N178UA From United Arab Emirates, joined Jan 2001, 1649 posts, RR: 67 Posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Unforgettable Iran Air 747 Classic Experience
This Trip Report is dedicated to all Iranian spotters and Iranian people for their remarkable hospitality!
To fly B747 SP or B747-100/200?
Iran Air operates several B747-100/200 Classics (B747-100 EP-IAM, and B747-200 EP-IAG, EP-IAH, EP-IAI) and four B747SPs (EP-IAA,EP-IAB,EP-IAC,EP-IAD)
The B747-100/200s were not scheduled on any particular route currently. Apart from Hajj flight, IR operates them on Ad hoc basis when the travel demands are high. On the contrary to get on a Iran Air B747SP was a lot easier task, Iran Air fly them on regular schedule basis to Mumbai, Istanbul, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur etc.
Because of the unpredictable pattern on the B747-100/200 classic operations, it has become a difficult task to fly on them. The B747 classics have been seen flying into Jeddah, Dubai, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur and Beijing from time to time. Sometimes the ship change takes place on last minute basis making one impossible to plan to fly the classics. Since I have flown the Iran Air SP eight years ago, my interests to fly their B747 classic are growing day by day.
A big scheduling task
During the Iranian New Year (Nowruz) this year, Iran Air has scheduled a B747 on Tehran – Dubai – Tehran daily for about 10 days. I found it out towards the end of the period on Friday 30th March and have decided to jump on the opportunity immediately. My friend UKDispatcher and I tried every possible ways to purchase a ticket on a Friday (which is a holiday in Middle East) in UAE and we have failed at all our attempts. It seems no travel agents were able to issue Iran ticket themselves without going through Iran Air office which was closed that day. We were thinking to fly overnight on Etihad from Abu Dhabi to Tehran then connect the B747 classic to Dubai. (A cool way to go from Abu Dhabi to Dubai instead of by car) But our plan couldn’t be executed without a Iran Air confirmed ticket.
So with a disappointed heart, I went to bed still thinking about the possibility of getting on the B747 classic. I woke up next day and decide to drive to Dubai to see which B747 classic (whether the 100 or 200 series) actually operated that day.
I drove 3 hours that day (1.5 hrs each way) to and back from Dubai just to confirm the type and reg. of A/C operating. I can’t stop thinking about ways to get on this plane when I was driving. I saw EP-IAM, B747-186B approach 15 minutes before its schedule arrival time when I was driving over the highway. I later managed a distant photo of her taxiing out for departure. I was excited and convinced that if I can find a way, I will be able to fly another B747-100 which I have only flown twice in the past before.
EP-IAM operated the Saturday service, as seen in Dubai.
Almost Despair and heart sinking
Due to the heavy passenger traffic going back to Iran towards the end of the Iranian new year holidays, the Iran Air B747 flight were totally booked out on all days. The only possible way is to fly Tehran – Dubai in one single direction which means I need to travel with another airline to Tehran and return with Iran Air.
A quick call was made to Emirates but the phone agent told me their flights (all 3 daily flights) were heavily oversold and no seat was available from Dubai to Tehran. A few other airlines were also sold out despite upsized their equipment from the usual A320s to B777-300/ER (Qatar and Etihad). Needless to say, it seems like the whole World wanted to go to Tehran at the same time! I was left despaired and went for a nap. I was planning to abandon the whole plan because it just ain’t happening at all!
After waking up in a few hours, I re-checked Emirates website, this time 1 seat in Economy was available on Sunday 1/4 (the next evening). It was like a small miracle and brought colours to life again. I reserved the seat straight away and plan to go to Iran Air office the next day to get my Iran Air ticket issued and fly out of Dubai that evening to Iran.
The next morning came and things were busy but very smooth. Everything falls into the right place. I met with the lovely Ms Afsaneh at Iran Air GSA office and she had issued my Iran Air ticket within 10 minutes. I have also purchased several more for my later IKA-KUL-IKA B747SP trip and one for UKdispatcher.
