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Here it is, my last article produced for 2021, I'll be writing some more of my 2021 flights up in the new year, but for now I will conclude this year with one of my two wide-body airliner flights I did in 2021.
The Iberia A330!
So with Iberia continuing to use the Airbus A330/A350 aircraft on their Madrid-London services, and British Airways Airbus A380s returning for crew training- I decided to jump on the avgeek band wagon. Having eyed up overnighting in Madrid with 2x BA A380s, I found the prices were not going to work out with my budget, but a day trip using the Airbus A330 of Iberia & British Airways A380 was feasible, so I jumped on that.
Iberia, unlike some OneWorld alliance partners, don't offer seating benefits to OneWorld Ruby flyers, you still have to pay standard seat selection in economy (which in this instance was £9 for a basic seat), BA for comparison gives you free selection 7 days before the flight and Finnair offers you a discount of 25% on purchase for OneWorld Ruby.
I decided to try out the new Iberia Deliverfly, browsing the menu, I pre-selected myself a meal deal and that will be reviewed bellow, not too bad a website addition, it allows you to (like the Speedbird Cafe) pre order a more substantial in-flight feed if you want more than complementary offerings.
Even though I booked and paid through British Airways, when I went to check in, the process on this trip was done completely by the Iberia website through another booking set up alongside the original BA one.
I got to Terminal 5 a little tight for time than normal due to a crash on the M25, which is the main motorway surrounding London. I arrived in enough time to get airside, to find unsurprisingly that my flight leaves from Terminal 5B, typical for wide body airliners at LHR that use T5.
Nice to see London Heathrow looking for back to normal for business following the last 18 months before this trip!
Finding my Gate at the end of the B-Gates, I noticed the sole Iberia aircraft amongst the British Airways Boeing 787 & Airbus A350-1000 occupying the area. My flight was operated by Airbus A330-300 EC-LUK named "Costa Rica", an eight year old aircraft that has only seen service with the Spanish flag carrier. It received the latest Iberia livery around 2016/2017, which isn't long for an airliner to be repainted as it had the older tri-colour stripe livery from its 2013 delivery.
At Terminal 5B for my flight to Madrid Barajas on Iberia Airbus A330-300 (EC-LUK)
Boarding was underway by the time I got there. I was in the Priority section, so I quickly made my way to that lane and joined the que of passengers boarding the aircraft, I got into the aircraft via the jet way quite quickly, which is a bonus, I was expecting a longer wait as I was quite behind.
I went halfway down the aircraft to my seat, which was Seat 33L- at the rear of the wing, but still allowing a good view of the flaps, but allowing a bit of view behind that.
We pushed back a bit later than planned due to an error with some cargo on the aircraft, but we finally got underway about 40 minutes behind schedule. We luckily only had a short taxi from T5B to Runway 09R. With only a small number of aircraft ahead of us, we quickly departed, luckily we were able to start making up time in our schedule.
I do find the cabin on the Iberia Airbus long-haul fleet a bit bland. Its all grey and beige… Given Spain is known for bright national colours Red and Yellow- very much a missed opportunity. Though there is a noticeable red leather square attached onto each head rest.
I needed to visit the facilities. This is where things hit the all time low. There were two lavatories in the middle right side of the cabin, there were four people (including me) queuing for the one working toilet. One was out of service. Ok, fair enough- not the fault of the crew or necessarily Iberia, aircraft in service for the best part of 350 days a year do see faults from time to time… However, when I went into the toilet- the condition of it taken on my smart phone says it all….. gross!
The toilet was in quite a state for only 30 minutes into the flight, as for the toilet rolls on the floor- scheez!
I will digress…
The crew began the complementary drink service, which Iberia seems to have introduced. I opted for the orange juice. I had ordered a meal deal on the Deliverfly and my food came a few minutes later.
I got the beef lasagne, a can of Spanish beer and a chocolate muffin. Not too bad for roughly £10 (or 12 Euro).
I wasn't too over the moon with Iberia's IFE selection, there were some good things including all eight Harry Potter films, some really successful American comedies. A handful of Spanish shows & film were present- which isn't much use to me.
I know one thing was brilliant; the in-flight map!
Arrival into Madrid Barajas was prompt in terms of descent to landing. As with London Heathrow, Madrid is also experiencing a reduction in services and air traffic. Though Madrid has quite a few Iberia and British Airways aircraft in storage there. Whilst there was some cloud around Madrid, the weather was still nice and offered some nice views of the countryside around the Barajas area.
We arrived into Madrid about 20 minutes behind schedule, but we had made up quite a bit of time, which was good to see.
Aside from some newer aircraft stored temporarily from CV-19, there were some classic, already retired, Douglas DC-8, Boeing 727, McDonnell-Douglas MD-80 and Airbus A340s.
We taxied over to Terminal 4S, which I noticed amongst the Iberia A350/A330s was a massive Airbus A380-800 from Emirates- which was in-between a sortie to Dubai.
Its nice to see the A380 making a bit of comeback, despite the recent circumstances.
Parking up, the plane was disembarked by rows of 10. I stayed back a bit in order to get some cabin shots of the A330, including (with permission) a few of the business class cabin, I would like to try the IB A330/A350 business class someday- in order to compare to the Finnair A350/A330 and British Airways Boeing 777/Airbus A380 business class cabins and experience.
Whilst the flight wasn't terrible (like some IB experiences I've heard), there was definitely room for improvement. it is pretty clear in the IAG set up that British Airways is keeping Iberia in the black as this airline- as ok as they can be- would probably have gone bankrupt during the last recession had they not gotten together with BA!
With my flight completed, I went through the flight connections to find an Airport Lounge, and chill out before my Airbus A380 flight with British Airways back to London! The connection security check point went well and as I was the only person going through when I did, I got through in about 2-3 minutes.
Iberia- Not the worst experience, I have seen some things improve, but I do think more should be done.
London Heathrow- Nothing really to update on.
Madrid Barajas- I found connecting & the check point very seamless, nice to see the place again.