On 8th January, 2020, Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 took off from Tehran to Kiev. Minutes later, it crashed. All 174 passengers passed away. The world was mourning.

Read more: Heartbroken; Ukraine Airline Crash in Iran

Three days later, Iran’s armed forces said two missiles were, unintentionally, shot at the plane. Of course, many airlines, such as Lufthansa Group, cancel their flights to Iran.

The rest? A majority of the other airlines flying to Iran continue to operate flights as usual. These include giants like Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airlines, Qatar Airways, Emirates, etc.

Today, the sky is clear. Iran Air Defense Force is analyzing the cause of the accident. They have promised no such tragedies will ever happen in Iran again.

“I sincerely believe that traveling to Iran in 2020, not only remains totally safe. But also, that it is the best proof of solidarity and humanity anyone can show to Iranians, and to the rest of the world. To tell them that they are not alone and that we won’t let them down!”
– Daisy Lorenzi

It seems some airlines cancel their flights for political rivalries, rather than safety concerns.

My French co-worker, Daisy, had a domestic flight to Shiraz this weekend. When I asked her if she was worried about her flight, she nodded. “I hope it doesn’t get canceled because of the snow,” she said as she hit post on her Instagram story of the snowy sky.

Now, if you are planning your next trip to Iran, how do you choose your airline and flight? There are too many factors to be taken care of: availability, cost, safety, food and entertainment, baggage allowance, etc. We thought it’s a cumbersome task for you to think of them all at once. So, we did thorough research and stacked up our traveling experience to come up with a list of best airlines to travel to Iran mainly from Europe. In preparing the list we considered five main criteria including:

  • Airline’s world ranking (using the most recent authoritative ranking of Skytrax)
  • Safety (based on authoritative safety indices which consider airlines crash data record, international compliances and certificates, etc.)
  • Availability and frequency of flights
  • Baggage allowance
  • On-board entertainment and meals

Now, let’s cut it to the chase and start with our top picks.

 

The ultimate airline to travel to Iran:

Qatar Airways

The good:

  • Five-star entertainment and catering
  • Impeccable safety record
  • Generous baggage allowance
  • Frequent flights to Iran

The bad:

  • Above-average pricing (but you can still find great deals)

Qatar Airways was established in 1993 and is the state-owned airline carrier of Qatar. Qatar Airways is ranked as the best airline in the world in 2019 and is also ranked as the best economy class airline in the Middle East. The hub of the airline is located at Hamad International Airport in Doha, capital of Qatar. The airline flies to about 145 destinations spread across all six inhabited continents with numerous daily flights to and from Iran. Qatar Airways connects almost every major European city to Tehran with two flights; one from Europe to Doha and the other from Doha to Tehran. Qatar Airways also provides flights to/from Doha to other major cities in Iran including Shiraz and Mashhad. It has a diverse fleet for a total of 206 aircraft, including some of the most modern birds from Airbus and Boeing. Qatar Airways is famous for its impeccable safety record, unique business class service, and one of the best economy class services in the world.

If you’re not traveling light, Qatar Airways’s generosity with the baggage allowance will be very helpful. Checked baggage allowance on Qatar Airways depends greatly on your departure and arrival locations, but it is generous regardless of the class. Most international flights allow all passengers 2 pieces of luggage each, with a maximum combined weight of 32kg and maximum dimensions of 158cm.

Qatar Airways offers a wide variety of in-flight entertainment for its passengers. During the flight, you’ll have access to around 4,000 movies, TV shows, games, and music channels. Qatar Airways also allows its passengers in-flight connectivity for SMS, MMS messages, email, and internet browsing with OnAir GSM/WiFi service onboard its aircraft.

