✅ Trip Verified
| Landed at Barajas from an Iberia flight originating from London Heathrow Terminal 5. The wait for customs was excellent and within about two minutes I cleared customs. After returning to the airport, the disasters began. As a Qantas Gold Frequent Flyer and One World Sapphire I was told by check-in staff that I was entitled to use the express lane to clear security when travelling on either IB or BA or any other One World airline (this is clearly signposted in Spanish and English in the terminal as well). Upon presenting my boarding pass I was told by someone who claimed not to speak English that "British Airways is not a One World Airline," and that I had to use the normal security line (despite claiming she couldn't speak English). As a matter of fact, BA is a founding member of One World, and I pointed this out to her as well as the clear BA sign sitting right next to her. She still denied me access without reason, and her gutless manager behind her seemed to be ignorant to the entire situation. After angrily returning to the normal security line, everyone was told to remove their shoes. I was then individually told that I shouldn't have removed my shoes. This utter contradiction really sums up the experience here. The language skills of staff across the airport (including in Iberia's business class lounge), are so poor that they generally refused to communicate in English, Italian or French and would only communicate in Spanish. This arrogance is simply disgraceful especially given the linguistic similarities between Italian/French/Spanish. It is not representative of an international airport. Even though I accept that many of Iberia's flights are to parts of the Spanish speaking world, there were more than enough airlines (eg Ryanair, Lufthansa, Vueling, AF, BA, LATAM, EK, QR, RJ, the list goes on) present to justify at least one other language being commonly used throughout the airport by staff. The process to clear customs on the way out was again simple, painless, and I once again came across a very friendly police officer. The customs process is literally the only reason I've rated Barajas as a 2/10 instead of a '1/10 rating. The customs officers were efficient, friendly and reasonable. The announcements in the terminal are also either non-existent or not in multiple languages (which isn't helpful when you're travelling on British Airways back to London). The Iberia lounge in terminal 4S (non-Schengen) is actually really nice, but apart from that this airport is not user friendly. I would go as far as saying that I would rather the all encompassing chaos that often consumes Rome's Fiumicino Airport, as opposed to the utter incompetence, language based discrimination and contradictions that I encountered in Madrid, purely for the reason that at least Rome normally eventually get things right (as opposed to MAD where they stubbornly, arrogantly and rudely outright lie, and stick to it even when you expose them for it). Stay clear of MAD if at all possible - it's just not worth it unless you speak Spanish.