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Our second day in London had us visiting some of the attractions that the city has to offer. We started off with an attraction that had I had missed on past trips through; Churchill’s War Room. We followed this up with Westminster Abbey, followed by an evening play of School of Rock.


This post is one chapter on our trip to Portugal, the United Kingdom (England and Norther Ireland) and Ireland. This trip was redeemed through American Airlines Advantage and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

If you enjoyed this post, please follow us here or on social media through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more travel tips and hacks on how to “Upgrade Your Travels”.


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Activity City Visit: Descending into Churchill’s War Rooms, Westminster Abbey and the School of Rock Musical Play, London, United Kingdom.

We had an easy 8 AM wake up today at the Residence Inn by Marriott London Kensington after a full 10 hours of needed family sleep. I slept really well and so did junior. He was in a terrific mood on his part, which was a great start to the day.

We took the tube from Earls Court to Westminster via the District Line. We got off to and headed straight for Churchill War Rooms. We stopped along the way to take some photographs of the scaffolded Big Ben; now completely surrounded and being made over.

Descending into Churchill’s War Rooms:

We arrived at about 11 AM to Churchill’s War Rooms immediately behind the HM Treasury. I didn’t bother making an online reservation so I was a bit skeptical to see how long the lines were, having seen long lines here in the past. We were admitted after only about a 5 minute wait. After 22 £, and an offer to buy a program for 4 £, we were given a free audio guide, which was more than adequate for our visit.

The Churchill War Rooms was quite an enjoyable afternoon. Junior, having played a lot of Axis and Allies board games with his dad growing up, had a good time of it. I even quizzed him about it after the fact in the afternoon and he actually remembered some of the things. The Churchill War Rooms experience takes you through the rooms. The first part of the tour took you through the more residential areas of the CWR. This included a stop by the direct line to the USA white house.

There is a museum about Churchill’s life about halfway through. Like many modern museums, it was quite interactive. Jr had a great time deciphering coding among other things.

This was followed by a more working operational part of the tour, through the strategic planning sessions and communication centers. The communication centers still had the direct dial rotary telephones.

All in all, I was expecting a very short visit with only a few rooms worth seeing. Instead, we were about to see about thirty rooms (out of more than 60) that were open to the public in addition to the museum on Winston Churchill which made for a great experience. It was highly recommended.

Remembering at the Bali Memorial:

After we left, we stopped quickly just outside at the Bali Memorial for the terror attacks on the Paddy’s Night club in Kuta, Indonesia in 2002.

We moved on for two expensive large hot dogs at the food vendor immediately outside Westminster Abbey. Mother Nature decided to rain a shower down on us so we hunkered underneath the tree there until it ended.

From there, it was on to Westminster Abbey via the gates at 10 Downing Street. Despite seeing it on television so many times, this was about the closest we can get.

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Visiting Westminster Abbey:

Returning back to Westminster Abbey, we joined a 1 hour and 10 minute queue to get in. The line was simply to buy tickets. I didn’t do any online organization to buy tickets in advance but when I checked the night before, it was completely sold out.

Unfortunately, there is now a no photo policy inside Westminster Abbey. It was surprisingly enforced and there were a few hosts running around scolding various tourists. I am thinking that this is solely a crowd control issue as photographs were mostly allowed in the other London attractions. When I looked it up on line, it seems to be both crowd control in the narrow spaces and respect for the “place of worship”. I am not sure I agree with it, it’s about as classy as Las Vegas is with all the crowds moving through it but I can appreciate their position. Admittedly, I snuck a few snaps with the camera phone

We were able to wander through the entire complex, including the Tombs of the explorer David Livingstone, Queen Elizabeth I, and history of the coronation of every monarch since 1500. WT73Jr was quite impressed at the amount of history that was in there and it was a good first visit.

After Westminster Abbey, we took in a closer look at Parliament and Big Ben. Unfortunately, Big Ben is undergoing a major restoration at the time of our visit with only the clock face visible.

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School of Rock:

We headed back to the hotel for a freshen up before the evening. Tonight’s entertainment was a play “School of Rock”. Junior is an up an coming rocker, or at least that’s one of his current passions. It terms of finding some youthful entertainment and exposure to a London Play, the “School of Rock” seemed to be the best choice for him.

On our way back into town, we arrived and took a quick walk through Covent Gardens.

Before we headed over to the theatre, a stop at the usual stand up board for social media photographs… just like the red carpet.

Overall a great show for parents and kids alike. Making the evening more interesting, it was the lead actor’ final showing. As a result, there as a short presentation to mark the end of his run.

After the show, we took a short walk through central London to take in the energy of the entertainment district. We headed down to Leicester Square. As always, it’s great to see at night, along with the giant Lego store anchored on the corner.

With a short walk up to Piccadilly Circus, taking it all in, prior to the Underground back to Earl’s Court and home to the Residence Inn by Marriott London Kensington for the evening. Another great day in one of the world’s greatest cities!


If you’ve visited the City of London, what attractions are first to see on your list ?

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The City of London has so many attractions that you could spend a lifetime looking at them all. On our first day arriving to London, we decided to take it easy and do a general walking tour of Central London as we got used to spending our time in the city.


This post is one chapter on our trip to Portugal, the United Kingdom (England and Norther Ireland) and Ireland. This trip was redeemed through American Airlines Advantage and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

If you enjoyed this post, please follow us here or on social media through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more travel tips and hacks on how to “Upgrade Your Travels”.


Read more from this trip:


Activity City Visit: Walking Piccadilly Circus, Regent Street, Canada House and Whitehall Gardens, London, United Kingdom.

Having had a very early wake up the day prior when we left Lisbon, Portugal, on TAP Portugal Business Class Lisbon – London, we opted for an easy day of walking around to self situate ourselves, instead of heading for another attraction.

Starting off at Piccadilly Circus:

We left the Residence Inn by Marriott London Kensington and took the Underground train from Earls Court up to Piccadilly Circus. First off, the obligatory photographs of one of London’s most famous landmarks.

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Walking Down Regent Street:

Walking down Regent Street, we happened upon the Regent Summer Streets Festival. I hadn’t experienced this before, but the city closes off Regent street for a summer festival of bands, food carts and exercise events for 4 Sundays in the summer. It was a bit strange to wander down the middle of Regent Street without cars, buses or traffic, but I certainly didn’t mind.

A First Visit to Hamley’s Toy Store:

We had a great time wandering the street, eventually coming along to the great Hamley’s toy store. I practically had to beg WT73Jr to go into Hamleys’; responding “I’m too old for it”. Once he got inside, it was teenager boredom until he located all of the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter collectables on the top floor and basement. “Wait a second… …this might actually be interesting…” (laughing).

We were there for about 20 minutes conducting a through examination of all sorts of objects in the hysteria that is Britain’s greatest toy store. The research proved to be a though provoking exercise for Junior for his future London souvenir aspirations.

Passing through Leicester Square:

From there, it was a short walk past London’s pubs through up to Leicester Square via the Piccadilly Hard Rock Café London Store where another large amount of souvenir merchandise was seriously examined.

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A Visit to Trafalgar Square:

We then wandered down towards Trafalgar Square, where we took a seat and appreciated the surroundings. Being beautiful summer, everyone was out appreciating the day and the fine weather which had been on an improving trend for the day.

Strolling by Canada House:

We took a stroll by Canada House where we got to see likely the largest embassy presence Canada has in any country. It was a neat sense of pride to be able to show your representation in a foreign country as a teenager starts to experience and understand his own identity and place in the world.

From there, we walked down Northlands towards Embankment and took a look at the London Eye; something Jr really wanted to see but was terrified to go up. From there, I took my first look into the beautiful Whitehall Gardens near Parliament.

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Peeking into Whitehall Gardens:

It was my first look into these gardens and I was really surprised to see this corner of beauty in this part of London.

We took the District Line Train back to the Residence Inn by Marriott London Kensington hotel where I cooked breaded chicken on the HOB, along with pesto pasta and corn on the cob courtesy of our neighbourhood Tesco’s. We watched a little TV about a British sailor ship on ITV and off to bed! An easy first day!!

WT73Jr Satisfied with Home Cooking

If you’ve visited the City of London, what attractions do to take in on your first day arriving to the city ?

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With dozens of hotel options in London, United Kingdom, I chose carefully for our family stay that included myself and my teenage son. We ended up at the Residence Inn by Kensington on a Marriott Bonvoy Reward Redemption. We would end up staying in a comfortable Premium One Bedroom Suite with enough space for everyone’s needs. Read on to see what the advantages of the Residence Inn were compared to a regular hotel room for a stay in Central London…


This post is one chapter on our trip to Portugal, the United Kingdom (England and Norther Ireland) and Ireland. This trip was redeemed through American Airlines Advantage and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

If you enjoyed this post, please follow us here or on social media through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more travel tips and hacks on how to “Upgrade Your Travels”.


Read more from this trip:


Review: Residence Inn by Marriott London Kensington, London, United Kingdom

We had a five day stay in London. While London is never a cheap hotel market, there are some value based opportunities if you look carefully.

