Review – Iberia A320 Business Class – LIS-MAD

After spending about an hour in the ANA Lounge, I decided to head down to the gate a bit early to see if I could snap some pictures of the A320 that would be taking me to Madrid. Although I am not usually a huge fan of Iberia in general, this was my first time flying their intra-European business class product, so I was intrigued a bit to see how it compared to my experiences with their medium and long haul business class product.

I opted to redeem American Airlines miles for my return trip, mainly because I have a lot of them and because I was able to find a routing through London with low taxes and fees that allowed me to review the flagship American Airlines 777-300ER. For this redemption, I redeemed 57,500 AAdvantage miles for a business class ticket. The taxes and fees were somewhat reasonable at ~$176 and were high due to multiple European connections (so I could review more products) and flying through London. Overall, I was pretty happy with the redemption value on this ticket.

Introduction – Europe On A Whim
Review – United 737-800 BusinessFirst – RSW-IAH
Review – KLM Crown Lounge – IAH
Review – United 767-300 BusinessFirst – IAH-EWR
Review – Lufthansa Senator Lounge – EWR
Review – Austrian Airlines 767-300 Business Class – EWR-VIE
Review – Sky Lounge (Non-Schengen) – VIE
Review – Sky Lounge (Schengen) – VIE
Review – Austrian Airlines Lounge – VIE
Review – Austrian Airlines A320 Business Class – VIE-DUS
Review – Holiday Inn Express Dusseldorf
Review – Element Amsterdam
Review – KLM Royal Crown Lounge – AMS
Review – Air France A318 Premier Class – AMS-CDG
Review – Air France Salon Lounge – CDG
Review – Air France A320 Premier Class – CDG-LIS
Review – Intercontinental Lisbon
Review – ANA Lounge – LIS
Review – Iberia A320 Business Class – LIS-MAD
Review – Iberia Sala VIP Velazquez Lounge – MAD
Review – British Airways 767-300 Business Class – MAD-LHR
Review – British Airways Galleries Lounge – Terminal 3 LHR
Review – No. 1 Lounge – Terminal 3 LHR
Review – Swissport Lounge – Terminal 3 LHR
Review – American Airlines Admirals Club – Terminal 3 LHR
Review – American Airlines 777-300ER (77W) Business Class – LHR-DFW

As I mentioned before, I arrived at Lisbon Airport (LIS) a full two hours prior to scheduled my departure and ended up being incredibly happy that I did. The airport was absolutely packed and a complete mess with people sleeping everywhere around the check-in counters. I quickly made my way to the Iberia check-in counter where the economy class line was easily 200 people deep. Thankfully, I was traveling on a business class ticket (though my OneWorld Sapphire status would have allowed me to use the business class check-in lane regardless), so I made my way to the business class check-in lane where there was only one other person in line.

Iberia 3107
Lisbon (LIS) to Madrid (MAD)
Depart:  6:55 AM
Arrive:  9:15 AM
Duration:  1 hour, 20 minutes
Aircraft:  Airbus A320
Seat:  2A

Boarding was scheduled to begin at 6:10 AM, which seemed like overkill for a small A320. By the time I got to the gate, I was already sweating as it seemed the air conditioning was not working in the terminal (which seemed to be a theme for the trip). Waiting at the gate was the A320 that would take me on the short flight to Madrid (MAD).

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Boarding commenced at 6:20 AM with business class and OneWorld elite passengers being welcomed aboard. Boarding would have been quick, however the aircraft was not completely prepped for passengers when they made the boarding call, so I ended up waiting on the jet bridge for a solid 10 minutes while final preparations were made.

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When the aircraft was finally ready for boarding, I boarded through door 1L and made a right into the business class cabin.

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As with most intra-European business class cabins, the seats were simply economy seats with the middle seat blocked for a little added space.

The first thing I noticed upon boarding was that the crew was less than inviting and were doing everything they could to not have any contact with passengers who were boarding. This is actually one of the reasons I tend to avoid Iberia as I find it to be the norm with their crews.

I quickly made my way to my seat – 2A – and stored my bag. 2A is a window seat in the second row of the aircraft.

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The first thing that I noticed was the drab, depressing and boring grey colors of the seats and the overall general worn condition of the aircraft and seats. There was also random dirt on the side panels of the aircraft.

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The next thing I noticed was that there was no pillow or blanket waiting at my seat. I did see both pillows and blankets in the overhead bin, though they were not proactively offered to anyone and the crew seemed annoyed when the lady in the row in front of me requested one.

The overall legroom was actually pretty good at 32″ of pitch. At 6’5″, it was nice to not have my knees his the seat in front of me. Note the coffee stains on the tray table that could have easily been cleaned with a damp cloth.

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The seats were Recaro slimline seats, which lacked padding or a moveable headrest. For an early morning flight, that made sleeping near impossible.

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The seats themselves also suffered from the armrests not going back as far as the seat when reclined. That made sitting with the armrest up and the seat reclined rather uncomfortable as I have rather broad shoulders.

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Despite the delays in boarding, it was not a very full flight and boarding was complete a solid 15 minutes ahead of departure. The cabin door closed right on time and the safety announcement was made. One thing that I thought was odd was that only the economy cabin received the safety demonstration. The business class cabin did not have anyone there to perform the demonstration. I thought this was rather odd.

After the safety announcement, we were informed of our short flying time of just 55 minutes to Madrid (MAD) and began out pushback. Once the engines were started up the entire cabin smelled of exhaust, which was a first for me. I am not sure if that was a re-circulation or cabin filtration issue or what, but it smelled toxic.

It took nearly 25 minutes from the time we pushed back to actually get airborne. There did not seem to be a lot of traffic on the tarmac, so I am not sure what the delays were. As I find to be the norm on Iberia, there was no announcement from the captain either to inform us of anything.

When we finally got airborne, the sun was already up and made for some nice views of the outskirts of Lisbon.

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About 10 minutes after takeoff, the cabin crew jumped to work to get the meal served. I was offered a selection of beverages and opted for an orange juice and a coffee. Breakfast was served all on one tray and consisted of an egg omelet with some grilled tomatoes, a croissant with butter and jam, some Greek yogurt and some muesli.

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The eggs had a rather funky taste to them, though at least they were cooked all the way through.

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The yogurt, muesli and croissant were all good though, so I just left most of the omelet.

One thing I noticed upon putting down my tray table was that someone has stuffed used gum into the area behind the tray. There is nothing more fun than having someone else’s used gum looming over your meal tray. The overall cleanliness of their aircraft was just poor.

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Overall, the meal service was prompt and about what you would expect for airplane food. It definitely was not anything memorable like I had on my Air France and Austrian Airlines flights though.

Shortly after the meal service was done it was time to begin our descent into Madrid. There were some great mountain views on the approach, though it was a bit choppy.

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We had a smooth landing on time and after a 10 minute taxi to our gate, I quickly deplaned and headed for the Iberia Lounge to kill some time before my British Airways flight to London (LHR).

Final Thoughts

Overall, I continue to be underwhelmed by Iberia. While their product is decently comparable to many of the other European carriers, the overall feel and atmosphere of my flights with them has been dreary. I would never go out of my way to fly Iberia and honestly I think this flight really sums up why. It is not that anything is expressly bad with the airline, it is just that they are consistently mediocre and unmemorable. The bottom line is Iberia is nothing more than transportation at the end of the day – and I tend to try to maximize my miles towards memorable redemptions.

What are your thoughts on Iberia’s intra-European business class product?

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