TAPping our way to Prague

Talking to a well-traveled friend about Devan’s and my Christmas trip instilled a bit of fear in me as I was stoically informed that TAP Portugal, on which we were booked for our inbound flight to Prague, via Lisbon, is considered vaguely reminiscent of the international counterpart to Spirit Airlines. I found it slightly troubling that we were automatically assigned to the two middle seats in a row of four, with, at the time of my online checkin, the flanking seats yet being vacant. That inefficient automatic seating assignment lent to back up the accusation that TAP was run Spirit-like. Fortunately, at the time I checked in online, plenty of seats were available for me to select new seats with aisle access.

Upon arrival at MIA, Devan and I were pleased to see that the flight schedule boards indicated that the first leg of our flight was running on time. This happy news was short-lived, as an announcement was soon made that the inbound flight to Miami from Portugal had run late, causing our departure on that aircraft to be delayed by 30 minutes; the 30 minute delay was soon updated to a departure an hour behind schedule. The delay didn’t panic either Devan or me, since our layover in Lisbon was scheduled to be an unfortunately long one; hence, even the hour long delay would have minimal impact on our ability to catch the next leg of our flight to Prague.

Once boarding was announced, we were then somewhat alarmed at what seemed to offer potential for a chaotic boarding process, as for some bizarre reason, everyone in proximity of Gate F16 seemed to rush the gate at the announcement that rows 30 – 42 were permitted to board the plane. In his signature frank fashion, Devan aptly noted that it “must be one big F-ing plane” for the horde of people rushing the gate to all be sitting in those 13 rows of seats. Fortunately, the astute gate attendant was actually checking boarding passes and ushering those incapable of discerning seat assignments out of the line to allow rightful owners of seats in the indicated rows to board in a civilized fashion. Kudos to TAP’s staff for maintaining order in what could have devolved into a riot-like situation.

Once aboard, I was again pleasantly surprised by the newness of the aircraft and modernity of the in-seat equipment and by the ample leg room, once again differentiating TAP from the ugly (and seemingly unfounded) comparison to Spirit Airline. The onboard food and service were also palatable and acceptable, respectively. While the flight attendants were not the smiling-est or friendliest I’ve ever encountered, they were professional and attentive enough to meet acceptable standards.

As per usual, I slept not a wink on the plane; fortunately for Devan, he was able to catch a few hours of ZZZs en route to Lisbon, where we landed smoothly at a runway far, far away from the main terminal. We were efficiently ushered onto awaiting shuttles which after quick a long, winding route, eventually deposited us at the international terminal for passport checks and our connection onward to Prague.

With our still-long layover, Devan and I had time for a tasty and strong coffee at the Cockpit Bar as well as a lengthy speed walk through the airport to get the circulation moving after the seven hours of immobility on the flight. And, here we sit, awaiting our connection to our destination of Prague. Hopefully, leg #2 of our journey with TAP Portugal will be as uneventful and hassle-free as the first to allow us to get to our shuttle and subsequently our hotel in time to allow us to enjoy a few hours of evening in Prague before the effects my sleep deprivation kick in……

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