How To Search Saudia Business Class Award Space

Saudia might not be the Middle East’s most glamorous airline, but they are the one that releases among the most first and business class award space between the US and the Middle East. Of course that’s for good reason — their premium cabin products can’t even begin to compete with what the other airlines of the region are offering, like Emirates and Etihad.

Saudia-First-Class
Saudia first class, which is in a 2-2-2 configuration

Still, Saudia is a way to redeem Delta SkyMiles for travel to the Middle East/India, no matter what time of year you want to go. As a reminder, Saudia’s North America destinations include Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, and Washington.

Saudia-Routemap

In the past, ExpertFlyer was the best place to search Saudia award availability. However, reader CG notes that ExpertFlyer is no longer displaying Saudia business class award availability. They are still displaying Saudia first class and economy class availability, though.

Saudia-Awards

As a reminder, the fare classes for award travel on Saudia are as follows:

  • First Class: A
  • Business Class: D
  • Economy Class: L

While the ExpertFlyer description says “Saver Award for Alfursan Members,” in practice it should be the same fare class if booking through Delta SkyMiles, Korean Air SkyPass, etc.

Saudia-Award-Availability-1

But that doesn’t help us in searching Saudia business class award availability. How do you look that up?

Easy way to look up Saudia business class award availability

1. See if Saudia is operating a flight for your desired city pair on your desired date.

2. If they are, assume they have business class award availability, and call Delta SkyMiles to book. šŸ˜‰

Hard way to look up Saudia business class award availability

If you actually want to search Saudia business class award space and don’t just want to make assumptions, you can join Saudia’s frequent flyer program, Alfursan.

Note that you might have issues with signing up in Firefox. At least I did, because it would never auto-populate the “Name on Card” field. Using Chrome did the trick.

Once you’re a member, log into your account, and then at the bottom right under the “Booking” tab click the “Redeem Miles” button.

Saudia-Awards-5

From there you can enter your route, date, and number of people traveling.

Saudia-Awards-1

The next page will display award availability. It will only show the classes available, so you’ll see Alfursan Guest (which is economy class), Aflursan Business, and/or Alfursan First available. For example, on the below date between New York and Jeddah there’s an economy seat and a first class seat, though not a business class seat.

Saudia-Awards-2

However, looking a couple of days later, you’ll see that Alfursan Business is also available.

Saudia-Awards-3

Not only is there one seat per cabin, but there are actually at least seven seats available per cabin.

Saudia-Awards-4

As a reminder, you can only redeem Delta SkyMiles for business or economy class travel on Saudia. The best way to book first class on Saudia is through Korean Air SkyPass.

Bottom line

Yes, searching Saudia award availability is a bit tougher before, though as far as airline websites go, Saudia’s isn’t actually half bad. And there’s no requirement to have miles in your account in order to search either.

I do hope to try Saudia one of these days… I think?

Comments

  1. I actually have a revenue biz trip coming up on Saudi; looking forward to all you can drink carrot juice in biz!

  2. Keep in mind that there is usually good award availability on trips to the kingdom. I think this is due to strict visa requirements and my guess is that most people on these flights are doing so for business purposes on paid fares and/or with upgrades.

    Also if you have a Saudi visa there is a current travel warning for western visitors due to AQAP activity there.

  3. Lucky,

    I’ve been to the kingdom on business, so drop me a line if you want some info on visiting. Flew QR over and Saudia back. Biz cabin was actually completely full on my flight. Seat is ok, food is hit or miss (great food in the kingdom though), service is pretty spotty, entertainment is… interesting. No bottles of water in business class on a 12.5 hour flight. Can’t think of another airline I’ve flown that didn’t give out bottled water in biz (for some reason this really sticks with me).

  4. I travel to the KSA at a minimum of once every two weeks. Depending on how busy we are, sometimes weekly for prolonged periods of time.

    I live in Dubai, hence the majority of my travel there is with regional carriers on short flights, yet it have had to go to the UK and US from Riyadh previously.

    If people are considering using either Jeddah, Riyadh or Dammam as stopovers, there are a few key things to keep in mind…

    1. The airports are horrendous. I believe they were actually voted amongst the worst in the world? Yes there are a couple of lounges in each but make sure you are either in Biz or 1st or that you have a ‘premier’ credit card or priority pass. If you get stuck in the airport for a prolonged time, it will genuinely put you off any airport.
    2. You CANNOT leave the airport unless you have a visa. To get a visa you must either be sponsored by a registered company in Saudi on a single/ multi entry business visa, or have a Hajj visa for a pilgrimage. Obviously people with working visas etc are fine, but then you would know this anyway!
    3. Boarding any plane, in any class, in any airport in the KSA will make you hate people. It’s stressful, agitating, enraging and generally like nothing you have ever experienced.

    Other than that, if you can save a bit on flights, have a go… Some things, in my opinion however, are simply not worth the penny pinching!

  5. I may be missing something here but when I manually type D into other fare class on Expert Flyer and then click on another pre-populated fare class (like A for first class) it displays the D availability. Interestingly not putting in another pre-populated fare class results in an error message.

  6. @ Doug — Totally missed that, you’re absolutely right. Seems it does still display it, just not in as straightforward of a way.

  7. Is it true that if you have a Jewish sounding name or ‘appear’ Jewish, or have Israeli visa stamp in your passport, that you’ll be subjected to extra formalities in KSA and some other countries in the region?

  8. Unfortunately, yes. Having an Israeli birthplace listed in your passport, Israeli arrival stamp and/or noticeable name, they can and have denied entry. I know of people who regularly travel around the region including Israel, most carry a spare piece of paper asking for it to be stamped instead of the passport. Officials do tend to oblige. Alternatively, in the UK they will grant you a second passport if you can validate the reasoning behind it.

  9. I flew out of Riyadh about 8 years back. 1 AM and the terminal was overflowing with hundreds of migrant workers and …myself….borderline scary. The only thing I could find for sale was a snickers bar…and the bathrooms didnt really have any vacancy…ever….other parts of the airport are a bit nicer

  10. @Alex the terminal gets crowded but the lounges are recently renovated. Nothing to write home about but nothing horrible either. Terminal itself wasn’t too bad.

    @Ness @PennAdam No issue for me on entry despite Israeli stamp. KSA consulate issued the visa in DC and would have easily seen that I visited Israel but they didn’t have an issue either. I work for a company that is well connected in the kingdom though an immigration officer wouldn’t have known that. Either way, if you get a transit visa you won’t have an entry issue and transit visas aren’t super hard to get for RUH or JED.

  11. Is “D” fare class the same fare class that Delta would use to look up award space? I see space on the Saudia website but then when I call in to book it the Delta agents tell me that it should be fare class “O” and also that there is no space. Is that right?

  12. Anyone else have trouble getting past the security letters on the last page of the sign up form? I’ve inputted the letters about 20 times and it keeps telling me I am typing an incorrect code when I am not (using Chrome). IE seems very buggy too.

  13. I tried calling Delta to book award on Saudia.
    First 3 agents didnt know Saudia was a Delta partner.
    Next 2 also didnt know but when I requested them to check again, they agreed but could not find any space.
    Next agent was nice, she tried to manually request space but apparently it was denied by Saudia, she said recently Saudia has not been releasing award space to Delta.. Not sure if she was right… Any suggestions??

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