Saudia Introducing An Awesome New First Class Product

Middle Eastern carriers are known for their extravagant first class products. Well, at least that’s true on Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar, which arguably feature among the world’s best first class products. From onboard showers to onboard bars, they have it all.

Emirates-Shower
Emirates’ A380 onboard shower

Saudia is another major carrier in the region, though they aren’t known for having an especially good first class product. On their 777s (which are the backbone of their longhaul fleet), their first class product is in a 2-2-2 configuration.

I don’t like having a seatmate in business class, let alone in international first class. Add in the fact that Saudia is a dry airline, and they don’t exactly seem like the most fun airline to fly.

Saudia-First-Class
Saudia’s current first class product

One of the good things about Saudia’s not-so-great first class product is that award availability is excellent. You’ll typically find at least seven first class award seats per flight, which I guess shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that the product is only marginally better than business class.

Saduia-First-Class-Awards

The thing to keep in mind is that when redeeming Delta SkyMiles you can only redeem for business class, though if you’re redeeming Korean Air SkyPass miles, you can redeem for Saudia first class. A roundtrip between the US and Middle East costs just 160,000 SkyPass miles, while a roundtrip between Europe and the Middle East costs 80,000 SkyPass miles.

It looks like redeeming miles on Saudia will soon become a bit more tempting, as Saudia has unveiled a new first class product that they’ll be installing on 777 aircraft.

Here are some pictures of the new first class product, which seems to feature fully enclosed suites:

Saudia-New-First-Class-1

Saudia-New-First-Class-2

Saudia-New-First-Class-3

Saudia-New-First-Class-4

Saudia-New-First-Class-5

This is all per @SultanALFuraih1 on Twitter. Since he’s writing everything in Arabic, I can’t exactly figure out much about the timeline for the installation, which planes will feature it, etc. I also can’t find anything else on the internet about it yet. So if anyone can translate and/or has more information, I’d love to hear it.

Either way, I’ve really been wanting to try Saudia first class (out of curiosity, not because I expect it’ll be a great product), so now I want to figure out the details of this so I can try their new first class product shortly after it’s introduced.

Would a new first class hard product be enough to get you to fly Saudia?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

Comments

  1. Interesting.
    I can speak Arabic. He says that these suites will be installed on future 777-300ER, with the first aircraft featuring this product arriving in November 2016. Each aircraft will have 12 of these suites.

  2. You said they were “fully enclosed suites” it doesn’t look like those panels go all the way up.

  3. Are you kidding? You want to fly the national airline of a country that would flogg or execute you for who you are?

  4. @Claus,
    You can find pretty egrious wrongdoings for every single country in the world that you can use to boycott including yours truly if you are from the US?
    Let’s see.
    Torture. Illegal Imprisonment without any due process in Guantanamo. De facto bribing based on Citizen United. A country where they value their guns so much that they dont’ bat an eye when little kids get slaughtered (Sandyhook) and 49 people get massacred in a night. Police brutality. Racist police. Rapes in the military.
    How can you possibly live in such country or fly their airlines?

    Man, everyone draws their own line when it comes to the moral value of entity and what that entity provides. Do you vet every single celebrities of their moral values that you watch the movie of or listen to their singing? Let Ben draw his own line and do draw your own line, and mind your own business. d

  5. @claus
    I’ve lived and worked in ksa as a gay man. They don’t do that. What is on the books as a law versus what happens in practice are two very different things, as it is in any country.

  6. I think its VERY important for Gays and Lesbians to fly Saudia when given the chance! Wanda Sykes (the semi funny) comedian who is also a Lesbian commented on the North Carolina boycott. Whereas she understood why other artists were cancelling shows, she felt the audience that she plays to (probably including many gays and lesbians) should not have to miss out.

    We all know what the Saudi government’s stance is on being gay, but let us not forget that although we have freedom of expression, many within the Kingdom do not…and I assure you it makes a difference when they see us come through their country. Change comes when others inspire…even just the mere presence, a casual conversation can change lives.

    I highly doubt they are carrying out floggings or executions onboard…well at least not in F or J 😉

  7. A dry airline. I have no problem with that as you not necessarily need to drink do you? But each to their own. I do enjoy spirits on board… White ones!

  8. Looks like GA who has a great product, the only problem I see is a lousy transit experience in SA in this case.
    But why so much talk about ‘redeeming’? Most people just pay for their tickets. As long as it is worth it I haveno issue with that.

  9. They haven’t said much yet, except that these will be installed in the new B777-300ERs which start arriving in November.

    As for reviewing the product, I would recommend waiting until mid-2017, so you may also review the new Jeddah airport which should be operational by then.

