Review: Air Europa Business Class 737 London To Madrid

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I got to Gatwick Airport at around 7:30AM, plenty early for my 9:55AM flight to Madrid. My flight on Air Europa was departing from Gatwick’s South Terminal. The first stop at the airport was The Grain Store, which is the Priority Pass restaurant at the airport. I had an avocado toast and cappuccino, which hit the spot.

After that I visited the No1 Lounge London Gatwick South Terminal, which is the lounge that Air Europa uses for their business class passengers. This is a fairly nice lounge though tends to get way overcrowded. It’s quite small, and they serve a lot of passengers. When I got to the lounge I managed to grab the last empty seat.

While the lounge is open to Priority Pass members, you’ll typically only get in if you’ve made a reservation in advance.

This lounge also has a different vibe than most in terms of the guests. While most airline lounges are primarily filled with quiet business travelers, this has to be one of the most leisure-oriented lounges out there. Everyone seems to be going on a beach holiday, and is anxious to start with a few drinks early in the morning.

The lounge does have great views of the apron…

Traffic at Gatwick Airport

My flight was scheduled to depart at 9:55AM. At Gatwick they only post departure gates shortly before boarding is supposed to start. My boarding pass indicated boarding was to start at 9:05AM, and the departure monitor indicated the gate would be posted at 9AM. Sure enough, at 9AM it was posted that my flight was departing from gate 24, about a five minute walk away.

Air Europa 737 Gatwick Airport

This was a fairly small gate area, and boarding ended up starting at 9:20AM.


Air Europa departure gate Gatwick Airport

Air Europa 1014
London (LGW) – Madrid (MAD)
Thursday, May 2
Depart: 9:55AM
Arrive: 1:25PM
Duration: 2hr30min
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Seat: 2A (Business Class)

While intra-Europe planes are nothing to get excited about, my first impression was positive — the cabin looked brand new, and I quite liked the design.


Air Europa 737 cabin

As is the norm on intra-Europe flights, business class consisted of economy seats with blocked middles. On this flight there were two rows of business class. There’s a lot of flexibility so that the airline can adjust the size of the cabin with each flight.

Air Europa 737 business class

I had assigned myself seat 2A, the window seat on the left side in the last row of business class.

Air Europa 737 business class seat

As far as intra-Europe flights go, the legroom was quite good — the bulkhead had a fair amount of legroom, and the second row didn’t have bad legroom either. I believe Air Europa allocates a bit of extra legroom for the first few rows, so you get some more legroom and also the blocked middle.


Air Europa 737 business class bulkhead seats


Air Europa 737 business class cabin

The seat had a standard tray table that folded down from the seat in front.


Air Europa 737 business class tray table

The cabin had the Boeing Sky Interior, with air nozzles at every seat.


Air Europa 737 cabin


Air Europa 737 air nozzles

While the plane was new and in great condition, I was disappointed it didn’t have outlets.

I was very impressed by the crew — not only did they take pride in their appearance (their uniforms had no wrinkles, and they looked very well put together), but they were friendly. A couple of minutes after settling in I was asked if I wanted anything to drink. Most airlines don’t offer pre-departure beverages within Europe at all, while on this flight I was offered a drink of choice and even a refill.

Air Europa business class pre-departure drink

I was also offered magazines and newspapers.

The flight was quite full in economy, so boarding took a while. In business class only three seats were taken — there were two people in the bulkhead row, while I had the second row all to myself.

At 9:40AM the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, informing us of our flight time of 1hr50min, and expected on-time departure and arrival. A few minutes later the senior cabin crew, Lucy, made her welcome announcement.

As we waited for departure a Norwegian 737 pushed back next to us, and then a Ryanair 737 took its place, with a British Airways 777 in the distance.

Norwegian 737 Gatwick Airport

British Airways 777 Gatwick Airport

Ryanair 737 Gatwick Airport

At 9:50AM the door closed, and at 10AM we began our pushback, at which point the safety video was screened.

As we taxied out there was a WestJet plane also taxiing — this time it was a 737, and not the 787 I had flown the day before!

Taxiing Gatwick Airport

Our taxi to the runway took just a minute, but then we had to wait for other planes to take off first, including a Vueling A321 and airBaltic A220.

Vueling A321 Gatwick Airport

AirBaltic A220 Gatwick Airport

By 10:10AM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 26L.

