airxliban
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Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Wed May 06, 2009 12:12 am

Hello and thank you for reading this trip report outlining my journey from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to Los Angeles, California, USA. The purpose of this trip was to take some time off work to go and celebrate my 25th birthday with friends and family in Los Angeles, California. I’ve broken it up into three parts. Part 1 is about getting out of Saudi Arabia, Part 2 is the journey from Dubai to New York on Emirates in First Class on the A380 and Part 3 is my American Airlines trip from New York to Los Angeles in Eco.

Part 1 of the three part journey outlines my trip from Riyadh to Dubai on Saudi Arabian Airlines. I live in Dubai and work for a consulting firm, which requires me to spend 4-5 days per week at the client site in Riyadh. The journey from Riyadh to Dubai is one that I have done no fewer than 80 times before (twice a week for over a year), but since I do it so often and it’s always the same, I don’t usually write a trip report. But I figured why not capture all the details since I am writing about the other two legs of the journey anyway?


Saudi Arabian Airlines flight 552. This is the flight that just about every consultant living in Dubai and working in Riyadh takes every Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday is the end of the Saudi work week (the weekend is Thursday/Friday). I am no exception – just like 200 of my consultant, banker, lawyer, or industry colleagues, I trek across to Saudi Arabia 4-5 days a week and take SV 552 back to Dubai on Wednesday afternoon. But today is different. Today, I am leaving on Tuesday instead of Wednesday. I have holidays coming up, and I am scheduled to fly to America on the Emirates A380 in First Class on Wednesday morning. So, I have to leave Riyadh one day early.

And it’s a good thing for my blood pressure that I am flying out on Tuesday this week, because the travel experience on a Wednesday is pretty grim, what with the planes always full, the airline’s service far from expedient, and both Riyadh and Dubai airports crowded. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like this Tuesday is much different from that point of view than the Wednesday experience I am used to.

It is 2:30pm and I am sitting in my office in the client’s building in Riyadh. I am trying to wrap up a set of slides quickly so that I can send them off to the client and be on my way. The tea boy, Jahangir, comes in and asks if I want something to drink. His job is to walk the halls and serve tea and coffee to the employees on our floor. What comes with the job is getting yelled at and mistreated by several of my colleagues. I tell him “turkish coffee dhao, sini nahi” which I believe means bring a Turkish coffee without sugar in Bengali. Jahangir is from Dhaka in Bangladesh, and we have known each other for more than a year now.

I finish off the slides, print them out and walk them over to Abu Abdullatif, whose first name is Khaled but no one calls him that. We all refer to him as “Father of Abdullatif” which is a common tradition in the Arab world. Abu Abdullatif likes the slides, and I bid him farewell and tell him that I look forward to seeing him on the 17th of May, and that he should not hesitate to phone me at any time if he needs anything. In turn, he wishes me a pleasant trip.

It’s now 3pm and change from my suit into a pair of jeans. My flight is at 5:35pm, but I want to leave now so that I get to the airport early. It’s only half an hour’s journey, but I’m damned if I’m missing the flight today.

In reality, I could arrive at the airport much later and still make the flight. But, weeks of experience doing this suggest that the sooner I arrive, the better it is. If there is one thing you can be sure of at Riyadh airport, it is pandemonium. Better get it over with as soon as possible.

I am downstairs in the parking at 3pm and I am met by my driver, Atef, a young Pakistani gentleman from Faisalabad. I hop in the Chevrolet Caprice (which is actually a Holden built in Australia and rebadged as a Chevy and sold in the Gulf States) and off we go to the airport.

Airport highway in Riyadh:

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/206.jpg

The police checkpoint on the highway is not crowded, and we make it to the airport in about 20 minutes.

Street signs:

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/205.jpg

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/209.jpg

A bit of landscape around the airport:

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/207.jpg

Riyadh Airport is divided into three or four terminals – Saudi Domestic, Saudi Airlines International, and Foreign Airlines International. There is also VIP/Private Aviation terminal, but I haven’t been there before.

Here are the terminal buildings on the right (departures level):

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/213.jpg

I walk into the terminal and as is the case with just about every other airport in the Middle East, I have to put my bags through a scanning machine and walk through a metal detector before going in the check in area. I notice today that the metal detector doesn’t work. In fact, it never worked, but for whatever reason I’ve become so accustomed to walking through it that I haven’t noticed.

