It’s Wednesday morning and we’re running a day late, which means we’re going to miss the start of the user group meeting in Mohammedia. On a positive note though, it’s an absolutely gorgeous day here in Madrid.
We take the Hilton airport shuttle at 08h00, which get us to terminal 4 around ten minutes later.
There is a separate check-in area for Business Class passengers. The nice thing about Madrid’s terminal 4 is that no matter what time of day you come here, there never seems to be anyone there. And today is no different.
There is a dedicated fast track for security for Business Class passengers.
As our flight is operating to a non-Schengen country, the flight will be departing from the satellite terminal, which can only be reached as a passenger by airside metro. The journey across will take a little more than five minutes.
The entrance to the lounge is literally in the middle of the duty free shop, which as good a place as any I guess.
I think the only thing one can criticise about this lounge is that it has no toilets and showers. Other than that though, I think this is really one of the nicest lounges I’ve ever been to. Of course it helps that, like the rest of the terminal, the place is more or less deserted. But even so, the lounge has a very elegant, understated look and feel and the light filtering in through the blinds casts some nice shadows across the otherwise bright space.
The food and drinks options are also very good and the way everything is presented is simple but nice.
We leave the lounge about ten minutes before boarding should be begin. But by the time we reach the gate just a few minutes later, the status of the flight is already ‘gate closing’. We head through the gate and then downstairs to where a bus is waiting to bring us to our aircraft. And then we wait.
At this point I should perhaps comment that I’ve never been on a flight with Iberia which did not include Spaniards bitching about the sad state of their national airline. It seems to be a bit of a national sport and I’m not even quite sure why. And this flight is no different. All of a sudden, a young man steps outside and starts complaining to the bus driver about how scandalous it is to keep us waiting in such a tight bus (this guy has obviously never experienced rush hour on the Central line…).
In any case, eventually we drive off and a short while later our bus pulls up in front of our aircraft for today’s flight, a Bombardier CRJ1000 of Air Nostrum.
I have already commented a few times that I really, really do not like the CRJ series of aircraft. I find them very cramped and uncomfortable. But fortunately, this aircraft has some decent seats with a good enough amount of padding to be comfortable.
The seating configuration is 2 + 2 throughout, even in Business Class. Initially, I’m sitting next to the wiry R., who has managed to snag the window. But once boarding is completed, the cabin attendant himself comes to point out to me that I may shift to the other side of the aisle, where both seats are still empty.
The cabin crew consists of a young male and a young female flight attendant. The male is really good at his job. He’s personable and tries to anticipate any wishes his passengers may have. The young lady is okay, but I think she might improve if she were less focussed on looking pretty.
While we’re still on the ground the crew pass through the cabin with a good selection of Spanish and international newspapers and distribute pre-packed scented towels.
I think the meal service on Air Nostrum is probably better than the one you get on Iberia. The breakfast consists of a bowl of fruit, gazpacho soup and a choice of either toast with olive oil and cheese or a ham and cheese quiche. The crew also pass through the cabin twice with the breadbasket.
For the main dish I go with the toast and cheese, which is simple but nice. My first choice from the breadbasket is a nice big croissant. The second time they pass through the cabin, I have the other pastry, which is filled with some sort of vanilla cream and is also excellent.
Shortly after the trays have been removed, the strait of Gibraltar comes into view. And I must say, it really is quite a sight to behold. It also makes you realise just how close Europe really is to Africa.
We cross into Africa and I’m surprised by how lush and green everything looks! I must admit I was kind of expecting desert all the way… Eventually we start our descent, flying over vast stretches of farmland.
Eventually we land in Casablanca more or less on time. The airport is fairly busy and as a result, it takes us a whole hour of queueing at passport control before we are finally allowed into the country. You need to complete an embarkation card to enter, but nobody will bother to tell you that in advance and the signposting is non-existent.