London To Madrid And Back (In A Day) – Introduction

Around 3 weeks ago I wrote about Iberia scheduling one of their new Airbus A330-200s on a few short-haul European routes while they get the crew up to speed on their new plane (Fly Iberia’s New A330-200 Business Class From 9,000 Avios). While the plane itself may not be that interesting (A330-200s have been around for a few years) it features Iberia’s new “Business Plus” seats which are a supposed to be big improvement on Iberia’s old Business Class product.

While researching the blog post I noticed that A330-200 was scheduled to fly the Madrid-London route in the afternoon….which meant that I could catch a morning flight to Madrid and return on the A330 and see the new seat for myself.

The A330-200’s short-haul London schedule looks like this:

IB3166 MAD 15:45 – 17:10 LHR

The first thing I had to do was to work out how to do the trip without it costing way too much.

I wasn’t about to pay to fly Iberia Business Class from Madrid to London so I was going to need to use Avios for that – so that’s where I started.

Luckily there was quite a bit of Business Class award availability on the date I wanted, so finding a seat wasn’t going to be an issue:


Clicking on the flight number confirmed that I’d picked the right flight:


At 12,750 Avios it wasn’t the most sensible way I’ve ever spent frequent flyer miles but I did it in the name of research…I’ve no idea the next time I’ll feel the need to book on to an Iberia A330-200 so who knows when I would get to see the new cabin?


Ok, so Avios availability was there for the important flight…next I had to actually get to Madrid.

To my mind the logical solution was to fly a cheap one-way economy flight from Heathrow…but British Airways and Iberia had other ideas:


The Gatwick option would be cutting things too close – one delay and I could miss the A330 completely – and London City Airport wasn’t very convenient. So what to do?

It was back to using Avios.

Luck was on my side again as Iberia had more award availability than they knew what to do with…so I picked a flight that wasn’t too early but still gave me time if I hit a delay. I went with an Economy Class redemption as I could bring myself to pay for intra-Europe Business Class – it’s a colossal waste of money or Avios.



All together it came to 19,250 Avios + $84.29 in taxes and fees – like I said, not the most sensible use of Avios ever but I didn’t really care.


As I value Avios at around 1.1 cents each the theoretical cost of this trip was around $296 and, while that may seem a lot for a frivolous day-trip to Madrid, that isn’t a terrible price to pay if you actually had a good reason to visit the city.

There was one last thing to do before everything was ready for the trip – select seats.

Iberia Airbus A330-200 Seat Map

When I opened up the seat map for the A330-200 it reminded me a lot of the seat map I saw on my Etihad 777 flight – the seats are in a staggered formation….

Iberia-A330-200-seat-map-blankIberia A330-200 Business Class Seat Map

…and that means that some seats will be a lot better than other for the single traveler.

I knew that the C, D, H & J seats would be exposed to the aisle and I knew that the E & G seats would be very close together – ideal for a couple traveling together, not so great if you don’t know the person next to you.

That left the A & L seats and, as I always go for the starboard side of the aircraft, I selected 6L.

Things weren’t quite so nice for the outbound Economy Class flight as all the exit row seats were gone….I was going to have to sit in an Economy Class non-exit row seat for the first time in years. I ended up in 18D:


Bottom Line

I’ve just come back from the day trip to Madrid and I’m very glad I did it. I’ll be posting reviews of both flights as well as a review of the lounge I used in Madrid in the next few days.

Flying in Iberia Economy Class was a new experience for me and, without giving too much away, it reminded me why having status is so important if you fly regularly. It also made me rethink how we classify airlines as full-service carriers or low cost carriers…but more on that in the review.

My one big fear leading up to the trip was that Iberia would have some issue with the A330 minute and swap out the aircraft at the last minute and it wasn’t until I saw the Airbus parked at the gate in Madrid that I actually relaxed a little….19,250 Avios + $85 would have been a lot to pay just to fly on yet another A320.


    • Hi, Iberia changed the aircraft on me at the very last minute so I got the A330-300 instead. I’ll try to dig out what I wrote about that aircraft and post in to the blog in case that’s of any use (there are quite a few similarities between the two).

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