Why I Avoid TAP Portugal like the Plague (Save yourself the misery and avoid them at all costs)

December 2, 2017

Why I will Forever and Always Avoid TAP Portugal (And why you should too because it is one of the WORST international airlines to fly)

First of all, let me just say that I did not buy my airline tickets while thinking, “Oh gee, how can I write a nasty review about how to avoid TAP Portugal.” No, quite the contrary. I was actually pretty excited to fly TAP Portugal to Lisbon since I usually take budget airlines (aka low cost international airlines) that charge you crazy fees for totally non-essential items like carry ons, food, drinks and maybe even a small fee for breathing some of the oxygen in the airplane’s cabin (I really should not be giving them any ideas). So it felt almost luxurious to fly on an airline where food, drinks, and carryon luggage were all included in the price of your plane ticket (Yes, my standards are very low in MANY aspects of my life. Just look at my dating history. But I really hope that TAP Portugal would be one of the best international airlines to fly).

flight memes
I legit wish he was my TAP Portugal agent. He could have pulled a bewitch and run!

But my fantasies of free lobster dinners and enough let room to actually fall asleep were all dashed to pieces, like  incinerated by a freakin’ laser beam at approximately 4:30 pm on November 26. Now, before I get into my sucktastic tale of woe, I know there is someone out there who is thinking, “Well I have flown TAP Portugal a hundred times and have had no problems.” To you, I say, can I be you? Legit, I wish I had that experience and that I could write a stellar review of this airline but I cannot. Besides, I HATE writing negative reviews because you can’t win. Inevitably you offend someone and it is just a whole BIG mess.

However, I cannot tell a lie. I am merely relaying my own, personal experience in the hope that I can save someone the hassle of dealing with TAP Portugal when the proverbial you know what hits the fan. So this is not a personal attack on the company or the people who work there because I don’t blame the staff, some of who were quite lovely and very kind to me. I simply want to bring attention to the fact that yes, the customer service for TAP Portugal is complete and total CRAP. C-R-A-P Crap!!! So yeah, this one of those  international airlines to avoid because member of the star alliance my ass; more like a member of the death star alliance of the worst airlines in the world (I would not be surprised if Darth Vader was the company president, but minus James Earl Jones’ super cool voice).

Yet, rather than recite a million humorous but totally irrelevant Star Wars references about the total awfulness of this past weekend and my horrendous airline experience, I’ll slow my roll because I always get overexcited and word vomit everywhere. That’s why we’ll back it up to where all tepidly tumultuous stories start, the beginning.

TAP Portugal: The Beginning of the End: A Travel Nightmare that Would Make Freddie Krueger Cower in Fear

Like I stated before, my tragic tale of woe (Like Withering Heights tragic. Geez, I hope I don’t end up as bitter as Heathcliff) starts on November 26, 2017, at 4:35 pm and 30 seconds. Okay, I don’t really know the exact time but sometime before 5:00 pm because that’s when my flight took off from Lisbon Airport (SPOILER ALERT: without me) and headed towards good old JFK in New York (I hate JFK but at the end of this story, I could have kissed that airport and it’s staff).

airport memes
Don’t worry Freddie, they have knives in the airport anyway.

Now, as the totally cliched saying goes (Almost as cliched as the movie Titanic), “When it rains, it pours, ” or at least that’s what I thought when I sat, trapped in the airport with no wifi (the horror of not completing Pinterest threads at a rapid fire pace. I may have even gone through pinning withdrawal), twiddling my thumbs in the not so enchanting hallways of the Lisbon International Airport. I was trapped amidst a seemingly eternal tsunami of awfulness that is commonly known as TAP Portugal.

But why was I aimlessly wandering the corridors of Lisbon Airport? Is it because I have some strange fetish for airports? Sadly no, although I kind of wish I did because then this experience would have been one of the BEST weekends ever. Hmm, then was I casually strolling around, talking to my imaginary friends in some sort of secret made up language? Sorry, I’m not that mentally unstable… yet. No, my story is more akin to the plot behind the movie the Terminal, starring Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta Jones. And in case you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, the SparkNotes version of the movie is that a man is stuck at JFK because his home country has basically dissolved into non-existence while he was away on vacation. As a result, the main character is country-less and forced to remain in the airport since his passport is no longer valid and he has no home country to issue him a new one (Talk about problems. Makes my weekend look like a trip to Disney).