Booking the Hotel:

I ended up picking this property as the Residence Inn properties offer kitchenettes. I figured that WT73Jr would probably appreciate some home cooking, as would the weight of my wallet in this expensive city called London. The property also offered more space given that they had separate bedrooms. This would prove to be an advantage on a family stay in a city that typically has smaller hotel rooms in historic buildings.

Under the Marriott Bonvoy rewards program, the property appeared to offer both studio and one bedroom suites at the lowest reward point offering at 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night. With this math, It made complete sense to book the larger room. I found this to be a great deal with the usual Marriott Bonvoy fifth night free on an award redemption. This brought the rate down to 28,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night, or 9,333 Starwood Preferred Guest points under the old system. It was a heck of a deal compared to the old Starwood Preferred Guest program where many properties in London went for 25,000 SPG points per night. As a result, we redeemed Marriott Bonvoy points for our five night stay for 140,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

The paid rates at the time of our visit were around 180£ GBP ($235 USD), or $1,135 USD for a 5 day stay.

I had applied suite night awards to the highest room category but they failed to clear. This wasn’t really surprising given that we were travelling in the middle of summer.

We ended up really enjoying the stay here and would easily return. I’ve recommended the property to MrsWT73 whom has since completed a separate 2 night stay this fall and also endorsed the property for what it was: a Residence Inn where you can self cater on your own, with a larger than average room allowing for a little extra space to exist in Central London.

Getting to the Residence Inn London Kensington:

The property is well situated in Earls Court Kensington area of London. It is within the Zone 1 area of the London Underground, making for the cheapest possible sightseeing within Zone 1 on the Oyster Card.

It is also worth mentioning that the property is also situated with a Tesco Supermarket immediately next to the hotel. This made stocking the in room fridge exceptionally convenient.

After arriving off TAP Portugal Business Class Lisbon – London, we departed the London Heathrow Terminal Two airport. For simplicity, we took the London Underground Piccadilly Line from Heathrow Terminal Three station to Earl’s Court station.

Taking the London Underground from Heathrow to Earls Court

I put the pressure on WT73Jr to navigate us from London Heathrow station to Earls Court on his first navigation of a subway map in his life.

I Gave WT73Jr the Responsibility to get us to Earls Court
Arriving to Earls Court

We then took the Warwick Road exit from the station and walked the 800 meters up the road to the Residence Inn Marriott.

Walking to The Residence Inn London Kensington
The Residence Inn by Marriott London Kensington

It took approximately 55 minutes to get from London Heathrow to the Residence In by Marriott London Kensington using the Underground system. While it was not quick, the times were typical of transfer times from London Heathrow to Central London.

Checking into the Residence Inn Kensington London:

After the five minute walk from the London Underground Earls Court, we arrived the the Residence Inn by Marriott London Kensington. When we arrived, it was a bit of mayhem in the lobby. The lobby was consumed by many middle eastern families whom appear to favour this property, as they do the city of London, in the summer months instead of the warm Middle East.

At check in, we were offered the usual 500 points as the Marriott Bonvoy Elite welcome amenity. The Residence Inn features breakfast included with every rate. Surprisingly, on our arrival at 1:15 PM, our room was ready and waiting for us. I had Marriott Bonvoy Titanium status during our stay. As a result, we received a further soft upgrade to a Premium One Bedroom Suite from the regular One Bedroom that we had booked with our reservation. It’s not common to get an upgrade at a Residence Inn, but I’ll sure take any free upgrade thiat is offered.

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The Room: A Premium One Bedroom Suite

1 Bedroom Suite, 1 Double, Sofa bed, Skyline view, Top floor

We guided ourselves to Room #921, which was a premium one bedroom suite situated on the top floor. It was right at the end of a long hall of similarly designed room configurations.

The Bedroom:

The Premium One Bedroom Suite was a compact but reasonably well equipped suite. Immediately upon entering the room, we found ourselves in the bedroom of the suite. Being closer to the hallway, the one bedroom did not have any windows and was a bit of a darker space.

Residence Inn London Kensington – One Bedroom King Bed
Residence Inn London Kensington – One Bedroom King Bed

The Master Bathroom:

The bathroom was immediately off the master bedroom. The bathroom was a little musty smelling, but an open window took care of that pretty easily. There were some cautions on websites that the steam from the shower would set off the smoke alarm, so I took care to keep the door closed at all times while showering.

Residence Inn London Kensington – One Bedroom Master Bathroom
Residence Inn London Kensington – One Bedroom Master Bathroom

The Living Room & Kitchen

Heading further into the suite, the living room was a compact area. It was made even more compact by the sofa bed that WT73Jr was to be sleeping on was unfolded and made ready for the stay.

At the time, the fact that the room had sofabed’s was missing from the hotel website, and we didn’t exactly know if we were going to be splitting the king size bed, or whether there was a roll away that was going to be requested on our arrival. It has since been updated on the website, so you know exactly what you are getting.

Residence Inn London Kensington – Living Room
Residence Inn London Kensington – One Bedroom Living Room

The living space was much brighter as a result of being on the top floor and next to the windows. While daylight windows are never something that I come to expect when staying in London’s hotels, the room had a nice amount of daylight.

The other half of the living room was the kitchenette and dining table that was on the other side of the living room. The kitchenette featured a mini kitchen, a sink for dishes, a small refrigerator, and a HOB; defined as a flat plate with cooking burners integrated into the cabinet.

Residence Inn – Kitchenette
The Kitchenette was Small but Functional
A Small Fridge for Drinks
The Television Wall Console with Extending Coat Hanger Racks

There was a caution warning on the toaster. Several reviews from some other travel sites report the fire alarm going off quite a bit at this property from the shower and the kitchens.

Golden delicious indeed!

The room was missing the Nespresso Coffeemaker. I ended up calling down to make sure that we weren’t charged for it. It was eventually delivered around the 3rd day of the stay. It was featured along with the coffee tray.

Nespresso Coffee Container Tray

The room also featured an information sheet, outlining all the breakfast information and hours. It also described the bar hours and the laundry features.

Residence Inn by Marriott London Kensington Welcome Sheet

Being on almost the top floor, the view was reasonable for London standards. I’ve never expected too much from London hotel room views, but this one was definitely on the reasonable and favourably unexpected side.

A Room with a View: Over the Rooftops in Earl’s Court
Views of the Neighbouring Complexes
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The Included Breakfast with Every Stay:

The included breakfast was more than satisfactory for a 5 day stay. Although I would have preferred a made to order breakfast in the room with supplies from Tesco next door, it was easier to take the included breakfast and we avoided the hassles of supply shopping.

Breakfast was offered between 6:30 AM and 11 AM on weekdays and 6:30 AM and 11:30 AM on weekends. The breakfast offering changed every day and included eggs and a whole host of assorted items.

The Residence Inn London Kensington – Breakfast Hall
The Residence Inn London Kensington – Breakfast Hall
The Residence Inn London Kensington – Breakfast Hall
The Residence Inn London Kensington – Additional Seating on Opposite Side of the Reception

The breakfast itself was substantial. There were baked goods, cold cuts and even hot items available with something for everyone.

Residence Inn London Kensington – Included Breakfast
Residence Inn London Kensington – Included Breakfast
Residence Inn London Kensington – Included Breakfast
Residence Inn London Kensington – Included Breakfast
Residence Inn London Kensington – Included Breakfast

It was at times, mayhem at the breakfast bar; so much so that the hotel had a pop up display cautioning staff of the best times to visit. As a result, this may be something to take into consideration if you’re planning on turning up with your family of four between 8 – 9 AM on a weekday.

Breakfast Timing Guide

The breakfast counter doubles as a bar in the afternoon. The hours of the Bar were between 5:30 PM and Midnight. I ended up with wine in the room from Tesco and didn’t get the opportunity to visit “the bar” during our stay.

Residence Inn London Kensington Bar & Lounge
Residence Inn London Kensington – Bar and Lounge Drinks Menu

The Residence Inn also offered a washer and dryer machine in the basement. We were able to have a mid trip wash of clothes to get the heat from Lisbon out of our suitcase about halfway through the trip. There was a bit of a wait in the evening for this between 8-10 PM on a weekday, as it was a popular option.

There were days that we returned from sightseeing to a message on the television apologizing for the fire alarm. Although we never had the opportunity to hear one ourselves, it apparently remains a possibility for those on longer stays at the hotel.

Apologies Notice after the Fire Alarm

The Bottom Line: The Residence Inn London Kensington

The Residence Inn was a terrific place to stay with a teenager on an extended visit to London. In addition to being a great value on reward redemptions, it also offers more space compared to many other London Hotels which are often in historic buildings that offer substantially less space. It offered enough space for a family, the convenience of a Tesco Supermarket next door, in addition to being only a short tube ride away from the major attractions in London. I would easily stay here again for a family stay.


If you have come to London with your family, how did you arrange your hotel rooms so that your stay was comfortable ?

