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My Escapes Portugal Lisbon Flight Connection in Lisbon My First Lisbon Portela Airport Experience

My First Lisbon Portela Airport Experience

January 23, 2014
January 6, 2015

Flying from Barcelona to Madeira, I had to stop at Lisbon's airport for the connecting flight.
My first Lisbon Portela Airport experience was one with a bitter taste.
As I was looking for my gate, the airport staff was frequently ignorant or gave me misleading information, signs were lacking and I nearly lost my flight to Madeira.

TAP Portugal airline meal

My TAP meal: pretty basic. The red cup was later used for coffee.

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This stop at the airport followed my Barcelona - Lisbon flight, on which I had the chance to board an Airbus A319 (it was my first time on this type of jet).

After the smooth flight in great weather, I liked the A319 more than the A320's or the Boeing 737's. TAP's A319 was spacious and cabin noise was low.

I can't withold myself from writing a bit more about this flight, which I enjoyed quite a lot...

Lisbon - Vasco da Gama Bridge

Flying above Lisbon: Vasco da Gama Bridge!

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After flying across the brown arid lands of the Iberian Peninsula, we started our descent above Lisbon and I was overwhelmed by the massive city, which showed up below us.

Vast house block quarters, high-rises. Concrete jungle.

Lisbon felt a lot better than it really is. It reminded me of Tokyo...

Portela Airport

Our target: Portela Airport

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Once landed, I was checking the planes parked at the Portela Airport.

Most of the "birds" belonged to TAP, SATA, a few to PGA, plenty had Iberia livery and several were Lufthansa jets.

Huge Lisbon

Huge Lisbon. Massive houseblocks. Concrete jungle.

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We arrived at Terminal 1.
I had little time to walk around (inside) the airport building. Ate a few slices of pizza and drank a bit to calm my hunger and thirst. I had plenty more time to start looking for my gate.

Lisbon stadium

Soccer stadiums... of course!

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During my search for the terminal, the airport personnel was entirely unhelpful, many even ignored me (shrugging and snubbing).
No maps, no signs or arrows inside the confusing chaotic airport.
Three uniformed (airport employee) dorises were chatting at a desk and as I asked them where I could find my gate, they mutely turned their backs and continued their blabby.

Other employees showed disinterest, many pointing their finger to a particular direction like: "it's there, it's there!".

Iberia jet

An Iberia jet

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I got misdirected several times and after having searched most of the Terminal 1 building, I almost boarded a Lufthansa jet - bound for Madeira (!).
Gate was closed, but "Madeira" was listed as destination. Unfortunately this wasn't my flight. But it would have felt so great if it were...

The dorises at that gate were the only helpful people I asked - The "big secret" was that Terminal 2 is in an entirely different building.

...and quite far away, kilometers drive away. Almost like "in the next town". Oh boy!

I was running late...

I had to wait for ages for the connecting bus to take me to the other terminal.
During the a turn inside the airport, the driver even got stuck between two light poles and attempted the turn again... and again... and again... and again...

A hilarious, to me it was tragicomic. Some passengers exploded in laugher. I guess our driver had a Sisyphus moment.

Unbelievable, we finally managed to turn without wrecking the airport's installations.

Our borracho driver eerily looked like Barney Gumble from "The Simpsons". So much, he could have been Barney's real life twin.

I felt like I was on a chicken bus, but one driven by a garbage truck driver.

The bus ride could have taken 10-15 minutes without the "supplimentary activities" of "Barney", but this ride consumed around 45 minutes(!).

I thought I'd freeze as I saw our driver literally stop by another bus passing by (from opposite direction), only to have a window-by-window chat with his colleague... the chattery alone consumed 20-30 minutes!

And this was actually inside the airport, not far from the planes (!).

The blabby almost cost me my flight...

So, "Barney Gumble" then drove us out of the airport area onto a highway.

We got off at the smaller, uglier terminal, where I finally boarded... (strangely) the same jet that brought me over from Barcelona.

Behold: the airplane bound for Funchal, Madeira had the same staff as my previous flight and, it quite possibly was the same A319 jey... of course - the same airline meal!
...and I was lucky enough

My plane had nice "extra leg room" seat (for which at the TAP office in Barcelona they made me pay extra!) - despite being on economy class. But this plane was just slightly above half-full!

Check my flight from Lisbon to Funchal page for photos about the flight I was about to take!

Escape Hunter

About the Author:

Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...


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