The premium departure facilities at Madrid Adolfo Suárez Barajas airport terminal 4 are quite decent. There is a separate premium check-in area, in a different part of the departure hall from the economy class and self-service check-in areas, with several open desks. There is even a separate ticket desk in this area for premium passengers.
As I had already checked in online and was only travelling with hand luggage I could skip the check-in desks and head straight for security.
There is also a fast track for Iberia business class passengers and top-tier frequent flyers, located in the same part of the terminal as the premium check-in area. There were no less than four channels open and there was no wait whatsoever. Most impressive. I was airside within ten minutes of arriving at the airport.
The Schengen Iberia Lounge is called Sala VIP Dalí and is located on a balcony above the main transit hall. It has quite an interesting design divided into two sections, one on each side of the lobby and reception area. Both sides are nearly identical but the section to the left is somewhat larger.
There were some breakfast items on offer when I arrived including sandwiches, yoghurt and fresh fruits. The food and snacks selection changes later during the day, in the afternoon they also have Häagen Dazs ice cream for example.
At around 10 am they opened the small wine bar. Last year the non-Schengen lounge called Sala VIP Velázquez was fully refurbished and reopened in November with a large wine bar featuring no less than 23 different Spanish wines. Now it seems like the wine selection in the Schengen lounge has also been expanded. There were now 10 different red wines on offer as well as 5 white wines and a rose wine.
Iberia flight IB 3110
Gate H15 was used for the flight to Lisbon, a fair walk from the lounge. Terminal 4 in Madrid is a massive terminal.
Priority boarding was offered for business class passengers as well as OneWorld Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald passengers but the signage was non-existent and there was no special priority lane to join. Iberia usually handles the priority boarding process much better than this in Madrid. But at least it was properly announced by the gate agent and reasonably enforced.
An Airbus A320 was used for the flight to Lisbon, full to the very last seat in both business class and economy class. Fortunately boarding started early as the boarding process took a good amount of time.
Three rows were used for business class and I had pre-booked 01F. There was a reason for choosing a window seat on the right hand side of the cabin. Lisbon airport is located very close to the city centre and most of the time the aircrafts land from the south, making the approach over downtown Lisbon. And if you sit on the right hand side of the cabin you can enjoy a spectacular view of the city, the port and the beaches, especially if the weather is nice. This is definitely one of the coolest approaches in Europe.
No pre-departure drinks are offered on Iberia intra-European flights but we were offered Spanish and international newspapers before departure. Punctual pushback with a flight time of 55 minutes to Lisbon.
Seat and cabin
Three rows were used for business class with a 2-2 configuration, a 3-3 configuration with a blocked middle seat in business class, standard for most intra-European flights. This meant 12 seats in total and all were taken. The seats were the same as in economy class but I believe the seat pitch is slightly larger at the front.
The cabin seemed to be one of the more modern ones in the Iberia fleet with the seats in grey. Previously the seats have been in some kind of dark blue colour.
Food and drinks
A full hot meal was served to Lisbon, which was quite impressive for a flight lasting just 55 minutes.
The lunch consisted of a salad for starter, a pasta for main course, cheeses and a grape, and finally a raspberry mousse for dessert as well as a chocolate praline. Bread rolls were also offered from a basket.
Soft drinks, beer and wines were offered. Spirits are usually available on Iberia flights in business class, in large bottles, but the standard bottles were not loaded on top of the trolley as the crew passed through the cabin, as they usually are on longer European flights. I am not sure if spirits are not offered on these shorter flight or if they are kept in the galley and you have to ask for them. Anyway, since pasta was served for lunch I asked for a bottle of white wine and had two brands to choose between. I chose a Rioja wine.
Later on coffee and tea were offered and I asked for a second bottle of wine. The flight was short but fortunately we were allowed to keep our glasses until just 4-5 minutes before landing to finish whatever we were drinking.
Overall the meal was not bad at all for a short one-hour flight and the pasta dish was very tasty.
Already on the ground in Madrid there was a lot of chatting between the crew members in the galley and honestly it felt like they should have spent a bit more time in the cabin instead, chatting with the passengers. However as the doors closed I began to realise that one of the flight attendants was in fact in training and was instructed by the purser.
The meal service was also very slow. It took a good 20 minutes for the crew to prepare the food and the trolleys with the drinks and for a couple of minutes I started to wonder whether there would actually be enough time to finish the meal before landing. Usually on these shorter flights you need to start the meal service straight after takeoff to manage.
Once all the preparations were completed I was served by the new flight attendant who did everything slowly and carefully. As it was obvious to anyone that she was new on the job I asked her for how long she had been working and she replied “this is my first day”.
The flight to Lisbon was in fact her very first flight ever and I was the third passenger she ever served on Iberia. After that revelation the mood in the business class cabin changed completely and she rather got some cheering and clapping from the passengers. She was admirable and she definitely appreciated the support.
I had checked in the morning that aircrafts were landing from the south in Lisbon this day, which was great news. They actually do most of the time but naturally the wind changes from time to time and you never really know in advance. But as expected we made the approach from the south, flying over Setúbal and the beautiful beaches at Praia do Meco before making a right turn for the final approach over the 25 de Abril Bridge with the entire city centre on the right.
The weather was the best possible with not a single cloud and the view was magnificent.
We touched down five minutes behind timetable but fortunately we were assigned a gate position with just a short walk to the arrivals hall.
Impressive meal service for a flight of just 55 minutes with a hot meal and a good selection of drinks. Good lounge in Madrid, a modern cabin and of course a fun story to be served by a flight attendant working her very first day.