Iberia uses a fleet of ten Airbus A330-200 aircraft on some of its longest flights including flights to Buenos Aires in Argentina and Montevideo in Uruguay.
It uses the type on its route from Madrid to Tokyo that it launched (restarted) in 2016 as well. That’s the route I had a chance to fly it on back in October. Continue reading to see what a flight on the Iberia A330-200 was like in economy class.
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After a night at Hotel Tach Madrid Airport, I took the 10:05AM shuttle to the airport where I was dropped off just five or six minutes later.
Since I received the boarding pass for this flight in Vienna the previous day, I headed straight through security. While the regular lines were fairly crowded, I was able to use the fast track which was a short walk away and I got through in no time.
Airside, I went to the satellite building – Terminal 4S – where my flight was departing from using an automated train.
There were no lines at the passport control in Terminal 4S, and so, not long after getting off the train, I found myself on the way to the excellent Iberia Premium Lounge Velazquez which was located in the middle of the duty free shopping area.
I left the lounge at 12:10PM and headed to gate S1 where boarding was scheduled to begin at 12:30PM. Since the numbering started with the gates furthest from the central area of the terminal, it took me about ten minutes to reach the gate.
Boarding Iberia Flight 6801 to Tokyo
When I got to the gate, a long line was already formed in front of it. At that time, a flight to Algeria departing from S2 which shared the door with S1 was still boarding, though.
Around the same time, an Asian passenger got to gate S2, and before being able to present her boarding pass to the staff was told “Tokio está ahí.” Of course, as it turned out, the passenger was traveling to Algeria and not Tokyo…
Both the gate agent and the passenger had a brief laugh before the passenger got onboard the Air Algerie aircraft, and not long after that – at 12:28PM, priority boarding for my flight to Tokyo started.
After having my boarding pass scanned, I headed down the jetway. As the crew was still preparing the aircraft, I was not able to get onboard yet. In fact, it took around ten minutes until the preparations finished and the passengers could actually board the aircraft.
Iberia Airbus A330-200 Cabin
The flight was operated by EC-MJA, one of Iberia’s ten Airbus A330-200s. The aircraft had a capacity of 288 seats in two classes.
The aircraft’s business class cabin featured 19 staggered seats (similar to these) and was located between the first two pairs of doors. Economy class was split across two cabins and featured a total of 269 seats in a “2-4-2” configuration (“2-3-2” towards the end of the aircraft).
Onboard, I walked down the aisle to my window-side aisle seat, 52C. While I was hoping I could score a pair of seats, the flight ended up being completely full.
Waiting on the seat upon boarding was a blanket and a packaged pillow – both of which were about as good as one could expect in economy class.
As for the seat itself, it was equipped with a high-definition screen with USB and audio ports, a magazine rack under it, and a regular seat pocket as well. There was also a shared power outlet between each pair of seats. The legroom was not great.
Departing Madrid Barajas Airport
Around 1:05PM, the cabin crew went around the cabin handing out earphones, and not long after that – at 1:11PM, eleven minutes behind schedule – we were pushed back.
While we were making our way to the runway, cabin crew went around the cabin once again to hand out newspapers and do the final check, and then the safety video was played.
We took off at 1:33PM.
Five minutes after take-off, the purser made a welcome onboard announcement, and at 1:48PM, the seatbelt signs were switched off. They didn’t stay off for too long, though, as just ten minutes later – somewhere along the Spain-France border – we encountered a fairly strong turbulence.
The cabin crew used the “turbulent time” to make an announcement about the immigration and customs forms that people ending their trip in Japan needed to fill. I found it nice that the crew mentioned the flight number – IB6801 – as well as the date of arrival so that the passengers wouldn’t have to try to figure that out by themselves.
Iberia Long Haul Lunch Service
With the turbulence gone, the cockpit crew switched the seatbelt signs back off at 2:19PM at which point the cabin crew started preparing for the lunch service.
In the meantime, the captain welcomed us onboard via the PA, and mentioned that we were flying at an altitude of 9,100 meters, and that we would be flying over Bordeaux, Rotterdam, Stockholm, Khabarovsk, Niigata, and Fukushima on our way to Tokyo Narita airport. He also mentioned that we were expected to arrive at 10:40AM.
