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.
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