Is This The Dumbest Award I Could Possibly Book?

Filed Under: Awards, Travel

I’m on a bit of a kick this week when it comes to booking flights on new airlines I want to review (as I explained in my post from earlier about the 16 airlines I want to review in 2016). It started with booking Hainan Airlines business class, and I followed it up by booking Air India first class and Finnair business class.

The ticket in Air India first class is routed from London to Delhi to San Francisco (as one does).

I’m still not sure exactly what I was thinking. Air India gets pretty terrible reviews, so one flight on them sounds pretty bad, let alone two. But hey, spending 30 hours on Air India will make an interesting story, if nothing else.

Well, that might only be the second most ridiculous routing I’m booking. I was just looking at award space through Air France’s FlyingBlue program for travel from London to Los Angeles. The intent was to fly Aeromexico business class through Mexico City, which is quite reasonably priced at just 62,500 miles one-way. And sure enough space opened up on the date I was looking at:


It’s sort of generous they let you route that way, though I doubt many people would go out of their way to fly Aeromexico between Europe and the US:


As it turns out that was only the second most ridiculous routing option the website was displaying. Are you ready for a routing which I can’t imagine anyone would voluntarily take? It appeared immediately below the two options I showed above.

Here we go, and viewer discretion is advised:


Yep, how would you like to fly from London to Los Angeles via Jeddah… with an eight hour layover where you can’t leave the airport without a visa… in Saudia business class?



Saudia is a dry airline and doesn’t even have flat beds.


Am I completely out of my mind for being extremely tempted to book this?

  1. I knew you were out of your mind when you booked the Air India award ticket but this Saudia award confirms it!

  2. FWIW, SV does have some newer flat bed business class aircraft (BE Diamond seat like ex-CO UA and AA A321 business class). If the seat map shows business class starting from row 1 and a 3-3-3 configuration in coach it’s the new configuration (Saudia oddly has moved from a 3-4-3 configuration on older planes to a 3-3-3 configuration on newer planes), though there is always a risk of an aircraft swap.

    The 777-200ERs are even worse than the pictures you posted though, with a 2-3-2 not-even-angled-lie-flat configuration in business class. And on all aircraft it’s a dry airline with heavily censored IFE, but the food is decent at least.

  3. Do it so you can review Saudia Airlines instead of AeroMexico and read my trip reports on AM787 JFK/MEX/EZE and SCL/MEX/JFK for 125K SkyMiles + $88 tax/each for my parents and me. Email me!

  4. Well you can always try to leave the airport there and as a gay guy request some public caning if you are into that sort of stuff.

  5. U should definitely try this product. I live in SAUDIA and have travelled with them a million times. The service will be a hit or miss but u will surely enjoy the airline. They are in the process of retiring fleet and they even have the 787’s coming which will be flying to Paris and Kuala lumpur. I and many others will love to read ur trip report on our countries flag carriers

  6. if it makes sense for you to review Saudia airlines, go for it. But that layover is brutal. I would go through Mexico instead.

  7. As a reader I’d say book it, book it,book it haha! I’m sure I’m not the only one :).. Also i think one does have to fly economy to appreciate business or maybe in your case one does have to fly angle beds..?
    And it doesn’t matter how long the layover or the flights are – wear fun socks! 🙂

  8. So with all these not very good airlines Lucky is going to to try when does the time comes to Norwegian?

  9. Go for it! I’m all for interesting reviews! Although I still would like an Aeromexico review.

    Also, the AF tool pulled up award space for China Southern J class from LHR-CAN-LAX. Wouldn’t mind a CZ J review either… 🙂

  10. @Lucky
    I would suggest you to review AirAsia X Premium Flatbed (Best business class in low cost carrier) and Vitetnam Airlines (B789 and A350).

  11. Lucky, perhaps Nothing has illustrated to me your passion for encountering the full spectrum of possible “luxury” commercial aviation experiences quite like this post. You are a gem in a sometimes repetitive world my friend. If you do this- good luck!

  12. You should do it Ben if for no other reason than to appreciate that any business is better than economy. The complimentary in air detox is a bonus.

  13. Oops… disregard my last post about CZ. I didn’t notice the price was 200k miles! That’s like Delta levels of insanity!

  14. Speaking of Lifemiles, I actually flew SAW-LGW//LHR-BOG-MIA with my wife and kids. It worked for us, as kids got to see London during layover and we were able to bring some luggage on last leg for a relative that was moving to the U.S.

