I came under criticism when I wrote recently about the situation at TAP, especially as I said I always fly Business Class with TAP. What I didn’t say is that apart from domestic flights, I have never paid for Business Class, European or to North America. You don’t have to either! Learn to take advantage of the opportunities available to collect flight miles. Its easier than you think.

You can enjoy more spacious seating, or lie flat across the pond, fast personalised check in desks, fast track through security, a great lounge in Lisbon (one of the best in Europe), priority boarding at the gate, a good standard of meals on board not to mention a good selection of Portuguese wines. You can also choose and reserve your preferred meal in advance (from the dishes available) so you are guaranteed to get the meal of your choice, and served on proper china, not plastic.

Get free air miles

You are probably no stranger to the concept of air miles, but do you know how to earn them free of charge? Its surprising how few people take advantage of what’s on offer. There are various TAP air miles cards available, in fact a new one was launched by TAP this week. These credit cards all carry the same basic offer. For every Euro you spend, you get a free air mile. Some cards offer two air miles per Euro though there is usually a small extra annual fee to get this advantage.

If you use you TAP linked credit card for everything, from shopping to fuel for the car, restaurants all purchases, large and small, it’s surprising how fast these miles add up. It costs you nothing to use one of these cards instead of your usual credit card. If you would prefer to fly in comfort, buy everything with one of these cards.

How to get a TAP credit card

One of the biggest issuers of these cards is Millennium BCP bank. They offer three cards, Classic, Gold and Platinum. Click here to find out more or look on the Millennium BCP website under credit cards and specify TAP cards. The Platinum card costs a larger annual fee but reward you with two air miles for every Euro. All cards offer some sort of bonus miles for joining. The Platinum card offers two miles for each Euro spent plus, access to the TAP lounges in Portugal, extra luggage, use of the executive class check in counter, fast track through the airport. Very useful extras for regular travelers.

TAP now offer their own credit card, TAP Miles and Go. This card offers one mile for every euro spent and some additional benefits and bonus miles if you sign up this card. More information can be found here or on the TAP website. For this card you can apply on-line and is available whatever bank you use. Its important to review the benefits and offers on each of these cards to see which one offers you the best advantages. If you opt to pay 19,99 euros you can get double miles for every euro spent, plus other advantages.

TAP Miles and Go

If you need more miles there is another alternative, in addition to the Miles ad Go credit cards. You can also purchase miles from TAP using their Miles and Go programme. This is not a credit card, it’s a quick and economic way of receiving air miles on a monthly basis, along with other advantages, depending on the level you choose.

There is a choice of ‘Miles’, ‘Silver’ or ‘Gold’. Each carries a monthly or annual fee, you are not getting air miles free of charge as you do with the credit cards, but this is a good way to build up air miles quickly at a reasonable cost.

The basic card will cost you 9.49 Euros a month and credits you with 1,000 air miles every month, plus an extra 2,000 miles on joining. The top end card, Platinum, will cost you 67,99 a month and will credit you with 8,000 air miles every month, plus a joining bonus of 22,000 air miles. The higher the card level, the more ‘extras’ you get such as access to the TAP lounges, priority boarding etc.

How to use air miles to get Business Class service

Again, there are many choices on how to use your TAP air miles. You can use them to upgrade from economy, you can use the ‘miles and cash’ offer or buy totally with air miles. For miles only a return Business Class ticket will cost you 65,000 air miles to most European destinations. Longer distance European flights will cost 73,000 air miles. If you opt for miles and cash, then the cost is 47,800 plus 122 Euros or 55,800 plus 122 Euros. North America will cost 200,000 air miles or 128,600 plus 500 Euros. To upgrade from economy, you will need 15,000 or 18,000 airmiles for Europe or 68,000 air miles to upgrade from economy to North America. There is a good guide to all the options and costs here

To add further alternative, TAP air miles can be used for tickets on Star Alliance airlines, but you need more air miles if booking on one of the partner airlines.

Play your cards right

If the low-cost airlines offers are not attractive, you can fly in greater comfort and with a far better on the ground experience. Best of all, you can do this free of charge (except airport taxes) if you ‘play your cards right’ and take advantage of what’s on offer by using these cards for your everyday purchases.