Review of British Airways flight Madrid London in Economy

Airline British Airways
Flight BA463
Class Economy
Seat 25A
Aircraft Airbus A380-800
Flight time 01:40
Take-off 15 Nov 21, 20:40
Arrival at 15 Nov 21, 21:20
BA   #37 out of 67 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 834 reviews
Jett Tyler
By SILVER 580
Published on 24th November 2021

The BEast Returns: BA & the A380!


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G-XLEA departing London Heathrow in mid-2013, this is my earliest photo of a BA A380!


British Airways ordered the Airbus A380-800 in September 2007, ordering 12 aircraft and considering another 7 options. The idea was that the combined Boeing 777-300(ER), Boeing 787 family and Airbus A380 combined would eventually replace the 60 Boeing 747-400 prior by 2024.


G-XLEA, the first of the Airbus A380 arrived to British Airways on July 4th 2013, at the same time as their first two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners (G-BZJA & G-BZJB). Some of the oldest 1989/1990 Boeing 747-400 retired around this time. The BA A380 was seen on crew training flights to Frankfurt during the summer of 2013, whilst the Boeing 787 went on training flights to Stockholm.


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Frankfurt Main was used for crew training the A380 crews in 2013, fittingly it was doing so in 2021, Madrid was likely chosen as its the hub of IAG sister airline Iberia.


British Airways used the Airbus A380 across its long-haul network on various routes including: Los Angeles, Boston, Miami, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Singapore, Washington D.C, Chicago and Johannesburg.
Notably, the BA A380 fleet has never seen usage on the iconic London-New York route, making it a unique exception.


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The first re-introduced Airbus A380-800 in 2021 was honoured to G-XLEF, seen at London Heathrow in August 2015.


In 2020, the pandemic arrived and British Airways focused on using the twin-engine Boeing 777s, Boeing 787s & new Airbus A350-1000 on long haul missions from London Heathrow. The Boeing 747-400 fleet & Airbus A380 fleet were stored around the world including Bournemouth, Cardiff, London, Doha, Truel and Madrid. July 2020 saw the announcement of the Boeing 747 fleet retiring for good, about 3 years earlier than planned- seeing BA lose 30+ aircraft overnight from its fleet, the Airbus A380 was kept on (a reversal of German rival Lufthansa's fleet plan) with the first examples reawakening from a dormant state in mid 2021 for maintenance work. 


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Whilst BA has given the A380 another life, the iconic Boeing 747-400 fleet wasn't so lucky. Here is G-CIVW at Bournemouth Hurn Airport in July 2020 around the time of the Boeing 747's retirement being announced. This aircraft is preserved at Dunsfold Aerodrome as a film prop alongside 1984-Landor RetroJet Boeing 747, G-BNLY.


With the fleet inactive for 18 months, crews needed to be retrained, and British Airways, probably inspired by 2013- decided to return them on European routes to Frankfurt Main and Madrid Barajas!


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An evening departure of a British Airways Airbus A380-800 taken in July 2015.


The first aircraft back into service was G-XLEF, and then G-XLEG followed. This brings us to this flight!


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Airbus A380 G-XLEJ having landed at LHR in February 2019, taken from the airside viewing deck at Terminal 4.


The Opening Act: Neptuno- SALA VIP Lounge (MAD-T4S)


With a 5 1/2 hour wait time, I decided to try my luck at an Airport lounge. I saw the signs for the Sala VIP Lounge, and recalled it from previous visits, one I had seen but not visited. As a OneWorld Ruby tier flyer, I don't get free lounge access, so it can be interesting trying some of these independent lounges from time to time.


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Whilst its not essential, I do give bonus points to an Airport Lounge with a fantastic view!


I was able to pay on arrival. So I paid the fee of 36EUR (£30) as I was going to be around long enough to make it worth the while. The food selection was good as they provided free alcohol and hot/soft drinks as well as snacks and hot food through the day. I went up about 3 or 4 times to get stuff whilst sat in a corner by a massive window. One side overlooking various Iberia A330/A350 aircraft and the other looking towards the runway and a taxiway allowing for some amazing photos of incoming aircraft.


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I noticed the lounge had a complimentary shower facility, so I decided to give that a try if it was open. It was available and I decided to enjoy something I hadn't enjoyed in over 2 years (First World problems, I know!). Oh boy it was a refreshing experience!


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Its not big and fancy, but its modern and a solid product, very similar to other experiences!


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My flight was due to arrive from London soon, so I had one final drink with some snacks as the sun was setting in Madrid before moving on, bidding goodbye to a very descent lounge that I wouldn't forget on a pro-longed stay in Madrid- it isn't the best of the best, but I'll give it a thumbs up and recommendation to fellow travellers!


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One of my many snack runs during my stay!


And yes, before I forget- you can access this lounge with Priority Pass (at the time of writing). Some non-Schengen airlines use this facility when using T4S at Madrid Barajas.


The Main Event: British Airways BA463 (MAD-LHR)



Ok time for the big reveal, the Airbus A380-800 operating my flight from Madrid Barajas to London Heathrow was……….


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G-XLEG!


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The aircraft pulled in at Gate 25/26, after a short wait for the previous flights passengers to exit, boarding was started.