  15. I’d go with Aeromexico for that trip, and save Saudia for a shorter itin since that sounds like perhaps a little too much on Saudia. That and do they fly a 777 with flat-bed seats to London? Or is it a narrowbody with recliner seats?

  16. Why not kicking 2016 off with a “detox” in the air experience? How is it flying for that long “dry” and is it a different experience without the champange?

    So, yes go for it! At least you could get maybe a visa for Saudi Arabia – as a women under 40 unmaried there is no chance to get into the country (if I would like to do that!)

  17. Hope you select Aeromexico, i want to read your review, I am mexican but most of the time I fly to Europe or Asia via US instead of Mexico City because is cheaper. I want to read the diferences between the US carries and the mexican leader carrier by you, this is something that i was waiting since i started reading this blog.

  18. I wouldn’t say you were completely mad, but maybe you have taken leave of your senses, or to be kinder you are “barking”, as we say in the UK. Barking as in woof!

    It’s bad enough flying Air India (try not to use the rest rooms, unless you are brave), but to add Saudia is totally fine the rails.

    Maybe you should change your name from Lucky to “Unlucky”. I wish you well, my friend.

    Might I suggest Aeroflot in future, as they are much better.

    You’ll enjoy Finnair, but they are known for serving you reindeer meat dishes (i.e. soup and main course), as I had that a few years ago when I flew to Hong Kong, at Christmas (it may just have been a Christmas thing).

    Loving your blog and look forward to reading more. May I suggest a vacation to a quiet Hawaiisn Island, with Hawaiian Airlines as your airline of choice. Aloha!

  19. Take one for the team Lucky
    Just do not blog about it until well after the fact.
    You do not want to be caught alone in an alley in KoSA after publishing bad stuff

  20. The out of the way routing to enjoy a new product? Certainly not a crazy idea.

    But in reference to your post the other day regarding the UAE and the “openness” of the country, Saudi Arabia is over the line for me personally. I couldn’t spend my money there.

  21. Based on what I’ve read following this blog for a long time, I can’t see how a review of this airline would be a useful data point for your audience. What percentage of your readers do you think are seriously considering booking Saudia but need a trip review to make a final decision?

  22. Going without Krug that long, you’ll go into DT’s. Add me to the tiny minority who wants more Lufthansa reviews.

  23. No. Don’t bother. Saudia’s premium cabins are flying nurseries: lots of screaming children. And you would have to endure it with no alcohol to dull the pain. The food is surprisingly good, though.

    The worse element of this itinerary, though, is the long layover in Jeddah. JED is a horrifically awful airport; certainly the worse I have ever experienced. It’s filthy, crowded, loud and obsolete. And that description goes for the premium lounges as well. An eight hour layover would be an inescapable hell. I’m actually fond of Jeddah as a city, but there would be no way for you to experience it.

    Stick with Aeromexico. Or…how about Aeroflot!?!?

  24. Don’t always believe everything you read! I flew AI in mid 2015 from Seoul to Hong Kong on one of their 787’s and it was perfectly fine. Admittedly, it wasn’t 30 hours but it was pretty damn good for the 2-3 hours. In fact, the chicken curry they served was on of the best meals I have ever had on an aircraft. The seats were fully lie flat and spacious, the service was impeccable. If you fly any of those US airlines regularly, and I assume as a Yank you do, then you are actually in for a treat. Nothing is worse than dirty ol’ United, American or Delta.

  25. Book it already. People’s descriptions of the experience sounds so miserable we need to hear your take on it 🙂

  26. It’s just the carrier and ‘detention’ that make this noteworthy – not the routing. However, it will make for an interesting trip report.

    Is it the dumbest award? No. That would have to go to any BA multi-partner awards.

  27. If you cant leave JED airport its absolute hell! They dont even have “ok” food for purchase or an “ok” lounge. Do yourself a favor and atleast book through RUH. The lounge is great and you wont have to deal with all of the passengers coming from makkah! (First time flyers)

  28. I lived in Jeddah on two ocassions and flew Saudia numerous times. The airline is generally ok in premium and service is pleasant. The fascinating event is when they fly from an Islamist culture to a different culture. The entire premium cabin changes in mid air to Western dress and vice versa when flying back to Jeddah. DONT MISS IT. Forget the booze. It won’t kill you. Jeddah international is a hole sorry

  29. If you are crazy, I’m on my way. My wife and I are on the lax-csx flight in business class in March. I don’t even know where Changsha is yet.

