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Iberia Express MAD-ALC-MAD  
User currently offlineidlewildchild From United States of America, joined Nov 2011, 166 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 5 months 4 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 9224 times:

Sorry for the lack of pictures but wanted to quickly throw this in to get the IB Express conversation progressed with the hope feedback gets to old Willie W.

I2(I2 is the code for IB Express)2418 / 20APR
MAD-ALC
STD: 11:50
ATD: 12:20
STA: 13:00
ATA: 13:20
Business Class, Seat 2A

Just had arrived on IB6250 JFK-MAD (will likely do separate trip report as I have pictures for that), had a shower and rest up in the IB Business Plus lounge in T4, one of my favorite in the world for it's openness and quiet room with nice sleeper loungers which I took advantage of.

Typical IB gate nonsense for this trip. Delayed, no announcements, late posting of delayed departure. Aircraft arrives late and then boarding is called. No pre-boarding for anyone but families. J passengers guiltily push our way forward.

Immediate reaction to cabin is an overwhelming feeling of being cramped. Stow my carry on and seat in 2A, supposedly business class seating. Felt like no more than 31" pitch. I couldn't believe IB/I2 were calling the seat business class. The crew were clearly all new, young and beautiful, women and the men. No doubt a tier less in salary but very proud to be working for IB Express.

Aside from the horrendous leg room the service was excellent with cocktails and a snack served with great attention to detail and customer service.

Landed at ALC late (so much for the much touted 100% on-time record they've been trying to sell). Bags down quickly (separate area since I was international transfer at MAD).

ALC-MAD
I2 (forgot flight number)
STD: 13:35
ATD: 13:45
STA: 14:50
ATA: 14:50

Check-in. Where do I begin? I arrived 3 hours prior to flight as I normally do for this trip. My cousins fly Monarch to Manchester who, as it happens, are checked in by IB staff for a 12:10 departure (ZB683 I believe). Normally an IB person, whether working the Monarch flight or another, will take me, seeing I'm an IB J class passenger (I'm assuming they'd do same for Y class passengers), check me in and send me on my way. Not anymore folks. I was told by the IB agent I asked to check me in to go see the manager. Stunned I went to the manager and was told now that we are IB Express at ALC we only check-in 2 hours before flights per IB Express rules.

Needless to say that wouldn't work for me as I wanted to go through with my cousins and spend time with them before they boarded their 12:10 flight. I had a 5-7 minute back/forth with the IB (I guess now IB Express?) manager when he said, "OK, I will do you a favor and ask one of the agents to check your bag). Folks, I paid over $2k for this ticket and it was about 2 hours 45 mins before departure. He then left his ticket booth, went to the agent who had rudely told me to go away and said, 'as a favor to me,please check this person in to Madrid and JFK." Clearly perturbed she tagged my bag (all of 15 seconds), entered my passport info (15 seconds), issued 2 boarding passes (15 seconds), handed it to me and put her head down. Entire thing was 90 seconds, I timed it.

My cousins watched in disbelief what I had to do to check-in for a trans-atlantic business class flight... in any event, the message was very very clear from the former IB staff, now IBE staff. We no longer do what we used to normally because we're told differently around customer service when it comes to checking passengers in. 2 hours is the new rule. So what used to be standard fare for IB at non - MAD cities where they had a presence in checking in pretty much all day is now, along with decent leg room in business class, a thing of the past.

The new F/As in their shiney grey and red uniforms were lovely. The meal service in J an improvement over previous IB but the ground service and seating is horrendous.

As you can tell I was quite underwhelmed with Iberia Express. I looked back to see the seating in the rear was even worse, probably someting akin to 30" in pitch. One thumb up for the crew and service, one thumb way down for the ground staff and seating which makes it two thumbs down overall. I'm unimpressed Mr. Walsh.

14 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineWidebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 613 posts, RR: 16
Reply 1, posted (2 years 5 months 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 9059 times:

Hey there idlewildchild. Thanks for sharing this with us. It's always amusing (to me) to read about other people's IB experiences because they invariable involve incidents that lead to disbelief.

