Those keeping up with Avios and airline promotions will remember that a while ago Iberia had a promotion that became quite famous. Simply book up to ten flights to earn 90,000 Avios with 9,000 Avios bonus per flight booked. The great part was you didn’t even need to fly them. With flights starting at €25, this was an easy option.
For a total cost of € 250 I got the 90,000 Avios I used to take this flight to Costa Rica on Avios. For me this promotion was an absolute success!
So how was my bargain flight? Well, I won’t give too much away, but it was a good experience. This was also the second great flight I’ve had with Iberia in recent months.
Michele and I arrived at Madrid Airport around 09:30 in the morning. There was no line at the business class check-in counters, and within minutes we had our boarding passes ready.
From there we went to the Fast Track for passengers travelling in business class or with elite status on Iberia or oneworld airlines. Security procedures were super fast, as there was no queue there either. This is pretty standard at Madrid.
We did get slightly lost finding the transit train… Michele’s fault, of course (just an excuse to walk past the shops I think!)… we took the train to Terminal 4S which is where all Iberia intercontinental flights to Madrid depart from. This feels like almost taking a train to another airport, it is so far away! As it was more than an hour before boarding, we went into the lounge for breakfast. You can read a full review of the lounge here.
- Route: Madrid – San Jose (Costa Rica)
- Aircraft: A330-200
- Seat: 2A
- Departure Time: 11: 35h
- Arrival Time: 14: 55h
- Duration: 10: 50h
Boarding began at exactly the scheduled time. As they were using two plane doors for boarding, business class passengers were quickly through the gate.
Sadly this was a classic case of #boardingnotboarding! We arrived at the door of the aircraft but there was a barrier across to stop us boarding because it was still being prepared for the flight. At that moment something happened that I thought was inappropriate. In front of us was a passenger in a wheelchair. Instead of waiting until boarding was cleared, the person pushing the chair asked the passenger to stand up and wait for boarding!
Well, if a person needs a wheelchair, it is because they cannot walk or stand, right?!?! Apart from this unpleasant episode with the poor passenger, the whole boarding went smoothly and the doors were closed on time. Take-off also took place at the scheduled time on a beautiful sunny day in Madrid.
Iberia A330-200 business class has a 1-2-1 layout like their A350 and A330s. If you are travelling with someone, the middle seats would be best. All the seats alternate by row as to where the table console is placed – by the aisle or by the window/middle.
When traveling alone I prefer either the A and L seats 2 or 4 (see the red square in the photo above) as they offer much more privacy, especially when the seat is in the bed position. For those traveling with other people, the odd seats in the middle, 1, 3 and 5 (E and G) are the best (see the blue square in the photo above).
The seats offer plenty of privacy and have a good amount of space to store personal effects. In addition, the USB and headphone ports are easily accessible.
The seat-side storage bin is great for storing medium-sized belongings like books, for example. The space in front of you is perfect for placing a glass of wine or glass of water when the table is closed.
There is also a small area below the remote control is ideal for storing small valuables like wallets and passports.
The way the dining table is positioned is very practical. Just swivel it toward the monitor and you can get out of the seat, even during the meal, without closing the table.
Although the crew offered to store passengers’ jackets, there is also a side hook that can be used for this (see photo below in the Entertainment section).
Underneath the footrest area is a space for shoes or even a small bag. Incidentally, it is a very safe space to use for valuables at night, because with the seat in the bed position no one has access to it while you are sleeping.
The remote and seat control are side by side (more about the entertainment and remote below) and are easily accessible. The seat controls were very intuitive and simple to use.
If you don’t want to use the light above the seat, there is a small reading light on the top corner of the seat as well. Although many people are unaware, the side armrest is retractable and can be lowered at bedtime. This makes the seat a little wider for sleeping.
As soon as I got on the plane what caught my attention were the new colours of the pillows and blankets. They matched the cabin colour much more than the old red ones! The pillow is also much better than the previous one that, to be honest, was as flat as a pancake! This always detracted from the sleeping experience on Iberia.
I found the seat quite comfortable in the bed position and with enough room to rest or sleep comfortably. Many airlines A330s feature narrow seats but these felt quite wide.