Airport Memes
Welcome to the Twilight Zone, I mean airport.

Now my situation wasn’t THAT bad. I mean, the United States didn’t erupt into a civil war while I was on vacation, but I was stranded at Lisbon airport, wondering when I would finally feel American soil underneath my poorly manicured toes. Brief interruption but I bet some of you are like, “Ewww, stop complaining. You got an extra day of vacation, so sad.” To this I say, “Ha, hardly. Instead of a dream vacation this was like the first world problem of the century, with a typhoon of turmoil pouring down around me (me and my clothes smelled about as ripe as a rotten egg).”

And trust me, it’s not like I arrived late for my flight and brought down the full wrath of the airport gods down upon myself. No, I am anal retentive (and that is putting it mildly. I am kind of like Jack Nicholson in As Good as it Gets, only without an official diagnosis of OCD) and generally arrive at the airport like 3 hours before my flight.

So as usual, I emerged from the bowels of the metro station and strolled on over to the TAP Portugal check in desk, where I chatted with the stewardess and declared my undying love for Lisbon. Ironically enough, I even joked that I wouldn’t be upset if I had to stay longer (careful what you wish for). But when she asked me if I would like to volunteer to be bumped off the flight, I declined because well I have a job that i need to get back to and I have a car that is not so patiently waiting for me in a parking lot that I had only paid for through Sunday night.

“No worries,” or so I thought as I procured my boarding pass, headed through security and customs, and promptly forgot about the entire conversation. Because I was ridiculously early and  had plenty of time to kill, I meandered through the overpriced retail stores and purchased a $7.00 cappuccino that more closely resembled luke warm toxic sludge than it did actual coffee (Do yourself a favor and just head straight for the Starbucks. The money is totally worth it, at least for this self-proclaimed coffee addict).

airport memes
Talk about price gouging to the extreme.

So as I tore myself away from the not so enthralling airport amenities and the spotty at best wifi, I headed to the gate that was referenced on my ticket, gate number 44. It was then that I glanced down at my ticket and happened to notice that instead of a seat number, my ticket clearly stated, “Go to the gate”. Alirght, no big deal. I guess I just don’t have an assigned seat. Well, once I got to the gate, the first thing I did was eat my half boiled egg because sorry guys but in my world food always comes first. Then, I weaved through a line of people that was 50 deep and clawed my way to the TAP Portugal gate desk. I practically had to do jumping jacks while flashing the employees to get any service  but I finally got someone’s attention. I explained the situation and the flight attendant promptly walked off with my boarding pass, without saying a word.

Did I ever see her again? Nope. Did anyone explain the situation to me? Nope. I actually figured out what was going on from the 25 other passengers who were bumped off the flight. And when the realization hit me that I would NOT be boarding the plane, I totally freaked out. I mean I have a job and a car that I needed to get back to, like ASAP. And if I missed this flight, obviously there was no way I was getting my car and heading to work the next day.

So after a slight nervous breakdown, the staff simply replied that they understood and that there was nothing else they could do to get me on the plane. Like the Incredible Hulk, I started to get angry and demanded to know why I was bumped off my flight. To this, they replied that the selection process was random. However, I quickly pointed out the flaw in this rationale since the two women standing next to me were both solo female travelers as well. That’s when they back tracked and declared that the Hunger Games style tribute selection process was actually related to how late I checked into my flight. I called them on their BS though since I was there like 3 hours in advance, but instead of apologizing or trying to rectify the situation, they just shrugged their shoulders and walked away. Eventually, after the entire flight boarded and took off, they offered me an overnight hotel stay, a comped dinner, a taxi ride to and from the airport, and 600 euros to compensate me for my travel delay (I would have gotten 750 euros if I had volunteered).

