It was spring 2022 with the biggest COVID-19 travel restrictions gradually being lifted it was time for the first big holiday for my boyfriend and I. As I wanted to convince my boyfriend that travelling without his beloved car can also be fun I decided to drag him along on a Mediterranean cruise on Celebrity Reflection, starting from the Italian port of Civitavecchia near Rome.
After a short visit to the AENA Puerta del Sol lounge, we descended one level to line up for our boarding for our next flight.
Contrary to our flight from Brussels to Madrid, there was no priority boarding organised here. This wasn’t a horrible thing however as we were bussed to a remote gate and thus priority boarding is pretty pointless in this instance. After a busride along the entire tarmac of Madrid terminals 1-2-3 which felt like we travelled by bus to Rome, we finally pulled in alongside our aircraft.
Contrary to the usual 737’s Air Europa uses on their route from Madrid to Rome, today we lucked out on travelling on one of the few frequencies Air Europe operates with their flagship, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
This aircraft is usually operated on the long-haul network and thus offers a true long-haul lie-flat business class. As this is one of the older dreamliners in their fleet it still offers the older 2-2-2 configuration where the window seat doesn’t have direct aisle access as opposed to the 1-2-1 configuration on their newest jets.
Still having a lie-flat seat for a 2-hour flight is a joy to have.
From Madrid (MAD) 15:00 to Rome (FCO) 17:25
Flight Time 2 hours and 25 minutes
Boeing 787-9 EC-MSZ
Delivered to Air Europa in February 2018
As it was only the second time my boyfriend flew and the first time he saw a wide-body plane with lie-flat seats, his eyes where filled with amazement and he couldn’t stop playing with all the buttons and functions of the seat. The disadvantage being that next time we fly, he wants it to be in business class again.
Just like on our previous flight from Brussels to Madrid we were also offered a pre-departure beverage choice of orange juice or water. The crew also handed out complimentary earphones, to be used with the entertainment system.
Take off was a fast and quiet affair thanks to the lightly loaded quiet boeing 787.
After take-off we were once again served a healthy meal, this time consisting of a beet hummus with vegetables. A potato salad with salmon and a yoghurt dessert.
The hot bread served this time was much better as it wasn’t as hard and crispy. I selected a red wine and some water to drink but this time only a glass of water was served and not a whole container.
After the meal I had a hot tea, once again served in a paper cup.
Every seat had its personal TV screen. The screens in business class where touch screen but due to the distance from the seatback it wasn’t very practical to use the touchscreen functionality but it was better to use the remote control. The offer of movies and tv programs wasn’t really to my liking, and I preferred to just enjoy the views from outside.
All too soon we reached the other side of the Mediterranean and we started our descent into Rome. Here we were once again parked at a remote stand. Due to the bus driver preferring to have a chat with his colleagues it took ages however before we were bussed to the arrivals terminal at the other side of the airport.
The benefit of this was however that the bags where almost immediately on the belt by the time we arrived. We used the vastly overpriced Leonardo Express train to Roma Termini station where our hotel was located, as we would first be staying two nights in Rome before heading off to the port to board our cruise.
Having been able to fly on a wide body aircraft within Europe is always a treat, especially in business class. Air Europa also surprised me in providing a much better service than I first anticipated, so they are surely worth having a look at when booking a flight.
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