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View Full Version : TRIP REPORT: JFK-MAD-SVQ on Iberia, April 15/16, 2008



Matt Molnar
04-26-2008, 08:58 PM
Route: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) - Madrid Barajas International Airport (MAD)
Date: April 15, 2008
Airline/Flight Number: Iberia 6252 (also available as American 6252 via codeshare)
Aircraft Type: Airbus A340-300
Aircraft Registration: EC-GUP "Agustina de Aragon"
Scheduled Departure Time: 9:00 PM
Actual Pushback Time: 9:00 PM
Takeoff Time: 9:10 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 10:10 AM
Actual Arrival Time: 9:50 AM

Left work around 5:45 to catch LIRR and AirTrain and arrived at Terminal 7 just around 7 PM as planned. I was slightly amused when I realized the Iberia desks are located in the exact spot where America West used to do business, and the only other time I ever flew out of T7 was on a disastrous America West experience to LAS about five years ago. There weren't many people checking in at any of the airlines, and we were first in line after we snaked through the Iberia ropes. One of the British Airways agents running the check-in ops processed us quickly and hooked us up with a pair of window seats when I requested them (Iberia's website is essentially useless if you book through an outside vendor). He checked us in through to Sevilla, and we weren't checking any bags, so we proceeded to security a few steps away, where there was barely a line.

In the rush to get all my work done ahead of my week off, I hadn't eaten or drunk anything since breakfast, so I was pretty anxious to get some grub and some water. There's not much to choose from in T7...we settled on Wolfgang Puck Express, where a small pizza, a salad, and a water came to $25. Food was ok but nothing special. After dinner I gulped down a pair of Tylenol PMs in preparation for the flight. I was happy to find a $1.49 toothbrush in Hudson News when I remembered I had forgotten to pack one, and soon it was time to board.

Iberia uses a sensible boarding procedure where the back rows board first, so our seats in row 33 got us in right after First and Biz were called. We made our way back to our seats on the right side, which were surprisingly narrow and hard and not very comfortable. Josh May had warned of the sleep difficulties on this redeye, but I figured I would be ok. The uncomfortable seats made me wonder, though, if I would sleep at all.

The plane finished boarding and we pushed back on time, I'd estimate 80% full. The captain told us in Spanish and in heavily accented, hard to understand English that the estimated flight time would be 6 1/2 hours. After Traffic seemed astonishingly light, and after a few minutes of taxiing, we were rolling down 13R (if I remember correctly). After the longest takeoff roll of my life we finally left the ground.

The Tylenol was beginning to kick in so I tried to get some shuteye, but soon the crew was pacing around offering beverages and then dinner. I'm all for getting meals on flights, but I'm not quite sure that I agree with serving them on redeye flights, or at least do so with the lights off, as I've experienced on AA. Much of the appeal of a redeye is that you can use time when you would ordinarily be sleeping anyway to do something useful, i.e. travel across a continent or ocean, and when you arrive it's morning. I don't see much appeal in getting 3 hours sleep. Eventually I did get some shuteye, but it was more of a doze than a real sleep. Eventually they turned the lights off, but soon the sun was up, and the crew was offering breakfast and coffee. I continued trying to sleep until I looked out the window and saw we were crossing the shoreline.

Madrid Barajas Airport
After a smooth landing about 20 minutes early at MAD we taxiied to a gate on the far end of Terminal 4 Satellite and deplaned pretty quickly. We checked the departure screen for our connecting flight only to learn that it hadn't been assigned a gate yet, only that it would be in the main Terminal 4 in one of three lettered sections. We proceeded down the seemingly endless corridor, down some escalators and to immigration, got our passports stamped, through another maze of escalators and a train to Terminal 4, and when we got off the signs still said it could be 9-12 minutes walk to our gate depending on which section it was in. Had to go through security again, which was pretty smooth. The terminals have giant windows looking out at the tarmac so periodically I would stop to shoot stuff I found interesting.

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Our connecting flight was scheduled to leave at 11:50 AM, but we noticed a 10:50 AM departure on the board, so we headed to that gate to see if we could squeeze onto that flight. When we got there, the gate agent said it was delayed, she wasn't sure if it was full, and we'd be better off taking the flight we were ticketed for. Oh well, it was worth a shot.

