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Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777  
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3268 posts, RR: 12
Posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 27984 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


http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:MAN-LHR-ARN-OSL-TOS-LYR-OSL-CPH-LHR,LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-TPE-
62 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3268 posts, RR: 12
Reply 1, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 28445 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/DSCF4808.jpg

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.



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:MAN-LHR-ARN-OSL-TOS-LYR-OSL-CPH-LHR,LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-TPE-
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3268 posts, RR: 12
Reply 2, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 28465 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



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:MAN-LHR-ARN-OSL-TOS-LYR-OSL-CPH-LHR,LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-TPE-
User currently offlineDLBOIFIN From Finland, joined Jun 2006, 165 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 27861 times:

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

User currently offlineeastafspot From France, joined Jan 2008, 778 posts, RR: 12
Reply 4, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 27853 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



Fly with Air Burundi, Air Tanzania, Air Uganda, Kenya Airways and Rwandair...Jumuiya ya Afrika mashariki
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3268 posts, RR: 12
Reply 5, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 27817 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!



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:MAN-LHR-ARN-OSL-TOS-LYR-OSL-CPH-LHR,LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-TPE-
User currently offlineCarfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1920 posts, RR: 9
Reply 6, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 27644 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


User currently offlineNDiesel From United States of America, joined Mar 2011, 81 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 27630 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.


Delta MD-11 JFK-CDG - Upon sunrise I fell in love with Aviation
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3268 posts, RR: 12
Reply 8, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 27613 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



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:MAN-LHR-ARN-OSL-TOS-LYR-OSL-CPH-LHR,LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-TPE-
User currently offlinePanAm747LHR From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 233 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 27144 times:

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

Happy flying!

Nikko


User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3268 posts, RR: 12
Reply 10, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 26296 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



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:MAN-LHR-ARN-OSL-TOS-LYR-OSL-CPH-LHR,LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-TPE-
User currently offlinethemit9 From Australia, joined Apr 2012, 99 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 26161 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


User currently offlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6568 posts, RR: 55
Reply 12, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 26107 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



Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....CI, MU, LX and LH 777s
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3268 posts, RR: 12
Reply 13, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 26097 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).



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:MAN-LHR-ARN-OSL-TOS-LYR-OSL-CPH-LHR,LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-TPE-
User currently offlinedirectorguy From Egypt, joined Jul 2008, 1681 posts, RR: 11
Reply 14, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 25919 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.


User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3268 posts, RR: 12
Reply 15, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 25736 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).



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:MAN-LHR-ARN-OSL-TOS-LYR-OSL-CPH-LHR,LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-TPE-
User currently offlinethemit9 From Australia, joined Apr 2012, 99 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 25658 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?


User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3268 posts, RR: 12
Reply 17, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 25633 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.



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:MAN-LHR-ARN-OSL-TOS-LYR-OSL-CPH-LHR,LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-TPE-
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6807 posts, RR: 77
Reply 18, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 25618 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



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineN178UA From United Arab Emirates, joined Jan 2001, 1680 posts, RR: 65
Reply 19, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 25602 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

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


User currently onlineFlying Belgian From Belgium, joined Jun 2001, 2391 posts, RR: 9
Reply 20, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 25543 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

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,



Life is great at 41.000 feet...
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3268 posts, RR: 12
Reply 21, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 25454 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



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:MAN-LHR-ARN-OSL-TOS-LYR-OSL-CPH-LHR,LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-TPE-
User currently offlinelychemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 1201 posts, RR: 3
Reply 22, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 25413 times:

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

User currently offlinebabybus From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 25357 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.


User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3268 posts, RR: 12
Reply 24, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 25323 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!



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:MAN-LHR-ARN-OSL-TOS-LYR-OSL-CPH-LHR,LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-TPE-
25 Post contains images eastafspot : 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
26 gabrielchew : Thanks Leonard Yeah...i'll go back again someday Really? I assume all "long" transit pax get a meal voucher, although I had no idea about the time cu
27 The777Man : 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
28 EAL1011 : Greetings Gabriel, Awesome trip report ! Really enjoyed it. I am, however, quite disappointed (actually distraught) to hear about your experience in I
29 lukeyboy95 : 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 per
30 gabrielchew : Thanks for the comments! Mine too...great colours Thanks Stephen I wouldn't worry overly. If you're on a tour, then you won't need to deal with India
31 roberts87 : 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 h
32 gabrielchew : Thanks Robert...and nice to see so many reports in a row commented on! Yes, shame, but these things happen Yup, SV were pretty good. Not having loung
33 SCQ83 : Nice report, I am pleasantly surprised about Saudia's new product, and that they use it for South Asian destinations. I have flown a few times out of
34 gabrielchew : Thanks! Yeah, I'm surpsied too. But with new cabins AND only 2 rows of C, this must be intentional? THat makes sense, although I'm surpsied that most
35 Post contains images roberts87 : Yeah, I had some catching up to do
36 Ryanair!!! : 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 t
37 ba319-131 : Hi Gabriel, Nice read and pix as always, that was quite a trip! - Stunning fares, looking at the loads, it seems they are too cheap! - 35 to 4, that i
38 Post contains images OA260 : 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 o
39 gabrielchew : 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! Well, they
40 MSS658 : 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 int
41 gabrielchew : Thanks Marc! Yes, shame to miss out on my domestic What indeed? Maybe some alcohol? or maybe not Yes, it looks comfy...worth GBP500 one way from Indi
42 Post contains images sultanils : 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 rath
43 gabrielchew : No problem Yes, was a very pleasant surprise Sadly, no Well, when the sky is clearer, it goes quite well I imagine Errr, maybe?
44 MHTripple7 : 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 t
45 SCQ83 : 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
46 palmjet : 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 eit
47 gabrielchew : Thanks for the comments! Thanks! No problem Well, it was the first serious time for me on all my trips GOod luck with that. Leyt me know how it goes!
48 adamspotter : 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
49 jwhite9185 : 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
50 gabrielchew : Thanks No problem, glad you enjoyed them Yes, they were quite impressive Thanks Ha, yes, 10 hours was quite a lot...will try not to end up doing that
51 HiJazzey : Hi Gabriel, Sorry to hear about your bad experience in India, but glad that at least your flight home was smooth. Yes, lot's of construction going on
52 gabrielchew : Thanks Are they going to make it with a reasonable range of modern facilites, or will it be as bare as RUH? Well, i'm not so keen on searches on entr
53 HiJazzey : 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
54 reifel : 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 res
55 gabrielchew : Good to hear. I'll have to pay another visit! No problem! Hmmm, that's troubling. Mayeb they will put you on a CDG or LHR service, then get you a con
56 SIN7 : 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, cabin
57 knightsofmalta : Hi Gabriel Another interesting report. I greatly enjoyed reading every part of your odyssey. I particularly enjoyed your very frank and candid style o
58 gabrielchew : No problem! Glad you enjoyed them! Thanks Yes, I say it how it is (with sprinkles of umours as it appropriate!) Well, reasonably normal! In terms of
59 Post contains images IrishAyes : 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 situati
60 gabrielchew : Strange...don't know what happened there Thanks you! Very kind words Well, I did cut off 4 weeks or so in India! But it's true, I didn't completely a
61 planiac787 : 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
62 gabrielchew : Thanks! Yes, all went fairly well on SV Indeed, they need to put some work into RUH airport....hopefully this will improve with time
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