This is my first trip report in airliners.net, I hope you enjoy it.
The flight data was as follows (off my memory);
Route: Madrid Barajas Airport - Montevideo Carrasco Airport
Equipment: Airbus A340-300
And so it started....
On arrival to Madrid Barajas Airport I proceeded directly to the first class check in desk in terminal one. As always there was no one in line and check in was smooth and efficient.
After the security control I took the elevator to the Iberia first class lounge which is a nice quiet area with showers, sleeping area, and comfortable sofas.
The lounge is well serviced with snacks and all kind of drinks. However, one does miss a more comprehensive offer of hot food. Unlike Cathay Pacific’s “The Wing”, Iberia’s lounge has no hot meals on offer for its costumers.
On the other hand, there is a fantastic wireless system in the lounge that allows all costumers to connect with their laptops to the internet with incredible ease. Of course internet access is available for those without laptops.
After a short while my flight to Montevideo was called for boarding and I proceeded to the gate which surprisingly was close by. Unfortunately Barajas airport has no double air bridges for large aircraft, although the new airport, expected to begin operations in mid 2005, will have several of them. So boarding did take a little while.
Once inside the aircraft, a wonderful Airbus 340/300, my coat was quickly taken by the flight crew and seconds later I was offered a glass of cava (Spanish champagne).
Shortly after, very complete amenity kits were offered (differentiated for men and women) plus excellent, noise reducing headsets. Since this was a 13 hour night flight, comfortable pajamas and hotel style slippers were distributed along with large pillows and warm blankets. A negative point is that crew members do not refer to passengers by name like in other world-leading airlines; however the captain does come out of his wonderful “cavern” to greet passengers which I consider a very rewarding ritual which not many airlines preserve.
International and domestic newspapers and magazines were offered. The A340 first class cabin is comfortable although, at least in my opinion not very tastefully decorated. Seats are large and very comfortable, reclining to nearly flat beds. Since first class is a shrinking market, Iberia operates its A340/300 fleet with a five seat configuration, making the cabin really welcoming and cozy.
The seats are not what we find on BA
, as they lack privacy, wood and leather but are very capable of offering a truly relaxing atmosphere and superb flight comfort.
The in-flight entertainment is where Iberia really falls behind. First class passengers find a small screen with a limited choice of films which repeat themselves all flight long, that is, not on demand. However video-walkmans are on offer with a good choice of films which slightly compensates for an overall, antiquated in-flight entrainment system.
Once airborne menus were offered and a full dinner service begun:
Iranian Sevruga Caviar
Smoked Salmon Rhea with Prune in Port Wine
Cream of Asparagus Soup
Palm Heart and Tomato Salad
“Thousand-Island” Creamy Dressing
Apple Vinegar Vinaigrette
Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary Sauce
Sole with White Wine and Coriander Sauce
Cheese-stuffed Chicken with Curry Sauce
Baked, Noisette and Steamed Potatoes
Plate of Cheeses
Seasonal Fresh Fruit
Walnut and Apple Cake
Custard Cream and Raspberry Ice-cream
Service was exquisite without being exaggerated. Flight attendants were, experienced and elder, but this poses no criticism, only praise. I was the only passenger in first class so attention was superb. The "sobrecargo" (head flight attendant) was a true proffesional and took personal care of me during the whole flight.
Passengers can choose any combination from the menu and a quick service is available, although on a 13 hour flight there really is no rush. The meal was complimented with a choice of two white wines and four reds. Iberia does fly with a rich, great quality wine cellar which adds greatly to its gastronomic service.
After watching a film, I changed into my pajamas and fell asleep for a good eight or nine hours only to awake to a nice warm cup of coffee along with a full breakfast service. Before this I did take a good few minutes to watch the mid atlantic night sky which was breath taking. We sometimes forget to appreciate the miracle of flight, and there are few better places to do so than from the dark and quiet cabin of an airliner in the middle of a cold night at 30000 ft.
Sauteed Bacon and Mushrooms
Potato Pancake with Corn
Fresh Orange Juice
Yogurt and Fresh Buns Butter, Jam and Custard Cream
Arrival was on time and since Montevideo’s Carrasco Airport is truly a small airport, and has no capability for docking large aircraft on its few air bridges, a bus shuttle was the only option. Iberia offers a special bus for its First and Business Class passengers.
On a negative point Iberia should take greater interest for its customers once they have left the aircraft with “fast-track” style service or arrival lounges. This is a big downside.
None the less and overall Iberia offers a truly first class product, considerably behind Cathay Pacific, British Airways or Singapore Airlines but certainly a flight in this cabin will be a delightful experience with very good service and food.
Seats and in-flight entertainment could do with a slight improvement although having said this; this cabin will shortly disappear and give way to the ever more common BusinessFirst.
So while you still can, give it a try, it surly will not disappoint you!
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed!
Well..... off to 2005 party!! Je, je....