Review: British Airways First Class SFO - LHR
Review: Iberia Airlines Business Class LHR - MAD
Recap: Sights in Spain
Review: American Airlines Business Class MAD - DFW
Iberia Airlines (IB) #3167
London (LHR) - Madrid (MAD)
Tuesday, December 29th, 2015
6:30 PM - 9:55 PM, Duration: 2 hours, 25 minutes
Airbus 330-300 Business Class, Seat 3G
After spending a couple of hours waiting in the British Airways Concorde Room, it was time to board our flight to Madrid. I had never flown Iberia before, so I was looking forward to experiencing a new airline. As I mentioned, we had booked British Airways First from SFO to LHR plus Iberia Business from LHR to MAD for 62,500 AAdvantage miles and $490 each. It was a rough deal with the fuel surcharges, but I guess this is what you get for booking a last-minute trip to Spain over the holidays.
We boarded quickly and found that the business class cabin was largely empty. It was probably 40% full by the time we took off, which is not something I'm used to seeing these days. The A330 which Iberia flies on this route has a pretty great configuration for such a short flight. Business class is 1-2-1 with alternating seat configurations for each row. The rows were also slightly staggered. Aisle seats would either have a table on the outside of the seat (making them very private) or on the window side of the seat, while the two seats in the middle either had tables on the aisle side of the seats and nothing in the middle or tables in the middle of the seats and nothing on the outside. This made middle seats with no tables in the middle great for couples traveling together (as they were very private), but maybe not so great if you were seated next to a stranger.
In addition to the nice staggered seating arrangements, the seats were fully lie-flat, which is always amazing on long-haul flights, but seemed kind of silly for a two hour and 20 minute flight (although I wasn't complaining). Each seat had a fairly substantial cubby hole for your feet, which was not too far away - always a plus since my legs are so short! This was great for me, but passengers with longer legs might find these a bit small or hard to fit in.
During meal service, the table came down from the back of the seat in front of you and the seat controls and entertainment remote could be found next to the table (either on the aisle side or window/middle side of the seat).
As we were settling in to our seats, the flight attendants came around and passed out some fairly nice over-ear headphones to use for the flight. They were Iberia branded and weren't quite Bose headphones, but they were light years better than what we received on British Airways.
The flight wasn't long, but I quickly noticed that the entertainment selection available was substantial. There were plenty of movies and TV shows to choose from and I immediately noted that the selection was probably three times the size of what you get in British Airways First or Club World (their selection is really just that paltry).
Prior to taking off, the flight attendants also passed out a menu for the flight. Given that it was a short flight, I didn't expect much and I was right not to. There was a small selection with one starter, two mains to choose from, and both desserts were served on your plate.
Nothing on the menu looked particularly great, but Chris chose to have the chicken and I've found that pasta is a lot harder to screw up than meat, so I went for that. I wasn't sure what "Suquet" sauce was, but I figured it was the vegetarian option - there's no way they wouldn't offer a vegetarian option, right?! WRONG.
By the time I got around to ordering my dinner, we had taken off, so I couldn't Google "suquet". I seriously never believed it would be anything other than a veggie sauce, so I felt confident ordering the pasta. Little did I know that "suquet" is a fish stew (and anyone who's read a few of my reviews knows that I hate fish). We received our meals and they looked pretty sad to say the least. They came with everything covered with plastic wrap (which is a bit disappointing for business class) and the second I pulled the plastic off of my dinner, I knew something had gone horribly wrong.
The pasta smelled disgusting. I couldn't even describe the smell so I passed it to Chris after he asked why I wasn't eating it and he was brave enough to try it. The look on his face after he did so was priceless. Basically, it was really, really terrible and he described it as "rotten fish sauce".
Chris said his chicken was OK and I got by on eating my salad, cheese and two rolls.
After dinner, there was about an hour and a half left of the flight, so I found something to watch until landing. Before I knew it, it was time to land and we were ready for our Spanish adventure to begin.
Iberia Business was an interesting experience. The layout and the seats themselves were pretty great, plus there was an excellent entertainment selection, which are a huge part of my determining if a flight is "good" or not. However, service was unmemorable and the food was pretty terrible. Overall though, because it was such a short flight, I could overlook the food and the impersonal service. If you need to make the short hop from London to Madrid, this is a pretty good way to do it - however, you might want to bring a sandwich.
Just a twenty-something with a full-time job and a full-time obsession with traveling. It's best to LiveTraveled.