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Topic: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-05 13:49:30 and read 27315 times.

Asia 10: Take me home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/cover.jpg

Previous Reports in this series:

Part 1: Limoncello with Alitalia. BA/AZ LHR-MXP-FCO-NRT

Part 2: JALing it to Beijing. JL HND-PEK 772 Business

Part 3: Around China with China United, China Eastern & Grand China

Part 4: First with Cathay Pacific: HKG-TPE F on the B744

Part 5: Fine Dining on Scoot. TPE-SIN on the 777

Part 6: Silk Air and Firefly around the Malay Peninsula. SIN-LGK-SZB

Part 7: Going Beyond Expectations. MH KUL-DAC on the A330

Part 8: United Airways DAC-ZYL, Jet Airways DAC-CCU

Part 9: Air India 787. Calcutta - Delhi

Hi!

Thanks for clicking on Part 10 (and final part) of my Autumn Asia series.

Way back in August before I left on my trip, I went hunting for a suitable return flight. Getting from India to London is terribly easy, and there are hundreds of routings available. Thankfully, prices are, by and large, very reasonable for one way journeys.

Looking on Expedia, the cheapest I could find was for around GBP 250 on the likes of QR and GF….not bad. I then thought about checking airline websites directly. MS had some good fares via Cairo, but after my far from acceptable business class flight BKK-PEK with them a few years ago, I looked elsewhere.

I then stumbled across the Saudia (SV) website. Wow, the prices were great! The cheapest I found fitting my dates and destinations was for GBP 140 o/w (EUR 172/USD 225) for CCJ-JED-LHR. After a bit more hunting, I found a similarly priced flight from Bangalore, routing BLR-DMM-JED-LHR on the new A330 and B77W. And a domestic flight included. This was too good to turn up. I decided to go for a slightly higher fare class (improving flexibility as well, as giving 75% rather than 25% Flying Blue miles), which brought the fare to GBP 180. Not bad! For around GBP 500, I could have gone in Business, but I was trying to be frugal.

I’ve long held an interest in going to Saudi Arabia, but obviously visas are a rather awkward hurdle. This routing would satisfy my intrigue into the country, at least for a few years. Booked.

My planned route, courtesy of GC Mapper:
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/map2.gif

As you should have read by now, my suitcase was stolen in Bangladesh a few days before getting to India. This took the wind out of my sails a bit. After quite a bit of umming and ahing, I decided to cut my trip to India short, down from my planned 35 nights, to 10 nights.

Thanks to my flexi fare, I was able to get my flights changed over the phone from Bangladesh. Annoyingly, they couldn’t take the change fee over the phone with a credit card, so asked me to go into an office to pay…very annoying. Sadly, the change also meant losing my cool itinerary. I’d now be on a more boring DEL-RUH-LHR routing on the B772. My stopover (originally just a few hours in JED, and 30 mins in DMM) would now be 10 hours in RUH! Not ideal, but this is the price you pay for flying odd airlines at bargain rates.

The map, courtesy of GC Mapper, of this report:
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/map.gif

My final map for the series, courtesy of GC Mapper:
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/map3.gif

I had prebooked 3 nights in Delhi. I’d now be playing it by ear as far as my itinerary goes. My first stop was to try and get a ticket to Agra to see the Taj Mahal.

I took very few photos in Delhi, but these few sort of sum it up.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4692.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4691.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4696.jpg

It’s true, it doesn’t seem too bad, but for some reason, I really did not enjoy it. My hope in getting to the Taj Mahal quickly turned into depression when it emerged that it would be impossible to get there for a few days, and even then, return travel would be very awkward. Fast forwarding through my thoughts, feelings and emotions that morning, I elected to get the first flight out of Delhi I could find. My stay in India had dropped from 35 to 10 to finally 4 nights.

After a painful hunt for the SV office, and then an hour waiting for the agent to type the changes into my booking, I handed over a pile of rupees (cash only!) and in exchange got a print out for my new flights back to London, leaving 2 days later. I must say, I was very relieved.

The next day, thankful it was my last full day in India, I thought I should at least achieve something by way of sightseeing. My first target was the Qutub Minar.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4708.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4716.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4722.jpg

The complex was very interesting and I’m glad I made the effort to see it.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4717.jpg

My visit was enhanced thanks to the Minar’s location under the main DEL flightpath!
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4711.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4727.jpg

Next stop was Humayun’s Tomb, the architectural inspiration behind the far more famous Taj Mahal.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4738.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4747.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4758.jpg

With my sightseeing done, I had one final thing to achieve…shopping for a jumper (I thought flying home to a wintry UK in just a t-shirt was a bad move). Sadly, this was a LOT more difficult and frustrating than I could have ever imagined. I did manage to procure one by the end of the afternoon, although the process did nothing to endear me to India, Indian culture or Indian people whatsoever (in fact, quite the opposite).

I had a final dinner in the restaurants on the roof of the hotel, and went to bed….only to be woken a few hours later with fairly serious food poisoning.

After a particularly awful night, I was first in line at the pharmacy the next morning. I’d booked a taxi for 10am, and was delighted to be finally on my homeward journey. I’ve honestly never been so keen to either leave a country, or get home.

I’d been monitoring the loads of my flight since I changed the route and date. The afternoon of the rebooking, the DEL-RUH flight was looking very busy…lucky I was able to get a seat.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/svav3.jpg

The morning of departure, however, availability had gone down to 0 in all classes. Hmm, can I use this to my advantage to get onto a different flight?
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/svav1.jpg

The RUH-LHR seemed to have plenty of space, however.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/svav2.jpg

Still feeling very sick, and rather stressed/depressed, I thought I’d push hard to be offloaded onto (ideally) the direct 9W or VS DEL-LHR flight, or at least another Middle Eastern airline with a shorter connection.

After being dropped off on the forecourt, I made my way through the crowds of people seeing relatives off, had my passport and printout checked, and was then allowed into the check in area.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4764.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG1978.jpg

Before I could approach the SV desks, I was redirected to the visa check desk, despite my protestations that I didn’t need a Saudi visa. Once this was confirmed at the desk, I went back round to the check in desks, and headed for the C desk. I thought I might as well see if there were any cheap upgrades to be had, or at the least, if I could get bumped to a different flight.

The guy on the desk was friendly, but was unable to help. Business was overbooked by one, and economy had at least one empty seat. Looks like I’ll be spending 10 hours in Riyadh airport! Thankfully, I was checked in at the business desk, and given both my boarding passes.

Next was immigration and security. Whilst there weren’t a lot of people in the queues, it did take a long time, which was very uncomfortable given my stomach’s delicate disposition.

Finally, I was airside. The terminal was very nice, although I wasn’t in the mood to appreciate it. With the last of my rupees (that the bureau de change refused to change), I bought some reading material in WHSmiths, before buying some chips in McDonalds that I promptly threw up. This is going to be a fun day.

FIDS
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4768.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4769.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4770.jpg

Departure Hall
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4767.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4771.jpg

View outside…yes, it’s the 787 en route to Frankfurt
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4766.jpg

Keen to make sure I was definitely on the plane, and to ensure there were no Istanbulesque mishaps, I was at the gate in plenty of time. Looks like my first Saudi plane will be HZ-AKV, an 11 year old veteran.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4773.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4772.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4774.jpg

From looking at the passengers waiting, as expected, the vast majority of travellers were Indian males. In fact, other than the crew, I think I saw just 2 women, and 3 children onboard.

After a short queue, my boarding pass was checked. A few metres further on was a woman checking that every piece of hand baggage had a stamped tag (this caught out a guy ahead of me…no idea what happened to him). Just before going down the airbridge, there was a final stop, this time frisking people. From what I could see, I was the only person not to be frisked, I was just waved past….profiling in action?



I love that flag!


November 2012
Delhi (DEL) – Riyadh (RUH)
Saudia SV 761
Scheduled: 1330-1545 (4h45m)
Actual: 1402-1537 (4h05m)
Boeing 777-200 HZ-AKV
Economy Class

The new logo/name


Old logo: Recently, SV have returned to their old name, whilst retaining the palm tree and swords


.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/sv777.jpg

I was greeted at the door by a smiling lady FA, and pointed down the aisle. This 777 forms part of the backbone of the shuttle for sub-continent workers travelling to the Gulf, and as such, is configured with just 2 rows of business, the rest being economy.



My (fairly limited) research had led me to believe that the plane would be quite horrible. No entertainment, and uncomfortable seats. I was therefore quite shocked to find this when I sat down:
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4777.jpg

A TV! With AVOD! Wow, I wasn’t expecting that!

SV have joined the posse of operators with 3x4x3 seating in Y. Just as on Alitalia and Scoot, I found the seats width to be fine, just with rather narrow aisles. SV allow you to select your seat for free from the time of reservation. I guess most of SV passengers don’t know about this as even 2 days before the flight, there were barely a handful of seats pre-assigned. I’d selected one of the few pairs of seats, just behind 3R:


For those of you wondering what “P” is on the map, it’s the Muslim prayer area. Basically, it was an empty carpeted space, with curtains for walls, and a moving map displaying the direction of Mecca.

