I arrived just about an hour before scheduled departure time at Arlanda airport, a bit later than expected due to heavy traffic. Iberia uses terminal 2 at the airport, just like IAG partner British Airways and OneWorld members Air Berlin and FlyNiki.
I had already checked in online and was travelling with hand luggage so I just visited a self-service machine to print the boarding passes. Although I had already downloaded these on my mobile phone it is always a good idea to have the boarding passes printed, as a back-up, especially on longer flights in case the mobile phone would run out of batteries.
This was in the beginning of the holiday season and the line for the security control was very long and slow. Fortunately Iberia premium passengers (business class and top-tier frequent flyers) get access to the fast track channel, which saved a considerable amount of time this afternoon.
There is just one lounge in terminal 2 used by all airlines. The Menzies Aurora Lounge was quite busy this afternoon with many people going away on holiday enjoying a drink or two to get in the right mood. The food selection in the lounge is usually quite good though with both an extensive cold buffet and a few hot items. This afternoon lasagna was served. A full drinks selection was also available with red and white wine (on tap), beer, a standard selection of spirits and of course soft drinks, coffee and tea.
Iberia flight IB 3315
Boarding started already 30 minutes before departure. The flight was completely sold out and with many families going on holiday to Spain the early start of the boarding was needed to get everyone onboard on time. Proper priority boarding was offered using the lane to the left of the podium.
The aircraft used to Madrid was an Airbus A320 with the standard intra-Europe configuration. I was seated in 04D, on the last row of business class. The flight was completely full and the man next to me in 04F had been upgraded. However he was informed already on the ground that there would be no meal available for him, but he could naturally take full advantage of the drinks service in business class.
With all passengers onboard newspapers and magazines were offered in business class starting with papers in Spanish and followed by in English.
The flight time to Madrid was expected to be three hours and 40 minutes.
Seat and cabin
Four 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 some extra space.
The seats were in dark grey leather, quite comfortable to sit in and with a perfectly acceptable legroom for an intra-Europe flight. Apparently on the Airbus A320 aircrafts used on European flights the legroom is better on the first 5-6 rows than in the rest of the aircraft with roughly 2-3 inches more legroom.
Although not comparable to a longhaul flight in business class the comfort onboard was never an issue.
Food and drinks
Already on the ground the purser passed through the cabin handing out menus for the flight, a nice tough to get a printed menu. The menus were in red and listed the starter, the two choices of main course, the dessert and the accompaniments with a Spanish version on one side and an English version on the other side.
After takeoff the inflight service started with a drinks service before the dinner, served from a trolley with most bottles on display.
I asked for a bottle of white wine with two wines to choose between. I ordered the Pata Negra and a glass of still water.
Next the dinner was served with a starter and two choices of main course. Here is the menu for the flight.
The starter was a rocket, tomato and cucumber salad. Not sure if this really counts as a starter in its own right, but at least the salad was large and rather filling.
The two main courses were a mango and rocket salad stuffed chicken fillet with a saffron sauce, or a cottage cheese and spinach stuffed pasta with a Suquet sauce. I ordered the latter. Bread rolls were offered by the crew as well as more drinks. I decided to try the second white wine on offer, which was also of Spanish origin.
The presentation of the pasta main course was terrible, not very appealing to the eye, but it tasted much better than it looked like. In fact it was quite tasty.
For dessert there was a small plate with two slices of cheese called Idiazábal from the Basque country. There was also a delicious kind of mousse for dessert, which they called a “Truffle delight”.
Finally coffee and tea were offered, served very nicely on a separate red tray after the meal tray had been cleared. These are the kind of small details I really enjoy when travelling in premium cabins. The tray had the same red colour as the business class menu.
They didn’t have Baileys onboard, instead they had a Spanish cream liqueur called Crema de Alba, with a similar flavour. However Baileys is based on whisky while Crema de Alba is based on brandy, so the taste was slightly different but I actually liked it better. I even accepted a refill.
With a flight time well over three hours several more refills were offered and I asked for a gin and tonic to drink. The gin available onboard was Bombay Sapphire, served from a large one-litre bottle, and rather nicely it was all done in front of my seat. The flight attendant arrived at my seat with a tray containing a glass with ice, a full-sized gin bottle and the bottle with the tonic water and poured everything in front of me. Finally she used a red cocktail pin to mix the drink, in the same red colour as the menu and with the Iberia logo on the top, and placed it on a coaster, also in the same red colour. Really nicely done. When I later ordered a refill the same process was repeated.
The service was very friendly and attentive from the two crew members who mainly served in the business class cabin as well as from the purser. With a flight time of well over three hours there was plenty of time for a proper and rather lengthy inflight service with no stress.
The only real criticism about the service was the difficulty to get the crew to respond after the meal service was over when I wanted a refill on my glass. It took no less than three crew calls using the call button and a wave with the hand to get someone to notice me and come to my seat, even though there were three people standing in the galley. Although the flight attendant was friendly and helpful when she finally arrived (and somewhat apologetic) it should definitely not take ten minutes and three calls to get someone’s attention when travelling in paid business class.
Although we departed Stockholm roughly on time there was a lot of traffic in the Madrid area and we eventually parked at the gate more than 30 minutes behind timetable. Before landing an announcement was made with all relevant connecting gates. By a coincidence the arrival gate and the gate for my connecting flight mentioned by the crew were the same, so I figured I would most likely be flying onwards on the same aircraft, which also turned out to be the case. So although the transfer time was just an hour in Madrid, reduced to less than 30 minutes due to the late arrival, there was no need for me to feel stressed.
Better than expected, actually quite a decent experience for an intra-Europe flight in business class with a printed menu, two choices of main course and small details such as the small red tray for the coffee and the cocktails served and mixed in front of my seat on a tray and from a large bottle. The crew were friendly but they should have been more attentive during the rest of the flight. You should not have to call three times and wave with your hand to get some attention.
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