Last night, I left you on a cliffhanger–would I make it to Iran or not?
Early the next morning I asked the Park Hyatt concierge to call Kish Air’s ticketing office to see about traveling to Iran later in the day. After a lot of back-and-forth, we essentially received the same information I had the previous night: the flight was full but it would not hurt to try to go to the airport and standby for seat.
So that is exactly what we did. My friend and I hopped into a taxi and made it to Terminal 2 in 10 minutes. We walked inside the terminal and found bedlam in and around the Kish Air ticket office. At least 40 people were waiting in line outside the office door. Most were Indians, Pakistanis, and Filipinos. Dubai is quite tough on granting citizenship and many of the foreign workers it imports must do visa runs when their visa expires in order to renew them. Iran is a logical choice becuase the flight is so short and tickets were relatively cheap–the standard fare (there were no discounts or specials available) was 465 UAE dirhams, or about $126 return.
When I saw all those people my heart sank and I deduced there would be no way I would get on the flight now, but it turned out most of the people already had reservations and were merely paying for their visa cancellations (another arduous hoop foreign workers have jump through) or validating their tickets.
We got in line and made it to the front 30 minutes later. We would have made it sooner, but like in so many parts of the world, lines did not seem to mean to much and many just cut in and muscled their way to the front of the line.
The guy in front of us tried to play a fast one on the stressed out lady working the desk and the same man standing behind her who had told us to come back the previous night. He claimed he had already paid for his visa cancellation and the girl had “lost” his money. He started yelling at her, then yelling at her supervisor. The supervisor yelled back. The fight went on for five minutes before he finally gave in and paid the 30 dirhams, a whopping $8.16.
Now it was our turn. Although flight departure was 1.5 hours away, we were told it was much too early to know if we’d make it on the flight and to come back in 45 minutes. We wern’t about to argue, and walked over to the other side of the terminal where we had a quick breakfast at Starbucks.
45 minutes later we were back at the office where we were told once again it was too early to know. I assumed the flight was booked full, but some had not checked in yet. We waited, and waited. Every few minutes the woman at the desk would shrug and say she didn’t know yet. We were not the only ones standing by for a ticket–there were two others, one who looked desperate to get on the flight.
Finally, about 25 minutes before departure (oddly, scheduled departure was at 1310, but actual departure was at 1230) we were told there was one seat left and it would be going to the desperate lady.
I had made plans to go to Muscat the following day, but after talking with my friend we decided to move Muscat up a day and go to Iran tomorrow. Tickets were available and the lady was able to issue them on the spot–handwritten old-fashion carbon paper tickets that could only be purchased with cash.
We opted for day trip, in at 1230, out at 2045. Kish was a small island, so eight hours was enough. Paper tickets in hand, we returned to the hotel to prepare for our trip to Muscat.
Next: The Kish Air flight and border hijinks upon landing