MAD – GIG
I’m a reasonably frequent short haul economy traveller on Iberia, for which the airline effectively offers a LCC service though with better legroom and reasonably pleasant Spanish focused food for purchase. I’ve generally found flights to be punctual and crew to be pleasant. However, Iberia reviews are often fairly poor so I was uncertain what to expect. My choice was driven mainly by price and the availability of a fully flat bed.
On arrival at Barajas’s cavernous T4S I spent a very pleasant couple of hours in Iberia’s Sala Valasquez – I think one of the best lounges there is. Comfortable seating in different zones and excellent food. A full bar and Spanish style hot and cold breakfast on offer. The lounge also has very pleasant views.
Boarding for Business Plus was through a separate air bridge, although we were left standing on the bridge for some 5-10 minutes as they were not in fact ready to board passengers.
The forward cabin is extremely spacious, only four rows. This was Iberia’s old BP offering and is not going to be replaced on the older A340s. Carpets and seat covers (seats are shell type but fully horizontal) are in restful shades of brown with bright orange pillows and quilts.
My jacket was taken promptly by a smiley crew member, but thereafter it was clear that we had arrived too early. There was a good ten minutes or so of shuffling around, opening up cupboards and general commotion before the service settled down and attention could be focused on the passengers. In that time however, I settled in and was struck by the sense of space, particularly as the cabin was less than half full. The cabin was generally clean but overall showing its age.
Once the preparation was over drinks, newspapers, magazines, menus and well stocked amenity bags were supplied with warm greetings. The Purser also came around with her iPad to introduce herself personally to each passenger, wish them a pleasant flight and take lunch orders. I thought this was a nice touch.
Take off was some thirty minutes late and it was another thirty minutes or so before drinks were offered. This felt too long! but once the service started I found it charmingly traditional and somewhat reminiscent of first class service in the early eighties. Drinks were served from an open trolley with full bottles and a large silver ice bucket. Nuts and olives were served from a large bowl, and hot (and dripping wet) towels offered in individual dishes.
Tables were laid with white cloths and mixed Spanish starters served and traditional almond gazpacho served on a tray, to which entrees were added. I had a tasty and very hot veal hamburger, but there were fish and pasta alternatives. Deserts were orange tart or hazelnut and chocolate ice cream with biscuit topping. There was a fine selection of Spanish reds and whites, with port and desert wine also offered. Unlike some of my fellow passengers who tried everything, I was by now nursing a head ache from early start so skipped the alcohol, but I was impressed by the pleasure which one of the crew members took in advising them on the selection and offering them tasters before they chose. That did however result in several hours of loud snoring which could be heard throughout the cabin. (There’s a cue for a separate thread!)
After lunch, blinds were lowered and bottles of water supplied and I settled down for a good, horizontal sleep. A bar had been set up at the back of the cabin with a limited selection of sandwiches and drinks.
The entertainment system is touch screen but didn’t really have a huge amount to offer.
About 1 1/2 out of Rio a tasty light meal of Spanish meats bread and fruit was served along with a wide selection of teas and coffees. Landing was on time and disembarkation quick.
This was a surprisingly pleasant flight ( certainly didnt feel like ten hours)and I would certainly consider and recommend Iberia’s business offering. Having taken a short haul hop on their new A330, which features an entirely new cabin throughout, this should further upgrade the overall experience. It is a shame though that Iberia can’t get is economics/management right because at heart it appeared, at least from this flight, to have a very high standard of inflight service to offer, from a mature crew who appeared assured and genuinely personable, and with a good overall product to offer.