Trip report: Winter getaway

February 18th 2015, 18:08 | Written by Konstantin Koll

This trip report is about my recent winter getaway to Southern Europe, featuring four flights on TAP Portugal: DUS-LIS-FNC and back on Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft.

Last week, I've been to LIS on a business trip, and decided to tag on FNC for a quick winter getaway. Naturally, my ticket was booked with TAP Portugal: they are virtually the only carrier serving FNC daily, and I had to be back home on a certain day. Madeira is not only a great destination located off the coast of Africa, but FNC also provides great opportunities for planespotting!

DUS-LIS

The first leg of my itinerary took me from DUS to LIS on an Airbus A319. The flight was scheduled to leave at 12:35, so I was at DUS around 10am after a 2 hour train ride. Moving our offices came with the disadvantage of a worse commute to my homebase DUS :(

The checkin kiosk booked me all the way through to FNC, so the LIS-FNC leg had to be manually cancelled—otherwise I would be unable to retrieve my bag for the layover in LIS. Security was a breeze that morning, and I treated myself to a decent breakfast and some free newspapers to kill the time before boarding.

Today's flight to LIS was almost fully booked. After boarding and taxiing to runway 23L, we climbed out of DUS over the city of Düsseldorf, with the usual wonderful view over downtown. After reaching our cruising altitude, service commenced. I was pleasently surprised to get a warm lunch on an intra-european flight. The noodles with chicken were quite tasty, though not too filling. After making our way above France, the Bay of Biscay and Northern Spain, we quickly reached Portugal and began our descent into LIS. LIS is a relatively small airport located near downtown, which provides some great views on approach. It is easily accessible by metro service.

Lisbon

For your stay in Lisbon, I highly recommend the “Fontecruz Lisboa” hotel on Avenida da Liberdade, with a metro station directly outside. As I had to get up early the next morning and it was raining, I've opted for a ride on the old tram 28 line to get at least a glimpse of the city.

LIS-FNC

After getting up early and conduction business, I've made my way back to the airport for the second flight of my itinerary: LIS-FNC. Originally, an Airbus A319 was scheduled for this flight, but there was an equipment change at the last minute to an A320. This was very surprising as the outbound flight had a very light load. The flight to FNC was rather uneventful, but offered some great views of the Atlantic Ocean, PXO and the rest of Porto Santos, and of course the spectecular approach to FNC.

FNC provides some great opportunities for planespotters, once when boarding or disembarking a flight on the ramp (there are no jetbridges), and also from the visitor's terrace. The visitor's terrace is accessible to the public, so there is no need to deposit your bags after arrival. On my visit, two TAP Portugal planes were parked on the ramp, with an Airbus A320 just leaving for OPO, and the A320 I've arrived in bound back for LIS. There was also an Easyjet Airbus A320 on approach from BRS, so you can call it a rather busy afternoon for the winter season.

Madeira

Madeira offers many sights and acitivities, even in winter. Though it was February, my day off was warm (20°), so I've packed my photography equipment and visited the “Jardim Tropical de Monte”, a very beautiful garden with tropical plants, Asian style paths and bridges and cultural artifacts. After walking the small streets of Funchal, I've called it a day at the “Indian House”, a very good Indian restaurant which I highly recommend.

FNC-LIS-DUS

My alarm clock rang at 2am in the morning to catch my flight back home at 5:10am. I've made it to the airport around 3:30, which gave me some time to check out the visitor's terrace after checking my back. Again, two TAP Portugal Airbus were on the ramp: an A319 bound for OPO later that morning, and my A320 ride to LIS.

This morning's flight to LIS was fully booked, probably with lots of people connecting to another flight like myself. Takeoff was on time, and just right for a gorgeous sunrise right before approaching LIS. My connection to DUS was very tight as my onbound flight was parked on a remote stand and we were bussed to the terminal building. Fortunately, the airport is rather small, so I've managed to reach the gate just in time for boarding.

The block time to DUS this morning was just under three hours, and the route would take us over the Bay of Biscay and France. Just before Paris, the clouds parted to allow a quick peek on the city. We've landed in DUS on time. All in all, I can highly recommend TAP Portugal for any trips in their route network. You'll be in for some great inflight service and a small and thus efficient hub when connecting in LIS.

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