I was only in transit at Madrid Barajas, connecting between two Schengen flights. I had already received a boarding pass at the departure airport so the transfer was easy. I had an hour between flights at the airport, which was reduced to 30 minutes due to late incoming aircraft. However it turned out the departure gate to Lisbon was the same as my arrivals gate, in fact I was to continue on the exact same aircraft, which made the transfer even easier and meant that the connection was completely risk-free.
Iberia uses the new terminal 4 at Barajas airport which is divided into two terminal buildings. The main terminal is used for Schengen flights and the satellite terminal (often called terminal 4S) is used for non-Schengen flights. The two terminal buildings are connected by an automated train.
Iberia premium passengers departing to a Schengen destination have access to the large Iberia Dali Lounge in terminal 4, located on a balcony above the transit hall. There is also a lounge for non-Schengen passengers in terminal 4S called Iberia Velazquez Lounge. With just 30 minutes between flights there was no time for a lounge visit on this occasion.
Due to the late incoming aircraft the onward flight was also a few minutes delayed. The aircraft obviously had to be cleaned and there was also a crew change.
Boarding eventually started five minutes before scheduled departure time with proper priority boarding using a separate lane to the left of the podium.
Iberia flight IB 3106
I boarded the same aircraft I had got off about 30 minutes earlier, which had been cleaned during the transfer and now looked considerably nicer than when I left. Three rows were assigned to business class and I had selected a seat on the last row, seat 03C. We were only a handful passengers in business class and I got my own row and later moved to the window seat instead, 03A.
After boarding has been completed newspapers were offered in business class, including both Spanish and international ones. However there was no pre-departure drink in business class.
The load onboard was around 70%. Both the ground staff and the cabin crew worked hard to get everyone onboard as quickly as possible to minimise the delay and we eventually pushed back just ten minutes behind timetable with only a short taxi to the departure runway. The flight time to Lisbon was expected to be one hour.
After takeoff we made a left turn to head west towards Portugal and sitting by the window I got a good view of the airport, which you can see on the photo below. You can see the main terminal building at terminal 4 to the right and the satellite building, terminal 4S, to the left. They are in fact quite far apart.
Seat and cabin
Three rows were assigned to business class on this Airbus A320 where the standard 3-3 configuration had been changed to a 2-2 configuration with empty middle seats for all passengers, which naturally improved the comfort and provided extra space. However Iberia does not use the middle seat for an extra cocktail table, as some airlines do.
The seats were in dark grey leather, quite comfortable to sit in and with a perfectly acceptable legroom for an intra-Europe flight. On the Airbus A320 aircrafts the legroom is usually better on the first 5-6 rows than in the rest of the aircraft with roughly 2-3 inches more legroom.
Food and drinks
Dinner was served on the flight between Madrid and Lisbon and in spite of a flight time of just one hour a full three courses dinner service was offered, including a hot main course, which was a very nice and unexpected surprise. However in contrast to the longer intra-European flights, where there are two choices of main course and a printed menu, on this flight there was no choice of main course and no menu.
The dinner consisted of a salad for starter, chicken with couscous and spinach for main course, two slices of cheese, and finally a chocolate muffin to finish off the meal. Although the presentation of the main course was not the best the chicken itself was quite tasty. Bread rolls were also offered by the crew.
A full drinks service was also available in business class with wine, beer, spirits and soft drinks. I asked for a bottle of red wine with the meal and had two wines to choose between, both Spanish. Later on I asked for a cup of coffee but it turned out the coffee maker in the galley was broken, which was a bit strange as it worked perfectly fine on the previous flight. It was starting to get late so it was no big deal. Instead I was offered, and accepted, a refill of the wine glass.
Two cabin crew members served in the business class cabin, the female purser and a young male flight attendant. The service was very friendly and attentive and they both spoke perfect English. No trolleys were used, instead the meal trays were delivered from the galley. The same process was done with the drinks which were delivered on a black tray to the seat. A nice touch which also made the service feel a bit more premium.
Just as the meal trays had been removed we started our descent to Lisbon, enjoying a beautiful view of the coastline south of Lisbon and the Atlantic ocean.
Just like on most previous visits to Lisbon the approach was done from the south with the final approach right over the city centre. This must be one of the nicest and most spectacular airport approaches in the world. The airport is just a few kilometres north of the city centre and the final approach is done so low that you can easily see the people on the ground. Unfortunately it was quite cloudy over Lisbon, which partly blocked the view.
We touched down a few minutes behind timetable at Portela airport and taxied to the single terminal building. As I had only hand luggage and was sitting in business class the arrival experience was quick and easy with a short walk from the aircraft door to the arrivals hall. Unfortunately it took far more time to get a taxi as the line at the taxi stand was massive.
A very pleasant flight with excellent service from the crew. Very impressed with the meal service which was quite extensive for a one hour flight and I was in particular surprised to get a hot meal on such a short flight.