As usual – the check in area is a mess. There are two counters for First Class, two counters for Horizon (Business) Class and two counters for Economy. There are more bags in the area than people, and the arrangement of passengers in front of the desks is more like what you expect of people waiting on a train platform than of people queuing in a single file line.

I join the “queue” and wait my turn. Several people who have just arrived walk up to the front of the queue and say they are going to Kuwait (a flight which is about to close) and the check in staff interrupt what they are doing to give them their boarding passes.

The queue I am in is moving dreadfully slowly, and I am stuck in front of a gentleman who insists on talking on his mobile phone in a very loud tone of voice. “I AM IN THE AIRPORT NOW I AM GOING TO KUWAIT. CLIENT MEETING WENT WELL. THE IMPORTANT THING NOW IS PRICING. WERE TALKING ABOUT 4, THEY ARE CLOSER TO 3.” I tune out and continue waiting in line. Unfortunately, the guy in front of me smells so bad that I twist my neck to the left so as to avoid hitting his pong straight on with my nose. Of course, I am used to this.

About 15 minutes later, the line has moved a bit, but in the meantime a few people have decided to cut in the front of the queue. One brave non-national decided to challenge one such passenger about cutting in the queue, and was ignored.

Finally, I get to the front of the queue. Masa el kheir, I tell the check in agent. Good afternoon. He doesn’t bother replying. I give him my passport and say I am going to Dubai, inchallah. He takes my passport and types my surname into the computer, achieving a typing rate of 1 key stroke every 30 seconds. Luckily my last name is only 7 letters long. Five minutes later, he mumbles “maak 3afsh?” Do I have any luggage? Nope. But please give me a window seat on the right hand side of the airplane, please.

The computer spits out my boarding pass. Seat 54C. Thanks mate. I ask you for window on the left side and you give me an aisle on the right hand. So much for asking for an aisle, but I can’t be bothered to go back and ask him to change it (I later got it changed inside the terminal).

Saudi Airlines has an interesting philosophy to numbering its seats. All aircraft have the exact same seat numbers. Anything C, D, H, or J are aisle seats. Anything A or L is a window. On the 747-400, for example, the four seats in the middle are lettered DEFH, so that the 5-abreast seating on the 777 can accommodate DEFGH and the airline can maintain H as an airline seat. So he’s given me a middle seat. Oh well. I’ll not be coming back here for at least 3 weeks.

Next step is immigration. On Wednesday afternoons, this place is usually crowded, with flights to Beirut, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Dubai all going out at approximately the same time. What do you know, it’s crowded today as well. The passport control supervisor barks at me to go and stand in a certain line, which I do, and about 10 minutes later I get to the immigration officer’s desk. Thankfully, they have abandoned the use of exit cards at Riyadh Airport (though they still use them in Dammam). I give him my passport, and tell him I am going to Dubai. He looks at my visa, upon which it is written my name, surname, nationality, religion, job, and sponsor in Saudi Arabia. Again, he types in my last name. He’s a bit faster than the check in agent and manages to input my surname in only 90 seconds. A quick stamp of the passport later, and I am done.

Moving onto security – this is always a pain in the proverbial. Here there are two lines – one for men and one for women. I know better than to expect that I can go through the metal detector with my shoes, belt and watch on, so I take them all off while still in the queue. Unfortunately, the people ahead of me are not so wise. One guy in a suit walks through the metal detector and it goes off. “Hizam, jazma” barks the security officer. Take off your belt and shoes. In the meantime, the guy behind him tries walk through and is greeted with the same response. All of a sudden everyone is taking their belt and shoes off and trying to put them all on the conveyor at the same time. Of course, on the other end of the x-ray machine, the operator is having a tea and will only be bothered to move the conveyor when he feels like it.

Ironically, this charade at security exists because of the work of 19 men, 14 of whom were from Saudi Arabia and 2 of whom were from the UAE. The two countries in my itinerary today.

When my turn finally comes, I walk through perfectly. No beeping! I collect my bag and put my watch, belt and shoes back on. I wonder how many pairs of my socks have had the experience of walking on the filthy floor of Riyadh Airport’s security area before?

