Iberia, Iberia. I have separated this report into two parts: the flight itself, and what happened after the flight. You’ll read why I walked off the plane disenchanted, but the flight itself was honestly very pleasant and exceeded expectations.
After spending a night in the Iberia Lounge in Madrid, I proceeded to the gate about an hour before scheduled departure. Oddly, our flight to Los Angeles was leaving from a remote stand (despite many unused gates) and we were bussed to the plane.
Great tarmac views on the way out including Boliviana de Aviación (BoA), which I had not heard of but apparently is a successor to Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano (LAB) and AeroSur.
It’s always a gamble whether the right door or left door on the bus will open and I chose left side. Unfortunately, the right side opened and I was among the last off a full bus. It meant half the cabin was already seated and out of respect for the privacy of others, I refrained from taking my usual cabin shots. That was a blessing in disguise.
Madrid (MAD) – Los Angeles (LAX)
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Depart: 12:45 PM
Arrive: 04:15 PM
Duration: 12hr, 30min
Seat: 3C (Business Class)
Because of my last-minute flight change, I was assigned a middle seat. Thankfully, there was a couple across the aisle from me who had been assigned one window seat in front of the other. They asked me if I would mind switching and I happily obliged. Window seats are far more private plus having control over the windows is essential for good meal photos.
There was a 20-mintue delay in taking off, but the schedule was sufficiently padded that we would still land in Los Angeles 20 minutes early.
A pre-departure beverage service was served on a classy cloth napkin. Many carriers, even in first class, serve beverages with paper napkins or coasters. Although just a very tiny detail, I appreciated the cloth coaters.
On the flipside, instead of a hot or cold towel prior to takeoff, a packaged moist towel was offered…perhaps all the money was spent on the cloth napkins…
Newspapers were offered and moments later the purser came back with an iPad, welcoming each passenger by name, shaking hands, and introducing herself. It was a nice touch.
Iberia Business Class Amenity Kit
An amenity kit was waiting at each seat. The red pouch contained L’Occtiane amenities, a shoe bag, comb, toothbrush/toothpaste, earplugs, socks, and a shoehorn. You don’t usually receive a shoehorn and shoe bag in an amenity kit, so I rate this one as above average.
Iberia Business Class Dining
I really enjoyed the food on this flight and I want to give Iberia credit as well for making it look so good. On my London to Madrid flight the previous day I noted that the meal was served covered in tinfoil and plastic. Not so on this flight. Everything was served nicely.
Here’s the menu and wine list:
After takeoff a cold towel appeared so the “moist towelettes” I mentioned above were just an added bonus.
Service began with beverages, cashews and green olives. Since it was day flight, I opted to have a glass of Spanish red wine. I loved the crockery Iberia uses.
The appetizer consisted of salmorejo (soup) with egg crumbles, a salad with sliced chicken breast, apples, and fig jam, tomato and feta salad, warm bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and a slice of villanoble cheese. Every single bite was delicious. Honestly, the food was impressive.
For the main course, I ordered chicken stuffed with foie gras and pine nuts served with raisins and sliced peaches. Wow! This was an amazing contrast of flavors that made for an excellent main course.
Dessert was simple, almost like a refreshing palate cleanser: raspberry sherbet. The menu said it would be topped with crushed biscuits, but it was served plain.
Finally, an espresso to finish:
I’ll underscore once more how much I enjoyed this meal. In fact, I’d rate it as one of the best all-time meals in business class for quality and flavor.
I was not hungry at all but noticed after the meal service that a snack cart and been set up in the galley. This was mentioned on the menu but FAs made no mention of this.
Despite a flight time of 12hr, 25min only a light meal was served prior to landing. I was not so much disappointed as surprised. In one way not, because Spanish eating hours are so out of sync with much of the world, but it does seem like something heartier would be called for on a flight that long.
That said, I loved the snack. It included ham, chorizo, chicken, and cheese with fresh bread and olive oil. A side of ripe fruit was also on the plate. Cold towel to start.
That blue bottle in the picture above is water…the nicest bottle of water I’ve seen!
In conclusion, the food on Iberia is really good. Really good.
Iberia Business Class Wi-Fi and IFE
The aircraft was equipped for Wi-Fi and each business class passenger was provided a 50MB wi-fi voucher for use on the flight. One big problem: the wi-fi did not work. I tried connecting multiple times during the flight and never could get past the front page.
Interestingly, when connected to the network (not even online, just the network) every time a PA announcement was made a dialogue box popped up on my phone, preventing me from doing anything.
Even if Wi-Fi had been working, I had no plans to use it after the 50MB expired: prices are obscenely high:
I love the interface of the IFE selection, though using the touchscreen method was far easier to navigate than using the passenger control until. Movie/TV/Audio/Game selection was identical to the A340 flight the previous day. You’ll find about two dozen English movies, most recent but a few classics. I watched Jackie, a well-done movie about Jackie Kennedy in the period surrounding the JFK assassination. The map feature was also very advanced with a great cycle of views and angles.
Noise-cancelling headphones were provided, but of dubious quality.
Iberia Business Class Lavatory
The business class lavatory was clean albeit tight. There was some faux wood paneling, but otherwise just a normal lavatory with a bit of Iberia-branded hand wash and cream. Regular paper towels, not cloth.
Iberia Business Class Seat + Bedding
I’ve saved the seat for the end because of the problems I had photographing it, described below. Thankfully, I had taken many pictures the previous evening on the A340 from London to Madrid, which has the identical seat onboard.
The seat is automatically controlled and quite comfortable, though there is not a lot of privacy. In lie-flat mode it stretches to 6’2″. A universal power outlet and USB port are also available. The first six pictures are from my MAD-LAX flight.
Bedding was much better on this flight than the London to Madrid flight. The pillow was large and soft and the blanket light but cozy:
Despite a good rest the previous night, I slept for six hours during the flight.
Cockpit Door Open
In what reminded me of pre-2001 flying, the cockpit door was frequently open during the flight. FAs and pilots constantly entered and exited the flight deck. The door was clearly unlocked and no codes or knocks were used to enter. While it did not bother me, it was a bit peculiar.
Iberia Business Class Service
Service during the flight was friendly and polite…when FAs were there. I appreciated the personal introduction from the pursuer and also her personal thank you before landing. I was not addressed by name beyond those two interactions, but the rest of the crew was courteous and smiled.
However, I did not see the crew between meal services (when I was awake). They were literally gone, not even in the galley. I included a picture of the mid-flight snack cart above and it was totally self-service, including drinks. I suppose the call sign might have summoned them, but did not try.
After landing, a tragic photo incident occurred. I wrote about it here. It really dampened my overall impression of an otherwise excellent flight experience with Iberia. I will give Iberia credit for its great follow-up on the incident.
If we set aside the photo incident, I had an excellent experience with Iberia. The food really impressed and everything else was on-par with a competitive business class product except the ridiculous wi-fi prices.
Because the photo incident seems unique to me, I would still recommend you give Iberia a shot. You can now book award space online at AA.com.