Saudia Has Onboard Chefs And Caviar In First Class?!

Last June, Saudia revealed a new first class product, which is now available on select 777-300ER aircraft, some of which operate to Los Angeles, New York, and Washington. The product consists of fully enclosed suites, which actually look pretty stylish.

Saudia-New-First-Class-3

Saudia-New-First-Class-1

This is a massive improvement over Saudia’s old first class product, which didn’t even feature direct aisle access from all seats — it instead looked like a sub-par business class product.

Saudia-First-Class

I’ve been intrigued by this new product, especially since award availability is consistently wide open. For example, Los Angeles to Jeddah has at least 3-4 first class award seats a vast majority of dates, and there are only a total of 12 first class seats. This is a great use of Korean Air SkyPass miles (which you can transfer over from Chase Ultimate Rewards), as they charge just 160,000 miles for roundtrip first class.

Saudia-Award

What I’m equally fascinated by, though, is how good Saudia claims its soft product is. Some of you may remember my Saudia business class flight last year, which I said had the worst service of any flight I’ve ever taken.

Check out this ad for Saudia’s new first class suite, which actually makes it look appealing:

On its website, Saudia describes how it has an onboard chef on select routes (it looks like this was introduced in May 2015), and based on the above video, it looks like the airline also serves caviar in first class:

Fine dining, a la carte, with a Chef Onboard at 39,000 feet up in the sky at any time during your journey is not a dream of the future but an exclusive service for our First Suite guests.

Enjoy sumptuous, world-class cuisine fused with traditional flavors of our rich heritage in privacy for a 4-course menu within the exclusivity of your First Suite.

Saudia also has Porsche design amenity kits and pajamas in first class:

Pamper yourself with amenities designed exclusively by Furla for ladies and Porsche Design for gentlemen.

When you’ve had too much and want to turn in, with a touch of a button your cabin crew will be at your service to prepare your bed complete with a mattress and pillow while you slip into your pyjamas designed exclusively by Porsche Design.

Okay, I’ve really got to check this out sooner rather than later.

Jeddah Airport is a bit of a dump, though the new airport is set to open next year, and is supposed to be a big improvement. That being said, I don’t really want to wait that long. So my plan is to maybe fly from Los Angeles to Jeddah to Dubai in one direction, and then from Dubai to Riyadh to New York in the other direction, to experience Riyadh Airport, which I’ve heard is much better.

So, does anyone think Saudia first class might actually be decent?

Comments

  1. They’ve been advertising and pushing their LAX service quite hard. If they truly have their hearts in it (oil prices are hurting the KSA), then service should be improved. They are trying to replicate the ME3 and also hiring tons of foreign FA’s: which should be an improvement from the “local” service you previously received.

  2. I thought there were 12 seats, not 8, in the new F cabin?

    Note that JED has no first class lounge, just the single lounge you’ve already visited, but RUH does have separate first and business class sections in the international lounge — though the first class section really isn’t anything too dazzling and I actually prefer some of the seating options in the business class section.

  3. @ Bgriff — Ah, you’re right about the 12 seats, my mistake. Also interesting about there being a separate first class lounge in Riyadh. I noticed there wasn’t a separate one in Jeddah, so was curious if that was also the case in Riyadh.

  4. Is the new Jeddah airport going to have a new Saudia FC lounge? If it is, I’d say it’s worth waiting. Thanks 🙂

    Also, apologies but I’d say the flight would be more enjoyable with a camera at hand, which I’m not sure would work under the inflight electronics ban.

    Lastly, it does seem slightly backwards that they didn’t install their reverse herringbone seat on their brand new 777-300ERs.

  5. As a side-note, I just doubled check on Google flights, and for an extra 100€ you can add two legs (out/inbound) to RUH in F, if you really think it’s worth reviewing that lounge. As Alvin mentioned, it’d be nice to get some nice pics (with a camera), so that would kind of exclude at least the KSA-USA flight.

  6. @Alvin the reverse herringbone seats are available on the new B777s as well as the B787.

