Espana Conquistador- Flying the Iberia Airbus A350-900XWB

The Future of Flight has Landed at Iberia!

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In the world of aviation, airlines regularly update their fleets every ten to twenty years.

Iberia’s last major fleet change was in 2008 when they retired their Boeing 757-200 and McDonnell-Douglas MD-80 fleets which had been serving the airline since the early-1990s. This left the airline’s mainline fleet with an all-Airbus fleet consisting of the Airbus A320-Family (A319/A320/A321) and Airbus A340.

61542198 2515197418503336 5694454618143064064 n - Travel Radar - Aviation NewsIberia has been the dominant carrier at Madrid Barajas ever since its inception.


In the early 2010s with the rise of fuel ever increasing, the airline ordered in the latest European built products from Airbus, the Airbus A320-NEO, Airbus A330 and Airbus A350. The Airbus A330 came in 2012 to allow the airline to phase out the Airbus A340-300 fleet, a plane that since its introduction in the early 1990s. The larger and longer range Airbus A340-600 will be replaced eventually by the brand new Airbus A350s which began to enter the fleet in 2018, and already see regular services from Madrid to New York and Buenos Aires with Chicago due to be the next one.

However during the Spring/Summer 2019, with three planes in the fleet, Iberia is taking the chance to introduce their brand new bird on the London Heathrow service for crew training and familiarisation. A move that was done in 2015 by fellow OneWorld alumni Finnair, and has since become a regular service.

61125142 2515192438503834 7641908556697960448 n - Travel Radar - Aviation News- Travel Radar - Aviation NewsSome gates at Madrid are not forgiving for pictures, but here is EC-NBE, my first Iberia A350. This was only 7 weeks old at the time I flew on it!


I had the pleasure to fly on the newest Airbus A350 in the Iberia fleet on March 17th 2019. I was on the Iberia IB3166 service which until the change of operations was often a good chance for Airbus A340 enthusiasts to enjoy a cheap and easy ride on one of these vulnerable aircraft, however the new plans allow for passengers to enjoy a long-haul airliner and its perks on the more budget friendly short haul network!

61420674 2515196625170082 6315813953536524288 n - Travel Radar - Aviation NewsMaking up most of the Iberia short haul network since the 1990’s (replacing the DC-9/MD-88 aircraft) is the Airbus A320-Family. Here we have an A321 of Iberia taxiing past Madrid Barajas T4S.


Getting to Madrid from the Muse Del Aire (the Madrid Aviation Musuem) on the public metro system me and my travel companion of the trip made our way to Madrid Barajas Airport’s Terminal 4. We went through security, which took about 15 minutes as it was getting busy for the mid-afternoon/evening rush of flights out of Iberia’s hub, and we then took the monorail under the airport’s runways to Termianl 4S. At Madrid Barajas- all Iberia flights outside of the EU Schengen zone fly from this Satelite terminal so you can be checked at a passport check point. British Airways, Qatar Airways, American, LATAM Airlines and Royal Jordanian also operate from here providing an easy link to the OneWorld Alliance partners.

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Finnair flies from the main Terminal 4 complex as its part of the Schengen area, alongside fellow IAG subsidery Vueling. Some of the non One-World airlines that fly from T4S include: Emirates, Avianca, Boliviana de Aviacon and Ukraine International Airlines.

Some photography of taxiing aircraft was a must for this place, a lot of “Dull” or “Eurowhite” liveries really stand out in Madrid as they usually have great sunshine and weather to bring them out on the sandy background around the airport.

The Airbus A350-900(XWB) that awaited was EC-NBE. Delivered two months earlier in January 2019. The plane has been christened with the name of “Museo del Prado”. It has a configuration of 31 business class seats, 24 Economy Plus seating and 293 Economy Class seats.

61126419 2515191845170560 4408457163937153024 n - Travel Radar - Aviation News- Travel Radar - Aviation NewsEC-NBE at the gate during boarding. Look at that sleek nose and bandanna paint scheme!


Today I was sat in Row 24, Seat A. On the left side of the plane next to the left engine.

