This is part two of SV41, from Riyadh to Los Angeles. In the first installment of this report, I covered the short flight from RUH to JED and the ground stop in Jeddah. This flight covers the 16hr journey from Jeddah to Los Angeles.
Saudia 777-300ER First Class Service
Around 4am the new crew boarded the 777-300ER and introduced themselves. The lovely Ashnia (pictured center below) would primarily care for my side of the aisle but there was some interaction with all crew members over the long flight. On this flight, the three female crew members working first class were from the Philippines.
The service struck a great balance between friendliness and professionalism. Not only was it polished, but also genuinely warm. Good conversation took place, not forced and not the sort of awkward niceties that are often customarily exchanged.
I also appreciated that the crew took the time to make things looks nice…like adding flowers when offering candy prior to landing.
Saudia 777-300ER First Class Chef + Dining
The highlight of the flight, was Chef Rahmi and the beautiful meals he prepared. I already wrote about the Turkish chef earlier…he was great. So great I’d easily label him the best chef I’ve ever had on any flight.
He came around to each seat, introduced himself, and went through the menu, stressing that he was at our disposal to customize any dish on the (extensive) menu. He was on top of his game. This was no FA who dressed up in a chef outfit: he was truly a gifted chef and it showed in the way he prepared each course of each meal.
For example, I ordered an omelet for breakfast. He asked if 1.) how I like the consistency of my eggs, 2.) what kind of cheese I wanted in the omelet, and 3.) what kind of herbs, if any, I would like the eggs seasoned with.
While Lufthansa and Cathay Pacific offer freshly-prepared eggs onboard, this level of customization was on a whole different level.
Here’s the menu for the flight–
Prior to takeoff, a choice of fruit juices as well as a date smoothie was offered. This time I chose strawberry juice. I appreciate that although Saudia is a dry airline, there is a good selection of fresh juices onboard which I frankly prefer to alcohol when trying to combat jet lag.
We took off around 5:55a from runway 34 as the sun began to rise in Jeddah.
Right after takeoff, Ashnia offered Arabic coffee and a dish that contained a date and chocolate.
Shortly thereafter, the table was laid for breakfast. I had ordered breakfast with Rahmi prior to takeoff.
Saudi First Class Breakfast
The table was beautifully set and fresh-squeeze orange juice offered.
My cloth napkin was tired with a gold braid.
First up for breakfast was yogurt with berries and a side of fresh fruit. Bread was also offered including a croissant, muffin, sweet roll, and whole grain roll.
For the main course, I ordered an omelet with Gruyere cheese and basil. It included a side of potatoes and salad as well as two asparagus spears.
Not surprisingly, it was delicious. I also enjoyed some delicious crustless toast that was flavored with pesto.
After taking a nap, I woke up and rang the FA call button…surprisingly I was hungry again. Rahmi appeared and was excited to offer a snack. I noticed pizza was on the menu and decided to give it a try. Rahmi asked what I wanted on it, offering me a variety of toppings. I chose cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and basil.
Unrequested, Rahmi brought out canapés while the pizza was cooking. How was the pizza? Tremendous. Not your typical pizza, but very delicious.
A hot chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream served as a perfect end to the meal.
Mid-Flight Buffet in Galley
Even with food on-demand during the flight, a “buffet” was available in the rear galley. It contained snacks, whole fruits, fresh squeezed juices and water.
Keep in mind Jeddah to LA is 16 hours…that’s a long day. About two hours prior to landing the great feast began.
First, a smoothie with mixed nuts including pistachios.
The table was again beautifully set and bread basket offered. I opted for garlic bread (excellent) and some pita bread for the coming Arabic mezze course.
Again, Chef Rahmi went the extra mile. As I walked to the lavatory I noticed he was making several amuse-bouches for the first class cabin. This was not on the menu and he was not following any guide…he just winged it. Quite well, I must add.
Next up was a roasted potato leek soup, simply delicious.
Then came caviar. Rahmi asked if I would like it served opened or unopened.
I’d say the one thing that was missing was a palate cleanser, which would have been greatly appreciated. The mint lemon drink served as a fair substitute, though.
Next up was a mezze course: very light with two stuffed grape leaves, hummus, pickles, a cherry tomato, and olive.
Time for the main course? Not yet. First a salad course. Dressed with a tangy balsamic vinaigrette and included shaved parmesan cheese and walnuts.
The Feast Continues
Finally, the main course arrived. Lamb is my favorite dish so I opted for the lamb shoulder. I also felt like some pasta. No problem, said Chef Rahmi. While lamb shoulder with fettuccini is perhaps not a common combo, it worked perfectly. The tomato sauce tasted homemade and the lamb was incredibly tender.
