It was to be my first transatlantic Iberia flight and I was not looking forward to it (after having terrible experiences with them).
Arrival: 6:10 +1
The flight left from one of the gates right across immigration (can´t remember the number, though, and I don´t have my notes with me right now) so it was just a short walk from AA´s Admirals Club (which is the lounge used by IB for their premium class customers). The plane was boarded in approximately 15 minutes, which IMO was quite quick, as the flight was packed. The airplane was spotlessly clean inside, and it it was decorated (at least J class) wth some sketches by famous classical spanish painters (Murillo, for instance) which made the interior of the cabin look really classy. Unfortunately, IB is still using their same old coach seats which look rather outdated, and have no PTV´s.
The seats in J were of course better that their coach counterparts, although definitely nos as nice as the ones on CO´s Businessfirst (which is what I usually fly to Spain). Legroom was a little less, and the seats were not electronic, even though they had legrest/footrest which you had to push down. The seat itself was actually very comfortable while in the upright position (nice surprise).
There were two meal services: a lunch service right after take off and then breakfast before arriving in MAD. Even though you could choose from three main dishes, the three choices were offered to you from a cart where they were already served. (In this area, even though the food was quite good, CO´s BF meal service was clearly superior). Where IB beats US carriers, however, is in their cheese offerings, as they offer Spanish cheeses (un cabrales de cojones!!!) which US carriers normally don´t.
The flight was a longish 10:40 minutes, which was almost an hour longer than my last flight there on a 742 (9 hours and 45 minutes). I guess it has to do with the 340´s slightly slower cruise speed (at some moment in the flight we were flying at a very slow 788 km/h). The flight was smooth as silk without the slightest hint of turbulence, not even while landing at MAD. In fact, the seat belt sign was turned off right after take-off and was not turned on again, not once, until our final descent into MAD. Although this flight was quite an improvement over their flights on their old 747, I would have loved to see IB go for the 744 instead of the 343 and 346, but I much prefer a new 340 to a really old 747.
The cabin crew were polite, although a bit cold (maybe a few smiles would help?), although they were definitely better than my previous flights with IB (quite an improvement).
The IFE selection in J class (or in coach, for that matter) was a lot more interesting than the old made-for-tv movies that CO has been showing lately on many of their flights and all the channels in the J class ptv´s were working properly (something which I´ve never seen on CO, not even on their 777 when they were two weeks old).
So, would I pick IB for a transatlantic flight again if I was flying J? Well, much as I hate to admit it and based on this experience, I definitely would. Now, coach, that´s another matter. I would much rather fly another airline with "winged" headrests (to me, they make the difference between sleeping for a couple of hours or not sleeping at all).
I´m looking forward to the return trip which is scheduled to be on their 340-600.
IB MAD-OVD July 20, 2003
This was my fourth time on a CRJ and I must say I do prefer the ERJ (although the CRJ looks nicer on the outside). The low windows make me a little claustrophobic after a while. This flight was uneventful, and we were served breakfast (some pastries and coffee). It sure beats the bag of pretzels I was served on a lunchtime 1:50 minute-long ERJ CO Express MEX-IAH flight a month ago (also, there was no "you´re not welcome near the cockpit" PA announcement).
And the FA´s (there was 2 of them) had clean uniforms.