Text: Bart Lekeu - Pictures: Bart Lekeu - Airbus Industrie - Tranlation: Marc Arys
sbap 2018
 
Flight experience: the Airbus A350

A couple of weeks ago, Iberia received her first A305-900, registered EC-MXV. When it became known that the aircraft, before flying long-range destinations, first would make some flights between Madrid and London/Paris, I did not hesitate and booked a flight between Madrid and London.

 
Under construction at Airbus Industries
(Airbus Industries Media Center )
The painting phase
(Airbus Industries Media Center )
Rolling out the paint shop
(Airbus Industries Media Center )
At his homebase Madrid
(Airbus Industries Media Center )
The official delivery ceremony
(Airbus Industries Media Center )
Nicknamed "Placido Domingo"
(Airbus Industries Media Center )
A very sober decoration
(Airbus Industries Media Center )
The first A350 immatriculation
(Airbus Industries Media Center )
Almost stylism
(Airbus Industries Media Center )
The newcomer in his element
(Airbus Industries Media Center )
  

Preview

During the on-line check in, the day before the departure, I decided to have an upgrade to business class, as this could be done for only 52.00. To get to Madrid, I took a flight with Brussels Airlines, arriving at 12.00' at Barajas, well in time for the flight to London. As this aircraft is foreseen for long-range flights, the departure was at the "satellite" of terminal 4. Being "business class" I had access to the Iberian premium lounge Velazquez, just after the tax free zone of terminal 4S.

Boarding

About an hour before departure, I went to the gates 57/58 where the brand new A350 was awaiting her passengers. Business passengers had priority to board through a separate bridge, but economy passengers could use this latter too.
What immediately struck me was the amount of space (high and wide) and the overhead lockers in the middle of the aircraft. The business part of the aircraft has 31 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, giving everyone free access to the aisle. I sat on seat 5C.
As the seat in front of me was free giving direct access to a window, and with the permission of the purser, I switched places.
The crew came around with a selection of Spanish and English newspapers and after a 20 minute delay, the aircraft was pushed back.
Noteworthy: 2 seat belts. Besides the traditional seatbelt, the crew ensured that the "breast" belt was also worn.
Take-off was smooth, the Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines producing significantly little noise.

   

Placido Domingo was waiting for me
(Bart Lekeu )
A luxury cabin
(Bart Lekeu )

Personal passenger screen and delicious meal
(Bart Lekeu )
Spacious galley
(Bart Lekeu )
 

Catering

Sadly, no welcome drink, which is although usual with business flights.
Fifteen minutes into the flight, the crew served the menu, consisting of a salad as a starter, the choice between pasta or meat as the main course and a yoghurt and 2 pieces of Mahon cheese as dessert.
To drink I had a water and a bottle of wine (18,7 cl). Warm bread rolls were also served and during the flight you could order an extra beverage. Food still in 'plastic', but nicely presented.

Flight

Although flight time was only 2 hours, the complete IFE menu was at disposal. Big high quality screens controlled through touchscreen or remote controller. A broad array of movies, TV, audio and games. In these various menu's, attention is also very much payed to the little ones. Seats are comfortable and all can be transformed to fully lie-flat bed seats. Being an aviation fan, I really enjoyed the various maps to monitor the flight. Our maximum height was 13.000 m with a speed around 900 km/h
The flight took us over the Spanish Basque countryside, the bay of Biscay, along the French coast to the Channel, where the descent towards Heathrow was slowly but surely initiated. Landing on runway 09L was smooth and uneventful.
During the taxi to Terminal 5C, the purser announced, not without some pride that, accordingly to Flight statistics, Iberia was one of the most punctual airlines in 2016/2017.

Before disembarking, I asked the purser if I could take a picture of the cockpit. The pilots agreed and were quite enthusiastic with my visit. One of them even took a picture of me, seated in his "office". An ideal conclusion of this special taste flight.
In the evening, I flew home to Brussels on an A320 of British Airways.

   
Large glass cockpit and side stick of the new Airbus A350
(Bart Lekeu )
The first A350-941 from Iberia during test flight
(Airbus Industries Media Center )
The next generation passenger aircraft is there... 
(Airbus Industries Media Center )
 

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