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.
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
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:
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.
Non-Schengen zone at T4
Our plane, EC-JQZ, ready for departure
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.
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
Light load today, about 25% in Economy, 80% in Business
Pushback and taxi
Up we go!
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.
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
Heathrow finals and taxi
Our plane parked next to its British colleagues. We arrived at 12:43, two hours late
Heading to the UK Border
Madrid - MAD
London - LHR
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!
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