MAD – LHR
Transferring from Iberia’s long haul to short haul flights generally requires a change from T4S to T4 at Barajas. The size of the airport means this is quite a hike and involves a lot of escalators, lifts, transit train and passing through security screening at T4. There was quite a sizeable queue considering it was before 7am but this flowed reasonably quickly. The main problem is that you have to fill trays with luggage and other items then carry them to the x-ray machine, which is difficult if you have laptops as well as hand luggage and particularly challenging for people travelling with children or those requiring extra help. It would be good if they could sort this with longer conveyor belts.
Once in the terminal the hunt for the Iberia lounge was somewhat confused by refurbishment in progress, but a helpful man at the information desk escorted me to the stairs that took me to the un-signposted lounge.
This is less impressive than the lounge in T4S, with a modest offering of breakfast pastries, cereal and drinks and more awkward seating. I booked a shower at the reception desk and was shortly called, but only to be offered a cold shower as they had run out of hot water. Declining this rather peculiar offer, I was called again some ten minutes later. The shower room was spacious and clean with ample towels and toiletries, and I emerged feeling considerably refreshed and ready for the last leg of a long journey.
UK flights depart form the H gates at the far end of the terminal and past passport control. When I arrived, boarding was starting and I pushed through to the front for priority boarding where chancing economy passengers were being turned away. But as before we then spent a good ten minutes on the air bridge before being allowed to enter the plane.
The Purser was engrossed in her iPad and there were no greetings on offer although she subsequently proved to be very cheerful. I do still find it odd to walk on to a plane without some form of acknowledgement as this so often sets the tone of a flight. Seating is standard economy but with centre seats empty so it felt comfortable enough for a two hour fight to London. Push back/take-off was reasonably prompt and after a fairly lengthy set up, hot breakfast was served. This was a generous affair of omelette, cold meats, fruit, yoghurt drink, croissant, toast and jam, with olive oil available for the toast on request. Coffee, tea and drinks came some time later ( it would have been nice to have had it all together), but refills were offered, together with extra bread and water. Cabin service was further enhanced by those serving in the economy cabin coming forward to speed clearing up, and deal with duty free and landing cards.
After a short hold, we were on the ground, with baggage arriving some twenty minutes or so after I had reached the belt. Priority baggage was not first off!
Overall a perfectly pleasant service, and fine if continuing from a long haul business flight, but not really worth paying for on a standalone basis, had it been coming out of my own pocket.