Iberia A321

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  • Anonymous
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    I travelled in Iberia in economy class on 2 January from London Heathrow Terminal 5 to Madrid Barajas, with an onward business class connection from Madrid to Havana, Cuba. The flight was BA514 (IB3175), which was actually operated by Iberia.

    CHECK-IN
    I arrived at Terminal 5 at about 8:15am for my 10:40 flight to Madrid. There was a a very long queue for check-in which was being looked after by BA staff with iPads asking for flight times (presumably to prioritise those short on time). Although long, the queue was fast moving and I was at a check-in desk in less than 5 minutes. Overall although the check-in agent was pleasant, it was a painful experience. As I had booked the London-Madrid and Madrid-Havana parts of my journey as two separate bookings, I had to explain that as both British Airways and Iberia were OneWorld carriers she should be able to check my suitcase through to Havana as my final destination. After consulting a colleague and a phone call, my bag was checked through (she told me she'd never had to do that before). I was then asked why my tourist visa did have a date expiry stamp on it and, after another call, it was confirmed this was not required although there was a suggestion she check with G4S (thankfully, after assurance that the Cuban Embassy had issued the visa a few days before, she decided this wasn't necessary). I used the new priority security channel – the area was largely empty and I was through in a couple of minutes.

    For the first time I collected some pre-ordered currency from the Travelex desk in Galleries South, which was a quick and pleasant experience. At lounge entry, I was told my frequent flier number had not been correctly added (presumably a mishap at check-in), it was added and then my boarding pass reprinted. Whilst still busy, the lounge was emptier than normal and it was easy to find a window seat overlooking the runway (which are normally hard to find in my experience). I asked for a glass of champagne from a member of staff, but was told that I would need to speak to someone else and decided to opt for a Bloody Mary made from Grey Goose instead. The usual range of food was available including bacon rolls, egg rolls, porridge, various pastries, yoghurt, fruit and chopped fruit/fruit salad in bowls. I had a bacon roll and some fruit salad with Greek yoghurt, which were both decent. I do wish BA would invest in better coffee but maybe that's because I'm a coffee snob….!

    I left the lounge at about 10:10 and arrived at gate A21 about 6 minutes later having looked at the new(ish) Aspire lounge en-route. There was a long queue to get in the Aspire lounge spilling back in to the terminal, so I assume it was very busy inside.

    BOARDING

    The flight was already boarding when I arrived at gate A21 and there was a clear priority queue in operation, which was being rigidly enforced and prioritised (much to the annoyance of some in the normal queue). There was a friendly and genuine welcome onboard – I informed the flight attendant that I had a connecting flight – she asked for my seat number and said that she would try and find me nearer to Madrid when the crew had been sent connection related information (and to grab her if she accidentally forgot to find me). There was a short boarding announcement at 10:35 to say that the doors had been closed and mobile devices should either be switched off or put in flight safe mode. Push back was at slightly after 10:40am. Take-off was at just after 11am – the weather in London was poor so it was quite a bumpy ascent.

    The aircraft was an A321 and I was in seat 23A. The flight was less than half full in economy and there were completely empty rows towards the back of the flight (which was great as no queues for the bathroom!).

    IN-FLIGHT SERVICE

    There are no complementary refreshments on Iberia in economy class, although items were offered for sale were offered off a cart at about 11:30am. The captain made a short announcement at 11:35 – it was difficult to hear most of it but we were cruising at 37,000 feet and the weather in Madrid was similar to London. At about 12pm the pursuer came to see me – she had printed details of all OneWorld frequent fliers and introduced herself and asked if I would like a complementary drink due to my BA status (I was quickly brought a small bottle of cava, which was very much appreciated and then, without asking, two small packets of nuts a few minutes later).

    The rest of the flight was uneventful and I just read and listened to music. I hope they add wi-fi to the Iberia short-haul fleet in the near future, as I strangely appreciate wi-fi more on short than long haul flights because there is no in-flight entertainment.

    I was in seat 23A which was one of the best seats on the plane in my opinion – it is an exit row seat with no seat in front of it. The middle seat was also unoccupied so it was very comfortable. The only things to watch out for about this seat are: (a) it doesn't have a window, although it is easy to look through the window at 24A behind (there is a small windows in the exit door but that it hard to see out of) and; (b) there is no storage space directly in front – no problem on this flight as the middle seat was free and there was very easy access to the overhead lockers. At just before 12pm, there was a further announcement from the captain stating that we would be landing broadly on schedule.

    ARRIVAL

    The descent was really quite turbulent. Landing was just before 1:15pm (2:15pm local time). There was a relatively long taxi to the gate. Very conveniently, there was someone waiting on the airbridge to point transit passengers to a set of stairs where there was a bus waiting at the bottom. Despite the announcement it was very bright and sunny in Madrid – I needed my sunglasses!

    SUMMARY

    Overall whilst the check-in experience was far from ideal, this was a very good experience. Whilst Iberia don't provide free inflight refreshments, I've travelled on the London-Madrid many times now and I generally prefer to travel with Iberia as compared to BA (I have BA status so can obviously eat and drink beforehand and prior to any connection and, on this occasion, free drinks were given to status passengers). I'm traveling Madrid – London on an A330 in the next 2 weeks and will be interested to see how the experience compares – time permitting, I will try to post a separate review.

    Review courtesy of Seatplans.com. Original review by user Aspirational Flyer can be found here

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