Previous parts to this trip:
I arrived at Heathrow at just past 08:50
As I was travelling with only hand baggage and didn’t need to collect a boarding pass, I could skip the check in area and head straight for security.
As I have Star Alliance Gold status, I was able to make use of the Fast track at security, dubbed Gold Track.
Whilst the fast track security wasn’t particularly busy, the staff seemed to be on a bit of a go slow. It took around fifteen minutes to clear, despite more or less walking straight up to a scanner.
Star Alliance have four lounges in terminal 2. The Lufthansa lounge in T2A which caters for most of the short haul flights, then the United, Air Canada and Singapore Airlines lounges in T2B. As I had plenty of time before my 11:20 departure, I made my way over to T2B. I opted for the United Airlines Club this morning.
United Airlines Club, Heathrow Terminal 2
The United Airlines Club at Heathrow is available to United Airlines Business Class passengers and Star Alliance Gold card holders. There is also a United First lounge available, but with United cutting back First class, this lounge mostly caters to other Star Alliance First class customers and United Global Services passengers travelling in business class on United.
The United Club lounge is situated up one level from the main concourse, either by an elevator or stairs. Whichever option you take, you’ll arrive directly into the reception area of the lounge.
Once your documents are checked, you pass through into the lounge itself. The lounge itself features a LOT of seats.
And those are very much needed as United has a pretty big operation in London. As you enter, along the left hand side of the lounge is a decent sized bar – although as it was still early, I didn’t partake.
Towards the right hand side, there are the wash rooms and shower suites.
Behind the entrance area, is the main buffet area. As I was passing through in the morning, there was a hot selection of sausages, bacon, hash browns etc. There was also a selection of cold meats an pastries on offer.
At the opposite end of the lounge to the buffet are, there’s a library type are with a selection of magazines – but interestingly, no newspapers were to be found in the whole lounge.
More often than not, the TAP A330 flight departs from T2A at Heathrow. As luck would have it, this morning the Turkish 777 parked on the only heavy stand at T2A, meaning that the TAP flight was shoved on to T2B. Meaning no walk back for me!
Boarding began around 30 prior to departure. There was more than a bit of confusion on board due to the fact the aircraft changed from the originally planned one a day before departure. This meant that there were a few seat changes occurred – mine included. Yet the aircraft that actually turned up had the originally planned layout. Therefore even more seat changes.
This was mildly annoying as I’d originally selected a pretty good seat. Then at check in, I’d been given a bulkhead. Yet where I ended up was somewhere just about over the Wing. Still, least I didn’t have to worry about being split up from any travel companions like a few others.
The aircraft itself had seen better days. I know a few of the TAP A330’s had undergone recent refurbishment. Yet there were a couple that were due to be retired from the fleet which were left as they were.
From what I’d read, this particular plane, CS-TOL was one of the refurbished aircraft yet it wasn’t in the best condition.
Pushback came a couple of minutes adrift of schedule. Despite departing from the same end of the airport to where we were parked, we still ended up waiting 20 minutes until takeoff.
Once we did get going, it was a somewhat short takeoff roll. Understandable as this 2h15 London – Lisbon flight is well within the A330-200’s capabilities.
Around thirty minutes after departure, snack boxes were handed out. These consisted of a ham and cheese sandwich and a small cake. As I had a can of drink I’d taken from the lounge, the crew just assumed I either didn’t want another or had already been served one. Either way, I wasn’t serves a drink on board. Oh well.At least TAP do still serve complimentary food and drinks in economy within Europe.
The IFE system was inoperative throughout the flight. I’m assuming they don’t have a licence to use it on intra-Europe flights, a lot like British Airways on Madrid flights previously.
There was WiFi on board this aircraft, but at the prices they were charging… no thanks!
Once the cabin had been cleared of any rubbish, the crew weren’t really seen again.
A quick update from the flight deck indicated that we would shortly be starting descent. A five minute delay was announced and an update of the weather was given. As soon as the engines spooled back, the seatbelt sign was switched on. This seemed a little premature as we still had over 30 minutes of the flight remaining.
One area of note was that whilst the crew were very thorough checking that everyone had their seatbelts fastened, they were lacking in other areas. For example, the person in front of me still had their seat fully reclined right up until we arrived at the gate. Another item they missed was that there were more than a few window blinds down for landing. This particular one seemed a little odd, considering they were pretty hot on that for departure.
As is seemingly always the case when I arrive at Lisbon, it was a bus gate. For some unknown reason, we then just sat on the bus for at least ten minutes before heading off to the terminal.
Once we did arrive, I was through in just a couple of minutes.
The main hold up was at the Metro station, much like on my previous visit in July.
The flight itself with TAP Portugal wasn’t too bad. Although I think charging £22 for a seat that I eventually didn’t get to sit in was a bit much. I knew about the change at online check in however, but I did think it was a bit off that if I wanted to move elsewhere, I’d have to pay another £22. Despite being Star Alliance Gold.
The crew on board got the job done. They weren’t exactly chatty or warm, but I wouldn’t say they were bad. It was almost as if they had their routine, they were sticking to it no matter what! But who knows, maybe I’ve just got a bit too used to the BA crews…