Review: Saudia First Suite 777 Dubai To Riyadh

Filed Under: Saudia

We spent a couple of nights in Dubai at the Park Hyatt, which I won’t be reviewing this time around, since I’ve reviewed it before, and not much has changed. Our flight from Dubai to Riyadh was departing at 6:15PM, so we got to the airport plenty early, to start our monster journey from Dubai to Los Angeles, via Riyadh and Jeddah.

Saudia operates out of Terminal 1 at DXB, and has a fairly large check-in area, given how many flights they operate.

Saudia check-in Dubai Airport

Saudia uses the SkyTeam Lounge, which I just reviewed a few weeks ago, so I won’t be reviewing that again. Overall it’s a solid lounge, especially as it’s accessible through Priority Pass.

We headed towards our departure gate about 75 minutes before departure. Our flight was departing from gate D15, which was about a 10 minute walk from the lounge.

Dubai Airport Terminal 1

Sure enough our 777-300ER was parked there, though the gate area seemed pretty quiet.

Saudia 777 Dubai Airport

Saudia departure gate Dubai Airport

Priority boarding began at 5:15PM, a full hour before departure.

Saudia 555
Dubai (DXB) – Riyadh (RUH)
Friday, August 18
Depart: 6:15PM
Arrive: 7:15PM
Duration: 2hr
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 3A (First Class)

I just recently reviewed Saudia’s 777-300ER first class from New York to Riyadh to Dubai, so I’ll keep this review brief, especially as it relates to the hard product.

Saudia’s new first class cabin has a total of 12 suites, and takes up the entire space between doors one and two.

Saudia 777-300ER first class cabin

Saudia 777-300ER first class cabin

I had assigned myself seat 3A on this sector.

Saudia First Suite, 3A

Saudia First Suite, 3A

Saudia First Suite, 3A

However, as I arrived at my seat one of the flight attendants approached me and said “this is the supervisor’s seat!”

I showed him my boarding pass, at which point the supervisor showed up and said jokingly (I think?) “why are you taking my seat?” So he proceeded to move his hat and crew bag.

I imagine working a few hours can be exhausting (the crew was doing a same day turn from Riyadh to Dubai), so can appreciate the supervisor’s need for rest. 😉

In all honesty, the two Saudi men working supervising the cabin — Mohammed & Mohammed — were nice guys, and we had some fun banter.

“It’s the chief’s seat!”

While Saudia’s first class cabin is gorgeous overall, I was shocked by how poorly it’s aging. Just about all of the suites had their “blinds” broken. Clearly they didn’t choose especially high quality materials. How unfortunate.

Saudia First cabin not aging well

There was also an inoperative suite.

Saudia First inoperable seat

Then the “counter” in my suite had a bunch of marks.

Saudia First cabin not aging well

It’s not a huge deal, but for a plane that’s only months old, it’s sort of sad to see.

Within a couple of minutes the two friendly female Filipino flight attendants came by my seat to introduce themselves and welcome me onboard. They also offered me a choice of hot or cold towel — given that I was flying out of Dubai in summer, you can guess which I chose.

Saudia first class cold towel

I was also offered a drink, with the choice between between lemon juice and a date smoothie. I chose the date smoothie, which was rich.

Saudia first class pre-departure drink

Boarding took a while, and eventually five of the 12 first class suites were taken. By 5:55PM the door was closed, at which point the safety video was screened. That was followed by a prayer.

Saudia pre-flight prayer

At 6:05PM we began our pushback, and a couple of minutes after that we began our taxi.

Pushing back Dubai Airport

Traffic at Dubai Airport

Terminal 1 had some interesting planes — to our left, a Sichuan Airlines A330 pushed back moments before us, while a Kuwait Airways 777-300ER was at the gate to the right of us.

Kuwait 777 Dubai Airport

We had a quick taxi to the departure runway, and thanks to the fact that I was seated on the left, I had a good view of planes taking off.

Emirates 777 taking off Dubai

By 6:20PM we made it to runway 30R, where we were cleared for takeoff behind the Sichuan A330 that was parked next to us.

Sichuan A330 Dubai Airport

We were treated to some gorgeous sunset views as we took off.

Taking off Dubai Airport

View after takeoff from Dubai

What a skyline, even on a day with limited visibility.

Dubai skyline in the distance

View after takeoff from Dubai

The seatbelt sign was turned off five minutes after takeoff, and five minutes after that, Mohammed and one of the flight attendants came around with Arabic coffee and dates. They offered refills minutes later.

Saudia first class — Arabic coffee and date

Given our short flight time, I just kept the airshow on to monitor the progress of our flight.

