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]
The UNESCO World Heritage neighborhood of Balat rivals İstanbul’s Old City for its historic significance, with an added splash of color. Its cobbled hilly streets boast a full rainbow of houses, cafés, restaurants and churches painted in pinks, reds, oranges, yellows, greens and blues — parts even surpassing my native San Francisco’s steep, colorful corridors. The most vibrant stretch of homes, dating anywhere from 50 to 200 years old, runs along Kiremit Caddesi.
United Airlines remains firmly committed toward sustainability in aviation. The latest development in its eco-conscious goals includes working with Oxy Low Carbon Ventures to commercialize the production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) with biotech firm Cemvita Factory. Cemvita looks to develop a revolutionary new way to produce SAF by using carbon dioxide and synthetic microbes. Additionally, United Airlines Ventures (UAV) recently announced an equity investment in Fulcrum, and United has invested more in SAF production than any other airline in the world.
Icelandair recently announced its newest North American gateway: Detroit, Michigan. The seasonal flights begin May 18, 2023, taking off from Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport to Reykjavik (KEF), Iceland. The four weekly, non-stop flights will run through Oct. 30, 2023. Flight 872 departs Detroit for Iceland Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, at 8:30 p.m., on a 160-seat Boeing 737MAX. The return, from Reykjavik to Detroit, departs 5 p.m. on the same days of the week, arriving at 6:25 p.m.
If your personal travel nirvana involves fabulous scenery and a snappy, reviving hike in bracing winter air, Bannikin Travel & Tourism hopes to make your dreams come true with a selection of new winter walking itineraries in Scotland (other trip options are available in England and Ireland). Here’s what you can look forward to in 2023:
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ISN’T IT TIME? It's time to treat yourself to the vacation you deserve, and Celebrity Cruises® offers the perfect escapes. With an award-winning fleet of ships that sail to more than 300 destinations around the world, Celebrity will take you almost anywhere you want to go in style. Enjoy stunning staterooms and suites, culinary experiences imagined by Michelin-starred chefs and intuitive service. Celebrity makes sure your vacation is effortless from the start, which is why drinks, WiFi and tips are Always IncludedSM on every sailing.
Palm Springs became a destination of legend when Hollywood’s biggest and brightest during cinema’s “Golden Age” turned the desert community into their glamourous backyard. While restaurants and hotels epitomizing definitive Palm Springs luxury open, adapt and change with the times, it says something that one of its hottest restaurants sets up an outpost back in Los Angeles. And that’s exactly what chef Michael Beckman and restaurateur Joe Mourani did on the southern tip of the always-evolving Fairfax District.