Back in early May my friend Matthew and I booked a ~$620 roundtrip business class fare Qatar Airways published between Colombo and Casablanca, which allowed booking a combination of Qatar Airways and Royal Air Maroc. While Qatar Airways unarguably has a better product, reviewing Royal Air Maroc was a lot more tempting. Then to position ourselves in Colombo, we booked China Eastern from Los Angeles to Shanghai to Colombo.
Then it came time to book the return, which was a great opportunity, given how many cheap business class fares are published out of Colombo.
How we were going to get home from Colombo
The primary reason I fly is to review airlines, so obviously I wanted to try something new. Matthew and I had come up with three possible routings, and we asked you guys to vote on which you’d most like to read about:
- Kuwait Airways from Colombo to Kuwait City to London to New York
- Saudia from Colombo to Jeddah to Cairo, EgyptAir from Cairo to New York
- Kuwait Airways from Colombo to Kuwait City to Cairo, Royal Jordanian from Cairo to Amman to Chicago
Based on your votes we had decided we were going to go with option three, on a combination of Kuwait Airways and Royal Jordanian.
Go figure that literally the day we were planning on booking, EgyptAir flight 804 crashed. While I don’t as such choose airlines based on their safety, for the moment I’m avoiding Egypt. We know that in the past couple of years a MetroJet A321 was blown up after departing Egypt, and we’re still finding out what happened with EgyptAir. Regardless, my reason for avoiding Egypt right now is very simple — my mom. It makes her feel uncomfortable, and I don’t want to do anything which makes her uneasy.
What’s our new routing?
With that in mind, Matthew and I have come up with a new routing from Colombo back to the US, which I think you guys will find equally enjoyable. It has been ticketed and confirmed as well, so this is “final.”
We’ll be flying from Colombo to Manchester via Jeddah on Saudia, on a combination of their 777 and 787. It’s tough to beat a sub-$700 fare for such a ticket.
While most of Saudia’s business class products look sub-par, their 787s actually look decent, as they have reverse herringbone seats.
And then we’ll be flying Pakistan International Airlines from Manchester to New York. This I’m especially excited about, given that Pakistan apparently has an incredible business class product.
According to the airline, “it’s the only Business Class service that feels like First Class.”
This was a challenge to book, though fortunately a travel agent friend was able to do it with ease.
Then lastly, I’ll be picking up a JetBlue Mint flight in New York to fly to Los Angeles. The Mint fare is $250 more than American economy, so I’ll finally be reviewing that. Nick wrote a review of JetBlue Mint when it first launched, so I’m curious to see how it compares now, and especially how it compares to both the business class and first class products offered by American.
This is going to be a whirlwind trip, because over the course of a week we’ll be flying over 33,000 miles, including travel on China Eastern, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Saudia, Pakistan, and JetBlue. I’m really excited about this one!
In the meantime I’ll be headed to Russia on SAS and Aeroflot, and then also to Auckland on Air Tahiti Nui and Fiji Airways.
Let me know your PK flight and date I know the chief pilot for 777 and can let him know you will on the MAN-JFK routing.
I look forward to the PIA report, for multiple reasons.
I'm actually sad that airlines from countries that hang gays just for being gay would get your money/miles.
Can't wait for the JetBlue Mint review! I recently became TrueBlue Mosaic member thru a statusmatched, so I am curious what you think of JetBlue's Mint cabin!
Recently came back from a round trip on Saudia. Bahrain to Jeddah and back again. Must say the business class I was in (short hall) was not impressive but then again didn't expect it to be. The airport though is a different story. Like you stepped back in time and immigration is terrible! The only saving grace was the lounge which may not impress you but at least it's better than other options in the...
Recently came back from a round trip on Saudia. Bahrain to Jeddah and back again. Must say the business class I was in (short hall) was not impressive but then again didn't expect it to be. The airport though is a different story. Like you stepped back in time and immigration is terrible! The only saving grace was the lounge which may not impress you but at least it's better than other options in the airport. The good thing is the Saudi terminal is better than the others.
Saudi though is a great airline and I wish them the best of luck in their transformation. The new airport should be a much needed upgrade. Good luck and just remember always keep you cool in Saudi. If things get tough look for the line managers who are usually better dealing with then line staff.
@Susan I flew Saudia a few years ago from London to Kuala Lumpur via Riyadh in Economy (due to lowest ticket price) and I have to tell you that it was one of the best experiences I've ever had in long haul Economy. Riyadh Airport was perfectly fine for a 3 hour transit. Sure it's a dry airline but I survived without having an alcoholic drink for a day!
What happened to that PIA "business that feels like first class" seat photo. It looks like the seat got stuck going half way into its lie flat position :)
PIA-"the only Business Class service that feels like First Class". Looking at the photos, I'd agree, maybe 20 years ago
do china eastern first class!!!
I can understand wanting to review these airlines for the purposes of your job (this blog), but flying on those airlines don't sound like they would be a lot of fun.
With Saudia you at least won't have to suffer any sub-par wines, or any wine for that matter.
As someone who flew countess times to Jeddah on business (Emirates), really looking forward to Ben's review of this airport. Safe travels Ben, and great blog!
I am cringing at the idea of Ben & Company having to transit through JED. That in itself could be the great adventure (or nightmare) of this trip.
That's like all the freaking Americans. Incredible hypocrites. Just because you have a lot of oil now you grow a spine. Wait when you run out of oil, you will once again kiss the Saudi buttocks.
How wonderful that you are supporting the airlines of two extraordinarily oppressive (to women, non-Muslims, homosexuals, etc.) countries who also have incredible ties to terrorism!
looking forward to reading this.
Can't wait for the Saudia report.
hi Ben, check this out, cmb to man, the same flights you booked using delta skymiles is 42,500 but its only available on oct 3rd, and if you add a delta connection to JFK it's only 70,000 skymiles. Only thing is you'll have to wait 4 hours in Manchester as the earlier delta flight is pricing it out at a whopping 417,000 miles!!! email me and I'll send you some pics. Thanks for all the travel advice!
New Jeddah's airport is under construction. Current airport is pain in the ***. Wish you a plesent trip.
Good luck with SAS... THe strike stranded all of us in ARN.
I fell sorry that you'll have to endure the torture that is Jeddah airport, would've preferred if you went through Riyadh, Dammam or Medina instead.
Anyway, I'm excited to see how this turns out.
Were you able to score a single seat on Mint with a door?
Did you get a Mint 'seat' or 'suite'?
How was your travel agent friend able to book it?