Iberia, the Spanish flag carrier, mainly uses a fleet of Airbus A320 series aircraft on its intra-European flights. And, similarly to British Airways which is part of the same IAG group, it operates those flights using the “LCC model” – meaning there is no free onboard service.
Recently, I had a chance to fly on an Iberia Airbus A320 for the first (and perhaps the last?) time on a flight from Vienna to Madrid, so keep on reading to see what the experience was like.
Check-in and Boarding
After arriving at Vienna airport shortly before 6PM, I headed to its old terminal (terminal 1) where my Iberia flight was departing from. Three check-in counters were open for the flight – one for business class, economy class, and baggage drop-off each.
Even though I could use the business class counter thanks to my British Airways status, it still took twenty minutes until it was my turn.
Once I dropped off my bag and received the boarding passes for my flight to Madrid and the onwards flight to Tokyo, I bade farewell to my family, headed airside, and paid a brief visit to Jet Lounge – the only lounge in the Schengen part of terminal 1.
Since boarding was scheduled for 7PM, I left the lounge around 6:55PM and headed to gate C42 where the flight was departing from. When I arrived at the gate, all of the passengers were already waiting there, however, boarding still wasn’t in progress as the aircraft had just arrived from Madrid and the inbound passengers were still disembarking.
Instead, it started at 7:12PM when priority passengers were invited to board. I thought it was a bit early given that the last passengers disembarked less than five minutes before that. And, sure enough, once I got to the end of the jetway, the access to the aircraft was still blocked and it took another ten minutes or so until we were actually let onboard.
Iberia Airbus A320-200 Seats
Once onboard, I headed down the aisle to my aisle seat, 22D. The seat offered a extremely tight legroom and was quite narrow as well. Besides that, it didn’t recline (considering the tight seat pitch, that might have actually been a good thing), and the tray table was very small. Same with armrest – it was so tiny that it was of no use.
Interestingly, while most of the seats were the “economy lite” seats described above, the first few rows – which could be used as business class depending on demand – featured standard economy class seats with better legroom and normal-size tray tables.
I guess passengers flying intra-European business class on Iberia – while getting an economy class seat – at least can’t complain about getting the same seat as economy class passengers…
Iberia Intra-European Economy Class Service
The last passenger boarded around 7:40PM, and we were pushed back five minutes later – five minutes behind schedule. A short taxi followed before we took off at 7:57PM.
At 8:30PM, the captain welcomed us onboard and mentioned that we were flying over the Alps and cruising at 35,000 feet. He also mentioned that we were expected to land at 10:50PM and that there was a possibility of turbulences throughout the rest of the flight.
It took a while for the seatbelt signs to be switched off, but at 8:26PM – almost thirty minutes after take-off – they finally did and so the service could begin. Or so I thought since they went back on at 8:44PM as we hit another turbulence and stayed on for another ten minutes or so.
Then, the in-flight sales begun. A variety of drinks and light bites – such as sandwiches, cup noodles, and snacks – was offered. The pricing was similar to what LCCs such as Ryanair and Norwegian charge.
Being both hungry and thirsty at this point, I decided to get a bottle of water and a pack of potato chips for 2 EUR each.
The rest of the flight was uneventful and I mostly spent it working on some KN Aviation articles.
Arriving at Madrid Barajas Airport
At 10:10PM, the cabin crew made an announcement about connecting gates, as well as the luggage carousel where those ending their trip in Madrid could pick up their bags from. Ten minutes later, the pilots asked the cabin crew to prepare the cabin for landing, and at 10:22PM, the seatbelt signs were switched on.
We landed at Madrid Barajas airport at 10:40PM, and at 10:48PM – three minutes behind schedule – we came to a full stop at our arrival gate.
Iberia A320 Economy Class Summary
I don’t say this often, but avoid flying Iberia on an intra-European route whenever you can. At least when the flight is operated by an Airbus A320.
While there’s nothing to complain about in terms of the service (if you are used to the fact that everything is buy-on-board), the seats are just terrible. They’re thin, hard, and narrow. And, the leg room is tight. Especially so given that many of the airline’s flights are two hours or longer.