Airshow enroute to Riyadh

About 15 minutes after takeoff Mohammed asked if I wanted dinner, and offered me the choice between “beef steak” and “chicken with rice.” I selected the latter.

The entire meal was served on one tray. There was a side salad with cucumbers, olives, and tomatoes, a tiny fruit plate, a piece of cake for dessert, and then the main, which was quite good. The chicken was flavorful, though I wish there were more of a sauce, as the dish was bland. I was also offered a selection of bread from the breadbasket.

Saudia first class snack service

I wasn’t offered a drink of choice (I could have asked for one, I suppose), but rather was just proactively served some still water. At the end of the meal I was asked if I wanted some coffee or tea, so I ordered some coffee. While the coffee tasted fine, it was served in a tiny cup, which seems poorly thought out for a plane.

Saudia first class coffee

Once the sun set, the crew turned on the mood lighting.

Saudia cabin mood lighting

At around 6:15PM (55 minutes after takeoff, as there was an hour time change), the captain turned on the seatbelt sign.

Airshow enroute to Riyadh

We had a pretty smooth descent, and touched down in Riyadh at 6:40PM.

View approaching Riyadh

From there we had a 10 minute taxi to our arrival stand.

Taxiing Riyadh Airport

We parked by 6:50PM, though unfortunately only at a remote stand, meaning we had to take a bus to the terminal. On the plus side, at least they had a bus for premium passengers, which had funky sideways-facing seats. Unfortunately it was way overcrowded though, given that there must have been about 50 passengers between first and business class.

Saudia 777 upon arrival in Riyadh

Saudia 777 upon arrival in Riyadh

From there we prepared for our long layover before continuing to Los Angeles.

Saudia First Suite bottom line

Saudia’s service on short flights is efficient in first class, though pretty “no frills.” Overall they have a beautiful hard product, though it’s not aging well at all. While the supervisor was a humorous but not especially hardworking guy, the rest of the crew was attentive and friendly, including the younger of the two Mohammeds.

The real treat was what was coming up on our long flight back to Los Angeles.

  1. I’ve noticed frequently that these “senior” supervisor/pursers on AZ, TG, MH, IB, MS, AI and 9W to have the same behaviour especially on long-haul flights. On short hauls, they seem to be “forced” to do something -which I guess it’s because of the duration of the flight and number of crew. They seem to be there just for the sake of being there – hardly doing anything.


  2. What is that hump toward the front of the F class ceiling? I assume there’s a crew rest above, but it’s still a very odd shape and something I have not seen in other 777s.

  3. Did they just give you the date and place it on your tray table with nothing underneath? Seems like they could have used at least a beverage napkin or tiny plate. Yuck.

  4. @ Donald — yeah, EY has a lot nicer presentation. You can’t call that presentation first class. Ditto for the lapse that @ Adil highlighted.

  5. “They also offered me a choice of hot or cold towel — given that I was flying out of Dubai in summer, you can guess which I chose.”

    I’m confused – to me, this statement would imply that you wanted a cold towel since it’s summer in Dubai – but under the pic, you say it’s a warm towel. Wouldn’t you rather have a cold towel in the heat?

  6. What’s the most convenient Miles/Points if I want to redeem for one-way in Saudia First Class? Flying Blue?

  7. @CJS you said what I was going to. This whole series of trip reports seems to have been banged out by Lucky in a hurry.

  8. Thanks Ben next time if something is not to your liking let the staff know right away…thank you for your wonderful review. The staff is excellent and are very professional I am still so very proud of then.. We will keep working to insure you with the best service.

    Crown Princess Mayaalla MuQaddim bint Abdullah

  9. @Crown Princess…

    Are you truly who you say you are? If you are, that’s cool! I appreciate that you read reviews and take them seriously. I read this blog a lot and you seem to be the only official that takes the trouble to respond to a review.

    If you’re just a crank messenger – well that’s not a bad laugh either!

  10. @AG

    Not real, there’s no princess with the name “Mayyalah Muqadim”, it’s not even an Arabic name.

    That same imposter once commented on Liveandletsfly’s review of Saudia and I pointed out how it’s totally fake. Here’s a link:

    Funny how she says that “her uncle gave her the airline”, when Saudia is state owned.

    You can tell from her comments in the link above that she clearly can’t put two words together that make sense, hardly a princess’s level of education.

    That’s beside the fact that King Abdullah has no daughters with the name Mayyallh.

  11. Lucky
    I admire your way of approaching airlines business. …
    Let’s make a real business of professional airline service auditing through misteriou audits conducted by non bayez parties. ..airlines will love that…especially in middle east.

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