Iberia (CMN-MAD-JFK)

Despite negative reviews, I decided on flying Iberia - a member of the Oneworld alliance. It's got a convenient schedule for my trip to Morocco and more importantly, I'm flying free courtesy of my Marco Polo membership with Cathay Pacific. This is the return leg of my trip from Casablanca to New York with a lay-over in Madrid.

Check In - Casablanca's Mohammad V airport requires everyone entering the airport terminal to go through security - a rather slow process with many people getting into the airport via train. There was a build up of passengers for the Madrid-bound flight but ground staff was quite expeditious and we got our boarding passes for the 12:00 pm flight without much wait. I didn't have any luggage to check-in, only a carry-on which was slightly more than the allowed 10 kgs but the agent let me through anyway.

Since Iberia doesn't serve meals on short flights - another cost-cutting measure - we filled ourselves at a cafe before going through immigration and a secondary security check. We boarded an Airbus A320 aircraft with a 3-3 seating configuration. Thankfully, we left on time and landed in Madrid one hour and a half later as scheduled. My travel companion was moving on to London so we part ways at Madrid Barajas Terminal 4 - a massive terminal with a truly smart design.

Boarding - The departure gate for my New York-bound flight was at the very end of the terminal. There's passport verification for all US-bound flights at this point. Boarding commenced on time via airbridge to a waiting Airbus A340-300 for our 5:00 pm departure.

The Seat - I had requested a bulkhead seat (8L) and thoughts about having snagged the best economy class seat in the cabin vanished as soon as I found out that I will be seated next to a mom with a 7-month old baby! Que horror! The seating configuration is 2-3-2 and I'm seated by the window. Seat pitch is 32" with a decent amount of recline. For the main cabin, in-flight movies are limited to the main screen, no PTV's like Cathay or British Airways - what a lame service for Iberia's long haul flights! I offered the woman my seat so I don't have to disturb her (and the baby) once the bassinet is secured in front of us.

The Flight - We left Madrid on time. Since our expected arrival is at 7:00 pm, I intended to stay awake throughout the flight and catch-up with usual sleeping time in New York. How am I to sleep in this flight anyway with a baby wailing every now and then? With nothing else to do - I tried watching Journey To The Center Of The Earth but it bored me - I became the mom's assistant, helping her open a jar of Gerber, picking up toys from the floor and making funny faces to a crying little monster.

I've been feeling under the weather since leaving Morocco - with a slight fever & congestion - so after the meal service, I asked one of the flight attendants for Paracetamol. Contrary to negative comments about Iberia's crew, the male attendant came back after a few minutes bringing me the medicine and a glass of water, even giving me an extra tablet just in case. During the meal service - and there's two - flight attendants were very attentive, even offering extra bread on top of what I already have in my tray.

The Arrival - We landed at JFK slightly ahead of schedule. With only my carry-on, I swiftly made it through immigration and customs and into the Airtrain platform. Home is just a 30-minute bus ride away.

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