The whole plane:


Reasonable legroom
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4775.jpg

View across the cabin. The crew uniform doesn’t show much skin.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4776.jpg

Outside
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4778.jpg

The cabin gradually filled up, with ever seat taken, as far as I could see.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4779.jpg

Magazine
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4781.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4783.jpg

Map
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4780.jpg

Clearly, this isn’t first generation stuff…it’s been updated fairly recently.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4787.jpg

Films available of this flight…not a bad selection.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4782.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4784.jpg

Newspapers were handed out (another surprise), although the FA announced them in barely a whisper.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG1982.jpg

Towelettes
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG1983.jpg

Safety card
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4785.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4786.jpg

And a demo
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG1986.jpg

There’s also a pre-take off payer
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG1988.jpg

Passing the VS plane I’d hoped to be shunted onto
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG1989.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG1990.jpg

There was a long (+15 minutes) taxi to the runway, before we were finally off to Saudi
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG1994.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG1998.jpg

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http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2005.jpg

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-05 13:50:16 and read 27775 times.

First up on the AVOD is Modern Family, dubbed/reworded accordingly to “protect” passengers from the depravity of the West. Two of my favourites were the bleeping of the words “beer” and “turkey breast”. They also did some fun word substitutions. “Work through my shit” became “work through my emotional stuff”. More on this later.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4790.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2006.jpg

A pre-lunch beverage service is done. Obviously, no booze is served on SV, although given my current condition, this is not an issue. There is only a choice of water or juice on the top of the trolley. I ask for a diet coke. The FA grumbles a little, before searching in the trolley and opening a can, then pouring me a glass. The rest of the can goes back into the trolley, although I doubt anyone else orders any.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4805.jpg

Flying over nothingness
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2008.jpg

About an hour into the flight, lunch is served. There is a choice of two mains: veg or non-veg. I go for the non-veg, which turns out to be fish. The FA has a struggle working out what the guy next to me wants. He speaks very little English, and her English is heavily accented (Syrian? Lebanese? Where are SV’s FAs from?). She ends up just giving him the veg meal.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4791.jpg

Not a culinary dream, but far from bad either.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4792.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4796.jpg

Some nice scenery down below
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4794.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4795.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4799.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4798.jpg

Time for a film. People like us…pretty crap TBH.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2011.jpg

After lunch, my seat mate vanishes (off to pray?) and never returns (so there must be some empty seats). This works out well as I now have some space to stretch out.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4797.jpg

The bathrooms were surprisingly clean. I’m not sure if the other passengers were actually trying to change their stereotypical behaviour, or if the crew were very diligent cleaners.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2012.jpg

I took a walk to the back to get myself another drink, passing the prayer room at the back.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2019.jpg

In the galley, there were a few crew members hanging around chatting (including one lady munching away from a big wicker bowl of dates). Seeing that I was not one of their “usual” customers, they smiled as asked what I wanted. My diet coke was quickly delivered, but again only a glass, rather than the whole can.


A bit of edited Big Bang Theory before landing
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2020.jpg

The map wasn’t always functional
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2023.jpg

Next is Snow White. I manage about 5 minutes before switching off and having a snooze as we head for the Gulf
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4800.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4802.jpg

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http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4809.jpg

The SV audio selection isn’t quite as extensive as Jet’s
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4810.jpg

Beginning our descent into Riyadh
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4811.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4812.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4813.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4814.jpg

Only minutes away from landing, our little digital plane hasn’t quite caught up
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4815.jpg

Sand, sand and more sand.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4817.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4819.jpg

SV has front and underside mounted camera, all the rage in Japan since about 1980.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4820.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4822.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4824.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4826.jpg

My first view of Riyadh Airport
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4827.jpg

I just love the SV livery…camouflages well in the desert!
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4830.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4831.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4832.jpg

Our plane is continuing as an international leg to Jeddah, so there is an announcement asking JED pax to remain seated. I’d originally hoped to take a late night JED flight back to London, but it seems it wasn’t operating today, so RUH-LHR it’d have to be.



There are just two transit pax today, myself and an old (and very slow) Indian man. I make myself known to one of the bouncers in the arrivals hall, who tell me to take a seat.

About five minutes later, the Indian man finally appears from the plane, and we are shepherded upstairs to the departures area. Before we are let loose in RUH airside, we are security screened. This was, without doubt, the most pathetic attempt to screen anyone ever. Buzzers going off, people walking through without being frisked, and the guy behind the screen playing on his phone whilst eating a sandwich. Seriously, you could get a bazooka through here and no one would notice.

I was shown to gate 21 (I think), and told that I’d get a meal voucher at 9pm. I asked if there was any possibility of leaving the airport and paying a visit downtown. “Have you got a visa?”. Sadly I didn’t (although maybe I should have applied for a transit one?), so the answer was no.

Now, what should I do? I had nigh on 10 hours stuck airside in Riyadh Airport, well known for being one of the most boring places on earth. Well, I might as well have a look around. Being in the Saudia terminal, obviously there was a lot of SV to spot.

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2026.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2031.jpg

And Nas Air
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2029.jpg

Reviews I’d found online made the terminal sound awful. Horrible staff, filthy toilets…. In fact, the facilities were very clean, better than some I’ve found in the UK. Staff were, well, not always customer focused, but again, the same can be said for parts of the UK.

The terminal was, however, incredibly dull. From what I could see on my lap around, there was one very small duty free shop, two coffee shops, and one cafeteria style place. They all looked ok, but were hardly suitably enthralling for a long stopover.


Thankfully, I had lounge access, courtesy of Lounge Club. Technically, I was supposed to pay around GBP 15 to enter, but the friendly guy on the desk just waved me in.


The lounge whilst clean and comfortable, wasn’t exactly interesting, but was definitely preferable to a 10 hour wait outside. There were snacks and drinks galore, and free wifi. Sadly no showers (not even toilets in the lounge), cinema, PS3, spa, etc that one might conceivably have in a lounge.

When I first arrived, I was the only person in the lounge. There was no FIDS, so I had a look on flightstats.com to see what was happening.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/ruhdep.jpg

As I was in the international lounge, there were basically no passengers around to use it. Other than the 6pm Dubai flight (A330), the only other action was a 1am flight to Paris (A320) and mine to LHR at 2am.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2036.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4836.jpg

The view from my corner
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4833.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4838.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4837.jpg

The Far Eastern staff on the computers when there were no other customers
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4839.jpg

A very tasty salmon dish and cakes
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4840.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2033.jpg

The best dates come from Arabia
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2035.jpg

Cold food
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2037.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2038.jpg

And hot. This was a tasty chicken dish. Hot food, despite the passenger flow in the lounge, was only available from 2100-0000.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2039.jpg

Around 9.30pm, two SV agents entered the lounge and headed over. It seems they’d been searching the terminal for me as I’d not claimed my free dinner (awh, that’s nice of them!). They checked my boarding pass and passport (to check I didn’t need a visa), and invited me to carry on enjoying the lounge.

So, where am I?
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4843.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4844.jpg
Over the course of the evening, I kept checking the seat map to see how full the flight would be. Sadly, it appeared that I would have 2 neighbours on this flight. I headed down to the customer services desk, where after a rather drawn out conversation, I was reassigned an empty row of three further back.

I thought I’d have a flick through some of the local mags. There was some rather skilful photoshopping going on. Can you spot all the additions? “No cleavage please, we’re Saudi.”
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4842.jpg

Imagine having a job colouring in Westerner’s cleavage. Ridiculous. I wonder how the locals feel given that their Government has taken the decision for them that they shouldn’t be looking at such dreadful things as the bodies of other human beings.

Somehow, I managed to get through all those hours in the lounge. From being completely empty at times, the lounge also got horribly busy (standing room only) just before the few international departures. Around 1 am I’d finally had enough, packed up my things, and headed for the gate.

HZ-AKC will be taking me home this evening
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2041.jpg

There’s no queuing system in operation this evening. It’s every man, woman and child for themselves.

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-05 13:51:22 and read 27795 times.

November 2012
Riyadh (RUH) – London Heathrow (LHR)
Saudia SV 101
Scheduled: 0210-0625 (7h15m)
Actual: 0223-0643 (7h20m)
Boeing 777-200 HZ-AKC
Economy Class



Unlike this afternoon’s flight, -AKC is destined for more important things than –AKV. Nearly half the plane is premium, with a giant F section (with comfy looking, if not decidedly C class seats).


Sadly, I’m down the back. C looked full from what I saw


My seat this evening
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4846.jpg

More reasonable legroom
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4847.jpg

Interestingly, the blankets on this leg are cleaned in the UK. It was a bit of a shame actually, as the blankets on the previous sector were much nicer than this one
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4848.jpg

Not much happening this evening
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4849.jpg

The cabin slowly fills up. Sadly, a young guy takes the aisle seat. Still, nice to have an empty middle seat on a fairly full flight.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4850.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4851.jpg

There’s another safety demo
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2047.jpg

And another prayer
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2049.jpg

And we’re off. Interestingly, there is a announcement about SV being in Skyteam. It’s played in English, Arabic and for some reason, Chinese.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2054.jpg

Homeward bound
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4852.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4853.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4855.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4856.jpg

There are some great views over Riyadh as we head north.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4857.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4860.jpg

Following the map
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4861.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4862.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4863.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4864.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4869.jpg

There are a few differences between this and the previous flight. A nice amenity kit is handed out
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4865.jpg

And we get a proper menu
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4866.jpg

Looks like generous catering for a 7 hour night flight…..and yes, there are FOUR choices for breakfast. FOUR! Saudia might not serve booze, but they certainly trump every other airline for the number of breakfast choices!
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4868.jpg

I had planned to sleep through the snack, and only “get up” for breakfast. However, I’m feeling far too awake to even pretend to sleep, to accept the midnight snack, and find a film.

