Flight Review: Iberia A330-200 Economy Class from Madrid to Tokyo Narita

Flight Review: Iberia A330-200 Economy Class from Madrid to Tokyo Narita

Iberia uses a fleet of ten Airbus A330-200 aircraft on some of its longest flights including flights to Buenos Aires in Argentina and Montevideo in Uruguay.

It uses the type on its route from Madrid to Tokyo that it launched (restarted) in 2016 as well. That’s the route I had a chance to fly it on back in October. Continue reading to see what a flight on the Iberia A330-200 was like in economy class.

Before Departure

After a night at Hotel Tach Madrid Airport, I took the 10:05AM shuttle to the airport where I was dropped off just five or six minutes later.

Since I received the boarding pass for this flight in Vienna the previous day, I headed straight through security. While the regular lines were fairly crowded, I was able to use the fast track which was a short walk away and I got through in no time.

Airside, I went to the satellite building – Terminal 4S – where my flight was departing from using an automated train.

Madrid Barajas Airport
Madrid airport terminal 4.
Madrid Airport Fast Track Security
Fast track.
Madrid Barajas Terminal 4S Train
Automated train to Terminal 4S.

There were no lines at the passport control in Terminal 4S, and so, not long after getting off the train, I found myself on the way to the excellent Iberia Premium Lounge Velazquez which was located in the middle of the duty free shopping area.

I left the lounge at 12:10PM and headed to gate S1 where boarding was scheduled to begin at 12:30PM. Since the numbering started with the gates furthest from the central area of the terminal, it took me about ten minutes to reach the gate.

Madrid Barajas Terminal 4S
Terminal 4S.

Boarding Iberia Flight 6801 to Tokyo

When I got to the gate, a long line was already formed in front of it. At that time, a flight to Algeria departing from S2 which shared the door with S1 was still boarding, though.

Around the same time, an Asian passenger got to gate S2, and before being able to present her boarding pass to the staff was told “Tokio está ahí.” Of course, as it turned out, the passenger was traveling to Algeria and not Tokyo…

Madrid Barajas Gate S1 Boarding to Tokyo
Gate S1.

Both the gate agent and the passenger had a brief laugh before the passenger got onboard the Air Algerie aircraft, and not long after that – at 12:28PM, priority boarding for my flight to Tokyo started.

After having my boarding pass scanned, I headed down the jetway. As the crew was still preparing the aircraft, I was not able to get onboard yet. In fact, it took around ten minutes until the preparations finished and the passengers could actually board the aircraft.

Boarding Flight from Madrid to Tokyo
Walking down the jetway.
Iberia Airbus A330-200 at Madrid Airport
A330-200 ready to go to Tokyo.
Waiting in a Jetway
Aircraft not ready to board yet.

Iberia Airbus A330-200 Cabin

The flight was operated by EC-MJA, one of Iberia’s ten Airbus A330-200s. The aircraft had a capacity of 288 seats in two classes.

The aircraft’s business class cabin featured 19 staggered seats (similar to these) and was located between the first two pairs of doors. Economy class was split across two cabins and featured a total of 269 seats in a “2-4-2” configuration (“2-3-2” towards the end of the aircraft).

Iberia A330-200 Economy Class Cabin
Economy class cabin.
Iberia A330-200 IFE Screens
Each of the seats featured a screen.
Iberia A330-200 Seats
In the back, the seats were in a “2-3-2” configuration.

Onboard, I walked down the aisle to my window-side aisle seat, 52C. While I was hoping I could score a pair of seats, the flight ended up being completely full.

Waiting on the seat upon boarding was a blanket and a packaged pillow – both of which were about as good as one could expect in economy class.

As for the seat itself, it was equipped with a high-definition screen with USB and audio ports, a magazine rack under it, and a regular seat pocket as well. There was also a shared power outlet between each pair of seats. The legroom was not great.

Iberia Economy Class Blanket and Pillow
Blanket and pillow.
Iberia A330-200 Economy Class Legroom

Departing Madrid Barajas Airport

Around 1:05PM, the cabin crew went around the cabin handing out earphones, and not long after that – at 1:11PM, eleven minutes behind schedule – we were pushed back.

While we were making our way to the runway, cabin crew went around the cabin once again to hand out newspapers and do the final check, and then the safety video was played.

We took off at 1:33PM.

Welcome onboard Iberia.
Iberia Safety Video
Safety video.

Five minutes after take-off, the purser made a welcome onboard announcement, and at 1:48PM, the seatbelt signs were switched off. They didn’t stay off for too long, though, as just ten minutes later – somewhere along the Spain-France border – we encountered a fairly strong turbulence.

The cabin crew used the “turbulent time” to make an announcement about the immigration and customs forms that people ending their trip in Japan needed to fill. I found it nice that the crew mentioned the flight number – IB6801 – as well as the date of arrival so that the passengers wouldn’t have to try to figure that out by themselves.

Leaving Spain
Leaving Spain.

Iberia Long Haul Lunch Service

With the turbulence gone, the cockpit crew switched the seatbelt signs back off at 2:19PM at which point the cabin crew started preparing for the lunch service.

In the meantime, the captain welcomed us onboard via the PA, and mentioned that we were flying at an altitude of 9,100 meters, and that we would be flying over Bordeaux, Rotterdam, Stockholm, Khabarovsk, Niigata, and Fukushima on our way to Tokyo Narita airport. He also mentioned that we were expected to arrive at 10:40AM.

