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Transport : Airlines

Related: Airbus, Iberia

On January 2nd 2017, I flew Business Class on Iberia on an Airbus A330-300 from Madrid-Barajas International Airport (MAD) in Spain to O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in South Africa. Iberia operates an impressive international network from Madrid dominating the market for flights between Europe and South America and it has recently added direct flights to key Asian and African cities, such as Johannesburg. In 2010, Iberia merged with British Airways, although both airlines keep flying under their own and well-known brand names.

Pre-boarding, I had access to the Iberia VIP Velazquez Business Lounge at Madrid airport.

Business Class Cabin

Iberia’s Airbus A330-300 planes are equipped with two Business Class cabins: a large cabin which seats 28 passengers in front of the plane (behind the cockpit) and a smaller, more intimate cabin with just 8 seats in front of the 242 seat Economy Class cabin. Both cabins are separated from each other by a galley. This is a different layout than the one you find on Iberia’s A330-200 planes where all 19 Business Class flat-bed seats are located in one cabin.

The A330-300 features Iberia’s latest Business Class product (in contrast to some of the carrier’s older A340 planes, which are still equipped with an inferior product). The cabin features Iberia’s signature bright-red colour on the tv screens as you board, which contrasts nicely with the soft grey colours of the seat cushions, tray table, and storage cabinets. The colourful pillows add a nice touch. The seat themselves are Solstys-style, fully lie flat seats placed in 1-2-1 configuration, which means that all seats face forward and that every passenger has access to the aisle, even when all seats are reclined. Note that this seating pattern means that middle pairs and window seats have a few inches/cm more length in bed mode than their aisle counterparts. This is a similar product like the one you find on Etihad, Air Berlin, and Alitalia.

Click here for a seat map of Iberia’s A330-300.

Business Class Seat and The Best Seat To Choose

The Business Class seat features a generous pitch of 78 inch (198 cm) and width of 26 inch (66 cm). In front of the seat, below the large entertainment screen , is an ottoman, which becomes part of the flat-bed (when the seat is reclined) and which allows you to extend your legs as much as you like to. The seat itself has an adjustable back and shoulder pillow with massage function. At the push of a button, the seat can be reclined into a fully and very comfortable flatbed of 78 inch (200 cm), including the footrest.

The seat’s side features the seat and inflight entertainment controls, the power supply and some cabinets to store your smaller items. The tray table is attached to the back of the seat in front of you; the table can also be moved out-of-the-way to enable you to get up, without disturbing the contents.

What are the best Business Class seats on Iberia’s A330-300?

Solo travellers should choose the window seats which are A & L seats. You will feel very exposed in the C & J seats, which are more located along the aisle than the window. Couples and good friends should go for one of the so-called ‘honeymoon’ middle seats (seat E and G on rows 1, 3, 5, 7 and 8).

The seats in the smaller Business Class cabin (rows 7 and 8) enjoy a more intimate ambience.

What are the worst Business Class seats on Iberia’s A330-300?

Seats in row 1 and 7 may suffer from some noise from the galley and toilet. I also suggest to avoid the last row of Business Class, row 8, which is in front of the Premium Economy bassinet seats.If you are traveling solo, you don’t want to be seated in one of the honeymoon seats, since here, you are right by the passenger beside you. In case you end up here, there is a divider that you can raise for added privacy.

The C & J windows seats face into the aisle and are not as private as the A & L window seats.

Amenity Kit

Stylish amenity kits are handed out by the cabin crew to Business Class passengers when boarding is completed. They are well stocked for Business Class: socks, ear plugs, eyeshades, toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, a couple of hairbands, L’Occitane en Provence Spa products, and a shoebag. Each seat also comes with a comfortable blanket, a decently sized pillow, and noise cancelling headphones. I have outlined which airlines have the best amenity kits separately.

In-Flight Meals

The Business Class food was great during the flight, in both the service and presentation. The dinner menu read as follows:

Starter:
Warm bread and extra virgin oil.
Consommé.
Fresh shoot salad with feta cheese brunoise and semi-dried tomatoes.
Balsamic vinegar of PEdro Ximenz vinaigrette.
Foie-gras terrine with curly endive, pomegranate and fig jam.
Tronchon sheep’s cheese with Santa Terese quince jelly and grapes.

Main course:
Salmon and spinach in puff pastry with creamy dill sauce.

Dessert:
Triple chocolate cake.

Iberia Breakfast:
Plain omelette.
Smoked boiled ham and chicken cold nut.
Toasts and extra-virgin olive oil.
Orange juice.
Seasonal fresh fruit.
Yoghurt.
Croissant, butter, jam.
Coffee and herbal teas.

Entertainment

Iberia’s inflight entertainment system is substantial with more than 60 films in different languages, covering a variety of genres from comedy, drama and cartoons through to action and suspense, as well as Spanish cinema. There are also up to 98 options including TV series (Spanish and international), documentaries and sports, technology and travel programmes.. There are also over 200 music options. Iberia’s new A330 long-haul aircraft are also equipped with WiFi and GSM network, so you can stay connected by satellite with your personal device. Business Class passengers get a voucher for a complimentary 4MB of data.

Iberia Bar

After dinner, a small walk-up bar is set up in the galley between the two Business Class cabins. It features wrapped sandwiches, chocolates, fruits, drinks, and bottles of water.

Conclusion

Iberia recently introduced this new Business class product on their longhaul fleet, which offers excellent food, seat and inflight entertainment. Of course, the Middle East Airlines; Emirates, Etihad and Qatar offer a better Business Class product, but they only offer routes to South Africa via their hubs in the Middle East, see my review of Emirates Dubai to Cape Town.. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic also fly to South Africa from the UK.

Iberia