    @Ben Holz the 100€ ticket is probably on the Albayraq service which would mean that he’ll get to experience the private aviation terminals in Jeddah and Riyadh, so the first class lounge wouldn’t be accessible in that case.

    @lucky any news on the transit visa?

  7. Without fine wine, they are at a huge disadvantage. I’d rather fly Emirates and connect.

  8. @ Aziz — So the new 777s have reverse herringbone seats in business? That’s awesome! Unfortunately haven’t had any luck with transit visa, and I assume I wouldn’t be allowed to have a domestic connection in Saudi Arabia without a proper visa. 🙁

  9. @ That really sucks.
    The new B777s are true beauties, with faux wood floors, first suites, reverse herringbones in business, and 3-3-3 seats in economy. Let’s hope the soft product isn’t a let down this time, although I’m not keeping my hopes high, Saudia’s soft product is disappointing more often than not.

    Enjoy and be safe!

  10. Ministry of transport recently announced that new Jeddah airport set to open in Q1 2018 and will be operated by Singapore Changi in a 20-year contract. I have seen many pictures and videos for the new airport and it is fantastic. Now with Singapore Changi operates it, I think will be great.

  11. @Lucky,
    Hate to break it to you but Riyadh is a disorganised mess too. Avoid like plague during the Eid season.

  12. So men should use the flight to plan their next business meeting while women spend their time picking fabric for a couch? A fine airline to patronize and spend money on…

  13. I’m sincerely curious – as a gay guy, I don’t think I could every fly Saudi and feel that I’m acting morally. I mean, it’s one thing to go to UAE where things aren’t really enforced, but in Saudi and Iran they actually murder you for being gay. I know you’ve written on being gay and moral issues re travel, but I’m very curious to understand how you could think flying Saudi and stopping in the country (physically, even if not legally) is even slightly ethical. I say this not to judge so much as to understand because as a travel addict this is something I think through and challenge myself on.

  14. @Harry the situation in Saudi Arabia is almost identical to the UAE (and the rest of the GCC countries, which mostly have the same laws), a lot of people are openly gay and leading normal lives there.

  15. I’m currently based in Riyadh and have been traveling across the mideast. The international terminal at the Riyadh airport is actually pretty nice. It feels like an upper-end regional airport in the US – food options are decent, security and immigration are decently quick, etc. The domestic terminal at RUH is very new and is actually very nice. Bright, airy, practically designed. The new Jeddah airport is going to be great, mainly because it’s going to be managed by Changi. That was Big news over here. Overall, the infra in KSA is more than decent. Btw I’m also a member of the LGBT community, and the reality on the ground is more complex than people will understand from the outside. U sorta have to live it to understand what i mean, though i get that’s difficult to do, given that visiting is near impossible.

  16. To be honest I think one way if enough. Plus, I thiught you did not want to fly to the US on flights affected by the travel ban?

  17. @Aziz So Saudi Arabia is almost identical to the UAE? Last time I checked in Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to drive. Women and men socializing together if not related can result in criminal charges in Saudi Arabia and while there is some of this in the UAE in Saudi Arabia there is much much more segregation of the sexes. Not sure about UAE but in Saudi Arabia women aren’t even allowed to try on clothes in the dressing rooms in the story because even that is too much for the men there. I really question this blogger who is soo intent on flying first class that he would contribute to the business of an airline which is heavily connected to such a government. Until the past two decades this was a fully nationalized airline and it only stands to reason that the people who have ownership now are the ruling elite. Why would someone want to support people who are part of such a brutal and oppressive regime? Saudi Arabia is not a friendly country to the US and it sure as hell isn’t a friendly country for women or gay people. They won’t even sell tickets to Israelis. Is first class worth supporting all that? Look in a mirror sometime.

  18. @Bill

    Do you work for Delta by any chance?
    Not sure where you get your facts from r.e. US / Saudi relations…The Saudi deputy crown prince was the first Middle East leader to visit the White House under the new administration…can’t imagine you would invite leaders of a country that were that hostile…

    R.e. Not selling tickets to Israeli’s, even Kuwait Airways avoid it as well. They even stopped their LHR-JFK service to avoid having to carry Israeli passengers. I don’t think we need to elaborate on the state of US / Kuwaiti relations, do we?

