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hirofumi
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Memorable Iran Trip with Mahan Air A310 and Iran Air MD-82

Sat Dec 30, 2017 7:38 am

In early December, I took my mom to travel in Iran. It was a fascinating country with wonderful people, and of over 60 countries that I've traveled to I would rank Iran in one of top 3 recommended destinations in the world. And, as an aviation geek, I can't miss flying Iranian carriers with their vintage aircraft! There were some great business class fares out of Delhi on Mahan Air, which tempted me to choose the visit. Flying on Mahan Air was a great mystery, as there are very few reviews available online (two of which are from KN Aviation where I post my articles frequently, Tehran to Mashad in economy A300-600R and Mashad to Tehran in business B747-300).

Part I: Delhi to Tehran Imam Khomeini International by Mahan Air A310 in Business Class

Efficient Check-in
I've used many international airlines out of Delhi and surprisingly Mahan Air check-in process was the most efficient one, along with Japan Airlines. Had simple document checks (not for Iran but actually for re-entering India) and boarding passes issued in seconds after reaching the counter, despite the non-availability of online check-in facility nor advance seat selection.

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Check-in at Delhi

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Boarding pass and lounge invitation

Onboard
The aircraft registration was EP-MNX, originally delivered to CSA Czech Airlines in 1991. Business class seats were old style angled-flat. They were actually quite comfortable, but the limited space for putting anything on the seat other than in-seat table was a bit inconvenient.

The menu came inside a leather folder, which is mostly seen in other carriers' first class but not business class! Service by the crew was efficient and hospitable. There was virtually no entertainment system though. Not even music (no headphone socket in the seat). Apart from their in-flight magazine, the only entertainment was on the overhead screen which was either showing a flight path (which was its original and I quite liked it actually) or "Just for Laughs" type of short program.

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Menu folder

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Drink menu

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Breakfast menu

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Seat in angled-flat position

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Not bad

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Inside the cabin

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Toilet flush button in classic style!

Breakfast
The food was quite tasty overall. I had the sweet option. The croissant was one of the best I had on a plane.

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Breakfast tray

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Classic butter knife!

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Iranian herbal tea with sugar stick in traditional style!

Part II: Tehran Sightseeing
Oh my gosh, the people in Tehran were the friendliest and most hospitable I've ever come across than any other capital cities. Also, Iranians in general are very tolerant of outside cultures. They seem to be naturally very curious about foreign visitors and I was so shocked that in all my metro rides we were both given a seat despite being very crowded inside. It's a modern city and I felt like I was in Europe rather than the Middle East!

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Tehran street scene

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Clean, cheap, and efficient metro

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Local students

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City's new icon: Tabiat Bridge

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Tehran skyscrapers observed from Tabiat Bridge

Part III: Tehran Mehrabad to Yazd by Iran Air MD-82 in Economy Class
Mehrabad Airport is used solely for domestic flights and close to city center. Iran Air uses Terminal 2. The ticket cost was only USD 43 per head including an agent's handling charge, and a tasty little snack box on a flight with flying time of just 37 minutes! This MD-82 aircraft was originally delivered to China Northern Airlines in 1989, later to a Ukrainian carrier, then finally to Iran Air.

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Mehrabad Airport T2 building

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My boarding pass to Yazd

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Boarding

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Seats

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Iran Air crew

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Mt. Davamand, the highest peak in country

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Snack box containing fresh orange pieces, tasty cinnamon cake, sesame bar, and fruit juice

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Cabin view

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Such a classic lavatory!

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The bird at Yazd Airport

Part IV: Yazd, Isfahan and Kashan Travels
We did a quick three days trip covering the three ancient capitals, driving from Yazd to Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport with a driver and guide. By the way, if anyone needs help with any tour arrangements in Iran I'd really recommend a travel agent called Shirdal Airya. I've corresponded with three different agents initially but this one was the most detailed in replies yet the cost was lowest of all three. In the end we are really happy with the service from them, and the owners, Naser and Masi, are very experienced travelers who have been to all over the country.

