Worse than Ryanair? Iberia Express A320

Last week, I needed to connect from Lanzarote to Madrid for an evening flight back to London. I decided to try the low-cost subsidiary of Iberia, Iberia Express.

‘Iberia Express is a Spanish low-cost airline owned by Iberia, which operates short- and medium-haul routes from its parent airline’s hub at Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport, providing feeder flights onto Iberia’s long-haul network’ – Pretty self-explanatory right? I assumed being a subsidiary owned by Iberia it would rate pretty well and perhaps even trump some of the other alternative low cost carries based in Europe, but boy was I wrong!

I was already at Lanzarote Airport and after managing to swap my middle seat to a window seat, I made my way through to departures to find, to my horror, that I have messed up my timings. It turns out that due to time zone changes my 2-hour connection in Madrid had now become 1 hour and to add my worries, the inbound flight from Madrid was 40 minutes behind schedule, presumably delayed after an aircraft swap as it was not the aircraft that was confirmed on flight radar the night before. After a tense period of procrastination as I awaited the arrival of the inbound flight  at ACE, the departure boards read boarding. I made my way over to the gates where I found myself slightly confused. As the jet-bridge was still being attached to the aircraft, passengers were already walking down the jetty way to the plane! It turns out the staff had been premature and so we ended up waiting for around 25minutes in the queue with half of the passenger only meters away from the aircraft.

When we finally made it on-board I could only have assumed due to the delay inbound they had decided not to clean the aircraft. With bottles of water on the floor and crumbs on my seat it was obvious they were trying to claw back time for an on-time departure. I should be complaining here but I wouldn’t have made my connection in Madrid if they had decided to clean the aircraft. It  also turned out that we had left the cool air-conditioned terminal for a hot and sweaty metal tube, operating a full flight to Madrid today. However, surprisingly my neighbours were super interested in my photography and my camera equipment so the tedious delay was made slightly more tolerable. At this point I was sure I was going to miss my connection back to London.

We took off from runway 03 bound for Madrid, 30minutes behind schedule. Once airborne I tried, several times, to connect to the inflight entertainment offered via Wi-Fi. It appeared you had to log into your Iberia Express account which I tried many times, but with no luck. As the flight progressed it seemed encounters with crew were rare, some were polite some not so much. I did end up paying for a bottle of sparkling water during the on-board meal service, for some reason €3 did not seem fair for small bottle of water, but at this point I was roasting alive and willing to make the small sacrifice.

The cabin itself was very old, seats had small bits missing, the leather had seen brighter days and the overall atmosphere was second-rate. The legroom was on par with EasyJet – enough for this 2hour flight to Spain’s capital. Thankfully, the incredible views en-route to Madrid helped me enjoy the flight a little more. Apart from the view there was really nothing else to report.

As we began our descent into Madrid I was becoming increasingly worried about my connection, as it stood I had 30 minutes until my flight back to London actually took off. Once on the ground in Madrid and surviving the painful taxi across the entire airport we arrived on stand at Terminal M. Jubilant at the sight of the jetty bridge I tried to muscle my way through the cabin as everyone unbuckled their seat belt, however the doors did not open for a further 10 minutes, adding to my long list of problems. After finally disembarking, we were led downstairs at the end of the jetty bridge, not across into the terminal. Oh god, yes… Bus connection to the terminal. My chances of making my connection were at this point close to nothing and after another painful wait for the bus to fill up, I was able to peg it through to the transit train to the Satellite terminal in Madrid, thus making my connection with seconds to spare. British Airways were aware of a couple of passengers on my flight and had kindly decided to hold the aircraft for a couple of minutes.

After slating Iberia Express heavily in this review, I need to fly flagship Iberia to weigh up how they compare against each other, as, in regards to Iberia, all the feedback i have heard has been positive. Hopefully later in the year i will get the chance to fly their new A350 from London to Madrid!

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