Brussels Airlines Business Class: Madrid to Brussels

After checking in for our flight from Madrid to Brussels, we were informed that we could use the VIP Access line.

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Fast Track Access VIP

 

The Fast Track Access VIP line is to the far left of the check-in counters.

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Fast Track Access VIP

After going down the escalator one floor, we got to a security area that was completely empty. It was like going through security in the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, except in a bigger, brighter space. We were through in a matter of minutes.

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Brussels Airline Flight 3722

After leaving the Sala VIP Puerta Del Sol lounge we headed to the gate where our plane was already waiting at the gate.

SN3722
Madrid to Brussels
Departs: 12:35 PM, Arrives: 2:50 PM
Seat 1A

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Business Class
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Business Class

Intra-Europe Business Class is an economy class seat with the middle seat blocked. In this case, we were the only two business class passengers, and were each given our own row.

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Leg Room

Seated in the bulkhead, leg room was plentiful.

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Pre-Departure Water

A bottle of water was offered pre-departure.

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Tarmac Views
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Tarmac Views

There were some interesting planes on the tarmac.

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Hot Towel

A hot towel was also offered.

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Lasagna

A hot meal was served on the short flight. It consisted of pastrami, along with a tomato and mozzarella terrine. The entrée consisted of lasagna, which was rather soupy but tasted good. Dessert was not very good, and really sweet. I think it was a marzipan tart.

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Roll

I chose a wheat roll, which was pretty tasty and sopped up the lasagna sauce pretty well.

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Chocolate

The meal ended with a piece of dark chocolate.

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View

The views over Spain were fantastic.

Drinks were refilled throughout the flight. The flight was pleasant but uneventful. Intra-Europe business class is not what you would call aspirational, but it’s amazing how service can be include a hot meal on a short flight. Although this flight was a little over a little 2 hours, hot meals are also served on flights lasting a little over an hour.

Sala VIP Puerta Del Sol Lounge – Madrid

Upon arriving at the Madrid airport to check into our flight for Brussels, I was given a lounge invitation to the Sala VIP lounge for having Star Alliance Gold status.

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Sala VIP Puerta de Alcala Lounge

The nearest Sala VIP lounge to our departing gate was the Puera de Alcala lounge but it was closed for renovations.

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Sala VIP Puerta Del Sol Lounge

The other Sala VIP lounge is the Puerta Del Sol lounge which was in the opposite direction.

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After going up a flight of stairs, we arrived at the entrance to the lounge

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Sala VIP Puerta Del Sol Lounge
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Sala VIP Puerta Del Sol Lounge

The lounge is also a Sky Team lounge.

The lounge is fairly large and overlooks the terminal.

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Lounge Offerings

The lounge spread was fairly pedestrian with olives, yogurt and cut fruit in a container.

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Espresso Machine

There was an espresso machine.

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Lounge Offerings
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Lounge Offerings

There were also several trays of pastries, along with packaged pastries.

At this point, one of the lounge attendants came up to me and informed me that no pictures were allowed in the lounge.

While not luxurious, the Sala VIP Puerta Del Sol lounge is a good place to grab a light snack and relax before a flight.

La Mallorquina – Madrid

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La Mallorquina

La Mallorquina is a famous bakery in Madrid. They are known for the Napolitana de chocolate, which is semi-croissant like. The bakery has been opened since 1894

The place seems to be busy from opening to close, as there was a steady stream of customers during our quick visit.

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Window Display

It was late in the day when we visited, so even the front window displays were dwindling.

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Pastry Case

Sadly, it appears that I mistakenly deleted my pictures of the Napolitana de Chocolate, but they are visible in the “Window Display” picture on the left.  The dough is more bread like, but it is rolled up like an elongated jelly roll. There is a massive amount of chocolate in the pastry. The whole thing is dusted in powdered sugar. It is a little on the sweet side, but a very solid value for the money considering what most places charge for a chocolate croissant and the amount of chocolate in most croissants.

AC Hotel Carlton Madrid

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AC Hotel Carlton Madrid

We sort of played this trip by ear and didn’t have a definitive flight back home. We had a couple of days in mind to return home regardless of award space. I was hoping that Lufthansa first class space would open up closer to our anticipated departure date range.

After leaving Porto, we planned on spending a couple of days in Madrid before heading home. The night before we left Porto, first class award space had opened up on Lufthansa, unfortunately I was unable to book these flights directly through Aeroplan’s website, and was forced to call. I will say that Aeroplan’s call center is absolutely horrible when it comes to wait times. It seems that typical waiting times are north of 45 minutes, and usually lasted at least 1 ½ hours. On a couple of occasions, there was an option to have the call center call you back.

When I finally connected to an agent, he could not see the award space I was seeing on United’s site. I told him that we were flexible in the date that we left and/or routing. Our anticipated two night stay in Madrid got cut down to an overnight stay.

Instead of flying from Madrid with a couple hour layover in Frankfurt before departing home. Our new routing looked like this: Madrid to Brussels with a 3-hour layover, then Brussels to Frankfurt with an 18-hour layover. Leaving Frankfurt, we had a stopover in Washington, DC before heading to Los Angeles.

Not the most desirous routing, but at least we were able to secure first class seats on Luftahnsa.

We had planned a two night stay at the AC Hotel Carlton Madrid. I had a free night certificate with Marriott from a prior promotion. The certificate was for a Category 1-5 hotel. The AC Hotel Carlton Madrid was conveniently close to the train station, although somewhat far from the city center.

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Atocha Cercanias
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Madrid Puerta de Atocha

There has been much discussion about the easiest way to get to the hotel, especially if dragging a lot of luggage. If taking the Renfe train, upon exiting the Atocha Cercanias station cross the street and enter the Madrid Puerta de Atocha station. Go down on floor and exit the building on the left side when facing the building. There will be a small bridge. Walk under the bridge where all the taxis are lined up, and keep going straight for a couple of short blocks. The hotel will be on your left about one block down.

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Entry/Revolving Door

Upon entering the hotel, there is a revolving door. Immediately after exiting the revolving door however, there is a small set of stairs. I’m sure this set-up has caused many people to trip or fall in the past.

Check-in was fairly quick. I was informed that breakfast is not provided for Marriott or Ritz Carlton Gold or Platinum members, but could be purchased for ~€18.

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Lobby

The lobby is very small, with cramped seating throughout.

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Lobby Bar

There is also a small bar.

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Hallway

The hallways were clean and modern, although a bit narrow.

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Room 610

We were assigned room 610, a King room.

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Bed

The room was on the smaller side, but there was enough space for our one night. The “king” bed were two twins pushed together. The beds were on the firmer side.

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Chairs

Two chairs were at the foot of the bed. The set-up was kind of strange considering the size of the room.

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Bench/Luggage Rack

There was a bench/luggage rack in the corner, along with a mini fridge.

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Desk

The desk was on the smaller side, but still functional. Outlets were conveniently placed and easy to get to near the desk.

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Water

A complimentary bottle of water was provided.

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Closet

There was also a small shelf to place keys, wallets, etc., which was next to the closet and a set of drawers.

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Shower/Tub

The bathroom was on the smaller side. There was a shower/tub combo, with the dreaded half door.

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Toilet

Oddly, the toilet was placed very close to the wall on one side with plenty of room on the other.

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Sink

The sink had limited counter space, but there was some space underneath the sink.

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Safe

The safe must have been taken from a stagecoach during the Wild West days, as it required a key to use, which was not provided in the room.

The hotel was perfectly fine for a one-night stay. As we had never been to Madrid before, I am sure location wise there are preferable options, but it met our needs for this trip.