Iberia’s Quirky New Airbus A350s

Iberia’s Quirky New Airbus A350s

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Here’s something you don’t see every day…

Iberia’s new Airbus A350s missing business class

Twitter user @aviosAdventurer noted something very strange about Iberia’s newest Airbus A350-900s. Iberia has been working on growing its A350 fleet, and in September 2022, the airline took delivery of its two newest A350s, with the registration codes EC-NVR and EC-NXD.

There’s only one slight issue — the planes don’t have a business class cabin yet. This is apparently due to supply chain shortages impacting the seating manufacturer.

https://twitter.com/aviosAdventurer/status/1584147219036647426

Nonetheless the airline wanted to get these planes into service, since planes don’t make money sitting on the ground. So Iberia has started flying these planes around without business class. Instead the area that usually has business class has several rows of the most spacious economy seats you’ve ever seen in your life.

These can’t actually be used — instead they’re blocked off, so I’m not sure why the airline even bothered installing them. Maybe there’s some requirement for a passenger cabin to have seats throughout, or something? The planes have ballasts to help them compensate for the lower weight toward the front of the jet.

Suffice it to say that it would be rather strange to board a plane and see the below cabin…

https://twitter.com/aviosAdventurer/status/1586384255726153733

While this is strange, it’s not necessarily bad news

In fairness to Iberia, the airline is currently using these two Airbus A350-900s exclusively for short haul flights that would ordinarily be operated by narrow body aircraft. These planes aren’t being put on long haul routes until they get their proper interiors.

Those who booked business class are being seated in the premium economy section. This is arguably still a significant upgrade over what those passengers would otherwise get, since intra-Europe business class otherwise typically consists of economy seats with a blocked middle.

Iberia’s A320neo business class

Meanwhile premium economy in a 2-4-2 configuration on an A350 is probably a bit more comfortable.

There’s no denying that the optics of boarding a flight and seeing the forward cabin look like the above are still a bit strange.

Bottom line

Iberia’s two newest Airbus A350-900s don’t yet have business class cabins due to supply chain issues. Nonetheless the airline has decided to put these planes into service. The business class cabin just has a few rows of economy seats that are blocked off, along with some extra weights for weight and balance.

For now these planes are in service on short haul flights that would ordinarily be operated by narrow body planes, and business class passengers are being seated in premium economy.

What do you make of Iberia’s unique A350s?

(Tip of the hat to @dontbuybluth)

Conversations (20)
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  1. R Philion Guest

    I’m currently on one of these A350s en route MAD JFK. I see at least one unhappy passenger who was expecting business and is in premium economy. Strange choice of route for this aircraft!

  2. Quentin Guest

    Yeah that really isn't cool. Just booked a MAD-DSS in Business and I can only select Premium Economy. On hold with BA to cancel the award ticket currently, will fly AT instead.

  3. Tim Guest

    Hi. Does anybody know, if Iberia made involuntary Downgrades to their Business Class Passnegers on these Longhaul Flights? Or did they offering a Reebooking?

  4. Dave Guest

    Is this one of those planes with the new sidewalls? If not, when does the new sidewall A350 enter service?

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      see the registration numbers above. EC-NXD is MSN 567 which is the first A350 with the New Production Standard (NPS) which not only is 4 inches wider but moved the rear pressure bulkhead back creating more room behind the rearmost set of door sand also moved the cockpit wall forward which increases the size of the front galley including moving the access stairs for the forward crew bunk, if the aircraft is so equipped. The...

      see the registration numbers above. EC-NXD is MSN 567 which is the first A350 with the New Production Standard (NPS) which not only is 4 inches wider but moved the rear pressure bulkhead back creating more room behind the rearmost set of door sand also moved the cockpit wall forward which increases the size of the front galley including moving the access stairs for the forward crew bunk, if the aircraft is so equipped. The other registration listed does not have NPS
      Iberia says they are not going to 10 abreast in coach so it isn't clear how they are changing the cabin, if at all.
      There are mechanical and computer changes that reduce weight and improve aircraft performance
      Air China, China Eastern and China Southern all have several A350s that fall after this aircraft in the production list so they also have these features.
      Air France and Singapore have each received one aircraft since NPS.
      Delta, Turkish, and Lufthansa all have a couple A350s on the production line with NPS that will likely get delivered by the end of the year

  5. Andy Diamond

    Thanks for posting, Ben. This explains why we got an A350 (NVR, so one of these two birds) to ZRH. We have A330 about once or twice per week, but so far hardly ever an A350.