The bathroom was very clean throughout the flight. As far as toiletries were concerned, there was just the usual liquid hand soap.
Although simple, I really like Iberia’s amenity kit. In addition to the usual products like:
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Moisturizer for lips and hand
The kit has some more unusual items, such as:
Face refreshing spray
Although there are several reports (and friends of mine have been through this) that the Iberia crew are sometimes cold and uninterested, on this flight I had nothing to complain about, as they were excellent! Super attentive and smiling all the time. Even the cabin director taught me a little about the Spanish wines that were on the menu at the time!
Returning to the service itself, minutes after I got to my seat the crew passed by with the welcome drinks. The options were water, juice and cava. Guess which one I chose? And if you are wondering, no, they didn’t give me the bottle! They just “lent” me it to take the picture. The cava is very good quality, not like the cheap supermarket stuff we are sometimes used to in the UK!
Anyway… after we took off and as soon as the seatbelt signs went off, the crew handed us the menu.
The service was lunch and a snack before we arrived in San Jose. The choices were the usual chicken, fish and pasta. The menu provides a description of what will be available on the snack trolley, which is assembled by the crew after lunch. There is also a description of the teas and types of coffee available.
I followed the cabin manager’s wine suggestion and tasted the Verdejo which I enjoyed a lot. The last page of the menu has the other alcoholic beverages. There is a good selection of Spanish drinks including a couple of sherries, two gins and many other options.
Before serving the pre-dinner nibbles and drinks, the crew distributed the obligatory hot towels on individual trays.
And speaking of appetizers, the options were olives or a mix of nuts. I always order olives as they are delicious on Iberia.
After the appetizers the crew served the starter. The presentation of the tray, with salad, soup (cold), cheese and prawns was beautiful. It was all very tasty and there was certainly plenty of it!
For the main course, I ordered the chicken which was stuffed with cheese. Chicken breast is always a risk as it can be dry and bland. Fortunately, in that case I made a good choice. Like the prawns, it was delicious.
So the dessert, an apple pie?… ermmm…. it was kind of hard! I didn’t like it at all. I should have chosen the other option which was ice cream. Michele had the ice cream and said it was very good!
After a few hours, the crew loaded a trolley on the galley with sandwiches, sodas, etc.
And to finish the flight, with less than two hours to go to San Jose, the crew served a light snack. It was a quiche Lorraine with mozzarella cheese and tomatoes. Both were tasty and my only comment here is that this snack was exactly the same as what was served on a flight I did with Iberia between Madrid and Rio de Janeiro in May. Are they running out of ideas? I do find that Iberia food is very repetitive on most long haul flights though.
I find the Iberia business class screens good size. And one thing I noticed about this flight, and I don’t know if it was a coincidence, is that the screen responded faster to touchscreen commands than the last flight I made on an A330-300. You can also use the remote control that is on the side of the seat.
The Iberia headphones are not particularly great and there are already much better products being used in other airlines. They do the job but they seem to have a higher failure rate that on other airlines which may be to do with the quality of them.
The variety of movies and music is enough to keep someone busy during a 10:00 flight like this one. Of course the variety does not compare with that of Qatar Airways, for example, but for me it was enough.
The aircraft offered WiFi at a cost of € 29.99 for the entire flight but with a limit of 200MB. Sadly 200MB only lasts about 2-3 hours with average social media and messaging use. Michele went through 3 ‘whole flight’ packages on this ten hour flight! After flying with Qatar Airways that charged $ 10 for the entire flight duration, or other companies like Air New Zealand, for example, which offers free internet access, I would say it is time for Iberia to review its prices! This has to be one of the worst value packages available!
As for the WiFi itself, it was great. I was able to stay connected throughout the flight and have no complaints in that regard.
The flight was excellent and I would say the highlight was the crew. All the staff were very friendly and attentive to me, Michele and the other passengers (all executive seats were occupied). The cabin chief, for example, introduced himself to everyone at the beginning of the flight and then came to say goodbye before our arrival in San Jose. I hope I find more crews like these on my future Iberia flights!