A Comparison of Direct Flights from NYC to Madrid

by Allie d'Almo  |  Published August 23, 2021

With an average flight time of 7 hours 15 minutes and prices as low as $200 dollars, direct flights between New York and Madrid offer an easy, affordable and fast way to travel between the two blockbuster capital cities. Soaring across 3,477 miles (5,757 km) with an average of two flights per day, it’s a popular route with everyone from wide-eyed gap year travellers to well-heeled business executives. If you’re thinking about making the journey, we’ve analysed the best direct flight options between NYC and Madrid below. 

JFK Airport, New York City (Photo: Clément Dellandrea via Unsplash)

Flights from New York to Madrid operate 23 times a week, served by five airlines. All direct flights into Madrid terminate at Madrid Barajas Airport, the largest terminal in Spain. There are direct flights available from two airports in New York – John F. Kennedy International (JFK) Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport. Most direct flights depart in the evening and at night between 17:00 and 01:15, though these times are date dependent so you’ll need to check the full flight schedule on your preferred date of travel. We’ve compared all of the direct flights below, taking into consideration price, duration, flight amenities and sustainability.

United Airlines 

United Airlines frequently offers the cheapest direct flights between New York and Madrid. This flight is the only airline that departs from Newark Liberty Airport, which is the furthest international airport from New York City centre. It’s best suited to those staying closer to New Jersey than Manhatten, Brooklyn or Queens. Flights operate once a day, seven times a week with an average flight time of 7 hours and 30 minutes. The earliest flight departs at 19:30 and the last flight departs at 21:15, depending on the time of year you travel. 

This flight uses the aircraft Boeing 767 and is also sold by Lufthansa and Brussels Airlines. It generates around 885 kg CO2 per passenger. Onboard, there are three tiers of seats available: Economy, Economy Plus and United Polaris Business Class. Economy offers the standard 78 cm legroom and 12 cm incline, while Business boasts 190 cm sleeping space and 180° incline. There are five ticket prices to choose from: Basic Economy, Economy, Economy Fully Refundable, Premium Economy and Business. It’s worth keeping in mind that while United Airlines offers the cheapest direct flight tickets on the market, you’ll need to pay an additional fee to keep your baggage in hold if you’ve purchased the Basic Economy ticket. However, a meal is included with all ticket prices. 

Prices from $201. 

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American Airlines – JFK

American Airlines offers the fastest direct flight, with an average flight time of seven hours. It also offers the earliest evening flight departure time, with flights departing at 17:25 and arriving at 06:40+1 from April to October. It’s a good option if you’re planning on squeezing in a full day of work after your flight. Flights depart every day from the more convenient JFK airport too. While the United Airlines flight is consistently cheaper than the American Airlines flight, the price difference between the two flights is relatively low, with as little as $1 between them. 

The flight uses the aircraft Boeing 777 and is also sold by Finnair, British Airways and Iberia. It generates around 890 kg CO2 per passenger, making it the worst airline for carbon emissions. Onboard there are three tiers of seating: Basic Economy, Main Cabin, Premium Economy and Flagship Business, with four corresponding ticket prices. Basic Economy offers the standard 78 cm seat space, while Premium offers a slightly roomier 91 cm seat space. In Flagship Business, you can lie flat too. Like United Airlines, you’ll need to pay an additional fee to check in a bag if you’re booking the cheapest and most restricted tickets. All ticket prices include a complimentary meal with beer or wine. 

Prices from $219. 

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The Iberia flight is the most frequent, offering at least one flight every day from JFK airport. Prices tend to be steeper than United Airlines and American Airlines, but it’s also rated as the most reliable direct flight between the two cities, with an on-time arrival rate of 81.1%. Flights tend to depart later in the evening, leaving at 21:05 or later and arriving in Madrid at 10:30+1 at the earliest. Iberia also offers an early morning direct flight at selected times during the year, at 12:20 and 01:15. 

The flight uses the aircraft Iberia Economy Airbus A33 and is also sold by American Airlines, Finnair and British Airways. The flight generates lower carbon emissions than both US airlines, averaging 745 kg CO2 per person. There are three tiers of seating: Economy, Premium Economy and Business. Seats on this flight are slightly larger than other direct flights, with 81 cm legroom in Economy and a 194 cm flatbed in Business. For each class of seating, there are at least three different ticket prices. For example, the Economy offers a Basic, Optimal and Flexible Ticket. Basic is the most restrictive, with an additional fee to put luggage in hold and change your seat, while Optimal Flex offers one piece of baggage in hold, seat selection and a full refund, without penalty. All tickets include a complimentary meal with beer or wine. This is a good option for those looking to keep prices down but happy to pay for additional assurances, such as refunds and changes. 

Prices from $248. 

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Air Europa 

Air Europa is the most eco-friendly direct flight, generating 581 kg CO2 per passenger – at least 400 kg CO2 less than the direct American Airways offering. Flights depart at 22:05 from JFK Airport and arrive in Madrid at 11:40+1, which makes it one of the longest flights at 7 hours 35 minutes. Flights do not run daily and depart four days a week on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Of the five airlines, Air Europa is the least reliable with an average on-time arrival rate of 73%. 

The flight is served by the Boeing 787 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner,  and no other airlines sell this flight. There are five ticket prices to choose from: Economy Lite, Economy Standard, Economy Flex, Business Standard and Business Flex. Economy Lite is the most restricted, with a no refunds and no seat selection. You’ll need to pay an additional fee to put your baggage in hold too. However, Economy Flex offers up to three pieces of baggage in hold, making it the most generous luggage allowance aboard a direct flight  – worth considering if you’re taking an extra-long trip. Meals are not included in the ticket price unless you’re flying Business Class. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the most efficient aircraft on the market, with reduced gas emissions of 20%, HEPA filters, a serrated engine that reduces noise by 60% and LED lighting that simulates all phases of daylight. If you’re looking for a more sustainable way to travel between the two cities in a newer aircraft, Air Europa is the best option. 

Prices from $276. 

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Delta is frequently the most expensive direct route between New York and Madrid. It’s also the longest, averaging 7 hours and 45 minutes per journey. Flights depart at 19:30 from JFK and arrive at 09:15+1 into Madrid. There are no direct flights on Mondays or Wednesdays.  Its average on-time arrival time sits at 73.3%, which is just 0.3% higher than Air Europa. 

The flight uses the aircraft Delta Economy Boeing 767-300 and is also sold by Air Europa, Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic. It generates comparatively high emissions,  with 807 kg CO2 per passenger. There are five ticket prices to choose from Basic, Main, Comfort+, Premium Select and Delta One. Basic is the most restricted ticket; you’ll need to pay a fee for any checked luggage. Delta is the only airline to offer a first-class flight experience between New York and Madrid. Passengers who book a Delta One ticket can enjoy a 180-degree flat bed set with WestinHeavenly bedding, a private cabin with the largest setback screen and Sky Priority. If money is no object and you’re looking for the most premium flying experience, Delta is the best airline for you. 

Prices from $431

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