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Plaza Premium operates a variety of lounges around the world, including several offerings throughout London Heathrow’s airports in Terminal Two, Three and Four. The Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge offered an arrivals facility for those that are not fortunate enough to be arriving to the other mainline arrivals lounges offered by Air Canada and United Airlines. Our brief visit would allow us to check out the facilities and make use of the beverage bar.


This post is one chapter on our trip to Portugal, the United Kingdom (England and Norther Ireland) and Ireland. This trip was redeemed through American Airlines Advantage and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

If you enjoyed this post, please follow us here or on social media through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more travel tips and hacks on how to “Upgrade Your Travels”.


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Review: Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge, London Heathrow – Terminal Two, United Kingdom

We arrived into London Heathrow on TAP Portugal Business Class Lisbon – London Heathrow. We arrived quite early in the morning at 10:30 AM. Our hotel room at the Residence Inn by Marriott London Kensington was not likely to be ready until much later.

My travelling companion, WT73Jr had skipped breakfast on board thanks to an early departure. It was also otherwise pouring with rain outside in London, we hopped into the Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge at Terminal 2. When travelling as a family, I never pass up a free opportunity to fill the teenage stomach pit for free…

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Locating the Plaza Premium Lounge:

There are three Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounges located at London Heathrow Terminals Two, Three and Four. This review is of the Arrivals Lounge located in London Heathrow Terminal Two.

The Plaza Premium Lounge is easily located immediately outside of the international arrivals are on the public side of London Heathrow Terminal Two. It is adjacent to the United Airlines Arrivals Lounge which services Air Canada and United Airlines passengers that are travelling in business class.

If you are arriving into London Heathrow Terminal Two, take a left after navigating to the public side and you’ll find yourself in front of the arrivals lounge area.

Location of the Plaza Premium Arrivals’ Lounge London Heathrow Terminal Two
Map Courtesy of http://www.Heathrow.com

The lounge is easily located in the corridor as a result of the recognizable Plaza Premium Logo sign. It is uniquely available to those arriving in London Heathrow Terminal Two, especially if are not travelling in Business Class on Air Canada or United Airlines.

Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge

Accessing the Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge:

The Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge at London Heathrow is accessed through a variety of methods:

The Lounge offers pay entries at the front reception. On our visit today, the sign on the outside was advertising entries for 30 £.

The Lounge offers visits booked through their website in advance. These visits are tiered based on the amount of time that you stay. Unlike a departures lounge, I can’t see a stay at this location being any more than 1 – 2 hours.

The lounge also offered access through Priority Pass. Our access for us today was granted via Priority Pass Select. This method has since been discontinued.

For members holding the American Express Platinum Cards, access is also granted through the American Express Membership Lounge Program. Access can be granted by presenting an American Express Platinum Card at the front counter.

Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge Reception:
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Inside the Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge:

This will be a brief review since the lounge itself is very small. The lounge offers a very small seating area consisting of a view tables, in addition to a long table at the rear of the lounge.

A Small Space – Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge

The lounge offered a long bar and drink station. The lounge was a bit a la carte as drink princes were also posted on the bar. Unlike a regular lounge where many alcoholic beverages are included, alcoholic drinks were only made available for purchase.

The lounge did offer a shower suite, which was available on request. This is probably the lounge’s best feature for those looking to freshen up prior to getting to a meeting or a transfer into the city.

We killed off a little time since we had arrived at 10:30 AM and there was no likelihood our hotel room at the Residence Inn by Marriott London Kensington the room was going to be ready when we arrived to the hotel in an hour.

WT73Jr was also able to stock up on an American breakfast snack having slept through the plane’s offerings.

The Bottom Line: The Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge

The Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge in London Heathrow Terminal Two offers a place to visit if you don’t have access to the mainline United Airlines Business Class Arrival’s Lounge facilities. The main surprise about the Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge was how small it was. I doubt I’d would make a point at stopping by again, unless I was looking for a quick shower or a quick hydrating drink before making the trip into London.


If you have visited the Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge at London Heathrow, was the visit worth your time ?

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TAP Portugal is known for its reasonably discounted business class fares that can be used to travel across the Atlantic Ocean in reasonable comfort. The fares were often available to be purchased for one way travel, and included a generous 200% earning in Air Canada’s Aeroplan as a Star Alliance Partner. Today’s flight would be the continuation of our North America – Europe ticket that got us over to Europe.


This post is one chapter on our trip to Portugal, the United Kingdom (England and Norther Ireland) and Ireland. This trip was redeemed through American Airlines Advantage and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

If you enjoyed this post, please follow us here or on social media through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more travel tips and hacks on how to “Upgrade Your Travels”.


Read more from this trip:


Review: TAP Portugal Business Class Airbus 330-200, Lisbon Humberto Delgato International Airport – London Heathrow Terminal Two

Today’s flight was the continuation of our discounted business class ticket from North America on TAP Portugal Business Class Toronto – Lisbon. We had a free 4 day stopover with this ticket, before continuing on to London in the United Kingdom.

Getting to the Gate:

We left the TAP Premium Lounge Lisbon at 6:35 AM when the gate information was posted on the monitors. Like many airports in Europe, the gate information was not posted until 60 minutes before the flight.

Once the Gate N43 was posted, we headed down towards the N gates. We passed through the Shengen European Union exit customs, and then down towards the no man’s land of international flights. Aside from some duty free, and the odd lonely restaurant, there wasn’t much down here. If you’re travelling through here, best to stay on the Shengen side until closer to your flight.

I dropped WT73Jr off at the gate so that I could go take a closer look at duty free. When I got back, the boarding call had been announced completely oblivious to WT73Jr who was wrapped up in his headphones watching a YouTube video.

TAP Portugal Boarding Gate Next to Air Transat
TAP Portugal Airbus 330-200 Taking us to London

We boarded through the Premium lane and got stuck in a queue on the jet bridge while they loaded those that needed assistance.

TAP Portugal
TP – 1354 Business Class (W)
LIS – LHR (Lisbon International – London Heathrow Terminal 2)
August 18, 2019
07:35 AM – 10: 00 AM (scheduled)
Booked: Airbus 330-9 neo
Flown: Airbus 330-200
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On Board TAP Business Class:

TAP Portugal schedules a wide body aircraft for services from Lisbon to London Heathrow. This means that you often get a proper business class seat when many of it’s European competitors like British Airways or Lufthansa offer a narrow body aircraft on its connecting flights from British Airway’s hub in London Heathrow or Lufthansa’s hubs in Frankfurt or Munich. This simple feature makes the flight much more comfortable than sitting in an economy class seat with a blocked middle seat.

We boarded through door 2 L through single jet bridge boarding and turned left into the older TAP Portugal Airbus 330-200 series. This more common version (for the time) had the dated angle flat seats in a 2 – 2 – 2 configuration set up in four rows of business class.

We located our seats 4H / K in the last row of the business class cabin and settled in for the flight. This is an older aircraft and it easily shows. The outdated angle flat seats are really dated by today’s standards. The in flight video monitors that were smaller than some laptop computers these days.

TAP Portugal Business Class Seats on Airbus 330-200
Small In Flight Video Screens
A Wired Remote
Simple Seat Recline Functions
The TAP Business Class Cabin on Airbus 330-200 Series
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Pre – Departure Services:

There was no offer of a pre-departure beverage, which was surprisingly odd for business class on wide body flight to be just sitting there while we waited. The flight deck announced a 10 minute departure delay for push back for some unspecified reason.

We eventually got airborne. I gave Jr the window seat so I didn’t get any ground photographs. Instead, I played with the outdated In Flight Entertainment system which was circa the 1990’s era. It reminded me of the current In Flight Entertainment System located on some of the older British Airways jets.

A Very Dated In Flight Entertainment System

I had a bit of a nap as we climbed to altitude.

The Meal: A European Breakfast

Prior to the meal service, we had a wrapped towel service offered. I personally find the wrapped towelettes more inconvenient than a proper towel as served from a tray.

A Refreshing Towel Service

As we got underway, the breakfast service was provided. It was presented on a tray all at once. It was a typically European offering of cold cuts, yoghurt and breads from the bread basket. Orange juice and a very forgettable drip coffee was also offered. Jr ended up sleeping through breakfast, thanks to the 4 AM wake up.

TAP Portugal Breakfast Lisbon – London

As we approached Heathrow, we entered into a holding pattern for about 15 minutes and eventually landed with a short taxi into Terminal 2.

A Circular Holding Route Approaching London Heathrow

We disembarked our flight and wandered to immigration. Canadian’s are now eligible for the passport E-Gates, a change they made in early 2019. Hoping to get a passport stamp for the collection, I almost got hauled out of the line by the Border Force for even trying. I think he gave up after I told him the reason we were there. We ended up getting one “on request” since they don’t offer them anymore unless you are here for “entertainment” purposes.

Arriving to London Heathrow
This is probably my last United Kingdom Entry Stamp

The Bottom Line: TAP Portugal Business Class

This segment concluded our Tap Portugal Business Class ticket with a free stopover. The ability to be able to get over to Europe so cheaply and the ability to earn 200% miles into Air Canada’s Aeroplan represented a great value. If you’re able to stay on the Airbus 330-900 neo aircraft, it’s much more comfortable than the older Airbus 330 configurations as presented here. At the time of traveling on this report, the older aircraft is still floating around and it shows when you ride it. Recent reports now indicate that most of these aircraft have now been refurbished.

