In 2021 lockdowns where still in force worldwide, so, when we had a holiday in May it was difficult to find a place where to go. As we dug deeper into potential destinations we stumbled upon the Balearic island of Mallorca, which was open for tourism without a compulsory quarantine.
To fly to Mallorca we decided to book last-minute a business class fare on Iberia with a stopover in Madrid, both to create some more social distancing but mostly to spoil ourselves after coping so long without travelling.
While we had selected our seats online during booking we decided to not check-in online as we had to go to the desk at the airport to drop our bags anyway, which later would turn out to be a time-saver. When arriving at Brussels Airport by train we headed up to the departure level where we first had to exit the building to go through an entry check to see whether we were passengers before being allowed in again.
As we flew in Business Class we did not have to queue and where up almost immediately for check-in at the desk. Here the agent checked both our negative COVID PCR test and our form to be allowed entry into Spain before checking us and our bags in. Curiously our bags did not get a priority label.
At security we could make use of the priority lane, not that it was that much faster as there where very few passengers and security was very straight forward. Due to Belgian corona regulations all airport lounges where closed so we roamed the terminal until boarding time.
At boarding the agents did try to get to do an orderly boarding by starting to board back to front, unfortunately most people had checked-in online (as was recommended on the Iberia website) and thus their tests and documents had to be checked at the gate.
This meant that there was one agent checking all documents while the others stood by waiting for checked people or people that where already checked at the airport check in. In the end they just made a separate queue for the people that checked in at the airport to leg boarding go faster, so it was a bit chaotic and we boarded before a lot of people further back in the plane.
From Brussels (BRU) 11:55 to Madrid (MAD) 14:25
Flight Time 1 hours and 59 minutes
Airbus A320-200 Neo EC-NCM
Delivered to Iberia in April 2019
The plane for this flight was a two-year old Airbus A320 Neo, with a modern clean cabin in a typical 3-3 configuration with slimline seats. The first 5 rows where occupied by business class with the middle seat left open. These also sported more legroom and both USB and power plugs under the seats. The seats also had an adjustable winged headrest and a decent recline. Upon boarding everyone received a disinfecting towel to be used pre departure. There was no welcome drink served.
We had a swift take off from runway 25R after a manual safety demo (as these new jets aren‘t equipped with fold-down screens anymore). The no smoking sign was also replaced by a no electronic devices one.
After take-off the cabin crew came around asking whether we would like to have some lunch, offering a choice between chicken or pasta. Obviously Timothy selected the pasta so I would volunteer for the chicken.
The tray was served corona proof with all the lids still on the items. Iberia recently changed to catering supplied by world renowned Do&Co and it shows as it was delicious.
I loved that the salad was without too much lettuce as I could eat it. The main also taste delicious while tastefully warm. The only downside was that there was no butter or olive oil for the bread. As a drink we both selected some water, but of course you could choose something else. After dinner they came around offering coffee or tea.
Bizarrely they cleaned away the tray with a perfect porcelain cup on it to return with a cardboard cup. We were served some hot water with a proper tea bag to brew instead of poured from a jug.
The rest of the flight was uneventful. The plane had on-board Wi-Fi which offered the option of tracking the flight or read a digital in-flight magazine, if you wished to pay you could use it for more.
We were positively surprised by Iberia business class as it was almost like flying in a non-corona time, it did not feel like they were trying to cut costs in their business class service.