Humboldt Travel directors, Simon and Kirsty Williams were lucky enough to experience the Iberia Business Class service on a recent trip to Brazil.
It has to be said that Iberia has suffered from a poor reputation for inflight service in recent years but having been assured that they had made some positive efforts to overhaul their service and the inflight experience, we were invited to sample this.
From the offset we were impressed. The short flight to Madrid from London was our first leg and in the late afternoon we were served a light meal. The portions were ample and aside from soft drinks, passengers were offered aperitifs, wine with their meal and a digestif. Simon can certainly vouch for their generosity when it came to measuring out the whisky! Whilst there is never a huge amount of leg room on inter-European flights, the extra space in Business class does make a difference, particularly when you are 6 foot 4!
If we were pleased with the experience on the short haul flight, the long-haul leg from Madrid to Sao Paulo was excellent. On board the A340-600 we were given two seats together in the middle of the aisle, facing the front, The Iberia layout offers a 2, 2, 2 configuration which is more personal. It is worth noting that the seats on the outer edges of the cabin are not quite aligned. So, if you are travelling as a couple, you may prefer the middle seats in the cabin.
We were offered a glass of cava or orange juice while the boarding process was completed and settled down to investigate the space around us. The seats offered ample room for storing bags and stretching out from the start. I like to have my bag close by and this was easily stored at my feet.
The amenity packs include the standard flight socks along with L’Occitane toiletries and a comfortable eye mask whilst the band round it doubles as a hair tie which is very useful if you have forgotten to pack one in your hand luggage! The ear plugs are the standard foam variety but the noise cancelling head phones provided are of benefit when watching TV. The entertainment system was new and easy to use with a good variety of films, TV and music. It’s amazing what a difference a wide choice of films can make to how quickly the time passes on a flight. Provided there are a few episodes of Modern Family and some good ‘bubble gum for the eyes’ films on offer, even the longest flight can fly by.
One of the other bonuses of travelling Business Class is the food and drink and Iberia did not disappoint. The food was tasty and well presented and certainly one of the best inflight meals I have eaten. We opted for the traditional Spanish Salmorejo and tender chicken accompanied with tabbouleh. The beef cheek was delicious for main, and the lemongrass dory was just the kind of light main you should be eating on a flight! For dessert we tried both options between us, raspberry and ginger ice cream – a nice mix of tart and sweet and coffee cake which was pretty good as airplane desserts go. The bread is not your useful dry and inedible roll and the cheese while not out of this world, is accompanied by traditional Spanish Membrillo.
Iberia complements their food with a well chosen wine list which really does showcase some good bottles. The 2014 Valdelosfrailes Prestigio stands out as a crisp and dry and the perfect accompaniment to the fish dish. After dinner, a trolley of digestifs is brought round as well as the usual tea and coffee.
Of course, one of the main benefits of travelling Business Class on long haul flights is the flat bed. This certainly makes a big difference and allows you to hopefully get a decent amount of sleep. The pillows and quilt were comfortable and in fact at times, the cabin was so warm that the covers were not necessary. This did mean that sleep did evade us at times but frankly this tends to be par for the course on so many flights as they struggle to get the temperature just right!
Breakfast on our flight was not quite as delicious as our evening meal but again I find that this is always the worst meal on any flight! That said, the fresh fruit, pastries and omelette were certainly the best versions I have eaten on a flight.
The business class difference on landing is obvious in that you are first off the plane, along with your luggage and sooner on to your luxury holiday. In addition, you are (hopefully) a little more rested and ready to go! Iberia business class is definitely worth it. The cabins are well-fitted, bright and comfortable, the service is smooth and efficient and the food very good, overall a wonderful way to start a luxury holiday to Latin America.
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