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American Airlines versus Tap Portugal or other flights

I was supposed to travel to Spain in October 2020. I already got my money back. I had bought my plane tickets from American Airlines. My travel dates are obviously unknowable but if the travel bans are lifted could be two weeks in September-October. If conditions were normal I would also consider March to May but avoiding Easter and holy week. When I try scheduling a trip to Spain, should I buy my tickets from American Airlines again, or should I risk buying from Tap Portugal airline (to save money even though the layovers are suspiciously too short)?

The price as of today is $1,345 for a trip from American Airlines, from Detroit to Madrid leaving at 1:14 pm, arriving 8:25am, with a 3 hour 55 minutes stop in Philadelphia, and Seville to Detroit, leaving at 9:25 am, arriving at 8:13pm, with a 2 hour stop in Madrid and a 2 hour and 28 minute stop in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Tap Portugal airline has a trip that costs 782.13 US dollars, from Detroit to Madrid, leaving at 1:56pm, arriving at 10:25 am, with a 2 hour and 7 minute stop at Newark Liberty International Airport and a 2 hour and 25 minute stop in Lisbon, Portugal. On the way back leaving Seville at 10:40 and arriving in Detroit at 8:29pm with a 1 hour and 10 minute stop in Madrid and a 1 hour and 59 minute stop in Newark, New Jersey again.

The price difference is 562.87. On past trips, plane tickets cost me about 40% to 60% of my total trip cost. For comparison, my trip to Greece might have cost me 3,091.84 US dollars; my trip to the Netherlands might have cost me 3,062.64 US dollars. Those prices include the plane tickets, taxi rides to and from, Detroit Metro Airport, ATM fees, hostels and hotels, everything. On past trips I paid between 1,200 and 1,500 US dollars for plane tickets from American or Delta airlines.

Yes I know perfectly well that you can't tell me exactly what to do and I know perfectly well that I will make my own choice of which airline and which tickets, either between these two or something else, whatever you say, but I want to see what your input is anyway. Thanks.

Posted by
620 posts

Strongly suggest you research how well TAP Portugal handled Covid cancellation refunds. Hopefully travel by fall 2021 will have some element of normalcy. Remember- when saving money you often get what you pay for, not what you actually wanted.

Posted by
176 posts

We used TAP from LIS to ORD last year. I'm AA lifetime gold but I'd go TAP unless there is a major difference in refund policies.

Posted by
4610 posts

We have flown on TAP once and it was fine.
I would go with them in a heartbeat. Did you find the fare on Kayak? It is probably best to book directly.

Posted by
6513 posts

The biggest issue is you cannot count on these itineraries "as is" because airlines have been making tons of flight changes and cancellations, and will likely continue to do so. Making some kind of reasoned decisions on unpredictable info is folly. I wouldn't book any flight right now, especially this far in advance (unless you're using miles and they can easily be put back into your account if the flights don't pan out). In normal times, I would pick the less expensive flight with TAP.

Posted by
127 posts

I would personally go with American. We booked flights for later next year & paid the additional $200 to make the tickets fully refundable (I believe it’s still being offered). I’ve read too many bad reviews of how Tap has handled refunds and personally don’t trust them. As for your time frame, Sept/Oct is a safer bet given the vaccination timeline. Best of luck in the decision you make.


Posted by
2161 posts

My first reaction to the Tap itinerary is that 1 hour 10 minutes is just too little time to make a connection in Madrid, and the layover in Newark, after an international flight, is just as dicey. I agree with you that the Tap layovers are suspiciously too short.

Posted by
552 posts

I picked my two itineraries I put above, from the TAP and American websites, after seeing TAP Portugal on google flights, after searching google flights to compare approximate costs of various itineraries on various dates. Airline ticket sites that are not specific airlines always string together itineraries with separate flights from multiple airlines; I would buy straight from a specific airline. I picked American because used to assume I had to pick a USA based airline, Delta didn't have an appealing trip, and Continental/United never has appealing flight for anything.

I searched for trips from:
-Detroit to Madrid and Granada to Detroit,
-Detroit to Madrid and Seville Detroit,
-Detroit to Seville and Madrid to Detroit
-Detroit to Granada and Madrid to Detroit - this was my original flight itinerary but I am not committed to this exact itinerary; I had only picked it because when I bought my original tickets, it was the best combination of price and dates and layovers from American.

So I may redo my itinerary based on starting and ending in different cities if one of the first 3 flight itineraries above is cheaper and/or better.

American has more itineraries listed than TAP Portugal; the other itineraries from American have layovers that are too short or too long, or stop at Chicago O'hare which would be traveling west from Detroit to go east which would be irrational, and/or a few flights leave and/or arrive at weird times like before 6am or after 11pm.

