Recently, I used my Korean Air Skypass miles (80,000 miles) to redeem a First Class round trip ticket between London and Dubai on Saudia. This is probably one of the best ways to use miles to fly on the otherwise expensive Saudia First Class Suite.
London Heathrow to Riyadh
Saudia use Terminal 4 and the common Skyteam Lounge. There is no separate lounge for the First Class passenger. I recommend the second floor of the Skyteam Lounge as it is quieter and offers some apron views. The food is quite ordinary in the lounge with mostly salad and fruit on offer.
Boarding was delayed by 30 minutes, due to late arrival of the aircraft. There were separate lines and separate boarding bridges. Here are some pictures of The Saudia First Class Suite. The First Class cabin is in a 1-2-1 configuration. The suite is similar to those on The Etihad B777 and Garuda Indonesia B777. There were a total of 11 passengers out of 12 First Class Suites available.
During boarding, I also went down to the Business Class Cabin and took a quite peek. I was impressed with the reverse herring bone seating with direct aisle access in each seat.
Upon knowing an AvGeek made a special effort on this flight, The Captain invited me for a visit to the flight deck, while we are waiting for the clearance. Captain Augustin Ayala is from Mexico while F/O Adi Shah is from Malaysia.
Our flight time to Riyadh would be 5 hours 45 minutes; cruising at 35,000 feet.
Video of my Saudia First Class Flight
After take-off, the flight attendants (pre-dominantly from the Philippines) came and offered Arabic Coffee and dates. They also came around and presented the in-flight menu and pyjamas by Porsche Design. (available on flights over 5 hours)
The First Class dining started with a small plate of seafood followed by Caviar. The presentation left a lot to be desired and wasn’t of First Class standard. I was told on flights to US and Paris, there is a chef on-board (but not to London). From mid-September, all Saudia flights will have a new service standard, let's wait and see what that will be like.
Be aware, Saudia do not serve any alcohol on their flights.
After the caviar, I had a cream of chicken soup before my main course of Cod fillet.After the dinner, I went for a walk to check out the rest of the cabin.
There is a beautiful bar immediately behind The First Class Cabin. But sadly it was not used for this flight. I was told they only use it for long flight to the US. The bar will have snacks and non-alcoholic drinks like fruit juices and mocktails.
It was full in Economy but good to see a 3-3-3 seating configuration which is one seat less than the conventional 3-4-3 config.
Back to First Class, the bed was turned down and I had a 2 hours rest. Flying time to Riyadh from London was a quick 5 hours 40 minutes. As you may have figured from the pictures, the amount of space and privacy in First Class is just fantastic!
First Class Passengers also receive a free Wi-Fi code sent to their phone prior to the flight. I was quite busy enjoying my flight so I didn't manage to get round to browsing the internet.
Shortly before descend into Riyadh, I was invited to the cockpit and took a few pictures during the beautiful overfly of the well-lit city.
My flight on Saudia First Class went above my expectation. There is little marketing of this First Class Suite done outside of Saudi Arabia so it was difficult to know what to expect. The suite is large and offers great privacy. It is on par with many other Middle Eastern Carriers in its hard product offering. Saudia definitely need to improve on the presentation of the meals in First Class. I hope the new service standard they are implementing in September will address this shortcoming.