My review of business class on Iberia’s brand new A350 (coming to BA’s A350’s?)

Links on Head for Points pay us an affiliate commission. A list of our partners is here.

This is my review of business class on the new Iberia A350.

Ten days ago Iberia‘s first A350-900 long-haul aircraft went into operation, flying between London and Madrid for crew training before it is introduced on the New York route next week.  Last Wednesday and last Friday I gave it a go.

There are a few flights around Europe which can be done on long-haul planes. From London, the key ones are Madrid, Helsinki (on Finnair) and Istanbul (on Turkish).  Not every flight is on a long-haul aircraft so you need to check when booking.  These flights are done for cargo purposes or to keep an aircraft busy during the day which will have an overnight long-haul sector later.

British Airways has promised a brand new Club World seat on the A350 aircraft being delivered next year.  This is why it is important to keep an eye on what Iberia, BA’s sister airline, is doing.  To be frank, if British Airways adopted the same seat no-one would complain.  Whilst Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad will not be running scared it is a VAST improvement over what we have now.  I mean …. even Aer Lingus, which IAG treats as a ‘value’ long haul airline, has a superior business class seat to Club World as we reviewed here.

Iberia A350 business class review

Inside Iberia’s A350 business class

I can’t find an official photo of the cabin so you will have to rely on mine.  A fellow passenger said that the colour scheme was too ‘beige’ but, when all the TV screens are showing the bright red Iberia logo and passengers have their red blankets out, it works well.

What we didn’t see was any mood lighting used.  The A350 can do this – Finnair has a fascinating ‘northern lights’ display programmed into its A350 fleet – but it is possible that Iberia will use it on overnight flights.

What you have is a staggered 1-2-1 configuration:

Iberia A350 business class review

This offers EXCELLENT privacy for everyone in the left or right blocks.  Here is 3C where I sat on the way out (the A seats are reversed so the seat is directly by the window).  Note that the console table is designed so that it does not block your view out of the window:

Iberia A350 business class review

If you sit in the middle block, you also have a huge amount of privacy if you are in the pairs where the console tables are in the centre.  If you are sitting in one of these seats, you are actually closer to your neighbour in the ‘C’ seat than you are to your middle seat neighbour.

Iberia A350 business class review

The only seats to avoid for solo travellers are the middle block where the console table is on the aisle – although, even here, if the divider is up (as it is in this picture) you still have privacy from the person next to you.  Couples, of course, will gravitate to these seats.

Iberia A350 business class review

Here is a middle pair with the divider down:

Iberia A350 business class review

Things I like about the Iberia A350-900 seat

There are lots of little things I liked about this seat.  It is, after all, very similar to Iberia’s existing long-haul seat but they have taken it and made it better.  Not radically, but in numerous small ways which make a difference.

Take a look at the ‘cubby hole’ below:

Iberia A350 business class review

Many airlines have now adopted ‘cubby hole’ seats.  By having your feet under the seat in front, it frees up space for storage and personal items.  One problem is that people feel that their feet are enclosed.  For all seats except the centre block middle pair, however, your feet are free.

The ‘A’ seats are the same.  This should make a real difference when sleeping.

Iberia A350 business class review

Another improvement is the TV.  This is 18 inches and fully touch sensitive.  I can’t review the content because only a small number of short items had been loaded.  One snag is that the TV does not fold away because it is built into the back of the seat in front.  You are forced to stare at it for the entire flight – luckily it is easy to turn off.

If you are not a member of Iberia Plus, you can register via the IFE system.  I thought this was a clever touch.

The TV remote also has a small screen on it which you can use to watch or show the moving map:

Iberia A350 business class review

Here is something else I liked.  The tray table flips down and pivots around as you can see below.  What you can’t see from the picture is that the table can be pushed further back so you can get out of your seat.  There is nothing worse than having to get up from your seat when your tray table is set and finding it can’t be moved – and if you are travelling with kids you can be sure that your presence will be required at least once during the meal ….

The person in this picture is a HFP reader and was happy to be featured.

Iberia A350 business class review

Lighting was good with overhead lights and an adjustable reading lamp:

Iberia A350 business class review

The photo above also shows two storage areas which are ideal for glasses, iPhones etc.  Shoes can go under your footrest.

There are no shortage of power sockets:

Iberia A350 business class review

It’s not all perfect, however.

