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I’ve split this review into two parts to make it more manageable – both parts are posting today:
- Part 1: Boarding/Pre-Departure, The Cabin & The Seat
- Part 2: Connectivity/Entertainment, Food & Service
In Part 1 of this review I took a look at the Business Class seat that Iberia has installed on its A330-300 aircraft and in this part I’ll take a look at the onboard Wifi, entertainment options, the food and the service. Bearing in mind this wasn’t exactly the longest flight in the world I did somehow manage to get a really goof feel for what the aircraft offers.
Iberia’s A330-300 Business Class seats come equipped with a multi-plug power port, a usb port and an audio port of some description:
Iberia offers WiFi and GPS cell phone service on their A330-300 aircraft but both appear to be truly terrible options.
As the Iberia booklet tells you, the Airbus A330-300 should be considered a “country with roaming” and, while you’re in the airspace of any of the countries not shaded in grey below, you can use your cell phone as if you were using a regular roaming contract.
From what I can see, it suddenly becomes super important to make sure you have your phone in airplane more or just with WiFi turned on as there doesn’t appear to be anything to stop your phone looking for a signal (as normal) and connecting to a super expensive roaming network – cue a very unwelcome cell phone bill for those not paying attention.
The WiFi on Iberia is unlike the wi-fi I’ve experienced on other airlines – it’s horrendously expensive and, according to Iberia, not even recommended for use with laptops!
It was only when I saw the pricing that I realised why the service was not recommended for laptops (i.e working).
Most onboard WiFi services set their prices based on the amount of time you wish to use the service, Iberia charges by usage:
This is a horrible idea.
Most people have absolutely no idea how many megabytes they’re using at any given time so have no point of reference when looking at the pricing. Will 50MB allow me to surf the web for a transatlantic flight or am I going to find that I need to top up after I’ve checked a few emails?
I thought that was ridiculous….but then it got worse!
Everyone in the Business Class cabin was given a complimentary wi-fi code for 4MB of data…..
…and I was just about to find out what 4MB gets you.
My first concern was that it would be possible to unwittingly go over whatever data usage you first select and then find yourself being charged $1.75 per MB after that. Luckily Iberia have thought of that.
When you log in you’re given the following options…
…so you can protect yourself from going over whatever limits you set – I have no idea why anyone would select option 1.
I logged on to the onboard WiFi using the code provided (it was pretty straightforward), sent 3 iMessages and started to surf the internet. After about 10 minutes (4 – 5 web pages of reading) I lost internet connection and, when I went back to the wi-fi homepage to log back in, I discovered that I had used up my 4MB allowance….in 10 minutes!!
I didn’t download any apps, no apps were updated and I didn’t even check my emails (so no big files were downloaded) and I was out of credit in just 10 minutes.
There were a set of headphones waiting for me on my seat when I boarded…..
…and, although they weren’t Bose or noise cancelling, they did the job ok.
The TV screen on the A330-300 is a good size and reminiscent of the screen in American’s 777-300 Cabin:
According to the information from Iberia the content onboard includes:
- 60 movies
- 98 series and documentaries
- 15 games
- 200 music albums
- kid’s selection
I thought the TV series selection was weak with limited choice and without any full series.
The movie selection seemed a bit better although, compared to the movies that American Airlines is currently offering, the selection was a little dated.
The control for all this entertainment is in a panel next to the seat alongside the seat controls:
Despite this only being a short flight (sub 2 hours) we were still provided with a menu and a choice of main course and dessert (click to enlarge):
I ordered the beef…..
…which, for airline beef, was cooked very well indeed. It wasn’t over done, it was still pink in the middle, and it was pretty tender.
The salad with orange slices was refreshing, and it was good not to see arugula/rocket taking up the whole plate
The cheese portion wasn’t exactly over-generous and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a single grape served before….
Still, it’s worth bearing in mind that this was a short, intra-European flight so that makes this offering not bad at all.
The crew were friendly and efficient and could teach a few airlines about clearing up trays and plates in a timely manner. One of the things that I find most annoying is when the crew takes an age to come around to take away used crockery and you find yourself unable to do any work because you have the remnants of a meal sitting in front of you for ages.
This crew were lightening quick (although nothing felt hurried) and were pretty impressive in how they went about their duties.
On such a short flight I didn’t really have a chance to interact with the crew much outside of dinner service but what I did see was definitely positive.
The WiFi is a joke and should be ignored by all except the incredibly wealthy or those on generous expense accounts – how an airline can get away with that kind of WIFi system is beyond me!
The entertainment system is fine…as a system…but the content I saw was poor-to-average. I usually recommend that travelers bring their own movies, TV shows, music etc.. on all flights they take (you can’t trust the airline to share your taste in entertainment) but, in this case, the advice is extra pertinent.
On a flight to South America I would have run out of things to watch or listen too way before we reached our destination.
The food was fine. Actually, despite what the photos may look like, it was pretty good…especially for such a short flight. If they cater long-haul in a similar fashion there shouldn’t be too many issues.
Overall, while my comments in this part of the review haven’t been overly positive, it’s worth remembering what I said in Part 1. The Business Class cabin and seats in the Iberia A330-300 are pretty good and a lot better than what you’ll find on, for example, British Airways – that counts for a lot in my world.
I can live without amazing in-flight food, it won’t kill me to go without WiFi for one flight and I can bring my own entertainment….so none of those feature as heavily in my reckoning as the seat and cabin which rule how good a flight is for me. On those grounds Iberia’s A330-300 Business Class is just fine and I’d be happy to fly it again.
Featured Image: Colin Brown via Flickr