Edson Cipriano, long before his ordeal at Lisbon airport

Business Class passenger opens judicial proceedings against TAP in Brazil

Edson Cipriano of Cipriano Slitter Technology alleges customer mistreatment and xenophobia

Following on from the Resident’s publication of a reader’s experience at Lisbon airport last weekend, we received a copy of an Open Letter sent to TAP CEO Christine Ourmières-Widener from Brazilian businessman Edson Cipriano.

The English version runs as follows:

“Dear Madam Christine,

We travelled to Europe in a group of 12 businessmen. We started in Portugal and also visited Germany, Poland and Holland. We bought a Business Class ticket from TAP in Brazil, through the Tristar Turismo Agency. It was a business trip.

We were very well received by friendly businessmen in Portugal, but now they are ashamed of what TAP did to us.

I have already visited 62 countries; I have 52 trips in China; 100 trips in Germany and another hundred in North America; I am not a first-timer. I fully understand that problems and unforeseen events can happen in aviation. I have seen a lot of bad things, but none as bizarre as the way TAP treated its customers.

Perhaps the most hostile service offered by airline employees that I have witnessed before was in the USA. It was very bad to see – but sometimes we understand because of what they have gone through with terrorism. I never imagined that, Portugal – a country that depends on tourism – could produce the worst customer treatment I have ever observed.

Our biggest problem was on the return-leg to Brazil: We had a flight from AMS (Amsterdam) to LIS (Lisbon) and then a connection from LIS to GRU (Garulhos airport in São Paulo) on June 28, 2022.

When boarding at AMS, we faced a big delay caused by TAP, because the original flight that came from LIS had arrived late at AMS.

Business Class passengers are entitled to a Lounge, but the Lounge that TAP uses in AMS was closed. There was a notice on the door, directing passengers to another Lounge, which was also closed. That is, it was not possible to use the Lounge in AMS, what would be our right and would have alleviated the inconvenience of the delay.

With the delay of the flight in AMS, the time of our connecting flight in LIS was limited.

When the plane landed in LIS they forced us to run a great deal to passport control/ immigration.

I have serious knee problems: I weigh100 kg, am 1.90m tall: I can’t run, but I managed.

After Immigration, another TAP employee forced us to run to gate 44, in order to board the flight to GRU. I seriously damaged my knees running.

When we arrived at gate 44, boarding was ongoing, I imagine there were about 60 people in the line. Economy class was still boarding. Business Class had already boarded.

We tried to use our Business Class Priority access, but boarding employees (names given) and a third party identified in the video, told us to wait – this made no sense since we were on time and everything was in order, and we were suffering from the stress of running.

We complained about this situation. The TAP employees clearly did not like our complaint, they do not accept complaints and started to treat us very badly.

We shouldn’t receive that kind of discriminatory treatment – but the situation became worse: they started to make fun of us, and they showed XENOPHOBIA against Brazilian citizens.

We were outraged by that. We didn’t believe it would be possible to be treated so badly. We asked for a supervisor or a manager, and they mocked us even more.

One of my traveling companions made a short film with his cell phone, just to have proof of what we were put through.

Due to this they got even more angry and said that they would not let us board, as punishment. They were canceling our trip, calling us “badly behaved passengers”.

They called a policeman, who accompanied us to immigration control. We had to go through the re-entry procedure into Portugal again.

We were not given any support; we were simply abandoned. It was past midnight by this time.

We were only informed that we could pick up our luggage at number 9 belt.

We went to the conveyor belt and the luggage never showed up. We went to the luggage claim service; after waiting hours, they told us to return the next day at 06:00 in the morning.

We had a hard time finding a hotel available in Lisbon, as all hotels were fully booked.

We turned to a friend who lives in Lisbon. He came to the airport at 2:30 am to collect us and with his car we went to several hotels looking for a vacancy, until, after a dozen, we found one with availability.

We managed to take a shower and sleep for an hour. I kept calling TAP for help, a minimum waiting time of more than an hour, waiting to be answered.

When I finally managed to speak with TAP, after 2 hours on the phone, at dawn, they indicated that we would be allocated a flight in the morning, but with destination CNF (Belo Horizonte-Confins, not our original destination GRU) with a connecting Azul flight to arrive at GRU. They even sent a e-mail confirming this rescheduling.

They recommended getting to the airport early at 6:00 am, and so we went on with the saga again.

At 6:00 am, we were once more mistreated: at check-in they would not accept us, even after we showed the confirmation email that TAP had sent. They sent us to the TAP desk, only two employees attending – a lot of people waiting; the need for a password – and the time passed.

We watched horrors there, how they mistreat Brazilians, humble people/ elderly people trying to solve their different problems and situations with TAP. The employees mock and use XENOPHOBIA all the time.

After a long time, they got to us. A lady with glasses, SUPER ARROGANT said that TAP does not like people who complain, and has the right, according to Portuguese laws, to reject passengers. For this reason our tickets were cancelled and we were forced to buy new tickets. In other words, we had to spend thousands of euros, again, just to be able to leave the country. 

In view of our exhaustion, my knees, the whole psychological wear and tear, we had no choice; we bought new tickets then and there. When I was at the boarding gate, and I consulted the connecting flight with another TAP employee, we realized they had penalised us again: they had put me on an AZUL flight for the next day – forcing me to spend an extra night in Belo Horizonte. The employee said that she couldn’t do anything about it at that moment, and we would have to try to fix the situation when we got to Brazil. 

In Brazil, Azul also made the situation difficult, saying there was no way to change a reservation made by TAP: I was forced to buy a ticket from Latam to be able to get home.

But we also had another unwelcome surprise on landing in Belo Horizonte: NO BAGGAGE! It was delivered 24 hours later, but with the suitcases all broken…

Then I see on Linkedin that TAP is celebrating that Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral made the first air crossing of the Atlantic in 1922. Could they have imagined that 100 years later TAP would treat customers so badly?

Edson Cipriano”