January 08, 2018

Flying Executive Class: The Upgrade

Last week I told you about my flights to France in Swiss Business Class, which I’d purchased using loyalty program miles. I managed to find affordable return flights in Economy with TAP Portugal, thanks to their new service between Lisbon and Toronto. But once you’ve flown in Business Class, it’s hard to go back. As if reading my mind, a few days before I was scheduled to fly home TAP offered me an upgrade – a tempting notion indeed.

I decided to bid on an upgrade on just the transatlantic portion, not the short connecting flight from Marseille to Lisbon. Advice I'd read online suggested that I bid roughly 30% of the difference between the fare I’d paid and the higher Business Class fare. But many of these same travellers were unsuccessful. The whole process seemed like a gamble. The bidding on my flight had a minimum bid of 425, I offered 500 and was delighted when they accepted my bid.

My Seat in TAP Executive Class

Aboard the TAP aircraft in Lisbon, the excellent food and beverage service in Executive Class began with a glass of sparkling wine while still on the tarmac, followed by a Lobster Canapé and Roasted Sunflower Seeds after take-off.

Lobster Canapé and Roasted Sunflower Seeds

The amenity kit was similar to the one I’d been given by Swiss and contained a toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, hand cream, eye mask, ear plugs, a pen and socks. This kit came in a unique tin featuring the Sardine Collection by Bordallo Pinheiro, a Portuguese company specializing in brightly coloured ceramics.

TAP Portugal Amenity Kit

The Sardine Collection by Bordallo Pinheiro

Dinner was delicious, especially the Smoked Halibut starter and Cream of Sweet Potato soup (served with fresh warm rolls). By the time I’d finished off the Beef Tenderloin I had no room left for dessert.

Cream of Sweet Potato Soup with Pumpkin Mousse and
Smoked Halibut

Sautéed Beef Tenderloin with Mustard and Honey Sauce,
Broccoli and Sauteed Potatoes

There was no one in the seat next to me so I had plenty of elbow and leg room. (To reach my bag on the floor I had to unbuckle my seat belt – no whacking my head on the seatback in front of me). I took the reclining seat as an invitation for a sesta (Portuguese for siesta). And before landing in Toronto a selection of breads, cheese and cold cuts was served.

Plenty of Leg Room

Cold Cuts, Cheese and Fresh Fruit

As these were early days for TAP’s Lisbon-Toronto service, less than half of the seats in Executive Class were filled but there were two flight attendants assigned to the cabin. As a result the service was first class. And while some bloggers reported better luck securing an upgrade at the airport on the day of departure, I guess I was one of the lucky ones. It may have helped that I didn’t have as much competition as I would’ve had on a more heavily booked flight.

One more special perk when flying Business Class is access to airport lounges. I’ll tell you about that experience next time.

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