Quite a decent portion for late night.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4870.jpg

I decide to go with the film on the cover. The range of IFE was much greater than on the previous flight.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4884.jpg

Entering Europe
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4871.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4873.jpg

A peaceful cabin
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4874.jpg

With the film over, I snooze until we’re over Austria, when the lights are turned on.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4876.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4877.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4878.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4879.jpg

After a quick check on the menu, I make as 11th hour switch from the crepes and opt for the omelette.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4875.jpg

The tray is fairly generous, and the croissant is good.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4880.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4881.jpg

Well, it’s not very aesthetic, but is quite ok.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4882.jpg

I watch a heavily edited version of Friends over breakfast
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4883.jpg

Nearly home!
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4885.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4887.jpg

A new day is dawning
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4889.jpg

With breakfast cleared, the crew half-heartedly prepare the cabin for landing. There is also a pre-recorded announcement about duty free sales. This is done in English, Arabic, and what I think was Bhasa Indonesian.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4890.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4902.jpg

IFE is switched off
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4892.jpg

The main screen map is in French for some reason.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4905.jpg

And sweets are handed out
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4894.jpg

We seem to be early, as we’re kept circling over London for at least 30 minutes.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4897.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4909.jpg

Canary Wharf
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4912.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4914.jpg

LCY
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4917.jpg

Some atmospheric fog
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4919.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4925.jpg

And I’m back in the UK! Wonderful. Local time: 0643 . Ground temperature: 1C. Brrr.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4933.jpg

Without much further ado, we all file off, passing the comfy looking business seats on the way out.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4935.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4936.jpg

A nice corridor leading to immigration
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4937.jpg

My bag took a while to come through. Obviously the baggage loaders were busy elsewhere
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4939.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4940.jpg

My bag did finally emerge.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4944.jpg

My sister was kind enough to offer me a lift home. She had underestimated the pre-dawn Sunday traffic, so was a little late. I was happy to wait in the gloriously cold morning sun (whilst I’m very cold now writing this, at the time it felt lovely!).
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4942.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/DSCF4941.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2061.jpg

DL from the drop off zone.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/2012AutAsia10/IMAG2063.jpg

After the trials and tribulations of the past week or so, I was nice to be back. And Saudia, it turned out, was a good way of getting home. Contrary to my expectations, the flights were very good. New aircraft interiors, AVOD, reasonable catering, a generous baggage allowance (2x23kg for economy), meals for transit passengers, and on time arrivals. The crew were not particularly friendly, but weren’t rude either. And of course, the fares are stunning! Would I fly SV again? Yes, and without any qualms at all. My airmiles posted in my AF account the day after getting home too, which is faster than BA/IB.

So, this brings me to the end of my reports. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them, and please do leave a comment! Since getting home it’s been fairly quiet on the travel front. I was hoping to write a report of my last DUB-LHR flight on EI covering their very nice DUB lounge, but managed to delete all the photos. In a week or so I’m off to Dubrovnik with BA in Club Europe, so hopefully the report for that one will be out before Christmas.

As always, all comments and questions welcome, and thanks for reading about my latest trip!

Some of my other TRs:

Autumn Asia Part 9: Air India 787. Calcutta - Delhi
Autumn Asia Part 8: United Airways DAC-ZYL, Jet Airways DAC-CCU
Autumn Asia Part 7: Going Beyond Expectations. MH KUL-DAC on the A330
Autumn Asia Part 6: Silk Air and Firefly around the Malay Peninsula. SIN-LGK-SZB
Autumn Asia Part 5: Fine Dining on Scoot. TPE-SIN on the 777
Autumn Asia Part 4: First with Cathay Pacific: HKG-TPE F on the B744
Autumn Asia Part 3: Around China with KN, MU & CN
Autumn Asia Part 2: JALing it to Beijing. JL HND-PEK 772 Business
Autumn Asia Part 1: Limoncello with Alitalia. BA/AZ LHR-MXP-FCO-NRT
Va BeNe with Cityjet. RTM-LCY Fokker 50
Truly Great Britain: FlyBE EDI-IOM on Saab 340 & BA IOM-LCY on Saab 2000
Cyprus with Aegean. Business on the A321, LHR-LCA-LHR
Scotland In A Day: FlyBE GLA-BHD-LGW. DH8 & E190
Tegel A.Net Meet. SN LHR-BRU-TXL, LH TXL-BHX
Bye Bye Baby: easyJet LTN-BFS, bmi Baby BHD-BHX
Air One and Alitalia to Sicily – LGW-MXP-PMO-LIN-LHR
Part 12: Sun Air of Scandinavia & BA, DUS-BLL-MAN-LHR on the J31, D328 and A320
Part 11: Thai Airways BKK-FRA, B77W First Class & LH FRA-DUS Business
Part 10: Thai Airways Kathmandu-Bangkok, B772 Business Class
Part 9: Yeti Airlines “Everest Express” on the J41
Part 8: Biman Bangladesh A310 Dhaka-Kathmandu
Part 7: United Airways ATR Dhaka-Cox’s Bazar & Regent Airways Dash Chittagong-Dhaka
Part 6: Biman Bangladesh DC10 Calcutta-Dhaka
Part 5: SpiceJet B739 & Jet Konnect B738 Calcutta-Bagdogra rtn, with Darjeeling
Part 4: Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Singapore-Calcutta
Part 3: Sriwijiaya Airlines & Lion Air Boeing 737-900ER Banda Aceh-Medan-Jakarta-Singapore
Part 2: Valuair/Jetstar Asia SIN-MES and Garuda MES-BTJ
Part 1: U2 LTN-BCN, SQ BCN-SIN 77W Business
Africa Part 7: British Airways Club Europe B767, LCA-LHR
Africa Part 6: LX ZRH-ATH, A3 ATH-LCA. A Greek Tragedy
Africa Part 5: Dar es Salaam – Nairobi – Zurich with Swiss First
Africa Part 4: Fly 540 DAR-ZNZ in Y, and Zanzibar photos
Africa Part 3: ET KGL-EBB-ADD-DAR-ZNZ, A to Z with Ethiopian Airlines in C
Africa Part 2: SN BRU-BJM, SA BJM-KGL, Business to Burundi and Rwanda
Africa Part 1: BD LHR-CMN, TP CMN-LIS, SN LIS-BRU in Y and C
A.net meeting in snowy Tallinn. U2/FR STN-TLL-LTN
easyJet and bmi up to Aberdeen, LTN-ABZ-LHR
The Costa del Sol with British Airways. LGW-AGP-LCY
Mysterious Moldova (and Transnistria). Lufthansa LHR-MUC-KIV
BA to the Austrian Alps. LHR-MUC, INN-LGW
I can't get no Jetisfaction: LH LGW-FRA inaugural
Colombia Part 4: Colombia to London via FRA/MUC/HEL on LH & BA
Colombia Part 3: Colombia with Avianca (AV). SMR-BOG-MDE-BOG
Colombia Part 2: Colombia with Avianca (AV). BOG-MDE-CTG
Colombia Part 1: London to Colombia via ARN/MUC/FRA on BA & LH
USA and Mexico Part 4, British Airways Mexico City – London, World Traveller Plus
USA and Mexico Part 3: Around Mexico with Aereo Calafia Cessna 208B & Viva Aerobus B733
USA and Mexico Part 2: Sightseeing tour of SAN, and AA San Diego - LA – Dallas - San Jose Cabo
USA and Mexico Part 1: easyJet Luton to Paris, and BA Paris to San Diego via LHR in World Traveller Plus
British Airways to Scandinavia (LHR-CPH,GOT-LHR)
Where’s my bag? British Airways, Milan to London
What airline am I flying again? Bmi/Lufthansa Italia LHR-MXP
Albania and Macedonia: Austrian LHR-VIE-TIA, Macedonian Airlines SKP-ZRH, Swiss ZRH-LCY
Part 1, Lufthansa London-Munich-Frankfurt-Nanjing, Economy Class A321 and A343
Part 2, Cathay Pacific Shanghai to Tokyo via Hong Kong, Business Class A330 and B747-400
Part 3, ANA Boeing B767 Tokyo to Shanghai, & Air China Airbus A340 Shanghai to Beijing, Business Class
Part 4: Chinese domestics, inc. Joy Air Xi’an MA60, Tianjin Airlines ERJ, and China Express Airways CRJ
Part 5: Lufthansa Beijing-Frankfurt-London City, Economy Class A388 and E90
5 Countries, 5 Flights, 5 Days, with Ryanair (FR)
bmiFriday: Welcome to Sunny Norway, London to Bergen, A319)
Royal Jordanian, London to Aqaba via Amman. A330 and A320
Royal Jordanian, Amman to London, A330
London City to Antwerp with Cityjet and the Fokker 50
Croatian Airlines, LHR-ZAG,PUY-ZAD-ZAG-LHR, A319 and Dash 8
British Airways, Iberia & Binter to Tenerife and Gran Canaria, LHR-MAD-TFN-LPA-MAD-LHR, A320,ATR, A321
British Airways, London To Amsterdam, LGW-AMS-LHR, B737 & A321
British Airways up to a snowy Glasgow, with a change of flights and delay, LHR-GLA-LCY A321 and E90
Turkish Airlines Business Class from London to Istanbul. From Terrible To Fantastic
Turkish Airlines Business Class from Istanbul to Batumi (Georgia). Not again!
bmi Business Class, Tbilisi to London via Azerbaijan
Tallinn to London, with Estonian Air and BA, via ARN
Cuba! BA/IB London-Madrid-Havana, Business Class
Aerocarribean, Baracoa to Havana
Asia Trip, Pt 1: Qatar Airways Business Class (LHR-DOH-ICN)
Asia Trip, Pt 2: China Southern and Hainan Airlines (A321/A346)
Asia Trip, Pt 3: Malaysia Airlines, Hong Kong to Penang
Asia Trip, Pt 4: Qatar Airways Economy (HKG-DOH-LHR)
A weekend in Transylvania with Blue Air (LTN-SBZ)
Helsinki for the weekend on BA and KF
Easter in Ukraine with Austrian
UAE and Oman with BA and Air Arabia. Y & Y+
HKG-LHR-HKG Air New Zealand, Premium Economy and Economy
US Airways LGW-DCA-MSP-LGA-LGW
London Heathrow - Zurich - Venice on Swiss Business for the weekend
Chasing the Eclipse on China Eastern
Taiwan: EVA Air (HKG-TPE rtn), UNI Airways (TSA-HCN), Daily Air (TTT-KYD rtn)
UA HKG-SIN-HKG Y Class, SQ KUL-SIN C Class
Bangkok to Beijing, Egyptair Business Class
Air China Beijing to Harbin, B777 Economy outbound, A330 First Class return
Tiger Airways, Singapore to Darwin return
A selection of Chinese Domestics; China Eastern, Air China and Shenzhen Airlines
Hong Kong to London on Singapore Airlines (744/380/77W)
Qatar Airways Beijing-Doha-London Heathrow (A330/A340)
Air China First Class. Beijing-Guilin via Xi’an
Armenia with Austrian Airlines. LHR-VIE-EVN
Round Asia Trip. URC-HTN,OSS-FRU,ALA-URC-LHW-KMG-JHG-KMG-SYX,HAK-NKG-PEK-NRT-LHR,
Hainan Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Lucky Air, ANA, Economy and Business Class.