I boarded in Group 3, which is usually reserved for OneWorld Ruby tier economy class flyers. This allowed me to board ahead of most the passengers in Economy with the business class and OneWorld Emerald/Sapphire passengers already on board.


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I went through the Club World cabin and into the large lower deck economy class cabin, finding my seat at 25A.


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A First Class Suite from the Airbus A380 (above) and a somewhat blurred image of Economy.


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We began to push back about 15 minutes later than scheduled, we didn't take long to taxi out to the runway as it was almost 08:30pm and the Airport was quite quiet by now.


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Seat 25A, my location on the Airbus A380 for this flight.


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The aircraft took off and after circling around Madrid during the climb out, the aircraft headed North for the Bay of Biscay.


I found the seat quite comfortable, so I would be interested in trying it out on a long-haul flight in the future. Though it probably helped I was seated alone in my Row.


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The crew started the service pretty quickly offering the complementary Crisps and Water, then getting onto the Speedbird Cafe.


I pre-ordered the Steak and Ale Pie from Tom Kerridge, as well as an exclusive BA100 Gin with Schweppes Tonic.


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I went with the Tom Kerridge Steak and Ale Pie with a BA Exclusive Gin & Tonic.


One of the cabin crew, John, took me on a tour of the Upper Deck during the flight. Showing me the various cabins on the Airbus A380. I really enjoyed the tour!


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The Stairway to Heaven!


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World Traveller Plus entirely located on the Upper Deck, at the back of the plane, just before a small economy class section.


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The A380 Upper Deck's Club World, the A380 has the older design which is also seen on the Boeing 777-200(ER).


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Taking a seat in the First Class Suite- the A380 First cabin is slightly different to the Boeing 777/787 First Class.


After the tour, I ordered a can of cola and sat down with my headphones in my phone and listening to my music. The BA IFE system contained an almost identical selection to Iberia, having flown on an A330 out earlier that day. I wasn't impressed with the selection, so I left the IFE Interactive maps.


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Flying over the Channel Islands as we start our descent into London.


We flew up towards East Berkshire, lining up over Reading and passing over my old hometown of Burnham as well as other well known UK villages and towns including Windsor, Maidenhead and Slough (yuk). I couldn't get any good shots on the GoPro as it was dark with the night. The double window with the A380 cabin on the lower deck wouldn't help either…


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We touched down at London Heathrow on Runway 09L, the Northern Runway. We didn't have too long a taxi once we came off the runway as the T5-C Block was our allocated parking stand and it was the closest to us.


After parking, I held back a few minutes before making my way up towards the end to visit the flight deck, passing the First/Business Class galley and the First Class cabin- which reminded me of my BA 777 flight to Madrid from March 2019! (Feel free to find the report on this site).


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The First Class & Club World galley on the Airbus A380-800.


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The cockpit of the Airbus A380. It looks very similar to every other Airbus aircraft model since the Airbus A320.


I was the last passenger off the plane by the time I was finished. I had a quick conversation with the flight crew (there were three pilots on this flight). I bid them a nice evening as well as some of the cabin crew who were also by the cockpit ready to go, and I left the aircraft- happy with my flight experience and ready to indulge on the BA Airbus A380 in the near future on its natural long-haul sorties hopefully!


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Thank you for reading my report, and I hope you check out the video too! Hopefully more Airbus A380 reports will continue to come about on this website in the future!!!

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Verdict

British Airways

8.6/10
Cabin10.0
Cabin crew10.0
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Meal/catering7.0

Neptuno - 4S

8.9/10
Comfort9.0
Meal/catering8.5
Entertainment/wifi9.0
Services9.0

Madrid - MAD

9.0/10
Efficiency9.5
Access9.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness10.0

London - LHR

8.8/10
Efficiency9.5
Access7.0
Services8.5
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

Madrid Airport- Quite a nice and well designed building at Terminal 4S, Its the only Terminal at Madrid I've ever used so I'm quite familiar with its layout and offerings.

Neptuno Sala VIP Lounge- If you don't get free lounge access with Iberia or BA, I highly vouch for this lounge. Its medium sized offers the right services and it has a decent shower facility if you're connecting flights. Yes its a pricey location, but on a 3hr+ stopover, its worth the money.

British Airways Airbus A380- A glorious introduction to the biggest aircraft to grace the British Airways fleet! I Hope to fly them again soon and enjoy them for what they are designed for!

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

The contributors of Flight-Report published 28 reviews of 2 airlines on the route Madrid (MAD) → London (LHR).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is British Airways with 7.3/10.

The average flight time is 2 hours and 19 minutes.

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2 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 587424 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5589 Comments

    Congrats on being the 1st to post on of the intra-Europe 380 runs! And now there's 2 BA A380 reports in a row! Yay.

    Soooo happy the whale is back! Lots of fond memories on these birds and was so sad to see so many carriers giving up their fleets after Covid. I was more upset about the BA 744s going away, though, as the 744 had become my regular aircraft between the US and Europe.

    The steak and ale pie actually looks quite good!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 587449 by
      Jett Tyler SILVER AUTHOR 216 Comments

      Seen the second one, which is fittingly to Frankfurt.
      I quite like the new Speedbird Cafe, trying quite a few bits from it.
      I was really put off by the BA 747 retirement, but I'm looking forward to seeing and visiting the retired retro-747s that did get preserved.

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