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August 14, 2015 / oneworld82

A Wonderful Surprise: Iberia New Business Class rocks! (JFK-MAD IB J plus MAD-ORY on IB J)

I arrived at JFK about 2 hours before my flight, so to have some time to shower at the BA Galleries Lounge. Check in was smooth and quick (I forgot to use the business class desks for checking in, but the line at the economy class ones was short nonetheless), and within minutes I went through security and then on to the BA lounge.

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British Airways’ lounges are always consistent. I like this one because it has an Elemis spa, self-service bar, and pre-departure supper service for BA confirmed business class ticket holders. I helped myself with a snack and a drink, before heading for a shower.

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I had time for a final glass of prosecco, before having to board.

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IB Flight 6252, JFK-MAD

08:55p-10:15a+1

Business Class, Seat 1L

Airbus A340-600

Thank God for priority boarding! The number of people waiting to board at the gate was just incredible. After all, this was an A340-600 – a pretty big plane! My seat today was 1L – right in front of the plane! Great for boarding and for leaving the plane first.

I must say I was impressed by the cabin design: it was big (likely too big for this route, with 40+ seats), and it felt very new. The new IB product offers a staggered configuration, which ensures a great level of privacy if you’re traveling alone and have a single seat like I had. The TV screen was of a very good size, the seat a bit narrow by North American standards but comfortable. I did not see much storage space, and in fact I put my laptop bag on the side of the seat.

Very nice cabin

Very nice cabin

My seat in row 1

My seat in row 1

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In any case, after setting down a pre-departure beverage was offered – I got some cava – and amenity kits were distributed. While the bag wasn’t anything memorable, it did come with a little pouch of L’Occitaine products – definitely a nice touch.

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Free wifi!

Free wifi!

We pushed back right on time and the captain announced a short 6h45m flight time. This is the biggest issue I have with flights from the eastern coast of North America to Western Europe – they are way too short to have a nice dinner and get some decent rest. Knowing that I had not scheduled any meeting for the day after – planning instead to work from the hotel – and that proved to be a wise choice as I felt quite tired and jet-lagged all day.

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Shortly after the plane reached cruising altitude dinner service began – no pre-dinner drink was offered, which I thought was a good thing in this case. The menu for the night read as follows:

STARTERS

Warm bread and extra-virgin olive oil

Veal consommé

Marinated salmon, fresh leaves salad with palm hearts

Balsamic vinegar Pedro Ximenez vinaigrette

Cheeses plate with grapes

MAIN COURSES

Duck with raspberries and Porto wine sauce, glaced onion, zucchini and carrot, baby pear

King prawns ragout in American sauce, steamed baby potatoes wth parsley

Dried tomato tortellini with tomato sauce

DESSERTS

Chocolate and fudge cake

Vanilla ice cream

Coffee, herbal teas and spirits

WAKE UP!

ON BOARD

Orange juice

Seasonal fresh fruit

Yogurt

Croissant, butter and jam

Toasts and extra-virgin olive oil

Coffee and herbal teas

To start, an appetizer plate was served, consisting of Manchego cheese, hearts of palm salad, veal consommé, and… ; it was quite good.

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Then my choice of main was brought out (I ordered the duck) – and this was absolutely delicious. At first I had doubts, because the dish looked too saucy and because my first bite was too hot. But after a couple of minutes, the full flavor of the duck came out, and that was perfectly complemented by the sauce and by the accompanying vegetables. A real winner in my books.

Excellent duck dish

Excellent duck dish

I had my first two dishes with some red wine – overall good but nothing too memorable (better than BA’s and AA’s though).

To finish off a good meal was a superb chocolate cake, served with a simply amazing Sherry wine. I honestly believe that was the best dessert wine I had ever had (Pedro Ximenez Sherry) – hands down. It was dense, sweet, with very strong notes of smoked wood: absolutely excellent.

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After this very good meal I reclined my seat in bed mode and fell asleep. The IFE offered a decent selection, but since it was already 11p I simply passed out… IB gives out a little “do not disturb” card in case you don’t wish to be woken up for breakfast, and in this case I definitely made use of it. I woke up 3h30m afterwards with only one hour left before landing in Madrid. Like I said, all too short.

