Review: Air Europa Business Class 787 Madrid To Miami

Filed Under: Other Airlines

My layover in Madrid was only about two hours. Madrid is a deceivingly massive airport, and a great place to connect if you’re looking to meet your daily quota for steps in one layover.

To be honest I actually have no clue what gate we arrived at, though I knew I was departing from the A Concourse, so I followed signage in that direction.

Madrid Airport terminal

I had to clear security again, and was pleasantly surprised that the entire process only took about 10 minutes. Since I had time to spare, I figured I’d check out Air Europa’s lounge.

Even though Madrid is Air Europa’s hub, they don’t operate their own branded lounge there. Rather Air Europa uses the Sala VIP Cibeles, which is located in Terminal 1 Concourse B. I reviewed this lounge several years ago prior to my Aeromexico business class flights to Mexico City, so won’t be reviewing it this time around. I stopped in there for about 20 minutes.

Air Europa Lounge Madrid Airport

Then I headed from Concourse B to Concourse A, which was a pretty quick walk down this funky corridor.

Walking to Madrid Airport departure gate

Madrid Airport terminal

While walking to the gate I had the chance to snap some pictures of some Air Europa planes, including A330s and 787s, which are the two aircraft types they use for long haul flights.

Air Europa A330 Madrid Airport

Air Europa 787 Madrid Airport

My gate, A2, was at the very end of the terminal. My boarding pass indicated that boarding was scheduled to start at 2:25PM, a full hour before departure. In reality boarding started 10 minutes after that, with those needing extra time being invited to board first, followed by business class passengers.

Air Europa departure gate Madrid Airport

Air Europa 97
Madrid (MAD) – Miami (MIA)
Thursday, May 2
Depart: 3:25PM
Arrive: 6:45PM
Duration: 9hr20min
Aircraft: Boeing 787-8
Seat: 4K (Business Class)

I boarded through the second set of doors, where I was able to catch a glimpse of the economy cabin, including the “XL” exit row seats. I was pointed left into the business class cabin.

Air Europa 787 economy cabin

Air Europa has a total of 22 business class seats on their 787-8s. These seats are spread across four rows in a 2-2-2 configuration (the center section only has three rows).

Air Europa 787 business class cabin

Air Europa uses a really unusual configuration. All the seats are in pairs and each pair of seats is angled slightly towards one another.

This is very similar to Royal Air Maroc’s 787-8 business class, though the difference is that on Air Europa the two seats recline to the same level. Contrast that to Royal Air Maroc, where you have one person sleeping on “top” and one on “bottom.” It’s sort of awkward.

Air Europa 787 business class seats

I had assigned myself seat 4K, the window seat on the right side in the last row. I figured this maximized my odds of having an empty seat next to me, and in a “cozy” configuration like this, that can make a big difference. The downside to sitting in row four is that a window is missing.

Air Europa business class seats 787

Each seat has a large footwell, and then a shelf above the footwell where you can store things (though not during takeoff or landing, since they’ll slide out). The good news is that the footwell is huge, though the bad news is that it’s not very practical to use if you’re not trying to sleep, since it’s quite low.

Air Europa business class seats 787

In the area between seats was a reading light, power outlets (USB and 110v), seat controls, headphone jacks, and an entertainment controller. Everything was easily within reach and well placed.

Air Europa business class seat controls

The tray table also folds out from the center console, and consists of one solid tray, so you can’t fold it over, or anything.

Air Europa business class tray table

The crew was extremely friendly, and the second I got to my seat they asked if I wanted to already have the seat “made up,” which I agreed to. This consisted of them simply placing a mattress sheet on the seat.

I definitely recommend doing this, because Air Europa’s business class seats are about as hard as an ironing board. The seats are so thin and you really don’t get much padding. I’d even try to put two blankets on the seat, if possible.

Air Europa 787  business class seat

In addition to the mattress sheet was a plush blanket and good pillow. Since I had an empty seat next to me I could even double up and get extra comfortable.

Air Europa business class bedding

Unfortunately Air Europa doesn’t offer individual air nozzles at every seat, so you’re at the mercy of whatever temperature the crew keeps the cabin.

Already waiting at my seat upon boarding was an amenity kit. This was a cute little pouch that folded over.

Air Europa business class amenity kit

The contents of the kit were pretty good, and it contained products from UNICSKIN.

Air Europa business class amenity kit

Also waiting at my seat were headphones, which weren’t great.

Air Europa business class headphones

Within a few minutes of settling in I was offered a pre-departure drink, with the choice between water, carrot juice, or champagne. I selected the champagne.

Air Europa business class pre-departure drinks

A few minutes later flight attendants distributed menus, magazines, and newspapers.

Air Europa business class menu

The boarding process was calm and efficient, and because they boarded through door two, I saw very few passengers. Air Europa also has nice boarding music, which I appreciate.

At 3:20PM the main cabin door closed, with six of the 22 business class seats empty, including the seat next to mine — yay.

Around that time the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, informing us that we’d push back shortly, and that our flight time was nine hours. We did indeed push back shortly thereafter.

