Last week, I had the chance to fly with TAP Air Portugal to New York onboard its Airbus A321LR fleet. However, before commencing the long-haul leg, I had a quick hop from Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP) to Lisbon Airport (LIS) onboard an A320-200, carrying flight number TP829. However, as we'll see, this two-and-a-half-hour-hop quickly turned into a much longer journey thanks to weather delays and a lack of communication.

Quick check-in

My journey began at Row 15 of Milan MXP's check-in area. TAP Air uses the last four desks in the row but has no branding in this area, which led to me double-checking the display at first. However, walking to the end, I saw the monitors behind the Air Canada boards and quickly joined the queue. Considering the airline has four daily flights, it's unclear if this was just for the last flight of the day or the norm.

I used the Premium queue, which covers those flying in business or any status holders since there was no signage to designate anything else. There were four economy queues (one being bag drop only) and one for Premium passengers. Queues weren't long in either line, and I received my boarding pass within five minutes of arriving.

The TAP Air Check-in area at Milan Airport.
Photo: Pranjal Pande | Simple Flying

TAP has an interesting system of printing all your flights on one boarding pass. This meant both my MXP-LIS and Lisbon-New York legs were printed in two lines, removing the need for two paper tickets completely. In addition to being sustainable, reducing hundreds of cards every day, it's also far more convenient. I am yet to find any other carrier doing this on paper; if you know any, let us know in the comments!

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While the Emilia-Romagna region was struggling with rainstorms and floods this week, Milan was spared, with only some showers. However, the evening of May 24th saw a massive thunderstorm which forced the airport to halt nearly all arrivals for several hours. I was on TP829, scheduled to depart at 20:30 local time and land at 22:20.

I reached my boarding gate A07 a few minutes before boarding opened and quickly noticed the aircraft was not at the stand. However, at the time, only a 15-minute delay was indicated, and the staff at the desk had no idea of the extent of the delay. At 20:15, five minutes before our departure, the inbound TP824 diverted to nearby Genoa Airport (GOA), presumably due to fuel shortage and an unclear timeline of when MXP would reopen fully.

At the gate area of Milan Airport before boarding a TAP Air Portugal flight.
Photo: Pranjal Pande | Simple Flying

Weather conditions are outside an airline and airport's control, and there is little to be done in these situations. However, neither TAP nor the staff at the desk notified passengers of the change, a new estimated departure time, or any services they might be eligible for. I received all my information from or talking to fellow passengers. The only message I received from TAP was two hours later, telling me of the new gate and departure time.

The aircraft

My delayed ride for the day was CS-TNX, a 17-year-old A320-200 first delivered to Kuwaiti carrier Jazeera Airways in July 2006. It made its way to TAP in June 2014 and was reconfigured to hold 174 passengers in a 3-3 layout in 2018 (more on that later). The plane is a European workhorse, flying to Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and domestically every week. TAP has 15 of these previous-generation aircraft, which remain essential to the fleet.

A TAP Air Portugal Airbus A320 parked at the airport.
Photo: Pranjal Pande | Simple Flying


At 22:40, a full 2 hours and 10 minutes after departure, we began boarding TP829 to Lisbon. There were plenty of frustrated passengers who missed their connections within Europe and globally, all of whom were redirected to Lisbon for further inquiries. I was lucky to have had a 14-hour layover which meant I only lost a few hours of (arguably valuable) sleep to the delays.

The cabin of the A320ceo is a tale of two cities. The first 42 seats are 'Executive' and sold at a fee but include a power outlet, table holder, and, critically, plenty of extra legroom and width. In line with the day, I was booked in regular economy, which is in a much tighter 30" of pitch and 18" of width, and has none of the full-serve amenities the first few rows offered. Indeed, the seat felt almost identical to Ryanair and easyJet bar an inch or less of more width.

At 6'2", I was knees-to-seatback, which didn't make for the ideal experience on this now red-eye journey to Lisbon. Here's a look at the Executive economy seats for comparison, regular and emergency exit rows.

We departed at midnight and landed at 01:15 local time. There was a paid meal and drink service, but most passengers skipped to get some shut-eye instead. It was an uneventful flight following the repeated delays, and most passengers were anxious to get new flights booked for the next day to get to their destination.


While this isn't an ideal time for a flight review, bad weather is a factor in airline operations, and TAP Air must do better to keep passengers informed, provide staffing to help with rebooking, and have a channel of communication. The A320ceos are a great choice if you're in the first half of the aircraft, but the back, with its slimline seats, is not the best choice for anything longer than a short intra-European flight.

Although this service left me disappointed, TAP blew me away with its A321LR service to Newark the next morning, especially for the price. Stay tuned for that review soon!

  • TAP Air Portugal Airbus A330-941 CS-TUB
    Portugal’s minister for infrastructure and housing, Pedro Nuno Santos feels that some of TAP's routes need more subsidies to operate profitably. Photo: Vincenzo Pace - Simple Flying
    TAP Air Portugal
    IATA/ICAO Code:
    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier
    Lisbon Airport
    Year Founded:
    Star Alliance
    Christine Ourmières-Widener