So after a trip flying around Europe on widebodies it was time to begin the journey home, and what better way to start it than Iberia’s daily A340 flight between Madrid and London. My day started at the Hilton Madrid Airport, a hotel which I’ve stayed at before and serves the needs of an airport layover well, however this time I decided to book the executive room, and was somewhat disappointed with the offering, the room itself was big enough but felt tired and badly designed, the executive lounge was also very poor.
With my flight leaving at 1545 that afternoon I checked out at lunch time and caught the free shuttle bus to T4, where after clearing security using the fast track area, which was nicely hidden away with plants and sofa’s as opposed to just being a separate lane like most airports I went directly to T4S from where my flight would be departing, I did this mainly because I’d heard some bad stories about huge lines at passport control over the last few days and whilst it was busier than normal it didn’t take much longer than 10 minutes to clear before I headed to the Iberia lounge. This time I would have no problems gaining access unlike my LATAM flight a few days previous and I spent a couple of hours watching a few episodes of family guy on my IPad before I left for the gate.
I arrived at gate S22 to see my beast of an aircraft being prepared for departure and it wasn’t to long to wait before boarding started, which today from a priority boarding side seemed fairly well managed by Iberia standards at least, my previous expirience with Iberia ground handling has often been poor. My first impression of the aircraft wasn’t great, the thing was red hot, and I wasn’t greeted at all by the crew as I boarded the aircraft. As I settled into to my seat menu cards, headsets and wifi vouchers for 4mb use of the onboard internet were distributed, however despite informing the crew member serving my side of the aisle that I didn’t speak Spanish she continued to speak to me in said language.
As boarding continued I had a play with the IFE system, which was a little sluggish and not hugely intuitive but did contain a good selection of entertainment, certainly enough to stave of boredom on a long haul flight. As we neared departure time the Capetian made a PA introducing himself along with the usual info and also informing that passengers admit turned p and they would be offloading they’re bags. Sitting in 3L I could see the bags being taken off and the hold closed hiwvernwe would remain on stand with no APU running and the aircraft red hot for a further 25 minutes with no reason given, but eventually we pushed back and made a slow taxi towards 14R where we performed the usual sluggish and long A340 take off run.
Once airborne we contained to track south in a shallow climb before eventually cleaning up and turning onto track, the initial climb itself was fairly bumpy until we reached higher altitudes, a this point I decided to try the IFE system with a few episodes of American Dad however the noise cancelling headphones made it sound like I was underwater so I switched to my own which worked perfectly.
Not long after take off the crew began the meal service, having already studied the menu card on the ground (which was a nice touch for a short haul flight) I decided to go for the pasta, giving the steak a miss as I’m quite particular when it comes to steak and often sceptical of it on planes. I was also pleased to see that the cabin manager would be serving my row and not the FA from the ground, this was a gentlemen of better times it was clear to see he had been in this game for a long time and his service was perfect. The meal also was very good and full of flavour, although the desert constituting of a toffee sauce jelly type thing was a little sickly. Along with the meal came a very nice white wine which complemented the pasta perfectly. Top marks to Iberia On my way now the catering.
After the meal service the tray were swiftly cleared away as soon as passengers had finished and tea or coffee was offered, I took a tea and then reclined my lie flat seat back and enjoyed the IFE system for the remainder of the flight as we cruised over the bay of biscay.
Throughout the cruise the crew proactively offered drinks refills until we began our initial descent towards London over t h English Channel. Arrival thisnafter noon would be onto 27L at LHR on an approach that would take us over the south coast before holding just south of Heathrow for one lap and then over the city before commencing our final approach, with the middle stages of the approaching being quite bumpy as we entered the holding pattern around a fairly thick layer of cloud towards the lower levels of altitude.
Final approach also gave me a good view of the BA maintenance area at LHR and a look at the Concorde which sits outside just before we hit the ground which actually took me a little by surprise as the A340-600 being so long the nose was still high in the air as the main gear touched down.