Review of Iberia flight London Madrid in Business

Airline Iberia
Flight IB3163
Class Business
Seat 1F
Aircraft Airbus A321
Flight time 02:25
Take-off 15 Sep 18, 09:15
Arrival at 15 Sep 18, 12:40
IB   #95 out of 123 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 150 reviews
KévinDC
By GOLD 1087
Published on 5th October 2018

Introduction



Hello and welcome to the second segment in this new series of Flight-Reports,

Having just gotten back to DC from my annual birthday trip home to France (reports here and here ), I needed to cross the pond again as I had to be in Madrid for the week of 17 September. I had originally put together an itinerary that included one leg on the new Iberia A350, unfortunately it didn't work out in the end, which was disappointing as an AvGeek. Alas, the reports in this series won't be anything new, as I've reported all aircraft but one in the past. Still, it's always worth doing Flight-Reports, even on one's "shuttle"–in my case, that would be IAD-LHR on the British Airways B747-400.

After another lovely flight on the BA Queen, this report will cover a two-hour hop from London to Madrid in Iberia's intra-European Business class.

Routing:

Washington Dulles IAD ✈ London Heathrow LHR | British Airways, B747-400, Business class
London Heathrow LHR ✈ Madrid Barajas MAD| Iberia, A321-200, Business class
Madrid Barajas MAD ✈ Charlotte Douglas CLT | American Airlines, A330-200, Business class
Charlotte Douglas CLT ✈ Washington Dulles IAD| American Airlines, A319-100, Domestic First


Transit & Lounge



As I usually do when transiting at Heathrow with enough time, I went through the UK Border to get some fresh air landside. The automated passport control gates are very convenient for EU citizens as there is usually no wait. I'm still not sure what will happen with these after Brexit. Speaking of Brexit and the automated passport gates, Boris Johnson–Brexit hardliner and recently-resigned former Foreign Secretary–had been on my flight from Washington. We had deplaned at the same time and made our way to the arrivals area at about the same pace–he and his wife ended up at the passport gate next to me. As he was struggling with the the instructions for the passport gate, I could tell he was no longer accustomed to having to go through these formalities with the masses ^^

Once through I headed upstairs to the departure level at the far south end of the terminal.

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There's a decent view from here, but not usually much action on the apron this far up.

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After I'd gotten my fill of fresh air on this beautiful morning, I headed back inside to go through security to head to the lounge to have a shower.

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There was no wait through the Fast Track queue at the South checkpoint and I was through in seconds. I immediately headed to the Elemis spa check-in and shower registration area.

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No showers were available so I was given a pager and told the wait should be short as there were only a few people in front of me on the list.

In the meantime, I headed upstairs to the Galleries lounge to have a coffee.

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I barely had time to finish my coffee before the pager began buzzing. So off I went back downstairs.

There are about a dozen shower suites, each with a sink and toilet. It's always nice to freshen up after a long-haul, especially a red-eye!

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After a refreshing shower, I saw that my gate was showing in T5B so I headed to the underground train to the B gates.

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As it was only a few minutes before boarding, and I once again I didn't have enough time to go to the T5B Galleries lounge, I headed straight to the gate.

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Spotted my plane on the way…it was easy to see a Red and yellow tail in a sea of BA Union Jack tails.

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A beautiful Queen in oneworld livery

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And here we are at the gate. I really like the architecture of T5.

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Boarding



I arrived at the gate right as boarding was due to begin and was pleasantly surprised to see the gate area was not crowded.

There were separate queues for boarding groups 1, 2, and 3. On BA intra-European flights, or any flight without a First class cabin, Group 1 consists of Business class passengers and oneworld Emeralds. There were only 2 people waiting in the Group 1 queue ahead of me when I arrived.

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Although the flight was operated by Iberia, the gate staff were British Airways. BA handle IB flights in LHR, much like IB staff handle BA flights in MAD.

The 744 in oneworld livery was pushing back into the alley as we waited to board.

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Boarding began on time with pre-boarding. Announcements were made in English and Spanish.

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My first impression of the cabin is that it is plain but clean.

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BA's short/medium-haul seats are much nicer than IB's as they have adjustable headrests as well as a table between seats.

As is normal for intra-European business class, the middle seats are blocked, but lack a table like BA.

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The legroom in the first row is decent–about the same, or a little better than BA. Seat pitch in other rows is 31 inches, barely better than BA's knee-crushing 30 in seat pitch.

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As business class cabins on intra-European flights can be adjusted based on demand–it's literally just a matter of sliding a dividing curtain–it can be risky to pre-book seats too far back in the cabin.

At booking, I had originally booked 9A, an exit row seat with tons of legroom. Unfortunately, at some point the "curtain" was moved up to behind row 7 and my seat was moved to 3F, which I didn't find out until I checked in on the BA App 24 hours before the flight.

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With a 31" seat pitch in non-bulkhead or exit rows, I went for row 1, which was fortunately available at check-in.