The on-demand a la carte menu is available for customers to enjoy, whenever they like, as passengers are able to choose from a wide variety of appetizers, main courses, and desserts. In addition to food, Qatar Airways offers a variety of hot and cold beverages to enjoy. It also offers a variety of special meal options for travelers who have specific dietary restrictions. Both pre-select and special meals must be requested at least 24 hours in advance of departure, or at the time you make your Qatar Airways booking, to ensure that you get the meal you need.

Runner-up airline to travel to Iran:

Turkish Airlines

The good:

  • Descent entertainment and catering
  • Great safety record
  • Frequent flights to Iran
  • Descent baggage allowance

The bad:

  • Not always the best value

Turkish Airline’s headquarters are located in Istanbul, Turkey and has services to 308 destinations around the world. Established in 1933, Turkish Airlines is the national airline carrier of Turkey. As the fourth-largest carrier in the world by destinations, it is ranked 27th in the world in 2019. Turkish Airlines also boasts the most non-stop flights from its main location than any other airline in Europe and is also a member of the Star Alliance network. Because They have service to a great assortment of domestic and international destinations. They keep frequent flights to six different destinations including Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, Mashhad, Tabriz, and Ahvaz. Among the major European cities being serviced by Turkish Airlines are Madrid, Rome, Paris, and Berlin

From 2012 to 2016, it was voted Europe’s best airline. It has maintained a fatality-free record over the last 10 years. With 80% on-time arrivals, Turkish Airlines is the 29th most punctual airline in the world. Less than 1% of Turkish Airlines flights are canceled and the average delay time is 35 minutes, with almost 20% of flights experiencing some delay.

Turkish Airlines’ baggage allowance is free on both domestic and international flights, up to certain weight limits. Each economy class passenger can hold luggage up to 20 kg for free. Carry-on luggage must be able to fit either in the overhead compartments or safely below the seat in front of you and must not be over 8 kg.

Depending on the aircraft you are flying on and the length of your flight, Turkish Airlines provides a variety of in-flight entertainment for its passengers, including digital systems and individual touch-screens. Turkish Airlines has a great selection of offerings from classics, family, international, romance, comedy, Turkish cinema, cartoons, and more. In addition, Turkish Airlines has a variety of music selections, in case you want to sit back and relax on your flight.

Turkish Airlines provides a very good selection of food, prepared with fresh ingredients to ensure the meals served meets what’s expected of Turkish hospitality. Also, beverages, including alcohol are provided after 10 a.m. If you have a special meal request, you have until 24 hours before your departure time to make the request.

Other choices to consider:

Lufthansa

The good:

  • Descent entertainment and catering
  • Great safety record
  • Frequent flights to Iran

The bad:

  • Not always the best value
  • Limited baggage allowance

 

Lufthansa is ranked as the 9th best airline in the world in 2019 and the best economy class airline in Europe. Established in 1955, it is the largest German airline and has the largest airline in Europe by fleet size. Lufthansa’s main operations are based at their primary hub at Frankfurt Airport. Lufthansa operates a total of 272 aircraft, including cargo models, that make up the entirety of their fleet. As Lufthansa is a major domestic and international airline, they have a readily available assortment of fantastic destinations to fly to around the world and often cheap international flights. Lufthansa provides frequent flights from many major European cities to Tehran.

Regarding its safety, Lufthansa has maintained a fatality-free record for the past 10 years. With 77% on-time arrivals, Lufthansa is the 32nd most punctual airline in the world. An average of 2% of Lufthansa’s flights are canceled and the average delay time is 34 minutes, with approximately 21% of flights experiencing some delay.

Lufthansa baggage allowance depends on the class of your ticket, your fare, and your passenger status with Lufthansa. While in general, it is not as generous as Qatar Airways and Emirates, for intercontinental flights, it usually allows its Economy passengers to bring 1 to 2 bags up to 23 kg in weight.

Lufthansa offers a variety of in-flight entertainment options for its long-haul travelers including over 100 films, in up to 8 languages, over 200 TV programs, audiobooks, and music tracks. Depending on the length of the flight, Lufthansa has an expansive food service for its passengers. On long-haul flights, meals always include cocktail service, a 3-course menu, snacks, alcoholic beverages, and hot and cold non-alcoholic drinks. Lufthansa also offers region-specific dishes during some of its flights that have been designed by regional chefs, so depending on where you’re flying from or to, you might have a dish that has been specially designed for that area.

Update: on January 18, Lufthansa announced that it will not operate flights to Tehran, Iran until March 28. According to the airline, the measure is being taken for “safety reasons”.

Emirate Airlines

The good:

  • Five-star entertainment and catering
  • Impeccable safety record
  • Frequent flights to Iran

The bad:

  • Usually expensive

Ranked as the 5th best airline in the world in 2019, Emirates is the largest airline in the Middle East. Established in 1985, Emirates’ main hub is located at Dubai International Airport and has flight services to over 80 countries, on 6 continents. Emirates boasts one of the newest and youngest airlines in the world with a total of 239 aircraft in service. It is the operator of the world’s biggest fleets of Airbus A389s and Boeing 777s. It has a great safety record with a clear fatality history over the last 10 years.  When it comes to punctuality, it is 3rd for on-time arrivals in the Middle East with nearly 79% of their flights arriving on-time, and 21% of their flights experiencing an average of 40 minutes of delay. From their main hub at Dubai International Airport, it connects flights from all over the world and almost all major European cities to Iran with frequent daily flights to Tehran and Mashhad.

Emirates allows its Economy class travelers to bring one handheld bag up to 7 kg and one checked bag varying from 20 kg to 35 kg depending on the type of your Economy ticket.

The airline provides an award-winning in-flight entertainment offering the latest Hollywood releases as well as TV shows, music, and radio. In addition to onboard entertainment, each passenger is able to take advantage of up to 20MB of free Wi-Fi. Its flights are also equipped with external cameras to give you some of the most spectacular vistas ever.

Emirates offers a variety of meals, wines, and regional specialty dishes on its flights. Specific meal offerings depend on your flight time and destination, but even in the Economy you’ll be well taken care of. Emirates also offers meals for those passengers who have specific dietary restrictions. Be sure to call Emirates at least 48 hours before your flight so you can ensure that you are given the meal option that best suits your needs.

Austrian

The good:

  • Descent entertainment and catering
  • Great safety record

The bad:

  • Not always the best value
  • Limited baggage allowance

Austrian Airlines is the national airline of Austria, flying to approximately 130 global destinations in 58 countries, with some permanent routes and some seasonal services. Austrian Airlines was born in 1957 when two former airlines merged and then was bought by the Lufthansa Group in 2009. Thanks to its favorable geographical location at the heart of Europe, the company’s hub at Vienna International Airport is the ideal gateway between East and West. It has frequent flights from Vienna to Tehran, connecting other European airports to IKA airport at the heart of Iran.

Austrian airlines boast a 7-star safety record maintaining a clear record of fatalities over the last 10 years. The airline has won a number of awards, including the Skytrax “Best Airline Staff Service in Europe” in 2014, 2015, and 2016. It is ranked as the 15th best airline in the world in 2019 and is consistently rated as one of the best airlines in Europe, ranked highly for its catering in Business class. In 2014, Austrian Airlines came third in an award for airline punctuality, with more than 85% of all flights arriving on time.

All economy passengers can take one piece of hand luggage that weighs up to 8 kilograms and one piece of free luggage allowance up to 23-kg.

The airline provides over 350 hours of audio and video entertainment in digital quality and on-demand. Also, using its Wi-Fi FlyNet service (fee applies), you can be online above the clouds.

Update: on January 18, Austrian announced that it will not operate flights to Tehran, Iran until March 28. According to the airline, the measure is being taken for “safety reasons”.

Pegasus Airlines

The good:

  • Very cheap
  • Great safety record

The bad:

  • Poor catering and entertainment
  • Very limited baggage allowance

Based in Istanbul, Pegasus flies scheduled services to 33 destinations in Turkey and 77 in the rest of the world with a total network of 110 destinations in 42 countries. It provides frequent flights connecting most major cities in Europe to Tehran, Iran. Some of the most popular destinations are Amsterdam, Ankara, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Madrid, Munich, Paris, Rome, and Tehran. Pegasus Airlines is named the cheapest European low-cost airline in October 2013, making it a great choice for budget travelers. Its safety records, however, are clear with maintaining a 10-year fatality-free record.

The cheap price ticket comes with some limitations; its Basic Economy Class only gives the passengers one piece of 8 kg hand baggage allowance. Also, in this class, meals and beverages are not included in the ticket price, but you can pre-order and pay for your meals 24 hours before the flight. You shouldn’t also expect onboard entertainment currently, but the company has promised future entertainment plans.

 

Aeroflot

The good:

  • Descent catering
  • Reasonable pricing

The bad:

  • Not the best safety records
  • Limited choice of flights

The flag-carrying airline of the Russian Federation is one of the oldest airlines in the world and dates back to 1923. During the Soviet era, the airline was the largest in the world. Currently, the airline is partly owned by the Russian government and is partly possessed privatized. The airline joined the SkyTeam alliance in 2006 and is ranked 22nd in the world in 2019.

Aeroflot’s safety rating is 6 out of seven due to a recent fatal accident. On 5 May 2019, Sukhoi Superjet 100 caught fire during an emergency landing, killing 41 of the 78 people on board. Aeroflot is a punctual airline, with over 80% of its flights arriving on time.

Economy class passengers can bring one piece of luggage weighing up to 23 kg free of charge. They are also allowed to bring 1 piece of hand luggage up to 10 kg.

All passengers are offered a complimentary meal, with a menu that changes every 6 weeks. Complimentary soft drinks are also available, and travelers on flights over three hours can enjoy a complimentary glass of wine with lunch.

Oman Air

The good:

  • Great catering and descent entertainment
  • Great safety record

The bad:

  • Not always the best value
  • Limited choice of flights

Oman Air is Oman’s national Airline and is ranked 43rd in the world in 2019. Founded in 1993, Oman Air flies to more than 50 destinations in 27 countries worldwide. It is based at Muscat International Airport where it connects Flights from Europe and other parts of the world to Tehran, Shiraz, Mashhad, and Tabriz.

Since launching, Oman Air has received considerable recognition for its quality service. Recent awards include the ‘World’s Leading Business Class Airline – Middle East’ and the ‘Best Economy Class Airline – Middle East’ at the 2016 World Travel Awards. The airline has maintained a clear fatality record during the past 10 years.

It allows the travelers to bring one piece of baggage of 30 kg and one piece of handbag up to 7 kg.

The airline has received special recognition for its in-flight meals in the past, winning the Saveur readers’ choice award for best First Class and Business Class in-flight dining. Special meals for dietary or religious requirements can be booked during the booking process or by contacting Oman Air directly. In-flight entertainment is available on all Oman Air flights, and you’ll be able to pass the time watching the latest International and Arabic movies and to listen to music, audiobooks, and the radio.

Swiss International Airline

The good:

  • Descent catering entertainment
  • Great safety record

The bad:

  • Not always the best value
  • Very limited choice of flights

Swiss International Air Lines was founded in 2002 as the flag carrier of Switzerland. It is a subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group and is ranked 13th in the world in 2019. Its hub is Zurich Airport where it connects European flights to cities in Asia, African, and America. There aren’t many choices for you to fly to Iran unless you have flexible dates.

One piece of handbag with a maximum weight of 8 kg and one piece of checked luggage with a maximum weight of 23 kg are allowed for economy travelers. Aboard the plane, it provides decent entertainment with over 140 films, TV programs and games.

 

 

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