Quoting idlewildchild (Thread starter):
Typical IB gate nonsense for this trip. Delayed, no announcements, late posting of delayed departure.

Quite typical I would say... At least they are consistent...

Quoting idlewildchild (Thread starter):
Aside from the horrendous leg room the service was excellent with cocktails and a snack served with great attention to detail and customer service.

If there is one thing (and one thing only) that IB is good at that would be the food they offer. The crew is usually a hit or a miss (usually a miss) but the food is definitely above average.

Quoting idlewildchild (Thread starter):
Needless to say that wouldn't work for me as I wanted to go through with my cousins and spend time with them before they boarded their 12:10 flight. I had a 5-7 minute back/forth with the IB (I guess now IB Express?) manager when he said, "OK, I will do you a favor and ask one of the agents to check your bag). Folks, I paid over $2k for this ticket and it was about 2 hours 45 mins before departure. He then left his ticket booth, went to the agent who had rudely told me to go away and said, 'as a favor to me,please check this person in to Madrid and JFK." Clearly perturbed she tagged my bag (all of 15 seconds), entered my passport info (15 seconds), issued 2 boarding passes (15 seconds), handed it to me and put her head down. Entire thing was 90 seconds, I timed it.

So all in all the problem was not operational (i.e. with their system being blocked out or something), it is out of choice that they don't allow check-in that early. Quite unacceptable for someone flying business in my opinion. But hey, it's IB we are talking about.

Thanks again. I hope your TATL segments with IB were good. Looking forward reading them,

WideBodyroga



Visit my aviation page: http://widebodyroga.weebly.com/
User currently offlineCarfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1936 posts, RR: 8
Reply 2, posted (2 years 5 months 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 8974 times:

Thanks for the quick report!

I am indeed very concerned about the seating issues especially if they continue to sell business class products. Veuling does not look too bad compared to the new IBX.

Thanks again and I know what not to book in the near future!

Carfield


User currently offlineGatoVolador From Spain, joined Apr 2007, 435 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 8162 times:

Quoting idlewildchild (Thread starter):

Thanks for your posting, which is the very first trip related to Iberia Express. I also flew them on a AGP-MAD segment and I share most of your comments. Let me go step by step:

Quoting idlewildchild (Thread starter):
Sorry for the lack of pictures but wanted to quickly throw this in to get the IB Express conversation progressed with the hope feedback gets to old Willie W.

Just an introductory remark. Willie Walsh is the CEO of the holding company called IAG, not the CEO of BA / IB / I2. IAG is in charge of some centralised functions, but they do not interfere with the operations of the airlines. I don't think WW or IAG worry too much about Iberia or Iberia Express as long as they financially perform well and that IAG shareholders get the expected revenues.

Iberia Express is a 100% Iberia (Lineas Aéreas de España, S.A., Operadora) affiliate with its own managers. If somebody has to care about your opinion it is not WW, but Luis Gallego (the CEO of I2) or Rafael Sánchez-Lozano (the CEO of the parent company, Iberia, which is transferring most its short & medium haul flights).

Quoting idlewildchild (Thread starter):
Just had arrived on IB6250 JFK-MAD (will likely do separate trip report as I have pictures for that)

I look forward to read it!

Quoting idlewildchild (Thread starter):
Typical IB gate nonsense for this trip. Delayed, no announcements, late posting of delayed departure.

If I had to highlight something positive about Iberia Express, I'd say that it is punctuality. They are working "à la Clickair", which ended up being the most punctual airline in the European Union. It's a pity that you did not take advantage of their punctuality. On average, they had a 96% punctuality rate during their first month of operations, which is very high for an airline supposed to work on a hub environment. Punctuality is part of the new plan to revamp T4 in MAD as a international hub.

In spite of the previous remark, I do agree that in Spain delays are poorly managed. In my opinion, it's an AENA issue, because they are reluctant to pre-assign gates 24h before the flight. This means that you normally have to wait until the inbound aircraft arrives, and then the gate is posted on the screens. If the flight is late, you never have a gate to go and wait, you don't have ground employees assisting passengers, etc. On top of that, it's true that the screens are not duly updated with information.