We didn’t experience any challenging issues with re-scheduling or ticketing issues with our tickets, although I understand that TAP has reputation for poor customer service when things go sideways. All to say, our experiences with them were terrific and I am happy to endorse them.


If you have taken advantage of the discounted TAP Portugal Business Class fares, was the short connection needed worth the inconvenience ?

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TAP Portugal is Western Europe’s Star Alliance carrier that serves many of it’s Western European destinations including an interesting route network through North Africa and Eastern North America. While it only offers a single lounge in the TAP network at its home base of Lisbon, Portugal, we would get an opportunity to test it out while departing Lisbon, Portugal.


This post is one chapter on our trip to Portugal, the United Kingdom (England and Norther Ireland) and Ireland. This trip was redeemed through American Airlines Advantage and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

If you enjoyed this post, please follow us here or on social media through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more travel tips and hacks on how to “Upgrade Your Travels”.


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Review: TAP Portugal Premium Business Lounge, Lisbon Humberto Delgato International Airport Terminal One, Portugal

We had a 4 AM wake up for our departure from the Sheraton Lisboa Hotel and Spa. Since the metro was not yet open on a Sunday morning at this hour, we had to rely on alternate transportation to the airport.

Surprisingly, there was both Uber Black, Uber XL and Uber X all available at 4:45 AM on a Sunday morning when we rolled through the lobby leaving the Sheraton. We got an Uber Black with hotel wifi that worked all the way out to the street. A nice BMW 5 Series touring came to collect us within 5 minutes for the trip to the airport which only took about 15 minutes.

Checking Into TAP Portugal Business Class:

It was a bit of a confusing mess checking in to our TAP Portugal Lisbon – London Heathrow flight. I tried to get a little advance knowledge by locating a map but the airport website was not very helpful in terms of maps and didn’t have much useful information. The Lisboa airport is a pretty dated experience. The experience involves a whole host of twists and turns across split levels and traffic crossing each other. They have expanded it but only on the departure side leaving an older congested front portion. This was not to mention that the airport was pretty busy on a Sunday morning, with lots of leisure travellers camped out or just wandering around.

Arriving to Humberto Delgato International Airport, Lisbon

We located the TAP Portugal premium check in area and dropped our bags. On request, I got instructions to the lounge. We headed for the fast track zone, which was included with our business class ticket. While it was signed, it was not super well managed as the queue was immediately adjacent to the children and family check in line which was a bit chaotic.

TAP Portugal Premium Business Check In
TAP Air Portugal Executive Check In
TAP Premium Security Area

Locating the TAP Portugal Premium Lounge:

After passing through security, we located the main holding area. The TAP Premium Lounge was located next to the contract ZNZ lounge in the first Shengen area of the airport. It’s worthwhile noting that there is only one TAP Premium Lounge, and that there is not an additional lounge for international travellers in some other area of the airport.

The Humberto Delgato International Airport won’t ever win the award for the most inspirational terminal, but at least it was functional.

Entering the Retail Departures Hall
Locating the Escalators to the Lounge Area

We took the escalators upstairs from the duty free and retail zone. While we arrived at 6 AM, it was pretty quiet but it got full quite quickly. I would imagine that the place would be full quite a bit of the day as it was medium sized and not all to spacious.

The Lisbon International Airport Departures Zone
Locating the TAP Premium Lounge
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Accessing the TAP Premium Lounge:

The TAP Premium Lounge is accessible through a variety of means:

It is available on a complimentary basis to those flying in Executive Business Class on TAP Portugal.

It is available on a complimentary basis to members of the programs TAP Miles & Go Silver, TAP Miles & Go Gold or Star Alliance Gold.

It is also available on a complimentary basis to select credit cards including the TAP Corporate Top or TAP Platinum Visa.

We were granted access today courtesy of the class of ticket on our TAP Portugal Business Class Lisbon – London Heathrow ticket.

Inside the TAP Premium Lounge:

Our first impressions of the lounge were that it was average for an international departures lounge. I’m not sure what they have going on with the “Kermit the Frog” green décor and it didn’t particularly resonate with me compared to other like spaces. Perhaps it looks better in the daylight?

TAP Premium Lounge Seating
TAP Premium Lounge Seating
TAP Premium Lounge Tables and Chairs Seating

In terms of space, the lounge offered a much smaller foot print compared to the nearby Iberia International Business Class Lounge Madrid Barajas in Terminal 4S; it’s primary One World Alliance competitor. TAP Portugal offers a much smaller footprint and space by way of comparison and it is clear that TAP Portugal is a much smaller carrier, despite serving some of the same routes as Iberia. If you’ve visited both places, it’s hard to be impressed by the smaller TAP Portugal Premium Lounge when the other nearby space is so much more spectacular.

Inside the TAP Portugal Premium Lounge, there were a wide variety of magazines available. Unfortunately, they were all Portugese and I couldn’t read any of them.

TAP Premium Lounge Reading Materials

We plunked ourselves down by the glass and hooked up to the wifi. The wifi was fast and strong and got top marks for speed and connectivity.

Food and Beverage:

A Serviced Bar:

The lounge featured a serviced bar. Although it was manned at this hour and open for business, it wasn’t too busy. There were not many drinkers needing a drink at 5:00 AM. The lounge didn’t appear to have many exotic mixed drinks and simply offered a bartender for service of the drinks.

TAP Premium Lounge Bar
TAP Premium Lounge Bar

Light Food Bites:

The lounge was offering food in the morning. The food wasn’t all to appealing as it was quite cafeteria styled in terms of its presentation. The food was primarily cold offerings for the morning service with cold cuts for breakfast. Having said that, it was tasty and there was nothing wrong with it.

Breakfast Service in the TAP Lounge
Breakfast Offerings in the TAP Lounge
TAP Premium Lounge Chickpea Salads

We stocked up on a breakfast snack prior to departing on our TAP Portugal Business Class Lisbon – London Heathrow flight.

The Bottom Line: TAP Premium Lounge

It’s always interesting to see the flagship lounge of any carrier and the TAP Portugal Lounge was no exception. The main feature going for this lounge is the nice looking avant gardist furniture. Having said that, it’s not really a place I would strive to get here early to hang out in. When you compare this place to it’s nearby competitor, the International Iberia Terminal 4S Business Lounge in Madrid, the Iberia Lounge has this place beat miles down. While it’s practical and sufficient for anyone’s needs, this place sadly won’t be remembered as a top experience in anyone’s traveler’s history.


If you have visited the TAP Premium Lounge in Lisbon, did you find this to be an aspirational place to visit or a worthy of an international business lounge ?

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Our last day in Lisbon had us catching up on all our leftover sights that we hadn’t captured on our first three days. With no set agenda in mind, we headed out to see the best of what was left, including some terrific tapas throughout the city. We would be reminded if the terrific food city that Lisbon has become as we discovered many great eating opportunities throughout our day.


This post is one chapter on our trip to Portugal, the United Kingdom (England and Norther Ireland) and Ireland. This trip was redeemed through American Airlines Advantage and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

If you enjoyed this post, please follow us here or on social media through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more travel tips and hacks on how to “Upgrade Your Travels”.


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Activity City Visit: The Lisbon Cathedral and Tasting Iberico Ham at the Time Out Market, Lisbon, Portugal.

We had an easy wake up today from the Sheraton Lisboa Hotel and Spa and being our last day in Lisboa, we tied off a few loose ends of sights and attractions that we hadn’t seen before.

Visiting the Lisbon Cathedral:

We headed down to Baiza Cha by metro and headed over to take in the church that we had passed by on Tram 28E. Inside it was beautiful along with some terrific stain glass windows.

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Tapas at Memmo AF:

My sister, who had previously visited Lisbon on her traveling days, had recommended getting a drink at Memmo AF. It turned out to be a great location with a fantastic view. Little was I aware, that it was also a Design Hotel affiliated with the Marriott brand. It turned out I left my Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card in the hotel room of all things. It was a great spot with a beautiful roof top bar. We had views of cruise ships as we enjoyed tapas.

WT73jr unusually took to his foodie self and located a Portuguese tapas on the menu that he wanted to try (Peixinhos da Horta com nosh aioli). With that, we had some breaded green beans with aioli sauce. It was a good introduction to tapas in Lisboa.

Continuing on with the food theme, based on a recommendation of one of my colleagues, we then walked down about 15 minutes to the Time Out Lisboa market.

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Iberico Ham at Time Out Market Lisbon:

Time Out Market Lisbon is essentially the largest open air food stall market in Lisboa. It was well worth a visit and every type of food was imaginable.

It was absolutely packed with travellers and families. It was difficult, but not impossible, to get a seat. When we did, I went to locate a Pepsi for Jr and a glass of wine for myself. I then was able to locate food stall “Mangerita Silva”. I ordered some Iberico Ham served with hard cheese with crusty bread.

