Returning to Vancouver

Back to Madrid

After my day venture in Andorra, I was back on the Directbus to Josep Tarradellas Barcelona - El Part Airport (BCN). Due to the generous 120 degree recline of the seat, I was able to sleep the entire journey back, arriving in the middle of the night at around 02:00. I was initially worried that I would have to sleep on a bench for a couple hours, but to my surprise the security check at the airport was open.

Eerie Airport

Eerie Airport

After security I wandered around the airport to see where the Priority Pass Lounge for BCN was located.

Stumbled upon quite the bike for a Paco Rabanne fragrance promo during my wander

Stumbled upon quite the bike for a Paco Rabanne fragrance promo during my wander

After locating the lounge, I played around on social media for a couple hours to make the time pass as BCN’s Priority Pass lounge for domestic flights, Sala VIP Pau Casals, would not be open until 05:00.

05:00 soon came and I made sure to be the first in the queue to secure a spot for the shower room since I desperately wanted a shower. After my shower, I just grabbed a Fanta from the beverage area of the lounge since I wanted to save my appetite for my return to Madrid. Madrid is home to Iberia’s Flagship lounge, and I was confident there would be a far superior breakfast selection than what there would be in a contract lounge.

Lounge entrance

Lounge entrance

Inside lounge

Inside lounge

Leaving Europe

My flight to Madrid left on time at 06:00 and due to the short 1hr flight time, the descent commenced shortly after we hit our cruising altitude. I hastily made my way to Iberia’s Flagship lounge since I was absolutely famished and it was well worth the wait. There was ample seating, with power ports by each side, as well as fast WiFi speeds. The breakfast offerings consisted of bacon, omelettes and various types of bread. There was a selection of fruit as well, along with an espresso machine.

For the next several hours I took in the quiet ambiance of the lounge, as it was surprisingly not that busy. I occasionally glanced at the flight monitors that were situated near the entrance of the lounge, just in case my flight happened to endure a gate change. Approximately 15min before boarding was scheduled to commence, I made my way to the gate.

Early morning arrival at Madrid Airport

Early morning arrival at Madrid Airport

Madrid’s International Iberia Lounge breakfast

Madrid’s International Iberia Lounge breakfast

Typically when flying in a premium cabin, the boarding process is meant to be effortless. This was definitely not the case when I was flying Iberia out of Madrid. Understandable that because it was a USA bound flight, there was more of a rigorous passport check than usual. But there didn’t appear to much of any zone boarding going on at all. I’d estimate it took me 15 minutes to get to my seat, after the passport check.

Disgraceful way of boarding.

Disgraceful way of boarding.

Iberia’s business class seat on the A340

Iberia’s business class seat on the A340

Back in North America

As you could imagine, I hadn’t had much proper sleep in the past 24hrs except for a couple of power naps on a bus and just wanted to get some shuteye as soon as possible. Fortunately, the dinner service started promptly after we hit our cruising altitude and after the meal, I ordered several liquors to serve as a nightcap. Success! I managed to get about 6hrs sleep on the 8hr flight back to Chicago and was actually woken up by one of the flight attendants letting me know we will be landing within the hour and that breakfast service has just commenced.

Arriving into Chicago

Arriving into Chicago

My flight landed around 14:40, I initially wanted to book the evening 17:00 flight from Chicago to Vancouver, but I was following the flight history of my recent Iberia IB 7474 and there were several instances of delays beyond 2 hours (no surprise after witnessing the boarding process). It was just stress I didn’t want to deal with, so I opted to have an overnight in Chicago. There happened to be a surprisingly good cash rate at one of the airport Marriott properties, so I went for the Renaissance Chicago O'Hare. Having a lounge is almost mandatory for me to stay at a hotel since the savings of not having to go out for dinner goes a long way. I made my way to the shuttle pick up point for neighbouring Chicago airport hotels where I didn’t have to wait long for my ride to arrive. Check in was smooth and since it is an all suite property, I was indifferent about any sort of upgrade.

Renaissance Chicago O'Hare Suite - bedroom

Renaissance Chicago O'Hare Suite - bedroom

Renaissance Chicago O'Hare Suite - living room

Renaissance Chicago O'Hare Suite - living room

Renaissance Chicago O'Hare Suite - shower

Renaissance Chicago O'Hare Suite - shower

Most of my time was spent in the lounge as they had a workstation where I could catch up on various forums as well as work on finalizing future trips I had lined up for later in the year.

Renaissance Chicago O'Hare - Executive lounge

Renaissance Chicago O'Hare - Executive lounge

I had a good night’s sleep and stopped by the lounge again in the morning for a quick breakfast before I made my way back to ORD. I checked out around 06:30, with sufficient time to catch my flight on American Airlines at 07:50 to Vancouver.

Renaissance Chicago O'Hare - Executive Lounge breakfast spread

Renaissance Chicago O'Hare - Executive Lounge breakfast spread

American Airlines Business class lunch

American Airlines Business class lunch

Overall thoughts of my brief time in Europe

Without a doubt, Swiss (LX) is still my preferred carrier for getting to Europe. Had it not been for the Iberia Avios promotion, I would have never flown Iberia. I would definitely book The Renaissance Chicago O'Hare hotel again if my travel plans required an overnight by the Chicago Airport. Would I ever go to Europe again for such a short span of time? Let me just say, I’m known to go to Europe or even Asia, just for a weekend, so given the right circumstance, absolutely.

Have you ever taken a short but extravagant trip out of the country?

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Jason Wolf
Jason was introduced to travel at a young age. His parents are world travellers so it was only natural he would follow in their footsteps. He took his first international solo flight to Europe at age 14 (pre 9/11). Applied for his first credit card at the age of 19 as he had heard of the miles & points game and couldn't wait to get started. Over a decade later, he has traveled to over 100 countries around the world and always seems to have another adventure plotted around the corner. His wife tries to accompany him whenever she can, but sometimes it’s a bit too hectic as he has a tendency to travel frequently, even if it's just for a brief weekend getaway.