The trip back to Madrid from Boston was “pretty simple” since it was a night flight and our baby chose to sleep for a good part of it. Plus not traveling alone definitely helps. Once again the attention we received with Iberia, from the check-in at the airport to the service on the flight was great. And once again we had a baby bassinet and a little gift box with baby items.
Overall, the entire customer experience should have been great. However, we ran into an issue after landing in Madrid that changed everything.
When you travel with a baby and a stroller, you have to check in your stroller right at the airplane door before you get on (you’ve probably seen a lineup of strollers at the door of an airplane before when you’ve flown). The strollers aren’t technically checked in; they’re put in a special area below the plane and then given to the parents right when they land at the destination so they aren’t without them.
When we arrived in Madrid at 7am Spain time (1am for us), there were 5 groups of parents waiting outside the plane door for the strollers. The strollers seemed to be taking a while… eventually an Iberia employee came up to tell us that Iberia in Boston had made a mistake and had checked in the strollers as normal baggage, not as stroller luggage, and that they were being brought to the baggage carousels with the rest of the luggage. How could a stroller that was literally checked in at the plane door all of a sudden have been classified as a regular suitcase and brought to the normal baggage carousel?
In any case, we of course all complained that this was ridiculous. I said that this is not acceptable (as I had my 5 month old baby sound asleep in my arms). To all of these complaints the woman kept responding that Boston had made a mistake and that there was nothing she could do about it. No sorry. No possible solution. Nothing. So we were all forced to walk with our children or small babies in our arms, with our carry-on bags at least a mile (we had to take a bus from the satellite terminal to the regular terminal, go through immigration and then go to the baggage area).
To make matters worse when my husband and I arrived at the large immigration lines (with my 5 month old in my arms) there was a much longer line for the foreigners than for the Spanish nationals. We asked the woman that was controlling the traffic flow if we could all three go together through the Spanish line as we’re a family (I’m the only one who’s not Spanish), but she said no, impossible. I had to go through the foreigner line. I was ready to cry at this point. So I handed my now half-asleep and confused son to my husband who then proceeded toward the Spanish line, while I went to wait in the foreigner line. A few minutes later when my husband was already at the immigration officer booth (I still had about a half hour line in front of me), I saw the immigration officer wave his hand for me to go over there. I promptly rushed over (and right past the woman controlling the traffic) to pass through with my family. Of course I made it a point to tell the traffic control woman that the immigration offer was letting us go through together as a family as should have happened in the first place.
Overall, what had started out as a very pleasant experience ended poorly due to poor customer attention and problem solving.
Iberia does not have its hands tied behind its back; it’s simple enough as making a call to other Iberia employees to collect the strollers from wherever they are and bring them to the plane to avoid the inexcusable situation that entailed. Unfortunately, a great customer experience turned bad…
Tomorrow I’ll be traveling on an international flight with Delta from Madrid to Boston with a layover in NYC. And I’ll be traveling alone. I really am hoping to have a great Experience to report back!