Introduction: An Insane Week In The Sky
Review: China Eastern Business Class 777-300ER Los Angeles To Shanghai
Review: Grand Hyatt Shanghai
Review: China Eastern Lounge Shanghai Airport
Review: China Eastern Business Class A330 Shanghai To Colombo
Review: Hilton Colombo
Review: Qatar Airways Business Class A340 Colombo To Doha
Review: Oryx Lounge Doha Airport
Review: Royal Air Maroc Business Class 787 Doha To Casablanca
Review: Hyatt Regency Casablanca
Review: Royal Air Maroc Lounge Casablanca Airport
Review: Royal Air Maroc Business Class 787 Casablanca To Doha
Review: Qatar Airways Business Class A340 Doha To Colombo
Review: Saudia Business Class 777 Colombo To Jeddah
Review: Saudia Lounge Jeddah Airport
Review: Saudia Business Class 787 Jeddah To Manchester
Review: Pakistan Airlines Business Class 777 Manchester To New York
Review: Airspace Lounge New York JFK Airport Terminal 5
Review: JetBlue Mint A321 New York To Los Angeles
Okay, so let me start by saying that I think you guys did a great job of managing my expectations of Jeddah Airport. Before I took this trip, a countless number of people warned me not to fly through Jeddah until the new airport is opened. So I had very low expectations going in…
Our arriving flight from Colombo arrived around 8:45PM, while our next flight was at 3:45AM. A seven hour layover on this crazy of an itinerary — what were we thinking?!?
All gates at Jeddah Airport are remote. Fortunately there was a separate bus for business class passengers, so there were only about a dozen of us on it, which was nice. I found the ride to the terminal fascinating, as we drove by a countless number of Saudia planes.
The drive to the terminal took about 10 minutes, and once there we found ourselves in a big, disorganized mess. While there were a few different queues, there wasn’t really much direction provided as to which line was for which passengers, and there also wasn’t much separation between lines, so everyone was just kind of pushing their way forward.
Eventually we realized we had to be in the line all the way to the right, which was for international transit passengers.
There was a Sky Priority sign, though there was no line to go along with it, unfortunately.
Once we got to the desk, our boarding passes were verified, and we were handed a transit card, without much of an explanation.
We walked up the stairs and followed the signage for transfer passengers.
There we found ourselves in a pretty cool room that Saudia seems to make available to all transit passengers. There were reclining leather chairs, some blankets, and even soft drinks and packaged snacks. That’s super impressive, as it’s not often you see such amenities for economy passengers.
However, the seats were limited and they were all taken, so this isn’t exactly a solution for all transit passengers. Furthermore, the location seemed a bit odd, since I imagine hundreds of people an hour walk through the room; it’s not exactly a quiet area.
Upon exiting that room we found ourselves in the main part of the terminal, where the security checkpoint was. As a frequent flyer I’m always eyeing the shorter security line, so I quickly walked towards the one on the right, which was much shorter. Then I realized that security was segregated, and that was the line for women — oops!
Security was pretty quick, so within about five minutes we cleared that. Just past security was a huge sign indicating that no smoking was allowed inside the terminal. I’m not sure if that’s a new policy or just not enforced, because the terminal reeked of cigarettes.
Once through security we turned right down the hallway.
After walking for a couple of minutes we found ourselves in front of the Saudia Lounge.
At reception we presented our boarding passes, and were invited in, and also each given a refreshing towelette.
Saudia’s lounge in Jeddah is shared by first & business class passengers, as well as elite members. We arrived at around 9:30PM, and the lounge was almost completely empty, which was awesome. The lounge was by no means anything special, but it was clean, fairly large, and had tons of leather chairs in good shape.
The lounge consisted of one big room, so I’ll let the pictures of the seating speak for themselves.
Across from the buffet were a couple of PCs.
Back near the entrance was a smoking room.
The buffet was the centerpiece of the lounge.
The food spread overall really impressed me. They had a huge quantity of Arabic coffee and dates (which was a blessing, since I was struggling to stay awake, and the Arabic coffee was significantly better than the machine coffee they had).
There was a selection of finger sandwiches, cheese, fresh fruit, hummus, salad, etc.
There were several desserts that looked incredible, including some local desserts.
There were packaged snacks, including shortbread cookies, granola bars, chips, etc.
Then there were a variety of hot options, ranging from curry to mozzarella sticks.
What impressed me most was that the food actually looked pretty appealing for the most part, which I wasn’t expecting.
There was a good selection of tea, as well as an espresso machine, though I preferred the Arabic coffee.
There was a selection of non-alcoholic drinks, including still and sparkling water (Evian and Perrier, respectively), fresh fruit juice, soda, non-alcoholic beer, etc. There was also yogurt and labneh.
Yes, you heard me right, non-alcoholic Budweiser!
I stuck mostly to the packaged snacks.
While the lounge was pleasant for the most part, I found the bathroom to be disgusting. The men’s bathroom had only two stalls and no urinals.
Unfortunately the toilets were gross. I knew bidets/hosing down “back there” is popular in the region, but to me it’s just so disgusting in a public toilet. The floors were wet and smelled like… well, I’m sure you can guess.
I went back and forth as to whether or not I should shower. The lounge had a single shower room that looked okay (but not especially good). On one hand I didn’t want to shower in the not-so-great shower room, while on the other hand I figured it was prudent to do so in the middle of 72 hours of flying.
So I did shower. On one hand I was impressed by the Elemis toiletries. On the other hand, the water pressure was terrible, and the water wouldn’t get warm, so it wasn’t the most enjoyable shower. The shower room is also inside the rest of the bathroom, and there’s no toilet or mirror or even trash can in the shower room.
I spent most of the layover getting caught up on work while trying not to fall asleep. The lounge wifi was pretty fast, so that was good at least. As the night progressed, the lounge continued to fill up. By around 2AM, almost every seat in the lounge was taken.
With our flight scheduled to depart at 3:45AM, we figured we’d roam around the terminal a bit, so at around 2:30AM we left the lounge.
The Jeddah Airport terminal is much smaller than you’d expect. Then again, I guess it’s not really surprising, given that the flights depart from remote stands, so there’s no need for a big terminal.
There were a ton of people just sitting around, many clearly trying to sleep.
Then there was a large prayer area.
There were only a couple of dining options, so it would suck to have a long layover here without lounge access.
At 2:45AM it was posted that our flight would be departing from gate seven. So we headed there, and immediately had our boarding passes scanned.
At that point we were in a “holding pen,” much like at Colombo Airport. The holding pen filled up very quickly.
At 3AM boarding began. There wasn’t a formal announcement, but rather everyone sort of just stampeded down the stairs and escalator at once.
At that point everyone was on the lower level, where it was even more chaotic. There was no real order, so everyone was just pushing forward. There was an immigration officer checking everyone’s passport stamps. For the case of transit passengers, we simply had to hand the officer our transit cards.
Even though we were towards the front of the (theoretical) line, we only made it on the second bus. We got to the plane at around 3:25AM.
Saudia Lounge & Transit Jeddah Airport bottom line
I had very low expectations of Jeddah Airport based on what I was told before my visit. It’s definitely not a nice airport, and the transit experience isn’t completely seamless, but overall it exceeded my expectations.
The Saudia lounge was functional, comfortable, and had a great food selection and working wifi. I do wish the bathroom and shower situation would be a bit nicer, but overall it’s a perfectly fine lounge.
So I guess to sum it up, the experience wasn’t good in absolute terms, but it was better than I was expecting.