Was the hotel and dinner lovely? Absolutely, but I barely enjoyed it because I had to be at the airport by 6:00 am to check in for my flight that was to depart at 7:50 am. But then something funny happened, I went to check the gate of my flight, and it just stated that more would be revealed at 10:00 am. “How odd,” I thought as I strolled on over to the TAP Portugal help desk.

flight attendant memes
In fairness, my dinner service was WAY better than this.

However, upon further inspection, I learned that not only was my flight delayed, but they had no idea when it was actually leaving and bonus, I would miss my connecting flight to New York and triple bonus, they have no idea when my next flight out to New York would be. Awesome? You betcha since I was out of clean clothes and medication. Did anyone from customer service care or apologize? Nope. They wouldn’t even let me into the TAP Portugal lounge to use the wifi since the free service in Lisbon Airport was total crap and kept dropping me more than my lame ass ex.

So I wiled away the hours not consulting with the flowers but sitting down wind of a rather noxious bathroom. I eventually decided to switch on my tablet and load up the latest season of Stranger Things that I have been dying to see. I would have seen it sooner but I was terrified that it would suck since most sequels really bite the big one, to put it mildly.

So I sat there, indulging in my Netflix addiction of the week, when I just happen to look up and see, that at 9:45 my flight now read go the gate. Well, I figured that I had plenty of time since the announcement from my worldwide airline had changed within the hour. So I took a minute and snuck into the bathroom because well when nature calls, you heed the call. I then strolled on over to the gate, super excited to finally ascertain my aviation fate. But as I got closer to gate 22, I saw that no one was there, “Hmm, that’s odder than the show I was watching. But maybe everyone else has already boarded.”

TAP Portugal
It’s like Monopoly money, only not as fun.

However, I knew something was up when I got within ear shot of the boarding desk and heard a man screaming at the top of his lungs in Portuguese. I don’t know what he was saying but I know enough about human emotion to gather that this was not a good sign. And that’s when fear completely and totally washed over me as I heard the words that every traveler dreads, “You missed your flight.” Yes folks, after they delayed my flight and told me to check back at 10 (Even the guy at the help desk said this. Talk about one of the best worldwide airlines) my connecting flight left without me. Then, double whammy, I went over to the customer service desk and they proceed to assert that I am fully responsible since they announced the flight departure once.

Yes TAP Portugal, you are so right. I totally screwed this up and have completely failed at life this weekend. But don’t worry, they gave me a ten euro meal voucher so that obviously made everything better. Yet the real kicker is that when I asked to file a complaint (Gasp, why would I ever wanna do that? Geez, nothing is ever good enough for me) they literally said, direct quote, “We don’t have a phone number.” No good sir, you are wrong. The number is clearly listed online I just vainly hoped that they would dial a representative for me so that I could file a formal complaint since I had no phone service. But that would be too easy you see, and why would they want to compensate me for the ten million years that my car has sat, rotting away in a parking lot?

So I sat there, pondering my fate and wondering if and when I would actually return home to my job and my car, if they were both still there at all. I mean sure they said that my flight to JFK was at 5:00 pm but we all know how well that went the past two times I tried to board a flight. But maybe the third time would be a charm and I would actually get out of Lisbon Airport. I mean as fun as shopping in Burberry and Versace was, I was totally ready to biz-ounce out of that popsicle stand (and by fun I mean shopping at these high end stores was awful because I could afford nothing and accordingly, there was really no point in looking). So yes, travel really is ten times more glamorous than it seems since everyone gawked at me for wearing a fine perfume of body odor that was expertly ‘intermingled with the stench of rancid clothing.

Flight delay memes
This is EXACTLY the face I made when I got back to New York.

Well since this story is already rather long, I’ll speed it up for you. I finally did get home, just not on the 5:00 pm flight that left on Monday night. Believe it or not, that flight was overbooked too, so I volunteered to be bumped again because they offered me 750 euros. Funnily enough though, they said they had room for me on the plane but when I went to claim my seat, i found out that they actually had put two passengers in the same exact seat. That’s why I was quickly whisked off the plane, given a compensation card that did not actually work and that needed “twelve hours to charge fully” (not true because the cards from the previous night worked instantly), and put up in a hotel with another solo female traveler who was bumped from the flight as well.