Here is a shot of the inside of Riyadh Airport:



As usual, the gate for SV 552 this evening will be number 26. For once, the aircraft is not there yet. Rather, there is a different 777-200ER heading for Beirut.

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/214.jpg

The flight to Beirut eventually takes off, and at about 5pm our 777 arrives. It is HZ-AKA, an aircraft I have been on 5 times before. I also had the pleasure of flying it from Riyadh to Dubai about 1 month ago, where we had the pleasure of a diversion to Dammam while Dubai Airport was closed, and it took us about 7 hours to get home.

Saudi Arabian Airlines
Flight Number: SV 552
Origin: Riyadh King Khaled International Airport (RUH), Terminal 2
Destination: Dubai International Airport (DXB), Terminal 1
Departure time: 5:35pm (scheduled), 5:50pm (actual)
Arrival time: 8:15pm (scheduled), 8:10pm (actual)
Flight time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 777-268ER
Registration: HZ-AKA (delivered to SV in December 1997)
Cabin: Economy
Seat: 54L


While waiting for the flight to board, I decided to take a couple of photos. Here is an SV 747-300:

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/220.jpg

Air India 747-400 operating the early evening service to Delhi and Bombay:

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/224.jpg

Sudan Air A300 presumably arriving from Khartoum. My first time seeing this airline in Riyadh:

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/222.jpg

Sama Airlines (local Saudi carrier) 737-300 in front of a Garuda 747-400:

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/228.jpg

And finally HZ-AKA pulls up to our gate:

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/225.jpg

I board the plane and take my seat (54L – I had had it changed inside the terminal). Here is row 54:

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/231.jpg

Miraculously the plane isn’t too full and we are able to move quite quickly. As usual, Saudi Arabian Airlines plays the du’a el safar (traveller’s supplication) as we taxi out. This is the supplication that the Prophet Mohammed used to say upon commencing his journey, and I have heard it literally 80 times now.

Our taxi out to the runway is quite and we are airborne by 6pm. The view out the window:

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/237.jpg

Soon enough, the inflight entertainment starts and the dinner service begins. They always serve the exact same food on the flight, but at least you do get a hot meal on a 1.5 hour flight which is more than can be said for flights in the US.

The direction to Mecca (I never figured out what the Qiblah is though obviously I know it is the direction that Muslims pray. Can anyone help me out?)

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/236.jpg

The presentation of dinner:

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/239.jpg

And the meal itself (I had chicken):

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/240.jpg

Since I knew I was going to write a trip report, I decided to explore the entertainment system which is believe it or not something I never bothered to do in the 80 times I had flown this route before.

I found it funny (though not surprised) that the airline blocks out obscenities in their videos. I hope you can tell from this photo – even though it is not a very good shot – that this woman’s arms and breasts have been blurred out. Pornography!!

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/250.jpg

After dinner I decided to have a quick browse through the English newspaper I had picked up from the cabin crew. Here is the Saudi gazette:

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/251.jpg

Incidentally, in Arabic newspapers the King is never referred to as the King. He is referred to as “khadem al haramayn al charifayn” which translates into “The Custodian of the two holy mosques” in English. Even in newspapers, they sometimes include this title whenever mentioning King Abdullah.

The prayer schedule is a fixture of any newspaper in Saudi:

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/252.jpg

A nice article:

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/253.jpg

Another interesting article – I’ll see it when I believe it:

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/256.jpg

Again, since I was going to write this trip report I decided to look at the duty free magazine which I had never bothered to do before. Saudi Arabian Airlines must be the only airline on the planet that doesn’t sell drinks or cigarettes in the duty free. They do however sell this toothbrush which I see many people using but don’t know what it does – Sewak:

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/258.jpg

After about 1 hour and 20 minutes in the air, we touched down at Dubai airport and for once approached from the sea. Even though we had boarded late, we had arrived early. In 80+ flights on Saudi Arabian Airlines, I do not remember more than 3 of them being delayed. Not a bad record at all (unfortunately my domestic flights are very often delayed).

Here is a quick shot of Dubai on approach and the inside of Terminal 1:

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/260.jpg

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b174/airliban/May%202009/261.jpg

Thanks for reading this report and I welcome your commentary. I just hope that I can entice you to read part II about my journey from Dubai to New York on Emirates on the A380 as well (posted separately in the forums)!

