Review: Iberia Velazquez Premium Business Class Lounge, Madrid Barajas Terminal 4S, Madrid, Spain

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Review: Iberia Velazquez Premium Business Class, Madrid Barajas Terminal 4S, Madrid, Spain

Despite the sound logic of staying the night almost immediately next to a train station and a direct rail link from Madrid Puerta Atocha to Madrid Barjas Terminal 4, it seemed an obvious choice to take the train to the airport (2.80€ each) instead of a taxi (30€ total). It was probably the worst decision of the day and ultimately the trip. The journey ended up being filled with lots of complications and interruptions.

Getting There:

Even with an area scout reconnaissance the day before, despite being a Monday morning, we arrived to the Madrid Atocha Cerenacis station to discover that the airport trains weren’t running with any posted frequency. The airport trains were not showing on the departure boards as they did yesterday on Sunday. Despite the marked platform, the train displays did not post any airport trips and the ground staff weren’t all that helpful either; “the frequencies will be posted”… Not really convincing!!

We ended up hopping a C10 train to Cerencais; the northern Madrid train station hub. From there, were dumped off on Track 10. We waited for about 20 minutes with some uncertainty along with about 10 others that were looking for an airport train. We had received conflicting information from train staff on where to wait; stay on track ten or head up to the main lobby where all the other departures would be leaving from after tracks were assigned. When the time came to post the assigned train track, there was only 3 minutes warning. This resulted in a mad stampede of 20 of my new best friends over to track 14 via two sets of escalators through throngs of slow moving senior citizens. By the time we arrived to the correct platform, the train was already in the station with groups of crowds around it. It was an all-out sprint for the door where we crowded with standing room only on a split level commuter train. We seriously almost missed it and ended up being all sweaty for no solid reason. If you’re going to take the train, make sure you leave yourself 75 to 90 minutes extra. This is in contrast to our taxi ride in that took us only 30 minutes.

We eventually arrived to Madrid Barjas Terminal 4. It was my first time through one of the great One World alliance airports. Although visiting on a Monday, it seemed to be teeming with passengers. The first options off getting off the Renfe Cerenas train was a bank of 3 elevators or 3 series of travellators up several floors to the departure level. Either way the number of passengers exceeded the available demand of the elevators and queues and crowding were everywhere. For some reason today, traveling felt like lots of effort. It may have been because the decision to take the train took us about 1 hr and 15 minutes to get from door to door.

Checking In:

We located the Iberia Business Class check in desks, again receiving conflicting information about where they were (row 780, versus our usual flight check in assignment of 850-899). Once we arrived, there was an army of staff available to assist. Our bags were tagged with priority tags and we headed off for the fast track security screening.

For whatever reason, it seemed that there were a ton of gate crashers at the airport. Whether it was a lack of sign posting, genuine attempts at gaming the system or just being in Spain, it seemed there were many passengers attempting to get access to areas that they weren’t supposed to be. The first instance of this was the argument holding up the fast track line because someone didn’t have the right credit card. I chalk this up to Spanish dis-organization because the mild chaos appeared to be everywhere today.

We eventually cleared security and made it to the secure side. We took the tram to Terminal 4S where the sign advertised that it was just “23 minutes” away. Most of the international “non Shengen” flights depart from another terminal on the secure side called Terminal 4S. We headed down to another set of escalators down 3 flights of stairs to a stuffed train. We pushed our way to the front, otherwise we would have likely been left behind as we had picked a short lane and were almost the last ones on the train.

Accessing the Lounge:

On arriving to the Terminal 4S, we wandered through the duty free to find the Iberia Business Lounge Velazquez. There was a bit of a line to get admitted; at least 7 people deep. We encountered the next argument here by my grandmother who was arguing with the lounge dragon about her inability to access the lounge. It’s not normally a big deal, but it tied up an agent for some time making all us others wait twice as long to get in. Access to this lounge is per the class of service (business class) on an Iberia ticket.

Yeah – this is a pleasant and relaxing way to arrive to a lounge. LOL.

Inside the Iberia Velazquez Business Lounge:

“The Iberia Velazquez Premium Lounge at Madrid Barajas Terminal 4S is an impressive space that can experience some crowding. A wine bar compliments the space with interesting Spanish wines”

Once we finally got inside, the Iberia Lounge is an impressive space. It’s rectangular in formation and has the benefit of having full length windows at each end. At the time of our visit, there were a lot of long haul flights departing for the Americas. As a result, there weren’t many places to sit. Like most of our Madrid Barajas experience, the place was crowded and packed.

Iberia Velazquez Lounge Wine Bar:

One of the nicer features of the lounge is the wine bar. Per the website, it was supposed to offer 22 types of Spanish wine. However when we visited, there was only about 5 whites and 6 reds on self pour, along with 5 different beers available. It’s tucked away in the back corner and you’d probably miss it if you didn’t know it was there. Still, it’s a nice feature to have for a lounge and one that I haven’t seen since the Qantas Lounges in Australia, let alone some American Express Centurion Lounges throughout the Americas.

Food and Beverage:

Unfortunately, the food in the lounge was pretty basic. It seems like Iberia is trying to save on costs since I’ve never seen so little food for such a large place. Making this a little more worse, was that the food that was out didn’t look all too exciting or appealing. It seemed to be more reminiscent of a hospital cafeteria than an upscale business lounge. I was able to snack on a small plain omelette, some bacon, a large piece of white toast and some salmon with lemon. They were odd combinations never the less but it was the items that were available.

There were also a selection of newspapers available in all languages. I was able to get a copy of the New York Times. At least the lounge had great airside views thanks to its large windows.

At about T-35, we headed for the gate. Our in lounge seating area was taken immediately after we stood up as the crush of people didn’t dissipate over the time that we spent in the lounge. We were a little more relaxed but not completely.

In summary:

In summary, it was a rough departure day made more challenging by odd trains, check in and over capacity airport flow experiences. The lounges were quite crowded and it was just one of those days where it wasn’t an easy travel day. The One World Lounges seem to be quite a bit larger, especially those in the flagship hub areas. The Madrid Iberia Lounge itself was interesting to see, although it was just average to spend time in.

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