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
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group announced plans to take over an existing hotel in Switzerland. The property is undergoing extensive renovations in preparation to open at the end of next year as Mandarin Oriental Palace, Luzern. The property was previously Hotel Palace Luzern, on the shores of Lake Lucerne and in the heart of the city; it originally opened in 1906.
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As part of Germany’s climate package, a plan to reduce emissions, the country will raise departure taxes at German airports. Taxes will go up as much as 60 percent, and are expected to raise up to €740 million. The funds will then be used to lower VAT on rail fares from 19 percent to 7 percent.
TAP Air Portugal is adding 15 new weekly flights from the United States and Canada by summer 2020, a new record for the carrier of 71 weekly flights between North America and Portugal.
Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, ahead of its naming ceremony Nov. 21. The 1,100-foot-long ship boasts a guest capacity of nearly 4,000. Since Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of the shi, Oct. 30, Norwegian Encore sailed from Germany to England before making its way to New York City, then Miami, where the christening ceremony takes place next week.
Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.