Hello and welcome to this return flight from Iran to Europe.
In case you have forgotten, I flew in via Rome with Alitalia in January, which you can read again here
I then was lucky to try out a few domestic flights on Fokker 100 and old A320s (here, here and here).
Now it's time to say goodbye to this beautiful country, where people undeservedly struggle.
My flight was scheduled for 04:20. IKA airport is famous for long border queues, messy check-in and annoying security checks, so you are advised to be there 3h before departure latest. However as I came in from Abadan (see previous report here), I was there way earlier around 23:15, that is 5h before departure.
I sat down in the departure hall before the first security bag check (which is before entering the check-in area!). In this area there is café, an exchange office ("saraafi") and some airline desks. It is above the arrivals hall.
I enjoyed 100MB of free internet (wohoo!) and organised my pictures. I also looked at the FIDS which was unfortunately right next to a police guard which is why I did not take pictures of it. During this season Iranians are on holidays and many charter flights leave to all sorts of destinations. Phuket was on the screen, as well as Batumi, Tbilissi, Dubai, Baku, Berlin and of course the classics like Frankfurt, Amsterdam etc.
Iranian citizen, whether living in Iran or abroad, must pay a departure tax before going abroad, however I don't know how much it is (I'm not Iranian).
Around an hour later, check-in was shown to be open on four desks. I went through the security scan to the check-in area. Interestingly ground staff were wearing both KL and AF uniforms although there was no AF flight that night. I guess they share the staff and prepare all flights together. The queue looked pretty busy, but I navigated my way through to the Business Class counter.
It looked like they were not used to have SkyPriority customers travelling in eco because they got very confused when I asked about the lounge. The team manager, a young and very proactive guy, eventually escorted me personnally to a hidden border check for biz pax with a lounge invitiation card, which I sadly had no time to take a picture of. This police border desk is by the sign "desks 11-18" in the check-in area. Somebody takes your lounge invitation card and stamps the back of your boarding pass with "First Class and Business Class passengers" before you proceed to this police check, which means you do not take the lounge invitiation card to the lounge but only to the border, to have it replaced by a stamp. So complicated and typically bureaucratic for no reason. Here is my Boarding Pass.
I headed through the passport check to find myself airside in an area where there is no sign to tell you where the lounge is. A little bit silly. But it's not that far, to your left and then down the stairs to your right.
Some general lounge impressions
The press selection. Er well… selection. Even censored press is maybe better than no press?
There are special business meeting rooms.
The food offer was pretty good. I was expecting cake and sandwiches, but they also had soups, pickles, potato salad fruit and a large selection of drinks. Unfortunately this area was staffed so I couldn't take very detailed pictures as I don't like people to move away for a picture.
The lounge is by the window airside, so you can attempt to take pictures, but it's a little tricky at 2a.m with a poor 9 y.o camera.
And that is my plane arriving!!! Oiiii, exciting! It bears the KLM "ASIA" sign. PH BQN according to flightradar24
I decided to leave the lounge around 03a.m as boarding was scheduled for 03:15. On my way to security I noticed there were new cafés since my last trip two years ago.
I passed the last security check, where you are greeted by the revolutionary guards to find myself in the gate area. From here there is also a good view on the tarmac, but it was still dark and raining.
To my very big surprise, boarding started ON TIME. At 03:15 sharp. People rushed to the gate, but the staff managed to keep a lane free for SkyPriority and I was among the first on board, which was good for pictures. The greeting by the crew was friendly but not overtly warm…
KLM World Business Class
Economy and Economy Comfort
Eco and Eco Comfort are "separated" by this blue thing.
I sat right next behind eco comfort in 15K, a seat "people seem to prefer" which is why ordinary customers must pay 20€ to reserve it. You get it for free as a SkyPriority traveller. The seat in itself is comfy but the armrest is too small (it's this bloody 3-4-3 777 configuration!).
The purser came by to check I had reserved a vegetarian meal, which I confirmed. He was friendly and professional but not really warm. He made a very good impression to me overall though, like the guy in his early 50s who's been in the job for years and knows all the subtilities. I'm sure he did great in business, as I never saw him again until arrival.
The captain wished as a good morning and explained luggage loading got complicated and it would take some time before we leave. Time to take pictures out of the window (some of these were also made during taxi).
Safety demonstration video which is set in a Dutch tile factory to grab your attention. Smart.
Screen looked pretty good and was very responsive. As we were delayed for push back I started watching a French comedy.
Eventually take-off, bye bye Iran! I hope you get better soon, because you well deserve it.
I liked my table, which folds it out in two and allows you to put down a drink with a only half of the table.
The plane wasn't very full and FAs organised for the middle rows to be occupied by families while others would sit in pairs on three seats. So there was no one directly next to me and I made myself comfy for a bit of sleep.
However a snack came by before I actually slept. A warm wrap. It was okay but not extraordinary. I asked for a beer with it, my first alcoholic drink in quite a while.
I slept for 3 hours or so.
After I woke up above Southern Germany
Breakfast came 1h15 before landing
The ordinary option was plain scrambled eggs so I could have had that as well as a vegetarian (I'm not actually full veggie but felt like light food on a night flight). My creamy vegetables were okay, but nothing extraordinary. I was not very hungry so I did not have the bread which did not look like a fresh bun. I also had tea.
A look at the Holland Herald…
Definitely better than the press selection at IKA airport, but I don't understand why they make their route map so complicated with all their codeshares. There is no clear over view.
Good morning Amsterdam! Greeted by China Airlines A350, not bad!
Swift disembarking without passing though business class. Time to say bye bye to my plane and actually catch a picture of it. Screw this filtered plastic foil on the windows!
And off to the main terminal (we were in G, quite far away)
I went to the 52 Lounge by the Holland Boulevard before the Schengen Zone, as I believe lounges in long haul areas are usually better stocked. I had a great breakfast and siesta there.
End of this report, thank you for reading me :-)
Coming up is Colombia with an old AF A340-300.
Tehran - IKA
Amsterdam - AMS
I was overall very satisfied with KLM. They demonstrated proficiency, routine wisdom, attention to detail, service to frequent flyers and families. Despite delayed departure because of bad airport services, they managed to arrive on time. The FAs could be a tiny tiny bit warmer :P
IKA airport is making progress. The cafés and shops look much better than a few years ago and the border queues didn't look so bad. I was also very happy to take advantage of the service to FF and biz pax to have a separate border check point.
The lounge was a pleasant surprise but it should have its own washing and restrooms. The way wifi is offered is a little old fashioned.
Schiphol made a very good impression on me, like the KL flight.
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