Around 2:30PM, while waiting for the meal, I started watching Dodgeball (yes, while flying, I like watching simple comedies that don’t require much thinking…).

Since I was seated towards the back of the aircraft, it wasn’t until 3:45PM or so – more than two hours after take-off – that the meal service got to my row. There were no printed menus on this flight, though there were two options to choose from – chicken and beef.

I went with the former which was chicken with salsa and rice with vegetables. The meal came with a salad, cut fruits, and a bread roll. For drink, I had Coke Zero.

Iberia Economy Class Lunch
Chicken Dish on Iberia Flight to Tokyo
Chicken with salsa and rice with vegetables.

During the meal service, the seatbelt signs went on for about ten minutes or so due to a turbulence, and so, it wasn’t until 4:30PM that the trays were cleared.

Iberia Airbus A330-200 In-Flight Entertainment System

After the meal service, I watched another movie, this time a Spanish one called Casi 40 (not the best choice…), and then decided to try to get some sleep. Before doing so, I explored the in-flight entertainment system, though.

Iberia In-Flight Entertainment System
Welcome screen.
Iberia IFE Main Menu
Main menu.

The system featured over 50 movies organized into several categories ranging from the latest Hollywood blockbusters all the way to Spanish movies. A variety of TV shows with several episodes from each was available as well.

Iberia Movies
Iberia TV Shows
TV shows.

As for music, 200 (according to the information page in the system) albums were available. Those could be browsed by the albums themselves, by artists, by songs, by genres, etc.

The system also featured about ten or fifteen games. Since there was no remote control, the games could be controlled using the fairly responsive touchscreen.

Iberia Music
Music by artists.
Iberia IFE Games

As usual, the amount of content could not be compared with the likes of Emirates’ ICE system, however, it was more than enough to keep a person entertained even on the longest flights (such as the Madrid – Tokyo one I was on).

Separately from the above, there was also onboard wi-fi. I had a trouble connecting to it, and so I wasn’t able to check the rates while onboard. Based on Iberia’s website, it’s as follows, though:

  • 1 hour for 8.99 EUR (up to 40 MB)
  • 3 hours for 19.99 EUR (up to 100 MB)
  • Full flight for 29.99 EUR (up to 200 MB)

While I would consider those prices to be decent without the data caps, with those, they are just too expensive.

In-Flight Sales and a Mid-Flight Snack

With the seat being fairly uncomfortable, I managed to only sleep for about an hour or so before waking up. Not long after I woke up – around 2:30AM Japan time – the cabin crew went through the cabin offering duty free sales (I wonder why they didn’t wait until a more reasonable time…).

Soon after that, I fell asleep again, this time managing to sleep for about two hours before waking up around 5AM. Around the same time, the cabin crew was going through the cabin doing a drinks round and distributing sandwiches.

Iberia Mid-Flight Snack
Mid-flight snack.

Once I finished the sandwich, I fell asleep one last time.

Iberia Long Haul Breakfast Service

The third time around, I managed to sleep the longest – until 9:30AM. When I woke up, my back and butt hurt from sleeping in the hard seat, though. Without a doubt, it was one of the most uncomfortable economy class seats I’ve flown on on long haul flights.

Iberia IFE Airshow
An hour left in the flight.

At that time, the cabin crew was already serving breakfast.

Rather than serving a second hot meal like most airlines do on flights that are twelve or thirteen hours long, Iberia only served a cold meal box containing a sandwich, a Kit Kat, a yogurt, and some cut fruits.

Iberia Long Haul Breakfast
Breakfast box.
Iberia Breakfast Box
A look inside the breakfast box.

Shortly after 10AM, the cabin crew made an announcement asking passengers to close the breakfast boxes after finishing them to speed up the service, and not long after that, they went around the cabin collecting them.

Landing at Tokyo Narita Airport

At 10:16AM, the captain announced that it was 15 degrees Celsius and partly cloudy in Tokyo, and that we would be landing at 10:45AM. At the same time, the seatbelt signs were also switched on in preparation for landing.

Ten minutes later, a video with instructions on how to fill out the immigration forms was aired. The only problem was that the video was about Mexican forms… After the video, the in-flight entertainment system was disabled, and everyone’s screen turned to the airshow.

Iberia Immigration Form Video
How to fill out a Mexican immigration form…
Iberia Flight from Madrid to Tokyo
Ten minutes to go.

While descending towards Narita, a variety of songs was played in the cabin including a slow instrumental version of Boney M’s Sunny, and a Spanish version of Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat’s Lucky.

We landed on Narita airport’s runway 34R at 10:38AM, and reached our parking spot ten minutes later, at 10:48AM – just three minutes behind schedule.

Approaching Tokyo Narita
Almost ready to land at Tokyo Narita airport.

Iberia A330-200 Long Haul Economy Class Summary

After a disappointing experience onboard Iberia’s flight from Vienna to Madrid, I didn’t go into this flight with too many expectations – and it was the right thing to do. While the lunch was decent, I found it cheap that Iberia only offered a cold breakfast box on a thirteen hour flight. Aside from that, the seats were hard and the legroom was quite tight.

On the positive side, the crew seemed nice – at least in my limited interactions with them.

All that said, if I had the choice of traveling with Iberia or other oneworld airlines like British Airways or Finnair, I’d go with one of the latter.

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