My favorite place was Yazd. Although Isfahan is the most visited place by tourists with many "wow" factors, there was something very special about Yazd. Kashan was a little cozy town with unique monuments.

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Yazd old town

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600-year old Jameh Mosque in Yazd

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Mosaic tile work of Jameh Mosque

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Tasty lunch in Silk Road Hotel, Yazd

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Amir Chakhmaq in Yazd

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Jameh Mosque at night

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Yazd old town in early morning

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Desert outside Yazd

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Chak Chak cave, the holiest site for Zoroastrians

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On top of 4,000-year old Nain Castle in Maybod with our guide Naser (also the owner of travel agent)

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Inside Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan

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Ceiling art of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque

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Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque

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"Half the World" in evening

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Inside coffee shop in Isfahan

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400-year old bazaar in Isfahan

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Vank Cathedral in Isfahan, the most beautiful church ever seen!

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Art work in Vank Cathedral

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Inside underground Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse in Kashan

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Agha Bozorg Mosque in Kashan

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A very modern drive inn near Kashan

Part V: Tehran Imam Khomeini International to Delhi by Mahan Air A310 in Business Class

Ground Experience
There is a dedicated business class check-in counter for Mahan Air. The lounge used by the airline was not the common lounge shared by all airlines, and instead was directed to "Tehraan Cafe" with up to IRR 350,000 (about USD 9) worth of free food/beverages per person. For two of us, we were able to cover a plate of chicken Caesar salad, cheese cake, and two glasses of strawberry smoothie for free.

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Mahan Air Business class check-in counter area

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Inside Tehraan Cafe also used as Mahan Air business class lounge

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The salad at the cafe

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Boarding pass to Delhi

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Departure transit area

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Boarding an A310 aircraft!

Onboard
Seats were exactly the same as outbound flight, but the location of restroom was a bit different. The registration was EP-MNO, formally delivered to Lufthansa in 1991.

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Light load factor for this flight

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Welcome drink choice: Orange, aloe, or grape

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Dinner menu

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Dinner menu

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So nostalgic!

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Dinner tray with appetizer and sour cherry juice

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Love the little dressing jar!

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Main dish: Iranian stew cooked with meat, slices of orange peel, almond and pistachio with the side of saffron rice and barberry

Overall, the food quality was quite good. It was difficult to pick one main dish as all looked very attractive. The stew was delicious, but the highlight of the meal was dessert - it was simply divine!

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Very tasty black mulberry cake with Iranian herbal tea

Summary
I'm sorry for the very quick review as if I'd write the full report it'll be extremely long, but I just wanted to say as an aviation geek flying on rare Iranian birds & vintage aircraft was a double joy. Iran was unique on its own, and despite the US-led international sanctions it remains a very well organized and stable country. The people are very much concerned about their own country's image too. All I can say is that Iran is not what you'd see and hear on international media, and there are so many attractive factors to visit the place, especially for culture and hospitality.

Thanks for reading!

Hirofumi
 
DAIAM2002
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Re: Memorable Iran Trip with Mahan Air A310 and Iran Air MD-82

Sat Dec 30, 2017 1:39 pm

Thanks Man.
Iran seems to be an interesting country to visit.
Additional to this you can travel with classic a/c.
 
ba319-131
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Re: Memorable Iran Trip with Mahan Air A310 and Iran Air MD-82

Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:10 pm

Thanks for sharing your flight and pictures, flights looked good, nice to travel on some rare equipment and it sounds as if Iran is a country worthy of a visit.
111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
 
SQueeze
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Re: Memorable Iran Trip with Mahan Air A310 and Iran Air MD-82

Sun Dec 31, 2017 2:11 am

Incredible Iran. And Mahan Air looks good too. Not as vintage as I thought for its interiors.

