(Traveled on September 18-19, 2015)
This is the third and final part of my trip report covering my 2015 trip to Iran. It covers the fourth and fifth day of the trip including some more sightseeing in Tehran, flying to Shiraz and back on 727 and MD-83, and finally flying on to Vienna on an Iran Air A310-300.
Table of Contents
- Getting to Tehran on IR 747-200 – The first part covers days 1 and 2 of the trip. It talks about getting to Tehran from Tokyo on AirAsia X A330-300 and Iran Air 747-200 and the first evening spent in Tehran.
- Zahedan on MD-82 and 727 – The second part covers day 3 of the trip. Included are stories from a roundtrip to Zahedan onboard Iran Air MD-82 and Iran Aseman 727, as well as spotting and sightseeing in Tehran.
- More Classics – 727, MD-83 & A310 – The third and final part covers days 4 and 5 of the trip: some more sightseeing in Tehran, flying to Shiraz and back on 727 and MD-83, and finally flying on to Vienna on an Iran Air A310-300.
Day 4: Continuing to Explore Tehran
During my last day in Iran, I could sleep in as the first part of the day would be spent in Tehran. After having a breakfast my friend and I went to pick up his colleague, an Iran Air flight attendant who would be joining us for a couple hours.
One of the sights I wanted to see was Tabiat Bridge – an award-winning bridge designed by a female architect Leila Araghian – that caught my eye on the Internet. Seeing the bridge in real life was even more impressive than I imagined it to be. The massive structure connects two beautiful parks that are separated by a very busy highway.
As I wanted to go to Mehrabad Airport and get a photo of an Aseman 727 in early afternoon before my flight to Shiraz, we left the park after about an hour and went to have lunch in a restaurant suggested by the Iran Air flight attendant. The kebab at Orkideh was amazing, and after finishing it, we dropped her back at her home.
While the initial plan was for me to go to Shiraz and then be picked up by my friend, he was on stand by and got called for an unplanned cargo flight. As such, we went to his home to pick-up my luggage first, and then we headed to Mehrabad airport to take a couple more photos.
Day 4: Iran Aseman 727 Again
After we finished taking pictures near the runway, my friend dropped me off at the terminal. It was shortly before 4PM, just in time for my 4:45PM flight to Shiraz.
Date: September 18, 2015 (Thursday)
Flight No.: EP3788
Route: Tehran Mehrabad – Shiraz
Airline: Iran Aseman Airlines
Aircraft: Boeing 727-228(Adv) (EP-ASA)
STD / STA: 16:45PM / 06:00PM
Since less than an hour was left until my departure, I went straight to the Iran Aseman check-in desk and within a couple of minutes my bag was checked-in and I had a boarding pass in my hand. This time, the boarding pass was interesting again. While it was printed, it had a square shape compared to the usual rectangular one.
By this time, it was about 35 minutes before the scheduled departure time, and so I cleared security and headed to my gate only to find out that my flight would be delayed. As no specific time was given, I decided to buy a can of Coke and wait.
The shopkeeper asked me where I was from and after saying Japan, he kept saying “Japon, Japon.” Wondering what he was trying to say, after about a minute I realized that on TV behind him, Japan was playing volleyball against Iran.
Luckily, the flight was only delayed by about 45 minutes, and so in no time the boarding announcement was made and we headed towards our aircraft. A bus ride along ramps full of interesting aircraft later, the bus stopped in front of EP-ASA – the same one that brought me back from Zahedan the day before.
Climbing the stairs into this aircraft was again a surreal experience, just like the trip to Iran. A year or two before visiting Iran for the first time, I had thought I missed my chance to fly the 727s, 747SPs and so on, but how wrong was I!
I settled into my seat 24F, and once everyone was onboard, we closed the door and started to taxi towards the active runway. The three P&W engines started roaring and within a few seconds we were in the air. And then, there was a “bang” of unknown origin. Likely not an important issue as we kept climbing and turned towards Shiraz.
Just like on the other domestic flights I have taken in Iran, a meal was served in spite of it being only an hour and a half long flight. This time, it was a simple snack box including a banana and orange juice box.
Way too soon, it was time to star our descend. The view of the setting sun together with our classic wing was beautiful. We flown over Maharlu Lake and gently touched down at Shiraz airport around 7PM. After taxiing to our stand, I descended through the rear stairs and headed into the terminal.
Day 4: Delayed Kish Air MD-83
As my flight back to Tehran was supposed to depart at 10:45PM, less than 4 hours after my arrival in Shiraz, I decided to spend the time in and around the airport rather than venturing into the town.
I walked around the terminal, and then spent the rest of the time inside the terminal. I had an interesting encounter with the very friendly ladies from the souvenir stores as apparently me trying to figure out the Iranian money was “cute.”
