Review: Air Europa Club Business 737 Amsterdam to Madrid

Filed Under: Other Airlines, SkyTeam

Air Europa 1098
Amsterdam (AMS) – Madrid (MAD)
Wednesday, April 8
Depart: 11:05AM
Arrive: 1:35PM
Duration: 2hr30min

Aircraft: Boeing 737
Seat: 1F (Club Business)

Our flight to Madrid from Amsterdam was delayed by nearly two hours due to industrial strikes in France, which seem to be about as reliable a source of delay in Europe as snow is to O’Hare or fog is to SFO.

At the end of the jetway just before the boarding door was a selection of newspapers and magazines, so I grabbed an International New York Times and headed into the business class cabin, which, as you undoubtedly know by now from Ben’s numerous intra-Europe trip reports, is really just a row of three standard economy seats with a blocked middle seat.  In this case, the blocked middle seat served as an armrest and drink holder, and the seats themselves were leather, and perfectly comfortable.

Air Europa seat 1F
Air Europa seat 1F

My friend and I were the only passengers in the business class cabin, and the flight attendant was absolutely delightful.  I had no idea what to expect from Air Europa, other than not to expect much, but he was on the younger side and clearly eager to practice his English, so he joked around with us quite a bit and it was quite enjoyable.

He offered refreshments and I chose a beer.  Their selection of beer was limited to Corona (which I thought was an odd choice within Europe, but hey) and Mahou, a local Madrid beer.  I chose the Mahou beer and quite enjoyed it.

Eventually, he came by with a tray of… something resembling lunch.  Now, I’m looking back over my notes, and I see no photos of it on my camera, so I apologize in advance for this, but your take-away should be this:  you’ll be fed on Air Europa, and it will be extremely basic (I think it was bread and some ham, or maybe I just assume it was ham, since everything in Spain has ham in it, even probably the Kosher meals at the local Chabad in Sevilla).  I think the food was actually classified as a snack, but it was presented on a tray, and it wasn’t actively bad.

The flight was otherwise uneventful, but I was surprised at what an “also-ran” airline Air Europa feels like.  I know Air Europa is one of the main SkyTeam partners within Europe, but they are worlds behind Air France and KLM in just about everything.  I mean, they’re basically the Cambodia Angkor Airways of Western Europe. It’s not that the flight attendant was not warm and friendly (he was awesome!) or that we didn’t get where we were going safely (we did), but everything about the plane and the airline seems a bit unpolished.

I mean, check out the in-flight magazine…

"Someone please insert the English text here before we go to print... oops."
“Someone please insert the English text here before we go to print… oops.”

What’s more, the Air Europa/SkyTeam terminal at Madrid Barajas Airport feels very much the red-headed stepchild compared to the much larger (and presumably more amenity-filled) Iberia terminal.  I understand that Madrid is a dual hub for both Iberia and Air Europa, but the fact that Air Europa is the second banana to Iberia is just sort of sad all-around.  I haven’t flown Iberia, but I’ve heard it described as something akin to the “Amtrak of the Skies.”

Spain has a checkered past with its airline industry, with the defunct Star Alliance partner Spanair now a recent memory, mismanaged into oblivion.  The Spanish government has built two ghost airports, one of which was partially the subject of a 2013 Almodóvar movie, I’m So Excited, which satirized the corruption and less-than-stellar competence of the Spanish aviation industry in general.  (But don’t watch that movie on my account — it’s one of Almodóvar’s worst.)

Air Europa Club Business Bottom Line

Look, Emirates it ain’t.  But Air Europa is an essential SkyTeam partner on flights to/from Spain and other SkyTeam hubs in Europe like Amsterdam, Rome, Paris and London, and may well be unavoidable if you’re building an itinerary on KLM, Air France or Alitalia with Madrid as your ultimate destination.  Luckily, Air Europa’s intra-Europe flights are relatively short, and the service is perfectly genial.  Would I fly Air Europa from New York or Miami to Madrid?  Not in a million years.  (I also wouldn’t fly Iberia on those routes, let alone from Los Angeles, for that matter.)  However, I had no issues whatsoever with my flight from Amsterdam to Madrid, and while the airline is “unpolished,” in got me there safely and in friendly hands, which is all I could ask for.