I have been planning the same as well. But now having a hard time to convince my partner out of a few concerns. How’s the pollution in Tehran, compared to Delhi. We are having a hard time adjusting to the winter smog fog here in north India. It’s been quite bad. Tehran looks smoggy too. About mobile data connection, how is it there? We have to be completely cut off?
 
dc10@dfw
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Re: Memorable Iran Trip with Mahan Air A310 and Iran Air MD-82

Sun Dec 31, 2017 2:52 am

Thanks for posting this report and the beautiful pictures of Iran. I only wish I could take a trip there but, as an American citizen, I would not do it. Hopefully one day in the not so distant future the beautiful, historic country of Iran will be as easy to visit as a trip to Europe.
 
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hirofumi
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Re: Memorable Iran Trip with Mahan Air A310 and Iran Air MD-82

Sun Dec 31, 2017 4:26 am

DAIAM2002 wrote:
Thanks Man.
Iran seems to be an interesting country to visit.
Additional to this you can travel with classic a/c.

Thanks. I was hoping to get a chance to fly on older aircraft but it seems to be getting rare these days. I believe the world's only B747 classic is almost retired now.

ba319-131 wrote:
Thanks for sharing your flight and pictures, flights looked good, nice to travel on some rare equipment and it sounds as if Iran is a country worthy of a visit.

Glad you enjoyed it. It is a very beautiful country.

SQueeze wrote:
Incredible Iran. And Mahan Air looks good too. Not as vintage as I thought for its interiors.

I have been planning the same as well. But now having a hard time to convince my partner out of a few concerns. How’s the pollution in Tehran, compared to Delhi. We are having a hard time adjusting to the winter smog fog here in north India. It’s been quite bad. Tehran looks smoggy too. About mobile data connection, how is it there? We have to be completely cut off?

These angled-flat seats are relatively new and look quite original too. The pollution in Tehran is much, much better than Delhi. If you check out AQI data usually the Tehran pollution ranges between "Good" to "Moderate". My photos did look a bit smoggy (especially the skyscrapers one) but that's because there is a tall mountain range behind the city and air can get trapped a bit. It was actually very sunny. Having said that, unlike Delhi in where the primary cause of pollution is crop burning/industrial one, Tehran was more of vehicle emission. For the mobile data, many sites (including Facebook) are blocked, but the locals do use VPN . You can also get your SIM at IKIA.

dc10@dfw wrote:
Thanks for posting this report and the beautiful pictures of Iran. I only wish I could take a trip there but, as an American citizen, I would not do it. Hopefully one day in the not so distant future the beautiful, historic country of Iran will be as easy to visit as a trip to Europe.

Thanks for the comment. Despite the situation, many locals that I've spoken to do appreciate American culture. In fact they showed discontent to their own government for not opening up their country. Iranians in general are very respectful people and it's hard to imagine anything happening to any foreign visitor. The visa process might be a bit complicated and you may need to arrange the entire package from a local travel agent, but I'm sure you can still have a wonderful trip.
 
lychemsa
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Re: Memorable Iran Trip with Mahan Air A310 and Iran Air MD-82

Sun Dec 31, 2017 8:48 pm

Looks great. But dangerous for some of us to visit.
 
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hirofumi
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Re: Memorable Iran Trip with Mahan Air A310 and Iran Air MD-82

Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:14 am

lychemsa wrote:
Looks great. But dangerous for some of us to visit.

You must be kidding. You will be prioritized to receive one the best trained guides in the country to escort you throughout the trip.
 
debonair
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Re: Memorable Iran Trip with Mahan Air A310 and Iran Air MD-82

Mon Jan 01, 2018 2:50 pm

There was virtually no entertainment system though. Not even music (no headphone socket in the seat). Apart from their in-flight magazine, the only entertainment was on the overhead screen which was either showing a flight path (which was its original and I quite liked it actually) or "Just for Laughs" type of short program.


Nice TR, always great to read from such "exotic" places and airlines!"

According to Mahan Air, on "International (Business Class) flights" a personal dvd/mp3 player and Amenity Kits are offered... Maybe the route is too short for such service?
 