  10. Forgot to mention that these planes will also feature the new reverse herringbone seats in business class, which are currently only available in the B787s.

  11. I agree with @Clause and think @Daniel makes some good points, but bottom line is I’m not going to support an airline from a country whose laws are reprehensible. And for what it’s worth @Daniel sure there is a lot of improvement needed here, but we let women drive, we don’t have “execution squares” gay people can marry and yes we are imperfect (as our are airlines) but we are a messy democracy working together and slowing going in the right direction. @Jordon she gave the proceeds of here performance to help fight against the bill and spoke out about it while there as have many people who have chosen to perform there – in Saudia Arabia they would have been killed for simply disagreeing with a government law. Perspective please. And this pervasive don’t ask don’t tell theme I’m gay and I’ve been to there and it was fine. Really? Yes the 1950’s were so lovely.

  12. Saudia must have the most inconsistent fleet ever in terms of seats. They have at least like 5 different business class products and 3 different first class ones

  13. I hate these digressions but feel a need to respond, I’ll try my best to make this my last non-travel related comment.

    As a Saudi citizen I agree that we’ve got some outdated and downright deplorable laws, many of which are very rarely, if ever, enforced.
    The bigger problem is that most of the other GCC countries (Kuwait,UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman) have the same laws on paper and they also rarely enforce them, but I rarely see people talking about not flying any of their airlines, double standards?

    This week a woman was arrested in Qatar for being raped, yet I haven’t seen many people boycotting Qatar airways.

    Try looking west, women in the US still fight for equal pay to this day, an issue that isn’t even a talking point in Saudi Arabia or the GCC. Would every feminist out there boycott US based airlines until America grants women equal pay? Not to mention other human rights violations by the US and other countries around the world.

    Try looking east, China and Russia, enough said. Still people fly their airlines all the time.

    Every country in the world has its positives and negatives, nowhere on earth is perfect and that’s the beauty of it.

    Those who choose to sit behind a computer screen and write about other countries in a negative light owe themselves a trip to these countries to see for themselves if they are right or wrong, otherwise they’re choosing to be manipulated by a mainstream media that is highly politicized and even quite racist.

    Finally, I find it baffling that the world’s most popular travel blog has a large number of people who choose to go against everything travel is about. Travel is supposed to open your eyes to new places and open your mind to other cultures, but many choose not to do so unfortunately.

    I really hope people could focus on what this blog is all about and at least set their prejudices aside for a moment, if they’re not willing to reconsider them.

  14. As soon as I see a post about Saudi I know there are going to be a load of hateful comments. I’ve lived in Saudi for four years and love the country. Sure it has problems, but what country doesn’t? As far as the gay thing goes, there’s a disconnect between the official position and what actually goes on. It’s quite obvious there are loads of people leading gay lives here. Saudis privilege privacy more than any country on Earth. Saudis are also the nicest people I’ve ever met.

    The one problem with this airline news is that Saudia is still run by Saudis! You have to live here to really appreciate the scale of the incompetence here. Just ringing the airline to sort something out can be a pain. So the new suites look great, but there will be some attendant problems for those who decide to book …

  15. @Aziz

    Great Post.

    Don’t know why people tend to bash without much thinking as soon as they see the word, “Saudi”. As East Asian female who is based in the region, I’ve experienced a good amount of work/social interactions with Gulf Arab women from different Gulf countries, and in general, I have so much respect for well-educated, middle-class Saudi women, many of whom are actually working ones for their career, which is often not the case in UAE or Qatar etc. Can’t wait to give a try to this F class.

  16. What is the fun to fly first class for many many hours and not be able to sip a glass of wine? Not that I travel to drink but that is part of the first class experience in my opinion.

  17. I’ve flown Saudia a few times in economy and business and never had a bad experience. In fact, its economy class always felt spacious to me. I particularly enjoyed its 747s since it gave me a sense of nostalgia. Either way, I hope to fly on the new 77W and 787 at some point. I agree with others that the transit area in JED/DMM/RUH is a bit of a let down.
    Yes, it’s a dry airline and I actually applaud that since I know I won’t be dealing with any drunk passengers in business class! 😉
    I’ve never flown first class on a dry airline so it would be interesting to see Lucky’s review on what Saudia considers as first class drinks.

  18. “I don’t like having a seatmate in business class, let alone in international first class.”
    Even if you’re with your mom, dad, or Ford? 😉
    I agree with you that reverse herringbone seats are absolutely great — but only if I’m travelling alone. If I’m travelling with someone, I prefer the more traditional 2-2-2 or 1-2-1 (SQ) business class config.