Also, bonus perk to being in row 1…just in case I forgot which cabin I was in, the bulkhead was there to remind me :-P

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The Flight



Boarding went quickly and we were able to push back a few minutes early.

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Some planespotting as we taxied to the gate–always good things to see at LHR.

British Airways B747-400

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Qantas A380-800

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United B787-8

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Virgin Atlantic B787-9

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During this off-peak time there was no wait for takeoff.

Crossing the M25

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Nice views of Windsor Castle from the right side.

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The English countryside

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It was a beautiful day for flying with clears skies for the whole flight. With no IFE or WiFi, there wasn't a whole lot to do, luckily the IFE out the window was lovely.

If you're not a fan of aerial photos, scroll away by all means ^^

We reached the English Channel just east of Bournemouth and Christchurch.

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Cliffs of Dorset County

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The in-flight service began with a hot towel service as we reached the coast of Brittany

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Who says it's always raining in Brittany!

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It was impressive to see the whole western part of the peninsula, though there was a bit of haze.

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Breakfast was served as we flew over Brittany

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It was filling and tasty, but nothing terribly exciting. It was a shame that there were no options for breakfast.

The cabin crew, who were all male and very friendly, came through the cabin regularly to refill coffees and teas and offered additional croissants and breads. All members of the cabin screw spoke perfect English–one even spoke with an American accent. I figured he must have grown up in the US. I needed to practice my Spanish so I mostly interacted with the crew in Spanish; however, most of the passengers in the Business cabin were either American or British so most spoke English.

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The Island of Groix off the southern coast of Brittany

After breakfast I had a short nap and woke up as we were reaching the northern Atlantic coast of Spain. The thin seats started to become a bit uncomfortable after sitting for over an hour.

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Picos de Europa in the Cantabrian mountains of northern Spain

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The town of Suances at the mouth of the Ría de San Martín de la Arena.

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Northern Spain is very green…

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…but it gets considerably drier and more desert-like the further into the interior you go.

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The scenery almost reminds me of the U.S. desert southwest

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Not sure what town this is, but it seems to be a decent size.

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Colourful countryside near Madrid as we make our descent.

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Short final into MAD

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View of the Iberia hangars on landing.

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Arrival



Taxi wasn't too long as we made out way from Runway 32L past the T4 Satellite to the main T4 building.

The T4 Satellite building is mostly the domain of widebodies and long-haul flights.

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We parked at the main T4 building with other Iberia and oneworld narrowbodies.

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Last look at my seat on deplaning. As you can see the seats are thin.

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Welcome to Madrid Barajas airport Terminal 4, one of the most beautifully designed terminals in the world.

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As we arrived from the UK (i.e. outside the Schengen zone), we parked on the very end of the terminal dedicated to non-Schengen flights with a passport control in place. Being on the very end, it was a long walk to the baggage claim area. Surprisingly, despite taking my time to get to the baggage area, I still had to wait a half hour for my bags.

Priority tags only seem to work about half the time :-/

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Thank you for reading and feel free to leave questions and comments below.
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Verdict

Iberia

6.0/10
Cabin5.5
Cabin crew8.5
Entertainment4.5
Meal/catering5.5

British Airways Terminal 5A Galleries Club (South)

7.5/10
Comfort7.5
Meal/catering7.0
Entertainment7.5
Services8.0

London - LHR

8.3/10
Efficiency7.5
Access8.5
Services8.5
Cleanliness8.5

Madrid - MAD

7.8/10
Efficiency7.5
Access7.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness9.0

Conclusion

It was a pretty average flight in intra-European Business class. For those used to regional premium cabins with wider seats outside of Europe, the "Euro-Business" cabin can be disappointing as it's just Economy seats with an empty middle seat. The seats were hard and get a bit uncomfortable after 2 hours. I much prefer BA's Club Europe seats to these, especially as the BA seats have more padding and have adjustable headrests. Legroom in the bulkhead on IB was about the same as BA.

As far as the catering goes, It's hard to judge on a breakfast flight, since breakfast is never particularly exciting on planes, but the portions were generous and the taste was decent despite being plain. It was a shame not to have any options of dishes, though.

The crew were friendly and attentive and spoke perfect English.

Informations on the route London (LHR) Madrid (MAD)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 14 reviews of 2 airlines on the route London (LHR) → Madrid (MAD).


Useful

The airline with the best average grade is with /10.

The average flight time is 2.0 hours and 25.0 minutes.

  More informations

10 Comments

  • Comment 468573 by
    jetsetpanda SILVER 2279 Comments

    Howdy Kevin and thanks for sharing another nice FR.

    "Still, it's always worth doing Flight-Reports, even on one's "shuttle"–in my case..."
    - Especially from such a prolific author. ;)

    Great shots after take off.

    "It was a shame that there were no options for breakfast. "
    - There should always be a choice flying in a premium cabin, especially between two major hubs. I guess since IB and BA are in the same "family" there is not much incentive to compete against each other.

