Review of Iberia flight Madrid London in Economy

Airline Iberia
Flight IB3160
Class Economy
Seat 24F
Aircraft Airbus A321
Flight time 02:30
Take-off 07 Dec 13, 09:10
Arrival at 07 Dec 13, 10:40
IB   #81 out of 121 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 218 reviews
Martin@MAD
By 4423
Published on 11th May 2014
Welcome to my new flight report!

This is my second report, yesterday I posted one featuring EK on the MAD-DXB route on a trip to Thailand (http://flight-report.com/en/report-6960.html). I was going to post the second leg (DXB-BKK) of the trip, but I saw that there are many reports on Emirates, so I decided to post two reports of a trip to London back in December before continuing my writings on my EK experience.

This report will feature two flights:
MAD-LHR on IB's A321 (this one)
LHR-MAD on IB's A340-300 (soon)

Introduction
There was a long weekend at the beginning of December so my sister, her boyfriend and I decided to visit London for four days. I was the one in charge of buying the tickets and Iberia offered a very good fare of around 150€ round trip, returning on the A340. In September Iberia introduced a new fares structure that consist on three levels: Basic, Classic and Flexible. Basic fare does not include checked baggage or seat selection (at check-in the system assigns you a seat and if you want to change it you have to pay), Classic fare includes seat and one piece of checked baggage and the Flexible fare is what the name says. The Basic fare is usually 15-25€ cheaper than the Classic fare when available, so if you don’t want to check baggage and don’t mind about where you are seated you can save some money. There is an exception though, and it is London flights, where the Basic fare is not available, so I had one piece of checked baggage included and I assumed it also was the case with seat selection. When I was checking-in online the day before departure the system assigned us 24D,E and F, when I tried to change them they wanted to charge 15€ per passenger! I was very upset about that, as I wasn’t told that the seat selection was an extra. In this case the preselected seats were fine so it wasn’t really an issue.

Waking up
photo IMG_2382


Check-in
Bag drop was quick and hassle free, it was Saturday morning so there were no lines at the counters. The staff at the counter was very friendly, when the agent checked our boarding passes said “Oh! You three are going to London! Do you really get along well with each other??… I hope so, have a nice trip!” That simple thing showed that he was enjoying his job and it made us to feel comfortable as being young travellers we like that informal touch.

Check-in machines, there were IB staff if you needed help
photo IMG_2384

Check-in counters
photo IMG_2383

Mobile BP
photo IMG_2390

Security was a bit busy but we passed through without any issue and then we went to have something for breakfast. When it was boarding time we headed off to the departure gate, which was in the southern end of the Terminal in a separated area from the other gates as UK is a non-Schengen country.

Some terminal photos


After passing immigration I noticed that the A321 for the earlier flight to London was still at the stand and expected the worst, then I received this message from Iberia:
photo IMG_2391

I checked the FIDS and it showed a delay of 2h5min!! New departing time was 11:15, I went to Iberia’s information desk to find out the reason for the delay and the agent told me that there was a communication failure in the ATC system at LHR and that they didn’t know when it would be fixed.

Info desk
photo DSC04171

Flight information
photo IMG_2392

Non-Schengen zone at T4
photo DSC04173

Our plane, EC-JQZ, ready for departure
photo DSC04175

I checked Heathrow’s website and saw that many European flight were heavily delayed, but at least they were arriving so the problem seemed to be solved, meanwhile our flight was again delayed to 11:45 (STD was 9:10). At 11:15 we headed off to the gate again but first we visited the info desk to know more about the status of our flight. The agent told me that the problem was solved and that the earlier flight had already departed, so we went to the gate. When we arrived five minutes later after a stop at the restrooms, there was nobody near the gate so it seemed that boarding was completed. We got our boarding passes scanned and were directed to the shiny A321.

photo DSC04176photo DSC04177

We were the last ones to board the plane, except for some connecting passengers from T4S that got on through the rear door. Then the doors were closed and the plane was ready to leave. Cabin was clean and in good condition, seats were comfortable and seat pitch was good for the length of the flight. The load was light so it was nice to have three seats for myself, something that rarely happens to me as I usually fly in high season. The purser made the usual announcements and apologized for the delay due to “communications failure in the British airspace”. Safety demonstration was made and we pushed back 15 min before planned.

30 of legroom
photo DSC04179

New logo
photo DSC04194

Light load today, about 25% in Economy, 80% in Business
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Pushback and taxi


Up we go!
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Once in the air the captain came over the PA and apologized again for the delay and gave some information about the flight. As you may know the Iberia’s service is BOB, I asked for a Coke Zero and some chips. I also noticed that the crew served glasses of water for free under request, something I hadn’t seen before on Iberia since the BOB service was implemented back in 2004. It’s nice to see that they serve water at least for free.

Flight views


Expensive snack
photo DSC04189

The flight passed by quickly and in no time we started our descent. It seemed that we didn’t entered any holding pattern as we make a more or less direct approach and the captain softly posed the plane on the ground. Then we stopped at the taxiway and the captain announced that they we were waiting for British Airways to assign a gate for the plane. After ten minutes we moved again and finally we made it to the gate. Given the light load disembarkation was quick and after a 15 min wait at immigration we went to collect our baggage. After a brief wait the bags came out on the belt and headed off to the tube.

