Review: Saudia Business Class Lounge Riyadh Airport

Introduction: One “Stan” At A Time
Review: Wingtips Lounge New York JFK Airport
Review: Uzbekistan Airways Business Class 787 New York To Tashkent
Review: Hyatt Regency Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Review: Uzbekistan Airways Lounge Tashkent Airport
Review: Uzbekistan Airways Business Class A320 Tashkent To Dushanbe
Review: Hyatt Regency Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Review: Dushanbe Airport Lounge
Review: Somon Air Business Class 737 Dushanbe To Dubai
Review: Saudia First Suite 777 Dubai To Riyadh
Review: Saudia Business Class Lounge Riyadh Airport
Review: Saudia First Suite 777 Riyadh To Los Angeles


We arrived in Riyadh at around 7PM, while our flight to Los Angeles was around 1:30AM, meaning we had about a six hour layover. In June I reviewed Saudia’s first class lounge at Riyadh Airport, so I won’t be reviewing that again. Instead I’ll be reviewing the transit experience and Saudia’s business class lounge, which I briefly checked out.

After taking the bus from the plane to the terminal we found ourselves in the arrivals hall. A vast majority of passengers followed the signage towards the immigration hall, while a few passengers (including us) followed the signage for international connections.


Riyadh Airport terminal

That took us down a hallway where there was one staff member who confirmed our boarding passes and then told us to have a seat for a moment, while he called a security officer to screen our bags. Someone showed up within five minutes, at which point a handful of other passengers from our flight got in line.


Riyadh Airport international transit

The security screening was lax, in the sense that there was a single officer supervising both the metal detector and x-ray machine, and he didn’t seem to be particularly focused on either. Once through there we proceeded up the escalator into the terminal.


Riyadh Airport international transit

International connecting passengers are let out by gate 21, though it really seems to be a makeshift setup. We had to open a door to get into the terminal, and then walk through a series of queuing “barriers” to get into the terminal.


Riyadh Airport international transit


Riyadh Airport international transit

Riyadh Airport is reasonably nice, at least much nicer than the current Jeddah Airport (though the new terminal in Jeddah should be opening shortly, and will be very nice).


Riyadh Airport terminal

We took the escalator up to the Alfursan Lounge, which is the Saudia lounge used by all SkyTeam airlines. While we spent most of our time in the first class lounge, I’ll share my thoughts on the business class lounge this time around.

Inside the entrance is the reception desk, and the first class lounge is to the left, while the business class lounge is to the right.


Saudia Lounge Riyadh Airport entryway

Right inside the entrance to the business class lounge was a dining area, consisting of high-top seating, as well as booths.


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport dining area


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport dining area

The dining area was huge, and was on both sides of the buffet (I’ll have more about the food later).


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport dining area


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport dining area


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport dining area

Past that was a business center with five iMacs, as well as a conference room.


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport business center

Past that was the main room of the lounge, which had all kinds of elegant seating.


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport seating


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport seating

What a surprisingly stylish lounge — it even had Eames chairs.


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport seating


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport seating


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport seating

Much like the first class lounge there were several semi-private rooms with daybeds, most of which were occupied (even though the lounge was otherwise quite empty).


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport rest area

There was also a play area for kids.


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport kids area

The bathrooms in the business class lounge were reasonably nice, though there are no showers in the business class lounge. Instead there’s a single shower in the first class lounge, so that’s one of the only advantages of the first class section.


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport bathrooms


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport bathrooms

In terms of food and drinks, there were a couple of areas with food and drinks. Near most of the seating was a drink station, with juice, coffee, tea, and dates.


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport snack bar

There was a similar drink station closer to the entrance and across from the buffet, except it had packaged snacks, as well as more soft drinks and non-alcoholic beer.


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport coffee & tea


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport tea & Arabic coffee


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport drink selection


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport dates & packaged snacks

Then the buffet was back near the entrance. The last time I visited the first class lounge there was no food outside, but I suspect that’s because I was there over Ramadan. This time around, both the first and business class lounge had an almost identical food selection.


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport buffet

There were small plates with fresh sliced fruit and cheese.


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport buffet

There was a tasty looking selection of desserts.


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport buffet


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport buffet

There was salad, hummus, finger sandwiches, etc.


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport buffet


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport buffet

Then there were six hot dishes, ranging from chicken to fresh veggies to rice to mozzarella sticks.


