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By air or land to Baghdad? Visa?

  1. Do anyone know the best – and cheapest – way to fly to Baghdad?
  2. Anyone tried going by land from the Kurdish areas in the North? Is it relatively safe or  the same mess as driving from Amman?
  3. I’m suppose to have a visa for Iraq. Is that something one can get at the border/airport?

Any hints would be appreciated.

by Paul Refsdal at 2005-11-17 07:32:27 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) Oslo , Norway | Bookmark | | Report spam→

there are flights to baghdad from: Amman (both Iraqi Airways and Royal Jordanian), Beirut (Magic Carpet?), Dubai (charter companies; i used one called Jupiter) and maybe other places as well now. ONE-WAY ticket price from any of these is $300-500.00 USD. YOU DO NEED A VISA. usually people get theirs in Amman. You have to arrange this through your contacts in Baghdad, or through Iraqi Embassy in your home country (doubt if there is one in Norway). Driving on the road from Amman or up from Kuwait is NOT recommended if you are a foreigner, you could go in beaten-up car and hide, but then you would be putting your Iraqi drivers/guards in danger as well. Or you could go as part of heavily armed contractor convoy. But you’d have to set that up. Even road from Kurdistan into Baghdad is not good because of very sketchy no-man’s land between clearly defined Kurdish areas and then bad spots north of Baghdad. other way to go is to embed with US/UK military abroad, you could fly from bases in Germany or Kuwait. This way you don’t need visa, either. But you will have to leave with military too, because you won’t have proper entry visa stamp in your passport. Once you get visa, flights from Amman are probably the easiest way to Baghdad.

by [former member] | 17 Nov 2005 08:11 | New York, New York, United States | | Report spam→
DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, DRIVE SOLO OR WITH ONE DRIVER INTO IRAQ.  Alan is right, not only is it very risky, you put the people you hired at risk.  Hiding in the car is no good- you still have to present your passport at the border, and that information is for sale.  The roads outside Baghdad are under insurgent control.  The military flies everywhere or goes in heavily armed convoys because they have ceded control of the roads.  Being from Norway is no insurance policy, if you look Western, you are fair game.

To get a visa, you need someone in Baghdad to go to the Interior Ministry with a letter explaining who you are, your passport info, when you plan on coming to Iraq,  how long you want to stay, and what embassy/ consulate you want to pick up your visa.  Once it’s processed in Baghdad, your contact will get a number.  You need to take that number to the embassy/ consulate where you want to pick it up.  Amman and Dubai both work, and they both have regular flights.  The flights from Dubai are slightly cheaper, but everything else is way more expensive.

Good luck.

by [former member] | 17 Nov 2005 12:11 | Dubai, United Arab Emirates | | Report spam→
Thanks a lot,

Concerning a visa, the Kurdish representative here says that entering the country in the North I do not really need a visa. Is that true? And if it is, could I have any problems with authorities in other parts of Iraq?
He also says there are regular flights from Erbil (?) to Baghdad, but I have not found any information about such flights on Internet. Would you know anything about those?


by Paul Refsdal | 17 Nov 2005 16:11 | Oslo, Norway | | Report spam→
hey Stefan,

Are the flights from Beirut to Baghdad significantly more expensive than those from Amman?

thanks for the help…

by [former member] | 17 Nov 2005 19:11 | Sacramento, United States | | Report spam→
yes, Iraqi Airways may have opened up their Erbil-Baghdad flight, and if not, there’s always embedding with US military up there to take their flights, either fixed-wing (C-130) or helicopters. The problem is that Kurdistan and Baghdad are in different military “corps” commands, so it may take a bit of waiting and finagling to get a flight. If the civilian Iraqi Airways flight is working, it is probably similar to the Baghdad-Basra flight I took earlier this year (and did article + slideshow on for NYT), that was $75 each way (coach, not business class). Business is I think $30 more. The planes are old Boeing 727 and 737. The stewardesses wear green uniforms. The Beirut-Baghdad flight (look up older thread on this on Lightstalkers) is by a small outfit called Magic Carpet or Flying Carpet, the plane is small and the pilot puts it on auto-pilot while you’re over Syria to come back and collect your tickets and serve you coffee, some kind of silliness like that I’ve heard. I wouldn’t think it was that much more expensive. Stephanie Sinclair would be the one to ask about this? Regarding visa in the north, i don’t know, but do you want to be stuck on the Turkish border?

by [former member] | 17 Nov 2005 20:11 | New York, New York, United States | | Report spam→
http://www.lightstalkers.org/baghdad-flights-not-amman#4933 -——

that’s the older thread. It has lots of useful phone numbers and info. on this very topic.

by [former member] | 17 Nov 2005 20:11 | New York, New York, United States | | Report spam→
With regards to Iraq, there are no shortcuts. If you’re not going to embed with the miltary — which is relatively cheap aside from your flight to Kuwait — consider that you’ll need to hire a good driver, not just the cheapest one you can find. I believe some journalists are using two cars, the second one used as a chase vehicle. In Kurdistan you can move freely, but when you go south or spend any time in Baghdad, stay in a hotel with security. No place is truly safe anymore, but most people stay at the Al Hamra. All of this is going to cost money, but it’s money well spent. There are other places you can do budget travel, but Iraq should not be one of them. Good luck!

by Maya Alleruzzo | 18 Nov 2005 06:11 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→

With regard to the visa, it may be true that the Kurds don’t require it at the border. They definitely run their own show up there.  You would have to leave the same way , though, as they require an exit visa at the Bagdhad airport, which you can’t get unless you have an entrance visa, etc.

Still, I agree with Alan that your best bet is to get the visa if you can. If not, no one is going to ask to see the visa until you try to leave.

Max- I don’t really know how much the flights are from Beirut to Baghdad.  Last I checked, Amman to Baghdad was $600 USD each way.  I think that covers the r/t from Dubai to Baghdad.

Alan is right- the carrier would be Magic Carpet. I’ve also heard they designate as a Smoking or Non-Smoking flight before they take off by a show of hands.

Good luck with all that!

by [former member] | 18 Nov 2005 06:11 | Dubai, United Arab Emirates | | Report spam→
Thanks guys, 
really a lot of helpful advices.

Paul Refsdal

by Paul Refsdal | 18 Nov 2005 10:11 | Oslo, Norway | | Report spam→

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Paul Refsdal, Cameraman Paul Refsdal
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