SAS and Lufthansa Business Class, LHR-OSL-FRA-FRA, B73G and B744

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: DLBOIFIN
Posted 2012-12-05 14:23:20 and read 27192 times.

Great report, I have been really curious about SV's international product and it definitely looks nice. Thanks for posting!

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: eastafspot
Posted 2012-12-05 14:24:23 and read 27184 times.

Wow this TR arrives so quickly,

Gabriel now flying dry... very interesting LOL
i'm due to fly this airline in 2 weeks (one leg in 777 too) hence i was really impatient about that one

i'll read it carefully asap and comment it better very soon  

thx

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-05 14:30:16 and read 27148 times.

Quoting DLBOIFIN (Reply 3):
Great report, Thanks for posting!

Thanks!

Quoting DLBOIFIN (Reply 3):
I have been really curious about SV's international product and it definitely looks nice

Yes, the product is quite good, far better than I was expecting

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 4):
Wow this TR arrives so quickly,

Well, I flew nearly a month ago, so not that quick!

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 4):
i'm due to fly this airline in 2 weeks (one leg in 777 too) hence i was really impatient about that one

What route are you flying? Glad my report was helpful!

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: Carfield
Posted 2012-12-05 15:12:50 and read 26975 times.

Thanks for an interesting report on an interesting airline.

Maybe I should give Saudi a try in the near future, especially their great first/business class fares, and I can earn Delta miles. I doubt that I will actually visit the country, but flying through one of its hubs will be an interesting experience.

Thanks for sharing!

Carfield

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: NDiesel
Posted 2012-12-05 15:14:13 and read 26961 times.

Every time I read your reports you take me on a trip, Gabriel. Thanks for a great report - looking forward to your next travels.

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-05 15:20:44 and read 26944 times.

Quoting Carfield (Reply 6):
Thanks for an interesting report on an interesting airline.

Glad you liked it!

Quoting Carfield (Reply 6):
Maybe I should give Saudi a try in the near future, especially their great first/business class fares, and I can earn Delta miles

You shoulld give them a try!

Quoting Carfield (Reply 6):
I doubt that I will actually visit the country, but flying through one of its hubs will be an interesting experience.

Well, it sounds like visas are a real hassle, so exploring the airport might be your only option.

Quoting NDiesel (Reply 7):
Every time I read your reports you take me on a trip, Gabriel. Thanks for a great report - looking forward to your next travels.

Ha, glad you enjoyed the trip! Thanks

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: PanAm747LHR
Posted 2012-12-05 17:40:13 and read 26475 times.

Great report! Quick question - what website were you using to check the loads on SV?

Happy flying!

Nikko

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-06 02:07:04 and read 25627 times.

Quoting PanAm747LHR (Reply 9):
Great report! Quick question - what website were you using to check the loads on SV?

Hi Nikko

I use http://www.flightstats.com/go/FlightAvailability/flightAvailability.do

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: themit9
Posted 2012-12-06 02:52:42 and read 25492 times.

Hi Gabrielchew,

Like many on here I've been following your trip the whole way through, so thanks for your work over the last 10 reports, and for reporting on the path less taken with this report.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 2):
My stay in India had dropped from 35 to 10 to finally 4 nights.

It's a shame to hear that things didn't go so well, but it shows that purchasing flexible tickets were definitely worth it on such a long trip just in case things don't quite go to plan.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 2):
For those of you wondering what “P” is on the map, it’s the Muslim prayer area. Basically, it was an empty carpeted space, with curtains for walls, and a moving map displaying the direction of Mecca.

I remember they used to have these on MH on the 777 (and possibly the 747) along with a 'business centre' which was a tiny room with a satellite phone. Obviously important for the typical patrons on your flight- so important that they can't just put another money-earning seat there. Was it heavily used during the flight?

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 2):
First up on the AVOD is Modern Family, dubbed/reworded accordingly to “protect” passengers from the depravity of the West. Two of my favourites were the bleeping of the words “beer” and “turkey breast”. They also did some fun word substitutions. “Work through my shit” became “work through my emotional stuff”. More on this later.

I thought my flights were bad with 'holy shirt' and 'oh spit' but this is just ridiculous. They seem to dub these films making no secret that it's an edit (the intonation is just one of the giveaways). What on earth is wrong with turkey breast??? And it's a sin to even know that beer exists???

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 2):
Not a culinary dream, but far from bad either.

That actually looks quite decent- of course it's not presented J style but it looks quite 'hearty'.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 2):
Seeing that I was not one of their “usual” customers, they smiled as asked what I wanted. My diet coke was quickly delivered, but again only a glass, rather than the whole can.

I hate that stinginess on airlines. Increase fares by 3 GBP and let people keep the can.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 2):
Buzzers going off, people walking through without being frisked, and the guy behind the screen playing on his phone whilst eating a sandwich. Seriously, you could get a bazooka through here and no one would notice.

That would make me a bit nervous in the Middle East. I thought KLIA was bad with staff not caring about what was on the screen (unless it was their phone screen). At least the security process isn't invasive and from a human rights perspective- top marks.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 2):
Imagine having a job colouring in Westerner’s cleavage. Ridiculous. I wonder how the locals feel given that their Government has taken the decision for them that they shouldn’t be looking at such dreadful things as the bodies of other human beings.

I'm not wanting to offend but just couldn't imagine living somewhere like this where such censorship is accepted. It's so far removed from the west.

I could really sense that you were keen to return to the UK at trip's end- thanks again for the enjoyable series. Looking forward to your next adventure.

Regards,

themit9

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: The777Man
Posted 2012-12-06 03:14:51 and read 25438 times.

Hi Gabriel!

Thanks for another great report with great pictures !

Good to see you had some great flights on SV but I'm not surprised; I had a nice flight with them a little over ten years ago FCO-CDG. The aircraft have been refurbished since then but service was great back then as well.

Very touching that they were looking for you for your dinner voucher!

Funny with the edited pictures/movies but not surprising.

Looking forward to your next report!

The777Man

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-06 03:18:34 and read 25428 times.

Quoting themit9 (Reply 11):
Like many on here I've been following your trip the whole way through, so thanks for your work over the last 10 reports, and for reporting on the path less taken with this report.

Thanks themit9! Glad you liked the reports

Quoting themit9 (Reply 11):
It's a shame to hear that things didn't go so well, but it shows that purchasing flexible tickets were definitely worth it on such a long trip just in case things don't quite go to plan.

Yes, well I orginally paid more to get the increased airmiles, but it was a handy byproduct to get a higher fare class.

Quoting themit9 (Reply 11):
I remember they used to have these on MH on the 777 (and possibly the 747) along with a 'business centre' which was a tiny room with a satellite phone. Obviously important for the typical patrons on your flight- so important that they can't just put another money-earning seat there. Was it heavily used during the flight?

I never saw anyone in it. I guess some people use it for sleeping? (like they do in mosques)

Quoting themit9 (Reply 11):
That would make me a bit nervous in the Middle East. I thought KLIA was bad with staff not caring about what was on the screen (unless it was their phone screen). At least the security process isn't invasive and from a human rights perspective- top marks.

Yes, it oesn't really fill you with confidence. I hope that western airlines flying out of Saudi would have an extra security screening at the gate (like BA does in MCT).

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: directorguy
Posted 2012-12-06 04:35:01 and read 25250 times.