Airliban
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airxliban
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Wed May 06, 2009 12:24 am

Here are the links to the other reports:

Part 1: Saudi Airlines flight 552 – Riyadh to Dubai on a 777 in Eco
http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/trip_reports/read.main/148031/

Part 2: Emirates flight 201 – Dubai to New York on an A380 in First
http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/trip_reports/read.main/148032

Part 3: American Airlines flight 1 – New York to LAX on a 767 in Eco
http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/trip_reports/read.main/148033
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Ryanair!!!
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Wed May 06, 2009 12:31 am



Quoting Airxliban (Thread starter):
They do however sell this toothbrush which I see many people using but don’t know what it does – Sewak:

LOL!!!!!!!!! Purifies the mouth, pleases GOD? Oh this is so funny... Hahahaha...

I see you do have your pet peeves working in ME. Reading through your report I could not help thinking you were only too glad to be able to get out for a breather.
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ojas
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Wed May 06, 2009 1:13 am

Airxliban,

Thank you so much for this trip report, it is rare to find a TR which involves Saudia Arabia. ( delighted to see the AI B747 shot  smile  Wink

I'm not surpriesed by the horrific scenes at the RUH airport, pretty much the same like JED airport on a TR written by a fellow member. Thankfully such type of behaviour of breaking queues is only found in Government buildings in Qatar and nowhere else.


The food looked good, for a short trip to DXB.

thanks for sharing and We all look forward assorted pictures of Saudia Arabian airports and land from you, if it is possible.
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N104UA
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Wed May 06, 2009 1:48 am

Great TR
Were, or are there ever any, female F/A's on Saudia and if there are are they in complete robes with vails or is it only men on the flight
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B747forever
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Wed May 06, 2009 1:58 am

Nice TR

The pics are good

Quoting Airxliban (Thread starter):
that this woman's arms and breasts have been blurred out. Pornography!!

ROTFL! Pornography, LOL!

Quoting Airxliban (Thread starter):
They do however sell this toothbrush which I see many people using but don't know what it does -- Sewak:

ROTFL, Pleases God! OMG! I wonder in which way it pleases God...... Wink


Thank you for sharing

B747forever
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NZ107
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Wed May 06, 2009 6:00 am

Great TR, thanks a lot for sharing! What I thoroughly enjoyed about this TR was that you added cultural aspects into the report which was extremely interesting to me who has not been past China to the west and USA to the east. Such as I only knew the king as King Abdullah. And also the language. It makes me wonder how far English would take someone in a place like Saudi Arabia too. Onto the EK flight!


Regards,
Nicholas
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vivekman2006
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Wed May 06, 2009 6:01 am

Nice to see a TR from Saudi Arabia! Everything there looks so "dry" - the surroundings, the airport and the inflight service!  Wink

Good job!

- Vivek
 
NZA320
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Wed May 06, 2009 6:44 am

Thanks for sharing this great trip report, first time I've read a trip report from Saudi Arabia. I really liked the fact that you added small parts about your job, the country and the pictures of Riyadh. Overall a fantastic report.

Cheers
Cameron
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The777Man
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Wed May 06, 2009 9:01 am

Fantastic report! Very well written and nice pictures!

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Ryan h
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Wed May 06, 2009 10:04 am

A different and interesting report.

Saudi Arabia looks like a hot, dry dust bowl to me.
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skyhigh777
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Wed May 06, 2009 1:10 pm

Wow, great report! Thanks for including pictures of Riyadh. I love the toothbrush line... "purifies mouth, pleases God.." hahahaha

I wonder what it would be like to fly an airline with all the muslim prayers and rituals going on...must be an intersesting experience. Thanks for sharing and I can't wait to read part 3!
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CityofAthens
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Wed May 06, 2009 1:40 pm

Great report, and your photos and descriptions of RUH suggest nothing has changed there since I last visited in er, 2000. Mind you, nothing ever changes in KSA anyway. Big grin

Thanks again.
 
imiakhtar
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Wed May 06, 2009 5:06 pm



Quoting Airxliban (Thread starter):
The direction to Mecca (I never figured out what the Qiblah is though obviously I know it is the direction that Muslims pray. Can anyone help me out?)

Sure. Muslims believe it was built by Abraham and his son Ismail as a house for God. There is a pic of it below:



Quoting Airxliban (Thread starter):
I found it funny (though not surprised) that the airline blocks out obscenities in their videos.