  1. This is the only blog I read daily. I’ll check in on Boarding Area throughout the day to see if anything piques my interest, but I actually type this URL into the address bar every day. I’m so grateful that you’re offering this POV since I’m also a Delta flyer. It’s a combination of Delta being the airline my company uses, and really liking the airline. I don’t use miles anyway since I “have to” qualify for Platinum or Diamond every year. Really…never used my miles on a trip for myself–ever. Family, friends, other people… Anyway, I booked this trip to outbound Air France the whole way and return on KLM. I just can’t bring myself to get reduced MQM’s. It’s so rude. Anyway, just wanted to say thanks.

  2. Discussion of Almodovar on One Mile at a Time? Where I usually expect to see praise for the latest Sandra Bullock comedy? What a day!

  3. Hey Nick, nice report.:)
    One more thing, you mistakenly entered destination as Amsterdam. It should be Madrid Barajas (MAD).

  4. “I haven’t flown Iberia, but I’ve heard it described as something akin to the “Amtrak of the Skies.””

    I’ve heard it described as “the Delta of Europe”.

  5. Urgh, such elitist observations on all these travel blogs. Not everyone have so many miles/points to book award biz/first class. Some of us DO NOT fly for work, meaning, we have to pay out of our own pocket and HAVE TO fly a lot to earn status. Is there a blog for more down-to-earth flyers who fly economy usually?

    And there are so many bad stereotypes on Air Europa or Iberia. C’mon, it’s 2015. I took Air Europa JFK/MAD 5 yrs ago in economy–perfectly fine on A330. Meals were tasty. Free wine. Friendly service. New plane, seats and IFE. Much like DL A330 or B767. However, the return flight was canceled by Air Europa and I called them so they booked my friend and me on Iberia, which was an older A330–no IFE but there’s live cam for takeoff. The food was great with real utensils, not plastic. And the blanket was large, thick and warm–much better than Delta’s. Now Iberia has new planes or retrofitted the seats with IFE. So ya, for regular folks like me, the TATL economy class on Air Europa and Iberia was totally fine.

  6. Business class on intra European flights is such a let down; bordering on scam: eonomy seats with the middle seat blocked out. Same kind of arrangement exists for Air France, among others. So, unless your client is paying, it just ain’t worth it. As a side note, though, BA within Europe, from memory, have great leather seats in both cabins… and more space/pitch too than a lot of the other airlines – that’s how it felt, anyway.

  7. @neo74 unfortunately BA has enhanced that away, and now all seats except for bulkhead and exit row have 30″ pitch, even “business” class.

  8. I find Air Europa an airline that focuses just on the basics. My wife has used them several times to fly between Caracas and Amsterdam and they have some positive sides: mostly the price and the baggage limit: you can take two suitcases of 23 kg (50lbs) each. That already saves some money, especially when she’s flying over pretty soon to come live with me (finally).

    Luxury? Nah. Anything special? Nah. But they deliver my wife safely in my arms, so it’s ok. It’s somewhere in the middle of full-service carriers and the Ryanairs of this world. That they partner with KLM/AF is a mystery to me, I find KLM/AF a full-service airline. But then again, within Europe there’s not much difference.

  9. Air Europa airline won the first place in my personal ranking of airlines offering the worse service to its passengers!
    I flew home with my whole family from Palma de Mallorca – I bought expensive tickets with a minimum transfer, as I was flying with my wife and three young children.
    The Air Europa airline without warning has canceled our flight, although we have already registered it online the day before departure. Then, the airline changed our flight to other with two transfers (although we bought a flight with 1 transfer) on which it was impossible to catch a connecting flight. In the result: we were late and arrived home 16 hours later than planned. Moreover, these out-going actions of airlines have led to serious injury of my child and long-term moral damage for the whole family.
    In addition, Air Europa has lost checked luggage, which I was looking by myself for a few days after arrival.

    Unfortunately, choosing Air Europa, we have become victims of the airline, which not only provided absolutely no service, but also harmed the health of my family!
    That’s why, if somebody will ask me: will you use Air Europa again? I will answer NEVER AGAIN!
    And not recommended to you too!

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