Iberia A320 & A330 short-haul trip reportsBack to Forum
To give some context, I booked via ba.com a BA flight in Economy out to Spain and the return on Iberia in Business class on an A330 from Madrid into LHR.
For a flight from BCN to MAD, I was thinking to book Air Europa who had a 787 plying the lunchtime flight and thought to give them another try, and indeed started the booking process. However I could not get past their first page and I think the website did not like my phone number (?), so I then called them up. However the line quality was so poor I could barely hear the agent (a constant loud SSSHH sound), so I had to hang up and try again. But after 20 minutes of waiting to speak to someone I gave up, and decided to use Avios on an Iberia flight instead.
Air Europa if you ever read this website: Why is booking with you such a tedious process?
I will not review the BA flight out and this report will focus on the Iberia flights:-
BCN-MAD on an A320 in Economy
MAD-LHR on an A330 in Business
I had checked in online the day before. Annoyingly my laptop was playing up and so was able to use the hotel PC in their reception (which was essential for other tasks as well). Online check-in was an easy process but recall it did not give me the option of switching seats at that stage.
I took the very straight forward Aerobus to Terminal 1. I did know there was a separate area for the Iberia Barcelona-Madrid Shuttle (Puente Aereo) but did not see this signposted when I entered the terminal, so headed to the desks indicated on the departure screens and the Iberia Business check in counter (am Oneworld Emerald) to drop my bag off etc. I waited maybe 7-8 minutes before being served by a pleasant fellow who gave me my printed boarding card and told me where the fast track security area was.
I headed there but recall wondering if I would be given access and indeed I was not (had an issue previously) . So despite what Iberia say, Oneworld Emerald does NOT entitle you to Fastrack security at BCN. I was turned away and pointed to the other queue. I knew I had loads of time so thought to find the Puente Aereo (Shuttle) security which was maybe a 10 minute walk to find and maybe 2 floors down. There it was easy-peasy and no queue at all.
I had looked at the Oneworld lounges website and knew that the lounge near gates 1-10 was not an Iberia operated or branded lounge (it once was), and is now the Pau Casals lounge. The welcome was not particularly warm or friendly (she did not even look at me) but it was a spotless lounge and with a good selection of food for breakfast. My grumble would be the coffee machine – one of those Nespesso ones and nothing else.
But I ate well before heading for a walk in the terminal and then headed to the now announced gate. It was all a bit chaotic and thought things were not quite right when the plane at the gate then pulled off! However after 5 minutes another gate was announced and we headed there- although that gate at first had no staff or any queue signs etc. An IB A320 with the Oneworld livery then docked and once those passengers were off and the plane cleaned a bit(?). Boarding for Group 1 was announced.
Friendly welcome on board and headed to row 7, which I then noticed had less legroom than rows 1-6. So unlike BA, Iberia gives more space to Business class and less space to economy, and so unlike BA will have a far less flexible cabin set up – but then BA has EU routes which may have Club Europe going to row 12-13.
My wheely suitcase went up and I sat down and the legroom was tight, even tighter than BA and I could not sit with my knees facing forward – I suddenly regretted not keeping the Exit Seat I had first selected! And it got cosier as soon I had a neighbour on this very full flight. I think this was the smallest pitch I had ever come across on a plane.
In the seat pocket there was sadly no Ronda (Iberia’s inflight magazine) to enjoy. It has always been one of the better magazines but I will come to this later. There was a menu of the food or drinks for purchase but only one for the 3 seats – surely limiting demand if not all passengers see the card or see something to whet their appetite!
I wanted to charge my phone but it was impossible to see what plug sockets there were below as the eating was so tight. My neighbour took a photo to show me and I was out of luck. No UK plug or European plug but only a USB which was not on me.
The Purser came to see me as a Oneworld Emerald member to welcome me which was a nice touch. We pulled off about 20 minutes late but I know about padded schedules so knew we would likely arrive on time.
Flight was pleasant and a trolley came around, from which I had a (very nothing special) coffee at just short of 3Euro.
On arrival at Barajas after a long taxi we connected to the terminal and I went to collect my bags. It must have taken at least 30 minutes of waiting when the airport was not busy. I used the time to charge my phone but also remembered on previous arrivals at this (Terminal 4) terminal when the luggage had also taken ages. Furthermore I have many friends who have used MAD to connect to-from Latin America and frequently their bags have not caught the connection. In addition to this they found IB staff not that helpful (or not at all) and of course this caused much inconvenience so they tend to avoid IB now. Anyway mine did thankfully come through and I was on my way to enjoy this magnificent city.
Now checking in for this online was not easy. As mentioned my laptop was not working (not connecting to wifi) and my hotel (brand new and high end) did not have a PC guests could use. So I had to use my mobile phone. I went to ba.com which connected me to the IB website- in Spanish without giving English as an option. My Spanish is reasonable but along with other aspects of this process it became a very tedious experience. Maybe I am spoilt as BA have all my passport info etc stored – but to enter loads of stuff and it really was not easy and I got very behind schedule.
Anyway eventually I did and went to Madrid airport Terminal 4 the next day.
I headed to the premium check in areas and there was a section for Business Class and a separate queue area for Emerald members! It was very quiet with more staff than customers but I still had to wait a few minutes to get checked on/baggage dropped off!
Anyway the lady was helpful and pleasant and gave directions for fastrack and the lounge. Security staff were professional and more pleasant than most, and I made the trek from the main terminal via multiple escalators and the shuttle train to then South Terminal for intercontinental flights and non Schengen etc. Allow at least 15 minutes for this. The lounge entrance is almost hidden to the side of a duty fee store, but having been here many times I knew where to look.
I am a big fan of this Iberia lounge and it did not disappoint. It is very wide indeed with apron and runway views. There are two food and drinks areas and the quality is very high with multiple hot and cold food options. It is a very relaxing and calm space with many charging points and different seats. A minus point though is there is no tap to refill plastic bottles so I asked the bar lady if she had a faucet and she took my bottle into the kitchen which was kind of her.
It is a very nice place to be in. I complemented the catering staff there about the choice and quality of the food which they accepted very graciously.
And good news was there were copies of Ronda in the lounge – the historic Iberia magazine! And once again had good articles on places, food, wine which all gave food for thought, and adverts for products and services I would not otherwise have known about and so these have gone on my radar. This really should be more widely distributed – It is part of the Iberia experience and a platform or showcase for Iberia services, their destinations and Spain itself.
As per usual I did look at the back pages for their route maps and noticed that Qatar and Doha did not get any mention or show on the map even – when IB codeshare with QR to Doha up to 3 times a day! Pre Covid IB had started Maldives but do not know if this is due to come back and this map was obviously not updated.
Anyway after not enough time in the lounge and having eaten a bit too much (although held back on too much wine) I headed to the gate and boarding started very quickly. Group one had their own jetbridge to door 1 on the A330-200 and the others had their bridge to door 2.
I settled into a window seat where the seat was adjacent to the actual window as opposed to the seat closer to the aisle. The seat is wide and of course can go fully flat and there was plenty of footspace. Maybe having a pillow could have helped make the seat more comfy but perhaps these are only used on longer flights. It is easy to slide the tray around in order to get to the aisle and I prefer these seats to the ones which are at an angle to or away to the cabin wall/window.
I had not realised until booking this trip that Iberia’s A330-200 are NOT fitted with premium economy, only their A330-300 and A350s are.
Soon after the doors closed the purser came once again to welcome me onboard. However I am not sure there was an actual seatbelt check as just before take off I realised I was not belted up…
It was sad to leave Madrid but it is a city that always lifts me. Soon after this lift off the crew came around with menu cards – always a nice touch, although this detailed the meals onboard there was no drink list, unlike BA Club Europe for example. This is an area which IB should improve on as the offering is very decent.
Food choice was a seafood meal or a pasta, and I had the latter. The male FA laughed when I said the colours of the dish exactly matched the colours in the Iberia lively and indeed dinner looked like 2 Iberia tails! Catering was by Do and Co (it was reasonable but not outstanding) and there were plenty of drink refill offers. They know the UK market! They also served a “Spanish Baileys” which I have had before which was lovely.
The flight had wifi for messages etc which was good to have – the purser helped me access it and during the flight had a wonder into the economy cabin which was totally full. I did notice how everyone looked comfortable and had reasonable shoulder and personal space – not what a 787 economy cabin would be like! Cabin crew friends tell me how restless economy class passengers are when on 787 and so this reminded me just how nice the A330 is for both business and economy passengers.
After only 1 hour and 45 minutes we had landed which was frankly too soon.
Regular followers of this forum will know I have grumbled about IB many times, and I still have concerns about some parts of their operations, customer service procedures and attitude, as well as website. But the IB J product on A330/A350s is a good space to be in and the crew at least on these flights were all warm and efficient. Food is usually reasonable and the lounge at T4S one I especially look forward to.
