The Country, Airline, And Hotel I’m Most Anxiously Awaiting

Filed Under: Travel

It goes without saying that I’m fascinated by some really random things. So this is a random post to share the country, airline, and hotel, I find myself checking on just about every day.

I’m not suggesting these are necessarily #1 on my list of countries to visit, airlines to fly, and hotels to stay at, but rather I find myself checking constantly if there are any updates. If that still doesn’t make sense, I’m sure it will make sense shortly in context.

When will Saudi Arabia start issuing tourist visas?

Saudi Arabia may not be at the top of everyone’s list of places to visit, but it’s near the top of mine. I love traveling to places that I’m fascinated by, rather than places that I’ve heard are awesome, or that are popular with tourists.

So I’d really love to see Saudi Arabia firsthand (beyond the airports, which I’ve flown through several times). The country is trying to boost non-religious tourism, and they were supposed to start issuing tourist visas as of April 1, 2018. I was ready to just about be the first tourist there.

It’s now over five months later, and the country still isn’t issuing tourist visas. As of April the update was that the Commission for Tourism and National Heritage had approved the regulations for tourist visas, and they were just waiting on state approval. That seems to be taking quite a while.

C’mon, Saudi Arabia!

When will Air Tanzania start flying the 787 to Mumbai?

Air Tanzania is probably the most interesting airline to take delivery of the 787 this year. The airline ordered a single Boeing 787, and otherwise they only have turboprops in their fleet.

Air Tanzania intends to fly the 787 between Dar es Salaam and Mumbai (that’s not what I was expecting them to do with a single 787, but…), and initially they said they’d do so as of September.

The airline is even advertising the route on their website, along with pricing. But it doesn’t actually seem possible to book yet. If you’re going to launch a new flagship route with the 787, it makes sense to provide a bit of lead time!

C’mon, Air Tanzania!

Will the St. Regis Cairo ever open?

I love the St. Regis brand, and I travel through Cairo more often than I probably should, mostly in search of cheap premium fares.

The reason I’m so fascinated here is because I swear the St. Regis Cairo has been slated to open since the days I was watching Rugrats. They keep pushing back the opening date, and right now they’re indicating an opening date of December 2018.

I’m not sure if the pictures on the website are real or just renderings, but I feel like by the time the hotel opens, the decor might just be outdated.

Does anyone actually know the status of this? Will this eventually happen, or will it have the same fate as the Grand Hyatt Colombo?

C’mon, St. Regis Cairo!

Bottom line

Yes, these are all random things. But if anyone was wondering the first three things I think about when waking up in the morning, these are them. 😉

In all honesty, I’m fascinated by the progress on all three of these “projects,” so if anyone has info on any of them, please let me know!

  1. Lucky, you should consider visiting Iran. It is an amazing place and IranAir has some new A330s with reverse herringbone seats in business class. They operate these on routes to Munich, London, and Paris (but depending on the season it shifts). There are also some amazing deals to be had when starting one’s journey in Tehran (I bought a $1900 ticket in Lufthansa Business Class from Tehran to Washington and back, with stopovers in Frankfurt on both ends). Even if you don’t end up visiting any other parts of the country Tehran is a really cool city that is worth a visit for a couple of days.

  2. “I was ready to just about be the first tourist there.”

    There’s death penalty for homosexuality in Saudi Arabia. And yet he wants to be the first tourist there.

  3. If you do go to Saudi, do visit Mada’in Saleh. It probably helps if you haven’t already seen Petra, its sister site, but it has a quiet majesty, and I actually preferred it to Petra.

    Egypt may be the most corrupt place on Earth right now, and inefficiency is usually commensurate with corruption. I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one.

  4. Even though they’ve already launched the flights I would love you to review Rwandair. I don’t know why, but I really want them to succeed and a positive review from you would be great publicity for them.

    Other than gorilla treks (which they compete with Uganda for) I’m guessing they get very few tourists.

  5. I’ve been checking the Saudi visa situation too…come on, let us visit. You might been the second tourist there!

  6. lucky just read those who have visited Israel (stamp or visa) will not be allowed in.

    Wonder if they will enforce that with the new visa

  7. I’m sure they’ll be welcoming to you and your fiancee. Seriously?

    Also there’s been breaking news for hours at JFK, might want to cover that.

  8. I would love to see an airline that flies to Canada. I’ve always wondered what it is like, what with polar bears, mooses, flying squirrels, and eskimos all over the place.

  9. Haha even without Debit talking trash about Saudi Arabia, it’s fair criticism. I mean the country just made online satire illegal. The country is complete trash, and we do the world a disservice by associating with them.

  10. 1) I can say, from first hand experience, that Jamaica is much more rabidly, openly and dangerously homophobic than Saudi Arabia.

    2) Yeah..what the hell, St Regis Cairo?? You’ve been stringing me along for a couple of years now. Teasing me, taunting me with your seductive photos! Either put out or shut up! I was hoping to have a go at you in February, but I bet it’s just going to end up being another tired date with my trusty old hag, the FS Nile Plaza.

  11. @Imperator (1st point):
    In the morning I was asking myself why nobody says anything about Jamaica in particular. There are many other examples, of course. There are answers too but that’s another story.
    Regarding the Saudi Arabia, I would really like to visit it and I’m searching at least weekly for news about the tourist visa but nothing. Maybe our Saudi friends/readers know something?

