Good Advice Tried and Tested

Iberia A320 business class

04/10/2012

CHECK-IN I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 3 at 1430 for my 1625 flight IB3177, and proceeded to Iberia’s check-in at Zone F to drop off my bag, having already checked in online and selected seat 2A. There were three desks open – one business, one economy, one bag drop – all of which were quiet. I was seen to immediately at the business desk and was asked if I would like to fly an hour earlier, which I declined. I headed up the escalator and to the right to the fast-track lane for security – there was a minimal queue and I was through in minutes.

THE LOUNGE As a member of Oneworld (and soon-to-be merger partner of BA), Iberia uses the BA Galleries lounge (lounge zone F, a short walk from security through the departure lounge). It was serene on this Wednesday afternoon, with nice runway views, a range of seating areas, a good selection of hot and cold dishes as well as cereals, fruit and muffins, self-service coffee and wine bars and several drinks fridges. Wifi was free – take note of the password at reception to avoid having to walk back to get it. There were many PCs in a work zone with photocopiers, as well as a kids’ zone, showers, departure screens (flights are not called so sit where you can keep an eye on them), TVs and a good selection of newspapers and magazines – including, of course, Business Traveller. The Elemis spa is reserved for long-haul passengers.

BOARDING At 1545 my flight showed as boarding so I made my way to Gate 29, a few minutes’ walk. I boarded immediately and took my seat – the business section was already busy. Shortly after sitting down newspapers were brought round.

THE SEAT This two-class A320 was configured 3-3 (ABC-DEF), with the middle seat kept free in business. There were seven rows of business, separated from economy by a movable curtain, with economy across rows eight to 30 (there is no row 13). Note there are no seats 1DEF in business, so 2DEF faces the bulkhead along with 1ABC. Seats are the same in both classes, although the business ones have a bit more legroom. They are grey leather with grey plastic and leather armrests. The seat reclines via a button in the arm, and there is a fold-down table (it bounced a fair bit when I typed) and a storage pocket behind it built into the seat in front. This being a short-haul aircraft, there was no in-flight entertainment, and there was no in-seat power.

To see the seatplan, click here.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? There is not much to choose between the seats in business in terms of legroom – you may have more space around you in 1ABC and 2DEF, but you cannot stretch your legs out under the seat in front or store anything underneath it. The galley and toilet is at the front so perhaps avoid the first row if you are worried about disturbance, although note that service begins from the front if you like to get served first. Be aware that if you have a window seat and want to get out, you will have to ask your neighbour in seat C or D to move – the middle-seat table is also used as a joint drinks table, so anything on that will have to be manoeuvred too.

THE FLIGHT We pushed back on time at 1625 and took off 20 minutes later. The meal service began at 1715 and consisted of either lamb shoulder or battered hake fillet, served with escarole salad with turkey lacon, pineapple and courgette. I had the hake, which wasn’t particularly flavoursome. The tiramisu was better, and the meal was also served with a couple of slices of cheese, a choice of rolls, mini bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and a choice of drink – I had a nice Rioja. Afterwards I was also offered coffee or a liqueur but declined. Service was friendly.

ARRIVAL We landed  into Terminal 4 of Madrid Barajas airport ten minutes late at 1955 local time and were off the plane quickly. There was an immigration point at the top of the airbridge and then I had a lengthy walk to baggage reclaim. Once there it took about five minutes for the bags to come out – mine was one of the first.

VERDICT A good-quality short-haul business service with a comfortable seat and friendly staff.

PRICE Internet rates for a business class return from London Heathrow to Madrid in December started from £373.

CONTACT iberia.com

Michelle Mannion