Taking off from Gatwick

View after takeoff from Gatwick


View after takeoff from Gatwick

The views on the climb out were beautiful, and about 10 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off. At that point the curtains between cabins were closed, and the monitors popped out from the overheads. They had some TV programming on there throughout the flight, mixed in with the moving map.


Air Europa business class cabin

While Air Europa doesn’t offer wifi on their 737s, they do have streaming entertainment, which is better than nothing.

Air Europa streaming entertainment


Air Europa streaming entertainment


Air Europa streaming entertainment

About 15 minutes after takeoff the crew distributed packaged towels.

Air Europa business class refreshing towel

After that drinks were served off a cart. I ordered a coffee, which was served in a plastic up, along with a sparkling water, which was served in a glass. I was also given a small chocolate on the side.

Air Europa business class drinks

Then about 10 minutes later breakfast was served — there was just one choice. I appreciated that the tray had a card describing everything being served.


Air Europa business class breakfast menu

I thought the breakfast presentation was super cute, with the warm part of the dish being served in a “pan” with a lid.


Air Europa business class breakfast

Breakfast included scrambled eggs with sautéed garlic, grilled zucchini, Padron pepper, and roasted cherry tomato. Then there was banana and biscuit yogurt, as well as fresh fruit and warm bread.


Air Europa business class breakfast


Air Europa business class breakfast

The breakfast was tasty, and the crew passed through the cabin several times to offer drink refills. The entire crew was extremely friendly.

About halfway through the flight I checked out the lavatory at the front of the cabin, which had no frills but was clean.

Air Europa 737 lavatory

45 minutes before landing it suddenly got really bumpy, and that lasted for a few minutes.

View enroute to Madrid

At 12:35PM Madrid time we began our descent, and five minutes after that the seatbelt sign was turned on. The views on our descent to Madrid were beautiful.


View enroute to Madrid


View enroute to Madrid


View enroute to Madrid

We touched down in Madrid at 1PM, and had a five minute taxi to our arrival gate.


View approaching Madrid


View approaching Madrid

Taxiing Madrid Airport

Transavia 737 Madrid Airport

Air Europa 737 Madrid Airport

The catch is that while we got to our gate at 1:05PM, it took over 20 minutes before we could deplane. They weren’t using the jet bridge for the flight, but rather had to set up air stairs so that we could be bussed to the terminal. I’m not sure if this was because there was a problem with the jet bridge, or if it was an issue of us not arriving at the right part of the terminal for immigration purposes.

Arrival gate Madrid

Furthermore, due to how close we parked to the jet bridge (I’d guess), we could only deplane through the rear door, so business class passengers were the last off.

Air Europa 737 Madrid Airport


Bus to terminal


Air Europa 737 Madrid Airport


Air Europa 737 Madrid Airport

From there we had a five minute drive to the terminal.

Air Europa 737 business class bottom line

Air Europa greatly exceeded my expectations. I’ve always viewed them as being the second rate Spanish airline (after Iberia), which isn’t exactly saying a whole lot. However, the cabin was comfortable and new, crew friendly, and food good. I wouldn’t hesitate to fly Air Europa again within Europe.

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Comments
  1. Guessing you arrived at a Schengen gate where flights from the UK are non-Schengen so need to be bussed to immigration.

  2. It looks like the (blocked) middle sear has a central section that pulls down and possibly becomes a table. Is that the case Lucky?

  3. So what are your thoughts on MAD’s T2? I’d say for me it is one (of many) cons of UX. It’s dark, particularly narrow, gets extremely crowded (at least during rush hour) easily and the lounge is pretty bad. IB is not my cup of tea, but I’ll give them credit where credit is due. T4 and (-S) have a lot of natural light, the lounge selection is fairly decent and although it can get crowded, never to the point where you have trouble navigating through the terminal due to boarding lines.

  4. I admire Richard Rogers’ sculptural architecture for T4 and S, but T2 is just so much more user-friendly – including not having to walk for km from one end to the other.

    (They once had just a single security officer checking a queue of hundreds of people trying to enter S – after that I literally had to run from the start of that terminal to the non-Schengen bit at the far end. It was like running a marathon. Give me T2 anyday.)

  5. Amusing about air Europa is that they fly intra-eu with dreamliners between their long haul roulations.

    The early flights to Amsterdam are dreamliners, as are the first flights to gran canaria. Quite a threat.

  6. “…anxious to start with a few drinks early in the morning.”

