On the Ground: My early-evening departure meant the afternoon drive to New York’s JFK from Pennsylvania was uneventful, and I made good time. Check-in was a breeze, and before I knew it, luggage checked with ticket in hand, I was given directions to the lounge. The security line, located directly behind the Iberia check-in, offered premium access; I was traveling with a friend and we were both through security easily.
Pre-Flight: Iberia’s business-class passengers utilize the British Airways’ Galleries lounge. The spacious lounge offers spa services, free WiFi and multiple food and drink options. We settled into comfortable armchairs with glasses of Rosé and some snacks. I charged my electronics and accessed the Internet to work.
There wasn’t a boarding announcement, so we made our way down a few minutes before the designated boarding time on our ticket and were met by a massive crowd of people huddled around the gate. Luckily, we found a spot near the front and were able to bypass the crowds with priority boarding. A VIP passenger was escorted on the airplane first, and then the rest of us were permitted to board.
We were in the middle section of the 2-2-2 configuration, which meant we both had aisle access. The seats were generous and storage space ample. We settled in quickly and were offered pre-flight juices and water. Magazines and newspapers were distributed, but only in Spanish editions. Amenity kits and menus followed.
In-Flight: After an on-time takeoff (which I never expect from JFK), food service started. A number of well-known Spanish chefs created Iberia’s premium-cabin menu. My friend opted for the halibut and I chose the chicken. The starter included a salad and cheeses (my favorite part!) and we paired all with a Spanish white wine. A soup was also available, but I declined. The service included a basket of freshly baked bread as well as cake, coffee and after-dinner drinks. The meal on my return flight was more memorable, with a Spanish ham appetizer and decadent dulce de leche ice cream.
After dinner, the cabin lights dimmed and we prepared to rest. I settled in to watch Cloud Atlas, but I quickly found myself dozing. A number of TV shows and movies, including both blockbusters and Spanish films, were available. I continued to sleep intermittently throughout the eight-hour flight. It was a fitful sleep, as the cabin was incredibly warm. I’m usually freezing on planes, so this was unique. I woke up sweating and soon ditched the provided comforter. The lights came on about 90 minutes before landing, and the crew served a light breakfast of yogurt, fruit and pastries. We quickly disembarked upon landing in Madrid, and after navigating the massive airport and clearing immigration found the Metro and made our way into the city center.
The Experience: Iberia is in the midst of rolling out a new Business Plus cabin. I missed the start of the rollout by just a few weeks with my April flight; the upgraded cabin is currently offered on some flights out of New York City. Through 2013, passengers from any of Iberia’s U.S. gateways may find themselves on the current Business Plus. The new cabin should be on all flights by 2014. Whichever cabin you find yourself flying, you surely won’t be disappointed.
- Less than 10 minutes for check-in
- Friendly and helpful agents
- Priority tagged bags
- Airport lounge
- Complimentary in-lounge food
- Priority boarding
- Helpful and courteous flight attendants
- Pre-flight beverage service
- Pre-flight newspapers and magazines
- Extensive on-demand menu
- Self-serve in-flight pantry
- Amenity kits
- Lie-flat seat/bed
- Mattress and comforter
- In-flight menu with three entrée choices
- Top-shelf wines and liquors
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I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
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