Quoting idlewildchild (Thread starter):
Immediate reaction to cabin is an overwhelming feeling of being cramped. Stow my carry on and seat in 2A, supposedly business class seating. Felt like no more than 31" pitch. I couldn't believe IB/I2 were calling the seat business class.

I flew IB and I2 business class, and I'm still not sure whether they have the same pitch or not. For sure it is not 31", but I don't know if they have the regular 34". My guess it that they have 34", but that the business class cabin is so small (2,5 rows) that you may feel more cramped than in a 5 or 6 business class cabin.

Quoting idlewildchild (Thread starter):
The crew were clearly all new, young and beautiful, women and the men. No doubt a tier less in salary but very proud to be working for IB Express.

Athough I tend to think that IB cabin crews are pleasant, I agree that Iberia Express hired employees that feel "privileged" for being working there. It's an Iberia Regional Air Nostrum style.

Quoting idlewildchild (Thread starter):
Check-in. Where do I begin? I arrived 3 hours prior to flight as I normally do for this trip. My cousins fly Monarch to Manchester who, as it happens, are checked in by IB staff for a 12:10 departure (ZB683 I believe). Normally an IB person, whether working the Monarch flight or another, will take me, seeing I'm an IB J class passenger (I'm assuming they'd do same for Y class passengers), check me in and send me on my way. Not anymore folks. I was told by the IB agent I asked to check me in to go see the manager. Stunned I went to the manager and was told now that we are IB Express at ALC we only check-in 2 hours before flights per IB Express rules.

I did not understand..., do you mean that the IB employee handling the Monarch flight refused to tag your bags and print your boarding passes? If so, I don't think it is a bad response. Iberia Airport Services is a handling company that manages Iberia and its group (Iberia Regional-Air Nostrum, Iberia Express, and Vueling), but also many other traditional and low-cost carriers. Each client (airline) hires Iberia Airport Services to perform a given service (for example, out of BCN, Vueling hires 2 check-in desks which open 120 minutes prior to the departure and close 45 min before). For obvious reasons, you cannot just take any Iberia Airport Services employee at random, because one airline (i.e.: Monarch) would be "subsidizing" an another airline. (Keep in mind that Monarch may even use a different check-in software, and that the employee should switch it to assist the passenger of an another airline).

The problem is that Iberia / Iberia Express / Iberia Regional Air Nostrum use a pool system out of MAD. There are so many flights that there are permanent desks open that handle any passenger. You may have a flight at 6 pm and you can check-in at 9 am. In the past, they used to have this system virtually everywhere, because Iberia had flights all the day round. Then, they started fragmenting their operations. The BCN flights were handed out to Clickair (now Vueling), and now it happened the same to MAD with Iberia Express. This means that out of MAD, you have to use the dedicated check-in desks.

I don't think this is bad. Many airlines use this "dedicated counters" system. However, I agree that they should merge everything and have a permanent Iberia desk handling all the flights of the group, including Iberia Express. They will not do that because of the costs. Iberia Express will not pay an "all day" counter. They just hire Iberia Airport Services for a two hours service and that's it. Like that, Iberia and Air Nostrum have their own handling costs, Iberia Express too, and so on. Each airline pays its own costs, and costs are reduced as much as they can.


User currently offlineZaphodB From United States of America, joined Jan 2012, 77 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 7781 times:

The IB check-in area at the new terminal in ALC is a mess. In the old terminal they had the 3 counters at the far left end by the escalators and the queues moved extremely fast. The new '2 hour rule' you ran in to is ridiculous given that you were an IB mainline TATL pax ... and the IB OLCI never works for me when I'm flying MIA-ALC. I can't wait  

On the plus side the new lounge at ALC is much more airy and spacious.

In my experience on IB shorthaul the seat pitch seems to get progressively worse as you get towards the back - I'm pretty sure its sub 30" in the last few rows on the 319s (and not much better on the 320/321) whatever the website or seat guru says. Sounds like they just made it worse up front too - the 321s at least used to be fine up to at least row 10.

