Saudia Business Class, Take Two: How Was The Connecting Flight?

As I wrote about yesterday, I was extremely underwhelmed by my Saudia flight from Colombo to Jeddah, as the service was the worst I’ve ever experienced. The service was so bad that it was almost comical. Almost.

It’s sad, because the food, hard product, and amenities were otherwise quite good, but the soft product was a disaster.

Well, early this morning we connected from Jeddah to Manchester, a flight that was operated by one of Saudia’s brand new 787s.


The hard product on this flight was significantly better than on the previous flight, even. Saudi’s 787s have reverse herringbone seats, which are super comfortable.

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Saudia-787-Business-Class - 5

The flight had the same great amenities as the previous flight, including wifi, incredible Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kits, beautifully printed menus, etc.


Fortunately this flight also had significantly better service. That’s not to say the service was good, but rather simply that the flight attendants weren’t actively making the flight unpleasant, as was the case on the previous flight.

We had a Filipino flight attendant taking care of us, and there was only one Saudi guy working the cabin. The Filipino flight attendant was friendly enough, though not over the top.

However, what really struck with me is how incredibly inefficient their service was.

The flight from Jeddah to Manchester was about six hours long, departing at around 4AM and arriving at around 8AM. They serve a small snack after takeoff and breakfast before landing.

It took them 75 minutes after takeoff before they served me the after takeoff snack. It was delicious once I had it, but I found it ridiculous that the wait was so long.

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Then breakfast service started two hours before landing. C’mon, that leaves at most 2.5 hours to sleep between meals.

While the breakfast was good, it was all served on a single tray, so I really can’t make sense of why it needs to be served two hours before landing.

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Also, while Saudia is a dry airline, I’d take it a step further. They’re almost a still-water-only airline. It’s almost as if you’re asking for a huge favor by asking them for a cup of coffee, sparkling water, etc.

Breakfast was served two hours out, though despite several requests I was never served coffee. Maybe it’s just me, but I think the first thing that should be served in the morning is coffee, even before food.

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Saudia 787 business class bottom line

Unlike the last flight, this Saudia flight was pleasant. The plane was nice and had great seats, and the catering was very good… once it was actually served.

While the flight attendants seemed well intentioned, I couldn’t get over how inefficient the service was. Short redeyes should be all about maximizing sleep, so there’s no excuse for it taking 75 minutes to serve a snack after takeoff, or serving a single tray breakfast two hours before landing.

Still, if all Saudia flights were like this, I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to fly them again…

I’ll shortly be flying from Manchester to New York on Pakistan International Airlines, so stay tuned for that. I can’t wait for this one. 😉


  1. Six hours? That’s a US transcon. This sounds a lot better than that still…. This is practically a commuter run…

  2. Dry airline… I don’t know what those words mean, one after the other. I mean, it looks like English, but my phone put squigglies underneath, and I’m not quite sure how to pronounce it. I think you need to hire an editor for this blog.

  3. Aww, I was sat in the Radisson at Terminal 2 this morning and watched your SV B789 taxiing in.

    Had you not decided to stay airside for your next “dry” flight, I’d have seen you a decent cup of coffee…

  4. Why characterize this as a red-eye? Is it marketed as an overnight? It’s just an early early morning flight. Would a 5am flight from NYC/BOS/PHL to LAX be a red-eye?

  5. You sound like a very unhappy person.
    Hope you find someone who can lift you out of your depression and/or self hate.

  6. @poinster — A dry airline is an airline that does not serve alcoholic beverages.

  7. How long was your layover in Jeddah? Did you need a transit visa?

    I have heard contradictory statements, from travel agents to Saudi airline representatives themselves, about whether a transit visa is needed or not.


  8. For your next flight would appreciate some pictures of Pakistani cuisine ( what is it?) . Also does PIA serve alcohol?

  9. It seems that the differences in service reflect inherent cultural biases in Saudi Arabia in particular and the Middle East in general, wherein people of (or originating from) the subcontinent are considered the lowest rung of society and those of the west are better catered to. That the bulk of blue collar jobs are performed by people of the subcontinent (under atrocious conditions and labor laws), thereby allowing Saudis to live their lavish lifestyles, is irrelevant to this world view. This is, in my opinion, the most racially prejudiced region on earth – which is curious as it is an anathema to Islam that consumes Arab society.

  10. This series of trip reports have an Alice in Wonderland quality. Up is down. Left is right. Royal Air Maroc is good, Saudia is bad. Thus I will not be surprised if Ben’s experience with PIA turns out to be the finest flight he has ever had.

    But…no word yet on his transfer experience through JED. Interesting.

  11. So it’s unanimous: Pointster wins the Best Post of the Day prize by acclamation. Well played indeed.

    (That’s not counting the one comment that took Pointster seriously.)

  12. @Tom In no way is it “unanimous”. Anyone who can’t figure out how to pronounce “dry airline”, much less can’t understand what that means, needs a few more months of ESL classes before they post here. 😉

  13. @Robert Hanson

    Anyone who doesn’t gey sarcasm should probably have a minder before they post anywwhere.

    Or more succinctly: whoosh.

  14. …probably should double-check what auto-correct does (and doesn’t do) to posts too, while we’re on the subject.

  15. Service is determined by airline procedures. Cabin crew follow that procedure according to safety regulations. With that said safety before service. Something most pax dont understand. Reason why u most probably waited 75min after take off can be due to captain orders like possible turbulance etc. Also another reason is that meals should be heated at the right temperature during that time kids will be served their give aways head sets distributed beverage service done etc. And THAT flight attendant not only serves you and the rest of the pax but also the cockpit. Oh and just to inform you those “male cabin crew” in business class not doing anything is called SKY MARSHALLS they are there for your safety. And because SAUDIA takes care of its employees they put them in business class. Yes they were wrong to make a party but thats something no one can control. Im sorry you had a bad experience with Saudia and hopefully your next trip will be better.


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