Afsaneh at Iran Air Abu Dhabi GSA office cleaned her table and dressed up just for a photo! She was very kind.
With successful purchases of all ticket, my journey now looks like:
1/April EK977 Dubai Tehran B77L 1845 2125
2/April IR659 Tehran Dubai B747 0800 0945
One Last Worry
Although I have previously visited Iran twice, once in 2004 and once in 2006. I was under the impression I may no longer able to get a Visa on Arrival (VOA). On IATA visa requirement it mentioned I must have an Electronic Visa Number issued by Ministry of Foreign Affairs Iran. When I visited their website, it said it was still under construction!
I have called the Embassy of Iran in UAE to confirm with the official who said I am still able to obtain one on arrivals. That cleared the last hurdle of me going into Iran and I will definitely going back many more times. I was also worried about Emirates agents insist on an Iran Visa at check-in, as if they would know the rules and believe I could obtain a VOA in Tehran. Inshallah!
Dubai – Tehran
I used the excellent Emirates Business Class lounge as a Gold Skywards member before flight though I was in Economy class. But my mind was so sharp and can’t relax much at all!
The lounge was quite empty as there aren’t many flights depart in early evening.
EK977 departs during the non hub hours of Emirates as you can see on the display above.
It was operated by a 3 class B772, A6-EMK, fully packed. Nothing out of ordinary on the flight except it was ship changed last minute from a B777-200/LR to a B777-200/ER.
Fully packed in all cabins.
With only 12 minutes to Tehran! I got very excited that I am coming back to Iran for the third time glory!
I arrived Tehran on time at 9:25pm and received my VOA only 20 minutes after the landing.
IRAN THREE PEAT
The arrival scenes at IKA. Things are much improved and civilized than my previous visit when it first opened in 2006.
Arrival screen of IKA. Full of traffic in the evening otherwise a very quiet airport. “IKA was London Heathrow only after dark” said Taha
Within 30 minutes, I was out and greeted by my Iranian friend, Sharham, Taha and Mohammed.
A group photo at IKA.
IKA at night.
Midnight at Mehrabad
I have informed my Iranian friends about my coming last minute and was very happy to see all of them waited for me at Imam Khomeini Airport, which is at least 40 minutes from the city itself. There were no hotels near IKA for overnight. (one was under construction and linking the terminal). Sharham have a perfect program line up for me; first we will drive to Mehrabad (the domestic airport of Tehran) and then we will stay under the approach light path and watch some arrivals. Once I get tired, we will go to the airport hotel which is inside the airport itself.
With 3 Iranian spotters under the approach at Mehrabad, the place has not changed since my last visit 6 years ago!
Terminal 1 of Mehrabad Airport. It is not used anymore.
A Paykan. I love the shape of this car. It is also getting rarer these days in Iran. I remember it was full of Paykan and its heavy gasoline exhaust smell on the streets of Tehran when I first visited in 2004.
The hotel is situated right next to the control tower. There were about 10 rooms and offer a limited view of the domestic ramp. It is a new hotel with decent accommodation.
The view from the room! Not bad at all!
Good Morning IKA
I woke up at 4:40am the next day. A pre-arranged taxi driver came and took me back to IKA. It was a 40 minutes smooth ride on the Persian Gulf Highway. Arrived at the terminal at around 5:45am and it was full of people inside the terminal. Many flights were departing in early morning.
Morning departure flights on display.
Economy check in area was by flight (not common check-in) for Iran Air.
Check in was smooth at the dedicated Iran Air Homa Class common check-in counter 47-48.
The lady handed me a boarding pass with Seat 1A on it but she told me seat 1B was reserved so I request to change to seat 5A, the last row in the nose area of the B747. Another lady wrote me a lounge invitation card (looks like a lottery ticket or a meal voucher actually)
After the check-in, I proceed with immigration. It was chaotic with people trying to push in front of each other. Only one line was opened for Foreign passport holder. There was a German guy who refuse having people push in front and argument were broke out. I waited over 30 mins and glad the wait was over.
I proceed to the Business Class lounge underneath the café. It was a comfy, open air lounge with some breakfast on offer.
All airlines use this lounge. I think this is the only lounge in IKA (not sure)
A decent amount of food and drinks were on offer, include ice cream!
The comfortable lounge.
Some pasta salad and blood orange juice as a starter.
Many models were on display.
The sun rise at about 6:30am. I can see 2 B747 classics (EP-IAG, EP-IAM) were parked next to each other on the remote ramp. At this point, I was confident that EP-IAM, B747-100B will be operating the flight to Dubai due to cargo loading activity.
EP-IAM getting prepared. I believe it was loading the flight to Dubai.
After the lounge, I proceed to the gate; I really like the Iranian airport system
You can see red/green light for each boarding gate which means whether it is open or not.
At Gate 22 (changed from gate 21 last minute), boarding started at 7:30am with about 100 plus passengers board through Iran Air bus for remote bay one by one….
We were bused out to the plane. Passing the B747SP EP-IAD which operates to Istanbul that morning and drive across the taxiway.
Busy morning activity at IKA.
Iran Air dominated IKA traffic.
Snapping photos of everything…..
Unexpectedly, our bus stopped in front of EP-IAG (B747-286BM) “Azarabadgan” Oh….!
N178UA From United Arab Emirates, joined Jan 2001, 1649 posts, RR: 67
Reply 1, posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
So it turned out we are flying the B747-200 instead today. That was unexpected at all. I was in denial for about a minute. But quickly my enthusiasm came back! A B747-200 classic is also very rare these days. I knew that as a fact this plane is actually older than her B747-100 brother! I was the last passenger got off the bus and join the rest of passenger onto the stairs to board the plane.
A very pleasant crew welcomed me at the door and guided me to my seat in 5A. My mood lifts up immediately when I boarded the B747-200 classic! It was immaculate, it was nostalgic, it was grand and I was the ONLY passenger today in Homa Class. I will have the whole cabin to myself!
A slight delay but photos were OK!
We have a slight delay. Push back and engine start did not start until 8:40am. (STD was 8am) so I took the opportunity to befriend with the Iran Air crew knowing Iranian hospitality are among the best in the World. They were amazed at my travel stories and enthusiasm on Iran Air B747 classics. They invited me for photos, asking me to stand on the staircase getting picture and explore around the whole cabin.
I have convinced the chief security in-flight to take a photo of me at the door!
The beautiful EP-IAM B747-186B is getting prepared as well.
I was the only passenger and can have the whole cabin to myself! Very well maintained and neat!
A welcome drink of Orange Juice and an Amenity Kit (Mashad Leather) was also offered! It was truly incredible. Not even Emirates or Singapore Airlines give you an amenity kit in Business Class for a 1hr 45mins flight!
The kind purser took more picture of me. I was like a kid in the playground! I keep changing seats and they were stunned but don’t seem to mind at all!
With the TV resetting the program on display, we are ready to depart!
First Delivered 5.10.1976
Age 35.7 years old
IR659 Tehran Dubai 0800 0945
Pax No: 1J/112Y
At 8:40am, the staircase was pulled and we were ready for push back. After push back, the wonderful sound of JT9D-7F came to live. I was ecstatic and knowing that I am already in heaven. Who cares if it isn’t a B747-100B, at least I flew with it before. Shortly before taxiing, I moved seats to a window seat in Economy to try to get photos of the engines/wings on climb out. Surprisingly, the crew actually encourages me to take photos during take-off!
“Please feel it like home, this is your home!” Sure, I was running around the cabin from front to middle when it was taxiing. Which other airline allows you to do this?
EP-IAM, the B747-100B push back at the same time, I believe it is operating a re-positioning flight to Mehrabad. How cool to have 2 B747 classic push back together!
