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Iberia’s new business class seat with a door is flying – one year ahead of schedule

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Iberia has achieved the impossible: it has installed a new business class seat one year ahead of schedule.

Whilst other airline cabin refurbishments languish years behind, Iberia has skipped ahead and has been flying its new business class product since 10th December.

The arrival of the new seat was no secret. IAG had already teased a photo of the cabin in its First Half results in July:

New Iberia A350-900 Recaro business class seat

The IAG results suggested the new seat wouldn’t be flying until December 2023, but here we are. Iberia’s latest aircraft, its 15th A350, features the new seat. Since Saturday it has been flying from Madrid to Paris, Barcelona, Düsseldorf and even London.

Iberia isn’t exactly making a song and dance about it. Apart from the image above, our best look at the seat is via Spanish Twitter account AeroinfoBCN:

Iberia's new business class seat with a door

As you can see, it has a door:

Iberia's new business class seat with a door

The seat has been announced as the Recaro CL model, and it appears to be the Recaro CL6720 that is shown here on the Recaro website.

The closest I have got to this seat is on TAP which operates an older version. I did have a quick sit down on my recent TAP hangar tour and thought it fairly comfortable, although I didn’t get much time in it.

It is a staggered layout, so you have variants that are better for couples and seats that are better for solo travellers. Most of the seats face forward, although some are slightly angled.

Recaro calls it “the next generation of business class travel.” It also says that:

“Even though this business class seat lacks nothing, it is one of the most layout-efficient and lightest seats in the industry.”

These are the key metrics in business class cabins – you want to fit in as many seats as possible, and the heavier they are, the more fuel you need to burn per passenger.

I’m a little surprised that Iberia didn’t go with the Collins Super Diamond, the basis for BA’s Club Suite, or the Collins Aerospace Elements, the next generation version. It just goes to show that whilst a lot of decision making has been centralised at IAG, some key customer decisions are still left to the individual airlines.

First impressions of Iberia’s new business class seat

My first impression is that the colour scheme is a bit drab. It feels a bit uninspired, given Iberia is known for its red and yellow branding and doesn’t shy away from using zingy red carpets in its Madrid lounges. A bit more personality could have gone a long way in differentiating the cabin.

The addition of the door is welcome and means you should get a fairly unified experience flying Iberia, British Airways and American Airlines as part of the transatlantic joint venture.

Personally, I tend only to close the door when I’m trying to get some rest. It is particularly useful in staggered configurations like this one where some seats are closer to the aisle and therefore more sensitive to people walking past.

It’s hard to gauge how much personal space it offers, although it’s worth noting that Iberia is also one of the first customers to receive an A350 with the new wider cabin. Airbus has started rolling out a new interior called ‘New Production Standard’ that reclaims four inches of cabin space at armrest level.

One thing that is clear is that there won’t be any benefit to booking row one on this aircraft. Iberia has chosen to insert an additional storage unit for cabin crew rather than increase the leg room:

Iberia's new business class seat with a door

The foot well looks on the narrow side in that photo, although that may just be the wide angle lens.

Apart from that it looks fairly standard, with a big side table and a little shelf that looks perfect for storing a bottle of water or some headphones.

Note that, unlike British Airways, Iberia has chosen to remove the centre luggage bins. This gives the cabin a greater sense of space but means the window bins will be fuller. Centre seats, at least, won’t get individual air nozzles.

Will Iberia refit its existing fleet?

Iberia has five more A350s on the way, and presumably they will all be line-fit with the new cabin.

It isn’t clear if the existing Iberia A350 fleet will be reconfigured or not. It would be expensive, given that the seats are relatively new, but operationally it will be tricky having two different layouts on a small fleet.

There is no word on whether the new seat will be retrofitted to the A330 fleet.

Air China is currently using this seat on part of its fleet and it looks impressive, so this is definitely one to keep an eye out for over the next couple of years as more airlines adopt it.

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Comments (50)

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

  • jjoohhnn says:

    Airline beige/grey should be outlawed on new seats.

    • Matty says:

      Food is similarly bland.

      • yonasl says:

        Iberia’s food is amongst the best and their wine selection is excellent. You can moan about bland colours and the service but the food is the bit where they are much better than the rest. (The one thing I was missing last time was snacks which were abismal)

      • namster says:

        agreed food is terrible, not worthy of any avios spend on CS

        • Londonsteve says:

          I don’t think you were flying J on Iberia. The Spanish wouldn’t stand for bad food in Business on their national carrier. Everything I’ve had has been sensational, often of restaurant quality with things like fish fillets and beef tenderloin cooked to perfection, such that they’re still succulent and fresh even after being reheated on the plane. Outstanding desserts and salads too. Knocks BA into a cocked hat, even if it’s catered by Do&Co these days.

          • bafan says:

            Me too. I had an A350 from MAD-LHR earlier this year and treated myself to a €50 upgrade – the food was a Spanish stew and I still remember it – like restaurant quality.

    • AJA says:

      I quite like it. I prefer lighter colours and it looks warmer than blues and greys. I also think it wears better than white and doesn’t show scuff marks in quite the same way. But I do think it’s a shame they didn’t use a splash of red and yellow – perhaps they could do that with the blankets and pillows.

  • Nick says:

    Rhys, try thinking laterally. It’s no surprise at all that IB didn’t go for the same seat as BA CS… the bottleneck in any new seat rollout is production of the seats themselves. If they’d chosen the same ones, they would have to be sandwiched in among BA’s requirements. By choosing an alternative, they can have them quicker.

    • Rhys says:

      BA isn’t the only airline installing Super Diamond though. Etihad has it too – presumably there is more production there…

  • jjoohhnn says:

    Are these actually flying yet? IFE looks like it’s in some Panasonic test mode.

  • The Original Nick. says:

    When I flew IB in July MAD – JFK in Premium Economy my IFE didn’t work the whole flight so I asked for the issue to be put in the flight report. I’ve put in claims but all I get is an email saying we’ll get back to you in the next 7 working days. I won’t give up on getting some kind of compensation. I like IB’s seats though. Flew back in Business class and again from JFK in September.

  • WorldFlyer says:

    Can Iberia business class seats turned into a flat bed or similar?

  • david says:

    Funny! The seat model is called Recaro. Caro is “expensive” in spanish. Re-caro is “super expensive” so I wonder if that was tongue in cheek or accidental.

    • Lady London says:

      I had Recaro seats in my Vauxhall company car. So can’t be that flash 🙂

      [The seats were great. The car was… a Vauxhall (GM) ]

      • Londonsteve says:

        Recaro is a German company and the best in the business. They were originally Reutter Carosserie (hence Re-Caro) and made car bodies for the likes of Porsche in the 1950s, at some point they branched into seats. Our very own James Bond’s posterior was parked on Recaro seats in the Aston Martin DB5 when they were still known as Reutter and were a supplier to Aston Martin.

  • ADS says:

    is EC-NXE the bird with the new seats ?

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