Getting to Madrid Barajas Terminal 2
The entrance to the Plaza de España metro station is located just a few steps away from the main entrance to the hotel. The ticket to the airport, including the surcharge, is EUR4.90 for a oneway for one person. The journey time, including changing trains at Nuevos Ministerios, is about 45 minutes.
I alight at the stop for terminals 1,2 and 3 and make the long schlepp to the check-in area.
Air Europa checks in at Terminal 2.
There are two counters open for Business Class passengers. However, I think this is only the check-in for European or Schengen flights. I’ve already checked in online, so I can bypass the counters and head straight for the fast track for security, which is empty.
The AENA Puerta del Sol lounge
Air Europa no longer has its own lounges at Madrid. What used to be their lounge on the E concourse has now become the AENA Puerta del Sol lounge, operated by the Madrid airport authority.
Which also means that the place is rather busy when I get there, and all the window seats with their fabulous views of the apron are taken. The buffet in the lounge only serves cold snacks.
Our flight arrives late on its previous flight from New York, it taxies past the lounge on its way to the gate. Boarding is a complete mess. There are two lanes – one for Economy Class passengers, and another for passengers needing assistance, families travelling with their satanic brood and SkyPriority passengers. Boarding starts about forty minutes late, and there are no announcements by the staff and the departure screen at the gate is not updated either.
When eventually boarding does begin, there’s another hold up because the obnoxious, entitled hipster parent of one of the little demons is refusing to have the stroller put in the hold.
The cabin looks nice, especially with the mood lighting. As we enter, I take a quick photo of the Economy Class section, which looks quite spacious.
The Business Class seat is rather old fashioned. There are 22 seats in a 2 + 2 + 2 configuration. The seat is fully lie-flat, but it’s not very long. I would also recommend taking your shoes off before lying down. I wear a size 46 and couldn’t fit my feet in the little cubby with my shoes still on.
There isn’t a lot of storage space either. To be precise, the storage space available is in odd places and not very conveniently located. Furthermore, all the storage areas are marked with “Do not use during take-off, taxi or landing” stickers.
The inflight entertainment has touch screens.
Other than that, the seat is very grimey. There’s old dirt and pieces of food in the cracks and the off white of the seat looks greasy in places.
The service start with still water or orange juice being served as a welcome drink. Sure, the plastic cups are probably not the height of sophistication. But at least we get a drink, which is more than I can say for my previous flight with Iberia.
In addition, the crew pass through the cabin with complimentary wifi codes (which don’t work) and earphones.
As we taxi out, I notice two Airbus A 380s of BA parked up for long-term storage. The photo is a bit grainy. But judging from the state they’re in, I’m guessing it’ll take quite a lot of work to make those two aircraft airworthy again…
Eventually we take off in a southeasterly direction and then turn towards Barcelona, from where we start our Mediterranean crossing. The route takes us over Sardinia and Italy, and then over the Adriatic into the Balkans. The flight time is three hours.
There are no menus, and from what I can tell there is also no meal choice on this flight. The main dish is tortellini filled with mushrooms and served with a creamy mushroom sauce, melted cheese and cranberries. Although my partner’s dish is missing the cranberries.
There is also a small salad of something, which mainly tastes of artificial basil.
There is butter and a small triangle of La Vache Qui Rit cheese, which I always hated as a kid and still don’t like much. There are also crackers and two rolls of bread.
After the meal, coffee is served in cardboard cups. And it really is quite horrific coffee. I also think that on a flight of three hours it would not have been too much to ask to have a proper cup.
When the cabin crew comes to remove my tray, I feel just a wee bit like Oliver Twist as I inquire if there’s any dessert at all. The cabin crew looks at me with rather unconvincing surprise and tells me she’ll check and be right back. At this point I’m expecting her to return and tell me that catering forgot to load dessert. However, much to my surprise she returns with a bowl of dessert that she miraculously produced out of nowhere. With that, she gives me a wooden stirring stick to eat the piece of cake. It’s roughly around now that I start to suspect the good lady is trying to take the piss. I shouldn’t have bothered…
I spend the rest of the flight watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory, until eventually our aircraft dips its nose and we start our descent into Athens.
We land and then taxi to our parking stand on the satellite pier. This is my first time using the satellite here in Athens. On my previous visits it was not open. From the pier there’s a very long underground passage to the main terminal.
I used to enjoy flying Air Europa. Their catering was innovative and the crews always seemed warm and sincere. But the cost cutting over the last two years appears to have taken its toll on the airline. The catering on this flight was… meh, and the crews have basically stopped caring. Shortly I’ll be travelling to South America. I had looked at Air Europa too for my trip. Now I’m kind of relieved I didn’t book them in the end.