We had a fairly turbulent journey from Las Palmas to Madrid onboard an Iberia Express A321 in business class, with good service but a disappointing breakfast.
Iberia Express A321 Business Class Review
Our return to the United States after a week on Gran Canaria was complicated by a flight cancellation from British Airways. Our original itinerary was to fly from Las Palmas (LPA) to London (LHR), overnight near Heathrow then fly from London to Los Angeles (LAX). That way, we’d have two late afternoon flights which typically make sleeping easier for the kids.
But when BA cancelled our LPA-LHR flight, it left us forced to book LPA to Madrid (MAD) with an overnight in MAD before connecting to LAX nonstop in the morning or a double connection in both MAD and LHR so we could get home same-day. We chose the latter option, which meant a departure at 6:50AM…lovely.
After dropping off our rental car, we proceeded upstairs to check-in. An agent checked our COVID-19 tests and we soon had boarding passes as far as London. The agent did not speak English (or did not indicate she could), but we got by using my poor Spanish.
We arrived into LPA with no bags since we were flying on EasyJet, but checked two bags on the way out (we could have checked up to 10 bags…).
Iberia uses the Sala Galdós VIP Lounge in LPA, but it was closed due to the pandemic (it has since re-opened). Considering it was before 6:00AM, almost everything was closed, though there was a Starbucks open with a huge line (I skipped it, of course…my wife did brave the line for a mediocre cup of coffee).
Side note: while looking at the departure board, a sign noting a prohibition against photography popped up. Are they serious?
Um, no. Just no. It was particularly ironic, that the sign before it indicated this area was under CCTV surveillance.
Boarding was chaotic, despite the early hour, but we were welcomed onboard first because of my oneworld emerald status, business class seating, and because we were traveling with my one-year-old daughter. Only there was pushing and shoving by some miscreants who decided they needed to be onboard first.
Las Palmas (LPA) – Madrid (MAD)
Friday, August 6
Duration: 2hr, 40min
Aircraft: Airbus A321-200
Distance: 1,097 miles
Seat: 1C (Business Class)
Flight attendants were huddled around in the front galley and ignored us upon boarding, but were very pleasant during the flight. It was 6:00AM after all…
This flight had four rows of business class, which were simply economy class seats with the middle seat blocked. We chose row one because it provided extra legroom and we could have the entire row to ourselves (our daughter was a lap infant and did not have her own seat).
Seat pitch is 31 inches, which is tight but slightly more generous than behind the curtain. Because business class is variable (the curtain can be moved forward or back depending upon the demand for business class), if you are flying in economy class try to choose a seat as close to the front as possible, as you increase your chance for more legroom if the business class cabin on your flight is particularly small.
There were no power ports.
The plane had not aged all that well, with wear and tear showing near the passenger service unit.
Food + Drink
I was expecting (and quite looking forward to) a hot breakfast after takeoff. The flight was over 2.5 hours and I always enjoy the food in Iberia business class.
But a cold tray of Jamón ibérico (Iberian pork) was offered for breakfast along with yogurt and a packaged croissant.
What a letdown.
I figured this was probably due to Las Palmas being an outstation so this was catered on the inbound from Madrid the evening before. Still, when you feel like eggs and a hot croissant and get this, you cannot help but to be disappointed.
Still hungry, I ate the pork, which was of good quality.
I also had some water and coffee and my son had orange juice. My wife and daughter, sitting across the aisle from us, were fast asleep and slept through the first half of the flight before the turbulence hit.
The flight got very turbulent during the second half, so much so that flight attendants were asked to be seated and the carts were rattling so much I was afraid one might pop out.
I’m not sure if that is a regular occurrence on the route, though my outbound flight was smooth.
Free onboard entertainment is offered via a streaming intranet system. A selection of movies and as well as a moving flight map was available.
I’m not sure why Iberia went to the trouble of installing this system and not provisioning internet, but all my work was done for the day and I did not need to open up my laptop.
I took Augustine up to the lavatory to wash his hands…it was a standard A321 lavatory with no extra amenities.
As we landed in Madrid, I saw an army of British Airways A380s parked on the sidelines. Thankfully, those have returned to the skies.
It was a very turbulent flight, which I don’t blame Iberia for, but I do blame Iberia for its poor catering on these early morning flights. Sure, it would cost money to set up catering contract in LPA, but a meager cold breakfast does not cut it on a fairly long intra-European flight.
Upon landing in Madrid we headed for the lounge ahead of our connection to London.
That breakfast still looks better than anything UA serves in Polaris.
That’s not saying much! 😉
I wish they would have properly plated it, though.
We have stopped paying up for business class on Iberia. The difference between coach & bc is so nominal that paying 3x the cost is insane.
I paid for an upgrade on Iberia last week, an evening LHR-MAD flight. They offered me a delicious dinner of slow cooked beef cheeks. The upgrade was worth every single penny I paid for it. All 3965 of them (it wasn’t even 40 quid!).
