Contributed by Laurence Dalby, a Buymyupgrade.com community member.
Recently I had to travel to Madrid for work and I immediately knew how I wanted to get there. The vast majority of short haul flights within Europe are on narrowbody aircraft like the Airbus A320 or Boeing 737. These are fine but there are a select few destinations that allow the option of the extra space and amenities of a wide body aircraft, and it’s worth knowing about this particularly if travelling in Business Class.
Iberia currently fly 2 wide bodied aircraft a day from London Heathrow to Madrid. There is one flight in the morning and one in the evening. These provide a bit more room in all cabins and in-flight entertainment. In Business Class you get a flat bed for the short 2 hour trip. More often than not this is in the shape of an A330 and sometimes an A350 depending on the day.
It’s worth noting that if you want to, you can just pay for Business Class on this route and you’ll get the nice big seat. However, the travel policy for the company I work for is Economy. But these wide body planes have a Premium Economy cabin that can’t be booked as it’s a short haul trip. Iberia instead allow Economy passengers to book these seats and as a BA gold card holder these are free for me to select, although all passengers can select these for a fee. Because of this, I planned to book these flights for my trip.
A few days passed whilst I confirmed my plans, but when I went to book the price had shot up and was now outside of policy. I was annoyed, but later in the day I happened to look at the price of Business Class. Part of my company’s travel policy allows me to pay to upgrade and to my delight, the difference between the in-policy Economy price and the Business price was £30. I jumped at this deal, as the extra Avios earned would pretty much cancel out the extra cost. In addition, the trip in Business Class would make the trip a lot more comfortable.
Iberia Business Class Seating
The other perk of travelling with Iberia at the moment is that they fly out of Heathrow Terminal 3. Why is this so good I hear you ask? The breadth of One World lounges available to visit. There are multiple to sample and the jewel in the crown is the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge. This lounge is for those with One World Emerald status. Business Class passengers or Sapphire status holders can visit the Qantas, Cathay Pacific, BA and American Business lounges. However, I’d skip BA and American if I were you. We call this process lounge hopping, you can find out more about it here.
Cathay Pacific is always top of my list and both the First and Business lounges have great views, and a mix of wood and soft furnishings. The First Class lounge has a small a la carte restaurant and a great selection of other food and drink. Depending on when you visit depends on how busy it will be. At around 1700 it was pretty busy, but it quickly cleared out when the Cathay flight to HKG was called.
Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge
Moving to the flight I ended up on an A330-300. With Iberia’s most common Business Class seat. The seats are laid out in a 1-2-1 formation with each row the opposite of the other. Best seats for solo travellers are A and L and for couples is E and G. I was in 4L, which is closest to the window and is nicely separated from the seat across the aisle.
The flight was full but we departed pretty much on time and I settled down to squeeze in a sub two hour film. I was able to start this whilst we were taxiing, but before take-off the in-flight entertainment got reset which meant a 15 minute period without it. In-flight service was a full drinks run and two options for dinner. I opted for the moussaka half of which came off with the foil top, but it was still tasty. Later in the flight some small chocolates were offered which was a nice touch on top of what BA offer on this sort of trip. The rest of the flight was uneventful, I reclined the seat and enjoyed watching the movie.
Iberia Business Class Menu
If you really want to maximise the best that this route has to offer aim for the A350. The newer aircraft have the latest Business Class seat. However, there’s no guarantees as there’s a lot of A350s with the same seat as the A330s and last-minute equipment changes are quite common.
If you want to try other wide-bodied aircraft on short haul trips, currently there are only a few options. Other than the Iberia flight to Madrid the only regular option from Heathrow is to Helsinki. Finnair offer a twice-daily rotation on either the A330 or A350. BA do occasionally put 777 or 787s on flights to Europe. But this is only confirmed a short notice and is currently due to a shortage of crew. Frankfurt, Zurich and Rome have all seen this in the past few months. Elsewhere Thomson can be found to fly their 787 throughout Europe, and Aer Lingus will see their A330 fly to Spain in the summer.