I wonder what the religious police (mutaween ???) would make of it.

Quoting Airxliban (Thread starter):
They do however sell this toothbrush which I see many people using but don't know what it does -- Sewak

The same as a toothbrush. Cleans your teeth!  Wink I've only ever heard it called miswaak though.

I look forward to reading the rest of your TRs from the region  Wink

An interesting trip report. Loved the humour. Much appreciated!

Regards
 Smile
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plateman
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Wed May 06, 2009 7:52 pm

Really great report, thanks...nice to have so much detail about the pre-flight in Saudi Arabia, after visiting their embassy last weekend and learning more about the culture.
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plateman
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Wed May 06, 2009 7:58 pm

I meant to ask...how is Saudi Arabia with taking photos? I noticed quite a bit on the ramp, does anyone question your intentions?
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CO7e7
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Thu May 07, 2009 5:30 am

Great report Airxliban,

This is the first time I read a TR involving SV. I'm curious, do they have female FAs?

CO7e7
 
Marco
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Thu May 07, 2009 6:03 am

If I am not mistaken, taking photos in public is strictly forbidden in Saudi Arabia.

It makes me wonder how far English would take someone in a place like Saudi Arabia too.

Actually it would take you far. People is the Gulf are quite fluent or at least have some knowledge of the English language. For example in the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain it is more or less the business language...

English gets me further in Riyadh than it does in Barcelona!
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INNflight
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Thu May 07, 2009 1:39 pm



Quoting Marco (Reply 17):
English gets me further in Riyadh than it does in Barcelona!

Or anywhere in France for that matter!! Big grin

Shame the photobucket account doesnt display the photos anymore Sad
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PlaneHunter
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Fri May 08, 2009 6:30 am

Hi Airxliban,

great to see you are back on a.net - and you came back with an impressive series of reports! I really enjoyed reading!

Quoting Airxliban (Thread starter):
Hello and thank you for reading this trip report outlining my journey from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to Los Angeles, California, USA. The purpose of this trip was to take some time off work to go and celebrate my 25th birthday with friends and family in Los Angeles, California.

My congratulations. When do you go back? I'll be in LA next week, too. See my PM.

Quoting Airxliban (Thread starter):
I notice today that the metal detector doesn’t work. In fact, it never worked, but for whatever reason I’ve become so accustomed to walking through it that I haven’t noticed.

Unbelievable...

Quoting Airxliban (Thread starter):
Finally, I get to the front of the queue. Masa el kheir, I tell the check in agent. Good afternoon. He doesn’t bother replying. I give him my passport and say I am going to Dubai, inchallah. He takes my passport and types my surname into the computer, achieving a typing rate of 1 key stroke every 30 seconds. Luckily my last name is only 7 letters long. Five minutes later, he mumbles “maak 3afsh?” Do I have any luggage? Nope. But please give me a window seat on the right hand side of the airplane, please.

The computer spits out my boarding pass. Seat 54C. Thanks mate. I ask you for window on the left side and you give me an aisle on the right hand. So much for asking for an aisle, but I can’t be bothered to go back and ask him to change it (I later got it changed inside the terminal).

What a bad treatment. Well, lack of competition, support by the government...

Quoting Airxliban (Thread starter):
And the meal itself (I had chicken):

That doesn't look bad.

Quoting PlateMan (Reply 15):
I meant to ask...how is Saudi Arabia with taking photos? I noticed quite a bit on the ramp, does anyone question your intentions?

Good question.


PH
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ba319-131
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Sat May 09, 2009 6:59 pm

Good report & pictures, thanks for posting, especially as we don't see too many SV TR's.

From reading this, it seems you were quite happy to get out of the country, I guess it's not a great place to stay/work.

Quoting Airxliban (Thread starter):
Part 3 is my American Airlines trip from New York to Los Angeles in Eco.

- Wow, that will be quite a shock after stepping out of F on the EK 380!

Any reason you flew SV rather than EK to DXB?

Regards

Mark
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Milesdependent
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Sun May 10, 2009 12:31 am

Very nice report. I saw on Colbert Report the other night that KSA is the 7th most authoritarian government in the world. I must say after reading your report, it is not high on my list of places to go... Amazing to see that before they found oil KSA was one of the poorest regions in the world... The wonders of oil...
 
