Why Iberia’s long-haul business seat is better than BA Club World – and has lower taxes
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This is my review of Iberia’s long-haul business class seating.
It is almost four years since I flew Iberia’s long-haul business class so I thought it was time to take another look. We are running a series of reviews over the next few weeks on IAG’s other premium class products. I reviewed Iberia Express business class yesterday and we have pieces on Aer Lingus and Vueling (Excellence) on the way.
I wasn’t flying far, even though I was on a long-haul plane. Iberia runs a number of afternoon flights each week from Madrid to Heathrow (and back) with long-haul aircraft. This is done for cargo purposes, in the same way that Finnair is now running A350 aircraft between Heathrow and Helsinki. Because they are being used for cargo, they are ‘fixed’ in the timetable and you are unlikely to find yourself moved to a normal short-haul plane.
Because it is a long-haul aircraft, you will get a flat bed seat if you book into business class.
If you have never flown long-haul business class before with a flat bed, this is not a bad way to give it a go whilst you are waiting for your Avios balance to cover a proper long-haul holiday.
If you booked yourself a flight from Madrid to London in Iberia business class, you would get access to the Velazquez lounge in Terminal 4S at Madrid airport :
That photograph is from my 2013 trip. I didn’t make the lounge this time. My flight from Palma was a few minutes late arriving, and once I had got into Terminal 4 I saw this:
Yes, 21 minutes to Terminal 4S from Terminal 4!
(Madrid Terminal 4 is what happens when you give an architect all the space they want and tell them to build a terminal. The distances between gates are ludicrous. The new Hamad Airport in Doha is the longest free-standing building in the world. Heathrow Terminal 5, whilst much derided, is actually a work of genius – from a passenger perspective – in terms of the time taken to get to your gate. The design of T5 was forced on Heathrow by the position of the M25, however. If Richard Rogers had been given a choice it would also probably be a mile long …..)
So, clearly no time to visit the lounge. I hopped straight onto the plane, an A340-600:
Into my seat, 5A:
Let’s look at the layout.
It is 1-2-1 in Business Class. However, each section alternates.
My window seat was an actual window seat. However, the seat in front and the seat behind had the seat by the aisle and you could not get a direct view of your window. If you are travelling alone and want to watch out of the window, ensure you get a seat such as 5A and not 4A or 6A.
The centre pairs also have alternate seating. In some rows, the seats are directly on the aisle and there is a large gap between yourself and the person in the other middle seat. These are best for solo travellers as you can see here:
In other rows, you are sitting in the middle, just off the aisle, and are directly next to your seatmate. This seats are best for couples.
Note that all seats have direct aisle access which is something you don’t get with BA’s Club World seat.
There was a USB socket which I used to charge my phone, and also a power socket. Wi-fi is usually chargeable but we were all given a voucher for 4MB of free data usage. This does not last long, of course – literally a few minutes with general browsing.
Standard wi-fi pricing goes from €4.95 for 4MB up to €34.95 for 45MB. Even 45MB won’t get you far if you are doing a lot of browsing on image-heavy sites.
The controls were easy to operate, although I didn’t put the seat flat given the short flight time. Two things are worth noting:
Your feet are NOT in a cubby hole, as it the case with many business class seats at the moment
The TV screen does not fold away, because it is built into the design of the seat and is actually fixed to the back of the seat in front. You are staring at it for the entire flight, whether you want to or not!
You can see both of these points in action here:
Food and drink
Iberia was running a proper hot meal service. Get on a British Airways Club Europe plane departing in the mid-afternoon and you’d get the awful ‘afternoon tea’ pack of four finger sandwiches.
Iberia, on the other hand, was offering this (and even gave out proper menus):
Pear tomatoes, courgette and asparagus salad
Veal burger with a Pedro Ximenez sauce served with finely sliced poatoes or
Cheese and nuts stuffed pasta in a tomato, aubergine and thyme sauce
Chocolate sponge cake
Basket with assorted breads
Selection of wines, soft drinks and spirits
Coffee and teas
I took the burger. It was all served as one tray, and wasn’t at all bad (although, arguably, I would expect a burger to include bread and not just the patty):
There are many good reasons to fly Iberia on your long-haul business class redemptions purely on price. After all, Madrid to New York off-peak is 68,000 Avios plus £157 return, instead of 100,000 Avios plus £527 return on BA from London.
Note that you must book Iberia redemptions via the Iberia Plus website to get the £157 taxes figure. Book exactly the same Madrid to New York flight via ba.com and the taxes rocket to £364. Remember that you cannot transfer Avios into Iberia Plus until your Iberia Plus account is 90 days old and it has earned 1 Avios. Another benefit of booking via iberia.com is better availability compared to what ba.com shows.
The even better news, as you see here, is that Iberia has a good long-haul seat as well. I haven’t tried to sleep on it, neither have I tried the proper long-haul food service, but you can tell from the pictures above that you are going to have a decent experience.
If you have never flown a long-haul fully-flat business class seat, then why not give this a go? A one-way ticket in Business Class between Madrid and London is only 15,000 Avios plus taxes, irrespective of whether you fly Iberia or British Airways – so try to get the Iberia long-haul flights if you can.
If you book via iberia.com, the aircraft model is clearly shown when booking. If you book on ba.com, you need to click on the flight number. This opens up a box with more information including the aircraft being used – you are looking for an A330 or A340.
Next up on our tour of IAG business class products is Aer Lingus and their new long-haul business class seat. We should get that series of articles up in late October.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (June 2023)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard
Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review
Barclaycard Avios Mastercard
5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review
British Airways American Express
5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! Read our full review
Run your own business?
We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review
You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.
EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.
British Airways Accelerating Business American Express
30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review
There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.