As a Business Plus passenger I was able to make use of the fast lane at the security entrance to the concourse. Once those unpleasantries were behind me I took the elevator to the airport lounge shared by Iberia with American Airlines and its alliance partners. The lounge was a comfortable and mostly quiet place to spend time while awaiting the departure of my flight. Just a few steps away from my chosen seat near the lounge reception there was a snack and beverage self service area which was refreshed several times while I was in the lounge.
Boarding was easy. Soon I was settled in an aisle seat in the center and middle of the Business Plus cabin chatting with my neighbor, an affable elderly lady from the suburbs of Barcelona who had been visiting with her family in Miami for a couple of months. I liked that the cabin seemed spacious (other business cabins I flew in around the same time had 10 to 20 percent more seats in a similar size space) and I never had to wait for the restroom facilities which were clean and odor free. After the meal service I could avail myself of the on board entertainment or try to sleep. With the press of a button (one of several buttons on my control panel) my seat stretched out flat, allowing me to lay down horizontally with the pillow and blanket provided for the remaining hours.
On my return home, I waited with my travel companions for our flight’s departure time at the spacious Iberia Miro international airport lounge, stepping out for something to eat (the lounge only served beverages and finger food). The flight was blessedly uneventful and the staff polite. I managed to catch a few winks of sleep before we landed. All in all my weeklong trip to Barcelona went well. The comfort of Iberia’s Business Plus service played a major role in that trip’s success and would entice me back. The next time I plan a trip to Barcelona I will seriously consider flying Iberia Business Plus again.
Iberia, its franchise partner Iberia Regional/Air Nostrum, and British Airways operate 1,750 flights to 204 destinations in 121 countries on a daily basis. Iberia operates 1,000 flights to 116 destinations in 45 countries with 161 airplanes. British Airways and Iberia are members of the Oneworld Alliance.
Class Of Service Business Plus, Iberia’s long haul premium class. As of this writing it was available on Iberia’s A340/300 and A340/600 aircraft used on long haul routes to 21 destinations in Latin America, five cities in the United States, Johannesburg, some flights to Tel Aviv and some domestic flights to the Canary Islands. The same aircraft was expected to operate the new route between Madrid and Luanda, Angola scheduled to begin service September 30, 2011.
Flights This flight was launched on March 29, 2011 and plans were in place for it to operate all year.There were three non-stop weekly flights between Miami and Barcelona on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. On other days passengers flying from Miami could also fly to Barcelona via Madrid once a day with Iberia.
Length Of Flight The transatlantic flight to Barcelona was nine hours long and the return slightly longer at approximately 10 hours.
Owned-Managed Since January 2011 Iberia, together with British Airways, had been integrated into the International Airlines Group (IAG), one of the world’s largest airline groups with 408 aircraft, flights to 200 destinations and more than 55 million passengers annually.
Seats Business Plus passengers, according to an airline spokesperson, had 87 inches of personal space and 12 extra inches between rows. The seat size was 190 by 66 centimeters and the seat width was 20 inches. The seats, which converted into a horizontal position, featured a folding armrest, an adjustable headrest and an extendible leg rest operated from a control panel located on the armrest. The passenger’s preferred position could be recorded in the seat (I only found out about this after the fights). The business cabin had been designed with an eye on privacy. The seat’s rigid exterior shell was designed to provide passengers additional private space and the seats included a privacy separator panel. Iberia executives had plans for a new design for the Business Plus cabins for 2012.
Services For Handicapped Iberia welcomed “passengers with reduced mobility (PRM), those passengers whose mobility is restricted by a physical disability (sensorial or locomotor), a deterioration of their intellectual faculties, age or any other type of handicap when using a means of transport, and whose situation requires special attention and the adaptation of the services placed at the disposal of all passengers to their needs.
Aware that due to their special personal conditions, passengers with reduced mobility require extra, specific, individualized attention and taking into account Spanish and international on board safety and rescue regulations requirements for the safe transport and comfort of such passengers and others on board Iberia offered those passengers: Accessibility to the aircraft, adaptation of the airline’s equipment and procedures, specific, ongoing staff training.”