SR 103
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Tue May 12, 2009 4:15 pm

Great report as always, good to see you back writing on this forum. I have often been curious about SV and how they compare to the other Middle Eastern airlines. They seem to be rather average, but still efficient.
 
DLSLC
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RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Tue May 12, 2009 8:30 pm



Quoting Airxliban (Thread starter):
Pornography!!

Whoa there turbo! Calm down! Haha that quote really made me laugh, came out of nowhere.
But really enjoyed your trip report, I love reports coming out of the Middle East. Great job.
 
AirlineBrat
Posts: 483
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2005 7:40 am

RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Sat May 16, 2009 8:46 am

This is one of the more interesting trip reports I have read in a while. I really appreciate your background description of Saudi culture. Your pictures are very nice.
I'm leavin on a jet plane. Don't know when I'll be back again....
 
directorguy
Posts: 1045
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2008 10:58 am

RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Sat May 16, 2009 10:23 am

Great TR; I really, really, really miss Saudi and all the quirkes involved when travelling.... every single anecdote-within-an-anecdote brought a small smile to my face.
 
airxliban
Posts: 4285
Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2003 12:14 pm

RE: Part 1 Saudi-Cali: Saudi Airlines Riyadh Dubai

Thu May 21, 2009 4:54 pm

Thanks all for the great comments. I really appreciate all of the feedback and apologise for not replying unti now.

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 2):
Reading through your report I could not help thinking you were only too glad to be able to get out for a breather.

Hehe...was it that obvious?

Quoting N104UA (Reply 4):
Were, or are there ever any, female F/A's on Saudia and if there are are they in complete robes with vails or is it only men on the flight

Yup, they do have female F/As however they are not allowed to be Saudi. They are typically South East Asian...though there are some north african ones and a few other middle eastern ones I have met. In fact I would say that the cabin crew mix is 60/40 female male. All the males are Saudi though. The females wear long trousers, wide tops and cover their hair.

Quoting B747forever (Reply 5):
ROTFL, Pleases God! OMG! I wonder in which way it pleases God...... Wink


Beats me mate!

Quoting Imiakhtar (Reply 13):

Quoting Airxliban (Thread starter):
The direction to Mecca (I never figured out what the Qiblah is though obviously I know it is the direction that Muslims pray. Can anyone help me out?)

Sure. Muslims believe it was built by Abraham and his son Ismail as a house for God. There is a pic of it below:

I thought that is the Qaa'ba.

Quoting PlateMan (Reply 15):
I meant to ask...how is Saudi Arabia with taking photos? I noticed quite a bit on the ramp, does anyone question your intentions?

It is banned, but I managed to snap a few shots anyone. Certainly if I had been outside under the eye of the police they would have apprehended me immediately. Inside the terminal I had to be VERY discreet. It is considered a big taboo to take pictures of people without their consent especially women.

Quoting CO7e7 (Reply 16):
I'm curious, do they have female FAs?

Yup...I replied to that above just a couple of seconds ago.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 19):
My congratulations. When do you go back? I'll be in LA next week, too. See my PM.

Thanks PH. Sorry we missed each other in LA!

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 20):
Any reason you flew SV rather than EK to DXB?

Hehe...about 15 reasons. Emirates for one thing only has 6 flights a week (sharing the flights granted in the UAE-KSA bilateral agreement with Etihad and Air Arabia) and they fly 450 seat 777-300s with 95% economy class seating and 80% of the passengers are labour traffic coming from South and South East Asia who have no clue how to fly and make your trip terrible. Plus...when you reach the other end in Saudi you will be in the queue for at least 30 minutes more because (1) the volume of passengers and (2) the fact that they are mostly foreigners which means that you will be behind them in the queue.

Quoting MilesDependent (Reply 21):
I must say after reading your report, it is not high on my list of places to go... Amazing to see that before they found oil KSA was one of the poorest regions in the world... The wonders of oil...

I can't fathom ever wanting to go there if it wasnt for work.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 22):
Great report as always, good to see you back writing on this forum. I have often been curious about SV and how they compare to the other Middle Eastern airlines. They seem to be rather average, but still efficient.

They are good enough...but i would never fly them if i wasn't going to Saudi.
PARIS, FRANCE...THE BEIRUT OF EUROPE.

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