A few weeks ago we wrote about the short haul European routes to which British Airways is currently offering flying flat-bed business class seats.
Whilst those routes are temporary one-off flights using up spare long haul aircraft capacity there is one Heathrow route that is plied by widebody aircraft daily: London to Madrid.
Since both Iberia and British Airways are part of IAG they have long scheduled aircraft such as the Boeing 777, Airbus A350 and Airbus A340 between the two cities in order to ferry around cargo.
A serendipitious side effect means that anyone on these flights will enjoy the pleasures of a long haul cabin – in this case, flat bed seats in business class and potentially an upgrade to premium economy (or at least economy with seatback entertainment) if flying in economy.
It is only the aircraft itself that changes. Everything else remains the same – you get the exact same food service as you would on any other BA or Iberia London-Madrid flight and you don’t get an amenity kit or bedding set.
How to book an Iberia A350 from London to Madrid
Iberia received its first A350s in 2018 and they have been on and off the route since then. It is a great, low cost opportunity to try out both the A350 and Iberia’s business class seat all year round.
You can currently find the A350 scheduled on IB3166/IB3167 between London and Madrid. An A330 also plies IB3170/IB317 (the morning flight).
If booking with Avios then the Reward Flight Saver cost is 13,500 Avios plus £25 taxes and fees, one-way off peak. It is cheapest to book via ba.com and not via Iberia Plus as Iberia does not have Reward Flight Saver and taxes are higher.
Iberia business class on an A350
Iberia’s A350s sport a three class cabin comprising of 31 flat-bed business class seats, 24 premium economy seats and 293 economy seats.
Iberia went for a colour scheme of beige-greys, although this is lightened up with the bright red in-flight entertainment screens when you board:
Seats in the business class cabin are arranged in a 1-2-1 layout with direct aisle access for everyone. Iberia selected the Stelia Solstys seat which has a staggered configuration resulting in alternating rows of seats.
In the middle pairs you can choose between two seats side-by-side or two seats separated by the side tables, whilst window seats in A, C and J are either next to the window or next to the aisle (A seats and odd numbered J seats are adjacent to the window with the side table on the aisle side.)
Here is a middle pair with the console table in the middle:
I was sat in seat 8A, the final row of the business class cabin, just in front of the second set of doors generally used for boarding:
And here is the seat in front, 7C:
The seats are effectively a mirror image of the other. They could have done with a slightly deeper clean, though:
Let’s take a closer look at the seat itself. It comes with a nice large console table with plenty of room to put drinks on. This is particularly helpful as you need to fold up the traytable to get out of the seat. At the back of this is your personal reading light as well as easy-access USB and power sockets. Very useful.
Just under the console table are the seat controls. They are physical buttons which is nice. You also get a little IFE remote with which you can control your screen:
Like most other seats Iberia’s business class now also features a foot cubby-hole, although it is half open in the window seats:
There was plenty for my size 10 feet, and there is a surprisingly large storage area underneath the foot rest too. You could fit a pretty decent sized bag.
Inflight entertainment on shorthaul
Whilst this might be a shorthaul flight the inflight entertainment was still activated. Here is the screen:
It’s bright and a decent size at 18″. I found it very responsive. The choice of content was slightly less impressive, although I did manage to find last year’s Tenet amongst the rubble:
Everyone is provided with over-ear headphones in business class and I imagine economy get earbuds:
Food on Iberia short haul
Although I was flying on a long-haul aircraft the food is the same as any other Iberia flight between London and Madrid.
It took quite a long time for the service to start after take-off. It is all served in one go, as is customary for short haul flights – you don’t get a drink before take-off or any other things you might expect on a long haul flight.
The choice was between pasta and fish. I asked what fish the meal was but the crew coudln’t tell me except that it was a white fish. This wasn’t particularly helpful but they did offer to show me both dishes.
In the end I went with pasta which I thought was the more appetising of the two. It was a decent meal, albeit not life changing. It came with a cheese salad plus a little dessert.
If you ask for champagne you get the Jaume Serra Cava, pictured above.
If you need to fly to Madrid then choosing one of the flights serviced by a widebody aircraft is a great free upgrade versus your standard A320 flight.
I did find the take off and landing seat position to be uncomfortably upright, but luckily it is only required for a few minutes at the beginning and end of the flight. You can use the electronic controls to adjust the seat to your preferences at all other times.
It also seems important, particularly in 2021, to offer seats that are cleaned to a higher standard than normal. This one clearly hadn’t been. And whilst the cabin crew were very friendly and nice, it would help if they knew what food they were serving! These are small niggles, however, compared to the benefits of flying for 2+ hours in a long haul business class seat.
Head for Points made a financial contribution to the Woodland Trust as part of this trip. The Woodland Trust creates and manages forests in the UK in accordance with the Woodland Carbon Code.