Entering the UK and descent
photo DSC04191photo DSC04192photo DSC04195

Heathrow finals and taxi


Our plane parked next to its British colleagues. We arrived at 12:43, two hours late
photo DSC04208

Heading to the UK Border
photo IMG_2395

Baggage claim
photo IMG_2396
See more

Verdict

Iberia

7.0/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Meal/catering5.0

Madrid - MAD

8.2/10
Efficiency8.0
Access10.0
Services7.0
Cleanliness8.0

London - LHR

8.1/10
Efficiency7.0
Access8.5
Services8.5
Cleanliness8.5

Conclusion

If only Iberia offered free drinks on their European flights, they would be great, in every other aspect of this flight they were great. Buy-on-board selection was rather limited, Easyjet and Vueling offer far more options in their menus. The plane was in good condition, clean and comfortable enough for a short flight, Iberia Ronda Magazine is very interesting to keep you entertained during the flight. This time the flight was not punctual but it was not Iberia's fault, they keep us informed about the reason of the delay and in my opinion they handled the situation well, that's why I give them a high mark on On-time performance.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this report, comments are welcome!

Best regards,

Martin

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

The contributors of Flight-Report published 26 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 21 minutes.

  More information

11 Comments

  • Comment 108156 by
    marathon GOLD 9566 Comments

    MAD's wooden ceiling decoration is always very eye-pleasing.
    The unwritten rule on this website is to to reference the scheduled times in the flight details, but of course, when there is such a bad delay, you should mention later in the FR the actual departure and arrival times (11:27 and 12:43). Nice view of Vitoria airport. Good views of London too, despite the cloudy weather and the lack of chronological order.
    Thanks for this FR !

  • Comment 108157 by
    Sealink 67 Comments

    Great report - I really like the intense red colour Iberia use!

  • Comment 108175 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5304 Comments

    Thanks for this new report! Barajas has great architecture! With the delay you probably spent more time in the airport than you would have liked, LOL. IB, like other European airlines is starting to look more and more like a low-cost carrier on short/medium haul, but having only BOB with a large Flag-carrier airline like IB is kind of tacky in my opinion. Appart from that, however, everything else about the product looks good. You mentioned that the ground staff was very friendly, how was the cabin crew? Many reports speak of rude or indifferent Iberia staff on the ground and onboard--so it's refreshing to see a positive opinion. I wonder if there might be a difference in treatment if you are a Spanish-speaker or not, or at least that seems to be the perception. I assume you are from Spain and a native Spanish speaker? Thanks for sharing! Great pics once again!

    Saludos,

    KévinDC

    • Comment 293943 by
      Martin@MAD AUTHOR 21 Comments

      Hi Kévin!

      You're welcome! Terminal 4 is one of my favorites, the government spent lots of money on it but I think it was worth it.

      I think that IB should offer drinks for free (apart from water) and if you want something you can pay for it. AA or US Airways offer that service and I think is fine, they have the gesture of giving something for free and if you are hungry you can always have something more.

      The cabin crew on this flight was good, there were few passengers so I guess that being friendly and relaxed was easy for them. One of FAs was very chatty and gave advice to a passenger next to us who had a connection and given the delay he was about to miss it. I don't remember any rude or indifferent short-haul crews, they are generally fine, some of them just do their job and that's the worst I can remember. I can't say the same about long-haul, many of them are in their 40s-50s (they retire at 55) and doing long-haul is very tiring for some of them. It seems that they are doing you a favor instead of being a paying customer (I remember that asking for juice AND water during a meal was like asking for a massage). That kind of attitude is not only from IB, its a Spanish thing that sometimes happens with important companies. BUT, I have also met excellent long-haul FAs, sometimes the entire crew is excellent. People that make the flight really enjoyable, people that interact with the passengers with the highest level, people that can go out of their way to help out when something goes wrong... In other words, people who enjoy their jobs and are proud of serving others. Just what you can see in any other airline, but I specially enjoy IB's good crews as they have the Spanish touch that makes me comfortable.

      Maybe being Spanish makes things different, but not always, I have seen FAs that are rude to anyone. Sometimes it's all about how you treat them, if you're polite and not very demanding they can change their attitude (I use the same tactic with some employees at my University Offices, you can't imagine how rude they can be, far worse than any IB's FA :D)

      Yes, I'm Spanish (in case you are not still sure ;) )

      I'm glad you like the pics :)

      Saludos,

      Martín

  • Comment 108187 by
    tn92 165 Comments

    Hi! The load in economy is really low! Haven't been on such an empty flight before. =P Thank you for your reports! Yeah... It seems that Emirates' aggressive expansion is evident on Flight-Report as well! Haha! It's kinda surprising that a flag-carrier has only BOB.. Either way, I enjoyed your report and look forward to more! (: (Especially your Bangkok trip!) See you around!

    • Comment 293953 by
      Martin@MAD AUTHOR 21 Comments

      Yes it was, although Business seemed to have a healthier load. The return flight was also empty, with about only 50 pax on an A340, I am posting that report soon. In any case, flying with low loads is also rare to me, but when it happens it's nice as you enjoy plenty of space and boarding/disembarking times. It's not so good for the airline though :)

      Thank you for your comment!

      Best regards

  • Comment 108427 by
    Chibcha 432 Comments

    Great report, thanks for sharing!

    It's a shame to see what IB has become...practically the same as Vueling, if I'm not wrong!

    • Comment 294089 by
      Martin@MAD AUTHOR 21 Comments

      You're welcome!

      I haven't flown Vueling, but I'm afraid you're not wrong, although Iberia has Business Class and they still offer some additional services, like the attention desks. I wouldn't say what IB has become, it would say became, they started they BOB service back in 2004 ;)

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