Iberia Airlines for International Business Class Review

Iberia Airlines wants to make flying a unique experience, and their new logo is just the start for the Spanish airline. They have also upgraded their long-haul business and economy class seats for the A330 aircraft. With these changes, I think this is the perfect time to review what you can expect since I rely on Iberia […]

Iberia Airlines wants to make flying a unique experience, and their new logo is just the start for the Spanish airline. They have also upgraded their long-haul business and economy class seats for the A330 aircraft. With these changes, I think this is the perfect time to review what you can expect since I rely on Iberia for my trips to Spain.

Courtesy image
Iberia Airlines A330 Business Class. Courtesy image

I recently visited Spain’s Murcia region. I flew from Chicago (used the Admirals Club at O’Hare, which is always a nice way to start a trip) and connected in Madrid, where I waited in the VIP Lounge (and their showers) until it was time for my connection. This review, however, focuses on my flight home from Madrid.

Fast Track at Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas T4 & the VIP Lounge

First, check-in is quick and easy if you’re flying in business. From there, it’s a short walk to the Fast Track security checkpoint, and the waiting time is minimal (only a couple people were in front of me). And then you’re in the airport. Both departure and arrival lounges (if you’re connecting) are modern spaces with self-service food and beverage bars, work areas, relaxed seating, leisure TV areas and relaxation spaces. They also have nap rooms with pillow menus with options:

  • Pro-Pilo pillow
  • Poly-cotton pillow
  • Multi-elastic pillow
  • Cervical pillow
  • Grey duck feather pillow

If an option isn’t available, check with the attendant. However, bad passengers have been known to slip these into their carryon for use on the flight (don’t do that).

Listen for an announcement when your plane is boarding, and then head to your gate.

Business Class Seating

I actually liked the previous Iberia seating configuration for business class – it was roomy. But the new seating configuration is even more comfortable and private. Seats are configured in rows of four with a single window seats on each side and two seats in the middle (each have direct access to the aisle). Some of the business class features includes:

  • 200 cm flat bed (78”)
  • Individual seats with a middle row separator
  • 15.4” personal touch screen monitor
  • Noise-cancelling headphones
  • Adjustable back and shoulder pillow with massage function
  • Individual reading light
  • Cocktail table and revolving table so you can get up anytime

The screen is much larger and permanently affixed in front of your seat (the previous design required you to pull out the monitor where it was tucked away in the seat). The headphones are comfortable and help to drown out some of the uncontrollable sleep noises of others we’ve all come to expect on long-haul flights (I’m happy to listen to music or have the background noise of a movie instead). Using either the touch screen or remote that’s tucked away next to your seat, it offers a selection of movies, music, TV shows, games, flight path details for the voyage, weather information in the arrival and other cities.

And your seat also includes outlets so that you can power up your devices throughout the flight.

Economy Class Seating

The economy cabin has also been given an upgrade, so you no longer have to watch in-flight entertainment from a limited number of strategically positioned TVs and screens. Some of the economy class features include:

  • 46 cm seat width (18.1”)
  • 9” personal touch screen monitor
  • Individual reading light

Business Class In-flight Menu

Ibeira is offering a Michelin-star dining experience. They are working with four leading Spanish chefs who are designing menus to match dishes with wines from Spain’s most important wineries

The Business Plus Wine Cellar selection includes a range of Spanish white and red wines, and it is renewed quarterly. The menu lists details about each, including the winery, vintage, color, aromas and taste. I enjoyed Senorio de Cuzcurrita 2007, a mature Rioja wine.

Flights begin with a choice of cava, orange juice and water – and a warm towel. The main meal includes starters, a choice of three main courses, and a choice of two desserts along with coffee, herbal teas and spirits. Before the end of the flight and, depending on the time of day, you get breakfast or mid-afternoon options.

