It was only a matter of time before Iberia would move out of the serviceable and pleasant, but terminally dull lounge they shared with several other airlines at Boston's Logan airport and find a haven for their Business Plus class passengers that was more in tune with the Spanish sense of style. I'm happy to report that they have found a winner.
Iberia Business Plus passengers are now guests at Virgin Atlantic's Clubhouse, a smart, chic little club furnished in tall black banquettes, contemporary swivel chairs in cherry red and low marble-topped tables. Two groupings had traditional armchairs in shades of gray. About half the area is a bright little cafe, with elegant chrome wire chairs paired up at dining-height cafe tables.
This provides a proper place to dine, underscoring the “deli” at the far end, where Chef Olga prepares the best airport lounge food we have tasted. So good in fact that we were tempted to have our dinner right there instead of on the plane. Olga's lobster salad would get rave reviews at the best Boston restaurant – big chunks of tender lobster redolent of the sea, tossed with wedges of vine ripened red and yellow tomatoes. Seconds weren't enough. This salad trumped even the fresh-baked cookies whose fragrance greeted us as we entered the club.
Also greeting us was a charming woman who, instead of inspecting our boarding passes to be sure we belonged there, stood up to welcome us and took or roll-ons to stow so we could relax unencumbered, before escorting us personally into the lounge and giving us a quick tour of its facilities.
I served myself to short pours of each of the three red wines offered. I could have chosen from four whites and two sparkling, or the bar included aperitifs, brandy and liqueurs. A cooler shelf contained a selection of juices and soft drinks, bottled water and beer. A huge candy jar was filled with full-sized candy bars that we were welcome to tuck into a pocket for our future travels. There was an espresso machine, a shelf of newspapers and another of games – which we saw several people playing while they waited (the couple playing Monopoly must have had a long connecting time).
A shimmering curtain wall set apart a small business center, but there was wifi throughout the lounge. People checked email, talked, played games and moved between the lounge and dining areas. It was positively clubby. The noise level was muted, with a low companionable buzz.
Each new set of guests was escorted in by the host, and the staff circulated offering to refill wine glasses, or to suggest that the cheesecake was fresh-baked that afternoon.
I found it especially nice to be welcomed instead of interrogated at the door, having to prove my worthiness to a guard at the desk. This is a club in the best sense – the service is friendly, warm and spontaneous, and the staff finds time not only to answer questions but to find solutions for travelers special needs. Even those passengers who were not their own – at one point the hostess personally escorted a passenger from another airline to the right lounge.
We had not intended to arrive at the airport three hours before our flight to Madrid, but next time we fly there, we may do it on purpose just for the lobster salad.
Bravo for Virgin Atlantic and bravo for Iberia for choosing them to host their Business Plus passengers.