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Flight Check: Iberia Airlines Business Class Madrid, Spain-Chicago, USA

Iberia new Business Plus flat-bed seat
Iberia new Business Plus flat-bed seat
Iberia

Arrival Experience: Navigating Madrid's new terminal four can be daunting for some, but the signage is easy to follow. My booking did not pull up on the kiosk, and agents at the desk were unable to help unless you had checked bags and had already used the kiosk. Still, a sympathetic agent eventually assisted me without having to wait long, and I was on my way. T4 is comprised of two separate concourses connected by a train system. Most intercontinental flights require taking the train to the second concourse, and a series of escalators must be taken to reach the train. What may seem like a maze to some is really a simple process that had me in the business class lounge less than 20 minutes after passing immigration and taking the train to the satellite terminal.

Lounge: Iberia's business class lounge features a stunning wall of windows that looks out onto the runway and taxiway. It is an aviation geek's dream as dozens of foreign carriers taxi to and fro in addition to half of Iberia's fleet as its flights head across the European continent or across the oceans. On offer was a fine buffet that featured everything from eggs and ham to fresh fruit and cereal given the morning hour. However, the spread changed midway through my stay to revel canapés, salads, and Spanish olives among other options. Every conceivable beverage was on offer from juices and soft drinks to cocktails and a full wine bar featuring numerous Spanish wines to taste (including a selection of cava). Magazines and newspapers in numerous languages were on offer as was free wireless Internet, although a new code doled out from the front desk must be entered after every hour or so. Occasional boarding announcements were made, and the screens listed the terminal's departure list so no one would feel left out. A relaxation area, TV room, and business center were also available.

Inflight: My flight was aboard one of Iberia's beautiful new Airbus A330 aircraft featuring the new flat-bed seating. Arranged in single seats along the windows and pairs of two in the middle, there was direct-aisle access for each passenger plus plenty of privacy. I preferred the alternating seats that had the cocktail table on the aisle side (versus on the window side) so that I could rest without being disturbed as easily. Shortly after boarding, a flight attendant offered to hang my jacket and offered me a glass of cava. Newspapers shortly followed. We departed right on time and were soon airborne for O'Hare. The crew sprang into action delivering a beautifully decorated box to my seat while taking my aperitif order. Inside the box was a small bag of chips, but the fine presentation was duly noted. As I settled in for a movie on the intuitive and well-stocked entertainment system on the wide screen in front of me, I noted the clever pockets around the seat including spaces for a water bottle, noise-canceling headsets, and magazines. The charging sockets were well-used by most passengers who wanted to keep laptops and mobile devices juiced up inflight. Carts later appeared in the aisle to provide top-ups on drinks while serving the first course, which included warm rolls, a consommé soup, salad topped with fruit, and chilled appetizer of smoked salmon and asparagus. Once that was cleared away, the hot entrée was delivered, and I opted for a delectable cut of meat served with rice and vegetables. Dessert was the highlight as it included a selection of Spanish cheeses plus a fruity sorbet and after-dinner drinks. In no time, I had reclined my seat into a 180-degree flat bed position and dozed off for several hours before waking up for a pre-landing snack.

Arrival Experience: Landing was smooth, and O'Hare's new fast-pass line for travelers with carry-on baggage only was a cinch. I passed immigration and customs simultaneously without having to navigate the crowds although these days there are sometimes more people lined up at Global Entry than at the regular lines. The inflight crew spoke perfect English, and no doubt other languages, and the Iberia service from start to finish was nothing short of professional and efficient leaving me eager for my next trip to Spain.

Now that American and US Airways have begun the merger integration process, Charlotte travelers are gaining access to more new destinations and airline partners. On April 1, US Airways will officially join the oneworld alliance, in which Iberia is a member. On that date, Charlotte travelers can begin to redeem US Airways miles for Iberia flights, including those outfitted with the new Business Plus flat bed seat.