  30. Im flying dat jew airline el al vomit.
    Most fucked up airline there is.
    Have you ever had anal sex while flying ben??

  31. Klaus,

    You are obnoxious. But you knew that already. I hope I am the first and the last to comment on your post.

  32. You know, youtube is full of videos of people finding creative ways to smash or destroy their smart phones – and I always wondered WHY!!!
    Well, congrats, you are now DOING THE SAME THING!

    LHR – DEL – SFO???
    LHR – JED – LAX???

    Only one thing can be asked : why?

  33. Ben. Step away from the computer. An 8 hour dry layover in what sounds like a hellhole followed by 12 hours in recliners without refreshment sounds like a recipe for one big whine. You probably can’t even recharge your devices and get work done in Jeddah. There are more interesting ways to torture yourself.

    @Paul Smith: nothing wrong with reindeer, if you like game. A Finnair flight probably isn’t the best place to try it, though.

  34. It’s not the dumbest award you could possibly book. However, if it were in *coach*, that might be a possibility. You wouldn’t be crazy to book it in business, though-reviewing airlines is kind of your job.

    “viewer discretion advised”-cute.

  35. I’ve flown on both Saudia and Aeromexico business class and both aren’t SQ/EK/EY level but are still decent.
    The Jeddah airport Saudia lounge doesn’t have alcohol either not does it have showers. The most interesting thing is watching Saudia IFE…. Where they blur out women’s chest if it is showing or lower thighs on all their movies.
    I in particular enjoyed flying in Saudia whereas Aeromexico was a hit or miss. I wouldn’t call either award dumb at all. In fact, Saudia has a lot of award seats available —- heck I’ve seen 8 award seats on one flight in J so you can bring Ford and a few of your friends to enjoy this experience with you, Lucky! When I flew Saudia business, both times probably only 40% of J seats were occupied.

  36. Jeddah Airport is horrorable but the Saudi Arabian Airlines Alfursan Business Lounge is okay (much better as the partner Lounge you have to use flying with LH for example). IMHO definitely not worth for an extra visit but okay to spend few hours and a paradise compare to the public space. It´s cold as a fridge what could be a little bit annoying at the night time (or after a red-eye). Flying Saudia okay for a few hours but on long distance – no thank you: unfriendly and impersonal. Good luck and save trip.

  37. Like Bgriff mentioned, there are full-flat Business Class seats on selected aircraft. However, I do disagree that B772 with 2-3-2 arranged seats not comfortable. I’ve been on it and even though it was big squishy it did get angled lie-flat, and I felt pretty comfortable (similar to Space Bed on old SQ aircraft).

    I think this will be a great trip. I found SV service pretty decent, and crews were polite. The only complaint, apart for being dry, is there were virtually no drink services and had to ask every time for a re-fill when needed (but then crews responded well). Food was great! I’ve had one of the best biryanis on plane. IFE selection was not bad either.

    What I’ll not like about your itinerary, is that there will no place for a shower (I may be wrong). In 2014 when I made a transit through Riyadh, despite being a decent lounge, there was no shower booth. And Riyadh lounge is (was) supposed to be better quality than Jeddah one.

    Hope to see your report on SV experience!

  38. Lucky,

    you need to try to book this as TIJ-MEX-LHR! dreamliner lie-flat on the TIJ-MEX segment. Les you try the Cross Border Xpress !

    we just positioned ourselves in CUN, flew CUN-MEX (23hr stop to add passport pages), enjoyed NYE in Mexico City, and then flew the Aeromexico dreamliner from MEX-TIJ so we could try the Cross Border Xpress. Priced as an awesome 1 way fare in business class, and awesome experience. Enjoyed two Aeromexico Salon Premier lounges. Email me directly if you want me to send you photos and a quick write-up.

  39. Take one for the team Lucky! I wanted to fly their business class product a couple of years ago (SkyMiles redemption) and my wife wouldn’t let me fly them or transit through Jeddah. I’ve been curious ever since!

  40. Michael Haddad as worker in Saudi Arabia, you can choose any airlines you want but for sure you travel by Saudia as your work pay it for you, no your self.
    people here talking about the airlines and the route not about what you see in premium class ( ok we now know you travel in premium class).

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