With a 17 € Mista Pata Negra order… Ohh the Ham – OMG the best ever… It was melt in your mouth good. Someone else thought so too… taking a rare photos of it. It obviously rated as cool.

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Last call: Visiting the Church of São Roque:

From there, we walked up hill towards the top of barrio. We went to the very plain outside church. The inside was covered in leafed gold; which impressed WT73Jr. There were some sinister or idyllic mosaics and sculptures amongst the sides of the church; depending on your perception.

Leaving the church, we headed back town to the center of Baixa for our last tour around downtown Lisboa. It was super hot and I had a lemon sorbet ice cream before we left.

A few last bits of window shopping, including some guitars that pique’d WT73jr’s interest. He is a guitar player in jazz band back home…

We headed back up to the hotel where we went to the Sheraton Lisboa Hotel and Spa Executive Lounge. We refilled on about 3 bottles of fuzzy soft drinks each thanks to the dehydration of the heat. We opted for an early light dinner for some take away Japanese food from around the corner from the hotel.

My Thoughts on Lisbon as a Stopover:

Our three and a half day stopover in Lisboa was absolutely terrific adventure. I can see why this city has high marks for a weekend stay. There is a lot to see here, a city that has a great personality, terrific food and attractions and great weather to take in. It’s highly recommended and I am looking for an opportunity to come back with MrsWT73 in the future.


If you’ve visited Lisbon Portugal, how long did you stay on your stopover ?

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The hilly capital of Lisbon, Portugal is known as one of Europe’s better weekend city breaks. With only four days sightseeing in the capital, we aimed to make the most of our stay here by setting out sightseeing immediately on arrival after our international flight. Lisbon is a terrific city to visit and packed full of terrific sights.


This post is one chapter on our trip to Portugal, the United Kingdom (England and Norther Ireland) and Ireland. This trip was redeemed through American Airlines Advantage and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

If you enjoyed this post, please follow us here or on social media through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more travel tips and hacks on how to “Upgrade Your Travels”.


Read more from this trip:


Activity City Visit: The Seaside Town of Belem and Inside the Jerónimos Monastery, Lisbon, Portugal.

We had a slower wake up today from the Sheraton Lisboa Hotel and Spa and set out for a day in the sea side barrio of Belém. We took the Metro from Picoas to C followed by a suburban train to Belém. It was a slow process between waiting 20 minutes in line for the ticket machine at Cais de Sodré. It took us well over 2.5 hours to get from hotel door to attraction door in the Seaside town of Belém.

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Visiting the Jerónimos Monastery:

Our first stop on arrival was to head to the Jerónimos Monastery. I should have bought online as we had another line for tickets in the summer crush of tourists to access 3 computer kiosk ticket machines made longer by undecided people not wanting to pay by credit card in this cash society of Europe.

It was a very impressive building from the exterior, with interesting motifs over the doorways.

Once inside the Monastery, we had a great look at the intricate carvings that lined the walls among the inside and outside.

We then took a walk to the separate entrance that led into the church.

Most notable here was that Vasco de Gamma, the great Portuguese explorer and the first to link Europe to Asia (India) via an ocean route, was entombed. The picture came out somewhat blurry for some reason above there.

We left the monastery so that Jr could have a McDonald’s snack & I could stock up on cheap liquid drinks of the non alcoholic variety. It was about 33 degrees Celsius out today in the searing sun and the walking around in the heat was slowly getting the better of us.

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Tasting Custard Delights at Pastis de Belém:

We headed across the street to Pastis de Belém, an institution that has been selling custard tarts for some 150 years. I queued like all others for a 1.15 € shot at glory. It was awfully tasty although my travelling partner was having no part of experiencing the strange desert treat.

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Walking the Promenade to the Castle of Belém:

After the snacks, we headed for a short walk through the fountains over to the water feature along the shoreline. It was set up to admire the Portuguese explorers along with the various explorers.

There was also a chart map of all the areas of the world that the Portuguese explorers were able to reach.

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Climbing the Belém Tower Castle:

We then headed over to the Belém Tower Castle, wandering along the water front walkway. We arrived to a long line at 4:51 PM with a last entry at 5 PM. We had no idea whether they would admit all those in line or cut us off right at 5 PM. Fortunately, as we got closer, the castle closed at 6:30 PM and we were all able to get in. This photogenic castle was worth a visit and although it was pretty plain inside, visiting a castle on the water isn’t something you get to do everyday.

It was an interesting and simple building to climb around. They only allowed 120 persons into the tower part, with a sole circular staircase servicing the 5 floors.

There were some great views from the top, headed out all directions.

After that, we headed on a walk back towards the local train to head back into Lisboa.

And then the metro back home to the Sheraton Lisboa Hotel and Spa for the evening.

As we had a long day, and had a proper restaurant dinner last night, I gave into WT73jr’s comforts of home and we ended up having Subway sandwiches take away for dinner tonight as we were both kind of full. We walked the 7 minutes from the Sheraton Lisboa Resort and Spa to the nearby chain in the neighbourhood.

In the restaurant, I gave Jr my iPhone to do a little google translate from English into Portuguese so he could complete his food order in a different language. It was my horrors when I got back to the room after dinner and it came time to FaceTime home to MrsWT73 and I realized that I didn’t have my iPhone with me. I tore back to the restaurant and they were kind enough to have held it for me. I gave the clerk a little reward which she didn’t want to accept but the headache for me as an international traveler having lost an Iphone at the beginning of the trip was more than the 20€ I offered, which she ended up taking. Of course, on the screen when I opened it was this . . . I guess it wasn’t me that set it down… (laughing). I need to do better at keeping track of everyone and everything.

In Summary:

Belėm was a worthwhile day trip for Lisbon. The Monastery and Castle of Belém was well worth a visit, although it took quite a bit of time to get there. I would easily plan for at least one day to take in these sights if you’re visiting from central Lisbon.


If you’ve travelled as a family, what was the biggest surprise of your trip ?

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The hilly capital of Lisbon, Portugal has many attractions throughout its core. As we had tackled it’s commercial neighbourhood of Baixa the day prior, we spent the day looking at the Castle named the Castelo de São Jorge. We ended the day riding one of Lisbon’s most famous trams; Tram 28E which rides the length of the city across many of its hilly neighbourhoods.


This post is one chapter on our trip to Portugal, the United Kingdom (England and Norther Ireland) and Ireland. This trip was redeemed through American Airlines Advantage and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

If you enjoyed this post, please follow us here or on social media through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more travel tips and hacks on how to “Upgrade Your Travels”.


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Activity City Visit: Exploring the Turrets of Castelo de São Jorge and Riding Tram 28E, Lisbon, Portugal.

It was an easy wake up on the alarm for 8 AM. We went downstairs at the Sheraton Lisboa Hotel and Spa for the hotel breakfast (courtesy of Marriott Bonvoy Titanium status) and feasted on the usual hotel buffet with egg station, with sparkling wine for me, and Nespresso coffee machine.

Getting to the Castle:

We took the metro train from immediately outside the hotel (Picoas station) to the Restauradores stop. Not immediately knowing where the entrance to the Castelo de São Jorge castle lay, we wandered down into the Baixa district and well into the hills on the eastern side of the barrio (neighborhood).

We eventually found our way up to the entrance which happened to be on the south side of the castle. It was not without a clamber through some various side streets as we wound our way up the hill.

It included a stop a various elevator view points, where we could take in a great view over Lisbon.

There was a short queue for tickets when we got to the castle but that was to be expected.

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Visiting Castelo de São Jorge:

After 10 € entry and 5 € for junior at the Castelo de São Jorge, we headed onto the observation deck area on top of the walls of the castle with specular views over the city.

From there, we entered the lower castle area for some view photographs, in addition to getting some beautiful scenery. From here we were able to take in the ruins of the citadel’s former royal palace with a few old arches left behind for good measure.

We passed through the Romantic Garden, a shaded area and headed through the museum of permanent remnants from the site. This contained pottery and similar objects that were recovered over time.

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Inside the Castelo de São Jorge:

Entering into the Castelo de São Jorge castle itself, we immediately went to the top turret and got a large look around. We started at the Tower of the Keep, which was the sturdiest of the castle towers and was built to withstand the heaviest of attacks.

We eventual moved onwards to the Tower of St Lawrence; a long stairway that descended towards a well. It allowed for early escape or a route for access in the event of attacker’s over run of the castle. Although it was 30 degree heat, we had to climb it, and we clambered all the way down.

Teenager was tired at the end of that! Too many iPhone games and not enough running around outside… (laughing).

We returned via the Tower of the Cistern (containing a large well) then over to the Archaeological site, which was not all too exciting. All in all, we spent about 3 hours at this attraction. While busy, it wasn’t over run with people.

We ended up taking lunch at the cafeteria inside the castle walls. A cheese pizza for junior and a cured ham and queso sandwich on baguette for me. The cafeteria was covered in peacocks throughout the trees. The screeching made for an interesting dining experience with screeching sounds while we finished our sandwiches.

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Wandering through the Alfama Barrio:

From the Castelo de São Jorge, we left the castle and walked down the hill towards the Alfama barrio. We wandered its charming and quaint streets as we headed over to the Peurta del Sol. The area had beautiful terraces overlooking the city (and it’s cruise ships) with live busker music at almost every corner.

We also were able to get our first glance at the famous relic street cars that roll around Lisbon’s streets.

Climbing the Miradouru de Graça:

From the Puerta del Sol, we started to climb the hill to see the city lookouts. We climbed first up to the Miradouru da Graça, situated next to the Igreja de Graça. MrsWT73 would have loved the wine bar that was situated here, with terrific views of the Castelo de São Jorge and other parts of the city west.

It was an interesting walk up the hill, with lots to look at, including interesting buildings and tiles.

The wine bar and some interesting views.

We forged on, stopping for a water at a nearby mini Mercado and ended our climb at the top of the Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, where we took in a lot of views. The area was full of moto – pedi cabs and it seemed like this was the way to take in this part of the city.

The view was great, but teenager was also more interested in the local urban graffiti off a nearby alley.

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Riding Lisbon’s Famous Tram 28E:

Instead of clambering all back down to downtown, we ended up waiting for Tram 28E, the popular street car tram. The 28E route takes in some of the most picturesque spots in Lisboa. For 3 €, we managed to get on at the top and wind our way down through Alfama barrio.

The street car lurched and groaned as we wandered through twisty streets aiming to photo bomb other tourists taking photos of the car. We ended up finding some standing room in the back, which was not air conditioned.

We travelled through Baixa and over through to Barrio Alto and Chiado neighborhoods where we finally hopped off on the other side of town.

We wandered back downhill into downtown Baixa. We wandered past one of Lisbon’s funicular tram cars that serviced the local neighbourhood. This one was in a straight line, unlike the Tram 28E that we rode that was a longer route.

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The World’s Oldest Book Store:

A favourite for me, we happened upon the world’s oldest bookstore. It was certified by the Guiness Book of World Records, it had an interesting charm to it.

WT73jr was recently obsessed (like most teenagers are) with purchasing a cork wallet as a souvenir and promptly led me through a dozen Arab owned souvenir shops throughout the afternoon in the efforts to get the best available price. Most of them ranged from 12 – 15 €. When he found one that was only 9.90 € he was over the moon. This meant more souvenir money for his Hard Rock Café purchases.

After the day, which was 20,000 steps, 13 km and 43 floors climbed per the iPhone Health app, we took the train back to the Sheraton Lisboa Hotel and Spa hotel for some hydration at the Sheraton Executive Club. Jr had two Pepsi’s in the glass bottles and I enjoyed a glass of the house wine as I organized the day’s photographs overlooking a great sunset view from the Sheraton Club Lounge.

After a break, we headed out in the hotel neighbourhood of Saldhana; an upscale area filled with well to do Lisboan’s. We ended up at the nearby Little Italy; an authentic Italian restaurant that was absolutely packed at 9:30 PM on our arrival. We had no hope of sitting outside on the terrace and were luck to get an inside seat. I had an authentic spaghetti carbonara and a Portuguese red. Jr stayed safe and went with the Quattro Formaggi pasta which was quite rich.

We crashed at the hotel at around 11 PM exhausted from the day. What a great day in Lisbon!


If you’ve visited Lisbon Portugal, did you ride Tram 28 E and take in the Castelo São Jorge ?

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The hilly capital of Lisbon, Portugal is known as one of Europe’s better weekend city breaks. With only four days sightseeing in the capital, we aimed to make the most of our stay here by setting out sightseeing immediately on arrival after our international flight. Lisbon is a terrific city to visit and packed full of terrific sights.


This post is one chapter on our trip to Portugal, the United Kingdom (England and Norther Ireland) and Ireland. This trip was redeemed through American Airlines Advantage and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

If you enjoyed this post, please follow us here or on social media through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more travel tips and hacks on how to “Upgrade Your Travels”.


Read more from this trip:


Activity City Visit: First Steps in the Hilly Capital City of Lisbon, Portugal.

I never usually feel like sightseeing on the day of an overseas arrival. It’s especially worse when you are travelling east and are jet lagged arriving into Europe. Having said that, Lisbon is regarded as one of the better city breaks, so right after we arrived off TAP Portugal Business Class Toronto – Lisbon, we headed out to kill the jet lag.

Navigating to the Metro:

The Sheraton Lisboa Hotel and Spa was in a pretty good neighbourhood and walking to the subway it was a great first impression to the city.

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Riding the Subway:

We took the 1.50 € subway from Saldanha. The subways are always a reflection of the city, and Lisbon was no different. Lisbon’s were punctuated with strange art display amid urban spaces.

Stepping into Baiza District:

We and wandered down through the Baixa district, starting at the Dom Pedro IV Place with its impressive squares. We immediately passed by some of Lisbon’s street cars that climb the fingers of the hills surrounding the valley.

Eventually wandering through the commercial district, which included the most comprehensive sardine stores I’ve ever seen. Sardines appear to be a major export for the Portguese.

A First Look at the Elevator de Santa Justa:

We caught our first glimpse of the Elevator de Santa Justa, a public elevator that was designed by one of Gustaf Effiel’s prodigies.

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Admiring the Impressive Praça do Comércio:

We stopped for quick pizza snack, before we ended up down by the water with the Praça do Comércio. The square is a massive area and was the home of many new arrivals to Europe in its day.

The charm of Lisbon’s street cars are everywhere as the rail lines move throughout the city.

Walking the Corniche Walkway:

We ended up taking a short walk along the waterfront Corniche walkway. What a great way to spend the first day in Europe; the sun was shining, we were out and about getting mostly fresh air in pleasant surroundings. It was sure pretty.

We then came back and headed towards the Elevator de Santa Justa.

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Climbing the Elevator de Santa Justa:

We climbed up the Elevator de Santa Justa. We were able to bypass the main (and probably hour long) elevator line by climbing around the block at the rear and paying 1.50 € to access the platform. We climbed two circular levels of stairs to access the roof top viewing platform. It was a gorgeous summer evening and the views over Biaxa were terrific.

Not looking all to jet lagged surprisingly…

After leaving the Elevator de Santa Justa viewing platform, we wandered through the upper neighbourhood above the Elevator.

We then took the subway back to the Sheraton Lisboa Hotel and Spa where we hit up the Executive Club Lounge for a bit. There was only white and red wine on offer, likely due to the fact that there was a pay bar one floor up that was open to the public.

In Summary:

It was otherwise a great first day for our four day Lisbon stopover. The first impressions of the city were terrific and it looked like we would have a lot to explore here. The city contains many attractions along with the charm of it’s street cars.


If you’ve visited Lisbon Portugal, where is the first place you go to after getting off the plane ?

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For my stay in Lisbon Portugal, I was looking for a property that was going to be easy on a family stay, that was reasonably located to the airport and the attractions in town, and that offered value in terms of Marriott Bonvoy loyalty benefits. The Sheraton Lisboa Hotel and Spa offered all that. Despite being a business traveller hotel, it was a perfect fit for our four day stay in Lisbon, Portugal.


This post is one chapter on our trip to Portugal, the United Kingdom (England and Norther Ireland) and Ireland. This trip was redeemed through American Airlines Advantage and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

If you enjoyed this post, please follow us here or on social media through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more travel tips and hacks on how to “Upgrade Your Travels”.


Read more from this trip:


Review: Sheraton Lisboa Hotel and Spa, Lisbon, Portugal

We had a four day stay in Lisbon, Portugal and we stayed at the Sheraton Lisboa Hotel and Spa for this trip. We found this hotel to be a very convenient base of operations for our stay. A Sheraton is never my first choice when it comes to the Marriott Bonvoy hotel portfolio but we were pleasantly surprised with this property. While it was not within immediate walking distance of the tourist attractions, it was easy to get around and had lots of elite inclusions.

We would easily return to this property if we were given the opportunity.

Booking the Hotel:

I picked this hotel as it was the best option for those travelling as a family group. It had easy access to the Lisbon Metro Subway line for sightseeing. As a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium level member, we would have access to the hotel lounge for snacks. This was a great feature as I was travelling with a teenager on this trip. Also as a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium level member, we would also have access to an included breakfast as a welcome amenity; another great feature for those travelling with a hungry teenager.

The Sheraton Lisboa Hotel and Spa is a Marriott Bonvoy Category 5, meaning that rooms are approximately between 30,000 – 40,000 Marriott Bonvoy points a night under variable pricing, with 35,000 points a night typically considered as standard. It’s worth noting that this hotel appears to get some business traffic to it; suggesting that rates may be higher on weeknights and less on weekends.

If you value Marriott Bonvoy points at $0.005 a point, you’d have to spend more than $175 USD to come out ahead for an average 35,000 point redemption. In the summer on a weeknight, a redemption might represent a better value when the room rates climb beyond 250 € a night. However, if you’re visiting in the off season, you’re much better paying cash. As a result, we ended up paying cash for our visit.

