After months of planning, it was time to travel to Portugal! We had an early start as a pre-booked Lyft arrived at 8am. There were three of us headed to the airport as our younger daughter was starting an internship in Washington, DC that week, so I booked her on a flight leaving Atlanta around the same time as ours. It was a tight squeeze with all the luggage, but we managed to make it work.
We dropped off our daughter at the domestic terminal then we continued to the international terminal where my wife and I checked in with Air Canada. We were fortunate that we could go through priority check-in as the regular line was quite long. We also had to show our vaccine cards as Canada requires vaccination even for transit. We checked our bags through to Lisbon and received boarding passes for both flights.
We met up with our daughter again at The Club in Concourse F. Interestingly, our Priority Pass account granted us access. The lounge attendant said that normally Air Canada business passengers have to use the United Club in Concourse T. That’s right – they have to check in at Concourse F then travel the length of the airport to the United Club then travel back to Concourse F for boarding. I expect very few Air Canada passengers actually do this.
The standards for The Club at ATL have dropped significantly in the Covid era. There was a pretty poor quality breakfast buffet, but we all had some eggs and coffee. We all left around the same time, so we said our goodbyes to our daughter and headed to the nearby Air Canada gate.
We boarded on time and took our business class seats on this ancient CRJ900. The seats were reasonably comfortable, although the screen was tiny.
We were wheels up around 11:30 and soon after, the flight attendant came by to take our drink and meal orders. We both ordered the BBQ chicken, and I ordered a whiskey with Diet Coke.
The meal wasn’t too bad. I ordered another whiskey on the rocks after dinner, and it came with a bag of almonds. I noticed the glass had the Air Canada maple leaf logo.
During the flight, I watched the new season of Upload (which I downloaded 😊) from Amazon Prime on my tablet. Around 30 minutes before our scheduled landing, the captain informed us that a storm over Toronto would put us in a holding pattern. We had a long layover anyway, so there was no impact on our connection. We held for an hour or so, circling over Lake Ontario, before finally landing at YYZ. We touched down around 13:55 and had a long taxi to the gate.
Once we exited the aircraft, we had a long walk to the immigration check area just before the international gates. We then easily found the Maple Leaf Lounge and grabbed some seats. The lounge was empty at that time (around 14:30) but got busier closer to our departure.
There was a small buffet with a few cold items, plus drinks were all self-service.
There was also a QR-code menu where you could order hot items. I decided to try the Montreal smoked meat sandwich which wasn’t bad. There was also a cauliflower soup that was pretty good. The service for the ordered items was very slow though, so I don’t recommend ordering if you have a tight connection.
Around an hour before our flight, we walked down to the gate area. I did try and see if I could get into the Plaza Premium lounge with my Amex Platinum to take a few pictures, but the lounge was full.
When we reached our gate, we were paged and a rather brisk TAP gate agent asked to see our vaccine cards. She couldn’t read them on my phone, so I showed her the original cards. Of note, no one ever checked our supposedly required Covid tests before we boarded.
Scheduled 17:40-05:45 (+1)
Actual 17:54-05:51 (+1)
The flight looked like it was going to be pretty full in both business and economy. This was a nice new A330-900neo. It still had that new plane smell 😊 As of the date of our flight, masks were still required by the Portuguese government for all public transportation, including flights to and from Portugal on TAP.
The seat was well-designed, with some smaller storage areas and easily accessible controls.
The screen was nice and large, with a great high-definition picture and responsive touchscreen functions.
There were no personal air vents, which we always find annoying as we both tend to be warm on flights. An interesting safety video was played, featuring immigrants to Portugal from all over the world. Messaging was free, but the Wi-Fi on this flight was expensive (not that I would have paid for it anyway). I got Signal and WhatsApp to work, but for some reason texting and iMessage would not work.
While I waited for the dinner service, I watched the movie King Richard, which I enjoyed. Menus were also waiting for us when we boarded. Here’s the food and drinks on offer:
If you are paying close attention, you’ll see I only took a picture of the Portuguese side of the menu card. 😊
But, I can translate it for you:
Aperitif: Nuts and Beverages
Appetizer: Shrimp with cabbage salad, carrots, celery, peppers, cucumbers
Main Course Options: 1) Steak with mustard demi-glace sauce, mashed potatoes, broccolini, cherry tomatoes. 2) Salmon with teriyaki sauce, rice, bok choy, baby peppers 3) Cheese and spinach cannelloni, spinach pesto, mushroom.
Trilogy of Desserts: Ice Cream, Fresh Fruit, Cheese
The service began with hot towels and then drinks.
I tried both white wines but preferred the Dory. We both ordered the salmon. Dinner wasn’t exactly fine dining, but it was tasty. They also seemed to bring us each enough butter to feed six people. 😊 The pretzel roll was soft and warm. We also tried the port with dessert.
The flight attendants on both sides were very generous with the wine pours.
Overall, the service was complete in about two hours, just long enough for the movie to finish. I reclined my seat and slept on and off for a couple of hours. The armrests fold to create more width but the seat is generally narrow so not the most comfortable.
The cabin lights were turned on a bit early in my opinion, about 1 hour and 45 minutes from landing. A light breakfast was served.
We touched down a few minutes late and had a short taxi. Before we reached the immigration area, there were a few employees checking vaccine cards, but not Covid tests.
I had read about some nightmares at Lisbon immigration with 3-4 hour lines, but I guess our early arrival had its advantages as we only waited about 10 minutes.
We grabbed our bags off the belt and ordered an Uber to take us into Lisbon. We were pretty tired but ready to start our vacation.
Next up: Our two+ days in Lisbon.
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