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Flight Check: Tap Air Portugal to London Heathrow

Voice actor, author, sound engineer Ant Richards is also an avid traveler, and music geek who loves sharing his travel & music experiences.


As with the outbound, check-in was allowed some 30 or so hours before the flight. Better acquainted with the app, the process took all of three minutes. Again, a slight disappointment for not being allocated a window seat.


At Lisbon airport

Lisbon airport is quite dated and small, yet pretty functional and clean.

Again, having no luggage to check-in, we went through security. A small queue which nevertheless moved quick saw us through. Worth mentioning, no issues with having more than one plastic bag for liquids and toiletries (read comment on previous post).

Airside has its array of shops and eateries. We decided to grab a bite at a food fair that offered stalls with a variety of different local dishes. Despite being an airport, they were reasonably priced.

Flight on this occasion was on time according to the notice board. Once the gate number was displayed, we headed towards the gate.

Here is where things got slightly amusing.

When we reached passport control, we did notice a differentiation between EU member passport holders, and well, the rest of the world…

We Brits are now the rest of the world.

Now there is a channel for EU passport holders, and immediately next to it the channel for the rest of the world. This channel however had a black belt across it, making one believe it was closed. After checking and re-checking, I confirmed it was closed, so my instinct assumed we were allowed to use the EU channel. I tried scanning my passport in the electronic reader to no avail.

I asked a guard who muttered something unintelligible as he lazily walked away.

By that time, my partner (an EU citizen) had long passed the passport readers and barrier.

Seeing my lack of progress, she too asked an official for assistance on my behalf. After explaining to her the error of my ways, she then shouted to me, but distance, echo, crowd all conspired to my not understanding a word she said; not to mention the fact she was already out of my view.

Then suddenly:

‘Hey Tony!’

A male voice.

‘You need to go through the black arch behind you.’

I turned. There was indeed a black arch with the same signage as the one I’d been stubbornly trying to cross a few seconds before.

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‘Your choice sir. You guys decided to leave the EU, so you must go through that channel’

Now the whole airport and its granny were aware I held a British passport.

DISCLAIMER: I did not vote to leave the EU, so NOT my choice.

Luckily, a group of about five Brits were behind me so we all had a laugh and joked our way through passport control.

I must add and clarify though, the officer said all that is jest; there was no ill-feeling. The officer who actually checked my passport and stamped my way out even agreed that the signage was a bit confusing and not clear at all. Still, that did not stop him from having a chuckle at me predicament.

With that episode behind me, I headed towards the departure gate and my partner - also chuckling away at the episode - which was not even two minutes away.

7/10 (airport facilities)

10/10 (airport staff sense of humour)

A video sumary of this article

Read the review on the outbound London-Lisbon flight

Ant Richard talks about Lisbon


Unlike our flight from Heathrow, just as we were waiting in the departure area at the gate, a gentleman with a rolling scale came in and proceeded to check our boarding passes to check our fare type and depending on it weigh our cabin bags.

One unlucky passenger was made to pay (either for having two bags or exceeding the permitted weight). Luckily we were within the 8kg allowance.

Once flight was called, boarding commenced, this time via an airbridge and in relative order.

Upon boarding, we were greeted by TAP’s friendly staff, and aircraft was filled within 20 minutes.


Permission to board, sir

Nearly there

Nearly there

A mile of highway will take you a mile. A mile of runway will take you anywhere

Cabin ambience

Like on out outbound flight, this A320-NEO felt as if just out of the dealership. Same décor and ambience as the outbound aircraft.



On this occasion, the flight left on time. Again, clear and friendly safety and general announcement in both Portuguese and English.


Take the long way home


Following our timely departure, we arrived over English airspace within schedule. Surprisingly, or maybe not so if we consider air traffic is still not at pre-pandemic levels, there was no circling around London waiting for a landing slot. So much so, we arrived about 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

Deplaning was a bit slow to start with, but once commenced, it became fluid.

A massive queue at immigration almost disheartened me, but this moved pretty fast and in under 20 minutes we were making our way to the lifts leading to the car parks.


Lisbon is good for the Soul

Final impressions

TAP Air Portugal, is one of those airlines one would class as hit and miss. On major flight forums, review pages, they often score lowly.

This was my third trip with them and so far my experience has been overall positive, at least as far as flights are concerned. I think their shortcomings are mostly to do with their customer service, essentially, when things go wrong. That, in my humble opinion, is where an airline shows its true worth.

My previous experience with them, a flight from Marrakesh to London (via Lisbon) was great bar an incident with the seating on the Lisbon-London leg. The issue, which, put in context was not major (a refund request for a seat I had paid for during the online check-in, and then had to give up in order for a small child to sit together with his parents) took almost four months to resolve. On this particular trip, it was the incident I mentioned at the beginning of this review with the fare. Small stuff in my case, but things that should be resolved or at least addressed properly from the outset, or as the case with the random fare increase, not allowed to happen.

Nevertheless, given the destination, price, and suitable flight times, I would be happy to continue flying with them.

Total 7/10

The gateway to Portugal

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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Ant Richards

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