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).
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).
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).
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).
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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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