Iberia Express, Madrid to Tenerife
Iberia Express is an interesting business concept as it is the low-budget equivalent of Iberia, although it still offers the Business cabin similar to its main company, offering lounge access in Madrid and where possible elsewhere. This gives the Airline a great choice of business fares on flights to Tenerife and to London, although, it may appear expensive on routes such as Paris CDG Termibal 3 where there is no lounge offered and it is associated with other low-budget airlines. Because of this, the terminal has very little amenities with a cafe and a shop where you can buy drinks in Departures. That said, there are some great fares to be found here, and with its main company apart of the One World alliance, Avios can be used meaning some great fares can be found.
My flight with Iberia Express was from Madrid Barajas to Tenerife. I would say Madrid is not my favourite airport, and should be really thought about particularly if you are using Avios on flights to the Canary Islands and a direct connection is not available, as Iberia Express flights and Iberia and British Airways flights to London operate from different terminals. In all honesty, I am a comfortable traveller, but the return journey frazzled me as you have to get a train from one part of the Airport to another and as the connection was tight it was stressful, particularly as Iberia are known for closing the gate early and removing bags!
Booking was not an easy experience as the website is not clear. In fact, I made a mistake and it took Iberia over 2 months to refund the booking. Calling their call centre is not easy either, as the number detailed on their site did not connect.
Arriving at Madrid was easy, there is a designated check-in for Business passengers, which includes those flying with Iberia Express, and with lots of check-in desks it was easy to check-in without major queues. A further plus is fast -track security as well as access to Iberia’s flagship lounge. Now some people I know may just consider that is included in a fairly expensive fare, but not all the fares are that expensive and some bizarrely are cheaper than Economy if you plan ahead.
The lounge is laden with comfortable seats surrounded by different designated areas. For instance, food buffet, bar and showers (Unfortunately, I struggled to find the hot water) and not-so-bizarrely sleeping rooms! l know my friend Suse thought I was mad to, but I did give it a try! Well, I was doing a flight review and it is part of the package.
Separated from the main lounge by a corridor each room was closed off via a curtain. There was a bed pillow, no blanket (although, you could ask for these at the Lounge Reception) and calming music. It was surprisingly nice and I did get an hour’s kip!
When the flight was boarding, I quickly left the lounge as Madrid is complicated to pass through. So it wasn't surprising I did find the gate hard to find.
With a flight time of just under 3 hours, it was unusual to find such a small Business cabin with only the first three rows allocated to these travellers. It was also nice to see no official divide between Business and Economy which does look snobby.
What was a nice addition was the tumblers of chilled fresh orange juice served after takeoff to all Business class passengers. Quickly a bar service was served and I chose the Saphire Gin and Nordic mixer with Tonic. Even though I was sat in 1A, I loved the extra-leg-room Business provides so you could chill.
I loved the relaxed approach to this in-flight service. I appreciate it was a longer European flight time compared to others, meaning this can be done, but I have experienced a rushed approach to bar and meal service making it stressful, particularly with British Airways on similar journey times.
The meal was then served, which was really tasty. Typical with for longer One World European routes there were 3 courses - a salad starter, main course and cake desert along with bread, olive oil and butter. I really enjoyed the couscous salad; in all honesty I am not a fan of pork but the main offered (no option was given) was delicious with rice and asparagus. It was very-much restaurant food rather than just an airline meal.
After the apple cake I asked for a coffee and it was served swiftly with some biscuits on the side. There was also time for a further drink before landing in Tenerife. I also loved how each passenger was allocated their own crew member for the duration of the flight.
Overall, I think Iberia Express is an airline to watch in 2020 as they are going to go far. Their interesting business plan of combining low budget offerings similar to Jet2, Ryanair and EasyJet with the sophisticated business approach of Iberia at fair prices offers the customer choice. And with Iberia Express offering Reward Flights to British Airways Executive Club members there are so many opportunities at great prices here.