Wow – great deal! Was it a widebody?
Like I said, usually I love the catering in IB J.
But that’s the second time I’ve been disappointed by Iberia Express, even though IB Express promotes hot meals in business class.
It was just a 320. The decision was still pretty marginal as the status I have from buying AY miles would have gotten me into the lounge in any event.
The main reason I went for it was that I had scheduled an overnight connection so that I can do a full working day in London and I figured that flying up front would virtually eliminate the possibility of someone taking an interest in my extremely heavy cabin case (must have been around 14kg as I stuffed it with clothes, shoes etc which would normally stay in the large suitcase).
The funny thing was that they wanted £45 to upgrade my 40 minutes connection to BIO the following morning. I turned that offer down and proceeded to send the case to the hold in the morning.
What were you doing in BIO? I miss Bilbao (and Santander). I don’t have business there any longer.
Just 5 days of tourism- Bilbao, San Sebastián and Burgos. I have always wanted to go to the Basque Country but hadn’t managed it before. I hugely enjoyed the trip- the whole region is amazing. On the other hand, I can see why it’s not a mainstream tourist destination; it’s definitely not cheap and, even if you go in summer, there is absolutely no guarantee of sun and/or pleasant temperatures.
@Matthew: “Still, when you feel like eggs and a hot croissant and get this, you cannot help but to be disappointed.” Eggs is not a typical breakfast in most European countries. Breakfast is not the main meal so usually it is a juice, coffee and pastries. As for hot croissants, unless they are coming hot out of the oven after being baked, I actually don’t like them reheated as they get mushy. Packaged croissants are not good in any way.
Remember I lived in Germany for two years. Indeed, eggs are much more British/Irish/American than European, but it seems the Spanish eat a lot of egg dishes for breakfast. And I do know that Iberia (almost always) has a breakfast egg option. We just got stuck departing on the first flight of the day from an out-station.
“La Boulangère” croissants!
Our French multinational companies know how to do fake croissants^^
What a shame 🙂
At least the butter seems AOP but…
“… were very peasant during the flight.” Elaborate? Couldn’t find the definition of a peasant behavior 😀
@Santastico: Please tell my family in Spain eggs aren’t a staple. Tortilla espanola is served at every train station. The secret is to fry the diced potatoes in olive oil without browning before folding into the omelet.
Fun fact, the ham you got is not “jamon”. Jamon comes from the hind legs. Paleta is ham from the front legs and lomo is from the loin. Either way, they look delicious and way better than the breakfast I got on AA transcon F! And I paid 2700 for the one way!!!
Interesting. Gracias for that cool tidbit.
Thank you for this review. I fly a lot Iberia so maybe I can add some information.
Iberia express is like a low-cost, leisure oriented division of Iberia. Flights are cheap and their club express gives you discounts (up to 35%) for booking through the Iberia Express website.
– I see it was in august, I assume 2021? Service was still reduced at the time because of Covid. Since then Iberia express is back to a hot meal and Iberia to a choice between 2 hot meals, except for breakfast where it’s usually an omelette with a hot croissant, bread, yogurt/fruits and jam.
– This was the old cabin of Iberia. Seat pitch is better than 31 inches in the first 12-14 rows (9A has unlimited legroom). In the new cabins, all seats are the same for Iberia Express with about 30-31 inches and on Iberia the first 6 rows are better seats with better legroom, recline etc. it remains just a glorified economy class seat, as it is common in Europe.
– All Iberia Express planes have this onboard entertainment system but no wifi. On Iberia, it’s the opposite. All have wifi but not onboard entertainment.
Hope that helps
Appreciate your comments. Indeed, this was last August (2021).
At the time, the website still indicated hot breakfasts on Canaries flights (see image below). Was the meal service cut back without mentioning it on website?
It’s highly likely. Iberia is not the most detail-oriented airline on the market.
Came here to say exactly this. No matter what the website said back then, I took this route a few times in 2021 and Iberia (as well as Iberia Express) had indeed cut back service because Covid – as most airlines did. Thankfully back to normal. And, even though full English isn’t a staple in Spain, an omelette (still an egg dish!) for breakfast is certainly quite standard on Iberia J.
You were definitely unlucky with the turbulence; I can’t remember the last time I had a significant incident on the run between the islands and the Iberian Peninsula
FWIW, I don’t think Iberia Express ever serve hot food unlike mainline which is generally very good and Do&Co catered.
I should have mentioned that I was basing my expectation off of this:
Think I could get some compensation? 😉
Well you could try on the compensation!
I’ve only been on Express later in the day where the offering is very much like the breakfast you were served. A colleague who does travel earlier told me he has never seen hot food on the TFN=MAD route which I would have thought was pretty busy and pretty premium.
I may try.