  19. Harry; as a gay man I do not travel to the U.S because I’m considered a second class citizen there

  20. @Bill you’re a perfect example of the misinformed people whom we try to engage in discussions and hope to change at least some of their prejudices.
    I have to admit though, Saudi Arabia hasn’t been as open to foreigners as other countries in the GCC, which has led to more stereotyping and being an easier target for negative press.

    We’re far from perfect, but for an 80 year old country, we’ve come a long way in a relatively short time. Other countries needed a few centuries to get where we are now, and there’s still a lot of work that we need to do.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I do my best to respect the fact that this is a travel blog, and I’ll do my best to keep the discussions as travel-centered as I can.

  21. Has anyone checked if flying this airline supports terrorism?

    Any relationship with the Saudi kingdom is quite evil.

    Just saying…

  22. @Nakoia have you checked that any of the petrol or jet fuel your travels may have caused to have been consumed wasnt from Saudi Arabia? No. Ergo you are also evil

  23. @Nakoia The same could be said about flying any of the US airlines, don’t forget that for the past century the US has been responsible for more deaths than the rest of the world combined.

  24. Ben,

    I’ve traveled on Saudia and been to both major airports. Riyadh airport is better, but don’t expect anything too great. The Saudia Lounge had good food, but was not spectacular, and don’t remember a F section. (I was in J.) Jeddah, as you realize, is a dump. ‘nough said.

    One of my trips was on Saudia, and I had a great experience in J, even though a weak hard product at the time. F looked spectacular, and that was before the upgrades.

    With all this said, I’ve absolutely loved my two trips to the Kingdom. I have experienced extremely warm hospitality and can’t wait to go back. Yes, I know many don’t like the politics there, and neither do I, but I love the people. People are people no matter where you go, and most people are inherently good.

  25. @Aziz …. you said “don’t forget that for the past century the US has been responsible for more deaths than the rest of the world combined.”

    Sorry, that is demonstrably false. Utterly false. World War 2, started by Germany, cost somewhere between 60 and 80 million lives, most at the hands of the Germans, Russians, Japanese and Chinese. Communist governments during the 20th Century killed something on the order of 80-100 million of their own citizens, notably in Russia, China, Cambodia, North Korea. But certainly not limited to those four countries.

    Also, I’ve traveled in KSA, UAE in the recent past. KSA is by no means comparable in its treatment of women, gays, or individual liberty to the UAE.

    I would prefer that this remain a travel blog, but lets also tell the truth.

  26. I have been living in Riyadh for the past 5 years and have travelled a lot with Saudia (Saudi Airlines), mostly domestically and have tried their business, first and Al Bayraq products. I have seen a big transformation of the company these 5 years. Service was really bad before, but it always depends on what you compare it to, if you compare it to Emirates, Qatar, and Etihad is is awful yes. The inflight service has become better over the years, and that is because of the hiring of foreign FAs, but I have had an amazing service from a male Saudi FA coming from Rome in economy class few months back. It is random but it is getting better for sure. Saudia is trying to compete with the other Gulf carriers because it has the money, the support and the biggest religious travelling event (Hajj) in the world. It transports millions of passengers in less than a month, renting airplanes from many airlines in the world, even aircrafts that haven’t properly been branded for Saudia. As for the RUH airport, it is an airport that opened in 1983, hence was built in the late 70’s, early 80’s. It’s not the best airport in the world but it is functional, clean and all the lounges are being renovated or have already been.

    The new domestic terminal 5, which also serves the Al Bayraq service (Premium First – Private Jet Flying from Saudia) is brand new, it opened in 2016. There are no stores or many conveniences but it is getting there. I agree with @Aziz that this country has done a lot in a very short amount of time. I am Greek, grew up in the US so my mentality is very western and I was very critical at the beginning for many matters here. It is very different to be outside and comment on various issues, LGBT, women and more, and it is very different to experience living in this country.

    I believe that Saudi itself and Saudia are going to progress a lot in a short amount of time.

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