TRIP REPORT: Iberia, Ljubljana - Madrid - Ljubljana


Written by Matjaž Nose

It was the end of April when Iberia announced results of a vote on social media for its new summer destination. Out of seven candidate cities, Ljubljana received 38% of all votes and was therefore chosen as the new destination in Iberia's flight network. Unfortunately, a very limited number of flights was offered, two return flights per week in August only. Prices started at €115 for return tickets with no checked baggage included. I was soon an owner of a LJU-MAD-LJU ticket for the last weekend in August. I converted it into the following flights which I want to highlight in the following trip report:

Ljubljana (LJU) - Madrid (MAD)

Flight number: IB3285
Flight date: 27 August 2021
Aircraft type: A320-251N
Aircraft registration: EC-NDN
Departure time: 12:10
Arrival time: 15:00
Flight duration: 2h 50m

Madrid (MAD) - Ljubljana (LJU)

Flight number: IB3284
Flight date: 30 August 2021
Aircraft type: A320-251N
Aircraft registration: EC-NER
Departure time: 16:45
Arrival time: 19:25
Flight duration: 2h 40min

My airplane to Madrid departed at midday on the last Friday in August. The return flight brought me back to Ljubljana in the evening hours of Monday, giving me a perfect opportunity for a long weekend in Madrid. I booked my ticket immediately when the flights were announced, paying exactly €114,26 for the hand luggage only return ticket. Since such a ticket does not allow you to choose a seat (seats are randomly assigned), I had decided to pay an extra €27 and selected an emergency exit window seat (€18) for my outbound flight and a standard economy class window seat (€9) for the return flight. There were also XL economy seats available for the price of €20.

I checked in at home and was able to print out my boarding passes for both flight legs. Additionally, I also had to fill in the Spanish health form to obtain a QR code needed to enter Spain in these special times.

This was also the first time for me to use the new terminal of Ljubljana airport (opened at the beginning of July this year), so I had decided to arrive a bit earlier. Since the boarding pass was already in my pocket, I was able to head directly to the security check area which is located on the first floor now, a short escalator ride up from the check-in area. The check-in as well as security check areas are much more spacious compared to what was available in the old terminal. The new terminal with its minimalist design offers big glass walls allowing a lot of natural light and nice views of the surroundings. There is a new bistro and duty-free section right after you exit the security check area. In general, there is much more space now, so the new terminal is definitely a big step forward.

Check-in area

Escalator to the security check area

Duty free and Bistro facilities

Departure gates area

The airplane from Madrid landed ahead of time. It was an almost new A320neo aircraft acquired in June 2019 named Cuatro Vientos. It is interesting that the aircraft's name for my inbound flight was Barajas, so both of these names are also the names of Madrid’s airports. Madrid-Barajas is of course the main airport and Iberia's hub while Madrid-Cuatro Vientos is the oldest airport in Spain established in 1911. This is a small airport used mostly by helicopters, medium size turbo-props, small business jets, flight training organizations and flying clubs. There is another airport, Madrid-Torrejón airport. Its military part of it was mentioned a lot recently as Spanish evacuation flights from Kabul terminated at this airport. I have found another peculiarity about our Cuatro Vientos aircraft. It seems it likes ex-Yu region very much. Last two days (Wednesday and Thursday) before it took me to Madrid it operated four flight rotations (two return flights per day!) to Dubrovnik and on Saturday it touched down in Croatia again, this time at Zagreb airport.

A320neo for our flight upon arrival to LJU airport

We boarded on time and since I had paid extra for the emergency exit seat, I had a very generous legroom although the seats themselves are not very comfortable. We were all served a two course ''meal'' consisting of a small hand sanitizer wipe followed by a paper cup of pure Spanish water. The flight lasting almost two and a half hours was more or less uneventful and full of happy people going back home or departing on a trip to Spain. I will not make a mistake if I say that load factor was more than 90%, I have even noticed some business class passengers. The middle seat in my row was not occupied. Overall, I had a nice flight experience. We landed at around 3pm. The weather was sunny without any clouds and still very hot - real summer time. The aircraft parked at terminal T4 and this is perfect because both, metro and cercanías (light train) stations are located inside T4 terminal. The ride to the centre of Madrid costs around €5 and you have trains departing every few minutes, very convenient and easy to use.


My emergency exit window seat

Departing LJU airport

Approaching MAD airport

On the way to our parking position at Barajas airport

Baggage conveyor belt for LJU-MAD flight

I spent the first two days in Madrid enjoying delicious Spanish food and exploring the city. Madrid is a perfect place for a prolonged weekend, easy to navigate either on foot or using the metro lines. Prices are reasonable, food is excellent. There are also very interesting towns and sights nearby like El Escorial, Segovia, Toledo, Ávila. I would highly recommend that you visit Madrid if you have an opportunity.

I decided to spend Sunday outside Madrid. I headed to the town of El Barraco where the 15th stage of the cycling race around Spain, Vuelta, finished same day in the afternoon. It was a fantastic experience being part of it! After spending a night in El Barraco I had to return back to Madrid and later to Barajas airport to catch my return flight. I still had enough time to enjoy a delicious paella and a cold beer in the centre of Madrid. Shortly after that I headed to the metro station and on to Barajas airport for my afternoon flight to Ljubljana. I already had a boarding pass with me, so I went straight to the security check and towards the departure area. This time our aircraft departed from the satellite terminal T4S. To get there you have to use an underground airport train from terminal T4 which takes only a few minutes.

Madrid-Barajas is the main airport in Spain and also a hub for Iberia. Because of its excellent connections with Latin America, it is also the main transfer airport for passengers flying to and from Central and South America. Its wooden wavy ceilings combined with yellow support columns make it very attractive, it is one of the airports I like most.

We boarded and departed on time again. After September 2010 and my Adria JP293 flight aboard their CRJ200 jet I was able to fly directly to Ljubljana again (from Madrid).

My seat was 30F this time, a standard economy class window seat in the rear cabin. The legroom was terrible this time. Luckily both of additional two seats in my row were unoccupied which was much appreciated. I do not know how I would withstand seating two or more hours in the middle seat with both neighbour seats being occupied. Since I was able to fly with Ryanair not long ago, I can say that Ryanair's standard economy class product is definitely more comfortable than Iberia's.

Metro station at Barajas airport Terminal T4

View down to the Metro entrance and exit area

Check-in area

Baggage conveyer belts - view from above

Our flight in line 8 but with misspelled name of the LJU airport

Train between T4 and T4S

You know exactly where you have to stand…

Departure area for our flight – M gates

Our ''Barajas'' airplane bound for Ljubljana

Loading goods through the rear door

View from my seat back to Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport

Aircraft's interior

The flight route to Ljubljana took us more to the north compared to our LJU-MAD flight. We flew over Toulouse towards Milan and along Swiss and Austrian borders entered the Slovenian air space in the north-western corner of Slovenia. We overflew Ljubljana and shortly after that touched down at Ljubljana airport. We arrived ahead of time since the flight duration was only a bit more than two hours this time. The weather was cloudy and much colder compared to Madrid where summer sun was still heating the air to temperatures above 30 °C.

Departing Barajas airport

Cloudy sky on the second part of our flight


Approaching LJU airport

Arriving at our parking position


A café at the arrival area

Ljubljana airport – new terminal

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  1. Anonymous09:18

    90% LF is really good. I expect they will add 2-3 weekly flights and fly for more months (April-October and not only August).

    1. I was on these same flights and i would say the LF of the outbound flight was ever higher - more like 95% and 4 or even 5 C class pax. The inbound flight has a LF around 60-65% (the last flight operated this season).

    2. We will see Iberia flying to LJU next summer, no doubt

    3. Anonymous13:46

      I would be really surprised if they wouldn't.

  2. Anonymous09:57

    Nice trip report! I flew Iberia out of Venice many times so I'm really happy to see they added Ljubljana. I hope they expand the service next year.

  3. Anonymous10:17

    Very nice trip report. Thanks. Does Iberia sell food on board since they only give out a bottle of water?

    1. Anonymous11:18

      Yes, on short flights.

    2. I guess that you need to prebook it.

    3. Matjaz-N12:53

      It was not possible to buy any food in the economy class and I have also not seen anybody having a meal. There was a meal service in business class only.

    4. On the way back I saw a family getting some food, it was obviously prebooked. It seems like You can not buy anything on board - not even drinks.

  4. Anonymous10:18

    Thanks for sharing. Very nice report.

  5. Anonymous11:00

    The picture of the new check-in area in Ljubljana really shows how desperately needed the new terminal was. It's hard to imagine how even a crowd of that size could fit in the old terminal.

    1. Anonymous11:19

      The airport looks really modern. I like it.

    2. Anonymous14:45

      Can you immagine how it would look like if adria was still operating and no corona sh** was on thus planet :o old terminal would be used immedietly with those 10 check-ins.

  6. Anonymous11:01

    Great photos, thanx.

  7. Anonymous11:17

    Madrid is an amazing metropolis and feels much safer compared to Paris. The city has underwent huge improvements during the years. You correctly mentioned Segovia and Toledo, which are both amazing towns, but would add Salamanca which together with Sevilla have both the most beautiful plazas in the country. No wonder why Spain is one of the most visited countries in the world. It is simply packed with so many beautiful places and not to mention the endless beach options, tapas culture, Flamenco, Sangria, Tortilla and remarkable seafood in Andalusia and Galicia (seems quite similar to Ireland in greenery) with the pristine beaches of Vigo.
    If you're looking for a really paradisiatic beach, go to Menorca and not Mallorca.
    Man, I love this country.
    Iberia has improved quite a lot since joining IAG and have the best connections to Latin America. They are a strict Airbus operator excluding their regional operator Air Nostrum. Barajas is very modern, even though it's like more than 15 years old. It is very well connected to at least 20 domestic airports. The second most important cargo airport is Zaragoza and not Barcelona as many think.

  8. JU520 BEGLAX21:09

    Thanks for the nice report. IB is my favorite airline in LJU, I hope very much they will return next year and hopefully with an even extended schedule.

  9. Anonymous01:06

    Again a very well executed trip report!


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