Lining up on Rwy29R.
A Turkish Air A330-200 taxi to follow us.
Wonderful Take-off and Climb
At 8:51am , all four JT9D-7F roars and we were airborne within 20 seconds from Rwy29R of IKA follow by an immediate left bank towards the South heading to Shiraz, then Persian Gulf before landing into Dubai. The flying time was 1hr35minutes and cruising altitude at 35,000 feet.
Enjoy the best Iranian hospitality on offer
After photographing the takeoff, I moved back to Homa Class and it’s time now to enjoy the best Iranian hospitality on offer. I moved seat from 5A to 1K and recline the chair completely to relax. The seat have only 2 button, one to recline and one lever to pull for the leg rest to come up! It was simple mechanism at its best. The seat was perfectly comfortable and unlike many other recliners, the leg rest does come up fully and supporting the leg well. I have absolutely no problem m sitting on this chair for a long haul 10+ hours flight.
Having the whole cabin to myself.
Demonstrating the seat in full recline position.
A photo from Seat 1K.
Such an elegant spiral staircase. Why can’t we have this on the new B747 and A380?
So Retro! Lovely all the buttons and dials!
Fine Food on offer with gift to take home with…
Meal Service started straight away after I made myself comfortable. The single tray contains 3 different types of bread, yogurt and fruit, all neatly presented. While nothing special, I ate the bread and thinking this is all the meal because of the short flight.
The purser came around and asked, “What would you like for your main course?” I was stunned, I thought that one tray of bread and yogurt was it! “We have vegetable, steak and Persian food”. I chose steak and it was the best breakfast steak I ever have in my life! (Mind you I am not an easy person to satisfy on topic of food)
Here is the main course!
Lovely cooked steak. Love both the presentation and the flavor. It was tender, well cooked but weren’t overcooked.
I finished the meal with a cup of tea, of course! (With the famous Iranian sugar square block). Now what’s missing? Looking around, I found it very hard to resist the fine bone China with Iran Air logo on every single item. I want to take them home so I politely asked the purser, and his response was “they’re now yours!!!!” He came back and gave me few more items. It was very heartwarming, I can feel the generosity come from the bottom of his heart and I was left in awe.
My Souvenirs from the flight! Priceless!
At the meantime, while enjoying the fine food on offer; I also enjoyed the views our B747 flew past, we took a Southerly track after departed from Tehran, passing Shiraz and one can see the snow capped mountain range (Zargos Mountain?) along the route. It was a pure pleasure eating the fine piece of steak while watching the views from the window to go past.
After the meal service, I took the opportunity to walk around the cabin and get some more photo of the B747 wing. Here are more pictures of the B747 classic beauty.
Every B747 flight should be completed with the wing photo!
The wing was so clean; Iran Air put many world class airlines to shame on the appearance of their planes!
I further explored the plane by walking from front to back several times.
Taken from the last centre row, I believe it was row 54.
Very light load means a lot of room and free to explore.
Forward Economy section where the curve of nose starts to appear.
The onboard Pray area immediately behind Door 1L.
Back to my own cabin!
You can see from the picture she is well maintained. (I believe she went through a major overhaul a year or two ago)
A cabin map of EP-IAG mounted on the wall.
Before we started our descend, the captain handed back my log book. It was my utmost pleasure to be onboard Iran Air!
From the wall mounted Sony Bravia LCD, we are over the Persian Gulf. The In-flight map of Iran Air is equally amazing and fully functional. I prefer this large LCD screen over the individual 10” screen
At about 9:45am UAE time, we started our descend.
End of a unforgettable flight
By this time, we were over water just before the coast of UAE. The weather was unusually overcast. Deira and the Burj Khalifa was clearly insight.
We flew past the airport on downwind, then a big 180 turn over the dessert before line up to approach on Runway 30L of Dubai Int’l airport.
Over the UAE desert.