My diet required multiple special restrictions (no seafood, gluten or dairy products). So, my meal included a gluten-free roll, fruit and salad as the first course. My entrée was a chicken breast served with a mix of vegetables. For dessert, I had a pleasant sweet wine, Old & Plus, Pedro Ximenez. Was I happy? Check…

If you require a special meal, you have the option to submit a selection on your flight profile to make a request for: Indian vegetarian, Oriental vegetarian, raw vegetarian, strict vegetarian, low-calorie, bland diet, without dairy or dairy-based products, low-sodium, for diabetics, for people with glucose intolerance, baby meals, kosher, islamic, Jain vegetarian, fruit platters, seafood meals and other special personalized meals. Check your flight profile and contact Iberia in case there are limitations.

In-flight Entertainment & Shopping

The entertainment system has more than 50 films in different languages (e.g., English, French, Italian, Portuguese, etc.) each month. You’ll find recently released movies and comedies. There’s also TV shows, documentaries, sports, travel programs, music options, flight path details for the voyage, weather information for your arrival city and elsewhere.

Although I didn’t make a purchase on this trip, three items caught my eye. Under the business category, I noticed for the first time a Valkee Therapy Device (179 Euros) that’s supposed to help counter the adverse effects of irregular daylight during the winter months or when traveling. It works in 12 minutes and is supposed to affect your mood positively. I’ll have to consider that sometime.

Under men’s fragrances, I noticed Armani’s Spray EDT 100ML (78 Euros). It’s described as a mythical juice inspired by the Mediterranean, and has been elaborated around bergamot, lavender, vetiver and cedar wood.

I also liked the Montblanc men’s wallet (205 Euros), a black European full-grain cowhide with a unique Montblanc deep shine.

You’ll find a few business items, electronics, gourmet items, fragrances, accessories, watches, jewelry and more. It also has options for kids.

WiFi

You’re now able to connect during your flight. In business, you’re given a code that allows you to use 4 MB of data for your smartphone without a fee. After that, there’s a extra MB charge. Fares are:

  • Smart phone or tablet: 4 MB – 22 MB ($4.95 – $19.95)
  • iPad: 22 MB – 50 MB ($19.95 – $39.95)

Extra data is charged at $1.75 MB.

The Verdict?

Iberia’s flight crew is professional and the experience is excellent. They offered newspapers and magazines in English and Spanish upon arrival, which I appreciate.

The new seat configuration is a pleasant upgrade. I think I even got a little more sleep than usual (I still can’t seem to master the art of getting more than an hour or so of sleep on any international flight).

The in-flight menu options are nice, and I’m a huge fan of Spanish wines. So, I definitely give a nod to those. As for special meal requests, it is very important to work with those who arrange your flight options if you need anything beyond the standard categories noted in your profile. To play it safe, bring any special snacks that you may need to rely on.

I like using long-haul flights as an opportunity to catch up on some of the movies that I have missed, and a nine-hour flight is perfect to do that.

While WiFi is nice to have, it’s certainly comes at a premium price. The courtesy 4 MB goes quickly, so you’ll want to be strategic with your use of data.

I look forward to many future flights between the US and Spain on Iberia.

____________

Special Note: I want to highlight that I had a rare opportunity to experience a behind the scenes tour of Iberia’s maintenance area in Madrid. Here, they work on 20-30 engines at any given time. The team disassembles all parts, inspects, repairs, replaces or scraps as needed — and then puts everything back together.

Iberia handles engine repair for airplanes and airlines all around the world, including Continental, Delta, Cathay Pacific and SAS, among others. It’s an impressive and extremely clean facility with roughly 400 employees who work six days a week — five of those days at 24/hours. And they are all Iberia employees (not contractors).

Safety, security and quality are their key focus. And it’s comforting to know that this team is testing the planes we fly on a regular basis.

Rob is editor of Business Travel Destinations. He reviews international destinations for meetings and events -- where business travelers go, the hotels where they stay and their lifestyle preferences on the road. Rob was previously the event planning guide for About.com (owned by The New York Times Company) from 2007 - 2011. His articles also appear in business travel publications and travel sites internationally.

3 comments

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