The seats, when in the take-off and landing position, are surprisingly uncomfortable.  The back is quite firm and when sat upright it wasn’t pleasant.  Once the seatbelt sign was off I reclined the seat slightly and it was fine.  (I met a couple of HFP readers on the outbound flight and we compared notes afterwards.  They both agreed with me on this point.)

On my return flight, in the ‘A’ seat, I made the seat into a bed.  The arm rest slides down to give you a wider sleeping area which is good.  However, there was a noticeable gap between the seat and the curve of the fuselage and I can imagine some passengers rolling over during the night and getting wedged in!  One downside of the arm rest being designed to drop down into the seat is that it isn’t very sturdy.

The seat belt is ‘car style’.  As well as the standard two pieces which clip around your waist, there is a third piece which comes over your shoulder, goes diagonally across your chest and clips onto the buckle of the main belt.  I was OK with this but my fellow HFP readers found it uncomfortable.

The aircraft has wi-fi but it was not operational on these test flights.  Iberia has chosen not to install cameras on the outside of the plane which is a missed opportunity – I always find this fun when flying on an Emirates A380.

Being an A350, you also benefit from larger-than-usual windows and, due to composites used to build the aircraft, a more pleasant level of cabin pressure.

Food and drink

Iberia was obviously not serving a typical long-haul menu on these services.  I will show you what I got though.  On the outbound, I went with a chicken dish, which came with a salad, yoghurt and cheese:

Iberia A350 business class review

and on the return I had a steak, with the alternative option of cream cheese stuff pasta.  Steak never looks good in a photo …..:

Iberia A350 business class review

There is no champagne but cava was available.

Conclusion

With the exception of the uncomfortable upright seating position – which may improve in time as the seat gets used and the cushioning softens up – I was very impressed by Iberia’s new A350 business class seat.

I think it sets a good base line for what you should be demanding from a business class seat in 2018.  Excellent privacy from most seats, enough storage, wi-fi, numerous power outlets and a large touch-screen TV.  Yes, you can add more bells and whistles as the Middle East carriers do, but you will be perfectly happy with such a seat.

I wrote an article recently explaining why I think the game is up for Virgin’s current Upper Class layout.  Most HFP readers don’t need me to tell them that the game was up for BA’s Club World about five years ago.

Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic should take what Iberia is offering here and treat it as the minimum they should deliver on their own A350 aircraft in 2019.

If you want to give the Iberia A350 a try, it is due to operate on the Heathrow route until 3rd August, and then again from 17th August to 31st August.  It will be the 18.50 outbound and 15.55 return.  Outbound, the Iberia timetable still shows an A340 although inbound does show an A350.  Avios seats are available at the standard price of 15,000 Avios each way plus £25 Reward Flight Saver if booked via BA.  Remember that Iberia Plus tends to have better business class availability than ba.com if no seats are showing.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

The Starwood Amex free night is now valid ANY day of the week - but is it worth getting?
Bits: free Etihad luggage tags, Virgin Atlantic opening a pop-up pub, Gatwick Airport train ticket acceptance
Click here to join the 13,000 people on our email list and receive the latest Avios, miles and points news by 6am.

Hilton
Amazon ad
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.

Comments

  1. Did I miss that the harness bit detaches? I saw the sign saying it had to used during take off and landing, but didn’t see that it could be detached?

    • Yes, it detaches so you can just keep the belt part fastened during turbulence or when sleeping.

    • Ian M says:

      Yeah it easily unclips. I flew on a brand new Qantas 787-9 from Brisbane to Melbourne on Saturday and that had the car seat belt style ones. I had read a review complaining how uncomfortable that was to sleep with. But it’s easy to unclip. You need to have the full thing on for take off and landing

  2. OT RE: Tier Point Run…. what is a good tier point run route from Lon?

    • Usually Qatar Airways to Asia (560 TP) but Qatar is not being very aggressive on pricing at the moment.

      This article is what you need – https://www.headforpoints.com/2017/06/02/british-airways-club-europe-160-tier-points-routes/

    • dgsupersonic says:

      That depends on how many TP you are looking to earn.

      An easy one to do would be LHR-LUX-LHR for around £172 and 80TP but. If you nest it you could achieve lower price per TP and complete in a day.

      • Michael C says:

        LCY to my homeland of IOM is also 80TP in a day…but LHR-CDG is often cheaper!

