I arrived at the airport at 8:15am for the 11:13 departure to Beijing. Check-in was a breeze as there were very few people in line. I was given a departure management card which said waitlisted for business class. It was also hard not to notice the SSSS, meaning I was going to get the secondary screening, I guess this is due to the fact that I had a one way standby ticket. I then grabbed a few shots and then proceeded to security, thatís when I got a call from Matt just to let me know he was getting ready to board Peter Max at the other end of the country, in Newark.
I handed my boarding pass to a TSA person, who then made me walk through this machine that shoots air onto you and tests it for traces of explosives, both of my bags were thoroughly searched, and also tested for explosives, and then I was allowed to continue to gate 96.
The boarding lounge began to fill as the time went by and boarding began at 10:30, my name was called and the agent gave me a boarding pass for seat 25C, I boarded immediately and was offered a drink just seconds after I sat down. Asked the F/A if she could notify me if any window seats were available, she said it should not be a problem since they were only expecting 29 people in business class, out of 73 seats. She also suggested I stayed where I was due to the extra legroom, but I told her I just like to look outside. In the end seats 23G and H were empty, I decided to move there despite the fact that they were quite close to the galley.
We pushed 3 minutes early from gate 96 and taxied to runway 28R, we had to wait for a company 777 to land on 28L, and we then crossed the runway and lined up on 28R and sat there for a little while to allow an aircraft to takeoff from 19R. Took a video and pictures as we climbed, and then tuned in the famous channel 9 in time to hear the pilot call Oakland center as we climbed through 18000 feet. Our initial cruising altitude was FL300, and progressively climbed to FL375. I managed to sleep for about an hour after the meal after that I watched Tokyo Drift, and channel 9 entertained me well enough for the rest of the flight, especially over Russia. No complaints about Unitedís service, the flight attendants were friendly, informative, and my glass was never empty.
Hereís various pictures and videos, some videos include ATC conversations.
We got to the airport at around 7, and while we were checking in Matt asked Iran Airís station manager if the aircraft would be a 747SP, and the answer to that was no, it was a -200, damn. Too bad but at least we kind of expected it. We made our way to the gate in time to see our airplane arrive from Tehran. There was a maximum of 20 people at the gate until boarding began.
We boarded about 30 minutes before departure, and I didnít really know what to expect as I made my way to the aircraft. Boarding was done using the L1 door only, and as I made my way through the bridge I didnít really know what to expect. First thing I noticed, IAG had a bad smell to it, or maybe it just smelled like an old aircraft. 3 F/Aís were ďgreetingĒ passengers on board, even recognized a dude who played a flight attendant in Just Planesí Iran Air DVD.
To our left, Homa Class which is Iran Airís business class, with 22 seats. The rest was all economy, with 427 seats and no, I didnít count them. Walked past the classic spiral staircase, and a praying room located just forward of R2 door. Windows were dirty and scratched as hell, so seeing that this flight would be very empty, we switched seats for better photo opportunities during the flight. 30 minutes after our scheduled departure time the captain came on the PA (could barely hear him), and said that they had minor mechanical issues and we should be on our way shortly.
The last time I heard that my flight got cancelled and I got stuck in Toronto for 6 hours, thankfully this time was different, we pushed back about 35 minutes behind schedule and taxied to runway 36R. Our routing was quite odd; we made a 180į turn after takeoff and flew south for a while, even though Narita was way east. Meal service began shortly thereafter, with so few passengers on this flight they got to row 38 in about 5 minutes. I was offered an omelet, served with potatoes and mushrooms, and I wonder if they call this meal is called a water omelet, because there was just about as much water as there was eggs in the plate. There only seemed to be one F/A that seemed to like what she was doing, the others had an attitude, and would just talk amongst themselves during most of the flight, one of them even walked away when Matt asked a question. The rest of the flight was uneventful and we landed on 34R at NRT, arriving at the gate one hour behind schedule.
So where is Iran Airís last 747SP? While writing this report I figured Iíd take a look at 747SP.com, to find out that EP-IAD is currently undergoing a D-check. At least itís not being scrapped, and I might even have another chance to fly on it.
Matt caught a Northwest flight to Portland and I waited 45 minutes in line at customs, took a shuttle to the other terminal and proceeded to the Thai Airways check-in counter, I was told to come back an hour later to find out if they had a seat for me. In the meantime I found an internet kiosk to have a look at Air Canadaís loads to Vancouver as there was no direct flight to Toronto that day, about 50 open seats and a few standby passengers, not bad. So I listed myself for flight AC4, filled in a paper coupon and proceeded to Air Canadaís check-in counter, which is now in the same terminal as ANA, United and most of the Star Alliance carriers. There was still 3 hours to departure so there was no one at check-in, I handed in my paper coupon, but it seemed that they couldnít find my listing, called another agent and they sorted it out. The agent very politely asked if I had a seat preference, so I just said window. She gave me 12A, and honestly I could not have gotten a better seat, bulkhead, and you get a wicked view of the engines, so I thanked her for the good seat assignment and went back to the internet kiosk to kill time by surfing the web.
Pushed back 13 minutes early which was a good thing because we had to wait a long time in queue for takeoff. The captain turned on the runway turnoff lights (I think) for takeoff, which nicely illuminated the entire wing, good for videos. Iíd never seen this before. Meal service began very shortly after takeoff, and another advantage about sitting in the first row, you get 3 choices, I had the beef this time. Managed to sleep as soon as I was done eating and woke up about 5 hours later just in time to get some wing shots as the sun was rising. Breakfast was served about 1 hour 30 minutes before landing, the choices were omelet or Japanese.
Hereís a bunch of pics and videos:
We landed on runway 08R in Vancouver. After a 15 minute wait at customs I proceeded to check-in for flight 112 to Montreal, I was given an aisle seat but I got that changed to 14K at the gate. We pushed on time from gate 39 and taxied to 08R. The flight got boring fairly quickly as it gets dark about 2 hours after takeoff. When we arrived in Montreal we had to wait about 15 minutes for a dash to clear the center as it was waiting for a ramp crew, and once we got to the gate the bridge was not working, which meant they had to tow use to another gate. We ended up arriving an hour late.