On the Ground: My flight to Madrid involved an earlier connection to Chicago from Denver via American Airlines, and the transfer to the Iberia gate at Chicago O’Hare International Airport for my international flight was fast, pleasant and stress-free. Upon landing in Chicago, I was met by a gate attendant who had my boarding pass ready, enabling me to go directly to O’Hare’s Terminal 3 to relax in the lounge before departure. Iberia shares the Admirals Club Lounge in T3, and the space was a quiet refuge with a nice selection of light fare. Departures were clearly announced, and my gate was located conveniently adjacent to the lounge entrance.
Pre-Flight: Priority boarding enabled me to get comfortable well before takeoff. My flight’s brand-new (less than a month old) Airbus A330 wide-body aircraft was freshly painted with Iberia’s updated logo and included the newly configured Business Plus cabin. The cabin layout was 1-2-1, and while all the seats (located in independent pods) were roomy and private, my window seat seemed especially so. Once settled, I was offered a warm towel and my choice of juice or Champagne. Rather than having to leave my handbag stashed in the overhead compartment for takeoff, I found ample personal storage space with a seat-side compartment option and a second compartment located above the generously proportioned side table area.
Attendants delivered an amenity kit and headset and offered a good selection of magazines and newspapers. Before our taxi to the runway began, the flight’s purser introduced himself individually to each passenger in the cabin.
In-Flight: Once we were airborne, I immediately adjusted my seat to a comfortable recline and activated the back massage feature. The à la carte entertainment system included a large screen and handheld remote, both with touch screens. The system included 50 films, 78 television series, 12 games (some in 3D), 400 music albums and an entire set of selections just for children — more than enough to stay busy during the almost eight-hour flight. My seat was also equipped with a reading light and easy-to-reach electrical outlets with a USB and Apple connection for charging devices.
Dinner service commenced with a starter of chicken consommé, a green salad with Parmesan cheese shavings, warm bread and extra-virgin olive oil, and a cheese plate. I chose the main course of king prawns and scallops with a seafood sauce, pearl onions, green asparagus and roasted potatoes. Two other choices were available: a fresh vegetable sauté (vegetarian) and beef filet with mustard and beer sauce served with leeks and dried apricots. Dessert included slices of hazelnut cake and a selection of ice creams (including mango and pineapple).
The onboard menu was created by four of Spain’s top chefs, each of whom has two Michelin stars: Paco Roncero, Dani García, Toño Pérez and Ramón Freixa. The wines were as impressive as the food and included choices from top bodegas including Palacio de Bornos, Vina Real and Valduero. Other beverage selections included top-shelf alcohols, liqueurs, brandies and an excellent Castillo Perelada Brut Reserva D.O. Cava.
My seat extended to a fully flat position, and the large pillow and soft duvet helped create a relaxing and snug personal environment. I fell asleep watching Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade make a call to a feisty dame on a rotary phone in The Maltese Falcon and slept soundly for close to five hours. About an hour prior to landing, the crew served orange juice, fresh sliced fruit, yogurt, warm croissants and crispy toast, along with coffee and tea. I chose the Euro blend breakfast tea, although other interesting options included pennyroyal, chamomile with anise, and linden teas. After breakfast was cleared, the purser came through the cabin once again to chat with each passenger about his or her flight experience and to offer individualized information about connections in Madrid. As he knew that I was heading on to Málaga, he also presented me with the day’s weather report.
The Experience: I arrived rested and ready to begin my day. The entire experience with Iberia was exceptional, and I would quite happily fly with the carrier again the next time I head to Spain.
[item check=yes]Less than 10 minutes for check-in[/item]
[item check=yes]Friendly and helpful agents[/item]
[item check=yes]Priority tagged baggage[/item]
[item check=yes]Airport lounge[/item]
[item check=yes]Complimentary in-lounge food[/item]
[item check=yes]Priority boarding[/item]
[item check=yes]Helpful and courteous flight attendants[/item]
[item check=yes]Pre-flight beverage service[/item]
[item check=yes]Pre-flight newspapers and magazines[/item]
[item check=yes]Extensive on-demand entertainment[/item]
[item check=yes]Amenity kits[/item]
[item check=yes]Lie-flat seat/bed[/item]
[item check=yes]In-flight menu with three entrée choices[/item]
[item check=yes]Top-shelf wines and liquors[/item]
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