Feature: Iberia Unveils Airbus A350 NEXT Cabin in Madrid

Photo Credit: Adrian Olstad/AviationSource

LONDON – On December 22, AviationSource News attended the launch event of Iberia’s new A350 NEXT cabin at the La Muñoza technical facility situated at Madrid Barajas Airport (MAD).

Throughout the launch event, AviationSource experienced the new seating in Business Class, added by a gastronomic experience of Iberia’s long-haul catering service.

As well as we took a look at the new Premium Economy and Economy Class product.

At first glance

Upon entry to the A350 currently fitted with the NEXT-interior, EC-NXE, we were greeted by a lovely set of crew and Iberia officials, then the view of the new A350 business class cabin of the airline.

Upon walking down the aisle to a suitable seat to use during the cabin presentation, the little details started appearing, with one special feature catching my eye.

The new Business cabin now lights up the seat numbers brightly and sharply on the cabin floor, giving an exact indication of which seat is which.

At first glance, the new Business Class cabin looked huge and was very spacious compared to what it could have been if it did not feature a specific detail which will be explained later.

The Business Product

With the new Iberia NEXT cabin, the Business Class cabin sees an upgrade in comfort, privacy, and passenger experience, as the new seats come with a wide variety of different and new features.

The most noticeable was, as mentioned, the overall spaciousness of the Business Class area, which is a feeling that was given off as this particular new cabin now does not feature mid-row overhead storage bins, significantly reducing weight and increasing efficiency on the airplane, as well as increasing the feeling of being in what could be explained as an open, relaxed room.

Privacy has also been a huge part of this new cabin design, and the Business Class seats now feature a sliding door to ensure that your wanted level of privacy is customizable and in demand.

The seat surroundings come in a light wooden finish, which gives the overall product a light and modern feel.

Entertainment is key

With the Airbus A350-900 being an aircraft meant for long-haul operations, inflight entertainment (IFE) is always included on most airlines.

Photo: Panasonic Head Of Sales & Account Management EMEA, Stuart Seeney. Photo Credit: Adrian Olstad/AviationSource

Panasonic is the provider of the Inflight Entertainment systems onboard this aircraft, and Panasonic Head Of Sales & Account Management EMEA, Stuart Seeney, briefly explained what new features and benefits there are with this new entertainment technology.

He explained that the overall system design is made with sustainability in mind, thus making the new 4K UHD Inflight Entertainment screens consume less power and weigh less.

At the same time, it still provides the possibility to do the same features and even more with reduced consumption.

Shortly after his speech, AviationSource asked Mr. Seeney the following question:

AO: When we look back at the previous Inflight Entertainment product of Iberia, how does this new one compete, and what makes it even greater?

SS: Well, we have been a part of Iberia for a very long time, and the new features are what make it a great competitor to this market overall.

These new screens feature 4K Ultra High Definition quality for sharp images, along with the possibility of the customers experiencing entertainment in the comfort of their own headsets through Bluetooth connectivity. These new screens also feature our latest moving map called Arch.

The Premium and Economy product

Additionally, Premium Economy and Economy classes also see a new upgrade with the Iberia NEXT cabin.

Premium Economy, which features 28 seats, will also see a great upgrade in privacy and entertainment, now featuring head-level privacy blinds on each side of the seat as well as brand-new Panasonic screens.

As for the remaining 293 Economy seats, the tray tables have increased in size by a small centimeter, though seeing an even bigger increase in the entertainment screen size, which is increased by 2 inches, and of course, also of the newest Panasonic product.

Roundtable of Questions…

Iberia has Airbus A321XLRs on order. Photo Credit: Airbus.

Iberia Director of In-Flight Experience, Melanie Berry, and Maria Caldeira at Customer Experience kindly answered questions after the cabin presentation, where the following was asked and replied to:

Q: Will a similar cabin be replicated on the older fleet like the A330? In case, how long would the retrofit take?

A: Across the fleet, there are currently no plans for this, but it could be taken into evaluation given the response from the public on this product.

Q: With Iberia having Airbus A321XLRs on the way, could we see if this product is adapted to the aircraft type?

A: The Business Class product on the upcoming A321XLR will be somewhat similar, but of course, the long haul product will differ between the A321XLR and the A350

Q: Were there plans to go ten abreast in the cabin configuration?

A: We have no plans to go for ten-abreast, and the evaluation was never positively met.


Photo Credit: Adrian Olstad/AviationSource

Iberia has chosen to call this new cabin NEXT, but why is that?

The Iberia NEXT cabin is simply the new standard of Airbus, and along with that, the new Inflight Entertainment system and cabin overhaul all together make for a brand new product with guest experience and sustainability in focus.

And for the new standard of Airbus, Iberia is the launch customer of this program, with multiple aircraft coming in with this configuration.

A more sustainable and efficient upgrade

As already mentioned, sustainability and a lighter aircraft are two points that are weighed upon, but what does that mean, and what does it contribute to this A350?

With the newer Airbus A350 aircraft being made with a lighter material and Iberia reducing the total aircraft weight by removing the middle section overhead bins in Business, the aircraft can operate with lighter weight, thus making it use less fuel.

As well as this, Melanie Berry and Maria Caldeira explained that the aircraft’s new gear retracts faster than the older A350s, reducing drag and creating a more economical departure.

How to experience it

Data sourced from RadarBox.com.

At the time of the event, there was only one Airbus A350 containing this configuration, registered EC-NXE. However, Iberia took delivery of the second one registered EC-NXC that same afternoon.

With the Airbus A350 being a jet suitable for long-haul operations, we were explained that the aircraft is most likely to be seen operative on routes to New York and Buenos Aires.

However, they would not block out the possibility of seeing the aircraft on shorter flights to London or similar.

As there are also so few of the aircraft in this configuration, getting on a flight with it would be better guaranteed once there is a greater number of them in service with Iberia.

The final impressions

Photo Credit: Adrian Olstad/AviationSource

As for the final impressions, these are limited as no flight was completed, but they are worthy of mentioning.

The comfort: After having a seat in all three cabins, the comfort is worthy for any flight this will operate on. With Business Class, of course, featuring lie-flat seats, the seats in Economy and Premium Economy are slim yet also suitable for a flight of such duration with perfect legroom and great recline depth.

Spaciousness: With every cabin comes with a certain amount of space and storage. With no need to explain which class contains the most and best personal space and storage amount, the Premium and Economy class products appear to contain just enough space for your necessities whilst also leaving adequate space for yourself in this new product.

The product overall: Iberia has definitely got a new product that is likely to be enjoyed by the passengers in all three classes, seeing that all three have had great upgrades, with some being smaller and bigger than the others.

AviationSource would lastly like to thank Iberia for the opportunity to check out this new product before the final thoughts and impressions are shared.

Check Out Our Socials!

Up Coming Events

Paris Airshow 2023 18-23 June
Be Sure To Check out our 24 Live blog for Live and accurate Coverage of the Airshow!

Popular Posts

You May Also Be Intrested In

More News.....

On Key