Take a Virtual Tour of Saudia Airlines’ Business Class

A tray with three bowls of food on it, served during the Saudia business class experience.

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I recently had the pleasure of flying in business class with Saudia from Manila to Amsterdam via Jeddah, and the experience far exceeded my expectations. From the chic new service on the Jeddah to Amsterdam leg to the classic old-school vibes on the Manila flight, it was a great experience that was carefully curated by Saudia.

My only issue during the trip was part of the ground experience at Jeddah airport. The cleanliness of the showers at their lounge in Jeddah left a lot to be desired. However, the lounge was quite impressive.

Overall, it was a great experience; it exceeded my expectations. It felt like flying on a small boutique airline that has carefully curated its new inflight experience. The crew was top-notch, especially Tania on my Jeddah to Amsterdam flight. She was the epitome of professionalism and charm.

MANILA GROUND EXPERIENCE

The ground experience began at the PAL transfer desk in Manila after arriving in from KL with Malaysia Airlines. Even though I had checked in online, I was still subjected to a tedious document check and a 1.5-hour wait before I could progress any further. And to make matters worse, the ground staff handling Saudia check-ins seemed to be a bit confused about the Schengen visa rules – not ideal when you’re trying to catch a flight.

Saudia uses the Marhaba Lounge at Terminal 1; it’s nothing special, relatively small, but adequate. One of the Saudia staff members inexplicably disappeared with my passport for a whopping 2.5 hours, leaving me in the dark about my boarding pass and generally feeling anxious. The lounge staff didn’t seem to care much, either.

A luxurious long table surrounded by comfortable chairs for the ultimate Saudia business class experience.
A luxurious saudia business class experience with a diverse selection of food on a counter.
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Luckily, after what felt like an eternity, I finally got my passport and boarding pass about 30 minutes before boarding.

SAUDIA PRE TAKE OFF EXPERIENCE

But then it was time to board, and the pre-takeoff service was nothing short of fantastic. A menu, amenity kit, welcome drink, Arabic coffee and dates, and a hot towel – all offered with a smile. I can’t help but be in awe of the level of service provided by Middle Eastern airlines before even taking off.

A row of seats in Saudi Arabian Airlines Business Class experience with people on them.

The older version business class cabin was configured in a 2 2 2 configuration.

The Saudia business class experience with dual monitors inside the airplane.

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SAUDIA INFLIGHT

I recently found out that the airline’s Manila flights offer the old service, which has now been phased out. Luckily, I had the chance to experience the new service on the 787 flight from Jeddah to Amsterdam. Here’s a look at the inflight menu options:

A wooden table with a menu, as part of Saudia's business class experience.

Saudia is a dry airline, meaning no alcohol is offered on board. While some might find this disappointing, it was no issue for me as I don’t typically drink much during flights. As soon as the meal service began, I noticed two friendly cabin crew members working their way through the cabin, taking orders with ease. Within 20 minutes, everyone’s orders were in, and the crew prepared the meals.

A saudia business class experience with a tray of food and drinks on an airplane.

For my meal, I chose the Arabic mezze and the crumbed chicken. The mezze was delectable and the dessert was to die for, but unfortunately, the chicken was a little average. As the flight went on, the cabin crew continued to be pleasant and approachable, making the journey even more enjoyable.

A delicious meal served in Saudi Arabian business class featuring meat and vegetables on a white plate.

Although the food on the Manila flight was decent enough, I have to say that the dishes ex Jeddah was better. After sleeping for six hours, I was delighted to be asked if I wanted anything upon waking up. And just before landing, for the second service, I requested the chicken biryani, which was absolutely delicious.

The cabin manager made sure to interact with all the passengers, asking how their flight was and apologising for the slight delay. All in all, it was a lovely journey.