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport buffet


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport buffet


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport buffet


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport buffet


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport buffet

There was also a spicy lentil soup.


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport buffet

Lastly, there was a large selection of soft drinks and water.


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport drink selection


Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport drink selection

Overall I was impressed by the business class lounge, and thought it was comparable in quality to the first class lounge. The only real difference is that the first class lounge doesn’t get as crowded and has a shower.

Our flight to Los Angeles (via Jeddah) was scheduled to board at 12:55AM, so we headed to our departure gate, #23, at around 12:30AM.


Riyadh Airport terminal

Due to US security policies, there was a special security screening for the flight, as we were expecting. To our surprise there was no one in line, but as we walked up we were informed that they were only screening for the Toronto flight right now (I guess they also get extra screening?), and were told to step aside.


Riyadh Airport departure gate

So we stood to the side, and quickly realized the problem. Clearly the airport wasn’t designed to have “sterile” gates (where passengers could be screened at individual gates), so the setup was basically such that they’d only start screening once boarding began, so that passengers could immediately board.

At around 1:10AM the crew showed up, and around the same time the ground workers were running with blankets and pillows down the jet bridge.


Riyadh Airport departure gate

Finally at 1:30AM electronics screening began. This was a super casual process, which I outlined in a previous post.


Riyadh Airport departure gate security


Riyadh Airport departure gate security

We managed to be the first onboard, and by 1:35AM we were greeted by the crew that would be taking us to Jeddah.

Saudia Business Lounge Riyadh Airport bottom line

The transit experience in Riyadh was painless, both in terms of the actual transit process, and also in terms of the additional screening for US-bound flights.

Saudia’s lounges in Riyadh are also decent, and there’s almost no difference between the first and business class lounge. Transiting Riyadh Airport is definitely more pleasant than transiting Jeddah Airport, at least until the new terminal opens.

Enjoy this review? Check out hundreds of other reports on airlines, hotels, and airport lounges worldwide!

Comments

  1. As I commented in a previous post, I’ve yet to see a worker look at the x-ray monitor. A prize should be offered for the first person to spot one actually looking at it.

  2. @ Lucky- According to Emirates, passengers departing Dubai to Toronto (their only Canadian destination) must go through extra security screening at the gate before boarding, just like flights to the USA and the UK. Electronic devices must also be switched on at the gate before boarding. Apparently this is due to Canadian security regulations. I am assuming a similar rule applies for the Saudia flight to Toronto from Riyadh and Jeddah.

    https://www.emirates.com/english/help/faq/1765787/what-are-the-enhanced-security-measures-for-flights-to-usa-canada-and-uk

  3. Ha! As Jerry Seinfeld once said, “Always feel safe in the airport. Thanks to the high-calibre individuals we have working at X-Ray security. How about this crack squad of savvy, motivated personnel; feel pretty good with them at the helm?”

  4. I have diabetes, so I am always curious (and worried) if these exotic airlines have Coke Zero, Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, or other non-caloric soft drinks available, both on board and in the Business and First Class lounges. Anyone have knowledge or experience of this? I know everyone has bottled water, but that won’t do for me as I prefer something with flavor and fizz and WITHOUT calories/sugar.

  5. @Dr. stan De Loach yes saudia offer diet and sugar free and sweeteners on-board and in the first class lounge and business class lounge as well.

  6. @mohammed Thanks for this info! You may not know that the pink, yellow, blue, or green paper packets/small envelopes with artificial sweeteners contain 97% glucose/dextrose/sugar (all the same thing!) and therefore are not appropriate for use by those of us who have diabetes. So, they won’t do, but the canned diet or sugar-free drinks will work. Hope that is what you meant (Diet Coke, Coke ZERO, Diet Pepsi, for example).

    CX (Cathay Pacific) and CZ (China Southern) both have an adequate supply of canned sugar-free drinks in Business; UA puts only 4 cans of Coke ZERO on the whole plane (in most cases, from to/from Hawaii, for example), 2 for Business and 2 for Economy…so you have to order early.

    Will check availability on QR when I fly paid Business IAH-DOH-CMB-DOH-IAH in October.

  7. No more grab-the-serving-spoon-handled-by-50-other hands-and-dig-in lounge buffet for me.
    Kudos to Emirates and those who offer INDIVIDUAL SERVINGS of most food items.

Leave a Reply

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