is no dedicated business class bus. Business class passengers are also expected to weigh their carry-on and face potential charges for being over the allowance. Paying for business class doesn’t get you off the hook there. After the flight, if you have an immediate transfer to make, you’ll have to navigate that yourself—there’s no premium transfer service to collect you, as some other airlines offer. So all in all it’s not the best of the range, but it’s not bad either, with solid comfort, excellent catering and great staff.

Tips for flying TAP

How to use a credit/voucher on TAP

The voucher can be used for an online purchase at flytap.com. You are allowed to use up to three vouchers during the online purchase. You enter your voucher code when you get to the payment page.

How to change your flight on TAP

First open the official website on any browser. Then select the My Trips option. Input the Reservation or Ticket Number and Last Name then click Find Booking. The flight details and select ‘Change Flight’ option.

Follow the instructions on the screen and make the needed changes. Once you complete the above steps, enter payment details for any fare difference if necessary.

How to get a refund on TAP

If your flight is canceled, you can choose to reschedule it or request a refund to the original form of payment or by voucher. As of September 1, 2020, if you opt for a voucher as a refund, you get an additional 10% of the initial amount. If you want the refund to be made in the same way you used to pay for the ticket or via bank transfer, you can request it here: https://www.flytap.com/en-us/special-conditions 

What if TAP changes your flight day or time? 

You can request a voucher, a cash refund, or take the new flight.

What if TAP cancels your flight?

If your flight is canceled, you can choose to reschedule it or request a refund to the original form of payment or by voucher. As of September 1, 2020, if you opt for a voucher as a refund, you get an additional 10% of the initial amount.

How can I contact TAP? 

TAP asks that you contact them by phone, only if you are unable to use their website. The toll free number is +1 800 903 79 14. Alternatively you can send a message via: https://www.flytap.com/en-us/support/contacts

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Frequently asked questions about flying TAP Air Portugal

Is TAP Air Portugal a good airline?

Ultimately yes, TAP Air Portugal is a good airline. Their SkyTrax review is 3/5 stars. As with any airline, some people give TAP rave reviews and others have had unfortunate experiences. In our experience TAP has always been a solid airline and very good value for money.

Is TAP Air a safe airline?

The worldwide AirLineRatings rating agency places TAP at level 6, on a scale of 0 to 7, in relation to the airline's product and safety.

How strict is TAP with carry-on sizes?

TAP are known to be strict with carry-on, particularly the weight. We don't recommend trying to get by with heavier or larger carryon luggage than what's allowed, as you likely will have to check your bag.

What is TAP’s business class like?

TAP’s business class seating is very comfortable and spacious, giving passengers privacy and room to stretch out on lie-flat seats. The catering is very tasty and the staff are attentive. However the ground services are somewhat lacking for business passengers.

Do seats in TAP business class lie flat?

Yes, TAP Air Portugal’s business class offers fully flat seating on all aircraft, in three different configurations.

What’s the average legroom on TAP?

Standard economy legroom on TAP is 32-33 inches. In business class, TAP’s legroom is a whopping 60 inches.

How can I contact TAP?

The toll free number is +1 800 903 79 14.

Is TAP Air Portugal Star Alliance?

Yes, TAP Air Portugal is a member of Star Alliance.

Last Updated 
February 14, 2022
The Complete Guide to Booking and Flying on TAP Air Portugal
Lucie Grace
Freelancer

Lucie is a freelance writer and researcher currently based in India. During her grad school studies, she was lucky enough to take part in an Erasmus exchange program, first visiting Valparaíso in 2018. She traveled in South America extensively throughout 2019 and always came back to Valpo as her favorite city.

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