And while I eventually did get home and return to my pseudo interesting job, that thankfully I was not fired from, I will NEVER EVER again fly TAP Portugal. Not only do they bump you off your flight, but they have terrible customer service, lie to you (They told a man that you only get 600 euros compensation for a four hour flight delay. In truth the EU will actually compensate you for flight delays of three hours or more), and just generally suck on the whole. Plus, this airline has the added honor and privilege of giving me my worst flight experience ever, and that’s saying something since I have flown a great deal. But the part of this experience that bothered me the most was that they don’t even care that they have inconvenienced you. Legit, when I told them what I thought of their service, they just shrugged their shoulders, almost as if to say, “So?” That’s why you MUST heed my hopefully sage advice and avoid this airline like you would avoid pizza in any city other than New York City.

Epilogue

On my way home, my friend’s personal television stopped working. When she asked if she could be moved to another seat, airline staff members immediately responded that there were no empty seats on the plane. Well, that was a lie because the seat next to me was empty, Yup, TAP Portugal strikes again.

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Find out which #international #airline you need to avoid at all costs. #travel #wanderlust #hacks #tips #advice
Find out which #international #airline you need to avoid at all costs. #travel #wanderlust #hacks #tips #advice

girlwiththepassport

Nanny by day and travel blogger any other time.

I love writing and traveling and bearing my soul on the page.
I want to inspire others to face their fears and join me on an adventure.

https://www.instagram.com/girlwitthepassport/
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28 Comments

  • Dorothy 2 weeks ago

    Getting bumped sounds miserable, but I love your sense of humor.

  • Clazz 2 weeks ago

    That is just crazy! I saw your Facebook posts but had no idea it was this bad! I’ve often seen cheap fares to the US with TAP but never really considered it – and now I certainly won’t! At least you’ve got an entertaining story to tell, I guess???

    • girlwiththepassport 2 weeks ago

      Exactly! All is well that ends well but it just felt like one big mess. Glad its over and that I can laugh about it now!

  • krista 2 weeks ago

    wow! what an adventure you embarked on! I haven’t flown TAP before and know I think ill avoid it! They told you they didn’t have a phone number?! that is just cray cray!! I actually had no idea about EU compensating you on late airfare!

    • girlwiththepassport 2 weeks ago

      Yes! It is a law and legit they gave me a card with just an email address. I was like really guys? I know you have a phone number!

  • Susie 2 weeks ago

    I appreciate honest posts like this. Also the memes and your writing style just kept me laughing out loud although your experience with TAP Portugal was unpleasant. I fly quite a bit every year for vacation or work so I’m always looking for airline reviews and this was helpful, so thank you 🙂

    • girlwiththepassport 2 weeks ago

      Good! I am so glad that you think so! And so glad that I could make you laugh along the way

  • Amber 2 weeks ago

    “That the Hunger Games style tribute selection process was actually related to how late I checked into my flight.” hahaha, I really enjoyed reading this, I hope I never have an experience like this and I’ll definitely be wary of flying with them.

    • girlwiththepassport 2 weeks ago

      I hope you never do either because it was no fun, even though it makes for a good story

  • Rachel 2 weeks ago

    Wow, thanks for writing this. Another airline to put on my “avoid” list. Sadly, over the last few years more and more airlines are moving to that slot for me. It seems like they are almost all going downhill!

    • girlwiththepassport 2 weeks ago

      I agree. I am not sure why this is but I am going to stick with some of the discount airlines I like.

  • Constance 2 weeks ago

    Wow that was insane! So how many days did it end up taking you in total to get home just in between the trips to the airport? I’d looked into taking TAP Portugal before in case I wanted to go to Portugal, but now I am legit afraid.