        • the real harry1 says:

          The dedicated FFs over on FT seem to think that the holy grail of TPs is about £1/ point but anything under £2 is pretty good. I think the IB 90K would easily let you beat £1/ point but you’d have to go down the Cash + Avios route rather than Avios + Money, ie to enable TPs. Probably anybody with enough time could have set up 10 back to back flights in Spain for their £200-300 and actually flown them over a couple of days, so all in would be well on the way to whatever status target they were after. The only way I can monetise/ get any value out of my 10 flights is if IB cancel them @ short notice (= compo) so fingers crossed for that 🙂

  3. John D says:

    I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Is this not exactly the same seat that Iberia already have on their A330 and A340 planes? What is the difference between those seats and the A350 seats (apart from the plane itself)?

    • As the article says, it is basically the same seat but with a few little quirks to improve it, such as the larger TV.

  4. Martin says:

    Marcw is correct here. Why on earth would BA halve the number of J seats on routes like New York and LA where they regularly fill all the J seats anyway?

    They’d have to double prices and then nobody would use BA anyway.

    This will be cute on some routes but not the high-value, high-capacity business routes where BA makes most of its money.

    Unless BA scraps First Class, of course . .

    • They aren’t halving the number of J seats though. Even if you compare QSuite – clearly the leading global business product now – BA has 32 seats north of the doors on a 777 vs 24 Qsuite seats. You’re losing 25%.

      And that’s 25% if you decide to move to the best product on the market, which won’t happen.

      • Marcw says:

        Why should you reduce the number of seats if you can sell a higher quantity efficiently. Also, if they reduce the number of seats, I’m not sure how people would take a 25% reduction in reward availability in ClubWorld.
        Wishful thinking

  5. Cristian rivera says:

    outbound Is not a reward flight saver because is iberia flight.

  6. King K says:

    OT, been working diligently collecting points towards my first 241 redemption ever, so would be appreciative of some expert insight on getting it right!
    So here’s where my points currently sit:
    – Around 55K MR points under my name
    – Around 27K MR points under Mrs Name
    – Around 35K in Tesco CC under my name
    – Around 72k in Iberia under my name
    – Around 33K SPG points under my name
    Transferring majority of the above in BAEC is fairly straight forward, apart from the IB ones, which I understand has to be pulled in Avios and then BAEC.
    I have a household BAEC account with my son (under 16 ) as a member.
    Mrs K has her Amex card in her married name but passport under her maiden name. She doesn’t currently have a BAEC account.
    – What would be the best way to transfer the Amex MR points under her name to the BAEC household account so the points can be pooled to use towards my 241?
    – Does she need to have the BAEC account name as the same as her Passport name?
    – Can I use the avios in Mrs K’s BAEC if I add her to my HHA towards the 241 voucher in my name ( with her being the named companion)?
    Oh and forgot to mention, the 241 expiry is 31 August 2018, so I have probably left it too late?!
    Any ideas/ advice much appreciated.
    Thanks
    K

    • K, you have left it very late unless you can fly your outbound leg by August 31st, so if you can, get searching for availability, you might get something if you are extremely flexible on destination.

      You can use all avios in a HHA. Your wife needs her own account, then she can join your HHA -, otherwise you can’t get at her avios. Mrs K’s ticket and passport will need to match the name on the BAEC account, HOWEVER, there’s nothing to stop her joining the account in either or both names, though I suspect it may technically be a breach of Ts and Cs. But the important thing is to have the same first and last name on her ticket and passport.

      In my experience it doesn’t matter which name is on the Amex (I have booked tickets in my maiden/passport name but paid with an Amex in my married name).

      All this takes a few days at least to set up so you need to get cracking. Good luck!

      • King K says:

        Thanks Anna… Much appreciated!
        I understand the challenge is making the outbound journey by 30th August.

        In terms of smooth transfer of Amex MR points to her BAEC account, does the names (Surnames) need to match?!
        i.e. will it be a problem in transferring the points if Amex account/ MR points in married name and BAEC in maiden name ( as per passport) as I would need her 27K MR / avios points towards the 241 redemption

        Thanks again 🙂

        • My wife has done this recently and it was near impossible to do without ringing up BA to sort it. Give them a ring and they should be able to sort it. If you have status, make sure you ring that phone number otherwise you are liable to encounter someone that can barely speak English.

  7. roberto says:

    Errmm, Yes to the lateness thing…

    The biggest issue is that you have to book and fly the outbound leg by the expiry date. So the first question is “do you have the time to do that?” Its peak so the next question is ” is there availability for the places you want to go? ”

    Next , “do you have enough miles?” ( probably in my view – not for some 1st Flights but most everything else )

    Now other issues are that SPG and not processing transfers very well currently , lots on here have been waiting and time is running out. You might need those 38k so be warned .. NB you get a 5k bonus for sending 20k to and airline. Might be better sending just 20k and keeping the the other 15k as youre almost got enough for another bonus 5k next time round.