We decided to wait out our gate announcement with a cup of coffee and some breakfast. We checked out one of the cafes, only to find a wide variety of jamon sandwiches (ham is pretty much the cornerstone of the Spanish diet) and not much else. We were feeling more breakfasty, so we did what every red-blooded Americans would: we paid a visit to the McDonald's a couple doors down. I ordered a McMuffin con sausage, which I did not realize came only in a value meal. The cashier offered me a choice of cafe...or cerveza! As novel as the thought of getting a beer with my Mickey D's breakfast was, I went with the coffee, which turned out to be one of the best cups of coffee I had ever had. I soon learned everyone in Spain makes awesome coffee.
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After we finished eating around 11 AM the board finally showed a gate for us. It was in section K at the other end of the terminal, about 9 minutes walk the signs said, and so we started walking.

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Route: Madrid Barajas International Airport (MAD)- Seville San Pablo Airport (SVQ)
Date: April 16, 2008
Airline/Flight Number: Iberia 106
Aircraft Type: Airbus A319
Aircraft Registration: EC-HKO "Gorbea"
Scheduled Departure Time: 11:50 AM
Actual Pushback Time: 11:55 AM
Takeoff Time: 12:00 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 12:50 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 12:45 PM

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Sat down in 12E aboard this newish A319 with much comfier seats than the older A343. After pushback the captain announced that our flight time would be around 45 minutes with nice weather throughout. Tons of room and not a lot of traffic at MAD, so after a brief taxi we were speeding down the active. There was a beverage service, but surprisingly you had to pay even for soft drinks. I handed over 1,50 Euro for a Coke, and other than that the flight was pretty uneventful.

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We landed at Seville on time, deplaned and walked through the terminal. The airport is pretty small and before we knew it we were nearly at the exit. We asked a lady at the tourism information desk the best way to get to our hotel. She told us a cab would be about 25 Euro, but there was a bus that would take us to downtown Seville near our hotel for only 2 Euro each. We headed to the bus stop only to find about 100 disorganized people waiting for a bus that wasn't there, but soon two buses arrived and we managed to get seats on a clean air conditioned coach, and 30 mins later we were at our hotel. Probably the best deal of the whole trip!

Matt Molnar
04-26-2008, 10:04 PM
One interesting note about the JFK-MAD sector I left out: I noticed a good number of Hasidim on the plane, and after overhearing them talk as well as several other people it became apparent that a substantial percentage of passengers were not visiting Spain at all, but connecting to Iberia's Tel Aviv service.

Iberia A340-600
04-26-2008, 10:18 PM
Very nice report, Matt. I'm sorry the Trans-Atlantic flight wasn't so great but it sounds like the domestic flight was fine.

Isn't Terminal 4 gorgeous?!


One interesting note about the JFK-MAD sector I left out: I noticed a good number of Hasidim on the plane, and after overhearing them talk as well as several other people it became apparent that a substantial percentage of passengers were not visiting Spain at all, but connecting to Iberia's Tel Aviv service.

When I flew Swiss to ZRH and onto MAD in November I also noticed that a majority of the flight was transferring onto TLV.

stuart schechter
04-28-2008, 07:42 PM
Good read, thanks for posting. I have heard that the pitch isn't all that great on the 343's

RDU-JFK
04-29-2008, 07:54 AM
One interesting note about the JFK-MAD sector I left out: I noticed a good number of Hasidim on the plane, and after overhearing them talk as well as several other people it became apparent that a substantial percentage of passengers were not visiting Spain at all, but connecting to Iberia's Tel Aviv service.

When I flew MAD-JFK on IB there were lots of Hasidm as well--connecting from Tel Aviv. Also when I flew MXP-JFK on AZ I noticed the same thing.

Good read--thanks for sharing! Onto the easyjet one!+

T-Bird76
04-29-2008, 09:45 AM
Nice read Matt! I'm not a fan of redeye flights at all and never seem to get any real quality sleep on them.