How to get to the Azores? Which air­line to choose? Is it worth to make a stop­over? How did i pre­pare for my move to the Azores?

My travel exper­i­ence when mov­ing to the Azores

When I moved to the Azores I had quite a few suit­cases with me (I was trav­el­ling with my par­ents, because I wanted to show them my new home). At this stage the choices to travel from Bud­apest to Pon­ta Del­gada were some­what lim­ited. So I ended up opt­ing for a com­bin­a­tion of Wizz Air & TAP Por­tugal air­lines. At Wizz Air I went for the Wizz Plus, at TAP Por­tugal the Busi­ness Class option. Sadly, when I booked our tick­ets there was no dir­ect TAP Por­tugal flight between Bud­apest and Lis­bon – but there is one since the sum­mer of 2017 which makes plan­ning and organ­iz­ing trips to the Azores so much easi­er, and also more com­fort­able.

In case of Wizz Air the Wizz Plus tick­et allows 1 piece of max­im­um 32 kg check-in lug­gage, a rel­at­ively large cab­in lug­gage and a smal­ler hand­bag or per­son­al item, cam­era bag or laptop bag. In case of TAP Por­tugal the Busi­ness Class tick­et allows 2 pieces of max­im­um 23 kg check-in lug­gage. There­fore, when pack­ing our bags – since I was not the only one trav­el­ing – we applied the „suit­case in a suit­case” meth­od. 

The „suit­case in a suit­case” meth­od means that the per­son­al belong­ings were packed in smal­ler, ultra light fold­able suit­cases (pur­chased at IKEA) and these ultra light suit­cases were put into the big suit­cases mak­ing sure that the weight of the big suit­cases was with­in the 32 kg lim­it. Then dur­ing the stop­over these ultra light suit­cases were checked-in sep­ar­ately or were again merged and put into a big suit­case, mak­ing sure that the num­ber and weight of the check-in lug­gages did not exceed 2 pieces per trav­el­ler and a max­im­um of 23 kg. Using this “trick” I man­aged to take a lot of per­son­al belong­ings with me to the Azores.

A digit­al lug­gage scale is a travel essen­tial every trav­el­er should own

The best and cheapest option at Wizz Air is to pur­chase the extra bag­gage allow­ance dur­ing the tick­et book­ing. If you are not sure how many items of lug­gage will you have at the end, I recom­mend leav­ing the print­ing of the board­ing passes to the last minute. Also, extra bag­gage allow­ance can be booked online in addi­tion to an exist­ing book­ing up to 3 hours pri­or depar­ture (much cheap­er than at the air­port).

New pos­sib­il­it­ies with TAP Por­tugal air­line

All what I said about the Wizz Air – TAP Por­tugal com­bin­a­tion is a thing of the past. As of 1st of July 2017 there is a dir­ect TAP Por­tugal flight avail­able between Bud­apest and Lis­bon which makes plan­ning an Azorean hol­i­day much easi­er. There is a dir­ect flight almost every day between Hun­gary and Por­tugal. How­ever, there is no dir­ect flight from Bud­apest to the Azores yet, which means we need to make a stop­over on our way to Para­dise. The most likely stop­over options in Por­tugal are Lis­bon and Porto.

I can only recom­mend tak­ing the TAP Por­tugal „STOPOVER” option when plan­ning a Por­tugal round trip. I have heard it from a fel­low trav­el­er and I think it is a bril­liant idea: when a book­ing is made with stop­over, TAP Por­tugal is offer­ing an activ­ity in the stop­over city – Lis­bon or Porto – for free. An activ­ity might be a 3 hour sight­see­ing tour, wine tast­ing etc. there are sev­er­al options and I think it is some­thing worth try­ing out.

How­ever, if you have some­thing else on your mind or you are vis­it­ing Lis­bon or Porto not as a stop­over, but as a prop­er city break it might be a good idea to seek advice from the Hun­gari­an tour guides – whom I already intro­duced in a pre­vi­ous blog post – in these cit­ies. You can get a lot of – also insider – inform­a­tion about the city and Por­tugal with­in a few hours, in Hun­gari­an.

Flight con­nec­tions are pretty good and involve reas­on­able wait times, but it still takes at least 6 hours to arrive at Pon­ta Del­gada (from Bud­apest), with the flight arriv­ing around mid­night on the Azores.

Per­son­ally, my favour­ite is the SATA Azorean air­lines. Even though I did not book myself into expens­ive travel classes, I felt like a VIP every time I trav­elled with them. It was such a nice exper­i­ence, I even thanked the flight attend­ants. They did not do any­thing extraordin­ary, but they were very attent­ive and nice with every­body.

