On the Ground: Flying out of JFK can be challenging; however, Saudi Arabian Airlines’ location in the front of Terminal 1 makes it easily accessible. Check-in was swift, handled by a friendly team. Although TSA screening was busy, the line moved quickly, and I headed to the lounge to unwind and check emails prior to departure.
Saudia’s business-class lounge, shared with Korean Air, is conveniently located close to the exit of the security area. Floor-toceiling windows overlooking the runway give this room a pleasant, open feeling despite the busy traffic. It offers a nice array of sandwiches and great desserts, including bite-sized baklava for those who have a sweet tooth. You’ll find everything you could ask for in a business-class lounge: plenty of seating; complimentary WiFi; a sleek, modern design; and friendly service. My gate sat just a short breezeway from the lounge, and I headed there a few minutes before pre-boarding.
Pre-Flight: We boarded the Boeing 777-300ER right on time. Attendants took us through a separate entrance, eliminating a long wait in line to board, and showed us to our seats. The crew quickly offered cardamom-flavored Arabic coffee and dates, as well as a selection of fruit juices. I set up my electronics and prepared for the long flight to Riyadh. Attendants distributed overnight amenity kits to all passengers; special children’s bags for those under the age of 12 included books, games and other items to keep them occupied. I thought this was a nice touch.
In-Flight: The Boeing 777 is a lovely aircraft and offers a bright and open environment. Once we reached cruising altitude, I got situated for the 12-hour flight. The business-class seat offers a flat, comfortable 180-degree bed; most passengers want to sleep during the flight. A large screen offers a host of movie channels and music in multiple languages.
The dinner menu included a selection of traditional Arabic fare followed by two types of soup and a choice of three entrées — lamb shank, mixed seafood or chicken buryani. I enjoyed the mixed seafood — quite tasty. Breakfast was also served and included a choice of omelets, fruits, yogurts and sweets.
Riyadh Airport is user-friendly and spotless. Customer service representatives whisked us away to the business-class lounge where we awaited our connection to Dubai.
◆ Saudia’s flight attendants are friendly, attentive and highly responsive.
◆ Saudia’s business class is comfortable and makes the long flight enjoyable.
First opened in 1742 by George William Wilton, a seller of oysters, shrimp and cockles near Haymarket in London, Wiltons continued drawing diners with its delicious food for more than two centuries. This summer, Wiltons celebrates its 280th birthday and its place as one of London’s most beloved fine-dining establishments with a unique dining experience.
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