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Over the past few months, we’ve seen countless carriers decrease and/or completely remove global routes due to the lack of demand spurred by coronavirus.
Although it will be some time before capacity levels return to the same numbers that we saw pre-COVID19, we have begun to see an increase in the number of passengers that are traveling and carriers are adjusting their routes in response.
TAP PORTUGAL PLANS TRANSATLANTIC FLIGHTS
Tourists are just beginning to discover one of the most underrated countries in the world…Portugal.
By no means am I suggesting right now is the ideal time to visit but Portugal’s flag-carrier TAP Air Portugal will begin to operate transatlantic service again June 4th. This will be the first scheduled transatlantic flight for the carrier since late March.
TAP will begin operating flights between the capital Lisbon (LIS) and Newark (EWR) and then plan to scale operations to include service to Boston (BOS), Miami (MIA) and Toronto (YYZ) in July.
Prior to the suspension of its transatlantic services, TAP operated a fairly robust network to the states including:
- 9X weekly: Lisbon (LIS) – Miami (MIA)
- 6X-weekly: Lisbon (LIS) – New York (JFK)
- 5X-weekly: Lisbon (LIS) – Washington Dulles (IAD)
- 5x weekly: Porto (OPO) – Newark (EWR)
- 4X-weekly: Lisbon (LIS) – Boston (BOS)
- 4X-weekly: Lisbon (LIS) – Chicago (ORD)
- 4X-weekly: Lisbon (LIS) – Newark (EWR)
- 3x Weekly: Lisbon (LIS) – San Francisco (SFO)
TAP LAUNCHES THREE NEW ROUTES
What I find even more exciting is that the carrier is planning to launch 3 new routes including:
- Ponta Delgada (PDL) – Boston (BOS) starting 1 July 2020
- Ponta Delgada (PDL) – Toronto (YYZ) starting 2 July 2020 and;
- Lisbon (LIS) – Montreal (YUL) starting 30 July 2020 (3x weekly)
The Azores (PDL) have been near the top of my list of ‘Places To Visit’ for a long time and I’m extremely interested in the two routes that TAP is introducing to PDL.
Let’s be honest, the only reason that you probably clicked on this article is because you saw “business class sweetspot” in the title but that’s not the only reason that you should be interested in TAP Portugal so let’s take it step-by-step.
First, TAP is a member of Star Alliance which means you can book flights on the airline by searching and booking through United Airlines. United eliminated the partner award chart but rates should look similar to this:
The awards can increase or decrease because there is no award chart for reference, but in the example above United charges 60,000 miles for a Business class seat on it’s own metal (from Newark to Lisbon) and 77,000 miles to fly on partner TAP (from JFK to Lisbon).
However, instead of redeeming 77,000 miles (to United) for the flight from JFK, how about redeeming 35,000 miles (to TAP) for the same EXACT SEAT on the SAME FLIGHT. That’s right…TAP only charges 35,000 miles!
This sweet spot ONLY works from JFK (as noted below). TAP charges 100,000 miles if you depart from EWR.
(Un)fortunately, you only have one way to transfer points to TAP and that is via Marriott Bonvoy. Bonvoy points are transferable to a huge selection of airline partners and in most cases the transfer ratio is 3 Marriott rewards points to 1 airline mile. However, if you transfer 60,000 points, you’ll receive a bonus of 25%. In other words, you receive 25,000 miles instead of 20,000. That makes the transfer ratio 3 to 1.25.
TAP does not have an industry leading business class on most of their planes (the exception is A330-900neo) but it is lie-flat and if you’re looking for a comfortable way to get to Europe, shoot your shot.
Many people overlook a unique feature that TAP offers…the complimentary stopover. TAP Portugal offers a program that allows you to stopover (in either Lisbon or Porto) up to 5 nights at no additional airfare costs. The stopover program also offers discounts on hotels and other experiences turning this 2-for-1 into an amazing deal.
PRO TIP: If you have the opportunity, here are four cities/regions that you should NOT miss. In no particular order…
- Lisbon – Portugal’s capital and largest city has warm weather, rolling hills, quaint shops, Gothic cathedrals, sits directly on the river and has colorful neighborhoods.
- Sintra – Located in the Sintra Mountains, it’s just a day trip away from Lisbon. It’s, essentially, the country side so it has amazing villas and the landscape is dotted with castles. A little known fact, it used to be the summer retreat for the Portuguese royal family so that should give you some insight into how beautiful this city is.
- Algarve – Gorgeous beaches, picturesque towns, affordable, mixed with sunny Mediterranean climate and cuisine make this area an unforgettable experience. If you google “Faro Portugal,” you’ll be right in the heart of this region.
- Porto – With half the population of Lisbon, the “vibe” of Porto is amazing. It doesn’t feel like a large metropolitan city but doesn’t feel country. It’s perfectly in the middle. Often, you’ll hear live music as you walk down the street at night and venture in and out of cafes. It’s a vibe!
Ok, let me get back to the topic at hand…Portugal is awesome!
Again, I’m not suggesting this week is an ideal time to travel when TAP begins their transatlantic flights but it’s something to be aware of.
And when you combine the amazing country of Portugal, taking advantage of the sweet spot, and the ability to do a complimentary 5-day stopover, it yields an equation that’s hard to beat.
Have you flown on TAP Portugal before? What was your experience?