With prices in Business Class on the rise, we were curious to try out Iberia’s Premium Economy Product. While an improvement on economy, it was a mixed experience.

The Iberia premium economy A350 product offers, on paper, a number of improvements over ‘Turista’. The airline promises improved seat pitch (93cm instead of a maximum of 81cm in economy), better catering, and enhanced amenities. We always want to get the best travel experience for the best price, so I was curious to see whether the upgrade over economy was worth it. We’ve travelled frequently in Business Class on Iberia on their A350, and are usually fairly impressed.

Iberia A350 Aircraft

Check-in & Lounge

Iberia has dedicated check-in desks at Madrid if you’re travelling in premium economy. Usually these are much quieter than those available to economy passengers, so you should be able to navigate through the airport faster.

Unfortunately, Iberia doesn’t offer fast-track security to premium economy passengers, and neither will you be able to access their lounge in Madrid. As we have oneworld Sapphire status, we were able to visit the Iberia Velázquez Lounge Madrid. We’ve previously reviewed the lounge and it’s well worth a visit if you are able to access.

madrid barajas iberia Velázquez lounge

Iberia Premium Economy A350 Cabin

On their A350, Iberia have 24 seats in premium economy. The cabin is located just after the business class section. We decided to book into 11J and 11L. These are emergency exit seats, which means you’ll enjoy more legroom and avoid having anyone recline into your space. Unfortunately, there are some downsides. I found the leg rest hard to extend, and when I did extended it, I thought it provided poor support. Additionally, your personal entertainment screen extends out from the seat, and you will need to keep the space in front of you clear of bags and personal items for take off and landing.

Iberia Premium Economy blanket

This was a daytime flight, leaving Madrid just after 14:00. Forunately, this meant the lack of lie-flat seat in Business Class was less of an issue than it’d be if you were flying overnight. Upon boarding, our seats were set-up with a blanket and pillow. After boarding, we were given a small amenity kit, as well as noise cancelling headphones.

Iberia Premium Economy Headphones

Iberia Premium Economy on the A350 offers a seat recline of 18cm. This was okay for resting, and the seats did provide good support. However, after 8 or 9 hours in the air, I did start to feel uncomfortable. This was largely due to how the leg rest support works in row 11. It extends out from the bottom of the seat, using a push-button mechanism. This is hard to operate, and when you do manage to activate it, the support merely dangles on the floor and doesn’t support the upper leg. For this reason, I’d think carefully about whether or not I’d choose the front row again.

The 2-4-2 layout is a definite advantage over the 3-3-3 confuguration in economy. This is especially true if you’re travelling as a couple.

Service on the Iberia Premium Economy A350

The service onboard was fine. It wasn’t outstanding, but nor was it bad. There are no dedicated flight attendants for premium economy. This means service can be on the slow side, and if you want additional drinks during the flight, you’ll likely need to wait.

A welcome drink of either water, apple or orange juice was served prior to take-off. This felt a little boring, and it surely wouldn’t hurt to offer something like a cava as well.

Iberia A350 entertainment screen

In premium economy you’ll be served first, but apart from this, the service feels very similar to the experience in economy.

Food and Drinks

Iberia claims that premium economy passengers will enjoy “freshly prepared dishes made with the finest ingredients”.  The food wasn’t bad – but apart from being served on proper dishes with metal knives and forks, I’m not convinced it is a truly superior experience.

There was no option to pre-order our choice, but there were two dishes to choose from onboard. The choices on board this flight were either a vegetarian pasta dish with pomodoro sauce or a chicken breast served with a creamy tarragon sauce and seasonal vegetables.

Iberia Premium Economy Meal

While the meal itself was three courses, it’s all served on one tray. The main was accompanies by an orzo pasta salad, a small pre-packaged brie cheese, and a tiramisu style dessert. I highly suspect that the salad, dessert and bread were the same as those served in economy.

Iberia Premium Economy Meal

I enjoyed the main course and in my opinion it was the only element of the meal which could be compared to a business class experience. In terms of drinks, these are all exactly the same as those offered in economy (soft drinks, wine, beer). Drinks were served in poor quality plastic cups – which left me wondering exactly how hard it would be for them to offer proper glassware as other airlines do in premium economy.

Before landing, we were offered a box with a cheese and ham sandwich and a small muffin. Again, I suspect passengers in economy were offered exactly the same option. Unfortunately, it was of a rather poor quality.

Iberia A350 premium economy landing snack

Iberia Premium Economy A350 Conclusions

The Iberia premium economy A350 experience is a slight step above economy. Iberia’s premium economy product offers a more spacious cabin and there are minor upgrades during the main meal service. Whether or not this justifies a significant cost premium over economy is debatable.

We booked this flight using Avios. A one-way flight from Madrid to Lima cost 31,750 avios and just over €100 each. In economy, you’d pay 21,250 avios and a similar amount in cash. For 10,000 additional avios, I was fairly happy. If I’d been paying entirely in cash, I’m not sure I’d value the upgrade at more than €200.

I wouldn’t book Iberia premium economy for the ‘improved’ amenities or food and drink. Instead, the single biggest reason I’d consider travelling in the Iberia premium economy A350 cabin again is for the 2-4-2 layout, which does feel significantly better than economy.