  12. @Sam I have to agree with you. Iran is one of the most gorgeous countries I have ever visited. The architecture, the history, the art, and the culture are so so rich. If Lucky is prepared to visit Saudi Arabia he should be prepared to visit Iran unless US propaganda has clouded his judgement

  13. Can’t wait to go to Saudi Arabia. My wife spent her teenage years in Jeddah, I called there to ask my wife’s father for her hand in marriage. She’d love to go back and see her adopted hometown, that she’s not been able to see in 20 years. My wife’s sister and family also currently live in Dammam. They rave about Mada’in Saleh.

    We have multiple reasons to go visit!

  14. @sam I went to Iran last year and it was remarkable. Loved it. The markets, the food (LOVED THE FOOD), people were nice, so much to see, so many carpets to buy :). Stayed the best hotel in Tehran in North Tehran, quite ornate but certainly need standard lifting in understanding service and maintenance. Biggest frustration is foreign credit cards can’t be used and the traffic is shocking, but I highly recommend a visit.

  15. Agreed with Sam, Iran is fascinating, definitely one of top three amongst 60+ countries visited. Plus, they have unique aviation environment. As an avgeek I think visiting Iran is must (and they have wonderful people).

  16. I love these random posts of your plans and bucket lists! But different from you, I have ZERO desire to visit Saudi Arabia lol

  17. I too am fascinated by Iran. But I have another dream — São Tomé. I’ve visited or worked in or lived in 48 of the 55 African countries over about 50 years. Needless to say I love Africa and have a house in lovely peaceful Senegal which I consider my 2nd country. Google Sao Tomé and you’ll be on the next flight from Lisbon.

  18. I went to Egypt in February. I was hoping to stay at the St Regis but ended up at the Ritz b/c. I think the Ritz is a better location so it worked out. I loved Egypt. There is a lot of corruption but I didn’t feel like there was more than other developing countries . I also felt pretty safe. We did small private tours with reputable companies and I felt very safe (even as two women travelling on our own). It was also very cheap. The hotels we stayed at were amazing and service was pretty good.

  19. Love to go to Iran and Saudi Arabia. They have so much culture/artifacts and thousands of years of history and the food (Kebab anyone?)!

  20. As a saudi citizen, idk what will happen to you due to you being gay, but I think you’d be fine even if you were with Ford but don’t do anything remotely sexual it’s just asking for attention, but you’d be fine because you’d be a tourist, but as a citizen it’s not okay to be gay, so it kinda sucks for a lot of people including me

  21. @Lucky or @James @or anyone who can answer…

    My company recently bought my wife and I tickets from MUC-DPS with a stop in SIN both ways on Singapore. Since my company policy is only booking economy tickets, but there’s nothing that says you can’t upgrade the flights yourself to premium economy or business. They book through a travel agent, which is where my question arises. I tried calling Singapore to upgrade to at least premium economy, they say they can’t touch the ticket because it was purchased by a travel agent even though it has a Singapore ticket number and reservation code. So I called the travel company that my company uses, they say they won’t do anything because it’s company policy, but to call Singapore and they will do it. I tried calling Singapore again (the whole, if you don’t succeed the first time, try someone else.) Again, they refused to touch the ticket and referred me back to the travel agency. They would however do it using miles. Who’s right here? Is there a way to get Singapore to upgrade the flight? Also, the return from SIN-MUC is operated by Lufthansa, but the travel agency booked it using the Singapore code-share flight number (I don’t have a Lufthansa reservation code for that leg, it’s still the same Singapore.) Is there a way to use one of my United GPUs on the Lufthansa flight even though it’s booked using the Singapore flight number? The travel agency said she could change my reservation to the Lufthansa flight number, but it would cost $6000 each to do so. Any helpful hints? Thoughts? Ideas? Thank you.

  22. Talking about St Regis Cairo, you should see the story of St Regis Jakarta. They’ve wanted to open a hotel three times in the past now, and now has moved to its fourth, and next upcoming location. And it is always along the lines that a few weeks before its planned opening, a flag change happens.

    As far as I am aware, Keraton at the Plaza was supposed to open as St Regis, but didn’t happen. Then there’s the current Four Seasons Jakarta that’s supposed to open as St Regis, that didn’t happen. Now let’s hope the latest development actually becomes a St Regis.

  23. Having spent considerable time in Saudi and Iran, I agree with @Sam….Iran is a much more exciting choice: culturally rich, visually stunning and , while difficult, not impossible logistically .
    Of course there is a downside: barely a decent hotel, pretty dodgy airlines, all sorts of eccentricities ( restaurants named after Bobby Sands…the IRA guy who starved himself to death in prison, streets named after the guy who killed Anwar Sadat, etc; in addition to the thoroughly unpleasant/vicious lunatics in charge to try to stifle any deviation from ‘the path ‘
    So Saudi is a ‘safer’ choice, but its unbelievably dull. Jeddah is ok, Riyadh is simply awful.
    Sadly Libya and Syria are not possible now. You would have enjoyed both.

  24. Still no Perth-London on Qantas…
    You claim to be the king at trying out first and business class airline products… but seems as though you have dodged this route like the plague…. Still waiting on this review more so than a yet another story about Belgium air or transiting through Cairo.

  25. how about:

    Air Tanzania will be fun! How about Bangkok Airways ‘Blue Ribbon” class?

    Rwandair Business
    Westjet Business
    Air Turkmenistan

    Air Fiji to Tuvalu?

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