Flight Review: Iberia A330-300 Business Class (IB 6165 MAD-BOS)

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Last week I flew from Madrid to Boston on one of Iberia’s A330-300 in Business Class. While Iberia is not my first airline choice (I’m more of a Star Alliance person), this flight was convenient schedule-wise so I decided to give it a try.

I hadn’t been on Iberia Business Class long-haul in at least 3 years. The last reference I had was Kevin’s review of his flight LAX-MAD this past summer (check it here) so I wasn’t holding high hopes.

The Lounge

Although I don’t intend to do a full lounge review, I do need to mention that Iberia’s lounge for non-Schengen departures on the satellite terminal 4s at Madrid Barajas Airport is way too small for the traffic it gets in the mornings.

Most of Iberia transatlantic flights (USA East Coast/South America) depart in the morning between 9 am and 1 pm, and between the business class passengers and the one world elite members with lounge access, the lounge looked like a free camping area. There were people sitting on the floor as there was no seating space available for everybody and the staff couldn’t manage to keep the food offerings properly stocked.

The Cabin and the Seat

Iberia is rolling out their new Premium Economy product on their A330 and A340 fleet. They for the A330-300 planes this reconfiguration means replacing the Business Class mini-cabin on the other side of the galley (prior rows 8 and 9) with the Premium Economy cabin. The business cabin now is reduced to 7 rows with an all-aisle access 1-2-1 configuration.

The seat is a lie-flat seat with 78” pitch and 26” width, and it’s probably the strongest part of their business class product. In full flat bed position it was comfortable enough to sleep. Bedding included a blanket and a pillow that were on the seat at boarding.

Seat features included a power outlet and USB port, a retractable table, individual light, in-flight entertainment control and a standard seat control panel.

There was also storage space under the foot rest (for shoes and/or a small bag) and next to the seat (for magazines and the amenity kit).

The Amenity Kit

Iberia’s amenity kit is an uninspired plastic foam bag in their livery colors. The contents are inconsistent at best: while it includes L’Occitane products (which I like), it also includes an unbranded toothpaste (no thanks!) and a shoe fitter (!?). The eye mask was of a light gray color and made of a so thin fabric it was almost see-through, defeating all purpose.

In-flight Entertainment

The personal screen was of decent size (14”) but the content provided was random. For many of the TV shows in the offering they only had one episode available, but they had the complete first season of Westworld. A lot of Spanish content (of course). In general, the navigation through their interface felt un-intuitive and slow.

The unbranded headphones provided posed as noise-cancelling but failed miserably in the attempt.

Business Class passengers are given a 4 MB Wi-Fi connection voucher, which is beyond ridiculous. I didn’t even try to connect to the network.

Food and Beverages

Pre-departure drinks were a choice of Cava, orange juice or water. (not so) Hot towels came right after.

The food was the most disappointing part of the flight. The first serving was meh at best. The apetizer salad had greens that had seen better days, and the main course was unremarkable.

The mid-flight snacks was a sad self-serving table with soft drinks and packed biscuits and nuts.

The second serving was directly inedible, with cold cuts that were frozen and dry.

The wine selection was excellent, but I give credit for that to the good wines produced in Spain.

Conclusion

It’s sad to see that IAG seems to be determined to run to the bottom as fast as possible, downgrading their Premium products and alienating in the way passengers willing to pay for them.

Although their hard product is OK, Iberia’s Business Class product is sub-par and not worth the money if you have to pay full price for it. In my case I got that business class seat bidding for an upgrade, which I would do again given the chance (for 320€ over my Economy Class fare, why not?), but I think I wouldn’t pay for a business class fare either with miles or cash as I could get much more bang for my cash in other airlines.

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