Dessert included a pistachio tart and triple mousse cake with fresh raspberries (I had requested berries early in the flight and Rahmi continued to find them during the flight) and a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
My first cappuccino tasted like powder. When I told Chef Rahmi a horrified look spread over his face and he personally made me (a far better) cappuccino to go with dessert.
What an incredible meal. I hope my pictures do it some justice.
Saudia 777-300ER First Class Seat
I covered the Saudia First Class Suite extensively in earlier posts, but I’ll note again the seat was very comfortable in all positions and I slept well for seven hours after breakfast and again for a short nap later in the flight.
The suite offered three USB outlets and a single power port. A closet was just big enough for my coat and a small shopping bag. Thankfully, individual air nozzles were available and utilized.
I’ve had better bedding on other carriers, but the mattress pad, pillow, and blanket all helped me to sleep well. The blanket has a satin finish and is quite light.
Saudia 777-300ER First Class IFE + Internet
Noise cancelling headphones were present in the seat and of above-average quality. Saudia heavily edits its movies (sex and nudity of course, but even low-cut blouses and kissing) but doesn’t seem concerned about violence. I watched an old move with Julia Roberts and Mel Gibson called The Conspiracy Theory which was pretty decent.
Before landing, an LAX guide was screened:
The only truly disappointing thing about the flight was that the internet did not function. 16hrs is a long time to be disconnected and it is sad that Saudia chose OnAir for its internet service, a reliability poor provider. After wasting 45 minutes trying to connect, I simply gave up.
Saudia 777-300ER First Class Amenity Kit
Saudia offers a fairly nice amenity kit that somewhat mimics the hardshell Rimowa amenity kits. Contents included Acca Kappa skincare products, a comb, eyeshade, dental kit, and some sort of Apple lightning cable extender.
Saudia 777-300ER First Class Pajamas
Pajamas were branded by Porsche and quite comfortable. Most importantly (for me), the pants included pockets. I requested XL thinking they would be on the smaller side, but as it turned out they were quite large. L would have been better, but I have so many pajamas it did not matter.
Saudia 777-300ER First Class Sleep Kit
Aside from the main amenity kit, when my bed was made a sleep kit was offered, that included Apsara spa products including foot cream…which I did not use.
Saudia 777-300ER First Class Souvenir
A suite guide was included in the suite’s literature rack, which included a seat guide, menu, and a great souvenir: a first class luggage tour.
Saudia 777-300ER First Class Lavatory
First Class had access to three lavatories, two in the front and one in the rear. These were also shared by the pilots. None were oversized, but they were kept clean and included amenities from Apsara and a fresh flower. Each toilet included a bidet.
I’ll be honest, my expectations were low flying Saudia First Class. Not only were they easily exceeded, but Chef Rahmi set the standard in terms of what an onboard chef should be like. Meals were excellent, service great, and suite comfortable. If you can deal without alcohol, by all means flying Saudia. It was an incredible flight.
Interesting and informative review. Delighted to say that my 2 recent trips with Saudia on a 787 to Jeddah and on a A320 to Frankfurt, both in business were excellent
Dry Airline = NO THANKS!
It’s honestly not bad. And no fear of “legless” passengers.
Matthew, you say the pizza was “not your typical” pizza. Obviously that means it wasn’t prepared like a pizza at a pizza place. If you’re able to, how was it different from a pizza that we might make if we tried to from scratch?
Hi Alan, I wish you could see the pictures. Hard to describe, but it wasn’t standard pizza dough, instead the bread was somewhere between what we commonly think of as pizza bread and pita. It also contained far less cheese. But it was still great.
Happy New Year to you!
Thanks Matthew. I appreciate that. It sounds interesting.
I flew Saudi first and business a couple of times and I will never fly with them again.
I must admit the food was good and so were the non-Saudi hostesses.
But the airport handling and the male Saudi crew brings the product down to the bottom.
It is the total experience that counts, and I noticed you did not include anything about Jeddah airport, which is hands down the worst airport in the world, and the rude Saudi cabin crew. Your chef Rahmi was not Saudi and neither were the hostesses.
I was so appalled at my last experience that I complained to Saudi Airlines in Jeddah and the Saudi official actually admitted that it is the Saudi culture which is to blame and that they are trying hard to change it (with obviously no progress).
Thank you Matthew. I enjoyed reading your review and the staff loves reading as well. We are very proud of our Band Name and our staff. Each staffmember brings a personal quality that can be recreated anywhere else. They are the trusted service that make us who we are…..We will be looking forward to seeing everyone flying with us….much love. FAREED SAUDIA!
FAREED means unique . Our Band and our Staff bring a personal uniqueness that can be found no place else. Come be unique with us
Crown Princess Mayaalla MuQaddim bint Abdullah
Thank you for nice article and great photos.Glad to know that our hospitality on board satisfy your expectations.