Review: Iberia (A350-900) Premium Economy Madrid to New York (MAD-JFK)

Iberia A350-900 Premium Economy cabin
Iberia A350-900 Premium Economy cabin

Read more from this trip – Thanksgiving in Florence:

Introduction

Flight Details:

  • Date of flight: December 1, 2019
  • Where: Madrid (“MAD”) to New York (“JFK”)
  • Flight time: 8 hours 30 minutes
  • Departure / arrival time: 4:40pm-7:10pm
  • Flight #: IB6253
  • Seat: 12D
  • Paid flight / points: Paid

I wasn’t able to check-in to my flight online and despite the Iberia agent’s best efforts in Florence airport check-in outside of Madrid didn’t work either. When I arrived in Madrid from Florence on Iberia 3439 I went straight to the rebooking desk. I was able to successfully check-in to my flight, but to my horror I found out that my pre-reserved seat with lots of legroom (11C) had been given away and I’d been rebooked into 12D.

I then made my way from Terminal 4 where most intra-European flights arrive to Terminal 4S where most long haul flights depart. Connecting between terminals only takes about 5-minutes via train, but requires you to clear Passport Control and security. There’s no fast track lane and on this particular day the lines were horrendous and it took over 45-minutes to make it through.

By the time I reached the gate the flight was already boarding. My bad luck continued when I had my boarding pass scanned. I was randomly selected for a super sexy security screening, which took about 15-minutes. By the time I made it on board business class was fully boarded and about half of the rest of the plane was settling in.

Cabin

Iberia’s A350-900 Premium Economy cabin is setup in a 2-4-2 configuration. The cabin has 24 recliner seats with 37 inches of pitch. The seats are narrow coming in at just 19″ wide, a mere inch more than economy.

Iberia A350-900 Premium Economy cabin - First Class Giraffe in-seat
Iberia A350-900 Premium Economy cabin – First Class Giraffe in-seat

Waiting at each seat is a flimsy pillow, blanket, low quality headphones and a bare bones amenity kit. The pillow and blanket are about what you would expect in domestic first class.

Amenities
Amenities

Recommended Seats

Seats 11A, 11C, 11J or 11L should be your first choice. They are located in the bulkhead and have significantly more legroom.

Iberia A35-900 seating configuration – Source: Expert Flyer
Iberia A35-900 seating configuration – Source: Expert Flyer

Below is a picture of seat 11C, which should have been mine. Why this gentleman was able to take a pre-reserved seat from a giraffe is still beyond comprehension. This giraffe took to Twitter to complain, but received an unsatisfactory response directing me to an online complaint form.

The guy who stole First Class Giraffe's seat
The guy who stole First Class Giraffe’s seat

Amenity Kit

Iberia’s Premium Economy amenity kits are basic. They’re Iberia branded and contain a pair of socks, eye mask, tooth brush and ear plugs in a hard plastic case. I do like the polka dot lining, but the I don’t see this zipper holding up on this pouch.

Iberia Premium Economy amenity kit
Iberia Premium Economy amenity kit

In-Flight Entertainment

The screens in premium economy are 12″ and have excellent resolution. The system features over 60 films in English, French, Italian and Portuguese. You can preview the films available on your flight here.

Each seat has both USB and standard US power ports, but neither worked at my seat. I found this truly surprising for such a new aircraft.

Iberia Premium Economy IFE
Iberia Premium Economy IFE

Service

I wasn’t welcomed when walking on board or directed to my seat. The service started with a choice of pre-departure beverage (“PDB”). The options were limited to water or orange juice.

Food and Beverage

No printed menus were offered, but I was given the choice of “meat or pasta.” I chose the meat, which I think was pork shoulder. Drink orders were taken and I requested a gin & tonic. The flight attendant informed me that he’d have to charge me for the gin, which I thought was strange for Premium Economy, but agreed to. He returned shortly after with my drink, but never actually charged me.

The meal was served on a single tray with real silverware. I also received a small bottle of red wine, which I didn’t order, but I’m not one to turn down wine. The pork was actually pretty good. It was juicy and tender. The sweet potatoes were pretty flavorful as well. The sad side salad consisted of just a few leaves of lettuce and seeds. There was a brownie for dessert, which was dry and lacked any flavor.

Meal service - dinner
Meal service – dinner

About an hour before landing flight attendants came around with a second meal. They didn’t explain what it was and just placed it on my tray table. From what I can gather it was some sort of chicken flatbread. It was cheesy, but flavorless. The side dishes seemed more appropriate for breakfast than dinner and included Oikos Greek yogurt and a Fontaneda digestive cookie.

Meal service - arrival
Meal service – arrival

Overall Verdict

First Class Giraffe Not Impressed

This was an awful flight. From my seat situation, to the surly flight attendants and broken power ports it was bad from start to finish. The highlight of this flight was the mystery pork. I hope this is a one-off as I’ve had much more positive experiences on Iberia in the past.

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