BACKGROUND Madrid Barajas to London Gatwick is Air Europa’s
only scheduled UK service to date, and is sometimes served by the larger
B737-800 (click here
for the review). On this occasion however I flew on the 122-seat
Embraer 195, the aircraft normally scheduled to serve the route since
it started in March this year.
CHECK-IN I was dropped off
at Madrid Barajas’ Terminal 1 building at 1330 in plenty of time for
flight UX1015 scheduled to depart at 1520. It appeared at first as if I
would need that extra time, judging by the check-in queue that faced
me, however another was opened up for Air Europa’s business class
passengers and I was soon checked-in by a slightly flustered member of
BOARDING The layout of the terminal is slightly
confusing but I followed the crowd and soon found the security queue.
The security and passport check queues were long and there weren’t
enough lanes, but again another was miraculously opened by a
security guard with some much welcomed initiative. By 1410, 40 minutes
after arriving at the airport, I was through security and browsing the
terminal’s airside shops which were a stone’s throw from the departure
gates. At 1450 I made my way to gate 29 when the plane was scheduled to
board, only to find that very little was happening. There was a wait of
around 15 minutes at the gate before business class and the first few
rows of passengers were called. A short walkway joined T1 to the
Embraer, and I was soon seated.
THE SEAT The business
class seats on the E195 are no different to those in economy, unlike on
the B737-800 I flew out on where the Club Business product was
considerably roomier. Also the seats on the Embraer are configured 2-2
with three rows in business on the left side and four on the right, making 14 in
total (click here to see the seatplan). My aisle seat, 4D, was on the right side. The Embraer felt more
cramped than the B737. Considering that the B737 is used when load
factors are high, I was unsure why the smaller Embraer was being used
at what appeared to be a very popular time to fly from Madrid to
London, operating at close to 100 per cent capacity.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? I was quite happy
with my aisle seat as it allowed me to stretch a leg out. There was
little to choose from between the business class seats, however my row
was directly in front of the first in economy, and the children seated
therein. There may be some advantage in sitting in the front row on the
right side as it’s right next to the kitchen giving a bit of extra leg
room and dibs on the first meal.
THE FLIGHT Newspapers (Spanish only) and a
choice of orange juice or water were offered within minutes of having
sat down. Just as well as the flight left the runway at 1550, 30
minutes after it was meant to. Drinks orders were taken and the cabin
crew proved helpful and accommodating, apologising for the lack of
Worcestershire sauce for my tomato juice but remembering to offer salt
and pepper instead. Half an hour into the two-hour flight a free meal
for business class passengers was served which came with some excellent
ARRIVAL The flight arrived at Gatwick at 1645
local time and I was off the plane within ten minutes. Passport control
at Gatwick’s South Terminal took around 20
minutes to get through. With no luggage to collect I was through
security and into arrivals at 1710.
VERDICT Being cheaper than some of the other full-service carriers serving the route,
this Air Europa flight was great value, but not as much as the outbound
flight on the B737-800 which had far better seats (Air Europa’s website
rather helpfully tells you which plane you’ll fly on). On the whole a
great option for anyone travelling on business between Madrid and
London as the departure and arrival times are quite convenient.
PRICE Mid week return fares in October start at £269.60 from Air Europa’s website.