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Review: business class on Iberia’s brand new A350 aircraft

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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.

Iberia A350 business class review

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 – we reviewed Aer Lingus business class here.

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.


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 if no seats are showing.


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Comments (85)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • John G says:

    Shame about the lack of tail camera feed. I think they are the only A350 operator to date not to have this which is especially strange as they do have it on the A340 fleet.

    A slight correction though – all A350s have tail cameras installed as they are used on the flight deck. IB just chose not to wire it up to the IFE. Rather like BA choosing not to show the A380 tail camera feed. Shame on them!

  • Sarah says:

    Hi I am trying to use a BA 2-4-1 companion vouchers was hoping to benefit from business class seats (fully flat). I’ve heard that Moscow and Madrid from Heathrow do these flights. Is that correct or are there any others?

    • Whizz68 says:

      It would be a good idea to try first class if going to Moscow on BA

    • Lumma says:

      When booking on BA clicking on the flight number will bring up what plane they use on each route. Just a quick search for some random dates in September, it looks like the Madrid flight departs at 13.20 and is a 777.

      The Moscow 8.20am flight is a 787, which you could potentially book in first class too if you can find availability. The other 2 flights to Moscow are A321 which I don’t know if they use the mid haul layout with the flat beds or not. You also have the visa issue with Moscow, although the longer flight might make it more worthwhile than Madrid

      • Ian M says:

        The 787-9 won’t be on the Moscow route for too much longer. Roughly end of October it’s being replaced with an A321. So no more First Class.

      • Alex Smotrov says:

        A mini-tip: for those who had Fan IDs for the World Cup, the visa-free entry will be extended until the end of the year

    • Rob says:

      For BA, just Madrid and Moscow I think.

    • Lady London says:


  • Alan says:

    Glad to see footwell space isn’t too enclosed, that makes a big difference.

    How did you find it compared to AA? I find their setup pretty decent.

  • Ben says:

    Annoyingly I’m booked on the 18.50 outbound flight on 10th August so I think I have the A340!

  • Marcw says:

    I highly doubt BA will go for something like this. They have to go with a variation of the current setup. BA needs that amount of J seats. If they install less seats, it’s gonna be a problem.
    If you think about it carefully… BA has almost no competition for non stop flights. And they are able to efficient fill up their seats… if not look at the latest seat load factor at IAG – overall impressive.

  • ankomonkey says:

    I flew VS Upper Class (Dreamliner) return last week for the first time and found the seat far better than expected. A button to convert to a bed, comfortable mini-mattress and duvet, and in seated mode I could see both of my kids throughout (which I’d been concerned about). Would be more than happy to fly in this seat again and found it significantly better than BA CW.

    Also ticked the LHR Clubhouse and haircut off from my points bucket-list. Next up, TK IST departures lounge before the new airport opens.

    • Michael C says:

      I wouldn’t hold your breath about IST…although the soup is nice.

      • Rob says:

        I really never understood what all the fuss is about with the IST lounge (see my review). Yes, it’s big but there is a lot of missed potential, eg they repeat the same food stations in different areas instead of having different cuisines.

        • John says:

          When I went earlier this year I didn’t notice any repeats although some may have been similar cuisines.

  • Sarah says:

    To me the storage seems a little lacking, it seems like you probably wouldn’t be able to leave anything in those little shelves during take-off and landing for fear of it all going flying out. A little cupboard door on the front would solve this problem, but even then there’s still not a huge amount of storage space, although obviously an improvement on CW

    • Mike says:

      There is a little lip on them to stop things falling out, but it also states you can’t stow items there for take off and landing, but the crew didn’t seem to care. Headphones were handed out whilst on the ground, so they had to go somewhere!

      • john says:

        Were the headphones of decent noise cancelling quality?

      • Rob says:

        What I would say is that it would have been handy if the console table had a lip on it.

    • Mzungu says:

      “The photo above also shows two storage areas which are ideal for glasses, iPhones etc.”

      Can it also be used to store Android phones ;q)

      • Rob says:

        I assumed we didn’t have any Android readers 🙂

        • Lax says:

          They are far too intelligent to be here.

          Only the iPhone sheep read this site 😉

  • Mike says:

    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?

    • Rob says:

      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

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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