The average age of Iberia’s A340/300 fleet at the time of this writing was 12 years old. Iberia ordered eight Airbus A330 planes and signed options for an additional eight planes of this type to start updating its fleet. In late 2009, the Business Plus cabin of Iberia’s whole long haul fleet of 36 aircraft was completely remodeled and refurbished. A row of seats was removed to offer passengers more comfort: 2.20 meters of personal space and 1.88 meters of seat pitch. Between June 2010 and September 2010, Iberia changed the Business Plus linen, toiletry bag, pillows and covers.
The wines recommended by the Todovino Club sommelier for that month, and described in detail in a booklet with space for passenger tasting notes, were a dry and medium bodied 2009 Blau D.O. Montsant red and two whites, a light and dry 2010 Labores de Unzu D.O. Rueda and a dry full bodied 2009 Alejarién D.O. La Mancha. There were also two 2006 reds on offer as well as one cava sparkling wine, three appetizer wines, two dessert wines and selection of spirits including Absolut Vodka, two brandies, three whiskies (12 year blends), rum (Flor de Caña 12 year old and Bacardi Carta Blanca), and two gins (Bombay Sapphire and Fifty Pounds).
Only Spanish wines, chosen to complement the Business Plus menus based on Mediterranean cuisine, were on offer. The wine list, updated every three months, featured three red wines, two whites, three appetizers, two sweet wines, one sparkling wine cava and two Spanish brandy wines. Inside the wine list, there was a Wine of the Month recommendation, a selection made for Iberia Business Plus by TodoVino wine club and Custodio L. Zamarra, a National Gastronomy prize winner and Sommelier of Zalacaín restaurant. Each month a different wine was presented, representing the different styles, production methods and wine regions of Spain. Interested passengers were able to taste the wines (at the crew’s suggestion I sampled several of the wines) and take notes.
Amenities In addition to menus and informational magazines there was a blanket, a pillow, and a red and brown zippered toiletry bag on my seat. The toiletry bag contained brown socks, sleeping mask, lip balm, toothbrush and toothpaste, eau de cologne, earplugs, hair comb and brush in one, hair elastic band, shoehorn, brown shoe bag, moisturizing cream, face cleansing towel and an information leaflet about the products. There were some local and Spanish newspapers and magazines available on request from the cabin crew. There was a set of noise canceling headphones for use during the flight.
Also included on board were meals, snacks, alcoholic drinks including fine wines, sparkling wine and after dinner drinks. Ground amenities included access to the airport lounges which offered complimentary snacks, soft drinks and shower stalls.
Entertainment Each seat had a dedicated 10.4 inch popup touch screen to manage an on demand audio and video entertainment system with 26 video channels (12 current movies, seven TV series, seven documentaries, main screen channel, route map channel, channel with information about boarding gates during approach to the destination and another channel with ongoing information about the aircraft), 15 audio channels and eight video games.
From the touch screen, passengers could send and receive short SMS messages and e-mails (for a fee). Business Plus seats had an individual telephone (for a fee), a connection for PCs, ambient night light and assorted compartments. The seat also featured a massage function. An entertainment program magazine was available at iberia.com
Business Plus passengers holding a full fare ticket booked on intercontinental flights operated by Iberia could book a complimentary limousine service with a luxury car and chauffeur for transfers from their home or hotel to the airport or vice versa. The service was available in Madrid, Barcelona, Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires, Mexico City and Sao Paulo.
Business Plus passengers holding a full fare return ticket from Madrid and Barcelona airports for a flight operated by Iberia could use the complimentary pick up, parking and delivery service for private vehicles at Madrid and Barcelona airports.
Luggage The check-in luggage allowance was three pieces of up to 23 kilograms each.
Other The Business Plus class service was recognized with the Wines on the Wing 2010 by Global Traveler. The aircraft we flew on was the Concha Espina, named for a Spanish writer who died in 1955. Most of the Airbus A340/300 had been named in honor of important Spanish individuals.
Route Miami to Barcelona and Barcelona to Miami non stop
Date Of Review May 2011
On Board Service Of the eight flight attendants on long haul flights on the A340/300, three flight attendants were assigned to the Business Plus cabin on Miami to Barcelona and Barcelona to Miami routes. Iberia flight attendants were trained according to international regulations. They also received customer service and specialized service training for new and modified services. The most recent flight attendant training had been in relation to the new menus in Business Plus class service.
Reviewers Article and Photos by Elena del Valle
Would You Fly With Them Again? Yes