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My review of Iberia Express in Business Class (a good redemption from UK regions)

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This is my review of Iberia Express and its business class product.

Over the next few weeks we are going to review the premium cabins of all of the other IAG airlines, apart from British Airways.  First up is Iberia Express.  Later this week I will look at Iberia’s long-haul business class seat.  Vueling has promised me an Excellence flight to try out.  Anika is off to Boston in a few weeks to test the new Aer Lingus long-haul business class.  We won’t get to cover LEVEL – unless they want to offer us a Premium Economy trip – but they are only flying from Barcelona at the moment.

Iberia Express operates from five cities in the UK so I thought it was time to take a look.

What is Iberia Express?

This reviews covers Iberia Express and its business class service.  The airline has its own website which is here.

Based in Madrid, Iberia Express styles itself as a low-cost carrier which provides ‘feed’ to Iberia’s mainline operations.  The aim appears to be to offer connecting services to airports which would not support a ‘full service’ short-haul flight.  It flies to 40 destinations in 14  countries.

Of course, as part of Iberia, Iberia Express is NOT a genuine low-cost airline:

It offers connecting flights, including through-checked baggage, to Iberia

You can earn Avios in Iberia Plus when you fly with Iberia Express

The flights operate as codeshares with various oneworld and other airlines

It offers lounge access, fast track security and priority boarding on ‘business’ tickets, as you will see

It is a member of oneworld through Iberia

It operates a fleet of Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft.  I was on an A320-200.

From the UK …..

From the UK, Iberia Express operates, mainly in Summer:

  • Heathrow to Asturius
  • Heathrow to Gran Canaria
  • Gatwick to Madrid
  • Birmingham to Madrid
  • Edinburgh to Madrid
  • Cardiff to Madrid
  • Manchester to Madrid

My flight

I flew Iberia Express from Palma to Madrid last week.

I booked a one-way business class flight via Iberia Plus for 9,000 Avios plus £17 of taxes and charges.  An economy ticket would be 4,500 Avios plus £13 of extras.

I was pleased to see that my ticket got me fast track security at Palma.  I was also allowed into the Formentor Lounge which was directly next to gate D86 from where the flight departed.

I’m not going to do a lounge review but I was very pleasantly surprised by the Formentor Lounge.  I was there over lunch and the supply of food was very good:

Formentor lounge Palma Airport

There was also a fridge full of cava, among other drinks, and a decent selection of upmarket newspapers and magazines.  It wasn’t very crowded either, although I can imagine that a Saturday in August is a different story.

Formentor lounge Palma Airport

As I directly next to the gate I wasn’t rushing to board.  I missed the priority boarding call for the flight, but when I arrived I walked up to the desk and was allowed to board immediately.

Seating

Seating is 3 x 3 throughout the plane.  In Business Class, the middle seat is blocked.  British Airways uses a fancy tray table to block the seat.  Iberia Express uses two cushions!

Iberia Express business class

The aircraft had a curtain positioned after Row 3, which was drawn during the flight.  However, only Row 1 and half of Row 2 was allocated for business class passengers.  As it turned out, I was the only passenger!  Sitting in the bulkhead I had plenty of legroom:

Iberia Express business class review

Business Class food and drink

I should mention that Iberia Express offers a lower level of service on its domestic flights.  The food I was given is NOT representative of what you would get flying from the UK.

You can find food and drink information on this page of the Iberia Express website.

Here is a typical menu for international business class flights on Iberia Express:

Breakfast (before 10.30) – “a hot breakfast is served, comprised of French omelette served with seasonal vegetables and  fresh fruit”

Hot snacks (10.30 to 12.00) – “a service consisting of a delicious quiche or some tasty scrambled eggs accompanied by fresh fruit,juice, coffee and tea”

Lunch (12.00 onwards) – “flavoursome meat and fresh pasta dishes of the highest quality, served with salads and exquisite desserts”

Economy is ‘buy on board’.

Instead of the menu above, I got a glass of orange juice, followed by a one-tray snack:

Iberia Express business class food review

… and I had two mini-bottles of wine.  The crew poured the first glass of each bottle for me, which does not happen on BA.

Iberia Express business class wine review

It was hardly a massive meal but, frankly, not really worse than some of the food I have had during the day in British Airways Club Europe.  I had no complaints given my modest expectations.

The crew were very pleasant.  I didn’t quite understand the uniform though.  One crew member was wearing a typical Iberia blue trouser suit with a blouse.  The second younger crew member was wearing a short – by airline standards – striped skirt in the Iberia logo colours of red and mustard (classy!), black tights and a black top.

