Saudi Arabia: Distinctions of Flying Saudi Airlines

I was asked whether there were any significant differences between flying Saudi Airlines as compared to any other international airline.  The question was asked in the context of using Saudi Airlines to fly internationally and not domestically within the Kingdom.

In a nutshell, the answer is yes, there are significant differences in flying Saudi Airlines.  First of all, prior to take off, in addition to the routine boarding announcements, there will also be a prayer or reading from the Qoran.  Secondly, on the long international flights, there are usually areas which have been reserved and used as men’s prayer area.  Last but certainly not least, Saudi Airlines will not provide any beverages or dishes which contain alcohol or pork products.  The entertainment choices will also be “G” or maybe “PG” rated but certainly not any selections which would have an “R” rating.   

In my opinion, the quality of the service was very good.  I never had any complaints while flying Saudi Airlines.  I liked how the food was served “trolley/family” style with all of the selections in large dishes and bowls.  The flight attendants would come down the aisle with the appetizing trolley and passengers could select whatever they wished.  Throughout the meal the flight attendants would continue up and down the aisles offering passengers the chance to replenish their plates if they wished.

Traveling in either business or first class, passengers received a comfortable sweat suit of pants and loose top along with regular sized products in an amenities bag.  Both socks and slippers were provided too.

The domestic flights were equally nice but sometimes more “hectic” than an international flight.  Due to the segregation which remains in practice within most of Saudi Arabia, it was typical for passengers to be “reshuffled” to avoid having an unrelated male and female sitting next to one another.  However, knowing that this was simply part of the culture of living in the Kingdom, I found it an easy adaptation.  My one critique would be how easily a passenger’s “confirmed” reservation could get cancelled on busy flights because someone with WASTA (influence and/or contacts) wanted to be on that flight and a passenger would get unceremoniously dumped in order to accommodate the “VIP.”

     I found Saudi flight attendants, and especially when flying domestic, to be very accommodating and patient to passengers flying with young children.  Saudi Airlines also gave out expansive entertainment bags for its young passengers.

Most of the times when I flew from Jeddah to Riyadh I would get feelings of homesickness.  The aircraft was typically a 747 which had arrived from Washington’s Dulles airport and after its first stop in Jeddah would continue on to Riyadh.


6 Responses

  1. I’ve only flown on Saudia once and it wasn’t that bad. Better than bahrains Gulf Air by far, at least back then. I havent been on either in a very long time. The one thing that was hard is that due to the automatic close confines and segregation expectations…moving about was a pain. Generally in close quarters there will be some accidental touching as you pass seats etc but on Saudia you have to be hyper vigilant to prevent that if possible….which made moving about even more of a pain. I agree that the goody bags for the kids were beyond expectations.

  2. I now avoid Saudia at all costs- including flying several hours out of my way with connections to avoid their flight. Poor service poorly behaved kids, sometimes they “forget” to serve the snack and you have to go to the galley yourself to get it. Entertainment systems with ridiculous editing and I refuse to accept the stupid shuffling around because women have cooties or whatever. Everything childish about Saudi culture is on full display on a Saudia flight.

  3. Your post has had the unintended affect of reminding me never to fly Saudi airlines. 🙂

  4. Flew them once or twice and the shuffling is terrible. Worse is the getting bumped off after having a confirmed ticket…we avoid them like the plague,

  5. we use Saudi Airlines since more than 10 years betwen KSA and ( France, Morocco, Germany, Italy) and we are satisfied.

  6. i am eager to know from which country commentor “sandy” to respond to her . i have traveled around the world in many airlines, good and bad . this is every where. but in my opinon saudia is v good in many ways, specially, saudi pilots are excellent and saudia safetey record. in

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