TAP Portugal has another itinerary with longer layovers on the trip to Spain but only one itinerary with the suspiciously short layovers is listed for the return trip.

Posted by
18 posts

I personally will never fly with TAP. They canceled my flight in June and I am still waiting for my refund. There is no customer service. They are only offering vouchers. If you want your money back you have to call them, but when I called the number that was given it would be disconnected after it rang for a few minutes. I suggest you go to the Facebook page TAP AirPortugal Refunds and read some of the stories of the experiences of other customers.

Posted by
24641 posts

have you considered going via Toronto? Would that help?

Posted by
6992 posts

or stop at Chicago O'hare which would be traveling west from Detroit to go east which would be irrational,

Do not be too quick to write off that as a solution. Before there were direct flights, the 'best' solution to get from Seattle to New Orleans was via Atlanta

A straight line may be the shortest distance, but not necessarily the best route, between two points

Posted by
4451 posts

I prefer "straight" lines too (no such thing really on a globe) but sometimes a routing that looks a little crooked can be worth it for convenience and/or savings.

You're looking at a significant price difference, in TAP's favor, but they seem to have let down customers over the pandemic, which I don't think we can assume will be entirely in the rear-view mirror next fall. I'd also be wary of tight connections in Newark, one of America's worst airports. The fewer connections you have, the fewer risks of missing one. With AA's routing through Charlotte, though, if you miss it you're at least on the right continent and should be able to get something back to Detroit pretty readily.

Hope this trip happens for you. I loved Spain last year.

Posted by
552 posts

Yeah, I see you are right about air Canada having flights to Spain. The cheapest trip from Air Canada would be just under approximately 550 US dollars for a round trip from Toronto to Madrid. That is so cheap it is scary, except it is objectively so inconvenient or complex: I would have to spend much of a day on both ends of my trip driving or taking greyhound buses and taxis from Detroit to the airport in Toronto and from the airport in Toronto back to Detroit. Of course I would have to add in the cost of the taxis and greyhound bus to my total trip cost. If I drove to The airport in Toronto, I would have to factor in the cost of long term parking at the airport, and the hotel for a night in Toronto on the way back because there is no way I am driving the rest of the way home after being awake so long from the time I wake up in Spain until I would get to my car in Toronto.

Edit: the trips from Air Canada that start and end in Detroit, have stops in Toronto that are too long (over 6 hours 50 minutes) or the total trip from Seville to Detroit would be over 27 hours.

Posted by
552 posts

I had assumed I wanted to arrive in southern Spain if possible and fly back to Detroit from Madrid. So far American is the only airline that has a rational flight at an acceptable price, the trip arriving in Madrid and leaving from Seville in southern Spain - I guess this works just as rationally too.

The only rational looking trips Delta has, that are at acceptable prices - $7 to $13 US dollars less that the trip from American - are round trips arriving and leaving from Madrid. But wouldn't this make my overall whole trip cost higher because I would be spending more on an extra train or bus trip to get back to Madrid, assuming I would do what is rational and take a bus or train away from Madrid just after getting out of the airport in Madrid and then seeing Madrid last before returning home? One of these trips from Delta leaves Detroit at 9:10pm, which means in theory I could leave Detroit on a Friday night instead of a Saturday, giving myself an extra night for my trip - I am undecided whether the extra night should make a difference; I am going to ask for two weeks (10 weekdays) off of work.

Posted by
3489 posts

Air Canada will sell you connections from Detroit to Toronto on one of their feeder lines, then corresponding through a German airport to Madrid. Two stops total, all on a single ticket which can be helpful in case of delay. Cost in April (as a test) is currently about $760 Cdn for the cheapest seat. Some of the tickets bought separately from Toronto to Madrid are about the same price. There are a few around $500 out of Toronto, but the cost of getting to TO squashes the bargain plus the extra convenience and security of being on a single itinerary will be worth it.
In general, airlines do not price multiple-leg journeys by adding up the retail price of the separate legs. There's usually a cost advantage in letting the airline piece together the flights on a single ticket.