Funny you mention the attractiveness of the crew ... my parents noticed that on their Air Nostrum operated ALC-MAD-ALC flights when they came over to MIA in the winter.

The Boarding Scrum ... welcome to Spain   Gotta take the rough with the smooth I'm afraid. I still love the place.

Last time I was at ALC it looked like AENA was forcing FR to use jetbridges like they do at MAD ... at the old terminal(s) at ALC this was not the case. Maybe there's something positive to be said for those notoriously officious officials after all.


User currently offlineZaphodB From United States of America, joined Jan 2012, 77 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 7578 times:

Yikes ... the IBEX website says the business class seat pitch is 30" ... but ... it also says 86cm which is closer to 34".

User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 30
Reply 6, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 7134 times:

Hi JFKchild (if I may use this pun  ),

Very nice to read about your first experiences with IB Express - I've been waiting for someone to write up their impressions on the new controversial carrier. Shame about not having any pictures, but I guess you can't have everything - and Spain is quite notorious for making aviation photography rather difficult, at least inside the planes!

From your description Ibex sounds quite close to the old Iberia - crap legroom, sometimes nice, sometimes whacky staff and a mediocre ground handling experience. The biggest problem here seems to be that IB does market these low cost style flights as their own which partly creates unrealistic experiences like your stupid check in opening time one and especially when they sell also business class tickets for the Ibex flights. They should at least fix up their booking site to warn of such shenanigans, but that of course doesn't help when you book through other channels etc.

Finnair has announced plans to do something similar to cut costs on their European feeder traffic, it will be very interesting to see how Ibex gets off the ground and if AY makes the same mistakes they did. I just hope this cancer won't spread onto the other half of the IAG - BA still is and always has been a world class carrier with excellent service, no matter long haul or short haul and I'd very much like to keep it that way!

Quoting idlewildchild (Thread starter):
No doubt a tier less in salary but very proud to be working for IB Express.

Well I think they are proud to be working, period. With an unemployment rate around 25% in Spain these days anyone (especially young persons) who has a job is very proud and happy about it!


User currently offlinereifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1364 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 7007 times:

Thanks for sharing your Iberia Express experience. Nice to read the crews are doing well. I guess this is important, but the rest should be fine as well, goes without saying.

Quoting idlewildchild (Thread starter):
Just had arrived on IB6250 JFK-MAD (will likely do separate trip report as I have pictures for that)

Really looking forward to this one!


User currently offlineidlewildchild From United States of America, joined Nov 2011, 166 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 6587 times:

Quoting GatoVolador (Reply 3):
I flew IB and I2 business class, and I'm still not sure whether they have the same pitch or not. For sure it is not 31", but I don't know if they have the regular 34". My guess it that they have 34", but that the business class cabin is so small (2,5 rows) that you may feel more cramped than in a 5 or 6 business class cabin

I flew A320/IB same route in December, pre IBE and it was definately 34". Trust me, IBE is not anywhere near 34", if it's 31" it's a lot. And don't bother with 2D/2F at the bulkhead. Your feet hit the wall. Fortunately 3F was free so I jumped back a row. Also, the IB/A320 had 3 rows also so it's apples to apples and trust me folks, the seating in business class on IBE is 31" and a scam for those that buy business class primarily for the extra room.

Quoting GatoVolador (Reply 3):
I don't think this is bad. Many airlines use this "dedicated counters" system. However, I agree that they should merge everything and have a permanent Iberia desk handling all the flights of the group, including Iberia Express. They will not do that because of the costs. Iberia Express will not pay an "all day" counter. They just hire Iberia Airport Services for a two hours service and that's it. Like that, Iberia and Air Nostrum have their own handling costs, Iberia Express too, and so on. Each airline pays its own costs, and costs are reduced as much as they can.

Don't think you understand what happened. The problem was at Alicante and the IB staff have a new rule for 2 hour check-in. I arrived 3 hours early joining my family who happened to be departing on Monarch, who Iberia also check in. This new 2 hour rule not only seemed odd for a trans-atlantic business plus passenger considering there were 3 completely not busy staff at counters, the (old) Iberia staff, now IBE I guess (though uniforms still read Iberia) are filled with resentment and clearly show it!