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Landing happened smoothly and 15 minutes ahead of schedule (we landed at T4S, which requires to take a train to the main terminal). After clearing immigration I was able to easily spot the Hilton Madrid Airport shuttle, and within 20 minutes I was at my hotel.

The Hilton is a nice hotel, but in the middle of nowhere. Next time I will definitely stay closer to the city center. As Hilton Gold I was upgraded to a spacious and well-appointed Deluxe room, and granted access to the Executive Lounge. After napping for a couple of hours I spent my afternoon working and then I had a very nice dinner at Reserva Grill, the main hotel’s restaurant. It was a rather upscale eatery, with very attentive service and very well-prepared food. The pumpkin soup I ordered was excellent, but the creamy truffled chicken were very unremarkable.

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After that I went to sleep, and the morning after I headed downtown for a day full of meetings before heading to the Tribunal area with a friend for some beers and a nice Spanish dinner of Jamon Iberico and patatas bravas.

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After having breakfast the morning after at the excellent hotel’s buffet, I headed to the airport for my long journey back home.

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IB 3436, MAD-ORY

08:50a – 10:50a

Business Class, Seat 2F

Airbus A320

I took the 7am Hilton shuttle to the airport (T4), and by 7:20 I was checking in for my flight. Security was quick thanks to the priority lane, and within minutes I was walking to the Salvator Dali lounge, mainly used for short-haul flights.

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The lounge was moderately crowded and not particularly big, but it was very nicely designed and decorated. It did offer a self-service bar, as well some breakfast offerings (chocolate mini-croissants, yogurts, cookies, juices…): in all, nothing impressive, but again this lounge mainly caters to short haul passengers anyways.

After around 45 minutes in the lounge I started walking towards my gate – it took about 10 minutes to get there. Boarding had just started, and instead of standing in line I just took a seat waiting for everyone else to board. After all, I was a business class passenger, right? Wrong.

It turned out that the last few passengers to board had to gate-check their carry on, myself included. No big deal. I took my seat on the plane – standard European configuration business class seat – nothing to tell home about.

I dozed off right after taking off, only to wake up about 45 minutes later when breakfast was being served. We had a not-so-nicely-looking omelette which turned out to be perfectly tasty (God bless cheese!), even though the service was rather rushed and overall rather impersonal.

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After landing in ORY I proceeded to the baggage belt, and I waited for my suitcase to come. I waited… and waited… and waited… Until it was obvious that my bag had not come.

I proceeded to the baggage service center, and I found there all the same people that in Madrid were made gate check their hand luggage. It was clear that they had forgotten to load our bags… After filling up a form I was told that my bag would be delivered to my home in DFW within five days. That meant that I would only have my laptop bag for the next two legs of my long journey.

Resigned, I looked for the ORY à CDG Air France bus, that for EUR 21 took me to Charles de Gaulle in about 50 minutes.

4 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. muchbites / Aug 15 2015 3:24 pm

    Now that’s living and travelling!

  2. dantheman / Sep 7 2015 12:09 pm

    I notice that the seats in this class were 1-2-1. I’m interested in booking Iberia business class on the same flight (JFK-MAD 6252, departs 8:45p now). A dummy booking shows that the seat map offered for that flight is 2-2-2. Does that mean that that flight is the old red seats/biz cabin? I thought that all Iberia A340-600 flights had the new cabins now. Thoughts?

  3. darkice81 / Sep 7 2015 12:10 pm

    I notice that the seats in this class were 1-2-1. I’m interested in booking Iberia business class on the same flight (JFK-MAD 6252, departs 8:45p now). A dummy booking shows that the seat map offered for that flight is 2-2-2. Does that mean that that flight is the old red seats/biz cabin? I thought that all Iberia A340-600 flights had the new cabins now. Thoughts?

Trackbacks

  1. A summer of travels: QR F&J/AA F&J/BA J/IB J/AY J + engagement and honeymoon cruise - FlyerTalk Forums

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