Getting to the Sheraton Lisboa:

After arriving off of TAP Portugal Business Class Toronto – Lisbon, we took the metro from the Lisbon Humberto Delgado Aeroporto to the Salamanda Metro station. From there, we walked with our rolling suitcases the three blocks on a slight downhill grade to the hotel over tiled sidewalks. Using Google offline maps, it was easy to find the hotel. Unless I was travelling with a lot of luggage, or travelling at off hours, I would easily take the subway again to the hotel from the airport.

The hotel has all the personality of an office drone building out of the Matrix movie series. It’s well situated for some, right across from the local KPMG office. As a result, I would suspect the hotel gets a fair amount of business traffic based on this, and based on some of the other business guests that I saw in the property during our stay.

The Imposing Sheraton Lisboa Hotel and Spa
The Front Door of the Sheraton Lisboa

Once inside the hotel, it was a pleasant lobby with the usual Sheraton brown carpeting. Fresh flowers were on display in the lobby, which was a nice touch that I don’t usually see in a Sheraton property.

The Lobby and Reception of the Sheraton Lisbon
Fresh Flowers Marked the Lobby

Immediately in the lobby, there was a lobby bar that was attached to the hotel restaurant in a large open space that was a little dark.

The Sheraton Lisbon Lobby Bar

It was a bit of slow check in as they manually typed our passport information into the computer. We selected breakfast as the Marriott Bonvoy Elite Titanium welcome amenity. We were also offered breakfast in the lounge but we ended up opting for the restaurant option to be served in the Lobby Bistro Restaurant.

We were also lucky that our room was available at 12:30 PM. As a result we were able to get settled right away after that overnight flight from North America.

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The Room: A Club Level Room

Club, Club lounge access, Guest room, 2 Twin/Single Bed(s), Skyline view, High floor

Courtesy of Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Level status, we received a higher floor soft upgrade to a “Club Level” room on the 22nd floor out of a 25 floor building. I was travelling with my son and wasn’t really expecting or hoping for any wonderful suite upgrades. While I would have appreciated it, I would have preferred a two double bed configuration and most suites have 1 single bed, which would have meant sharing a bed with a trashing around teenager.

A Sheraton Club Level 2 Twin Bed Configuration
A Sheraton Club Level 2 Twin Bed Configuration

While the room was on the smaller side, I didn’t find it too bad for travelling with a teenager. WT73Jr happened to flop himself on the bed in order to relax, leaving me the accent chair or the desk as a space to hang out. If I was travelling with my spouse or another adult, I might find the room size a little snug for our needs.

A Comfortable Accent Chair
A Small Counter Top for charging devices
A Small Desk for One

During our stay, the hotel participated in Make a Green Choice. Although admittedly, not many points are earned through that channel anymore.

The room itself was perfectly adequate. In terms of sleep quality, the room was quite and we didn’t hear any other noise that interrupted our sleep during our stay.

Around the Property:

The Sheraton Club Lounge:

Throughout the visit, we regularly visited the Sheraton Club lounge. The Club Lounge was located on the 24th floor. Access was through a key card at the door. There was no reception check in during on our stay.

The Sheraton Lounge was offering breakfast between 7:00 AM – 11:00 AM and evening happy hour and snacks between the hours of 5:00 PM and 7 PM during our visit. During evening happy hour, the hotel offered red and white wine but no spirits or hard liquor.

The Comfortable Sheraton Club Lounge
The Sheraton Club Lounge

There was nothing greater than having access to a club lounge when it was the middle of summer at a temperature of thirty degrees Celcius outside and 300 ml bottles of Coca Cola were 3 € each on high street.

I was able to set WT73jr up here after a day of sightseeing and he would happily enjoy two or three Coca Cola’s of them along with happy hour snacks. Dad gets the house wine, WT73Jr gets sugary pops. It was a perfect combination and it made life a lot easier in Europe where the drink quantities are often a lot smaller than they are in North America.

WT73Jr Enjoying the Wifi in the Sheraton Club Lounge

The lounge had pretty good views thanks’ to it’s high floor. At least it meant spending time up there pleasant.

Views of Lisboa from the Sheraton Club Lounge

While it wasn’t the best Sheraton Lounge that I’ve ever been in, having access to a lounge when travelling with a teenager is a great way to save a little on the pocket book when travelling in Europe.

The Lobby Bistro:

The hotel offered a full breakfast every morning in the Lobby Bistro Restaurant. The breakfast offered a buffet with Nespresso and an egg station for a la carte eggs. The breakfast was offered on a full complimentary basis for Marriott Bonvoy Platinum’s and higher level loyalty members. There was enough there to keep myself and WT73Jr fully fed every morning.

The Lobby Bistro Restaurant

The breakfast there was fullsome and as expected for a large inner city Sheraton. The cold cuts were pleasant and there were enough items there to keep us fully charged for the day ahead.

The Outdoor Pool:

The pool at the Sheraton Lisboa Hotel and Spa was a popular area. I wasn’t expecting all too much from a pool at a Sheraton hotel but it was better than I anticipated. In terms of style, It wasn’t all to modern and special but it fit the trick. Despite being a walled area surrounded by neighbouring towers, it had sunshine exposure all the way to 7 PM on our visit and had quite a few tanned clients attending.

The Outdoor Pool at the Sheraton Lisboa

The access to the pool was through the hotel spa. I didn’t see anyone actually using the spa during our trip but it was there and available if needed.

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The Bottom Line: The Sheraton Lisboa

The best way that I can describe this property is that it is a great value for elites. The property offered full breakfast in the restaurant downstairs as a platinum benefit (or in the lounge), a Sheraton Club on the 24th floor that offered beverages and other snacks along with a high floor upgrade. Along with a super convenient location, that is reasonably close to town, I would easily stay here again under similar circumstances.


If you have stayed at the Sheraton Lisboa, did you find it convenient for your stay needs in Lisbon, Portugal ?

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TAP Portugal is known for its reasonably discounted business class fares that can be used to travel across the Atlantic Ocean in reasonable comfort. The fares were often available to be purchased for one way travel, and included a generous 200% earning of points into Air Canada’s Aeroplan as a Star Alliance Partner. I would get the opportunity to travel across the Atlantic Ocean on these discounted business class fares. The real question that I was asking myself was: do you get anything less with the business class experience as a result of these discounted business class tickets?


This post is one chapter on our trip to Portugal, the United Kingdom (England and Norther Ireland) and Ireland. This trip was redeemed through American Airlines Advantage and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

If you enjoyed this post, please follow us here or on social media through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more travel tips and hacks on how to “Upgrade Your Travels”.


Read more from this trip:


Review: TAP Portugal Business Class Airbus 330-900neo, Toronto Pearson International Airport Terminal One – Lisbon Humberto Delgato International Airport


I had arrived into Toronto on Air Canada Vancouver – Toronto on a separate ticket. I collected WT73 Junior who was in a great mood and eagerly anticipating his summer overseas trip. After a light dinner at the nearby Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Toronto Airport we headed back to the Toronto Pearson Terminal One for our Tap Portugal Flights.

Checking into TAP Portugal:

We were the first in line to check in at the TAP Portugal counters in Row E of the departures hall at Toronto Pearson International Airport. As advertised, a long line of people had queued in the economy lines for the 8PM counter opening time. Thankfully there was no one in the business queue and we were among the first served.

Lines at the TAP Portugal Check In at Toronto Pearson
The TAP Portugal Premium Check In Area
TAP Air Portugal Premium Check In

After checking in, we headed through security. We used our Nexus cards for front of the line service. We headed for the Thyssen Krupp accordion escalator in the Toronto Perason International Terminal that is famous on the departure side. WT73jr found it fascinating and, as a jaded 15 year old, he took an iPhone video of it as it slowed to a crawl at the end.

WT73JR Intrigued by the Accordion Travellator at Toronto Pearson International
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The Lounge:

The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge

Immediately opposite the end of the escalator is the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto International. It is Air Canada’s flagship international business lounge and is accessible by other Star Alliance carriers departing from Toronto Pearson International Terminal. TAP Portgual provides access to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge as part of your ticket.

Entrance to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto International

While we’ve reviewed this particular location before in the past, please feel free to visit that post for further information on what to expect. It’s always dark whenever I am through here and today’s flight was not going to be any exception to the practice. It leads towards a bit of a solemn mood for the place as a result of the lack of light.

Inside the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto International
The Sun Setting Outside the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge at Toronto Pearson

The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto International was pretty quiet and large enough that it offered a bit of personal space between the chairs. WT73Jr enjoyed settling into some oriental pasta spiked with peas and vegetables. Notwithstanding that teenager ate minutes ago at the nearby Sheraton Gateway in Toronto Airport, you can never pass up an opportunity to feed the stomach pit of a youth when it’s complimentary lounge that offered food that junior happened to be interested in.

Lounge Seating
Lounge Seating
Complimentary Reading Materials in the form of Second Tier Magazines

Boarding TAP Portugal:

Boarding of tonight’s TAP Portugal flight was set for 10:45 PM. The Toronto Airport concourse has joined many of the other American world airports where there are free Ipads for entertainment at many of the seats. We wandered downstairs through the iconic sculpture and practiced our echo’ing through the middle of it. We eventually made it to the gate after passing through the international area.

