We found flying Iberia Airlines to Spain to be a good experience. Just be aware that when you are getting the tickets you may have some problems – we certainly did.
In November 2015, the Spanish national airline Iberia announced that they would restart flights directly from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Madrid, Spain. They had previously stopped offering this route 3 years prior.
Since we were planning a trip to Spain and Poland for this summer, Joanna jumped on the possibility, as soon as the flights were available online. The price was good at around $700 USD round-trip (that’s non-stop to Madrid) and the purchase was pretty easy online. We got the tickets and kind of forgot about them once we verified that they charged our credit card – our flight was 6 months out in the the future, after all.
That was a mistake…
Flying Iberia Airlines: Problems with the Tickets
When the end of April rolled around, we still hadn’t heard anything more from Iberia and decided to contact them. Our trip was about a month out at this point (May 25th was our departure date). When we called, we were shocked to find out that we didn’t have tickets because of non-payment. Say what!?
We saw the charge on the credit card, what did they mean “non-payment”? Well, after about an hour on the phone, Joanna was finally told that the charge we saw was a hold to make sure the payment amount was available (which, of course, it was) but for some reason, the “real” payment didn’t go through.
So, we asked why they didn’t bother contacting us to let us know they were having problems processing payment. We never got an answer for that. Not even a lame excuse like “we sent you an email”. It seemed that their ticketing system just dropped our reservation and the airline staff simply didn’t have a clue.
Here was the problem: we had already scheduled all of our hotel and apartment stays around these tickets. So, now what?
Sigh… OK, fine. Joanna asked for those tickets to be re-purchased… “No problem” the representative said, “it will be $1850 USD each, shall I charge it to the same card?”
WHAT?!?!?!? OH HELL NO!! THERE’S NO WAY WE’RE PAYING ALMOST 3X THE AMOUNT BECAUSE YOUR SYSTEM F$%@ED UP!!!
Side Note: Don’t piss off an Eastern European woman. Especially if she’s Polish… Trust me, it never goes well. The angry tigress comes out.
Flying Iberia Airlines: Fixing The Problems
To make a long story a bit shorter, after another hour on the phone, Joanna was able to get the airline to honor the original price. The representative was just getting everything finalized when, of course, the call was dropped…
F#@#, F$%#, S$#@, mother-$##$##s!!!!!!! I can’t believe those T%$#@^, dropped the call!!! God-D#^$@, C^@@, @#!#-sucking, P#@$#@, C#@@#%@@!!!!!!!!!!! This isn’t even close to over!!!!
After the hour of so it took me to calm her down to merely livid and murderous, as opposed to wrathful and genocidal, we started looking at other airlines. As you might expect, at only 4 weeks out the prices were ridiculous.
We decided to call back and try to get Iberia to honor the original price – again. It was our only financially-viable option.
Joanna steeled herself then dialed the customer service number. Predictably, she was told she would have to pay the full $1850 USD price for the tickets but, after another 30 minutes, the new representative “found” the work the first rep had done and was able to offer us the original $700 USD price.
Joanna spent another 30 minutes on the phone with this rep just to make sure all of the T’s were crossed and the I’s dotted.
It was quite an ordeal but, we had our tickets thanks to her persistence.
In case you’re wondering why I didn’t do the second call, it’s because Joanna says I’m “too nice and soft with people”. So, if you ever end up on the other end of me being angry, just remember that you’re lucky because I’m the “nice one” 🙂
Flying Iberia Airlines: The Flight
Now, because of the experience we had with the tickets, we were understandably worried that the actual flight and flight-related services may be horrible.
Thankfully, we were wrong, and flying Iberia airlines turned out to be a great decision.
The airline staff at the gate and on-board the plane were attentive and helpful. The flight boarded EXACTLY on time (which, later, we would discover was a theme in Spain) and departed (not just “pushed off” from the gate to sit on the tarmac) EXACTLY on time. Having been flying US airlines for the past several years, we were quite impressed by this punctuality.
The service on the fight was just as stellar. the attendants were attentive and professional. In addition, the food was great…
Even in our “cheap seats”, I had a pasta dish that you would be hard pressed to find in first-class on the best US carriers. I mean this was actual restaurant-quality food.
Joanna had a roasted potato and chicken dish that was just as tasty. We also got rolls, fresh salad, and cheesecake for desert. When I say “we got cheesecake”, I mean “I got cheesecake” because Joanna can’t do cheesecake. It was really tasty both times.
The seats were noticeably larger than seats in US planes. Each reclined comfortably and there was sufficient legroom for me (at 6′ 2″, legroom is a challenge on most planes). Each seat also had its own entertainment screen that you could also use to view the flight progress and even see a computer-generated view of the plane’s instrumentation and what the pilots were seeing.
All in all, despite being an 8-hour, overnight flight, it was quite comfortable and enjoyable.
Flying Iberia Airlines: The Connecting Flight
The plane landed and rolled up to the gate a few minutes early. We exited the plane (again the staff was very professional and courteous as they said good bye to each passenger) and we went off in search of our connection to Barcelona in 2 hours.
We quickly got ourselves oriented in the Madrid airport and found our connecting flight. Madrid’s airport was a bit confusing but we found it easily enough.
Again, we had a great experience with Iberia on the short flight from Madrid to Barcelona. Everything was on time and everyone was quite professional (except for one security guy who was a jerk but, I can’t fault the airline for that). When we landed in Barcelona, we quickly found the baggage claim. We were quite pleased when our bags (all of them) came out right away.
On a side note: we went through a customs document check in Madrid, and nothing more in Barcelona. This was a real surprise given the latest terrorist attacks in Europe. We expected customs and airport security to be a nightmare but it was no more than a simple local flight – interesting..
Anyway, we had managed to make it to Barcelona, Spain easily and problem free, and we had all of our stuff. So, we were off to a good start of our trip…
The moral of the story? Flying Iberia airlines was a great decision and we would be happy to fly with them again. We’ll just be sure to double-check and triple-check that they actually issued us tickets next time…