Great TR-interesting to read about SV. Surprised that given they've now joined an alliance, they don't have more transit pax doing India-UK. That said, it's clear that routes like DEL-RUH are overwhelmingly O&D.
Rgrds,
DG.

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-06 06:10:17 and read 25067 times.

Quoting directorguy (Reply 14):
Great TR

Thanks DG!

Quoting directorguy (Reply 14):
Surprised that given they've now joined an alliance, they don't have more transit pax doing India-UK. That said, it's clear that routes like DEL-RUH are overwhelmingly O&D.

Yes, I'm surprised they joined Skyteam. For an airline based in a country that doesn't really allow stopovers, it does seem like an odd choice. Given the vast amount of transit options via the Middle East, I guess it makes sense for SV to just go for the O&D pax. Still, their fares are low, so I don't think they're really in the airline business for the money, simply to transport their leigions of underpaid and overworked workers to the country (and of course pilgrims to Mecca).

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: themit9
Posted 2012-12-06 06:42:29 and read 24989 times.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 13):
Yes, it oesn't really fill you with confidence. I hope that western airlines flying out of Saudi would have an extra security screening at the gate (like BA does in MCT).

Interesting, that's done on an airline by airline basis? If you're running an airport and an airline wants another check at the gate it might be a good idea to upgrade your security. Imagine if an incident happened, then they went back and found someone walking in with a weapon while the staff played with their phones?

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-06 06:51:12 and read 24964 times.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 12):
Thanks for another great report with great pictures !

Glad you liked it!

Quoting The777Man (Reply 12):
Good to see you had some great flights on SV but I'm not surprised; I had a nice flight with them a little over ten years ago FCO-CDG. The aircraft have been refurbished since then but service was great back then as well.

Was that on a 777? NIce to see they're keep up their standards

Quoting The777Man (Reply 12):
Very touching that they were looking for you for your dinner voucher!

Yes, nice of them, unless they were just keeping an eye to me to make sure I wasn't trying to do something naughty!

Quoting themit9 (Reply 16):
Interesting, that's done on an airline by airline basis? If you're running an airport and an airline wants another check at the gate it might be a good idea to upgrade your security. Imagine if an incident happened, then they went back and found someone walking in with a weapon while the staff played with their phones?

Well, there's an extra security check before all US bound flights, isn't there, irrespective of the departure airport/country? Althought it's true, they could definately do with beefing up their general security.

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: PlaneHunter
Posted 2012-12-06 06:56:26 and read 24949 times.

Hi Gabriel,

great final part of your series! SV's product looks really good, much better than expected. I'm surprised that the 772s have been refurbished. The 77Ws must be even nicer. But as far as I know, there are no PTVs on the entire A333 fleet.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
I then stumbled across the Saudia (SV) website. Wow, the prices were great! The cheapest I found fitting my dates and destinations was for GBP 140 o/w (EUR 172/USD 225) for CCJ-JED-LHR. After a bit more hunting, I found a similarly priced flight from Bangalore, routing BLR-DMM-JED-LHR on the new A330 and B77W. And a domestic flight included. This was too good to turn up. I decided to go for a slightly higher fare class (improving flexibility as well, as giving 75% rather than 25% Flying Blue miles), which brought the fare to GBP 180.

Very good deal. I may consider flying SV next year.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
I had a final dinner in the restaurants on the roof of the hotel, and went to bed….only to be woken a few hours later with fairly serious food poisoning.

After a particularly awful night, I was first in line at the pharmacy the next morning.

That sounds really bad. I have heard numerous times about food poisonings on trips to India.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):

Reviews I’d found online made the terminal sound awful. Horrible staff, filthy toilets…. In fact, the facilities were very clean, better than some I’ve found in the UK.

Good to hear. I also checked reviews some time ago and was shocked about some reports.


PH

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: N178UA
Posted 2012-12-06 07:04:06 and read 24933 times.

Hi Gabriel

Again, a great report, except some pics are a bit fuzzy and blurry!  

I always think of Saudi is a high quality airline around the region.

Previously, have travelled twice with them once in First on a B747-300, 9 hours across from Jakarta to Ridyah and another one on A330 and B747-300 to Khartoum from Dubai via Medinah and Jeddah.. You can see my transit here:

Unveil The Secrecy Of Saudi Arabia! (by N178UA Apr 3 2011 in Trip Reports)

Saudi Arabian Airlines Dubai To Khartoum 2 Stops (by N178UA Dec 23 2011 in Trip Reports)

Another TR invlove transit at Jeddah North Terminal EK - AI

The Long Way From Dubai To Mumbai Via Jeddah EK/AI (by N178UA Apr 4 2011 in Trip Reports)


SV do have very decent F/J fare to Far East MNL/CGK/KUL etc. Some of these flight now to KUL are operated by 77W. MNL is always a 744.

Only a few years ago SV was still flying B747-100 from BLR/CCJ etc to Saudi ! Have various thought about flying but not sure these labour flight ain't appealing to me at that point. Now the B747-100 SV was all history.......

Sam

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: Flying Belgian
Posted 2012-12-06 07:29:10 and read 24874 times.

Hi,

Thanks for the very nice TR.

Are all of their 772 refurbished right now ? Is it identical to their 77W ?

If I remember well, their most recent A333s don't have PTVs in Y and only have a few premium seats.

A pity that you needed a visa to escape RUH airport. And AFAIK it's quite a heavy procedure to get one.

Cheers,

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-06 08:26:23 and read 24785 times.

Thanks for all the replies guys!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 18):

great final part of your series!

Thanks Udo

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 18):
SV's product looks really good, much better than expected. I'm surprised that the 772s have been refurbished. The 77Ws must be even nicer. But as far as I know, there are no PTVs on the entire A333 fleet.

Yes, it's a shame I didn't get to the try the 77W....next time!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 18):
That sounds really bad. I have heard numerous times about food poisonings on trips to India.

Yes, the infamous Delhi Belly

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 18):
Good to hear. I also checked reviews some time ago and was shocked about some reports.

it's good that it's seems to have been improving over the years

Quoting N178UA (Reply 19):
Again, a great report

No problem, glad you liked it Sam!

Quoting N178UA (Reply 19):
Previously, have travelled twice with them once in First on a B747-300, 9 hours across from Jakarta to Ridyah and another one on A330 and B747-300 to Khartoum from Dubai via Medinah and Jeddah.. You can see my transit here:

I had a look through your reports before I left.,..nice to whet my appetite!

Quoting Flying Belgian (Reply 20):
Thanks for the very nice TR.

Thanks!

Quoting Flying Belgian (Reply 20):
Are all of their 772 refurbished right now ? Is it identical to their 77W ?

No idea!

Quoting Flying Belgian (Reply 20):
If I remember well, their most recent A333s don't have PTVs in Y and only have a few premium seats.

Yeah, that's why I was surprised to see the PTVs

Quoting Flying Belgian (Reply 20):
A pity that you needed a visa to escape RUH airport. And AFAIK it's quite a heavy procedure to get one.

Yes, it's quite the hassle

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: lychemsa
Posted 2012-12-06 08:39:42 and read 24744 times.

Fascinating to see that Saudia now serve lettuce as a starter. One more airline that copies the US carriers.

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: babybus
Posted 2012-12-06 08:59:44 and read 24688 times.

That was an interesting read.

I don't know if it is still very obvious that SV run a two tier service. Anything westbound of Saudi gets good planes, good staff and good service and anything eastbound of Saudi gets a rather more toned down version.

I notice SV have changed their Y seats, maybe not for the better, and the J class seats are definitely an improvement on the old seats. Are they now getting real J class passengers?

I thought they could do with hiring a food stylist as that food looked very beige.

The trouble with a lot of airlines, especially Saudia, is that they just follow what other airlines are doing. They don't need to worry about the price of fuel and so no need for the slim economy seats. The pleather seats are merely cos other airlines like LH and BA have them, not because SV need them.

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-06 09:17:55 and read 24654 times.

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 22):
Fascinating to see that Saudia now serve lettuce as a starter. One more airline that copies the US carriers.

Well, it was a salad, rather than just lettuce. I didn't realise US airlines were the innovators in this field.

Quoting babybus (Reply 23):
That was an interesting read.

Thanks

Quoting babybus (Reply 23):
I don't know if it is still very obvious that SV run a two tier service. Anything westbound of Saudi gets good planes, good staff and good service and anything eastbound of Saudi gets a rather more toned down version.

Well, I was going to make the link between the better AVOD and bigger menu, and east/west routes,nbut I think TBH, it's more down to timing. DEL-RUH is only 4 hours. SV provided a lot more than most EU airlines would on a 4 hours flight (albeit, lacking the booze).

Quoting babybus (Reply 23):
The pleather seats are merely cos other airlines like LH and BA have them, not because SV need them.

I read a long time ago, when BA were changing the shorthual fleet to leather seats, that whilst they cost a lot more than cloth seats, as they were easier to clean, and lasted longer, it actually was a cost saving. And Ryanair also have "leather" seats....clearly there is a financial reason behind this!

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: eastafspot
Posted 2012-12-06 10:43:18 and read 24551 times.

Hi again

Very nice report on SV, too bad you had to cut your stay around India, the food offering did not disappoint you and that's the most important!

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
My stopover (originally just a few hours in JED, and 30 mins in DMM) would now be 10 hours in RUH! Not ideal, but this is the price you pay for flying odd airlines at bargain rates.

So true!

