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Iberia is taking delivery of its first Airbus A350 later this year but, while the airline confirmed that the aircraft’s first long-haul route would be to New York, we’ve been kept in the dark about the launch date for the new route and the schedule on which the aircraft will fly. That was until today.
Iberia A350 New York Service
Iberia currently operates two daily non-stop flights between Madrid and New York using its Airbus A340 aircraft but, from 8 August 2018, one of these flights will be taken over by the new Airbus A350:
IB6251 MAD 12:10 – 14:20 JFK (Daily)
IB6250 JFK 17:15 – 06:30 MAD+1 day (Daily)
From 1 September 2018 another Airbus A350 will take over Iberia’s second flight of the day which operates on the following schedule:
IB6253 MAD 16:10 – 18:30 JFK (Daily)
IB6252 JFK 20:50 – 10:05+1 day MAD (Daily)
The New York route wasn’t the only A350 schedule loaded into Iberia’s systems today…there was one more.
Iberia A350 London Service (Temporary Routes)
Before Iberia is prepared to unleash its A350 aircraft on long-haul routes it’s going to do what all airlines do when they get a new aircraft – it’s going to fly it on a regional route for a few weeks to help get its crews up to speed on the A350.
Between 20 July and 31 August 2018 Iberia will operate its A350 aircraft between Madrid and London on the following schedule:
IB3166 MAD 15:55 – 17:20 LHR (Daily)
IB6252 LHR 18:50 – 22:15 MAD (Daily)
Iberia normally operates its Airbus A340 on these flights and, at the time of writing, the London – Madrid sector is still showing as being operated by the older aircraft but I expect this to change in the coming days.
Iberia A350 – What To Expect
Usually when a brand new aircraft takes over a route (as the A350 is doing with Madrid – New York) it’s a nice upgrade for passengers….but this time that may not be the case across all cabins.
The Iberia A350 offers just 31 Business Class seats in its Business Class cabin….
…while the Airbus A340 it is replacing offers 36 (16% more) so this doesn’t bode well for award availability.
The news is marginally better one cabin further back as the A350 offers 24 seats in the new Iberia Premium Economy Class cabin…
…..while the outgoing A340 only offers 23 (I did say the news was marginally better!)
I’d love to be able to tell you that the loss of Business Class seats would at least be partially offset by a great new Business Class cabin….but I can’t.
It’s true to say that the Business Class seats in the Iberia A350 are new and different to the Business Class seats found on the airline’s A330/A340 aircraft but you’d really have to know what you’re looking for to tell the difference.
Here’s a rendering Iberia put out of the new A350 Business Class seat….
…and here’s the Business Class cabin from an Iberia A330:
See what I mean?
According to Iberia these are the changes flyers can expect:
- The A350 Business Class seat is almost 23″ wide compared to 20.5″ in the A330
- The ottoman/footrest is wider in the A350
- The inflight entertainment screen has been enlarged from 15.4″ in the A330 to 18″ in the A350 and will feature improved touchscreen functionality
- There will be more storage space around the A350 seat
Not exactly ground breaking….but at least I haven’t been able to spot anything negative yet.
The Premium Economy seats on the A350 should be identical to those on the A340 that it is replacing as this is a very new product from Iberia.
The one noticeable difference will be that where the A330/A340 aircraft offer a 2-3-2 cabin layout the A350 will use its wider cabin to offer a 2-4-2 layout.
More facts on the Premium Economy cabin
- Seat width is a little under 19″ (48cm) as compared to 18″ (46cm) in economy class
- Seat pitch is 37″ (94cm) compared to 31″ (80cm) currently found in Economy Class.
- The seat recline is 40% greater than the recline offered in Economy Class – 7″ (18cm) vs 5″ (13cm)
- Premium Economy IFE screens are 12″ in size compared to 9″ in Economy Class
Iberia A350 Business Class Seating Tip
As in a number of modern Business Class cabins there are some seats that are clearly preferable to others…especially if you’re a solo traveler.
As you can see from the seat map above the Iberia A350 offers a staggered seating layout and, just as in the Etihad 777 (for example), this means that some seats are more exposed to the aisle than others.
I’m going to use images of the Iberia A330 cabin to show what I mean.
The Business Class seats in rows C, D, H & J all look like this (more or less)….
…so there’s not all that much separating the passenger from the aisle meaning that privacy is limited.
The seats in rows A & J are close to the windows and have a table section between them and the aisle which makes them incredibly private:
The center seats in rows E & G are definitely the best for couples as both seats are protected from the aisles and are close enough together for a couple to feel like they’re traveling together:
Here’s my ranking of the seats:
Solo Flyers (best to worst):
- Row A or L (easily the best solo seats on the aircraft)
- Row C or J
- Row D or H
- Row E or G (very bad seats to sit in if you don’t know the person next to you)
Couples (best to worst):
- Row E or G (easily the best seats for a couple who get on with each other)
- Row D or H
- Row A or L (if you can’t sit together you may as well have the best solo seats)
- Row C or J
There’s noting particularly revolutionary about the Iberia A350 (although from an AvGeek point of view it will be the first A350 to have the larger sharklets which give better fuel consumption) but it’s still a nice shiny new aircraft and it happens to be my favorite type of aircraft too.
I’m going to do my best to try out the A350 if I can find a date that works (I’m not in Europe most of the summer so it may be tough) and I’ll report back with pictures and thoughts as soon as I can.