TRANSFER EXPERIENCE & ALFOURSAN LOUNGE

As I arrived at the transfer counter, I couldn’t help but notice the two female staff sitting in their chairs, glued to their phones, and completely ignoring the passengers in the first/business class area. I decided to use the economy class transfer counter instead and joined the queue for the security check.

A lavish lobby with a chandelier and chairs, offering the Saudia business class experience.

However, all my frustration disappeared the moment I stepped into the lounge. It was an impressive space, with a first-class section on the left and a business-class section on the right. As one of the largest Skyteam lounges it comfortably accommodates 450 passengers in a vast 3,500 sq m area, albeit without windows.

A desk and chair in a room with the Saudia business class experience.

To my surprise, I had unwittingly walked into the first class section without being checked for eligibility. I took advantage of the opportunity to explore the luxurious facilities exclusively offered to first class passengers, including exquisite seating areas, an ice cream station, dining areas, and a date bar.

A luxurious bathroom with a marble counter top and a large mirror as part of the Saudia business class experience.
A round counter bar with stools for a Saudia business class experience.
A Saudia business class hotel lobby with chairs and a table.
A spacious area with ample seating for enhanced Saudia business class experience.
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A tree inside of a building with a circular ceiling, part of the Saudia business class experience.
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The business class section was equally impressive, featuring a barista coffee service, a dessert bar, a pizzeria, sleep rooms, a shower area, and a kids play area, among other amenities. Despite being a beautiful and peaceful lounge, the state of the showers left much to be desired. When I asked for a clean shower, I was given some towels and told to use one of the dirty ones. Nevertheless, it was a minor inconvenience.

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The lounge was not just stunning in terms of its design and facilities, but it also featured robots that roamed around offering drinks to passengers. This high-tech addition to the lounge experience was truly extraordinary and added to the overall futuristic feel of the space.

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JEDDAH TO AMSTERDAM

Soon, it was time to board my Saudia flight from Jeddah to Amsterdam on their Boeing 787 in a 1 2 1 configuration. Tania, my flight attendant, introduced herself and assured me that she would take care of me during the flight. The same service flow on the ground followed as per my previous flight.

Saudia airplane interior with empty seats.
The inside of a Saudia airplane with a lot of business class seats.

The Missoni men’s amenity kit on this flight was simply outstanding. I was blown away by the quality of the eye shades, which were the best I’ve ever seen in an amenity kit. And the collaboration with Grown Alchemist was a stroke of genius; I’m a big fan of their shower gels and use them at home. All in all, it was a fantastic kit, and I can’t wait to put the toiletry bag to good use.

the contents of a travel bag on an airplane.

After take-off Tania took my meal order, although there were no menus on this flight, she was fantastic at explaining all the dishes and dressed my tray table immaculately. I opted for the contemporary Arabic cuisine option, which included Shakshuka eggs, potatoes, caramelized onions, falafel, various pastries, tomato/cucumber salad, and fresh fruit, all served with a superfood juice. It was delicious, and I was delighted with my choice.

The inside of a Saudia business class airplane with ample windows.
A Saudi Arabia business class experience with a plate of food on a tray on a plane.

As I dozed off for a few hours, the inflight chef noticed my interest in the service and food aspect of the flight. He introduced himself, and we chatted about the menu, his job, and how Saudia had transformed its inflight service. He suggested I try something else, and before I knew it, he had whipped up an Arabic mezze.

A tray with three bowls of food on it, served during the Saudia business class experience.
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The Saudia Arabic mezze was a delight, starting with Tabbouleh, hummus, and muhammara dip served with cheese sambousek. The muhammara dip, made of red peppers, walnuts, pomegranate molasses, and spices, was a standout. I’ve had similar mezze items on Qatar Airways and Oman Air, but this one was among the best I’ve ever had. It was beautifully presented, fresh, and bursting with flavors.

In conclusion, my experience with Saudia was excellent. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but they exceeded my expectations and are undoubtedly among the best airlines in the Middle East, even without offering the best wine cellar in the sky.

 

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