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eastafspot
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Re: Memorable Iran Trip with Mahan Air A310 and Iran Air MD-82

Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:35 pm

Hi Hirofumi,

Amazing TR very informative, Iran is a real heaven for aviation geeks
Like Debonair wrote, I was wondering how long is a DEL-IKA flight for not providing individual IFE?
Also it's quite surprising that a such large airline (according to wikipedia 54 a/c) doesn't have its own lounge at its hub.
Thanks for sharing
Fly with Air Burundi, Air Tanzania, Air Uganda, Kenya Airways and Rwandair...Jumuiya ya Afrika mashariki
 
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DDR
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Re: Memorable Iran Trip with Mahan Air A310 and Iran Air MD-82

Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:39 pm

Very nice trip report with some amazing photos. I am curious about the stew with meat. Could you tell what kind of meat it was?

Iran certainly looks like a wonderful country to visit.
 
globalflyer
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Re: Memorable Iran Trip with Mahan Air A310 and Iran Air MD-82

Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:12 pm

What a brilliant report and read. Thanks for sharing. Iran is #1 on my bucket list!
Landing on every Continent almost on an annual basis!
 
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hirofumi
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Re: Memorable Iran Trip with Mahan Air A310 and Iran Air MD-82

Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:16 am

debonair wrote:
There was virtually no entertainment system though. Not even music (no headphone socket in the seat). Apart from their in-flight magazine, the only entertainment was on the overhead screen which was either showing a flight path (which was its original and I quite liked it actually) or "Just for Laughs" type of short program.


Nice TR, always great to read from such "exotic" places and airlines!"

According to Mahan Air, on "International (Business Class) flights" a personal dvd/mp3 player and Amenity Kits are offered... Maybe the route is too short for such service?

Thanks for the feedback. I just checked the airline's website. It does say for "long haul flights" so it will not apply to Delhi-Tehran which only had an average flight time of 3.5hrs. For the amenity kit, an eye-mask was provided though.

eastafspot wrote:
Hi Hirofumi,

Amazing TR very informative, Iran is a real heaven for aviation geeks
Like Debonair wrote, I was wondering how long is a DEL-IKA flight for not providing individual IFE?
Also it's quite surprising that a such large airline (according to wikipedia 54 a/c) doesn't have its own lounge at its hub.
Thanks for sharing

Hi Léonard, many thanks for the comment. The flying time outbound was 3hrs 45mins, and the other way just 3hrs. So, I guess it's considered a regional flight. As for the lounge at IKIA, none has their own lounge there, even for their national carrier Iran Air - it's just one shared common lounge. I'm not sure what was going on with Mahan Air - may be it was a temporary measure? I'd be curious if any other Mahan business class travelers have experienced the same.

DDR wrote:
Very nice trip report with some amazing photos. I am curious about the stew with meat. Could you tell what kind of meat it was?

Iran certainly looks like a wonderful country to visit.

Thanks for stopping by. I believe the meat was mutton (sheep). In Iran, the only poultry/meat that I came across were chicken, beef, mutton (sheep), and camel (which was surprisingly quite tasty).

globalflyer wrote:
What a brilliant report and read. Thanks for sharing. Iran is #1 on my bucket list!

Thank you! Iran is definitely a hidden gem :-)
 
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IrishAyes
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Re: Memorable Iran Trip with Mahan Air A310 and Iran Air MD-82

Wed Jan 03, 2018 6:28 am

beautiful TR and photos. I'm absolutely enthralled by Iran and am dying to go visit, as part of my family/ancestry is Persian.

also, cool website! i will bookmark it now.
personal page: rohananand.com
 
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hirofumi
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Re: Memorable Iran Trip with Mahan Air A310 and Iran Air MD-82

Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:55 am

IrishAyes wrote:
beautiful TR and photos. I'm absolutely enthralled by Iran and am dying to go visit, as part of my family/ancestry is Persian.

also, cool website! i will bookmark it now.

Thanks for the comment. I too have bookmarked your site, love your attention to details and a simple easy-to-read layout.

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