Posted by
337 posts

Mike: You state that it would be "objectively so inconvenient" to fly AirCanada due to having to transport yourself between Detroit and Toronto. You also state that you could take AirCanada from Detroit but would have an almost 7 hour layover in Toronto. It's about a 4 hour drive between Detroit and Toronto (depending where you live in Detroit). Add in the time to cross the boarder, find parking, check in, etc and you could have 7 hours right there. Is there a bus/train that goes straight to the airport in Toronto? If not you have to add the extra time to get to the station in Detroit and from the station to the airport. So again, maybe 5-6 hours. And how much are those bus/train tickets going to cost? Or the cost for gas and parking if you drive? If I was you I'd take AirCanada from Detroit. Sure 7 hours is a long layover, but I think in the long run it works out easier for a number of reasons:

Less hassle then driving or taking public transportation. You check your bags once and are done with them. No hauling them around in bus/train stations/taxis. Knowing you will be on time for your international flight, a lot can happen between Detroit and Toronto. Just my 2 cents.

Posted by
6992 posts

Where, other than Madrid and Seville, do you plan to go? If those are the only 2 places, then flying into one and out the other makes sense.
If you have other destination(s), making a loop to start/end your trip may make better sense.

Posted by
552 posts

I plan to see these cities but not necessarily in this order: Toledo for no more than a day and a half, Madrid for 3 days and 3 or 4 nights, Cordoba, Granada for at least one or more nights and 2 days, and Seville. I will be rewriting my itinerary based on which cities I arrive and leave from.

I am not going to Barcelona.

The Air Canada site does not work properly now. I can search the site for trips but I cannot select a flight to see the return flights. From what I remember from when it worked this weekend but after my last reply, the cost I saw that I though was the total cost, was actually just the cost of the trip to Spain. The return trip would make the total cost x 2 or more; but trips on the way back from Seville to Detroit were over $3,000. So as much as I want to think a foreign airline will have a better price for this trip, the more I search, the more the flight from American looks like the only rational combination of cost versus acceptable length of stops.

I found far fewer trips from Detroit to Seville, and Madrid to Detroit, and the ones I did see were over $3,000. And already, on America's return trip, the stops are 2 hours, and 2 hours and 28 minutes. But at least I only fly with what I can carry onto the plane; I don't check in luggage.

Edit: to clarify: I was aware that it is possible to take Air Canada from Detroit, but the layovers in Toronto make it look unappealing.

Edit: When I went to Italy (that was one trip) and Greece (another trip), I arrived and left from the same city. The last time I went to Europe, I arrived in Amsterdam and left from Brussels - that was the first time I got more sophisticated and arrived and left from different cities. To me it looks most rational to arrive in central Spain and leave from Southern Spain, or the other way around, but maybe I am wrong or maybe I would do just as well arriving and leaving from Madrid. Also I spent $1,200 to $1,500 total on the plane tickets for past trips to Europe; obviously I don't want to purposefully spend money just for the sake of spending money but I won't be too disappointed if I end up buying tickets in this price range, if the itinerary and length of layovers is rational enough.

Posted by
337 posts

Maybe I missed it, but what dates are you planning on? I found flights in Sept. DWT to either MAD or SVQ for less than $750 rt on United/Tap. Going DWT to MAD there is about a 2 hour layover each in Newark and Lisbon. Return from SVQ to DWT would have 1 hour in Lisbon and 1.5 hours in Newark. With TAP why not use the stopover for 2 nights and see Lisbon for a day? It is usually a trade off on cost or the number/length of layovers.

Posted by
552 posts

From American airline, the cost of the most appealing round-trip from Detroit to Madrid is $1,279 US dollars, versus $1,347 for the most appealing trip from Detroit to Madrid and Seville to Detroit. Leaving from Seville is $68 more, or negligibly higher than the round trip when you consider the cost of the extra bus or train trip. Either the round trip, or leaving from Seville, could work rationally; leaving from Seville would mean one extra plane flight but one less bus or train trip.

If I do the round trip plane tickets, there are a few rational itineraries:
Toledo first, then Cordoba, Granada, Seville, and Madrid last, or
Toledo, Cordoba, Seville, Granada, Madrid, or
Toledo, Granada, Seville, Cordoba, Madrid, or
Granada, Seville, Cordoba, Toledo, Madrid, or
Cordoba, Granada, Seville, Toledo, Madrid, or
Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Toledo, Madrid,

If I fly back from Seville, the most rational itineraries would be:
Toledo first, Madrid, Cordoba, Granada, and Seville last, or
Madrid first, then Toledo, then the same sequence of Cordoba, Granada, and Seville last.

Leaving from Seville looks more appealing. In theory if the cost of the round trip plane tickets were $200 or more less than leaving from Seville i might buy the round trip versus leaving from Seville.

Posted by
2 posts

I just found a decent flight from Chicago to Malaga for $750 ($820ish with extras) in July. Malaga seems to be the best place to fly into to get to Cordoba and Granada. I use Momondo to look for flights.
Anyway, just thought I'd share.