    • girlwiththepassport 2 weeks ago

      I mean in fairness I have heard a ton of people had a fine flight and I bet it would be fine if nothing went wrong but for me at least I will not book with them again. But I always encourage people to have their own experience and make their own decision.

  • Faith Coates 2 weeks ago

    Oh dear lord will be avoiding this airline at all costs so thanks for the heads up. I really enjoy reading your posts though and while I am sorry you had to go through all this crap – it makes for a great read. Having had my own travel mishaps (let’s not talk about British Rail) that have ended up costing me tons of money (don’tcha just love La Guardia (not)), through the years and months it does become a great story to tell whilst drinking in the pub. LOL.

    • girlwiththepassport 2 weeks ago

      I totally agree. I have had so many things happen and usually it is my own fault or mistake but I guess I was disappointed with the quality of service and will be sure to book elsewhere next time.

  • Victor Conceicao 2 weeks ago

    Dear Girl,
    As a Portuguese person I’m ashamed by our pseudo national airline.
    I hope that you can visit us again soon, BA does a good job bring people to us!
    Best from Portugal.

    • girlwiththepassport 2 weeks ago

      Thank you so much! You have a beautiful; country and people and I cannot wait to visit again. I’ll just make sure to find another airline to bring me to your wonderful country.

  • Alexander Popkov 2 weeks ago

    Welcome to Southern Europe 🙂 Best service ever.
    From my personal experience, at the moment, the leader for delays/cancellations/other airport BS is the Eastern Europe (Russia, Ukraine) but Southern Europe is not far behind.

    • girlwiththepassport 2 weeks ago

      Thanks for the advice. I’ll definitely keep that in mind when traveling in the future.

  • Melissa 2 weeks ago

    Ouch. That’s a pretty rough outing. It seems like overbooking on flights is becoming more and more common, which sucks.

  • Ana Maria 2 weeks ago

    The last time I flew Tap,Newark to Lisbon was in 2005. They charged me $160 for my puppy, one way because they said I could only make a reservation for the flight back in Portugal. They refused to tell me the price of the ticket for the flight back,when I bought my thicket and his. I stayed in Lisbon for about 3 weeks and called the airport the week before my departure, went to the airport twice and was told that only on the day of departure I could buy his ticket.they said the puppy was traveling as a piece of luggage and they would have to weight him when I would check in. He was a 4 lb yoorkie. The day of my flight I got to the airport early but had to wait until It was time the check in my luggage and they wanted more than double than what I paid for the trip to Lisbon. I made a fuss, complained, asked for the supervisor, that never came, ask for the complaint book, which I filled my complaint in, but to no avail. I had to pay more than $300 dls to bring my dog back with me. 6 months later I got a letter from Tap stating that that was the price I had to pay for the previlege of bringing my dog with me. No excuses, no apologies, a blatant rip off. They refused to tell me While in the USA, and in Lisbon ,either by phone or at the counter, the price of the return ticket. I was so anguished at the thought of what if I had to leave my dog there (thinking what if I did not have the money to by that ticket?) that I swore I would never fly on TAP. And I go to Portugal every year. And on another note, you were lucky that they were not on strike, like they do almost every summer…you probably would have been out of luck, out of job and God knows what else….
    Loved your comments. Keep up your posts. And by the way I always fly United.

    • girlwiththepassport 2 weeks ago

      Omg that sounds terrible. i am so sorry about that entire experience. And thanks for the sage advice as always.

  • David 2 weeks ago

    LOL, I share the same experience, booked a flight for my mother from the US to Munich via Lisbon with TAP. Fact was that my mother missed the connection flight because she needed assistance (decided by airport and TAP crew at Lisbon). Resulting in 6 hours waiting time for the next flight and getting 10€ (for lunch at an airport:D). Trying to get an explanation and sone reimbursement, I received any kind of explanation, excuses and blaming everybody else. Never again TAP.

    • girlwiththepassport 2 weeks ago

      Yup, I had the same experience and the same lunch voucher. I understand mistakes happen but I just feel like they have very poor customer service

  • Olivia Johnson 2 weeks ago

    Thanks for giving such a wonderful information. It is very helpful.

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