    • Comment 468593 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4474 Comments

      Hola Adan! Thanks for your comments!

      "Especially from such a prolific author. ;)"
      - Aww shucks ^^

      "There should always be a choice flying in a premium cabin, especially between two major hubs."
      - There should always be a choice in the premium cabin whenever the flight time permits a meal service. Like you say, with BA and IB being sister companies under the IAG umbrella, there isn't much competition on this route and not much incentive to improve. Nevertheless, anytime I've had breakfast flights in BA Club Europe there has been a choice. Usually between a cold plate and English breakfast.

      I was just going to e-mail you today to see if you had any recommendations for restaurants in Rio de Janeiro, since I know you've been there before. Going next month--can't wait!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Comment 468714 by
    757Fan 461 Comments

    Great report, Kevin. Looks like a good flight with Iberia - but interesting as you said for not having a choice. When my wife and I flew to London last year we were in Terminal 3 with Delta. Terminal 5 looks like the place to be!

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Comment 468733 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4474 Comments

      Hi Matthew, thanks for your comments as always! Not having a choice of meals doesn't feel very premium. Domestic First class in the U.S. is often criticized, but there usually at least 2 options for meals--at least on flights where meals are served.

      Yes Terminal 5 is beautiful. Terminals 3 and 4 are getting old, but I do love the LHR SkyTeam lounge and the Virgin Clubhouse in those terminals.

  • Comment 468752 by
    loukas SILVER 232 Comments

    Hi Kevin, It's been a while since my last visit to FR and it's nice to restart with one of your reports. First of all: great inflight shots! You were lucky to have a great weather on your route, when I flew from BRU to LIS in the beginning of September it was cloudly during most of the flight. Breakfast looks abundant but the presentation could be better. Both T5 in LHR and T4 in MAD look fantastic. Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 468763 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4474 Comments

      Hi Loukas! Welcome back :-) I'm honoured to have written the first FR you're read in a while. Yes, I was lucky to have a rare beautiful fall day where it was sunny all the way from the UK to Spain. LHR T5 and MAD T4 are among my favourite terminals. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Comment 468779 by
    nechus SILVER 532 Comments

    What a nice, unexpected surprise, finding my beloved Picos de Europa in your report! My grandfather migrated from Asturias to Chile in 1911, when he was 17 years old. A rather sad story. He never saw his family again. I've read letters that her mother sent him saying how much she missed him. He could've visited her. He had the means because he did well in business down here, but stubborn as he was, he told his family "O vamos todos, o no va nadie". And so his mother died before the whole family could go. Some decisions must be made quickly!

    > There's a decent view from here
    From the point of view of an inmate, you mean? XDDD

    > Announcements were made in English and Spanish.
    That's very considerate! I have noticed that Spaniards are not particularly good at foreign languages, or even at understanding variations of their own language! In fact, they sort of get on my nerves because even the slightest difference in vocabulary or pronunciation seems to put them in a state of deep shock.

    > My first impression of the cabin is that it is plain but clean.
    My usual Sky Airline LCC cabin!! :O

    > Nice views of Windsor Castle from the right side.
    I wonder how long a game of hide and seek lasted in that castle!

    > If you're not a fan of aerial photos, scroll away by all means ^^
    That's not me, for sure!

    > one of the most beautifully designed terminals in the world.
    Indeed!

    Thanks for another engaging report and the beautiful views!! :)

    • Comment 468813 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4474 Comments

      Hola Nelson, gracias por tus comentarios! Wow, I'm glad my report could help you reminisce about old family history. What a beautiful and sad story about your grandfather. Though I've been to Spain several time, I've never been to Asturias--it looks gorgeous from the air. I didn't think Los Picos de Europa would be so massive.

      "From the point of view of an inmate, you mean? XDDD"
      - Haha yeah that fence isn't great for photos. That side is only good for planespotting when there are takeoff that you can see over the fence.

      "I have noticed that Spaniards are not particularly good at foreign languages, or even at understanding variations of their own language!"
      - Haha, I really think it depends. In the big cities, like Madrid and Barcelona, I run in to Spaniards who speak perfect English and often even French--in the countryside is another story, but that's the case everywhere. I think there are so many Brits in Spain that even in the countryside the many Spanish now speak at least some English. Whereas in my hometown in the middle of nowhere in France, people speak little to no English. Regarding the accents, having learned Castellano Spanish from a young age in France, my ear understands Iberian Spanish best, but having lived in the U.S. for so long, I am used to Mexican, Central American, and some South American accents. I have always had a hard time understanding Caribbean and Argentinian/Uruguayan Spanish--the former because too many syllables aren't pronounced and the latter because of how oddly words are pronounced and the Italian inflections.

      "My usual Sky Airline LCC cabin!! :O"
      - Yes, feels very LCC, you are right

      "I wonder how long a game of hide and seek lasted in that castle!"
      - I'm sure there are skeletons there of people who never got found in the course of a game, hahaha

      Gracias por leer!

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