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What Is It Like to Fly Iberia’s Next-Gen Business Class?

Iberia's Airbus A350 fleet has embraced a transformative upgrade with its new 'Next' cabin

December 21, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Iberia

Setting out on a flight from Mexico City, I aimed to uncover whether the new cabins truly elevate the entire passenger experience. The new aircraft, which are slightly wider in the cabin than other A350s, have primarily been rolled out on Latin American routes, with destinations like Mexico City and Bogota to Madrid currently offering this new experience.

Check-In

While Terminal 1 of Mexico City might not evoke the grandeur of Terminal 2, it’s still perfectly easy to navigate. While busy at certain times of day, this early evening flight meant the check-in area wasn’t heaving. 

Iberia’s branding, however, certainly helped me find my way to the dedicated counters, with bright red and purple signage easily identifiable from a distance. 

Photo: Courtesy of Iberia

Check-in, though slightly disorganized, was quick, and boarding passes were issued before heading to the security line. On arrival at security, I noticed there was no fast track for business, so I opted to quickly ask for help, whereby a security staff member told me to head to Security Gate G, an otherwise unmarked Fast Track security line a few meters away, which provided a smoother security experience—often overlooked—but worth the detour.

Lounge Access

Iberia has a relationship with the Grand Lounge Elite in Mexico City, a small, two-floored lounge with a modest array of seating and food, options and a simple but staffed bar. Hot a la carte dishes are on offer, but with no windows and dim lighting, it’s not the best lounge by any stretch of the imagination.

Photo: Courtesy of Jonny Clark

Instead, across the way, there are a couple of Oneworld lounges, including American Airlines Admirals Club on the second floor, which is dated in décor but spacious, with a good range of simple yet heart-warming buffet options, a fully tendered bar and amazing sweeping views of the airport’s main runway.

While a far cry from Iberia’s hometown lounge in Madrid, this outstation served its purpose before boarding.

Boarding and Cabin Overview

Approaching the gate, at first, it looked like organized chaos, but this is partly because Terminal One is just a long corridor, and space is at a premium. However, the boarding zones were marked with Zone 1 for Business Class passengers situated directly in front of the boarding door. 

Being almost totally full, the call for Business Class boarding was slightly delayed as the ground crew tried to renegotiate seating arrangements to help put families together, a nice touch considering how many requests the ground crew was facing. About 10 minutes behind the boarding time, we stepped onboard.

Photo: Courtesy of Iberia

On entering Iberia’s Business Class, the most noticeable element was a sea of red screens that filled the otherwise subdued cabin with a vibrant touch. The introduction of doors to the seats stood out amidst the familiar 1-2-1 layout. The seats felt less open, and the aisles felt a little more cramped than the previous product, affording all the space they could to the seats. 

Wooden veneers and textured fabrics added depth and warmth, while removing center bins enhanced the spaciousness, albeit at the sacrifice of personal air vents.

The Seat

The seats – slightly narrower than the previous incarnation – yet spacious enough for comfort, transform into cozy, well-padded beds when reclined. 

In the center section, the electronic seat dividers and doors elevate privacy for solo travelers. However, some minor ergonomic hiccups were noticed with the seat controls and armrest design.

Photo: Courtesy of Iberia

Exploring the seat’s amenities revealed thoughtful details—from ample personal storage to decent noise-canceling headphones and versatile table configurations. 

The seats themselves, however, were just a little plain and ordinary, and it would have been lovely to see an injection of color as the layers of taupe and grey finishes dulled down what is the flag carrier of an otherwise vibrant, modern, and exciting culture.

Photo: Courtesy of Iberia

Does the seat improve the overall experience? In short, yes. There’s more ergonomics at play here, and the ability to customize your space with table and seat configurations makes nesting on long-haul flights a lot easier.

In-Flight Highlights

As well as welcome drinks, including sparkling wine, an extensive wine selection was on the menu with a delightful nod to Spanish flavors.

After take-off, the dimmed mood lights were brought up again to offer an evening meal, which included an array of tasty dishes, including a ceviche and beef tenderloin.

Photo: Courtesy of Jonny Clark

The organic tableware design is great, but I liked the Las Meninas-shaped salt and pepper shakers, which added some humor to the passenger experience, paying homage to the famous Spanish painter Velázquez.

Photo: Courtesy of Jonny Clark

But more important to highlight was the faultless service on this flight. The crew was engaged with the passengers and highly attentive, topping up glasses, suggesting wine pairings, and going above and beyond to make sure the passengers were well fed and looked after before the lights were once again dimmed and the seats were prepared for a good night’s sleep across the Atlantic.

Photo: Courtesy of Iberia

For those not wanting to sleep, the onboard entertainment system was highly comprehensive in movies, a slightly limited selection of TV shows, and brilliant onscreen games. However, the ARC Inflight map was the perfect accompaniment to send me to a blissful sleep.

Reflecting on the Journey

The restful sleep – aided by the airline’s innovative mattress topper – concluded about two hours before landing, when the cabin was slowly woken to a second meal service offering satisfying options like an omelet with sausage or pancakes and decent Nespresso coffees.

In conclusion, Iberia’s ‘Next’ cabin marks a significant leap forward, offering seamless functionality and comfort. While the cabin exudes a residential vibe, it might benefit from infusions of Spain’s vibrancy and colors. 

Despite these nuances, the flight proved enjoyable, positioning this revamped experience as a contender for future travels.