Over Emirates Road at Mirdif before touch down!
At 10:10am, the B747 classic made a gentle and smooth touchdown.
Back to where everything is Emirates……
With a short taxi to the gate, my journey has come to an end. I was the first to get off the plane, and within 8 minutes I was out on the street of Dubai and head back to work straight away!
The last picture of “Azarabadgan”.
Thank you Iran Air
Thank you Iran Air. It was a sheer pleasure and reminded me why I love Aviation so much!
Although a short journey, but since I have made a real effort to fly the B747 classic, the dividend paid off tasted extra sweet. The memory of Iran and Iran Air will have a long lasting impression in me. It was a perfect flight and I enjoyed so much that I can’t describe or explain. I feel extremely privileged and thankful to the great Iranian Hospitality Iran Air offers. I do not have one sour note because of I flew the B747-200 instead of the B747-100. Instead of being negative, I have overcame it and definitely made the most out of the situation. I enjoyed every moment of it and I was still very excited when I type this trip report.
Iran, despite all the negative publicity and propaganda around her, is an absolutely fascinating destination. It was so unforgettable even spending a few hours there. I have travelled throughout Asia and the Middle East and few countries can be compared with Iran, created such long lasting impression in myself. I am not at all afraid. You have to go to Iran, to see the reality of the country and what has it got to offer.
I am looking forward to my next Iran Air ride later on this month, onboard the B747SP from IKA-KUL-IKA.
TupolevTu154 From UK - England, joined Aug 2004, 2168 posts, RR: 29
Reply 7, posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
I'm looking at PEK-IKA with IR in September if everything stays hospitable between Iran and the west, and this is a fantastic taster of what I could be enjoying in a few months time!
Every time I read an Iran Air report all I ever hear is how great the crew are. Did you not visit the flight deck during the flight? It seems that's pretty easy on IR!
My fingers are crossed that I can get a transit visa without trouble and catch a flight aboard their 747SP and experience their hospitality for myself. Many thanks for posting, can't wait to meet those crews!
lukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1081 posts, RR: 32
Reply 8, posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
A wonderful report .Your enthusiasm was infectious...
IIRC you also visited Sudan at some point in the past. Perhaps not. But, the hospitality in these two countries I believe is some of the warmest to be had. What a shame each is vilified by the media (occasionally justified by actions of government!)
Quoting N178UA (Reply 1): I have convinced the chief security in-flight to take a photo of me at the door!
How wonderful. It seems like the Iran Air crew treat the 747 like their home, in which you are their most sacred guest. This is amazing.
Thank you all ! My pleasure to share the trip report with you all!
Quoting TupolevTu154 (Reply 7): Did you not visit the flight deck during the flight? It seems that's pretty easy on IR!
No, it is not easy. they did not let me visit upper deck and cockpit. I will try again on my next series of flights with them. May be after landing is easier.
You DO NOT need a Transit visa to transit IKA within 24 hours.
Quoting TupolevTu154 (Reply 7): My fingers are crossed that I can get a transit visa without trouble and catch a flight aboard their 747SP and experience their hospitality for myself. Many thanks for posting, can't wait to meet those crews!
mxp From Italy, joined Aug 2003, 414 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Superb TR. And about one of my preferred airlines
I had the pleasure to travel Iran already twice and u are right people there are phantastic and very very kind. I dont mind to return there in the future.
I flew last year in Homa Class from KUL to IKA and was unforgettable. Service was impeccable and people very very nice. I was only a bit fear of taking photos on board but i arrange anyway something.
Thanx for sharing
mjabbasi From Pakistan, joined Nov 2007, 31 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 32119 times:
One day I will definitely visit Iran (its right next door) and only fly IR getting there. Sadly they only fly to Karachi once a week (usually an A300/A310 or 727) which means I would have to spend a whole week there. I have sizeable Iran Air model collection and would love a chance to go and photograph the real things. IR maintain their a/c meticulously and have plenty of cash, a huge stock of spare parts and their planes also have low flying hours and cycles and their onboard service seems almost at par with those 5 star airlines. Their only drawback is their ageing fleet and if they had 777's and A330's etc, I'm sure they would be up there with those 5 star airlines.
