IRAN AIR Flight Information:
KIR841 25MAR27OCT1034560 29674LKULKUL1110 1635IKAIKA J
36.5 years old, delivered to Iran Air in 1976
KUALA LUMPUR TO TEHRAN
Welcome to Iran Air
Upon turning left, we arrive at our seats and are instantly made comfortable with our surroundings. The retro cabin is well preserved, and is also spotless fresh. It was not only a blast from the past, but the scene was perfectly spotless, it felt like a new cabin back in the day. Many may have their doubts that Iran Air’s planes are old, but to keep them flying until today requires exceptional skill, and today’s upkeep standards certainly tell me a positive story. TAAG’s 743 for instance, is a technically newer aircraft, but it was in a depressing state compared to this fresh beauty.
The seats are also no different. Offering the most basic of frills, yet they can easily outdo today’s standards of basic comfort. They may not have a minibar, or convert to even an angled lie-flat position, but they do offer what seems to have been long forgotten today; pure cushiony comfort. Soft padding -and plenty of it- a cradle recline, and a simple footrest are just what I need to kick back and relax for this journey back through time. And is there no one occupying the seat next to you? No problem, simply remove the removable center armrest and you even have a seat that can challenge SQ
’s Business Class offer in terms of width. Absolutely brilliant!
Leg space: short but sweet
Usually a picture like this means that ‘something’ is about to happen on this flight
On the way to settlement in our seats, we are warmly greeted by Payam, a male cabin crew –one of several that will look after us today in Homa Class- who not only performed the standard greeting recitals, but actually engaged in a proper conversation with us, seeing that we were absolutely excited to be here.
“You were on holiday in Kuala Lumpur?”
“No, we are here just to fly on Iran Air’s SP
“Please enjoy it, you are most welcome here”
“Can I get you some juices to drink?”
A selection of juices –orange, lemonade, and mango- were on offer, in addition to water. Sam selected mango, and I opted for the orange juice.
Payam then returned to us with a tray offering a selection of amenity kits and Iran Air branded pens. The kits came in two different colors, dark beige and olive green, and are made from pure Mashhad leather, which is an Iranian luxury. He even ensured that we each had a different color so we can have both.
Amenity kits and pens
Meanwhile, seeing the two of us hop from one end of the cabin to the other, the sky marshal manning the boarding process was questioning our photography intentions. But Sam politely explained the situation to him with a few words that simply worked –like magic- where we were then given the green light to go to town!
Doors were eventually closed, and an announcement was made by Captain Moghadam to welcome us on board. He advised us of our flight’s routing to Tehran, and that today’s flight time would be 8 hours and 20 minutes.
At 11:10am, we pushed back rather swiftly onto the apron. The engines began their warm-up hums one after the other, and after the typical start-up checklist, we began our taxi to the active runway.
Takeoff –at 11:30am- was a noticeable difference for me when comparing to my last SP
experience on Syrianair. Today’s was rather sluggish and lengthy, and perhaps we may have been loaded a little more, but I certainly did not feel that certain power of the SP
that was instantly felt with Syrianair. Or, I may just be talking a bunch of bullocks because our climb was certainly steep as we shot upwards like a rocket into the skies, beginning our journey towards Iran.
The journey to cruising altitude was rather lengthy today, but most of that owed to our bypassing a storm that was looming close by. Eventually after 45 minutes, the seatbelt sign was switched off and the crew was released to prepare for the service. Sam and I on the other hand, burst out of our seats and the ding of seatbelt sign, and floated around the nose section of the aircraft taking in as much as possible.
Cabin after takeoff
Absorbing as much as I could
My favorite part of any classic 747
On our crossing over the Bay of Bengal, lunch service began, and Payam was in the cabin dressing our tables.
A full lunch service is offered after takeoff, and on Iran Air in Homa Class, this is totally tray-less. A trolley was passed around the cabin with amenities to set up our tables. The usual china and silverware –all branded Iran Air- were neatly laid out and that included a simple salad offer, a starter plate, and an offer of bread from the breadbasket.
Lunch is served
The starter consisted of fresh salmon, grilled chicken, cream cheese over a pastry base, asparagus, boiled egg, and tomato. Everything looked exceptionally fresh, including the salad. While I pushed the salmon to the side, the salad was crunchy cool fresh, and the chicken was tender and perfectly flavored. The cream cheese was presumably meant to accompany the salmon, but I made it so for the chicken and it was all a perfect combo. A great start to an Iran Air meal!
Meanwhile Sam’s starter was identical and looked like this
As we were busy with our first courses, the crew offered soup from a tray, and today’s choice was a simple but hearty cream of mushroom soup.
The main course followed, and this consisted of Iran Air’s classic buffet service on a trolley.
Main course service
On offer from the trolley was a beef in a thick stew, grilled fish on skewers, and breaded chicken. These were accompanied by a choice between white rice, or saffron rice and also a selection of grilled vegetables and potatoes.