I hope this report is of some use and my apologies for any typos!23 Aug 2023
Great report. I concur with the lack of leg room on some Iberia aircraft, I recall flying Berlin to Madrid with Iberia and being shocked almost to the point of feeling claustrophobic and unsafe. Incidentally I connected to Rio and my bag didn’t make it (the only time that has ever happened to me). I would suggest downloading the app for each airline you fly with, it makes checking in much more straightforward than using a desktop.23 Aug 2023
When I read the headline my first was ‘another Iberia service failure report’
In the many years that I have read posts re this airline this is the only positive one that I can recall and good to read it – although I still won’t be rushing to fly with them – one swallow etc
Thanks for the interesting report sparkyflier24 Aug 2023
AndrewinHK you make a good point re very limited legroom/pich on some IB planes – in an emergency this would be very difficult to get out of.
And re luggage, I suspect you were savvy enough to allow a reasonable connecting time in Madrid which just shows there is a risk element here for hold luggage which is one of the factors driving customers to AF/KL or desiring direct flights.
Re check in and Aps, I have never had a problem checking in from a desktop, and have learnt to always get a physical/printed boarding card, not just in case of battery dying etc but also for the sake of allocating miles and points etc.
Years ago I took 4 RJ flights and to prove I was on them had to send copies of boarding cards to BAEC to get the points and recently a friend never got tier points and Avios from IB flights on his BAEC – and did not have evidence he had actually flown them even though he had the app.
As an aside earlier this year I took a number of flights on RJ and MH and the allocated the flights to BAEC way quicker than… BA!
What I forgot to say in my report at the end was about the luggage delivery at LHR T5. The A330 docked at the C gates and I was one of the first off the plane. I had to take the shuttle train of course to the main terminal, which was quiet with no queue at the e-gates. I then headed to the luggage belt, when.. the cases for that flight started to arrive within 2 minutes. This was really fast and impressive. Pity Barajas was not that quick and could learn something from LHR.24 Aug 2023
sparkyflier wrote: “What I forgot to say in my report at the end was about the luggage delivery at LHR T5. The A330 docked at the C gates and I was one of the first off the plane. I had to take the shuttle train of course to the main terminal, which was quiet with no queue at the e-gates. I then headed to the luggage belt, when.. the cases for that flight started to arrive within 2 minutes.”
I live in NW London, about 40 minutes by car from LHR T5, using the M25 when it is relatively empty and no traffic jams. On a return journey a few months ago at about 9 pm, from the exit door opening, onto the airbridge in the C pier, on the shuttle to pier A, through immigration to the baggage hall, collecting three suitcases, on to “Meet and Greet” to collect my car, then up the motorway to my home, was completed in 85 minutes.
Sometimes you are lucky, sometimes not.24 Aug 2023
LHR is hit or miss – usually miss! HK and in particular Cathay are so efficient with baggage delivery – i dread LHR and Europe in comparison. BA hopeless with no priority baggage – even American and other US carriers can deliver on.
And i appreciate i am spoilt in HK!24 Aug 2023
sparkyflier, if you have your boarding pass in your Apple wallet it is stored, so any issue with miles claims etc. after the flight you can easily email it, rather than having to fuss with scanning or taking a pick of a physical boarding pass. I also quite enjoy seeing all of my old boarding passes stored up on my phone, creating some nice memories on the occasion I scroll through them. Yes, the battery can be a concern, but I think these days less of an issue, with ample charging opportunities in lounges, and onboard most planes, I also generally make sure to carry a small battery pack as a backup, seldom have I used it.25 Aug 2023
Does anyone know how one goes about booking premium economy on one of the daily Iberia A350 / A330 flights on the LHR-MAD-LHR route?
Both the IB and BA sites only show economy or business but not premium economy even when the flight is showing an aircraft scheduled with this class.
I have seen reviews in all 3 classes in this route but no advice on how to book premium economy.
Thank you.25 Aug 2023
DNAdams – the premium economy seats on the Iberia A350 and A330-300 are not sold as a separate cabin. However if you have a higher status on Oneworld when selecting your seats in advance you may be offered seats in that cabin. But the onboard service in those seats on LHR-MAD is the same as economy – buy on board.
Years ago I was booked in Y on that route and was able to book seat numbers in the premium economy section of the sadly now retired A340-600. However on-boarding the fully booked flight I was then upgraded to business so never got to experience it.
Re baggage delivery at LHR – the belts beside the domestic arrivals consistently useless. SO slow! The section for domestic arrivals is right beside where – domestic flights arrive at, yet I find one can wait a good 30 minutes and longer than overseas arrivals.
I wished they just let you take your baggage out the hold ha ha. For many flights but especially domestic I prefer to fly into LCY.
AndrewinHK – I hope you eventually got your luggage routed TXL-MAD-GIG and without too much delay!
1 user thanked author for this post.26 Aug 2023