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
the AVOD is Modern Family, dubbed/reworded accordingly to “protect” passengers from the depravity of the West

That's a good idea IMHO

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
Buzzers going off, people walking through without being frisked, and the guy behind the screen playing on his phone whilst eating a sandwich. Seriously, you could get a bazooka through here and no one would notice.

LOL

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
and told that I’d get a meal voucher at 9pm

How did you get that? because of the length of the transit? does it also work for 8h lay over?

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 5):
Well, I flew nearly a month ago, so not that quick!

My bad sorry, because you changed your plans  .

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 5):
What route are you flying?

FCO-JED-JNB in A320 and B777 (200 or 200ER)

Thanks for this very useful report

Looking forward to read a new adventure

Leo

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-06 11:37:14 and read 24428 times.

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 25):

Very nice report on SV

Thanks Leonard

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 25):
too bad you had to cut your stay around India

Yeah...i'll go back again someday

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 25):
That's a good idea IMHO

Really?

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 25):
How did you get that? because of the length of the transit? does it also work for 8h lay over?

I assume all "long" transit pax get a meal voucher, although I had no idea about the time cut off. I'm an 8 hour transit counts!

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 25):
FCO-JED-JNB in A320 and B777 (200 or 200ER)

Cool, enjoy your flight!

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: The777Man
Posted 2012-12-06 13:18:11 and read 24266 times.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 17):
Was that on a 777?

Yes, they flew them on all their European routes at that time. They had fifth freedom rights FCO-CDG vv and FRA-GVA vv

Add LHR and IST that was their entire European network at that time. They did have seasonal flights to AGP and NCE also and charters to other places like VIE.

The colors of the seats then matched the color of the tail, very classy.

The SV livery is one of my favorites too.

The777Man

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: EAL1011
Posted 2012-12-06 17:20:52 and read 23997 times.

Greetings Gabriel,

Awesome trip report ! Really enjoyed it. I am, however, quite disappointed (actually distraught) to hear about your experience in India. I am going on a tour of the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra, Jaipur) in January and now I am wondering if this was a wise decision.

Cheers,
Stephen

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: lukeyboy95
Posted 2012-12-06 18:00:48 and read 23966 times.

Gabriel...

Just taking a little time to comment on this, as you know how dear SV and KSA are to me.

The whole episode with your bag has been quite perturbing for me... I now take extra care with my stuff...

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
I’ve long held an interest in going to Saudi Arabia, but obviously visas are a rather awkward hurdle. This routing would satisfy my intrigue into the country, at least for a few years. Booked.

Yes, it'll open up in 10 years or so I think...

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
ow be 10 hours in RUH!

rather that than 6 months my friend!

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
did manage to procure one by the end of the afternoon, although the process did nothing to endear me to India, Indian culture or Indian people whatsoever (in fact, quite the opposite).

I know the exxact feeling... you have to fight for everything there.... it is sad, it gives such a bad impression.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Sadly I didn’t (although maybe I should have applied for a transit one?), so the answer was no.

Don't waste your effort...


SV looked, well, as I expected. Fairly functional crew, excellent fares... would have liked to have seen the comp' meal in RUH.

Thanks Gabriel. On my way to Palau Weh!

Luke

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-07 04:40:20 and read 23538 times.

Thanks for the comments!

Quoting The777Man (Reply 27):
The SV livery is one of my favorites too.

Mine too...great colours

Quoting EAL1011 (Reply 28):

Awesome trip report !

Thanks Stephen

Quoting EAL1011 (Reply 28):
I am, however, quite disappointed (actually distraught) to hear about your experience in India. I am going on a tour of the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra, Jaipur) in January and now I am wondering if this was a wise decision.

I wouldn't worry overly. If you're on a tour, then you won't need to deal with India in the same way as an independent traveller. And hopefully you won't need to spend entire afternoons looking for clothing to go home in. Sit back, and enjoy the ride!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 29):
Just taking a little time to comment on this, as you know how dear SV and KSA are to me.

Ys, I thought you may be interested in the report. Looks like the 777s are nicer than the old 743s

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 29):
The whole episode with your bag has been quite perturbing for me... I now take extra care with my stuff...

I know, makes one all paranoid. I had to wrestle my bag out of the hands of an over zealous bus driver last weekend in Warsaw....he was insistent that my Ryanair approved carry on was too big for his coach and had to go underneath...I don't think so. It's coming with me!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 29):
rather that than 6 months my friend!

Ha, maybe you're right

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 29):
SV looked, well, as I expected. Fairly functional crew, excellent fares... would have liked to have seen the comp' meal in RUH.

I think the comp meal looked similar (hardly surprsing) to the lounge food. Hot food in the lounge came out at exactly the same time (9pm), even though there was no one else in the lounge at the time. I thought about going to check out the free food, but had already eaten too much in the lounge.

[Edited 2012-12-07 05:39:36]

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: roberts87
Posted 2012-12-07 12:57:21 and read 23079 times.

Hello Gabriel,

Nice report to end your series! A shame you didn't enjoy the last few days of your trip. SV seems very reasonable indeed, although 10 hours in RUH without that lounge would have been terrible I guess.

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-07 14:09:23 and read 23004 times.

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 31):

Nice report to end your series!

Thanks Robert...and nice to see so many reports in a row commented on!

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 31):
A shame you didn't enjoy the last few days of your trip

Yes, shame, but these things happen

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 31):
SV seems very reasonable indeed, although 10 hours in RUH without that lounge would have been terrible I guess.

Yup, SV were pretty good. Not having lounge access would have been awful!

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: SCQ83
Posted 2012-12-07 20:06:24 and read 22687 times.

Nice report, I am pleasantly surprised about Saudia's new product, and that they use it for South Asian destinations.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 13):
Yes, it oesn't really fill you with confidence. I hope that western airlines flying out of Saudi would have an extra security screening at the gate (like BA does in MCT).

I have flown a few times out of JED and RUH with different carriers, and as far as I am remember, it depends pretty much on the carrier itself.

I am sure that LH (in JED) and SQ did have additional security screening once you are airside, certainly AF, MH, MS or TK (in JED) didn't do it, but I can't recall LH in RUH (I think they didn't). Of course SV flights to IAD and JFK have additional security and even dedicated check-in desks (basically you have domestic, international non-US - which is a mess, since most long-haul SV flights depart at about the same time - and US-desks).

The issue with both JED and RUH (compared to most Middle Eastern airports) is that the gates are directly on the main waiting airside area, so it is not easy to set a buffer/waiting area after additional security (there is only one of them in JED).

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 17):
Was that on a 777? NIce to see they're keep up their standards

Saudia used to fly B777s to all their Euro ports until 2009. From 2010, they switched all their European destinations but LHR to their new A320s (which surprisingly do not have AVOD), and CDG is codeshared with AF. Definitely those two planes you flown must been refreshed after they "left" Europe. Saudia's B777s used to have quite aged cabins (yet they had AVOD but those little old first generation types) and a less dense layout. I wonder if there are still some of those "old interior" B777s around.

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-08 04:42:29 and read 22406 times.

Quoting SCQ83 (Reply 33):
Nice repor

Thanks!

Quoting SCQ83 (Reply 33):
I am pleasantly surprised about Saudia's new product, and that they use it for South Asian destinations.

Yeah, I'm surpsied too. But with new cabins AND only 2 rows of C, this must be intentional?

Quoting SCQ83 (Reply 33):
I have flown a few times out of JED and RUH with different carriers, and as far as I am remember, it depends pretty much on the carrier itself.

THat makes sense, although I'm surpsied that most airlines haven't called for an overhaul of the current (very substandard) screening.

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: roberts87
Posted 2012-12-08 07:09:15 and read 22307 times.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 32):
Thanks Robert...and nice to see so many reports in a row commented on!

Yeah, I had some catching up to do  

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: Ryanair!!!
Posted 2012-12-08 07:53:25 and read 22281 times.

Finally, an end to an epic journey. I'm glad to have contributed to a small bit of it in between! The crew on SV seems like GF from the little I can tell. They hail from all over the world with a myriad of service delivery style. I guess that makes good trip report material.

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: ba319-131
Posted 2012-12-08 22:49:03 and read 21930 times.

Hi Gabriel,

Nice read and pix as always, that was quite a trip!

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
I then stumbled across the Saudia (SV) website. Wow, the prices were great! The cheapest I found fitting my dates and destinations was for GBP 140 o/w (EUR 172/USD 225) for CCJ-JED-LHR. After a bit more hunting, I found a similarly priced flight from Bangalore, routing BLR-DMM-JED-LHR on the new A330 and B77W. And a domestic flight included. This was too good to turn up. I decided to go for a slightly higher fare class (improving flexibility as well, as giving 75% rather than 25% Flying Blue miles), which brought the fare to GBP 180. Not bad! For around GBP 500, I could have gone in Business

- Stunning fares, looking at the loads, it seems they are too cheap!

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
My stay in India had dropped from 35 to 10 to finally 4 nights.

- 35 to 4, that is some reduction!

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
I had a final dinner in the restaurants on the roof of the hotel, and went to bed….only to be woken a few hours later with fairly serious food poisoning.

- How awful, what did you eat?

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
I’ve honestly never been so keen to either leave a country, or get home.

You really did not like the place did you. What was the thing you disliked the most?

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Well, it’s not very aesthetic, but is quite ok

- So long as it tasted ok, I think that's the best we can hope for in economy these days, we, actually getting something in some cases!