The boarding zone was, like many of my other Toronto Pearson experiences, absolute chaos. There were several dozen families and those that needed extra time to board having to crawl their way across the non-existent maze.

A Busy Gate Area for TAP Portugal
Many Crowds – Few Mazes

Boarding started at about 15 minutes after the posted 10:45 PM sign on the boarding card through a strange L shaped gate. While we waited, I got a glimpse of the new A330-9 Neo parked with the sunglasses look.

Our TAP Portugal Airbus 330-900 neo
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TAP Portugal
TP – 262 Business Class (W)
YYZ – LIS (Toronto Pearson International Airport Terminal 1 – Lisbon Humberto Delgado
International)
August 13, 2019
11:30 PM – 11:25 AM + 1 (scheduled)
Booked: Airbus 330-9 neo
Flown: Airbus 330-9 neo

On Board TAP Portugal Business Class:

When it came time to board, we boarded through door 2L on a single jet bridge. We crossed the aisle through the galley and turned left.

When I bought the tickets, I was expecting an angle flat seat on their Airbus 330-2 but we since got swapped onto their newest Airbus 330-900 neo business class product.

TAP Portugal has business class on its Airbus 330-900 neo’s set up in a 1 – 2 – 1 configuration in nine rows of business class totalling 34 flat bed seats.

The seats are herringbone styled seats that face inwards to the aircraft aisles, unlike many reverse herringbone seats that face outwards towards the fuselage.

TAP Portugal Business Class Airbus 330-900 neo Seats
TAP Portugal Business Class Airbus 330-900 neo Seats

It is a bit different to have seats that are facing inward to the aisle, as opposed to the current industry standard to have seats that face the fuselage. I had selected seats across the aisle for the pair of us. While we weren’t able to carry on many long conversations over the jet stream noise, seating across aisle was a reasonable way to travel and I would probably pick the same configuration again if travelling with a companion.

The seat offered magazine storage an allowed a place for the safety information card.

TAP Portugal Business Class Airbus 330-900 neo Magazine Storage
TAP Portugal Business Class Airbus 330-900 neo Recaro Designed Seats
TAP Portugal Business Class Airbus 330-900 neo Seat Controls

The video screens, like many new aircraft, feature aspirational images of the destination. Today’s feature offered pictures of the central area of Lisbon.

Aspirational Pictures of Lisbon
Cabin Ambiance: TAP Portgual

Most of the travelling customers in business, didn’t seem to be people actually travelling on business travel. Rather, they seemed more like affluent families or seniors. It reminded me somewhat of the business class clientele in the usually discounted Icelandair Saga Business Class on our past Iceland Air flights.

The Amenity Kit: Castelbel Branded Kits

Waiting at the seat was an amenity kit, the menu for today’s flight, and a set of headphones.

The amenity kit was pretty with scenes from Portugal, but not particularly useful in terms of content. The kits were Castelbel branded; a brand name I was not too familiar with.

Colorful TAP Portugal Airways Branded Amenity Kits
Contents of the TAP Airways Amenity Kits

Pre – Departure Services:

A pre-departure beverage of water, orange juice or sparkling was dropped off. The pre-departure beverage was served in a proper glass, unlike some American carriers that use plastic cups as a shortcut.

A Pre= Departure Glass of Sparkling Wine

Prior to take off, I took the opportunity to take a look at the menu. The menu itself was quite “Plain Jane” and was simple in its presentation. I would have thought this may have been an opportunity for a more colourful product as I almost found it sterile in appearance.

TAP Portugal Combination Menu and Wine List
TAP Portugal Business Class Toronto – Lisbon Menu
TAP Portugal Business Class Toronto – Lisbon Wine List
TAP Portugal Business Class Toronto – Lisbon Wine List
TAP Portugal Business Class Toronto – Lisbon Wine List

We got underway on time. Surprisingly, the safety video was screened and surprisingly it was wholly in Portuguese with only English subtitles. It featured scenes of Portugal. It definitely piqued my interest for another longer visit sometime.

TAP Portugal Safety Video
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In Flight Entertainment: Advanced Video on Demand

The flight itself from the East Coast was a short 6 hrs 11 minutes by the time we were airborne. As with most business class flights under seven hours, it’s not much time to eat, relax and get a sleep in, let alone enjoy the product.

I fooled around with the large touch screen. The Advanced Video on Demand contained approximately thirty movies. As I was aiming to get an overnight sleep in, I didn’t get the opportunity to watch anything during this flight.

TAP Advanced Video on Demand
A Selection of Movies: Enough for a Shorter Overnight Flight

Since I didn’t have time to get into a movie, I explored the in flight wifi offers. I didn’t get an opportunity to try it out, but they offered a variety of price points.

The Flight Track from Toronto to Lisbon

The Meal: A Late Dinner

I figured that on such a short flight, we would either get a large breakfast or a large dinner. Without many past reviews about TAP Portugal, I didn’t have a great starting point for any research. It turned out the larger service was the dinner which was served immediately after take off.

I took one for the team and had the green pea soup with lemon crème fraiche, grilled beef, potato puree, roasted vegetables and demi-glace sauce. This was plated and presented all at once.

Green pea soup with lemon crème fraiche, grilled beef, potato puree, roasted vegetables and demi-glace sauce

I paired this with Portuguese Quint da Alornia Tejo red wine. It was tasty but the wine was presented in very small thimble sized glasses.

The beef was surprisingly well cooked for an airplane steak… perfectly red.

A Tasty Cook for Beef on the Place

A 330 ml bottle of water was dropped off at the seat, closing out the dinner service.

Seat Comfort while Sleeping:

After dinner, we were passing Prince Edward Island so I went to sleep. The cabin lights were dimmed, but not put out completely. TAP Portugal provides a basic blanket and a light cheaper pillow that is very basic; similar to what you’d expect in economy class, only a little larger in size.

Drifting Off to Sleep over Atlantic Canada

The Recaro seat is pleasant and new looking. It is quite firm; something that would eventually transfer into a firm sleeping experience. I slept pretty lightly for about 3.5 hours. As a side sleeper, I didn’t find the seats too comfortable since I wasn’t able to bend my legs. My feet would be stuck in the foot cavity and unless my knees were into the aisle, it was a bit difficult. As a 6ft 2 inch person, I could easily touch both ends of the foot and top of the seat lying flat. Nevertheless, it was a full flat seat and better than an angle flat on some of the older aircraft that I have flown.

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The Second Service: A Light Breakfast

At about 4:40 AM, or 90 minutes prior to landing, I woke up for the breakfast serving.

Breakfast was Served ninety minutes from Portugal

A towel service was presented prior to the meal.

The breakfast was strictly a continental affair; egg lovers like myself would be lingering for more.

A Light Breakfast Prior to Landing

Breakfast consisted of pastries, yoghurt along with orange juice and a coffee. The coffee was fairly average. Unfortunately, the coffee was not branded as Lavazzia or anything like that.

I checked out the washrooms and they were straightforward. There were no branded toiletries or anything along those lines.

Arriving to Lisbon Humberto Delgado International Airport:

As always, it’s interesting to see the first glimpse of the continent when you arrive from an overseas flight. Arriving into Lisbon was a little bit different than my usual European flights which usually arrive to greener climates in France, Germany or the United Kingdom. The view from the window on the approach was quite scenic. It included a fly over of downtown Lisbon.

Spotting the Coastline of Portugal
Overflying Lisbon on Arrival to Europe
Spotting Downtown Lisbon on Arrival to Europe
The Pink Roofs of Lisbon

We eventually touched down at a non gate position, parking next to an Azul jet.

Parking Next To An Azul Brazil Narrowbody Jet

We had double air stair disembarkation into a warm and sunny Lisbon.

Dis-Embarkation at Humberto Delgardo International Airport

We would take a bus combined with economy and business class travellers over to the airport terminal. Our bags were put out at baggage claim. We were able to clear EU Immigration and Customs without incident. We transferred over to the Sheraton Lisbon Hotel and Spa for a four night stay in Lisbon, Portugal.

We didn’t experience any complications or issues with our travels with TAP on this journey. Our flights were as marketed, and we received a generous 200% Air Canada Aeroplan miles earned on this segment. In essence, the discounted ticket was of tremendous value and we didn’t get anything less as a result of paying less than other carriers.

The Bottom Line:

Overall, TAP Portgual, was a reasonable way to cross the Atlantic. The service was fine. It was everything you’d expect from a business class crossing. Aside from the compact footprint in the business class suite and a limited amount of available routes, I would easily fly them again on this new equipment. Add the fact that they have discounted business class fares that earn 200% Elite Qualifying Miles and Redeemable Miles into Air Canada’s Aeroplan, and you have a winning combination.

We didn’t experience any challenging issues with re-scheduling or ticketing issues with our tickets, although I understand that TAP has reputation for poor customer service when things go sideways. All to say, our experiences with them were terrific and I am happy to endorse them.


If you have taken advantage of the discounted TAP Portugal Business Class fares, was your journey completed without any challenging incidents ?