It’s that time of the year again when I fish my headscarf out from the bottom of the laundry basket to wash it ready for our yearly trip to Iran. It is also the time when we start looking to buy our plane tickets. This process usually has four stages: Stage one; ‘Enthusiasm’ as we search for a ticket cheaper than Iran Air, Stage two; 'Excitement' as we find numerous bargain tickets, Stage Three; 'Doubt' as we find each bargain ticket has something wrong with it (such as having a ten hour stopover in Venezuela), Stage Four; 'Surrender' = buying our tickets from Iran air.
At this moment in time we are still in Stage two; Excitement. We have found a few cheap tickets, the cheapest one of which is with Azal (Azerbaijan Airline) who claims it can fly a person from London to Iran and back for only 220 pounds. It really is a great bargain compared to the 405 pounds that Iran Air charges.
Some people are still a bit wary of travelling with Azal. It’s understandable as well. I mean if dog years are seven years to one human year, then country years are more like about one to sixty human years which makes Azarbaijan a very young baby or maybe even a foetus. Now I’m just as uncomfortable with having my plane flown by a baby as the next person, however I find that when it comes to saving nearly 400 pounds (for the both of us) suddenly my reasoning starts going something like this, ‘And exactly who says babies aren’t good at flying passenger planes?’
But seriously I think anyone who has ever flown with Iran Air and lived to tell the tale should really be able to fly with any other airline after that and think nothing of it.
I’m not saying their pilots are bad. No they’re really great actually. Service is good too and so is food (especially when they give baghali-polo). People are also very friendly. Especially if you’re a single girl with a British passport (in which case there is always someone with a son or nephew that wants to get married) or if you have made the mistake of travelling light (in which case some old biddy will make friends with you and then emotionally blackmail you into carrying all her five sacks full of fried aubergine and ghormeh herbs or Primark goodies, depending on whether she is flying in or out of Iran) the inflight entertainments are quite good too (it helps if you’re into watching weepy Iranian movies in different shades of green with dodgy headphones that keeping up with the green theme will replace the voices of all the actors in the film with Kermit the Frog’s).
In fact I only have one problem with Iran Air; I absolutely have no idea how those planes are still able to fly! The only logical explanation is that there is some sort of divine intervention at work there which explains all that collective mandatory praying you have to do as soon as you get on.
Even so, I would still willingly fly with them if only their tickets weren’t so bloody expensive. Because the way I see it, in the current state of affairs (with earthquakes, hurricanes, landslides and bird flu and with buses and tubes and planes and trains being blown up left and right) on board an Iran air plane on its way to Iran, is probably the safest place a person can be.
So once you get over the fact that the plane you are flying in, probably needed to be scrapped over ten years ago, then unlike all other airlines, you can just sit back and relax and never worry about the other passengers and if someone’s hat is going to start ticking or if someone is going to try to light their shoe or hijack the plane and fly it straight into the financial heart of Iran (the Tehran Bazaar I presume). You can just fasten your seatbelt and enjoy five hours of absolute bliss and total peace of mind.
Iran Air, because you’re worth it.
PS I have updated the page for Ilkhanan-eh Iran (by Farokh Saramad) so if you are interested, you can now read a few pages from this hilarious book which I received this morning and have not been able to put down since! Baba, you’re a star :-)