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French Bee or TAP experiences?

considering flying French Bee or Air Portugal (EWR-somewhere in central europe like prague/budapest/berlin/vienna). they have really inexpensive flights even after adding the bag charge etc and the extra flight to get to/fro a central europe city ($200 with bags). i am aware of the possibility of ORY to CDG transport for french bee and with TAP, eyeing a stopover in Lisboa.

thoughts?

Posted by
5584 posts

In my experience, TAP is perfectly fine and I'd fly them again without any hesitation -- and I'm generally not a big fan of low cost airlines (unless there's no alternative and it's a short flight). TAP is a slightly odd airline, not really a completely "low cost carrier" (LCC -- a la Ryanair), with all the "LCC baggage" that comes with: hassles, constraints, and holes to step in if you're not on your A game. TAP is sort of a hybrid "kinda-LCC-but-not-quite" (this hybrid model is becoming more common on many European airlines -- Aer Lingus is similar in some ways -- given all the competition from true LCCs in Europe, this is probably inevitable ). TAP does sometimes feel like an LCC (read the details of what you're getting carefully and follow the rules) but there's more to it (TAP has a very nice business class seat on some long-haul flights, and a decent lounge in Lisbon, very non-LCC traits). TAP does often have surprisingly cheap options. When I've flown them (regional and short-haul), I've had good experiences with TAP and did not find any LCC-type annoyances or challenges at all.

No personal experience with French Bee, can't offer any insights there.

Posted by
3372 posts

I have no personal experience with French Bee.
That said, 4 years ago we flew TAP from Porto to Madrid. It was pleasant and very affordable at that time. I would not hesitate flying TAP based on our previous experience.

Posted by
3830 posts

ORY-CDG transfers in Paris are a major hassle. If you cannot find a flight from ORY to your final destination, then forget about it...

Posted by
753 posts

French Bee flies ultra-high-density sardine cans. 9 seats per row on a330s and 10 on a350s. No one else has seats that narrow.

Posted by
422 posts

In the air, TAP is fine. Food is pretty good, cabin staff efficient and friendly, plane was pretty clean. Much better than the Take Another Plane days. I'd probably use them again. HOWEVER, on the ground, in both Lisbon and Porto, it was chaos at check in, in changing gates, and while verifying documents multiple times. Even worse, though, is that they are impossible to reach on the phone without waiting 2-3 hours and getting disconnected at least once. Last week we got a refund from a flight they cancelled at the very beginning of the pandemic. I don't know if it's coincidence or not, but I filed a complaint with the FTC and a week later, I had my refund.

Posted by
227 posts

thanks everyone for your input.

hmm yeah thats the one thing bothering me - if there is a change or cancellation need, I might have to struggle to get the money back whereas with American/United/Qatar, i have good experiences.

also saw the 10 ppl in one row for the a350 haha they have as many seats on an a350 as lufthansa on a jumbo jet. glad i haven't booked yet and will consider seriously whether its worth saving a few hundred bucks.

Posted by
5584 posts

FWIW, I had a very positive experience getting a refund from TAP.

I needed to cancel one flight last summer on TAP, from the Azores to Lisbon (I ended up booking a different flight later). Based on my reading of the refund rules in place at the time, I thought I should qualify for a full refund if I cancelled, but was concerned about all the complaints I saw online about dealing with TAP. This was in May or June -- I don't recall exactly, but at the time there was a huge COVID spike in Portugal, so I was expecting the worst (LOTS of UK residents were cancelling flights around then). To my surprise, I called TAP and got right through - phone was answered quickly by (what sounded like) a young woman, I could hear her dog barking, she was clearly working from home. I had all my info and gave it to her. She quickly confirmed that yes, I would be eligible for credit or a refund, whichever I preferred. I asked for the refund, she said no problem, the funds will be credited back to your credit card within 90 days (I was prepared for that, I had read the terms and they did say refunds would be within 90 days, not instant). I said OK. We chatted for a few minutes, she said she was indeed working from home (I could hear the dog and birds in the background), in a suburb of Lisbon, we exchanged pleasantries, wishes for COVID to end soon, etc. That was it, easy, quick and pleasant. Just short of 90 days later, the funds were credited back to my credit card, as promised.

So, while I'm sure there are plenty of posts online from people who are mad at TAP for something, my experience was just fine (and one would be hard-pressed to find any airline that doesn't have bad reviews online...). I booked and flew several legs on TAP during that trip last August and September, and they were perfectly fine. YMMV, but I'd have no concerns whatsoever about booking and flying with them in the future.

Posted by
12 posts

We flew TAP from Porto to Paris and it was fine. I’m planning to look at TAP first next time we go to Portugal.

Posted by
218 posts

Flew TAP economy LIS-BRU in 2019, everything fine, except 45 minutes late departing LIS because we were waiting for a departure slot. I don't think that was TAP's fault, however, more likely some issue backed up departures system wide that morning. Ended up doing a dead run in Brussels from A-48 (slidewalks weren't running), to passport control, slaloming through duty-free, and dead run to B-16 to make my connection, though.

TAP is reportedly using the same business class seats on their new A330-900neos as the United Polaris seats.

Posted by
8294 posts

I’d avoid French Bee like the plague. My son and 3 friends booked with them in Jan 2021 for a June 2021 flight. French Bee cancelled going and returning just before they were to leave. They had to scramble last minute to book with another airline (TAP, which they liked).

Even though French Bee cancelled on them last minute i gave them the benefit of the doubt, figured it wasn’t their fault since France had just opened up again to US tourists and circumstances beyond their control forced them to cancel last minute. Sooo… that same June, i booked flights for 2 of us for Oct 2021. I was sucked in by their very low prices. Well, French Bee cancelled on us last minute as well. All the other airlines were flying with no issues, no other airlines were cancelling flights en masse in Sept-Oct of 2021. Decided then, never again would i ever consider French Bee again.

Air France often has sales, keep your eyes out for those.

TAP was just rated (by whoever it is that rates them) one of the safest airlines if that matters to you. And as i said above, my son and his friends were very happy with TAP.

Posted by
227 posts

Thanks everyone for sharing. I had considered cramped seats and ory-cdg transfer with French bee but not the last minute cancellations.

Looks like TAP is good to go with. I shall use that as an excuse to do a Lisboa stopover :)