We had booked a Crowne Plaza hotel room for the night, incentivized to do so by JT’s IHG Accelerate Q1 offer. We would be earning 6,730 IHG points from the $80 stay (around $47 per TPG valuations). The website claims that the hotel shuttle ran every 50 minutes to the airport T1, T2, and T3 terminals and every 30 minutes to the further-away T4 terminal. We arrived in T1, so – during dinner – we used Katie’s phone to call about when the next pickup would be. No answer. We called back a bit later. No answer. So, we headed out to the hotel shuttle pickup area. Thankfully, the bus arrived just 10 minutes afterwards. It was still quite annoying that the Crowne Plaza would not pick up its phone!
Well-marked Crowne Plaza shuttle picking up at Madrid T1
We checked in, and attempted to reserve an airport shuttle for our 6:55am flight the next morning. We were told no space remained on the 4:30am or 5am shuttles. Since we had been unable to check-in for our flight online or via phone, we felt the 5:30am shuttle might be too late. With some pushing, we were told that one seat remained on the 4:30am shuttle and that two seats might remain on the 5am shuttle but that they were uncertain whether all baggage would fit and we might not be allowed to board that shuttle. We eventually convinced her to sign us up for one spot on the 4:30am shuttle and one on the 5am shuttle.
We then headed to our room. Katie repacked and went to sleep while JT stayed up and worked on electronically recording our expenses.
|Nice, albeit dark, room|
We woke at 4:05am and got ready quickly for the 4:30 shuttle. We had hoped we could both slip onto the 4:30am shuttle, but the front desk woman clearly noted only one of us could go. JT squeezed into the shuttle as the 8th person in a shuttle designed for 7 customers, and Katie went back to the room for a while.
A family also on JT’s shuttle were also on our Iberia flight from Madrid to London and had no luck checking-in online. They too had booked through British Airways. The explanation that they had gotten about the situation is that “BA and Iberia’s systems don’t talk yet”. The father seemed to be all too familiar with Iberia and Madrid’s airport – as he was the one that directed our IHG shuttle driver to door #8. Doors #1-7 of T4 are locked from midnight to 5am, but door #8 is open 24 hours a day. A sign on the door says that security might check IDs.
Katie came back to the lobby for the 5am shuttle and was alarmed to see many people with multiple large bags waiting in the lobby. Boarding of a large 18 passenger van began at 4:58am and we departed with at least 2 open seats at 5:07am.
Everyone except Katie exited at the shuttle’s first stop at Terminal T2. Katie continued onward to Terminal T4. She tried – in both Spanish and English – to communicate with the driver that she wanted to be dropped at Terminal 4 Door 3, but the driver repeatedly did not understand. She eventually said Iberia Business, and got dropped as Terminal 4 Door 3 as desired.