The inside of the cabin looked a bit dull for my liking. I know majority of leading European “Flag Carrier” airlines go a more bland look as bright and bold is associated with Low-Cost Airlines, but I feel the “Iberia” logo should have been red and/or yellow to display the proud colours of the Spanish airline and country.

61453488 2515191881837223 6325196816400777216 n - Travel Radar - Aviation News- Travel Radar - Aviation NewsEconomy Plus on the Airbus A350 of Iberia. What do you think on the IBERIA plaque. I can see the letters being silver, but I feel the logo design needs to be Yellow & Red. The cabin is SO DULL with all this beige and grey.


The seat was a little hard, but the legroom was plenty for someone of my height and dimensions. The seat was probably just slightly hard as it was a brand new plane, just give it a bit more wear and it will soften up!

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We pushed back and departed a sunny Madrid fairly punctual. Climbing out and the main cruise gave some lovely bright pictures of the sleek swept winglet of the Airbus A350. The Iberia tail colours were a huge stand out on the wingtip giving some colour on the vast silver wing.

- Travel Radar - Aviation News61292641 2515192005170544 5606625753870368768 n - Travel Radar - Aviation News- Travel Radar - Aviation NewsFarewell Madrid! I’ll return very soon!!!


So like the rest of the IAG Airlines and many other European airlines, Iberia has a buy on board bistro for European/Domestic flights, which they’ve had in place in 2006. The selection was decent and there was a 10EUR offer for a sandwich item, a snack and soft drink. So I took the opportunity to enjoy a turkey and cheese toasted sandwich, salted crisps and a Cola drink. Nothing extravagant about it, but it was a nice thing to offer on this 2 hour flight, and for £8/10EUR I thought it was reasonable and competitive to other airline “Buy on Board” products.

61170922 2515192068503871 7604683001401704448 n - Travel Radar - Aviation News- Travel Radar - Aviation NewsA 10 Euro meal deal on Ibeira. Ideal for a 2 hour flight? A total rip off? What is YOUR verdict?


I took the time to purchase a model of the Iberia Airbus A350 on sale for 22EUR as I wanted an ideal souvenir from this trip! It is quite a size given its a 1:200 scale model. Some various US/Spanish tv shows, films and music made a majority of the IFE selection, but some good choices were to be found. I watched a few Big Bang Theory and Bob’s Burgers episodes to pass a bit of time…

61292127 2515192128503865 9186141555231031296 n - Travel Radar - Aviation NewsWhat a beautiful evening for flying! Sun is on point!


The aircraft had to circle around London a few times before we got clearance to join the que of planes due in that afternoon, it was 5:30pm and Heathrow airport was getting started on its evening rush period. But as we broke through the scattered clouds of the evening sky, there were some amazing shots and views to behold of the UK’s Capital City as we lined up for the Northern Runway, 27R.

- Travel Radar - Aviation News61650233 2515192478503830 2975575895542071296 n - Travel Radar - Aviation NewsSome interesting shots of London from the Airbus A350 on arrival into LHR on this lovely Spring evening.


We passed the BA Maintenance hangers to see some Boeing long haulers parked up for over night maintenance, including a Boeing 787 with some ill-fated RR engines!IMG 6940 e1563366052851 - Travel Radar - Aviation News

We taxied off, passing Terminal 3 which was hosting the British Airways “Landor” retro Boeing 747-400, before parking next to a rather dirty looking Airbus A380 of British Airways. The aircraft had apparently just come back from a huge maintenance overhaul in the Philippines.

61362935 2515192181837193 8979055124324286464 n - Travel Radar - Aviation NewsMy My! What a dirty birdy! British Airways Airbus A380 looking in need of a bit of TLC!


I left the Airbus A350 having enjoyed my first time on an Iberia example (having clocked 4 other flights with Finnair examples). Despite some minor opinions on the decor I would happily give this aircraft a chance on a long haul flight if an offer came up.

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Airbus A350 flight deck, its updated but still very similar design to the Airbus A320, A330, A340 and A380 aircraft

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Kirsty Atek
Kirsty Atek
Kirsty Atek is a visual artist based in London who is interested in sustainability.