Fly-K From Germany, joined May 2000, 3133 posts, RR: 52 Posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 5738 times:
My new job in Dubai will see me travelling frequently throughout the Middle East, Africa and of course back to HQ in FRA. In order to better get to know the markets I’m dealing with, I will try to visit as many of them over the next months. (In fact, I’m writing this trip report on a DXB-IST flight). This will include trips to places one likes to visit and others that are maybe not so pleasant. Teheran probably falls somewhere in between these categories. In any case, it was a destination I was looking forward to getting to know better.
I had quite some difficulty in scheduling this trip because of full flights. Originally I had planned to stay over night and already got hold of an unconfirmed return ticket on Iran Air, but as the date came nearer, flights got fuller and fuller,and I had to look for alternatives. It emerged that only a day trip would be possible, leaving DXB in the morning and returning in the evening, both on EK. I hope I can still fly on IR at some other time. So I boarded the A330-200 A6-EAK at 8:30 in the morning and made myself comfortable in that not-so-popular middle seat in business class, a unique feature on EK’s Airbus fleet (except for the A345). Thanks to the recently enlarged seat pitch, it was OK though, but in my row 2 (the first with the 3 center seats, row 1 only has two because of the narrowing cabin) you have to do without a personal TV screen. Not a big problem for a 2 hour flight though. All in all, in my opinion, the EK “hard product” (i.e. the seats) somehow lags behind major competitors, but this is made up by the very good inflight service, and this 2 hour flight proved no different, starting with the welcome drink and hot towel, and continuing with an excellent meal choice (in this case breakfast) for a relatively short flight. On-time departure was from 12R, followed by a 150 degree left turn very shortly after takeoff to bring us on course to THR. We quickly crossed the Arab Gulf for landfall over Southern Iran, a very mountaineous territory. Cruising altitude was an amazing 40,000ft which the capable A330 reached within less than 30 minutes. Approaching from the southeast, we descended into the high-altitude valley in which THR is located at almost 3,000ft altitude, while the mountains north of the city reach some 15,000ft. With a population of more than 10 million, it was an impressive sight (see Sam Chui’s photos), and the city gives an impression of a modern metropolis from above, with wide alleys and highrise buildings. Mehrabad airport is located some miles west of the center, but now fully engulfed by the growing city. The new Imam Khomeini airport, that is completed but not in operation yet due to internal discussions on who gets to operate it, is located much farther away. As we touched down on rwy 29, I was craning my neck both directions to catch glimpses of all the aircraft that were parked. Here’s a selection of what I saw: 3 Saha 707; TU154 of Mahan and Iran Air Tours; Aseman 727, Fokkers and ATRs; the whole range of what Iran Air has to offer; both ex-LH B747-200s now operated by Air Universal of Jordan; and a huge Air Force fleet, at least 5 707 and even more 747s, the latters seemed to be largely stored, IL76 and Hercs. On remote positions, an ex Iberia A300 used for spares and an Iraqi 737-200! A window seat which would have allowed some snapshots would have been priceless… After a quick taxi, we docked at one of the few jetbridge positions that the Shah-era terminal features. I have to say, the first impression when entering the country is not the best, due to the very sorry condition of the airport terminal. Not much seems to have been done to keep it up-to-date since the revolution, so at least in this regard, the new airport will be a huge improvement. At least airport and immigration staff was friendly, an impression that was reinforced during my stay, that of a very friendly and hospitable people. Of course I couldn’t see much during one day, and our office is in the more modern, affluable and liberal quarters of the city, so I saw modern, open-minded people who are definitely not the foundation of the country’s system and ideology. It was especially interesting to see how girls (and Iranian girls are very beautiful) are trying to test the limits of the official dress code.
After a day of meetings with our local sales colleagues and a bit of sightseeing, time soon came to head out for the airport again. Luckily the evening EK flight back to DXB departs well before the big rushhour of the European carriers when the overcrowded international terminal turns into a total chaos, so my checkin and security procedures were efficient and very friendly again. Due to the full flight, I could only get a seat in economy class, no issue for a short flight, and as it turned out, always better to get to know seat neighbours and talk with them, in my case an Iranian student attending American University in Sharjah, reinforcing my day’s impressions of modern Iranian youth. EK served a full warm dinner with full bar service even in economy on this A330-200 (A6-EAL), what a difference to what we’re used to these days in other parts of the world. Too bad I was still full from lunch and dinner in Teheran, kebab all day long… not much else to report from the return flight, it was dark and uneventful. An ontime landing in DXB on 30R, and the long walk from the satellite Sheikh Rashid terminal through the tunnel to the main building, followed by a quick pass through the electronic fingerscan e-gate immigration system and a visit to the arrival duty free store to stock up on liquors for home, concluded this short trip, which yet left me with many new impressions of an interesting country, with a very interesting aviation scene. Maybe I should return soon to fly on the Saha 707!
Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been...
Chepos From Puerto Rico, joined Dec 2000, 6095 posts, RR: 11 Reply 4, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 5282 times:
A couple of years ago, I went to an art exhibit called the Images of the Garden of Persia which featured Iranian artists- they told us how living in the modern day Iran is and how women especially were so limited. Always wanted to go to Iran its a country with so much history and such a rich culture. Maybe one day I'll make my way to Iran.
Sabena332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 5, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days ago) and read 5237 times:
this is an excellent report about a flight to a destination which is not often featured in the A.net trip report forum, thanks for posting it!
Especially I liked the information about Tehran airport, I will transfer through it on a flight to Bangkok in the next month, as you have already read in the Civil Aviation Forum (the next Asia trip has to be a little bit more basic compared to the last one, thus the cheapest flights). So the old Tehran airport is still open? I heard a few months ago that the new airport opened but was closed down at the same day (or one day later) because of some trouble, since that I never heard again about it, so I was a little bit confused if I would transfer at Mehrabad airport or already in the new one. Actually I would prefer the new one since I read you description of Mehrabad, but I don't care as long as they offer clean rest rooms and a possibility to buy food and drinks.
You mentioned the dress-code for women, is this dress code also compulsive for non Iranian women? I am asking because I will travel with my girlfriend and she has of course no piece of fashion in her wardrobe which would fit to the traditional Iranian dress-code for women. Am I right when I think that it is ok when she is wearing normal (of course discreet) western style clothes? I mean, female flight attendants are also walking through the airport with her (partly quite sexy) uniforms and you also mentioned that the Iranian youth is going to the limits of the dress-code even in downtown Tehran, so it can't be a crime to enter Iran as a women without a scarf, or is it?
It seems that the service on the Gulf carriers is almost on the same level like on most airlines in South East Asia. I flew BKK-HKG-BKK on CX in Business Class two weeks ago, and I was really impressed by the high level of service, simply not comparable to the service on a three hour flight in Biz within Europe. A really big advantage in my opinion is when short haul flights are operated with a widebody aircraft, it is much more comfortable for both, Business and Economy Class passengers. The Biz Class pax can enjoy a real Business Class with wide and big seats as well as a seperate cabin, and not a class which is only seperated by a curtain, while the Economy Class passengers can enjoy additional amenities like PTV's which are quite rare on narrowbody flights (well, except on JetBlue or Middle East Airlines, etc.). Have you already checked out some local low-fare airlines like Air Arabia? I am curious if they also provide a similar good service like their Asian counterparts, which offer a very good price/performance ratio in my opinion.
Since I have been to Dubai myself in October last year, I can only give a favorable opinion regarding the visit to the duty-free shop after arriving there. Damn, I never visited another country where alcohol is so expensive like in the UAE. I remember quite often the moment when Bjoern and me were sitting on the roof terrace of the Jumeira Beach Hotel, both of us had finished our glass of beer and Bjoern asked: "Should we drink another one?", I asked; "How much is a glass in Euro currency?", Bjoern was calculating for two seconds and said: "16", then I said (with a scared voice): "Ok, let's drink another one". I was shocked about this outrageous high price, but what chance we had? We were really thirsty . I think that was the most expensive beer I have ever drunk.
Enjoy your time there, Konstantin, and make sure that you post another trip report after you visited another of you new neighbor countries, maybe you can convince a certain group of people that not all Arabs are "evil terrorists".
Chepos From Puerto Rico, joined Dec 2000, 6095 posts, RR: 11 Reply 6, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 5212 times:
Sabena 332 according to what I've read female tourists age 9 and up must cover their hair (when in Iran), it even states on the Iran Air website that a female flying on the airline on a flight into Iran must wear the veil. I of course have never been to Iran so Fly K can give you better info, but just in case she should take something to cover her hair while in transit in Teheran.
Fly-K From Germany, joined May 2000, 3133 posts, RR: 52 Reply 7, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 5182 times:
I already answered some of your questions (on the airport) in your other thread. Now, on the dresscode, I'm not sure, but I think Chepos is correct, a scarf is obligatory, and arms and legs should be covered.
I hope to have more trip reports soon, as I'm currently travelling a lot (in fact, I flew DXB-DOH-FRA on QR yesterday), including trips on TU, AH and ET over the next few weeks. No trip on Air Arabia yet (as not possible for duty travel, but maybe I'll try them on a leisure trip one day).
On prices for alcohol, I'm surprised at what Jumeirah Beach Hotel charges. Normally a pint of beer should be around 20 dirhams (4.5 euro), even in the fancier hotels such as Mina A'Salam or Emirates Towers it shouldn't be much more.
Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been...