    I don’t get this idea with people (and it seems to be a British/Irish thing) that regardless of the time of your holiday flight, you HAVE to start with drinks in the airport bar. I’ll have champagne if I have lounge access and flying after midday (I don’t have status yet with any airline, so only when in J or F) but if I’m in Y then I would never think of going to a bar first. Friends of mine will not start a holiday without an airport bar drink, even at 5am.

  7. Lucky, you arrived at a T3 gate (E gates, which are really part of T2). The only gates in the old terminals at MAD that are non-Schengen are in T1 (gates A and B).

  8. Yes, I agree that AirEuropa (UX) offers a solid Business Class product, better than the average EU airline – but not fully at IB levels (which in view has the best EU Business Class).

    As others said, the gate issue was most likely related that you parked at a Schengen gate (for the next flight), but the UK is non-Schengen.

  9. You probably got the best end of the deal on arrival since the bus could depart as soon as all of the J pax got on, instead of getting on the bus first and then having to wait 15 minutes for everyone else to deplane.

  10. @The nice Paul, ok I’ll give you that the long distances within the terminals are tedious (and can get stressful if you have a tight connection). I’ve personally rarely experienced long lines at T4S (not that I use it frequently either), longest I’ve ever waited was ~30 mins at T4 security due to some sort of staff shortage/strike. Haven’t gone through T2 recently, but last time I was there security took 15-20 mins.

  11. Far too many irrelevant pictures! We don’t need pictures of several other planes at Gatwick or Madrid. Yes they are pretty but not really relevant to an airline review.

    You could have commented on the following –

    What was your check-in experience like

    Did flying in business get you access to premium security ( not all airlines offer it)

    Did you get priority boarding.

    What is their carry on policy / did the cabin crew stop Y passengers using the J overheads?

    Did you use the IFE if so how was it.

  12. I flew them in economy MAD-ORY. As a SkyTeam elite+, I got priority security, lounge access and exit row for free.
    Seat was fine, flight was fine. Service was pay-only on board, so the lounge was extra nice for preboarding snacks and drinks.

  13. Love my fellow Brits getting on the beers ASAP as a start to a holiday. Trust me, if you get the 6am LBA to DUB for work any pub is full with Yorkshire Folk hitting the beers on a trip to LPA. Love it !!

  14. I’m not convinced that on a short flight such as this, the big difference in price between business and economy is worth paying.

  15. @Ben Holz
    I disagree with your negative assessment of Terminal 2 at Madrid Barajas. I use it for MAD-FRA and MAD-MUC flights and find it to be less stressful than Terminal 1 because the walking distances are shorter. The Puerta de Alcala lounge in Terminal 2 is about the same quality as the Cibeles lounge in Terminal 1. Of course Terminal 4 is better than Terminals 1, 2, and 3, but that’s because it is so much newer.

  16. @Charlie, T2 is definately better than T1 and T3; my main point was that T4 is in a league of its own despite the long distances within the terminal itself. Sure, it is newer, but that doesn’t take away from it being superior.

  17. @BrightonReader…
    There are clearly a number of things that Lucky “could” have written but he chose not to. Lucky’s reviews (of which there are hundreds, thousands even?) appear to be highly consistent (and IMO excellent). Since you clearly disapprove of his Lucky’s reviews and they don’t meet your particular standards you “could”:
    a) find another travel blog that meets you particular demanding standards (there are many out there to choose from)
    b) start your own since you are clearly such an expert
    c) learn some manners

    Does anyone else have any suggestions as to what BrightonReader could do instead of reading this site?

  18. I think my questions were very apt for inclusion in any review of an airline these days. I never said I disproved of the review (other than too many irrelevant photos of planes) but want Lucky to improve them.

    The questions I asked aren’t very demanding and are just the normal expectations of many travellers these day. It wouldn’t have required Lucky to go out of his way to include because he would have experienced them (or not because those things aren’t provided) himself directly.

    And suggesting that I ‘go elsewhere’ and should ‘learn some manners’ just because I made some comments on improving the review shows a lack of manners on the part of the previous poster.

  19. I flew Air Europa in business class from Amsterdam to Madrid on the Dreamliner back in January this year and I didn’t like the food. Seems like the food is better on this flight.

  20. If the photo was of business class I’d hate to think what economy is like.
    Paper cups just not done
    I sure wouldn’t waste my money.

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