Air Europa A330 Madrid Airport

At 3:30PM we began our taxi, and around the same time the safety video was screened.

There were so many interesting planes on our taxi out, in particular the WAMOS 747 (WAMOS is operating flights on behalf of several other airlines that have grounded planes).

WAMOS 747 Madrid Airport

Air Europa 787 Madrid Airport

Ryanair 737 Madrid Airport

EasyJet A320 Madrid Airport

While the pilots were taxiing quickly, we did have a very long taxi, as Madrid Barajas Airport is massive. By 3:45PM we were cleared for takeoff.

Taxiing Madrid Airport

Taking off from Madrid

Our climb out was smooth, and about 10 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off.

View after takeoff from Madrid

View after takeoff from Madrid

As we climbed out I browsed the entertainment selection. Air Europa’s entertainment options pleasantly surprised me. The system was responsive and had dozens of movies and TV shows.

Air Europa entertainment selection

Air Europa entertainment selection

Air Europa entertainment selection

Mainly I just enjoyed watching the moving map.

Moving map enroute to Miami

Air Europa also offers Wi-Fi on their 787s. Unfortunately they charge based on data, and it’s quite pricey. The charge is 7EUR for 30MB, 13EUR for 60MB, and 20EUR for 100MB.

Air Europa Wi-Fi pricing

On top of that business class passengers receive a voucher for free Wi-Fi (this was distributed after takeoff). Unfortunately it’s only a 10MB allowance, which is almost so little that they shouldn’t bother, in my opinion (though something is better than nothing).

Air Europa complimentary Wi-Fi business class

Even though the Wi-Fi is pricey, I still appreciate that they offer it. Speeds were good, and I ended up using my free 10MB and bought two packages for 20EUR each, and that allowed me to stay productive for most of the flight (though I always turned off Wi-Fi when I wasn’t using it).

After takeoff I also checked out the lavatory. There are two at the front of the cabin — one on the left side, and one right by the cockpit. They were standard 787 lavatories, with few amenities.

Air Europa 787 lavatory

15 minutes after takeoff the crew came around to ask each passenger what they wanted for their main course.

Air Europa 787 business class cabin

The menu read as follows:

The drink list read as follows:

While the crew was quick to take meal orders, it was only 50 minutes after takeoff when warm towels were distributed.

Air Europa business class lunch — warm towel

Then a few minutes later a cart was rolled down the aisle with drinks.

Air Europa business class lunch — drink cart

I ordered one of the Spanish white wines, and was also offered either nuts or chips, and gazpacho. I selected the nuts and gazpacho.

Air Europa business class lunch — gazpacho and nuts

The nuts and gazpacho were pretty good. While minor, I’d note that the gazpacho was poured directly out of a branded carton (it looked like a juice carton). It would make the presentation a bit classier if they at least poured it out of a canister or something, so we can at least pretend that some sweet grandmother in the Gate Gourmet kitchen is using her family recipe to make it. 😉

75 minutes after takeoff the next course was served, which consisted of the appetizer and salad.

Air Europa business class lunch — appetizer

This was described as a smoked tuna block on salad with vegetables and seaweed, served with a light mayonnaise and ginger and sesame seeds. It was quite good, in my opinion.

Air Europa business class lunch — appetizer

Then there was also what was described as Oriental style cold salad of basmati rice and chicken. This wasn’t as good — it tasted dry, and the chicken was tough.

Air Europa business class lunch — appetizer

The appetizers were quickly cleared, and just 80 minutes after takeoff my main course was brought out. This was a cod fillet confit in virgin olive oil garnished with rolled potatoes and cold vinaigrette mussels. Despite the simple presentation, it tasted quite good.

Air Europa business class lunch — main course

Then about 100 minutes after takeoff dessert was served on a separate tray. There was the choice of either a cheese plate or chocolate and vanilla cake, and I went with the latter. The cake was rich and tasty.

Air Europa business class lunch — dessert

After the meal I also ordered an espresso.

Air Europa business class lunch — coffee

I’d say the meal was filling, decent, and unmemorable. The food wasn’t amazing, but it was edible, and there was a lot of it, should you be hungry.

What stood out to me was the service. The flight attendants were genuinely friendly and attentive, and that’s not something I was necessarily expecting.

With about 6hr30min remaining in the flight I tried to rest for a bit, figuring I should try to get some sleep.

Moving map enroute to Miami

I made my bed and reclined my seat. The seat is definitely on the narrow and hard side, but still comfortable, especially with an empty seat next to me.

Air Europa 787 business class bed

While the last row has the disadvantage of having a missing window, the advantage is that your seat will shake less. That’s because the footrest for most seats is located in the back of the seat in front. So since there’s no one seated behind you, they won’t be shaking your seat.

I ended up napping for about 90 minutes, which is more sleep than I was expecting to get on a daytime flight.

At the halfway point of the flight the crew passed through the cabin with ice cream and sandwiches.

Air Europa business class snack

About 2hr45min before landing the crew turned on the lights in the cabin and distributed warm towels.

