IN THE SKIES OVER IRAN – A flight attendant serving kabobs and grilled tomatoes on a steaming bed of saffron rice free of charge. Is it a dream or are you stuck in a time warp? No, it’s just Iran.
You read it correctly. In this corner of the earth, the airlines are still serving free complete meals with drinks and desert to all the passengers.
Even on cheap short flights, the crew hurry to serve and then rush to collect the trash before the captain signals the landing. It’s treatment that spoils the passengers, especially the ones who know such service has long disappeared from the American and European skies.
Fighting to compete in a crowded field, Iranian airlines seem to spend lavishly on the meals.
On today’s 90-minute flight from Tehran to Kish Island, I was served piping hot chicken kabob, on top of saffron-laced white rice, a grilled tomato, dill yogurt, bread and pudding. The choice of drinks included non-alcoholic beer and doogh (yogurt drink).
“I’m taking pics to show to friends overseas. No meals on flights over there,” I told a flight attendant.
“I know, they don’t even hand out water anymore, I hear,” she said, adding, “I wonder we should learn from them or they from us.”
“They should learn, obviously,” I replied.
“Well, that’s unlikely,” she smiled. “It’s usually them who expect us to follow their example.”
Flying in Iran is usually inexpensive in comparison to the fares in the West. The 1031-km (640 miles) flight today on the Kish Air Boeing 737 cost the equivalent of $65 USD one way.
Iranians who live or travel abroad feel pampered when flying inside Iran. It’s common to sarcastically joke about the treatment they get from the non-Iranian airlines.
“Ah, I was fed so much; I had to beg them to stop,” I tell my father when I visit him in Iran.
A couple of days after the above flight, I was served the following on a 55-minute, 676 km (420 miles) Meraj Airlines flight from Shiraz to Tehran: grilled slab of chicken breast, tomato, yogurt, Oliver salad, cake, bread, juice and water.
Flight attendants were practically knocking over each other to serve and prepare for landing in time.