    The issue with a different name on the passport and the amex card is not really an issue , you just add both names to your household account. Transferring into it with one name ( the amex name ) and redeeming from it in the other. “Both” will need BAEC accounts set up and working.

    Its doable but yes , in reality you’re a year too late for the prime awards.. If you commit to BA and start assembling your points into your HHA and miss out due to availability you cant move them elsewhere.. Good luck and happy hunting..

    • roberto says:

      *** keeping the other 13k (not 15k) SPG..

    • King K says:

      Thanks Roberto….!

      My understanding was the problems with SPG was more on converting them to Marriott points rather than BAEC?

      If i can use Mrs K’s Amex MR points succesfully in the HHA BAEC, then might not need the SPG ones for the moment as would just about manage 180K for return Business flights.

      Oh and I have some 20K in AA miles expiring Oct 18, would be great if somehow can use them …!

      • What destinations are you looking at K? Is it just you and Mrs K? A long haul redemption to, say, New York, in August would be 120,000 avios using the 2 4 1. Obviously if you’re taking your son because it’s the school holidays, you would need 240,000 avios for the 3 of you, unless you buy him a cash ticket.

        • King K says:

          I’m flexible at this late stage…..!

          It will be just Mr and Mrs K …..using 241

          Sorry for asking again….

          In terms of smooth transfer of Amex MR points to her BAEC account, does the names (Surnames) need to match?!
          i.e. will it be a problem in transferring the points if Amex account/ MR points in married name and BAEC in maiden name ( as per passport) as I would need her 27K MR / avios points towards the 241 redemption

          Any ideas on the above?

          Thanks

      • I’d make 2 accounts one for your wife that matches her amex and one that matches her passport. Move the accounts over the HHA from the one that matches her amex name and then when you make the booking select your wife’s account with her passport name as the additional traveller.

        • King K says:

          That’s Great….Thanks Mark!

          On phone Amex did confirm the account name( and surname) has to match for the transfer to be successful.

          Will follow the advice 🙂

  8. DavidK says:

    Looks nice. If BA do go with this seat I think it will look a lot nicer in the BA colour scheme. If they could dress it up like the F product on the 787 it will look very classy indeed.

    I do wonder if fares will be impacted however, it must be far less dense than current CW.

    I would also like to see them take the opportunity to improve CW in other ways too. Why not switch the drab Champagne for a great English sparkling like Nyetimber or Chapel Down.

    Have they completed their roll out of new bedding and amenity kits across all routes yet?

    • Crafty says:

      I’m amazed they haven’t gone for Chapel Down or similar yet. For a supposedly British brand it’s a huge missed opportunity. And their wine supplier (Bibendum) knows what they’re talking about, so it’s someone at BA not listening.

      • Catalan says:

        Whilst Chapel Down is a lovely sparking wine have you not considered that perhaps they’d struggle to supply the amount required by BA?

    • Mark2 says:

      The last twice that I have flown in F Bolney sparkling wine has been available in F.
      Vey good too; hope to have some more when we go to Boston in Oct.

  9. Dwadda says:

    Be careful what you wish for. Any reduction in the demsity of J seating will mean a reduction in BA reward seat availability – especially for a family of 4.

    Personally, I’m happy with the current BA J layout. I just want a bed. I’d be happy with a sleeping pill and a shelf, ala 5th Element.

  10. the real harry1 says:

    This is an excellent review, looks like Raffles has upped his game in time for the new season, on form and got bells on! 🙂

  11. Quite excited about the next 6 months for BA, new Club World seats unveil, BAEC Avios changes, lots of new aircraft and probably some more new destinations, good times.

    • What makes you think the avios changes are going to be good for us?!

      • What makes you think they’re going to be bad?

        • RIccatti says:

          IAG Board signed off Avios devaluation back in April 2018.

          The question is only when and how much down.

  12. Finnair’s A350 could have been a closer comparison than A380 if talking about cameras – a friend was on AY flight from HEL to LHR recently and was absolutely amazed by the camera views screned in the cabin

  13. Looks alot like MH’s A350 biz seat which I just flew two sectors on this morning!

Please click here to read our data protection policy before submitting your comment.