Home » Experience: Saudia Business Class
I recently flew with Saudia from Manila to Amsterdam via Jeddah in business class. I was unsure what to expect, but it was a fantastic experience. I was able to experience the new service on the Amsterdam flight and the old service from Manila which will be phased out soon.
My only issue during the trip was part of the ground experience at Jeddah airport. The cleanliness of the showers at their lounge in Jeddah left a lot to be desired. However, the lounge was quite impressive.
Overall, it was a great experience; it exceeded my expectations. It felt like flying on a small boutique airline that has carefully curated its new inflight experience. The crew was excellent on both flights, and I would like to send a big shout-out to Tania on my flight from Jeddah to Amsterdam. She was so accommodating, professional and friendly.
I had flown in with Malaysia airlines from KL and had to transfer to my next flight in the same terminal. From the minute I approached the PAL transfer desk, it was nothing short of a sh*t show. I had checked in online. However, I could not proceed to my next gate or the airlines’ lounge until all my documents and details were checked. After a 1.5-hour wait, I was allowed to visit the lounge, but I still needed a physical boarding pass. Ground staff handling the check-in for Saudia seemed confused about Schengen visa rules and needed to learn about entry rules.
Saudia uses the Marhaba Lounge at Terminal 1; it’s nothing special, relatively small, but adequate. The staff here were less than helpful. During my time here, one of the ground staff from the airline asked for my passport, and they disappeared with it for about 2.5 hours. After 1 hour, I was concerned, as I still didn’t have a boarding pass and the staff in the lounge couldn’t give me any further information, and frankly, they couldn’t care less!
About 30 mins before boarding, I was finally given my passport and boarding passes. I proceeded to the gate and waited for boarding; once we were called for boarding, all our belongings were checked by security staff before we entered the aerobridge.
SAUDIA PRE TAKE OFF EXPERIENCE
The flight was scheduled for about 11 hours. Before take-off, I was offered the following:
It still impresses me how Middle Eastern airlines provide a high level of service on the ground before departure.
The older version business class cabin was configured in a 2 2 2 configuration.
I’ve since been advised that the service offered on the airlines Manila flights is the old service, which is due to be phased out in February 2023. (The new service is detailed below on the 787 service from Jeddah to Amsterdam)
Here’s a look at the inflight menu options:
Saudia is a dry airline (no alcohol offered); this isn’t a problem for me as I generally don’t drink much, if at all, during flights.
During the service, two cabin crew worked in the cabin, each crew member working on either side moving forward to aft. It took them about 20 minutes to take everyone’s inflight meal orders.
Their service language and manners were excellent, and I was invited to join them for dinner with friendly smiles.
I opted for the Arabic mezze and the crumbed chicken.
About 1 hour after take-off, I received my meal.
The cabin crew pleasantries continued throughout the service, they were happy but most of all friendly and approachable.
The food ex Manila was decent enough, but I found the food ex Jeddah tastier. I loved the cake offered during the first service, the Arabic mezze was lovely, but the crumbed chicken was average.
I went to sleep for about 6 hours, and I was asked if I wanted anything as soon as I woke up.
About 1.45 mins before landing, I asked for the chicken biryani, it was delicious.
Just before landing, I noticed the cabin manager interacting with passengers, asking them how their flight was and apologising for the delay in our service. I was impressed that he did this with everyone.
TRANSFER EXPERIENCE & ALFOURSAN LOUNGE
The transfer experience could be improved. The two female staff sitting in their chairs on their phones and ignoring passengers at the first/business class transit counter was not a good look. I used the economy class transfer counter instead and lined up with everyone in the security line.
All was forgotten as soon as I entered the lounge; it’s impressive and features a first and business-class section (first is towards the left when you walk in).
It’s one of the largest Skyteam lounges accommodating 450 passengers in a 3,500 sq m area (with no windows though).
Without realising I had walked into the first class section of the lounge, and there was no one around to check my eligibility. I enjoyed walking around the area, and seeing the facilities offered to first class passengers. They included:
Dining areas, Date bar and more seating areas.
The business class area features:
Barista Coffee Service
Shower Area (More on that below)
Kids Play Area and more.
It’s a gorgeous lounge, quiet and offers plenty of space and things to do. My only issue was the state of the showers, and when I asked for a clean shower I was given some towels and told to use one of the dirty ones. But if that’s the worst thing that happened during my journey…
One of the most extraordinary things to see in the lounge was the robots that made their way through the lounge offering drinks to people.
This flight was on the airlines’ Boeing 787 in a 1 2 1 configuration. The same service flow on the ground followed as per my previous flight. However, the amenity kit offered on this sector was stunning.
I absolutely love this Missoni men’s amenity kit, the eye shades are the best I’ve ever seen in an amenity kit, and I love the collaboration with Grown Alchemist (their shower gels are excellent; I use them at home). It’s a great kit, and I will put the toiletry bag to good use.
Tania introduced herself and advised she would be looking after me on this flight. About 10 mins after taking off, she took my meal order. I also noticed an inflight chef working in the galley
There were no menus on this flight, and Tania explained all the dishes and dressed my tray table precisely.
I opted for the contemporary Arabic cuisine option featuring Shakshuka eggs with potatoes, caramelised onions, falafel, various pastries, tomato/cucumber salad, and fresh fruit. It was served with a superfood juice. I loved it.
I then went to sleep for a few hours.
The inflight chef noticed I was interested in the service and food aspect of the flight, and he took the opportunity to come and introduce himself. We discussed the menu, his job, and how Saudia has transformed its inflight service. He suggested I sample something else, and he whipped up an Arabic mezze.
The Saudia Arabic mezze didn’t disappoint! It began with Tabbouleh, hummus, and muhammara dip served with cheese sambousek. The muhammara dip (red peppers, walnuts, pomegranate molasses, and spices) was luscious. I enjoyed this mezze (since August, I have sampled similar mezze items on Qatar Airways and Oman Air). I think it was one of the best I’ve had so far. It was presented beautifully and was fresh and delicious.
I absolutely loved my experience with Saudia. I was expecting something else. They are certainly up there with the best airlines in the Middle East, even if they don’t offer one of the best wine cellars in the sky!