The Trip of AA Lifetime (Asia, Australia, Middle East) – Introduction


Iberia 8614
Madrid (MAD) – Frankfurt (FRA)
Bombardier CRJ1000
16 July 2016

Welcome to my longest trip report. Ever. (so far..)

As mentioned in the trip report introduction (link above), I needed to fly from Kraków to Hong Kong with oneworld and I wanted to fly Cathay Pacific First Class to Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific operates routes to Hong Kong from a few European cities, including Frankfurt, London, Paris, etc. However, not all of the routes have First Class service (for example, Madrid – Hong Kong doesn’t).

Since I’m located in Kraków, I needed to firstly fly to one of the cities that CX serves with First Class. Initially, I thought London and had booked Kraków to London on BA and then London to Hong Kong on CX. The taxes/fees and BA fuel surcharges were insane and therefore I switched to Kraków – Berlin – Dusseldorf on Air Berlin and then Dusseldorf to Hong Kong on CX.

Due to a change in plans, I had to change the flights last minute and the only thing available for my departure date out of Kraków on oneworld was with Iberia.. to Madrid.. at 4am! But then I knew that CX First doesn’t operate out of Madrid, so I checked the BA website and thankfully found Frankfurt to Hong Kong with availability that same day. Due to the really early departure out of Kraków, I was able to fly with Iberia to Frankfurt from Madrid the same day. Crazy routing. I know.

Iberia’s Kraków to Madrid flight didn’t have availability in Business Class last minute (even though it was half full), so I was in Economy on that flight; it was pleasant and I slept the whole way to Madrid. I landed in Madrid just past 7 in the morning and went to the Sala VIP Iberia Dalí (one of Iberia’s lounges in Madrid), and ate a small breakfast there while waiting for my flight to Frankfurt.

Boarding began thirty minutes prior to departure and we were driven to our aircraft by bus. It’s quite funny – Iberia Express operated the flight from Kraków to Madrid with an A320 and now this flight was operated by Iberia Regional – Air Nostrum with a CRJX (a really long CRJ). So does Iberia, like, not operate a lot of mainline flights.. or?

Boarding was quick, and I was in the first seat of the Intra-European Business Class cabin on the left side, in 2A. There were just three passengers in Business Class on this flight. I was looking forward to flying with Iberia, I’ve mainly heard mixed things about them, but nothing too bad. It was also cool to literally rebook last minute and try a new airline (though AA screwed up my ticket and cancelled it, and then it took forever for them to reinstate it at the old mileage level and it was literally reissued ~4 hours prior to departure… fun!)

Iberia Business Class CRJX

Iberia Business Class CRJX

The CRJX is in a 2-2 configuration, with each Business Class passenger’s aisle seat blocked for comfort. We were quickly welcomed by a friendly Spanish (obviously) flight attendant who asked how our day was going, offered some catalogues, and then asked if we’d like to enjoy breakfast once in the air.

She was very kind and spoke English to the passengers and was a bit shocked (in a good way) and impressed when I answered her back in Spanish. She was awesome and constantly looked after me during the flight.

We departed a few minutes late, though I was so exhausted from literally staying up all night and only sleeping three hours that I fell asleep after the door closed and woke up once we were at cruising altitude.. I’ve never slept through a departure before, so that was new for me. When I woke up, a glass of water was waiting for me.. a very nice touch!

Water

Water

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The flight attendant greeted me with a “buenos días” and jokingly asked me if I enjoyed my short rest, she then asked me what I’d like for breakfast. There were two choices – fruit (how typical in Spanish speaking cultures), or an omelette.

I went with the fruit since it sounded more appetising.. and it was delicious. In addition, the breakfast included yoghurt and warm bread with butter and jam. The whole meal was excellent. A cold towel was included alongside of the cutlery.

Iberia Business Class CRJX

Iberia Business Class CRJX

To accompany my meal, I had some tea… though I find it a bit cheap that they served it in a paper cup.. They clearly had normal cups, though they didn’t use them for tea.. but rather coffee only.. odd.

Once I enjoyed the breakfast, I went back to sleep. I was still feeling super exhausted from the night (and the stress from the day before), and I also wanted to be properly rested for my Cathay Pacific First Class flight.

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I was woken up just minutes before landing so that I could put my seat in the upright position.

Frankfurt Airport

Frankfurt Airport

We landed in Frankfurt ahead of schedule and made it to the remote stand about fifteen minutes later, since we had to cross the entire airport as we literally landed the furthest away from Terminal 2 (which oneworld uses).

So what are my thoughts on Iberia? I really liked the airline. Note that they don’t serve food on flights around Europe in Economy, but I really enjoyed my time with Iberia. The flight attendants on both of my flights were super kind and friendly (as I find with most Spanish people), and the food was excellent for the Business Class meal. Iberia’s lounges in Madrid are fairly nice and have a good variety of food and drinks.

All in all, flying from Kraków to Frankfurt via Madrid was a bit crazy (as the check-in agent said in Kraków), so next time I think I will avoid this long connection (though I didn’t have any other choice that day). I was excited to try another new airline, and ultimately the experience was much better than what I would’ve received with Air Berlin, for example, so I’m glad that I was able to switch my flights.

Once in Frankfurt, the real fun began with Cathay Pacific First Class!