767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1868 posts, RR: 25
Reply 16, posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 31053 times:
Quoting N178UA (Reply 9): I finished the meal with a cup of tea, of course! (With the famous Iranian sugar square block). Now what’s missing? Looking around, I found it very hard to resist the fine bone China with Iran Air logo on every single item. I want to take them home so I politely asked the purser, and his response was “they’re now yours!!!!” He came back and gave me few more items. It was very heartwarming, I can feel the generosity come from the bottom of his heart and I was left in awe.
Quokkas From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 30863 times:
What a wonderful trip report!
The experience you had with Iran Air was clearly a treat and it comes across in your writing and the photos. The hospitality that you were shown by the crew, the kindnesses displayed in humouring you in taking photos, the gifts and the personal service all show how much they were pleased to make your journey a pleasure. But I suspect that the way that you treat the crew also helps.
debonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2320 posts, RR: 4
Reply 19, posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 30672 times:
Hi Sam, what an OUTSTANDING TR, but
Quoting N178UA (Thread starter): After waking up in a few hours, I re-checked Emirates website, this time 1 seat in Economy was available on Sunday 1/4 (the next evening).
I think the marriage made you lazy! What happened to the "old" Sam we did to know? I was expecting something more exotic like MAHAN AIR or even Iran Asseman flight IRC6700 from IST to IKA on A340 EP-APA (c/n002!!!)
vhtje From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2009, 357 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 30586 times:
Thank you for a wonderfully warm and enthusiastic trip report - an absolute pleasure to read, and a marked difference from the look-at-me/show-off reports that litter this forum. You are a true aviation enthusiast and your passion shows.
N178UA From United Arab Emirates, joined Jan 2001, 1649 posts, RR: 67
Reply 21, posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 29999 times:
Quoting debonair (Reply 19): I think the marriage made you lazy! What happened to the "old" Sam we did to know? I was expecting something more exotic like MAHAN AIR or even Iran Asseman flight IRC6700 from IST to IKA on A340 EP-APA (c/n002!!!)
Does Iran Aseman fly A340 between IST-IKA? I would love to do it, let me know the schedule. Sometimes I wish I know more information so I can plan better. But you're not wrong, married life ain't the same anymore
Quoting vhtje (Reply 20): Thank you for a wonderfully warm and enthusiastic trip report - an absolute pleasure to read, and a marked difference from the look-at-me/show-off reports that litter this forum. You are a true aviation enthusiast and your passion shows.
Thank you. I would say everyone's trip report does show off their stories to some extent and I am no exception. But I hope to keep mine as objective and as accruate as possible. I don't like marketing any particular airline. That's beyond trip report for me.
Quoting Quokkas (Reply 18): The experience you had with Iran Air was clearly a treat and it comes across in your writing and the photos. The hospitality that you were shown by the crew, the kindnesses displayed in humouring you in taking photos, the gifts and the personal service all show how much they were pleased to make your journey a pleasure. But I suspect that the way that you treat the crew also helps.
Thanks. They did buy my enthusaism. I love Iranian people and they return the favour to me.
Quoting SEA (Reply 15): I'm not joking when I say that I've been in 2 month old airliners that are in worse condition than that classic. Amazing!
Quoting HUYfan (Reply 10): I flew to Iran many times when I worked for BMED, and the Iranian people are undoubtedly the most hospitable people I have ever met!
Thank you all. Comments well received.
Quoting mxp (Reply 11): I flew last year in Homa Class from KUL to IKA and was unforgettable. Service was impeccable and people very very nice. I was only a bit fear of taking photos on board but i arrange anyway something.
Alberto, did they still serve Caviar in Homa Class? That's the big question