Tag Archives: TAP Portugal

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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And the winner is……. Prague!

Well, the headline of this post is quite incomplete, possibly even a bit inaccurate, since I’m the real winner being that my son agreed to be my travel buddy on my upcoming trip once again. But as far as the travel destination selection goes, Prague, along with Vienna and Budapest, won my internal debate about where I should spend Christmas with my son this year. It’s been an arduous process just to arrive at this conclusion, but now that I’m finally there… the fun begins!

Vienna, Austria at Christmas
Vienna doesn’t seem to be a bad place to spend Christmas with my son!

I took the first leap yesterday and bought our plane tickets via Kayak and Vayama after spending many hours researching flights on Skyscanner, Airfarewatchdog, and Google Flights amongst many of the other flight aggregator sites. It wasn’t easy to decide the right approach, but “right” is subjective. For me, it turned out to be finding a good mix of relatively conveniently scheduled and relatively reasonable flights. I say “relatively” on both counts since the flights to Prague and from Budapest both have layovers in Lisbon (TAP Portugal) with the layover on the journey to Prague being unpleasantly long (a bit over four hours), the departure flight from Budapest is at an unreasonably early hour (5 am – YUCK!), and the price, while the cheapest I’ve paid to get to Europe in many years, still wasn’t a real bargain. But, all things considered, these flights seemed a good option to grab so I can forge ahead with the next stages of the trip planning process.

So, now I’m in full research mode….looking into accommodation options as well as logistical details, mainly the train schedule between Prague and Vienna and from Vienna and Budapest at this stage in the game. The train schedule could very well affect my plan for travel dates between cities since I don’t want to cut the stay in any of the cities we’ll be visiting too short. It looks like Devan and I will be spending Christmas 2014 in Vienna, though! I’ve never spent Christmas overseas before, but Christmas in Vienna looks magical and seems like a good way to give a European Christmas a try! Really, how bad could it be?!

Now that “big decision number one” has been determined, the Tripadvisor forums will be one of the places you’ll be able to find me over the next several months. These forums are invaluable tools for seeking out advice from destination experts around the globe. They’re also quite entertaining, since there are typically resident know-it-alls, who are not only very knowledgeable about the destination they claim as their area of expertise, but who also enjoy lacing a bit of sarcasm and wit into their responses to posts, particularly to newbies.

I can't wait to take my own photos in Budapest!
I can’t wait to take my own photos in Budapest!

So much to do…but at least I have a bit of time to get all of my proverbial ducks in a row. Since my son is still incommunicado at Fort Knox Army ROTC training, he is unaware that our Christmas trip destination has been finalized. When he’s allowed to communicate with the outside world once again next month, I’m hoping he’ll be pleased with the outcome of what was the question of the hour. At the very least, I’m sure he’ll be thrilled at the prospect of sampling some fine Czech pilsners!

 

 
Continue reading And the winner is……. Prague!