Sam opted for the beef, fish, rice, veggies and potato
Whereas I chose the beef, chicken, rice, and potatoes
I could not fault this meal in any form. Everything was exceptional, especially the breaded chicken, which was pure breast meat. While Sam’s view was that catering on his earlier flight to Beijing was better, for me this was Kuala Lumpur catering at its absolute best.
Fruits were offered for dessert, but we were both full and gave that final course a miss. The usual coffee and tea also followed to conclude, but were already up and about by then.
Cabin shots after the meal service
From this point forward, things happened on their own as time was no factor, and I suddenly found myself climbing the spiral staircase headed towards the upper deck and the cockpit, where we were to spend the majority of the remaining flight time. There aren’t many opportunities to fly an SP
in the world today, and the chances of lounging around the cockpit of one are even slimmer.
He has invaded Iran Air again!
Upper deck is reserved as crew rest area for the marshals and the crew
Upper deck galley
Inside the cockpit, we were warmly welcomed by the three flight crew in command today, Captain Moghadam, and colleagues Karimian/Sepahi. Let us not forget that this plane requires a third person at the control room; the flight engineer!
In any case, Sam made them feel more at ease with us by showing them his photos, and telling them stories about his long history with Iranian aviation. Naturally they can relate to things like this and they took to us instantly. I on the other hand, just floated around in the background like a fly. I more or less ignored what they were all talking about –no time to really care- and was more interested in absorbing as much of my surroundings as possible. Won’t get a chance like this again, so may as well maximize the gain.
We were allowed to hang out with them, and were even offered snacks and drinks as we so pleased at anytime. It was a truly unforgettable experience that I will definitely appreciate for a long time.
The SP cockpit
Sam also did something that was even considered daring by his standards. He asked the captain –initially expecting a no for an answer- to push the B747SP speed to Mach 0.88. What was the response? YES! Mind you, this is the fastest subsonic cruising speed on the SP
, and for just those few minutes on this speed, we probably chopped a few minutes on the flight time! Again, it was unbelievable!
Mach reaching 0.87 here, on its way to 0.88
Time to take pictures with the great IR flight crew!
This is how he does it!
Cockpit coffee for me
Meanwhile, we left the cockpit for a little while, as we caught wind of rumors brewing that a second mid-flight service was looming.
Mid-flight leg space for some reason?
Payam and his mates in the Homa section began the second meal service, and it consisted of a single tray service of fruit, cake, and your choice of coffee/tea, in addition to water. A very simple serving, but very suitable for an afternoon snack that is typical to the Middle East region. While the cake was a little dry, the fruit was juicy fresh and cold.
Sam asked for tea with his snack
And coffee for me
For the next couple of hours, the two of us spent our times doing our own things. Sam spent his time between cockpit visits, taking naps, and touring the economy class section. Me on the other hand, did similar patterns but in different sequence and minus the nap.
It was interesting to chat with Payam and some of the other crew close to the Economy Class cabin. He has a very positive outlook on life, and is very appreciative of the many things we in the ‘outside world’ tend to simply take for granted. He is a huge fan of music, but in its purest form. Instead of following a specific artist for instance, he follows the macro level producing companies and always makes an effort to collect their work as it released.
This is also how he does it too!
Getting closer to Tehran
Approximately just less than two hours prior to landing I was surprised to discover that the crew began preparations for yet a third meal service. This time around, while it also consisted of a single tray serving, all the trays were neatly laid out on the center table in the Homa Class cabin before distributing them individually.
Third meal service! Impressive for an 8h flight!
Resembling something a little closer to an afternoon tea service, this meal consisted of a plate of three open face sandwiches –cold cuts, cheese, and salmon- accompanied with cream cheese, olives, pickles, egg, and tomato. For dessert, there was not just one, but two items which were chocolate pudding and an apple-crumbly pie/cake thingie. As always, I push the salmon to the side and I enjoy the rest. Iran Air has scored really high with their catering on this flight as again, everything was absolutely fresh. Even the Salmon looked fresh and I am sure it tasted so too!
44 minutes to landing
As we were close to landing, the crew was busy preparing the cabin for arrival. Meanwhile, the purser summoned Sam and I to follow him upstairs as the captain had allowed us to join him and his crew for the landing! Another hit for me! Sam has done this many times but two cockpit landings for me in the span of four months is making me all the more seasoned! I couldn’t believe it! Not only was it a cockpit landing, but it was one on an SP
at Imam Khomeini International Airport, so it couldn’t get any better than this!
Inside the cockpit, we settled down and silently documented every little detail around us. Who cares about the seatbelt sign, I stood up for the entire thing!
B747SP Cockpit Landing at Imam Khomeini International Airport
And if the pictures aren’t enough, here’s a video I shot of the whole experience:
And a cockpit tour video shot by Sam:
Fly Roni. Aviation Journeys. Photos. Videos.