Although this will doubtless distress one of my loyal readers, if not more, it is official that TAP Portuguese Airlines must be the worst managed airline in Europe. Sure, sure, there are probably those of you who think that JAT Jugoslav airways gives TAP a run for its money, but for consistently bad service, TAP has to come out on top.
It must start at the checkin at Lisbon airport. Good luck to anyone who can find the right check in desk. And then when you ask why there is only one person checking in for everyone in all classes to London, you get an hirsute grunt and a boarding pass (eventually). The sole redeeming feature of flying through Lisbon has to be the pasteis de nata that are on offer at the TAP lounge.
Having made it through the pure evil that is the checkin procedure, the comedy really starts at Lisbon when you try to get to the gate. Never mind that there is usually only one person at passport control, this is normal. No, the real fun is when you get to the gate. A typical joke by TAP staff is to have only one person to check passports, tear the ticket, insert the seat number into the computer, and then give your boarding stub back to you. Cue queues. Cut to the 7 other TAP personnel who are “supervising” I tried to fit all of them into this quick blackberry shot, but no luck – there were just too many of them spectating.
Ah, but the fun is not over! Because having gone through the gate, let’s say Gate 23, you find yourself on a bus which zooms you all around the airport to deliver you to the back of the plane at Gate 24. A normal airline might simply have parked the plane at Gate 23, but where would be the fun in that? And then, you finally make it to your seat, 5F, to find that someone is already there, with a boarding card for seat 5F as well. Do you trust these people to fly you anywhere? Not me, thanks.