  19. “Yes, it’s a dry airline and I actually applaud that since I know I won’t be dealing with any drunk passengers in business class!

  20. Yes, no denying that every country has their problems and no country is perfect. But does that mean that all countries are the same and EQUALLY bad in what they do? I live in Europe, but if you give me the choice between spending the rest of my life in the US or in Saudi Arabia, not a second would I hesitate to pick the US.

  21. @Aziz

    Grant women equal pay? That is the “deplorable” act you choose to point out?

    Equal Pay Act of 1963 – equal pay for equal work
    Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 – extends statute of limitations (making it easier to sue for unequal pay)

    Women here can drive, own a business, own land, and do anything a man can do. And, they will get paid for the same job. The majority of the “gender pay gap” here arises due to our social structure. Men get degrees in STEM and women get degrees in liberal arts. Which pays more? When you read that quote saying women make 79 cents on the dollar, that doesn’t account for the career choices people have made.

    What else you got? That we bomb your friends — oops, sorry, I mean terrorists — in Syria?

  22. I will never fly on the airline of this backwards and regressive country. The number one cause of radical islam is SA’s export (through petrol dollars) of their toxic Wahhabism.

  23. I think one of the main reasons that they always seems to have wide open award space to KSA is that it’s hard for non-Muslims or Non-Saudi’s to get a visa to visit.

  24. I love when Lucky’s blog becomes political. Here is the thing to me. LGBTQ and women in this country can fight for things like marriage (congrats by the way) and equal pay because they are not fighting for the more serious rights. I do agree we are not talking about the women in Qatar and let’s not forget the women in Dubai either. It is ridiculous that a women who is raped is sentenced to jail. I understand that majority of these laws are not enforced, but the religious police are a real thing. Allthough I did just read there powers have been limited. I guess my point is there are no pride parades in downtown Riyadh. That being said most of the issues I am okay with as it’s just a different government. But I am sorry I do think there are basic human rights issues that need to be addressed in this region in the future. Lucky’s job is to review airlines. If you respect the local customs I would not be worried about it at all. Hence why Qatar or UAE have never given him any problems. The issue I am having is people are way to quick to defend these countries without acknowledging their terrible record on women’s and LGBTQ issues. And do not get me started on Qatar’s construction of the World Cup stadium. Look up how many people have died building it and get back to me. But I digress. Lucky can/should review as many airlines as possible. If you have an issue don’t read or fly the airline. That’s the beauty of this country (and a lot of others). You can freely question anything you want and choose who you support.

  25. With that J configuration they have zero chance of being able to compete with Qatar: angled 2+2. Not in the game other than short haul.

  26. @Aziz you can’t claim to be an lightened and then bring up the bullshit equal pay argument. There is absolutely zero wage gap in the US.

  27. @Daniel – Ah yes, the old “well the US isn’t perfect, so how dare you criticize another country doing worse things” argument. Save us please. *rolls eyes*

  28. “Men get degrees in STEM and women get degrees in liberal arts.”

    All men? All women? If so, then that is rather fcuked up. But in any case, why is that women who do study business and STEM and go work in those industries still get paid less?

    “There is absolutely zero wage gap in the US.”

    Looooooooool Yeah, usually those comments are made by white males. Privilege really does distort people’s perceptions.

    “I will never fly on the airline of this backwards and regressive country. The number one cause of radical islam is SA’s export (through petrol dollars) of their toxic Wahhabism.”

    No different than than Westboro Baptist Church or any of the other numerous priest, pastors, and politicians who haven’t condemned what happened in Orlando, but in some cases actually praised what happened as a good thing.

  29. @Nick

    Ah yes, the old “well your country is worse than mine, therefore lets ignore/absolve the bad sh*t that my country does” argument. Save us please. *rolls eyes*

  30. I love reading the excuses. Saudi Arabia is one of the worst countries for gays and women. Have you missed the headlines? Gays are being arrested for living together or coming out online. Washington Post just published an article a few days ago listing the 10 countries which have DEATH PENALTY punishment for homosexuality: Yemen, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, and the UAE. If your personal desire to fly a particular first class or visit or work in an exotic country is so great that you will risk your life or compromise your morals, that’s your right. But if you end up getting arrested (something that has happened to many people who also assumed nothing bad would ever happen to them) you’d better not whine, you have only yourself to blame.

