Review: Iberia Business Class A320, Madrid – Marrakech

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Review: Iberia Business Class, Airbus 320, Madrid – Marrakech

Booking:

Getting to Africa is always difficult on points and miles. This is because there is usually a substantial point premium for entering the African zone versus the European Zone, making flights to South Africa a much better deal than shorter flights to nearby Morocco. I figured that the best way to do it was to get ourselves as close as possible to the African continent and redeem a short haul flight through British Airways Executive Club Avios. I booked this one way Iberia flight in Business Class for 15,000 Avios and $39.98 CAD ($30.32 USD) per person. There was ample Iberia Business Class availability across most days for two persons when we booked at the 5 month mark before travel.

After leaving the lounge, we headed through the airport to locate Gate 23. The Madrid Airport is picturesque and interesting.

Iberia
IB – 3440 – Business Class (U)
MAD – RAK (Madrid Barajas – Marrakesh)
Sept 10, 2018
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Booked: Airbus 320
Flown: Airbus 320 

Unfortunately, on arrival to Gate 23, it was a full on scrum for the gate. There were three lines that had formed and strangely, no priority signage or other postings for them. We opted for the shorter line and boarding for all priority passengers was announced. On Iberia, this seems to mean every credit card holder, status member and business class all at once.

On Board Iberia Business Class:

We were about the 30th person to board the aircraft. The Iberia Business Class configuration on this Airbus 320 is 2 – 2. By the time we got to row 2, all the business class bin space was gone. One of the flight attendants was being pro-active by doing bag valet service by firing the carry on bags backwards to bin space in rearward rows so my carry onTumi ended up two rows back in row 4.

I hopped into the surprisingly compact Iberia Business Class seat. There are essentially economy seats where they don’t sell the middle seat. There isn’t even a cup holder in the middle seat and there doesn’t appear to be much more leg room distance offered for business class versus economy. These were definitely the tightest European business class seats I’d ever flown. I ended sitting partially sideways like I usually do in economy. Next time on this route, I think I’d probably just do economy class and settle on Priority Pass with a credit card membership for the lounge.

There was no pre-departure beverage offered, so there is nothing to report about here.

We had a very quick departure from the gate to the runway. We were airport within about 10 minutes of pushback with no waits for other aircraft. There were a few views of Iberia aircraft, which I don’t get all that much opportunity to see.

Food and Beverage:

As we reached cruising altitude, immigration cards for Morocco were passed out. These were followed by distribution of printed menus.

The service of the cabin started from the rear to front. Continuing the theme of the day, the purser seemed exceptionally grumpy and I got the impression that the other staff crew members seemed to be intentionally staying away from her.

Meal Service:

Today’s lunch was presented on a tray all at once. Lunch consisted of Toledo style salad with pepper, raisins and pine nuts. The main was grilled chicken breast, apricot and olive rolled up served with a creamy sherry sauce and stir fried thin beans, followed by cheese from Zamoura (most excellent) and raspberry yoghurt.

The service was just enough time to finish the meal and enjoy a glass of wine. It was just an okay glass of Verdejo. There was no offer of seconds.

The best part of the flight was the flyover of the Strait of Gibraltar. I was surprised to see how narrow it was compared to other bodies of water that I had seen. You know the flight isn’t all too exciting when the best part of the flight is staring out the window. There were no TV monitors or other movies playing.

We had a quick approach into Marrakech and over flew some sand dunes outside of town on our approach. We also passed by the rural areas on the way in. Even the views on the approach showed that we were living the civilized world of order into the world of disorder.

There are no gates at the Marrakech Airport so we pulled up on the apron and the doors were opened after the stairs were put up. The guidebooks said that taking photos of airports was “verboten” in Morocco but I snapped a few photos when people weren’t looking. There also seemed to be a lot of tourists taking pictures of the plane while it was on the ramp itself. The Iberia flight was the only one on the apron at this time of day.

Our priority bags were the last to be put out on the claim belt. This wasn’t a bit deal but it seemed to be another underscoring of the apathetic nature of our experiences on Iberia. We went and changed some money to have Moroccan Dirhams available to us.

In Summary:

Ultimately, I had great hopes for Iberia as a possible alternative to British Airways for trips around Europe. Unfortunately, it was a pretty bare bones experience traveling with them in business class. Although the food catering was reasonable, as was the Iberia Velazquez Lounge, the whole involvement was a crowded and pushy affair. The staff seemed to be pretty disinterested and disconnected from their jobs. The business class experience was exceptionally compact and not very comfortable. I can’t say that I’d be in any rush to fly with them again.



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