How to book

For cash, you can book on the dedicated Iberia Express website or on the Iberia site.  The Iberia Express site may be cheaper but your ticket may have fewer benefits – check carefully if baggage or pre-booked seating are important.

For Avios redemptions, you can book via ba.com or Iberia Plus.  You are likely to get better availability if you use the Iberia website and transfer your points to Iberia Plus to make the booking.  However, remember that you can only transfer into an Iberia Plus account which is 90 days old and has ‘earned’ at least 1 Avios.  Transferring 1,000 Amex Membership Rewards points to Iberia is the easiest way to do this.

What did I think of Iberia Express?

I had heard decent things about Iberia Express in business class and, for a low cost carrier, I wasn’t disappointed.

My bulkhead seat was spacious, I had the whole 1.5 rows to myself, the snack and two mini-bottles of wine were fine (and you’d get better food flying out of the UK) and lounge access and priority boarding removed any possible pain from the process.

If you live in London and heading to Madrid then the sensible thing to do is target those Iberia services at Heathrow which use long-haul A340 aircraft, so you get a flat bed in business class!  From the regions, however, Iberia Express offers a decent option to Madrid especially if you splurge for business class.

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Comments

  1. *Asturias

  2. If you book your IB express flight a long time in advance, you might want to check from time to time that it is still live. They cancelled my Madrid to Manchester flight (the only one of the day) but didn’t think to tell me. Iberia , the other hand emailed me to say my flight was departing Miami 15 mins earlier .

  3. I flew Iberia Express J from DUB-MAD about a year ago. 40e ticket and offered 55e to upgrade and was accepted.
    3 rows of J but I was the only occupier. curtain used.
    Newspapers offered
    Food was good – steak as I recall. evening flight.
    Wine offered, asked for whiskey and got it
    Coffee and Chocolates afterward

    I was very impressed! Fly 2x daily DUB-MAD in summer and every other day in winter.

  4. What am I dong wrong ? Trying to check Edinburgh to Madrid next May/June on Ba.com and takes me via London with no direct flight options.

    • They only fly direct on certain days of the week – we did the trip a couple of years ago – can’t remember which days so check each day of the week – it should give you 5 days in Madrid – we enjoyed it!

    • I find the same problem, I’m constantly trying to find any Avios flights to anywhere that don’t involve Heathrow but anything from MAN will only show me routes via LHR. Same for Helsinki flights.

    • May not be timetabled yet.

    • Don’t forget Easyjet of Edi to Madrid.

  5. It is worth mentioning that on the MAN route, there is no separate business class catering – they simply give you items from the BoB menu. Not sure why this route gets this treatment and others don’t.

  6. Concerto says:

    It’s not that great, I flew to the Canaries with them in Business and the service was what you would have received in Economy about 15-20 years ago. The evening meal was some ravioli thing, not something to write home about. The outbound left at 11h35 and there was no lunch, just a brunch thing.

    • rowpott says:

      I also flew with them from LHR to Las Palmas and never again. If you are in row 1 there is enough legroom but elsewhere its the same as economy with your legs right up to the row in front of you. Cava is not always available and the food is awful. I also fly from LHR to Las Palmas via Madrid when BA does not have direct flights and the Madrid to Las Palmas leg is via Iberia Express, The service is just as bad but with a shorter flight is just about bearable

      • Agree on legroom, EDI-MAD was tortuous for me. 28″ seat pitch I think, fortunately the seat next to me was free so was able to sit angled.

  7. Iberia Express is basically Iberia with cheaper pilots and crew. That’s why it was set up and how it’s modelled – it’s designed to be so similar that most (non-HFP/FT!) customers don’t notice. When enough of the old crew have retired, it’ll be rebranded into IB mainline.

  8. Mikeact says:

    Palma to Madrid is classed as an International flight, but London LGW to Madrid isn’t ?

  9. Mikeact says:

    To add, Rob seems to infer that his Business Class flight had a reasonable meal, but not what you would receive ex UK.

    • Janeyferr says:

      He found the offering reasonable, but the catering ex-UK is more of a meal, as per the menu.

  10. I have to say two cushions blocking the middle seat beats those tables on BA for me – having had them removed for children to occupy the middle seat during the flight I can tell you they are not cleaned underneath, seemingly ever.

    Just… Eugh.

  11. Thanks for this, I am always on the lookout for direct MAN routes. Getting ba.com to show availability from other than LON is always a nightmare though, I would consider just calling them and asking.

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