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Saudia, it turned out, was a good way of getting home. Contrary to my expectations, the flights were very good. New aircraft interiors, AVOD, reasonable catering, a generous baggage allowance (2x23kg for economy), meals for transit passengers, and on time arrivals. The crew were not particularly friendly, but weren’t rude either. And of course, the fares are stunning! Would I fly SV again? Yes

- I've never heard good things about SV so your report puts a completely different perspective on things, which is good to see.

Cheers

Mark

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: OA260
Posted 2012-12-09 02:52:39 and read 21725 times.

Hey great report  

Interesting to see SV and their product. For the fares they offer in Y Ex UK it seems decent value for money.

Nice to see some pics of the airport in the forbidden kingdom  

Regards

Philip  

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-09 07:35:17 and read 21523 times.

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 36):
Finally, an end to an epic journey. I'm glad to have contributed to a small bit of it in between!

Nice to see another reply Ryan! That interlude with you and friends in KL was a pleasant break before the madness of Bangaldesh and India!

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 36):
The crew on SV seems like GF from the little I can tell. They hail from all over the world with a myriad of service delivery style. I guess that makes good trip report material.

Well, they weren't very varied (just Middle Eastern as far as I could see, maybe with some Philippino/Indonesian on certain routes) as others, but certainly it made for an interesting mix.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 37):
Nice read and pix as always, that was quite a trip!

Thanks Mark...uit was quite the trip!

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 37):
- How awful, what did you eat?

In the hotel I had a (tasty) masala dosa. For lunch I'd had a proper beef burger (yes, you can buy these in India) from a posh(ish) restaurant, which might also be to blame, as different bugs have different gestation periods.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 37):
You really did not like the place did you. What was the thing you disliked the most?

I think, although I don't like to say it, but the people. Every few meters, someone whould come up "Hello my friend....". I was in a fairly bad mood anyway, but having this so frequenty really pissed me off. "Just leave me alone"!! I'm sure out of Delhi, the people wouldn't have been quite so desperate. And the incessant and incredibly paranoid security.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 37):
- I've never heard good things about SV so your report puts a completely different perspective on things, which is good to see.

Yes, was a much more plesant ending than i'd imagined. Maybe Skyteam have given them a kick up the rear.

Quoting OA260 (Reply 38):
Hey great report

Thanks Phil

Quoting OA260 (Reply 38):
Interesting to see SV and their product. For the fares they offer in Y Ex UK it seems decent value for money.

Yes, they have some good fares, although the ex-India ones really take the biscuit

Quoting OA260 (Reply 38):
Nice to see some pics of the airport in the forbidden kingdom

I'll have to go back some day at take some proper country photos

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: MSS658
Posted 2012-12-09 09:42:50 and read 21406 times.

Hello Gab

Welcome back to Europe I'd say! Too bad you had to change your routing!
I must say that I'm pretty surprised about SV! nice cabin's, new interiors, good service and good meals. What more can you want?
That J cladd looks nice as well

Greetings
Marc

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-09 10:02:06 and read 21385 times.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 40):

Welcome back to Europe I'd say!

Thanks Marc!

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 40):
Too bad you had to change your routing!

Yes, shame to miss out on my domestic

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 40):
I must say that I'm pretty surprised about SV! nice cabin's, new interiors, good service and good meals. What more can you want?

What indeed? Maybe some alcohol? or maybe not

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 40):
That J cladd looks nice as well

Yes, it looks comfy...worth GBP500 one way from India to Europe?

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: sultanils
Posted 2012-12-09 12:31:46 and read 21263 times.

Hi Gabriel,

Good to see another SV report here. And by the looks of it, they don't look half bad either! I'm quite positively surprised about the rather nice cabin and the food.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
but I was trying to be frugal

lol!

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Still feeling very sick, and rather stressed/depressed, I thought I’d push hard to be offloaded onto (ideally) the direct 9W or VS DEL-LHR flight, or at least another Middle Eastern airline with a shorter connection.

So considering the fact that you wrote this report for sure means that it didn't work out?

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
From what I could see, I was the only person not to be frisked, I was just waved past….profiling in action?

Your sick and sheepy eyes made them feel sorry for you probably 

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
I just love the SV livery…camouflages well in the desert!

Except for that blue tail then.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Technically, I was supposed to pay around GBP 15 to enter, but the friendly guy on the desk just waved me in.

Tell that to Jonas, he will be delighted to hear that  

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
There’s no queuing system in operation this evening. It’s every man, woman and child for themselves.

Scramble!

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Interestingly, the blankets on this leg are cleaned in the UK.

Should that be of interest to anyone you think?

Sultanils

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-10 09:42:41 and read 20613 times.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 42):

Good to see another SV report here

No problem

Quoting sultanils (Reply 42):
And by the looks of it, they don't look half bad either! I'm quite positively surprised about the rather nice cabin and the food.

Yes, was a very pleasant surprise

Quoting sultanils (Reply 42):
So considering the fact that you wrote this report for sure means that it didn't work out?

Sadly, no

Quoting sultanils (Reply 42):
Except for that blue tail then.

Well, when the sky is clearer, it goes quite well I imagine

Quoting sultanils (Reply 42):
Should that be of interest to anyone you think?

Errr, maybe?

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: MHTripple7
Posted 2012-12-10 13:09:56 and read 20503 times.

Yes! I had been waiting for this one, and it was a great read. Thank you for putting this together. Sorry to hear about your experience in India and the food poisoning. Miraculously I have managed to avoid getting food poisoning on my trips.

If you can get past its quirks, Saudia seems like a very solid carrier. I too have an interest in Saudi Arabia, and would like to make the trip some day. They don't issue tourist visas, so I would have to try for a transit visa and would only be able to stay for 2 nights or so....

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
The terminal was, however, incredibly dull. From what I could see on my lap around, there was one very small duty free shop, two coffee shops, and one cafeteria style place. They all looked ok, but were hardly suitably enthralling for a long stopover.

This is too bad. If they turned RUH into a decent transit airport, SV could actually compete with EK, QR, EY, etc. Unfortunately, that in combination with the general laws of Saudi Arabia, will continue to make it difficult for SV to be anything but an airline which transports people in and out of The Kingdom.

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: SCQ83
Posted 2012-12-11 07:26:08 and read 20199 times.

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 44):
This is too bad. If they turned RUH into a decent transit airport, SV could actually compete with EK, QR, EY, etc. Unfortunately, that in combination with the general laws of Saudi Arabia, will continue to make it difficult for SV to be anything but an airline which transports people in and out of The Kingdom.

JED will get new terminals (http://www.jed-airport.com/en/) due to open in 2015 (officially), and transit traffic should be eased then. JED is Saudi Arabia's main airport, and Saudia is headquartered in JED and not in RUH.

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: palmjet
Posted 2012-12-11 08:32:06 and read 20146 times.

Hi Gab

Great last sector of your latest series. What a long and painful journey for you if you weren't feeling well.

Sorry you did not enjoy India either. It's certainly not a relaxing place on the whole - from what I saw but I had a great time in Delhi and our hosts there were fantastic.

I enjoyed reading about the Saudia experience though - the stopover felt like it would never end.

Seems like a pretty good offering from SV on the whole. Glad you finally managed to make it home - just in time to enjoy this crisp cold winter weather in the UK!

Looking forward to hearing about the next series of travels for 2013 - I expect you have lots planned if 2012 is anything to go by!

Cheers Palmjet

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-11 13:52:17 and read 19976 times.

Thanks for the comments!

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 44):
I had been waiting for this one, and it was a great read.

Thanks!

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 44):
Thank you for putting this together

No problem

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 44):
Miraculously I have managed to avoid getting food poisoning on my trips.

Well, it was the first serious time for me on all my trips

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 44):
They don't issue tourist visas, so I would have to try for a transit visa and would only be able to stay for 2 nights or so....

GOod luck with that. Leyt me know how it goes!

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 44):

This is too bad. If they turned RUH into a decent transit airport, SV could actually compete with EK, QR, EY, etc.

Well, they'd need to beef up their scedules too. 3 flights between 1800 and 0200 isn't great for connections!

Quoting SCQ83 (Reply 45):
JED will get new terminals (http://www.jed-airport.com/en/) due to open in 2015 (officially), and transit traffic should be eased then. JED is Saudi Arabia's main airport, and Saudia is headquartered in JED and not in RUH.

Interesting to know. Will have to transfer in JED next time

Quoting palmjet (Reply 46):

Great last sector of your latest series.

Thanks

Quoting palmjet (Reply 46):
What a long and painful journey for you if you weren't feeling well.

Yes, was painful at the time, but the pain has thankfully faded from memory

Quoting palmjet (Reply 46):
Sorry you did not enjoy India either. It's certainly not a relaxing place on the whole - from what I saw but I had a great time in Delhi and our hosts there were fantastic.

I imagine i'd enjoy rural India a bit more than Delhi

Quoting palmjet (Reply 46):
I enjoyed reading about the Saudia experience though - the stopover felt like it would never end.

Yeah, at the time if felt like an eternity!

Quoting palmjet (Reply 46):
Looking forward to hearing about the next series of travels for 2013 - I expect you have lots planned if 2012 is anything to go by!

Well, I just booked myself on the inagural LCY-DRS, then back from NUE for Easter...quite looking forward to that one!

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: adamspotter
Posted 2012-12-11 13:54:46 and read 19971 times.