    To install a few Eco seat (which are not sold), I think is a regulatory requirement, because crew who walk through the cabin need something to hold on in case of turbulence.

  6. Javier Guest

    Actually they are using them on long haul routes. Right now it’s reopening the flights to Caracas.

  7. VT-CIE Gold

    Funnily enough those two plane registrations sound awfully similar to Never and Nixed!

  8. Ben Guest

    Sadly these birds ARE on longhaul routes. Check out MAD-MEX-MAD. Most days of the week one turn has one of these planes.

  9. LEo Diamond

    Couldn't Iberia just install MCEs upfront as well? and market it as a business class with a blocked middle seat, and customers can't complain as they are getting the same product.

    1. Klaus Guest

      That reminds me of LH Frankfurt to Poona (that is in India) flight with an A320 where Business Class was an entire row of three economy class seats.

  10. Enrique Perrella Guest

    Ben, the plane is flying to CCS and MEX this week. They didn’t sell business class fares on neither. So it won’t be stuck in short haul flights anymore.

  11. Tim Dunn Diamond

    Air Insight says that the business class seats that Iberia is waiting on are being built by Recaro

  12. Luke Guest

    I’m guessing it is still worth scheduling these new 350s on short haul routes for the cargo capacity (e.g. between Madrid and Heathrow). I would still take a premium economy seat on this plane over a standard European business ‘economy with blocked middle seat’ configuration on 320s/321s.

  13. Greg Guest

    Always entertaining to see these anomalies in layouts

  14. BBK Diamond

    The will use the EC-NVR tomorrow to retake operations to Caracas, in that very same configuration. So definitely not exclusive for short-haul/intra-europe.

  15. Yonni Guest

    Iberia is the WORST.. take a boat!

    1. Jd Guest

      Yeah, take a boat yourself

  16. Bob Guest

    Seems like an Air Inter flight in the 80's, minus the space between the lines of seats :-)

  17. Tim Dunn Diamond

    The real question seems to be whether Iberia ordered the business class seats themselves or whether they were part of the direct order between Iberia and Airbus. If Airbus had completed the aircraft but Iberia specifically ordered the seats, it would appear they would have to take responsibility for the lack of the business class seats. If the seats were ordered as part of the order for the aircraft, then Airbus would have to assume...

    The real question seems to be whether Iberia ordered the business class seats themselves or whether they were part of the direct order between Iberia and Airbus. If Airbus had completed the aircraft but Iberia specifically ordered the seats, it would appear they would have to take responsibility for the lack of the business class seats. If the seats were ordered as part of the order for the aircraft, then Airbus would have to assume responsibility.
    Using a widebody aircraft on such short flights with a lot of seats missing is undoubtedly not very efficient but Iberia probably prepared for the arrival of the aircraft - has crews in place - and had to take delivery of the aircraft or pay delays to Airbus.

    The bigger issue is the backlog in the supply chain which is affecting alot in the aviation industry - including engines esp. for the A320NEO and B737MAX families. Apparently Rolls Royce is still cranking the engines out for the A350.

    This aircraft also is supposed to have the new Airbus new production standard interior with thinner sidewalls and additional space both in front of the first doors and behind the last doors. It would be interesting to see a side by side comparison of how that space plays out in real life.

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Tim Dunn Diamond

Air Insight says that the business class seats that Iberia is waiting on are being built by Recaro

2
Klaus Guest

That reminds me of LH Frankfurt to Poona (that is in India) flight with an A320 where Business Class was an entire row of three economy class seats.

1
R Philion Guest

I’m currently on one of these A350s en route MAD JFK. I see at least one unhappy passenger who was expecting business and is in premium economy. Strange choice of route for this aircraft!

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