Shiraz in Shiraz: Flight 1703

Shiraz in Shiraz

Touring in Iran

Shiraz in ShirazTehran
19 Apr 2017

Flight 1703

EK 977 B773 A6-EBW

Scheduled: 2100
Boarding: 2035 Gate A17 Seats 1E/F
Pushback: 2103
Takeoff: 2126 to West
Landing: 2304 from East
Gate: 2314

A wasted flight?

Shiraz in ShirazWe two passengers were wasted, let me put it that way! After six hours in Emirates’ amazing flagship First lounge, about half of it dozing, it had still been a very long day since Sydney with not a lot of sleep.

We boarded the plane, declined all offers of food and drink, cranked our seats flat as soon as we were airborne and slept all the way to Tehran. I sat by the window again during takeoff and grabbed a night-time view of the metropolis, but once the seatbelt sign went off, I was unconscious in short order.

So, from the point of view of enjoying our last chance of alcohol for two weeks, dining on some particularly attractive Persian-themed tucker, and grabbing some more wide-screen entertainment, the First Class experience was wasted.

However, we could sleep flat in privacy behind closed doors, a rare luxury on an airliner, and we slumbered until the landing announcement.

My wife disappeared into the bathroom – no shower on this flight! – and emerged in hijab, a scarf covering her hair.

Tehran arrival

There are a few times I enjoy going through immigration.

Landing in Texas makes me happy. I like Texas.

Arriving back home after a long trip. Much as I enjoy travel, sometimes it’s good to be back home, where things happen as they should and I’m not eternally living out of a suitcase.

And Tehran. Iran is such a lovely country, full of interesting places and friendly people, I cannot help but grin.

Little old wine smuggler, me

I had two bottles of wine in my second checked bag. We’d been told that the bags of tourists were rarely searched, but still, I was worried that they’d show up on a scan.

Or get broken in handling, and officials might be alerted by a sloshing of red wine from my bag.

I’d done my best in packaging, but the zipper on the cheap bag I’d wrapped around the stout cardboard box had broken, and maybe the luggage strap I’d hastily cinched around the thing wouldn’t hold.

We waited by a silent baggage conveyor, nerves fraying by the moment. At least mine were. My wife had found an Iranian expatriate returning home and they were chatting happily, sharing tales of headscarves and sleeve lengths. I watched glumly as the entire planeload made their way through immigration and crowded around. So much for the benefits of being the first passengers off the plane.

The belt began moving, the bags came out, excruciatingly slowly. Economy passengers first, it seemed. So much for the PRIORITY tags.

Or perhaps my luggage was being scrutinised by grim-shirted officials.


An unpleasant surprise

Eventually, my big yellow rolling duffle appeared and in short order my wife’s small bag, and – gulp – my second bag, which had been singled out for special treatment.

Somewhere between Sydney and Tehran, the zipper had failed entirely, the zip had unravelled and the bag was gaping open. No telling what might have fallen out, but at least the big square shape of the box was still visible.

Some kind soul had sealed the whole thing up in a big plastic bag. I sighed, plonked it onto the trolley with all my other stuff and headed for the door.

Now pretty much midnight, I knew there was a guide from Pasargad Tours waiting to meet us and drive us to our hotel. An hour away.

But first, we had to unload our bags and pass them through one last scanner. I gulped again. Nothing between my wine and the eagle eyes of the morals police but a bit of cardboard and plastic.


Shiraz in Shiraz



  1. Good writing Pete, definitely suspenseful as we await your next episode to find out if the wine got through!

    1. So I understand! You use the app, a car pulls up, the driver opens the boot, he’s got a whole grog shop in there.

      A real bootlegger.

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