Quoting ZaphodB (Reply 4):

Last time I was at ALC it looked like AENA was forcing FR to use jetbridges like they do at MAD ... at the old terminal(s) at ALC this was not the case. Maybe there's something positive to be said for those notoriously officious officials after all.

FRs pulled a bunch of their flights because they refuse to go to a jet bridge. Don't want to pay for it or waste the time with pushbacks, etc.

Quoting ZaphodB (Reply 5):
Yikes ... the IBEX website says the business class seat pitch is 30" ... but ... it also says 86cm which is closer to 34".

Felt more like 31" but definately 30" in the back, I could tell by looking and cold feel it like a can of sardines. Horrendous even for international passengers travelling in Y to have to put up with that, even for an hour, say coming from a 10+ hour South American transatlantic.


User currently offlineTalaier From Spain, joined May 2008, 490 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 6324 times:

I'm flying them to Mykonos in July... looks set to be interesting! Thanks for the report!

User currently offlineBrianDromey From Ireland, joined Dec 2006, 3922 posts, RR: 9
Reply 10, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 6296 times:

Quoting idlewildchild (Reply 8):
This new 2 hour rule not only seemed odd for a trans-atlantic business plus passenger considering there were 3 completely not busy staff at counters, the (old) Iberia staff, now IBE I guess (though uniforms still read Iberia) are filled with resentment and clearly show it!

From their point of view you were no different to the point-to-point traveller, or someone with an connection flying in Economy. I hate to sound like an arse, but the check-in operation and rules are listed on the website, what happend in the past, with a different airline, is irrelevant.
I think Iberia staff at ALC are still Iberia of old, as has been pointed out I2 simply buy handling from Iberia Services, they are only paying for 2 hours before the flight, so that is what they get. It would seem that the long-term plan may be that I2 will contract ground handling wherever possible.



Next flights: MAN-ORK-LHR(EI)-MAN(BD); MAN-LHR(BD)-ORK (EI); DUB-ZRH-LAX (LX) LAX-YYZ (AC) YYZ-YHZ-LHR(AC)-DUB(BD)
User currently offlineZaphodB From United States of America, joined Jan 2012, 77 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 6282 times:

Quoting idlewildchild (Thread starter):
I think Iberia staff at ALC are still Iberia of old, as has been pointed out I2 simply buy handling from Iberia Services

I suspect 'Iberia of old' probably doesn't operate any actual flights out of ALC at this point: Madrid = IBEX, Barcelona = Vueling, everywhere else = Air Nostrum, no? Are the ground handling staff applying the IBEX 2 hour rule to Vueling and Nostrum passengers or is this just a special favour to the folks who will soon be able to ride the AVE to Atocha and stick 2 fingers up at IBEX?


User currently offlineidlewildchild From United States of America, joined Nov 2011, 166 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day ago) and read 5781 times:

Quoting BrianDromey (Reply 10):
From their point of view you were no different to the point-to-point traveller, or someone with an connection flying in Economy. I hate to sound like an arse, but the check-in operation and rules are listed on the website, what happend in the past, with a different airline, is irrelevant.
I think Iberia staff at ALC are still Iberia of old, as has been pointed out I2 simply buy handling from Iberia Services, they are only paying for 2 hours before the flight, so that is what they get. It would seem that the long-term plan may be that I2 will contract ground handling wherever possible.

Following this logic means a complete disconnection between and IB Business Plus trans-atlantic passenger and the same passenger travelling IBE. Idiotic business model and as soon as there's some kind of competition, bye bye Iberia and Iberia Express.


User currently offlineditzyboy From Australia, joined Feb 2008, 721 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (2 years 5 months 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 4893 times:

It seems unfair of you to berate staff for following the rules of their employer.

User currently offlineidlewildchild From United States of America, joined Nov 2011, 166 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (2 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 4229 times:

Not berating staff, berating IB business model that has staff behave this way.

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