Spain Savvy Travel Trips:
Flying with Kids on TAP Portugal

The Spain Savvy family recently returned from a summer vacation in Massachusetts, USA.  We hadn’t been in 3 years so it was a lovely, albeit whirlwind, trip of catching up with family and friends.  We were also blessed with pleasant weather!

In the past, we have almost always flown to and from Spain (SVQ) with Iberia.  This time, we wanted to try out TAP PORTUGAL through Lisbon, which has fairly direct routes to Boston, Newark and other U.S. cities (forming part of the Star Alliance worldwide network for other connections, together with United Airlines).  We found them to be extremely affordable, keeping in mind the rule of thumb that the best time to book is around 6 months ahead of travel.  Here at Spain Savvy, we have been using them quite a bit with clients recently with rave reviews, and I have to say our experience was just wonderful!  For our travel dates, there was a great connection for the way out that only had us at the Lisbon airport for a couple of hours, which made for a total travel time of just around 12 hours.

Our return connection was not as short, around 6 hours, but there were unfortunately no other more direct options to Seville through Lisbon.  The Lisbon airport has a lot of entertainment options which made the time go more quickly.  Click here for a complete list of services available at the Lisbon airport, which include lots of shops and dining options, children’s play areas and family rooms, and even a luxury lounge with sofas and showers (for a fee).  The free WIFI throughout the airport worked great!

Our children are ages 6, 4 and almost 2.  The older two kids had their own seats and the little guy was a «lap baby», meaning that you pay a cheaper fare (gasoline and taxes only) and the baby has to sit on one an adult’s lap with a special seat belt adapter.  For the short flights Seville-Lisbon and Lisbon-Seville we occupied the entire row (2 seats on either side of the aisle) on the small propeller plane.  For the long-haul flight we occupied the entire middle row of 4 seats across.  We were able to confirm these seats on the TAP website and then made sure everything was in order on the telephone a few days before our trip.

Our kids will sleep anywhere, so they were fine curling up on their seats.  When the baby fell asleep in one of our arms, we would make a little cocoon for him out of the airline blankets on the floor in front of us and that worked out well.  They picked at the meals that were offered to them.  They do offer children’s meals but I inadvertently forgot to order them ahead of time, which in retrospect didn’t really matter as they would have picked at them just the same!  Kids at this age are more likely to snack rather than have a whole meal, so I made sure to bring some baggies of things I knew they would want to eat (crackers, candies as rewards for good behavior, etc.)  The baby pretty much just drank his bottles the whole time.  I brought them full and they were able to fill them up with milk for me once on the plane.  If you need to bring formula or breast milk while travelling, it’s usually not a problem as long as you bring minimal amounts.  Prepare to be stopped at security checkpoints at the airports so that they can send the containers through special scanners for liquids.

In terms of entertainment on the flight, my older kids brought (in their own backpacks) coloring books, their favorite toys and one tablet that they shared.  On the long-haul flights TAP offers in-flight entertainment on individual screens at each seat which the kids absolutely loved.  It was packed with movies, TV episodes and games geared towards the young set.  My 4 year old also loved to watch the real-time map of the plane on its path.  The baby was a bit more difficult to entertain, with plenty of short crying bouts and «get me off this plane!» moments but we would take him for walks around the plane and try to entertain him with small toys.  I have also found that toddlers love stickers for these boredom moments!

We brought our double sit-n-stand Joovy stroller to help haul our carry-on baggage and the kids through the airports which was a must.  For all the flights, TAP allows you to bring the stroller up to the aircraft for boarding and they give you your stroller as soon as you are de-boarding.

Overall, we were very pleased with ground and air services, tasty airline food, comfortable seats, and pleasant staff who checked in regularly on my kids to see how they were doing.  Our particular flights had no scheduling issues and our baggage was prompt, which always makes for a stellar experience.

Two thumbs up and a five-star rating for TAP Portugal!  We are already starting to collect our Victoria miles…

Contact Spain Savvy when you’re ready to book your flights to/from Spain/Portugal.  We’re happy to help you figure out the best way to do it and to hold your hand every step of the way.

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