Launched: December 2022
Elements: Technology • Comfort • Interior Design • CSR
Iberia has used its A350 launch to create a next-generation, step change in the onboard customer experience for all cabins
The carrier has used the arrival of its A350 Next aircraft as an opportunity to make qualitative improvements in customer service. The team set 2022 as the year of recovery and the year to significantly improve product and service in all cabins.
A lot of research was undertaken prior to launch and showed customers believe comfort, technology and sustainability should be the priority for next generation aircraft. These became the three main drivers for the new A350 cabin to ensure the aircraft aligned with actual expectations.
Numerous innovations were part of the design with the focus always on comfort, privacy, spaciousness, technology and efficiency. Aircraft weight was significantly reduced and the improvements is the IFE NEXT in-flight entertainment system are said to be a game-changer.
As the launch customer for this new Airbus standard, Iberia was able to take advantage of upgrades which ensure great operational benefits. This aircraft is equipped with the latest technology and designed to fly with maximum efficiency. It was built with the most sustainable materials on the market cutting total aircraft weight by one ton. Specifically, it includes low-speed improvements as new flap positions allow the pilot to select the optimal configuration for each take-off; and the retraction of the landing gear is faster which allows the aircraft to become fully aerodynamic faster. The weight of the empty aircraft in the factory has been reduced through structural improvements and lighter equipment, which significantly improve operational performance even at the most demanding airports.
The bathrooms feature contactless taps and the surfaces are made with antibacterial materials that improve the hygiene of these spaces.
The new standard is also good for comfort. The cabin is wider and has greater comfort and better features built in to all of the three classes – Economy, Economy Premium and Business, adding privacy and space. In Business Class the most obvious innovation is this free-standing door that delimits an enclosed seating structure where the customer has more personal space. All seats in this cabin have direct access to the aisle and in the central ones – known as honeymoon seats – there is an automatic divider. Each seat has articulated leather headrests and more storage for personal items. The seat converts to a fully-flat bed, which is 5 cm longer than the previous seat.
The Premium Economy seats also now offer more privacy thanks to the addition of ‘wings’ to the headrest. These fold and adjust on both sides for greater comfort. In Economy, the wider cabin has allowed Iberia to increase the width of each seat by one centimetre while still maintaining the same number of seats per row as the other A350s. The headrests are now articulated, folding and adjustable on both sides of the head, as in the other two cabins. Below the inflight entertainment screens, the seats incorporate a stand to hold and charge personal electronic devices.
All the interior design details were developed with comfort and warmth in mind. Iberia has incorporated wood finishing into the Business class seats, and unique textiles plus leather elements in all classes. The goal was to create an inviting onboard atmosphere with a warm welcome for a comforting experience. In Business the number of each seat is projected on the aisle floor to make them easier to find in the dark, and overhead bins in the central part of the cabin have been removed to enhance the sense of space.
Iberia had focused on optimising customers’ travel experience making the most of having a wider cabin to improve comfort. The seats developed along with Recaro were designed to introduce better features and ergonomics in all three cabins. Economy, Premium Economy and Business.
The new Business Class has the Recaro CL6720 suite with sliding doors to provide full privacy where the customer has more personal space. These are one of the the newest and nicest Business Class seats in the market.
In Business the number of each seat is projected on the aisle floor to make them easier to find in the dark, and overhead bins in the central part of the cabin have been removed to enhance the sense of space. Another aspect of this Business cabin is the removal of the central overhead bins. All the business class customers are still able to stow their belongings on the lateral ones, but this way the cabin creates an even more spacious and bright atmosphere while allowing an extra weight reduction.
A new state-of-the-art inflight connectivity and entertainment system is another qualitative leap forward in customer experience, developed in collaboration with Panasonic and known as IFE Next. The system incorporates a more modern, interactive and intuitive design and uses the most advanced technological system in the industry. The screens offer 4K resolution that protects users’ eyes and incorporates night lighting to avoid disturbing nearby customers. In addition, the screens are larger in both Premium Economy (up from 12 to 13 inches) and Economy (up from 10 to 12 inches). Aircraft weight was significantly reduced and the improvements is the IFE NEXT in-flight entertainment system are said to be a game-changer
The Business and Premium Economy seats have a secondary screen located below the main one that shares messages from the cabin crew without pausing the content being played so both can be viewed at once. The new system allows connection via Bluetooth with personal headphones in all the seats and cabins, which also translates into greater freedom of movement and comfort for customers.
In Business and Premium Economy cabins, noise-cancelling headsets are still provided for customers who do not have their own or prefer those provided by the airline. Each seat has USB A and C connectors as well as universal power sockets, so customers can charge their own devices. Both Business and Premium Economy seats include a remote control for inflight entertainment with a touchable navigation panel and specific gaming functionalities.
Will Iberia win Cabin Concept of the Year 2023? Join us in Hamburg on June 6 2023 as we unveil winners at the Onboard Hospitality Awards ceremony at the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE).