The Essence of Time in Iran

In Iran, there is no concept of being on time. 9am means 11am, 2pm means 5pm and see you in a hour is an expression you just wouldn’t hear.

Being from the UK, I would say we are a nation that is more or less on time. When we are planning a meet up with a friend, we say a time and we mean it, give or take 10, 15 minutes either side. In Iran, there is no concept of this. So for westerners going over to Iran, be aware of this. A social event may very well leave you hanging around for a while. So make sure you have some backup sight seeing spot in the area or have a good book is all I’ll say.

Of course, official times and schedules for transport do apply. When your flight is at 5.30pm it will leave at 5.30pm. This is a concept that some of my family members seem to forget all the time. They leave for their flight too late and the idea of being at the airport two hours prior to their flight departure is ‘too early’ and seems like an alien concept. Many do indeed miss their flight, but nobody still seems to grab this idea of flights leaving when they say they are going to.

The concept of time in Iran may be different to what you are used to.

The last time I was in Iran, my family and I were travelling on a flight from Shiraz. Being part of a large family and with some last-minute flight bookings, some of us ended up being on a different flight later on in the day. All my family members were actually in the airport on time as we all left together to get to the airport. It wasn’t this that was a timing issue though.

My household had left at this point and the others were chit chatting away non-stop and weren’t paying attention to the flight information or the time. A member of staff from the airport ended up finding them and telling them that the intercom had been calling them for the last thirty minutes. And just like that they left and were on the flight scheduled home!
There you have it. In this case, even if you’re late for a flight or constantly nattering and so into your conversation, someone will be sent to find you. So you might actually think, what’s the rush? That ‘if you’re late, we won’t wait’ malarky doesn’t seem to apply here. My cousin told me this story and she finished it with saying ‘see this is Iran, no one will leave without you, they’ll go find you’ and that is exactly what they did.

So the moral of the story is your plane will either leave without you, like you would expect, or airport staff will be sent to find you in Iran. I do suggest the obvious, of just being on time, of course. Reduce the stress and have your in-depth conversation on the flight home. I mean you’ll have about 8 or 9 hours journey time back to the UK – is that not enough talking time?

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