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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
A few months ago I noticed that Iberia was in the habit of scheduling its wide-body A330 aircraft on its Madrid – London route and, as I hadn’t checked out Iberia’s long-haul Business Class cabin in the past, this seemed like a good way to see what the carrier offers. Sure, I wouldn’t exactly get the full long-haul experience…but I would get a good look at the cabin, the seat and I’d get to see what the Iberia service was like.
I wasn’t about to part with any cash to fly Business Class on such a short journey so it was going to have to be an Avios booking.
Ok, so 12,750 Avios just to try out an aircraft may seem a little frivolous but it’s all in the name of research 🙂
Boarding was scheduled to start at 3:15pm so, when I got to the gate at 3pm to try to be one of the first on the aircraft (to get better photos), I was surprised to see that boarding had already started…or at least appeared to have started.
Iberia boarded Business Class and Economy Class though different doors of the aircraft and, although they were allowing passengers through the gate and on to the jet-bridge, it turned out they were then holding passengers at the aircraft doors.
I’m not entirely sure of the point of this exercise as we ended up standing at the aircraft door for 15 minutes while the crew continued to prepare the aircraft. Sitting at the gate area would definitely have been preferable.
Once the cabin crew were ready we were allowed to board and I got my first look at Iberia’s long-haul “Business Plus” cabin.
The cabin is laid out in a very similar fashion to the Business Class cabin on Etihad’s 777-300 aircraft with the seating staggered by rows.
What the seat map does’t show you is that rows 8 and 9 form a mini Business Class cabin of their own, separated from the first 6 rows by a galley and the entryway for Economy Class passengers.
Just like with the Etihad product the fact that the seats are staggered means that some seats are considerably more desirable than others…especially if you’re traveling alone.
The single seats on either side of the aircraft alternate between being close to the windows (and therefore sheltered from the aisle)….
…and seats that are set back from the windows and more open to the aisle:
The seats closest to the windows (found in rows 2, 4, 6 & 8) feel a lot more private than the seats open to the aisle and are the ones to choose if you’re a solo traveler.
The 2 seats in the center section of the Business Class cabin also differ from row to row.
Rows 1, 3, 5, 7 & 8 have the 2 seats set close to each other and perfect for couples traveling together.
Not only are the seats close together but they’re also reasonably private because, like the seats next to the windows, they’re separated from the aisle by a fixed table.
Should you inadvertently find yourself seating in one of these seats and don’t know the person next to you, there is a divider between the seats which can be raised after take off.
The center seats in rows 2, 4, 6 & 9 are set apart from one another (better for solo travelers)….
……but are more exposed to the aisles and are considerably less private.
I had done my research before the flight so had managed to snag 6L which put me close to the windows on the starboard side of the aircraft – nice and private.
I had two and a half windows to myself….
…and there was a nice feeling of being cocooned into my own little private part of the aircraft. There wasn’t anything claustrophobic about the seat but I did feel nicely separated from the cabin.
Once you’re in your seat the striking similarities to the Etihad 777-300 Business Class seat continue.
There’s an ottoman ahead of you which forms part of the lie-flat bed when the seat is fully reclined…
…and there’s a small foot rest under the ottoman for when you’re in an upright position:
Like in the Etihad cabin the table is stowed in full view….
…and the Iberia Business Class seats suffer from the same lack of storage as their Etihad 777 counterparts.
There is a small storage space in the compartment that separates the seat from the aisle….
….a further very small storage space under the armrest…..
…and that’s about it. There really isn’t anywhere to store much unless you do what I did and place items between the seat (or ottoman) and aircraft frame.
The lack of storage is annoying but it’s probably the only major downside to the seat. Overall it’s pretty good. The cushions were comfortable, when in bed-mode the seat was long enough for my 6ft frame…and would probably work for those even a couple of inches taller.
There was enough space around me when I had the seat fully reclined so that there wasn’t any coffin-effect like you can get in some lie-flat seats (e.g. American Airlines’ 787 Dreamliner):
For a long-haul flight this would be a nice seat to have and is a massive improvement on the abomination Iberia has on some of their other aircraft.
While not as good a seat as the American Airlines 777-300ER product the Iberia Business Class seat is a big improvement on past Iberia offerings and is also considerably better than what British Airways (Iberia’s sister airline) offers on their aircraft…by quite a distance.
As a predominantly OneWorld traveler it’s nice to have the option of a product like this for long haul travel the US and, more importantly, to South America.
Kudos to Iberia for a good solid product that helps keep OneWorld competitive amongst the alliances. I’m going to be looking to try this aircraft out on a proper long haul flight in the near future to get a better idea of what Iberia service is like…if it’s anything like the seat and cabin it should be just fine.
Part 2 of this review is now live and, if you’re planning on flying Iberia at any point in the future, you may want to read Part 2 to see what the onboard WiFi is like…it’s different.