Date: September 18, 2015 (Thursday)
Flight No.: Y97450
Route: Shiraz – Tehran Mehrabad
Airline: Kish Air
Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas MD-83 (EP-LCN)
STD / STA: 22:45PM / 00:00AM+1
About two hours before my flight I went to the Kish Air check-in counter where I got my boarding pass. This time it was one of the classic handwritten ones again. At this point, I was too tired to do anything meaningful, and so I just waited at the seating area next to the entrance to the gate area.
At Shiraz airport, only passengers of a couple of flights can enter the gate area at a time. Each airline has its own staff at the entrance to the security check and unless your airline’s agent is there, you cannot go in. Soon, line started forming in front of the Kish Air desk. However, no one was coming. Not even once it was 15 minutes until our scheduled departure time.
As such, I went to see the monitors which were showing “DELAY” but no further information. When I asked a lady at the information counter about our delay, she pulled out a fax saying our flight would be delayed by one hour. A little bit of waiting later, an agent finally shower at the Kish Air entrance to the secured area, and after tearing part of my boarding pass off I headed through security into the small secured area that only has a couple of gates.
I got airside shortly after 11PM, and since the delay was supposed to be one hour, I went to the cafe and got myself a black currant Fanta. We don’t have that one in Japan!
Around midnight, boarding was finally called and we were bussed to our aircraft – EP-LCN, an McDonnell Douglas MD-83.
I was so tired that I fell asleep in my seat almost instantaneously and only woke up shortly before landing in Tehran. I remember the crew passing through the aisle with a meal though. On a midnight one-hour-long flight! Of course, I was too tired to even try to eat at that point, and so I continued sleeping.
Day 5: Midnight Taxi Ride
By the time I arrived in Tehran and collected my luggage it was already around 2AM, and so I went directly to the taxi stand as my flight next flight was scheduled to depart Imam Khomeini airport at 7:20AM.
My ride was the locally manufactured Samand and after my driver put my luggage into the trunk and fixed it with a rubber string, we were ready to go. We criss-crossed the streets of Tehran for a while before getting on the highway that goes to Imam Khomeini airport. Of course, before getting on the highway, the driver had to lit an obligatory cigarette.
The very friendly driver with limited English skills offered me a cigarette as well, however, given that I do not smoke, I politely declined. The rest of the ride was relatively uneventful, although it is exciting experience to drive on the Iranian highway in a Samand at 160 kmph while your driver is smoking.
About an hour later, we arrived at the departure area of Imam Khomeini airport. The driver helped me get my luggage out and I thanked him and went into the terminal.
Day 5: Vienna on Iran Air A310
As I still had a couple of hours before check-in for my flight would begin, I tried sleeping on a bench in the terminal for a while. Then, I went for a late dinner or early breakfast, whichever you want to call it.
Date: September 19, 2015 (Friday)
Flight No.: IR717
Route: Tehran Imam Khomeini – Vienna
Airline: Iran Air
Aircraft: Airbus A310-304 (EP-IBK)
STD / STA: 07:20AM / 09:25AM
Finally, it was time to head to check-in for my flight to Vienna. I got into the line, and waited. At first the line was moving, but then there was some issue and it stopped. While waiting, I received a text from my friend that he had arrived back in Tehran, and so around 5AM we briefly met before he was picked up by the Iran Air van to be taken home.
After standing around for almost an hour, the line finally started moving again, and I reached the counter only a few minutes before our scheduled departure time. I handed the check-in agent my passport, and he kept looking at it. Then he asked me to tell him my address. After a while he asked if I had another ID. Saying I did not, I handed him my credit card. He finally convinced himself that I was who I was presenting to be and handed me my boarding pass.
I got to the passport control line. It was the STD by this time, and the line was very long. I approached an officer standing nearby who told me to skip the line. I headed to the front of the line where a group of Middle Eastern man started to get angry at me. After I explained what was happening, they became extremely friendly and were telling everyone around to let me go as my flight was departing… Well, 5 minutes ago.
I was not worried about missing the flight though, since there was still a line behind me at the check-in counter and many people were not checked-in for the flight yet. After getting to my gate, my passport was taken together with my boarding pass. This time, the officer was concerned whether I needed visa to go into Europe. After asking me about 3 times and consulting with about 3 officers, he finally stamped my boarding pass, and I was ready to board.
After getting onboard, my window seat was occupied. And even though, I wanted to sit in the window seat, given the man was disabled, I let it go and settled in the aisle. In fact, I was tired anyways. The flight was very uneventful; however, I was happy to have been onboard another aircraft type for my logbook – the A310. Meal was served twice, and a bit more than 4 hours later we landed in Vienna where my family was waiting for me to mark the end of the Iran part of the trip and the beginning of my visit to Slovakia.