Hi Gabriel!

What a fantastic end to a fantastic series of reports, thanks for taking the time to write all of them up. As always I surely enjoyed them! Sorry to hear you had such a rough end to this great trip, it must have been long and painful getting back to the UK.

Saudia actually looks quite good here, much better than I expected!

Looking forward to more reports from you!

cheers,

Brendan

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: jwhite9185
Posted 2012-12-12 04:39:25 and read 19713 times.

Good conclusion to your latest series there Gabriel. That wait you had in RUH was a bit much though - makes my 5 hour wait in MUC the other week seem like nothing!

Saudia looks better than expected - interesting to see a prayer area on board too, but I guess it makes sense when you think about it.

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-12 10:50:03 and read 19554 times.

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 48):

What a fantastic end to a fantastic series of reports

Thanks

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 48):
thanks for taking the time to write all of them up

No problem, glad you enjoyed them

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 48):
Saudia actually looks quite good here, much better than I expected!

Yes, they were quite impressive

Quoting jwhite9185 (Reply 49):
Good conclusion to your latest series there Gabriel.

Thanks

Quoting jwhite9185 (Reply 49):
That wait you had in RUH was a bit much though - makes my 5 hour wait in MUC the other week seem like nothing!

Ha, yes, 10 hours was quite a lot...will try not to end up doing that again, especially if I can't leave the airport

Quoting jwhite9185 (Reply 49):
Saudia looks better than expected - interesting to see a prayer area on board too, but I guess it makes sense when you think about it.

Well, I'm not sure that many pax at Muslim and using it, especially on the India/London routes....still, I'm sure they're here to stay (unlike the ones fitted on MH).

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: HiJazzey
Posted 2012-12-18 03:05:43 and read 18648 times.

Hi Gabriel,

Sorry to hear about your bad experience in India, but glad that at least your flight home was smooth.

Quoting SCQ83 (Reply 45):


JED will get new terminals (http://www.jed-airport.com/en/) due to open in 2015 (officially), and transit traffic should be eased then. JED is Saudi Arabia's main airport, and Saudia is headquartered in JED and not in RUH.

Yes, lot's of construction going on around JED and not ony for the new terminal.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 34):
THat makes sense, although I'm surpsied that most airlines haven't called for an overhaul of the current (very substandard) screening.

Please don't encourage them. They can be more than zealous. I remember the days when every bag was hand searched on entry into the country. It wasn't pleasant.

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-21 11:47:05 and read 17642 times.

Quoting HiJazzey (Reply 51):
Sorry to hear about your bad experience in India, but glad that at least your flight home was smooth.

Thanks

Quoting HiJazzey (Reply 51):
Yes, lot's of construction going on around JED and not ony for the new terminal.

Are they going to make it with a reasonable range of modern facilites, or will it be as bare as RUH?

Quoting HiJazzey (Reply 51):
Please don't encourage them. They can be more than zealous. I remember the days when every bag was hand searched on entry into the country. It wasn't pleasant.

Well, i'm not so keen on searches on entry of the country.....more thorough search at security probably wouldn't go amiss though.

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: HiJazzey
Posted 2012-12-23 00:22:11 and read 17298 times.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 52):
Are they going to make it with a reasonable range of modern facilites, or will it be as bare as RUH?

There'll be plenty of facilities. The hub of the international part of the airside is essentially a shopping mall and food court. It will also have a hotel and spa.

RUH is also getting some upgrades BTW

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 52):
Well, i'm not so keen on searches on entry of the country.....more thorough search at security probably wouldn't go amiss though.

I haven't seen it as a problem to be honest, but then I'm sceptical of a lot of this security theatre.

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: reifel
Posted 2012-12-29 15:21:03 and read 16411 times.

Thanks for sharing. Nice to read about SV which is not well covered. I am planning to travel with SV in January (KWI-JED-RUH-MXP), but RUH-MXP was rescheduled one day later, making me stay loinger than 18 hours in Saudi Arabia, so I would need a visa (which I will never receive). Emails and calls to SV didn't help, I believe I should do like you and visit the city office here to get this solved...

Very nice to see what I can expect, alhtough I will be travelling on A320...

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-30 09:35:46 and read 16160 times.

Quoting HiJazzey (Reply 53):

There'll be plenty of facilities. The hub of the international part of the airside is essentially a shopping mall and food court. It will also have a hotel and spa.
RUH is also getting some upgrades BTW

Good to hear. I'll have to pay another visit!

Quoting reifel (Reply 54):
Thanks for sharing

No problem!

Quoting reifel (Reply 54):
. I am planning to travel with SV in January (KWI-JED-RUH-MXP), but RUH-MXP was rescheduled one day later, making me stay loinger than 18 hours in Saudi Arabia, so I would need a visa (which I will never receive). Emails and calls to SV didn't help, I believe I should do like you and visit the city office here to get this solved...

Hmmm, that's troubling. Mayeb they will put you on a CDG or LHR service, then get you a connection?

Quoting reifel (Reply 54):
Very nice to see what I can expect, alhtough I will be travelling on A320...

I'm interested to see what they're like inside

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: SIN7
Posted 2012-12-31 17:21:29 and read 15743 times.

Thanks for taking us along on your amazing trip to Asia.
I was hooked from Part 1 to 10!
Loved the pics of the awesome places, airports, planes, cabins and inflight-service reports.
Have a wonderful 2013!

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: knightsofmalta
Posted 2012-12-31 18:54:44 and read 15711 times.

Hi Gabriel

Another interesting report. I greatly enjoyed reading every part of your odyssey. I particularly enjoyed your very frank and candid style of writing. You merely explain and describe things for what they are or how they appear to you, without prejudice or judgment.

As for your Saudia experience, I must say this report has been quite an eye opener. For a very a long time I thought Saudia was just strange, with its confused and seemingly random fleet of aircraft and the many wet leases. But looking through your report their operation actually seems quite 'normal'.

Thanks for posting.

Cheers,
William

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2013-01-02 08:12:27 and read 15326 times.

Quoting SIN7 (Reply 56):
Thanks for taking us along on your amazing trip to Asia.

No problem!

Quoting SIN7 (Reply 56):
I was hooked from Part 1 to 10!

Glad you enjoyed them!

Quoting knightsofmalta (Reply 57):

Another interesting report.

Thanks

Quoting knightsofmalta (Reply 57):
I greatly enjoyed reading every part of your odyssey. I particularly enjoyed your very frank and candid style of writing. You merely explain and describe things for what they are or how they appear to you, without prejudice or judgment.

Yes, I say it how it is (with sprinkles of umours as it appropriate!)

Quoting knightsofmalta (Reply 57):
As for your Saudia experience, I must say this report has been quite an eye opener. For a very a long time I thought Saudia was just strange, with its confused and seemingly random fleet of aircraft and the many wet leases. But looking through your report their operation actually seems quite 'normal'.

Well, reasonably normal! In terms of East/West connectivity, they're not quite as with it as their Middle Eastern neigbours.

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: IrishAyes
Posted 2013-01-02 22:28:11 and read 15129 times.

I read this TR a few months back and for some reason my comment was deleted.

Really, really enjoyable to read. I am so sorry to hear that your situation ended on such a poor note with the theft, but I truly laud you for sticking through the end of the journey and documenting it for our enjoyment. Huge kudos, mate.

The actual product on SV looks mildly decent. The experience of transiting through Saudi, on the other hand, sounds miserable. The RUH transfer is beyond unappealing by the sights and sounds of it.

I loled at some things here. The turning away of alcohol was one of them, the Modern family watching being the other.

Once again, phenomenal writing and always a pleasure to read your TRs. thanks for setting the bar high  

Best,

IrishAyes.

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2013-01-04 04:18:20 and read 14880 times.

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 59):
I read this TR a few months back and for some reason my comment was deleted.

Strange...don't know what happened there

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 59):

Really, really enjoyable to read.
Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 59):
Once again, phenomenal writing and always a pleasure to read your TRs. thanks for setting the bar high

Thanks you! Very kind words

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 59):
I am so sorry to hear that your situation ended on such a poor note with the theft, but I truly laud you for sticking through the end of the journey and documenting it for our enjoyment. Huge kudos, mate.

Well, I did cut off 4 weeks or so in India! But it's true, I didn't completely abandon the trip.

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 59):
The actual product on SV looks mildly decent. The experience of transiting through Saudi, on the other hand, sounds miserable. The RUH transfer is beyond unappealing by the sights and sounds of it.

Yes, SV is very acceptable in the air. Transit was just plain boring. With a shorter connection, there'd be no proboems at all, especially with lounge access. The new JED and RUH airports should help with transfers in future.

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: planiac787
Posted 2013-01-12 09:19:30 and read 14183 times.

Great trip report Mate!

The saudi service looks very good , but they need to really need do to something about there airport....If they have to become a major aviation hub there airport needs to be like the dubai airport and doha airport..

Thanks for sharing..

Cheers

Pradat

Topic: RE: Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2013-01-18 12:01:41 and read 13544 times.

Quoting planiac787 (Reply 61):
Great trip report Mate!

Thanks!

Quoting planiac787 (Reply 61):

The saudi service looks very good

Yes, all went fairly well on SV

Quoting planiac787 (Reply 61):
they need to really need do to something about there airport....If they have to become a major aviation hub there airport needs to be like the dubai airport and doha airport..

Indeed, they need to put some work into RUH airport....hopefully this will improve with time


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