Around 2:30PM, while waiting for the meal, I started watching Dodgeball (yes, while flying, I like watching simple comedies that don’t require much thinking…).
Since I was seated towards the back of the aircraft, it wasn’t until 3:45PM or so – more than two hours after take-off – that the meal service got to my row. There were no printed menus on this flight, though there were two options to choose from – chicken and beef.
I went with the former which was chicken with salsa and rice with vegetables. The meal came with a salad, cut fruits, and a bread roll. For drink, I had Coke Zero.
During the meal service, the seatbelt signs went on for about ten minutes or so due to a turbulence, and so, it wasn’t until 4:30PM that the trays were cleared.
Iberia Airbus A330-200 In-Flight Entertainment System
After the meal service, I watched another movie, this time a Spanish one called Casi 40 (not the best choice…), and then decided to try to get some sleep. Before doing so, I explored the in-flight entertainment system, though.
The system featured over 50 movies organized into several categories ranging from the latest Hollywood blockbusters all the way to Spanish movies. A variety of TV shows with several episodes from each was available as well.
As for music, 200 (according to the information page in the system) albums were available. Those could be browsed by the albums themselves, by artists, by songs, by genres, etc.
The system also featured about ten or fifteen games. Since there was no remote control, the games could be controlled using the fairly responsive touchscreen.
As usual, the amount of content could not be compared with the likes of Emirates’ ICE system, however, it was more than enough to keep a person entertained even on the longest flights (such as the Madrid – Tokyo one I was on).
Separately from the above, there was also onboard wi-fi. I had a trouble connecting to it, and so I wasn’t able to check the rates while onboard. Based on Iberia’s website, it’s as follows, though:
- 1 hour for 8.99 EUR (up to 40 MB)
- 3 hours for 19.99 EUR (up to 100 MB)
- Full flight for 29.99 EUR (up to 200 MB)
While I would consider those prices to be decent without the data caps, with those, they are just too expensive.
In-Flight Sales and a Mid-Flight Snack
With the seat being fairly uncomfortable, I managed to only sleep for about an hour or so before waking up. Not long after I woke up – around 2:30AM Japan time – the cabin crew went through the cabin offering duty free sales (I wonder why they didn’t wait until a more reasonable time…).
Soon after that, I fell asleep again, this time managing to sleep for about two hours before waking up around 5AM. Around the same time, the cabin crew was going through the cabin doing a drinks round and distributing sandwiches.
Once I finished the sandwich, I fell asleep one last time.
Iberia Long Haul Breakfast Service
The third time around, I managed to sleep the longest – until 9:30AM. When I woke up, my back and butt hurt from sleeping in the hard seat, though. Without a doubt, it was one of the most uncomfortable economy class seats I’ve flown on on long haul flights.
At that time, the cabin crew was already serving breakfast.
Rather than serving a second hot meal like most airlines do on flights that are twelve or thirteen hours long, Iberia only served a cold meal box containing a sandwich, a Kit Kat, a yogurt, and some cut fruits.
Shortly after 10AM, the cabin crew made an announcement asking passengers to close the breakfast boxes after finishing them to speed up the service, and not long after that, they went around the cabin collecting them.
Landing at Tokyo Narita Airport
At 10:16AM, the captain announced that it was 15 degrees Celsius and partly cloudy in Tokyo, and that we would be landing at 10:45AM. At the same time, the seatbelt signs were also switched on in preparation for landing.
Ten minutes later, a video with instructions on how to fill out the immigration forms was aired. The only problem was that the video was about Mexican forms… After the video, the in-flight entertainment system was disabled, and everyone’s screen turned to the airshow.
While descending towards Narita, a variety of songs was played in the cabin including a slow instrumental version of Boney M’s Sunny, and a Spanish version of Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat’s Lucky.
We landed on Narita airport’s runway 34R at 10:38AM, and reached our parking spot ten minutes later, at 10:48AM – just three minutes behind schedule.
Iberia A330-200 Long Haul Economy Class Summary
After a disappointing experience onboard Iberia’s flight from Vienna to Madrid, I didn’t go into this flight with too many expectations – and it was the right thing to do. While the lunch was decent, I found it cheap that Iberia only offered a cold breakfast box on a thirteen hour flight. Aside from that, the seats were hard and the legroom was quite tight.
On the positive side, the crew seemed nice – at least in my limited interactions with them.
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