Moving map enroute to Miami

Then about 2hr30min before landing they started the lunch service, right as we were flying over Bermuda.

Moving map enroute to Miami

The pre-landing menu read as follows:

The presentation for the meal was similar to what I was served in business class from London to Madrid. I found the presentation to be cute. This included some fresh fruit, vegetables, and bread.

Air Europa business class snack

There were two choices for the main, both served in a mini-skillet — you could have either a chicken or fish option. I chose the fish, which was described as fish and shrimp ragout with creamy mashed potatoes, topped with cheddar cheese and chopped parsley. It was… not particularly to my liking.

Air Europa business class snack

I spent about an hour working after the snack.

Map approaching Miami

About 30 minutes before landing the captain announced that we’d soon be descending, and the seatbelt sign was turned on. As we descended the crew handed out packaged towels and mints, which was a nice touch.

We had some great views of the coast as we flew in over Miami.

View approaching Miami

While the weather was nice on approach initially, we flew right into heavy rain as we flew inland and turned east, and the plane experienced significant turbulence for about 30 seconds.

View approaching Miami

We touched down in Miami at 6:50PM, and from there had a roughly five minute tax to our arrival gate, where we parked next to a Swift Air 737 (you’ve gotta love the variety of traffic in Miami).

Arrival gate at MIA

Air Europa 787 business class bottom line

Maybe I just had really low expectations coming in, but Air Europa exceeded them.

While I don’t love Air Europa’s business class seats, they’re fully flat and comfortable enough, and with an empty seat next to me it was especially pleasant.

The food on Air Europa was fine and plentiful, the entertainment and Wi-Fi good, and the service very friendly.

While I wouldn’t go out of my way to fly Air Europa again, I also wouldn’t avoid them. They’re not bad at all.

  1. Great review.

    On another note – we need you on a WAMOS operated flight and needed it yesterday. Can you do one of those cheap flights to Ecuador/Peru they were operating for Avianca?

  2. Ben – I notice that the Air Europa 787 seems to have vehicles from “Newrest Inflight” (a catering firm) parked by it. So, when you say that “some sweet grandmother in the Gate Gourmet kitchen was using her family recipe”, this isn’t accurate. For the sake of attention to detail, maybe double check the catering company an airline uses first, before assuming…

  3. @Peter

    Lucky should test his nickname by flying LIS-REC (I think) with Wamos Air on behalf of Tap Portugal. 🙂

  4. Those footwells are enormous. wowzers.

    In April I am flying MAD-JFK, and there is award availability on both Delta (763) and Air Europa (332). All else being equal, any thoughts on which of those you would choose?

  5. Air Europa would be an amazing competitor to Iberia if only it was a bit more consistent. 3 business class cabins (one for each aircraft type) but the worst are their economy cabins. They still have A330 flying 11h+ flights without personal TV and others with decade old cabins.
    One question, you mention a champagne as a pre-departure drink but I only see a Cava (rosé) on the menu. Do they have a champagne bottle just for this?

  6. @Sam – I just flew on DL’s 763 and it’s showing its age with sluggish and not very responsive IFE screens, jerky seat adjustments, etc. Crew, food, etc. were what I’ve come to expect from Delta which is great people and mediocre food and solid delivery throughout the experience. I haven’t flown Air Europa (yet), but based on Ben’s review I would say that they’re roughly comparable overall experiences with AE having an edge in the IFE if that’s important to you.

  7. Lucky, don’t know if you know it alreayd, but Air Europa’s 787-9s have reverse herringbone seats instead of those odd ones, so maybe you should try them out in another oportunity!

  8. Another Dreamliner business class that doesn’t look a very sweet dream..
    More mweh than wah
    Cheapy.. cramped.. And horreur no option to escape your neighbour’s monitor..

  9. Nice report, Ben. Air Europa looks like a good option – I remember seeing they used to be signed up with Optiontown for upgrades you could bid on to their Business Class.

    Food looks good, but I’d agree, nothing stands out tremendously from your photos.

    Thanks for sharing!

  10. Nice report, of what seems to be the definition of a nondescript business class.
    One thing that strikes me as odd is the fact you give little to no attention to the wines being served. “Had one of the Spanish white wines”- is that it?
    Or maybe are you just not much of a wine person?

  11. @Sam I wouldnt risk flying UX’s a330 J, since many of those still feature the old business class (2-2-2, not fully flat, better padding but not comfortable)

  12. I love Air Europa.
    One of the most serious airlines from Spain.
    And specially the fact that their planes are mostly AirBus

  13. Its a no from me – travelled once and wasn’t impressed especially the seats – it was kind of like sleeping on the floor and the catering was sub par- thanks for the review

  14. Great to read a trip report Ben. I hope you went out to the outside seating area in the lounge again. Was the lounge still as good ?

  15. Last month we flew JFK-MAD on the redeye flight on air europa. We had a window/aisle seat together (row 3 on the right side) and the window seat full recline was high up, whereas the aisle seat was low. So when i needed to get up mid-flight, I was able to do so without waking my son.

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