  31. @ tara
    Move beyond the headlines. I’ve lived there in the UAE and I’m gay. a good portion of the people I worked with at my company were gay, even the locals. Attitudes take time to change, and this is an area of the world where 60 years ago the people were all literally nomadic, living in the desert. The only way to change things is through exposure, and I believe things there are changing (I’d say the shrieks of joy coming from both male and female Emirati colleagues when Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover was revealed says it all). I never felt as if I was in any personal danger while living there, and loved it and miss it. I wouldn’t recommend trying to start a gay pride there right now, but two men living together wont raise an eye. Furthermore, my company that I worked for there sponsored a colleague to come over and work there from my job prior to the UAE. This guy was partnered and told the recruiter/ the company, that they’d have to find his husband a job as well if they wanted him. The company did, didn’t blink an eye. This guy brings his husband to work event (where expats, locals, men and women) all interact. It’s truly not a big deal in practice. What’s on the books versus what happens in practice is very different, as it is in most places. Just maintain low profile and you’re fine.

  32. @ Julia – The UAE (cant really speak to the other places @ tara mentions) is amazingly safe. there are zero concerns of muggings/ robberies. In fact, most people do not lock their doors when home. I enjoyed living there.

  33. I know people who rarely drink who will drink on planes just to make the experience more palatable

    So, no thanks. I’m not going to get on a plane and be given fruit juice or soda like i am 12 years old

  34. My gay partner of 30 years works there; he and I go back and forth to KSA all the time. He’s been positioned in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam. I’ve never had a problem, and I’m not aware that he has either. We’ve even been invited to other straight Saudi homes for tea and dinner. Most of the Saudi’s are very well educated and spend their time off in London, Paris or Spain and have a very well rounded world view. It’s hard to go out to gay clubs in big European cities and not see Saudi guys dancing together. Women also drive outside the cities (a necessity) and sometimes in the cities. A Saudi guy told me his wife puts on his robe and headress and drives the kids to school and he picks them up after work. Saudi just takes a little getting used to.

  35. I don’t agree with @Aziz but it was a very well written post. He should replace the foreign minister, who doesn’t do nearly as well

    I’ve flown Saudia a few times. Once, going LHR – FCO, they had a bit of a crisis because of the Israeli stamps in my passport but were eventually calm when I assured them I wasn’t going on to the KSA

    However, they’re unfailingly nice.

  36. @Aaron – Huh? I never said to ignore the things in the US that are deplorable. The point I as making, that clearly went right over your head, is that arguing that the US isn’t perfect does nothing to change the fact that KSA is also not perfect, but only one of these countries was the topic of the post.

    Maybe this time you will figure it out, but I won’t be holding my breath. Cheers.

  37. @Nick

    I got your point; you are neither as deep or complex as you seem to believe you are. You clearly didn’t get my point, in that people living in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Don’t point out how badly other people’s sh*t stinks before taking a whiff of your own. Since people are judging whether or not to fly an airline based on what goes on in that airline’s respective country, there is nothing wrong with pointing out that other airlines from other countries should be disapproved of as well (Singapore treats it’s migrant construction workers just as bad as Qatar does, for example, but nobody here ever uses that as a reason to not fly on Singapore Airlines, only as an excuse to not fly Qatar airlines). And just because one country is worse than the other, that doesn’t mean the country that is less worse shouldn’t be discussed.

    In any case, Saudi Arabia as a country wasn’t even the topic of the post, since you brought it up, the topic of the post was weather or not to fly Saudia’s new first class product. Try to keep up. Or better, please do try and hold your breath, and don’t stop.

  38. @Nick

    “only one of these countries was the topic of the post”

    That’s exactly what the problem is.
    A post about Delta is a post about Delta not the US, a post about Etihad is a post about Etihad not the UAE, but somehow a post about Saudia is a post about Saudi Arabia.

    The country was never the topic of the post, I know it’s hard for some people to differentiate between a country and an airline, but we’re here to help.

    Here’s hoping Trump never becomes president, if this is how a comments section in a travel blog looks like now, what would it be like if he does?

    But even he does, I’ll still fly US based airlines, I know the difference.

  39. @Aziz – “But even he does, I’ll still fly US based airlines, I know the difference.”

    US airlines aren’t owned by the government. Saudia is.

  40. @Aziz

    I agree 100% with you post. I have never been to SA nor is it up there on my “to do” list, but I would like to go there for myself one day and see what it is truly like. Being in the West, we hear a lot about how bad some other places are, but we got plenty of problems here in the USA and western Europe just like any other country. I’m not making excuses for any country, but I think you are right, people fly Russian/former Soviet countries/Chinese Airlines all the time. Travel is suppose to open your eyes to the world. I just went to a former soviet state and it changed my entire thought process on Russia and that part of the world. Im glad I went, and if given the opportunity, I would love to go to SA and check it out for myself.

  41. “Add in the fact that Saudia is a dry airline, and they don’t exactly seem like the most fun airline to fly.”

    Good. Keeps all the drunks out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *