I do not have many regrets in life, but three big regrets are never flying the Concorde, Boeing 707, and Lockheed L1011. Had my aviation enthusiasm begun just a couple years earlier I am certain I would have flown on all three aircraft types. Now comes another hard decision.
With most sanctions lifted against the Islamic Republic, Iran Air is on a shopping spree for new aircraft that will replace its aging fleet. Iran Air is still operating a 747SP (special performance, essentially a mini-747) on routes to Mumbai and Kuala Lumpur but this aircraft is scheduled for retirement on 16 June 2016.
I am in Mumbai for a couple days and noticed an Iran Air ticketing office in town, so I stopped by yesterday to inquire. Although there is talk about leaving the 747SP in service for a couple more months, the 16 June retirement date is still in effect according to the office. I have an opportunity to fly it, but the question is whether it will be worth the cost and time…
Next week I will be in Frankfurt, where Iran Air operates service to Tehran three days per week, days which do not coincide with the twice weekly 747SP service to Kuala Lumpur. I would have to get to Paris (where a combined rail/ATC/Air France strike may be brewing) in order to fly same-day from ORY-IKA-KUL since my American passport does not allow for easy entrance in Tehran (as much as I would love a couple days there).
There is availability on the flight, but it is not a cheap ticket. I have a reservation on hold for next Friday at a cost of 56,365 INR (~$838) for the one-way trip. An A330 from Paris to Tehran, three hour connection, then onward to Kuala Lumpur on the 747SP. Business class was about two lahks (200K INR) so about $2972. That is out of the question.
To be honest, I am finding $838 hard to justify. Come on, we are talking about Iran Air — Etihad, Qatar, and Sri Lankan all have one-way tickets for less than half price. I also have the expense of getting from Kuala Lumpur back to Los Angeles and being away a couple days longer from my wife with another trip just around the corner.
Certainly the review would be interesting and to fly on a vintage aircraft would be tremendous fun, but I am not sure it would benefit anyone in a practical sense since the plane will soon be out of service.
What do you think? Worth booking or not? Any sponsors? 😉
Darn you Sam Chui for inspiring me to book this!