Trip Reports

Flight Review: Iberia A350 Business Class – Madrid To London

Back in August 2018, Iberia ran their new Airbus A350 in their regular daily widebody slot between Madrid and London in place of the normal A330 or A340. An opportunity to fly a brand new aircraft in business class for 15,000 Avios and £16.80 in Reward Flight Saver fees shouldn’t be passed up without good reason.

I run a YouTube channel dedicated to flight experiences and detailed mine here:

Iberia completely refurbished the Velazquez Lounge in Madrid T4S around 18 months ago. It was always a good-sized lounge with decent amenities, but the changes brought new furniture, re-themed interior design and new spaces befitting a carrier of Iberia’s size and pedigree. Particular highlights are the new “experience” zone – which is a very well stocked bar area full of Iberian and Hispanic alcohol, and a pre-flight dining area with full meals (this is open only in the evenings, for shorter overnight flights where maximising sleep onboard is key).

Fast forward to boarding. I’d seen pictures of the new aircraft online, so I knew Iberia had gone for an evolution of their business class product rather than a revolution. Featuring a 1-2-1 staggered configuration, this layout offers moderate privacy for window seats and centre pairs, but none for anyone seated by the aisles. Couples will enjoy the cosy centre pairs, whereas fans of window seats will prefer odd-numbered A and L seats for “true” window views.

Iberia have chosen a colour scheme which is completely grey, white and beige throughout. As a result, the cabin is characterless and insipid. Red and yellow are not premium brand colours, but Iberia should have really given thought to making at least a splash of colour in the cabin. A red feature wall with logo, or even a red stripe or writing on the headrests would go a long way to alleviating the disappointing monochrome in business class. Iberia’s cabin is the least inspiring of any major carrier – first impressions count.

The seat is fully lie-flat and adjustable in intermediate positions. The tray table, once deployed, is fixed, but the seat will move forward if you cannot reach it. IFE touch screens are responsive and a fair size, and the choices inoffensive and middle-of-the-road. The moving map is interactive and perspective can be manipulated.

Storage was good and thoughtfully placed, and two USB points and a universal socket ensure you won’t run out of battery. An interesting foible of this seat is that the “bed” doesn’t properly meet the ottoman. There’s a gap of around 1.5 inches, so your feet will slightly hang off the ledge.

Food onboard was very poor. Short haul Euro catering in business has tracked an upward trend across most carriers since 2015 (this schmuck has flown European business class a little too often for sanity…). Iberia served an ambitious veal burger onboard, which was just like the cabin. Grey, forgettable and bland, this was poorly executed and I regretted my choice. It was also served by the crew with foil and clingfilm still intact, which is not how business class meals would normally be presented to customers.

The bathroom was kept clean during the flight and featured an illuminated shaving mirror and spotlights akin to a film star’s dressing room. The interior was more inspiring than the cabin itself!

After two hours, my flight on Iberia came to an end as we landed in London.

I’m glad I didn’t pay money and only sacrificed Avios. This didn’t live up to the “halo” expectation one might associate with a new aircraft. On balance, Iberia’s hard product is solid if uninspiring, and the lounge in Madrid makes transferring there more than palatable. However, these basics fulfilled, Iberia fails to inspire or deliver on soft service. In summary, Iberia will be fine for a cheap price across the Atlantic, or redeeming Avios. However, given the choice, I’d shop around and look for airlines which you’ll remember more fondly once you disembark.

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