Iberia A319 Business Class Review Madrid to Prague
This review is from a few years back but most of the information is the same, so I thought it was worth reposting it. The only difference is Iberia now flies an A320 from MAD to PRG. But really this review is good for all Short and Medium-haul flights on their A319, A320 or A321's, The other thing that has changed from when I reviewed this flight is Iberia now has Wi-Fi and power ports on most of these aircraft (read below).
I had read some unfavorable reviews of Iberia's Intra-European service before I took this flight, so my expectations were not that high because of what I had read and that was somewhat confirmed on my Iberia flight to MAD from ORD (wasn't overly impressive). Iberia only flies to PRG from Madrid a few times a week and not at all from BCN, but I am sure the aircraft (they also fly A320's & A321's) and service is very similar to other European destinations they serve from Madrid, Barcelona, or any other cities Iberia flies from (not within Spain). My flight from Chicago arrived early in the morning and my connection to Prague was not until after 4pm so I decided to stay at the Hilton at Barajas Airport and get a few hours of sleep. That was a great idea, until I overslept and arrived at the airport 40 minutes before my departure. Luckily the airport was very quiet at this time and I already had my boarding pass. Plus, I did not need to clear passport control and it only took me a few minutes to go through security via the Fast Track lane. I was also lucky that my flight left from Terminal 4 (H gates) which was less than a 10 minute walk from security and not Terminal 4S, which requires catching a train. Unfortunately, because of my late arrival, I was not able to visit Iberia's VIP Business Class Lounge.
The flight was already boarding when I finally arrived and I was one of the last to board. I did not see any sign's for priority boarding, but they may have been invited to pre-board before I arrived. There was a long line in the jetway to enter the aircraft as the agent was checking all larger carry-on's. I maneuvered my way around the hold-up and thought I would be yelled at for not leaving my bag. Instead, when the other flight attendant saw my boarding pass, he warmly welcomed me aboard and opened an overhead to store my Rollerboard suitcase (plenty of room) and backpack. There was plenty of room in the overheads as Business Class was not fully booked. The cabin configuration was 3 x 3 with five rows on the A & C side and four rows on the D & F side, I was seated in 2A and like most other European Airlines Business Class, Iberia only sells the window and aisle seats, while the middle seats are vacant. Essentially the seats are the same as Economy Class seats (thus the Business Class capacity can be extended or reduced). The one difference is that unlike some other European Carriers, Iberia does not have a tray table on the middle seat. The seat is just left vacant. At first I was a little disappointed with this, but 2C was empty and I liked that I could raise the armrest for a little more room and was able to place some of my personal items on the middle seat. What I found to be the biggest difference between Iberia and all the other European Airlines I have flown with this similar Business Class configuration is there is actually a little more leg room. From what I could see it did not look like the Economy Class seats had this much legroom. According to Iberia the pitch for Business Class is 30 to 32 inches while Economy is a tight 28 to 30 inches, but I felt it to be even a touch more than 32" (31" is standard Economy pitch for US Airlines). The seat back pocket does allow for more knee room on these Recaro designed seats, and could be the reason that it felt so spacious. The bulkhead seats (1A & C - 2D & F) had around the same leg room as the other Business Class seats, but the armrests do not raise in those seats making them slightly narrower. The seats are leather but without a headrest and recline as an Economy seat would. The one advantage to the bulkhead is there is no forward seat to infringe on your personal space if reclined. We pushed on time and were airborne a short while later.
There was no pre-departure drink offered, nor was there a pillow or blanket on the seat. Shortly after take-off a small menu was handed out with the two meal options. The meal was served immediately after this via a cart along with drinks and bread basket. The two main course options were Steer Eye Fillet (beef) in a sauce from Cordoba or Pumpkin-filled Pasta in a Ripened Cheese Sauce. The entire meal was served on a tray which included a Mediterranean Salad as a starter, along with two desserts (Goat Cheese from Gerona, Spain and Toffee Pudding). The flight attendant did come back by with the bread basket which I was happy about as the rolls were quite good. The beef was also very good as was the toffee pudding. The portion was quite generous. About the same as dinner from ORD to MAD. My only complaint was the main course could have been warmer and there was only some stir-fried vegetables that accompanied it. No starch. Tea and coffee was offered to conclude the meal service.
After the meal another flight attendant came by with pillows. A pleasant surprise as there was still an hour and a half left in the flight and I wanted to sleep a little. One of the reasons I wanted to sleep (besides being tired ;)) was there was no In-flight Entertainment or Wi-Fi to distract me. In addition, there are no in-seat power plugs nor was a hot towel offered. However, there was a towelette on the tray with the meal as well as some in the lavatory. *** Since I took this flight some of Iberia's A320's & A321's have been retrofitted with Universal Power Plugs and USB charging stations. Not sure if they plan on retrofitting the A319's. They have, however, almost completely updated their entire Short and Medium-haul fleet with satellite Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, I am not sure of the rates but know they depend on routes flown. I do know that Business Class travelers on their long-haul routes receive a promo code for a small amount of free Wi-Fi.
Announcements were in both English and Spanish and a few automated announcements in Czech. Despite departing on-time we arrived a few minutes late. Our flight time was a lengthy 2 hr. & 45 min. There is one Lav in the front for Business Class passengers. Iberia's Business Class on flights within Europe (and Marrakesh) is very similar to what most other European Carriers offer. You are getting an Economy Class seat with the neighboring seat vacant and an upgraded meal (don't think they serve meals in Economy), priority check-in/boarding and most importantly, access to the lounge (Oneworld Sapphire & Emerald members receive priority check-in and boarding as well as lounge access even when flying Economy). I regret missing the lounge in Madrid, as
I had heard good things about it and considering how nice Barajas is I think I missed out. But I will be flying through MAD next month (June 2022), so I will get a second chance.
While it wasn't the best flying experience I have had, I do not agree with all the negative reviews. I guess it helps to have low expectations, but the meal and service were very good which always makes me happy and helps the disappointment of flying Business Class in an Economy Class seat. Iberia's Business Class fares can be much lower than their competition so that and their Oneworld membership makes them attractive for me. I would not hesitate to fly them again within Europe.