I have also exper­i­enced this VIP feel­ing on a few flights with TAP Por­tugal. Once I was upgraded to first class which has been par­tic­u­larly nice. TAP Por­tugal is also doing one or two pro­mo­tions every year to encour­age Hun­gari­ans to travel to Por­tugal. One of these pro­mo­tions is usu­ally at the begin­ning of the cal­en­dar year and gives a 10 to 15% dis­count on the air­fare. It is there­fore a good idea to book dur­ing these pro­mo­tion­al peri­ods.

Trav­el­ing with TAP Por­tugal has sev­er­al bene­fits com­pared to the low-cost / chan­ging ter­min­als at con­nect­ing flights options (for example Wizz Air + Ryanair). Accord­ing to my exper­i­ence in case of low-cost air­lines you always need to change ter­min­als, and you can­not check in your lug­gage for the entire jour­ney (in fact, you need to take it from the bag­gage reclaim and check it in again before board­ing the con­nect­ing flight at the oth­er air­line). Also the wait­ing area at the low-cost ter­min­als is far from com­fort­able. There isn’t enough seat­ing, the restrooms are unclean, and there is little to no food options – espe­cially for someone on a gluten-free diet. All in all, not a nice exper­i­ence – and I traveled in the spring, in the sum­mer, and early autumn. Of course, this is my exper­i­ence only, oth­er trav­el­ers might have oth­er pri­or­it­ies.

The advant­ages of trav­el­ing with TAP Por­tugal

Hereby I would like to note, that this is not sponsored con­tent, what you can read below is based on my own exper­i­ence. I am only hop­ing to give you all the pos­sible inform­a­tion so you can make the best decision about how you travel.

Apart from the avail­able good flight con­nec­tions, the main advant­age of trav­el­ing with TAP Por­tugal is that the lug­gage can be checked in from Bud­apest all the way to Pon­ta Del­gada which makes chan­ging flights very com­fort­able – with only a cab­in lug­gage to carry and stay­ing with­in the same ter­min­al build­ing.

Also a major bene­fit of trav­el­ling with one air­line: if the first flight is delayed, the con­nect­ing flight will most likely wait for the trans­fer pas­sen­gers (or trans­fer pas­sen­gers will be booked auto­mat­ic­ally on the next flight and will be looked after by the ground crew). This is obvi­ously not the case when you are trav­el­ing with a low-cost air­line com­bin­a­tion.

With only one lug­gage policy to adhere to, there is no need to reor­gan­ize lug­gages – as per the „suit­case in a suit­case” tech­nique, or any oth­er way – before check­ing in on the second flight.

I can there­fore abso­lutely recom­mend trav­el­ing with TAP Por­tugal. You can find more inform­a­tion here: www​.tap​.pt

One more obser­va­tion: my flight has nev­er been delayed when trav­el­ling with SATA and TAP Por­tugal (unlike in case of Ryanair where there has been a delay almost every time).

Ever since the TAP Por­tugal dir­ect flight between Bud­apest and Lis­bon has been intro­duced the Wizz Air + Ryanair com­bin­a­tion is not really an attract­ive option any­more (neither in terms of price, nor in terms of travel time).

How to get to Pon­ta Del­gada from coun­tries oth­er than Hun­gary?

With SATA Azorean Air­line from Toronto, Montreal, Frank­furt, Lis­bon, Porto, Fun­chal, Lon­don (Gatwick), Boston, Provid­ence (USA).
With TAP Por­tugal Air­line from Lis­bon and Porto. 
With Ryanair from Frank­furt, Lis­bon, Porto, Lon­don (Stansted), Manchester. 
With TUI from Brus­sels. 
With Primera Air from Cop­pen­ha­gen, Bil­lund, and All­borg. 

As of spring 2018 there will be new Ger­mania flights from Duessel­dorf, and DELTA flights from New York.

How to do insel-hopping at the Azores?

Island-hopping can be most con­veni­ently done with the help of SATA Azorean air­line. Under cer­tain con­di­tions, this air­line offers FREE flights between the islands (more inform­a­tion is avail­able in Eng­lish when click­ing the link). Based on my exper­i­ence the price of these island-hopping flights is pretty much set and barely changes, is how­ever rel­at­ively expens­ive.

I hope I could give you a few ideas for plan­ning your trip to the Azores.

If you liked this post and have some fur­ther ques­tions, please leave it in the com­ments below or on the Face­book page Azori Eden, altern­at­ively you can drop me an email at hello@​azorieden.​com. For more pho­tos and inspir­a­tion please head over to the Eden Azores Ins­tagram.

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