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First time flying on IB and to MAD...questions.

First time flying on IB and to MAD...questions.

Old Jan 8, 2009, 1:26 pm
  #1  
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First time flying on IB and to MAD...questions.

As the title suggests, I'm flying next week on IB to MAD and eventually FCO. First time on IB and first time to Europe (except LHR). A few questions...

1.) I have a 12 hour layover in Madrid (arriving from USA) before heading off to FCO. Are we able to leave the airport and go into the city without any sort of visa?

2.) On IB's website (which I do not like very much), they ask you to fill in your passport and visa information. My partner and I do not have a visa, so should we just wait until we check-in to provide that information?

3.) Will AA be able to check me in for all of my flights through to FCO? (First flight is AA connection, then IB x2).

4.) Does IB allow a same-day confirmed or stand-by free of charge? On my return leg, I only have 1 hr, 25 minutes connection in MAD for my flight back to the US. I can't miss this flight, as I have a work trip planned the next day (eek!). I would prefer to get on an earlier flight from FCO-MAD. Would IB staff at FCO be likely to accomodate, or should calling have a better chance?

5.) We were randomly assigned coach seats on the IB flights, and IB's website won't allow us to select seats (until online check-in, perhaps)? Any tips for calling to get better seats, or would AA be able to do it at initial check-in?

6.) Seat suggestions for the A340? I've heard Row 9 (bulkhead) and 22 (exit row) are the best... are these usually reserved until day-of-travel?

7.) I have a Diner's Club card and found out there are two lounges in MAD: Sala Amnios in T4S is for non-Schengen and transcontinental flights only, while Sala La Revoltosa is in T4 for all flights. I would love to grab a shower in the Amnios lounge (not available in Revoltosa) after arriving from the US, but am thinking that they would not let me in as my next boarding pass would be only to FCO. Any suggestions or pointers for this?

Sorry for the random hodge-podge of questions. If you have any additional suggestions, I'd be much abliged.

Thanks everyone!
DiscoPapa is offline  
Old Jan 8, 2009, 6:52 pm
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1) If you are a US citizen, you won't need a visa to enter Spain or Italy. You will have to clear customs and immigration in Madrid, of course, if you want to go into the city (which is certainly worth doing).
2) Don't worry about the portion of the website asking for visa information.
3) AA can check you all the way to your final destination and issue boarding cards.
4) Your connection time in Madrid may be a problem. Iberia has been in a labor dispute with its pilots since early December. The pilots are "working to the rules", which has caused a number of flight delays and cancellations. I think this impacts the European network more than the transatlantic service, so you should consider the strong possibility that your flight out of Rome will be delayed, while your transatlantic connection will not.
5) I would call Serviberia and get your seats changed over the phone. AA may be able to do it on the day of departure, but that may be too late to get desireable seats.
6) and 7) Can't answer these.
JohnFortWorth is offline  
Old Jan 8, 2009, 7:19 pm
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Thanks John, I appreciate the guidance!
DiscoPapa is offline  
Old Jan 10, 2009, 10:23 pm
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Originally Posted by DiscoPapa
6.) Seat suggestions for the A340? I've heard Row 9 (bulkhead) and 22 (exit row) are the best... are these usually reserved until day-of-travel?
Exit row (Row 22) seats are only bookable on the day of travel, in-person at the check-in counter.
WanderingGent is offline  
Old Jan 11, 2009, 9:27 am
  #5  
 
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1) If you go into Madrid be warned that getting back into the airside through security can be a nightmare.
4) IMHO you aren't going to make it. Especially with the bad weather in both Rome and Madrid this week forecast to continue.

No standby of the sort you are talking about. AFAIK not available in Europe.

7) there is a BP and passport check between T4 and T4S and they won't let you through without a BP for a flight departing from T4S.
OPebble is offline  
Old Jan 11, 2009, 8:52 pm
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Thanks for the additional info! Yeah I'm worried about the tight connection. I've called IB twice, and both times got agents who "assured" me that it would work. Riiiiiight. And yeah, they acted as if they've never even heard the term "same-day standby" before, haha.
DiscoPapa is offline  
Old Jan 12, 2009, 4:58 am
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Originally Posted by JohnFortWorth
1) If you are a US citizen, you won't need a visa to enter Spain or Italy. You will have to clear customs and immigration in Madrid, of course, if you want to go into the city (which is certainly worth doing)
As Spain and Italy are both in the European common travel (Schengen) area the OP will have to clear Schengen immigration in MAD in any case, whether going to the city or not. From the immigration point of view MAD-FCO (and vv.) are viewed as a domestic flight with no such controls whatsoever.

But yes, I agree - with a 12 hour layover definitely head to the city. The metro station is right underneath the terminal and is very cheap (if not very fast - to get anywhere interesting requires 1-2 transits).
FlyingFinn is offline  
Old Jan 12, 2009, 2:36 pm
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Originally Posted by DiscoPapa
And yeah, they acted as if they've never even heard the term "same-day standby" before, haha.
Don't forget that things in Europe (& outside the US in general) work differently than in the US. I wouldn't be surprised if they don't know what you mean...
Bob'sYourUncle is offline  
Old Jan 13, 2009, 6:24 pm
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Originally Posted by FlyingFinn
As Spain and Italy are both in the European common travel (Schengen) area the OP will have to clear Schengen immigration in MAD in any case, whether going to the city or not. From the immigration point of view MAD-FCO (and vv.) are viewed as a domestic flight with no such controls whatsoever.
Not necessarily. A few months ago I flew from Miami to Barcelona with a connection in Madrid. The Barcelona flight left from 4S and we cleared customs there rather than Madrid. I think it's likely he will clear customs in Madrid in any event heading to Rome, but I just don't know one way or the other.
JohnFortWorth is offline  
Old Jan 14, 2009, 5:02 am
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Originally Posted by JohnFortWorth
Not necessarily. A few months ago I flew from Miami to Barcelona with a connection in Madrid. The Barcelona flight left from 4S and we cleared customs there rather than Madrid. I think it's likely he will clear customs in Madrid in any event heading to Rome, but I just don't know one way or the other.
Yeah, IB has a few of these weird "extra Schengen" MAD-BCN flights that they use mainly to feed their long haul flights out of MAD. Passengers on these flights clear the formalities already at BCN instead of MAD - allowing for a faster transit. These flights have common through flight numbers with the long haul services - e.g. a single flight number for BCN-MAD-MEX, with a change of gauges at MAD.

I don't think one can book these flights without a connecting long haul flight.
FlyingFinn is offline  

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