Saudia Business Class Trip Report: Saudia’s Jeddah Lounge and Jeddah-Lahore

Pakistani Correspondent continues her guest post describing the experience flying Saudia business class, which she redeemed using American Express Membership Rewards points transferred to Delta.

Here’s her previous installment:

And now P.C. continues with the Saudia lounge in Jeddah and arriving in Lahore, Pakistan.

Welcome to King AbdulAziz International Airport, Jeddah.

The airport is fairly small but the signs for the Saudia lounge were misleading. Also, as an unacompanied female, I was not allowed to remain in transit for more than 18 hours but this wouldn’t be a problem because my onward flight was supposed to leave long before that.

Eventually, I found the lounge on my own because no one wanted to talk to me and kept redirecting me to talk to someone else, or asked if I was unaccompanied.

The lounge was quite busy, spacious and well stocked! There was a general dining area, 2-3 wings of food layout, and a separate female prayer room where I eventually went to sleep. There were no showers or reclining chairs.

There was tons of hot and cold food. Since my onward flight was forever delayed, I got dinner and breakfast at the lounge.

There was tabouleh salad, hummus, smoked salmon, cheeses and olives that was all wrapped and pre-plated. Even fresh fruit pieces were cut, plated, and wrapped. There was no option to get a whole Kiwi.

Lots of wrapped and plated desserts, including macaroons!

There was also tons of hot food buffet style.

Thankfully, the lounge had all sorts of chargers and WiFi, so I kept myself entertained, however, YouTube was blocked!

Most women had their heads covered but you didn’t have to and the lounge was not segregated though there were separate prayer rooms.

Almost all the lounge staff was South Asian. The Cappuccino maker was excellent and there was non-alcoholic beer.

There was nothing to do and nowhere to go besides the Saudia lounge (the only lounge at the airport). I noticed a bunch of people paid to just come and hang out in the lounge.

Besides the gates and general area, there was one corner of duty free shopping that stocked various kinds of tobacco, dates, and huge cans of Orange Tang, Nido and Milo.

Unfortunately, I was stuck in Jeddah for what seemed like forever because all flights to Lahore were indefinitely delayed with no information on when they would leave. If I didn’t have lounge access, I probably would have rotted a lot more.

The screen displayed in the lounge did not provide updated flight times for Lahore. Unfortunately, Lahore airport is not functional when the fog is very bad, and no one had any clue about when the fog would lift so flights could land in Lahore. There were really no updates/alert/information till 9:00am when all three flights to Lahore left together and thankfully I was on one of them! Finally departing from Jeddah:

After more than 12 hours of delay, I was very excited to finally board my 747-300 plane to Lahore. There were only 2 passengers in business i.e. there were about 20 empty seats!

I guess Saudia doesn’t do upgrades. The air hostess told me my juice was carrot, but it was definitely orange.

The headphones I got were broken, the audio did not work and the main screen in the cabin had some national geographic documentary that was stuck on repeat with no way to listen to it anyway.

By this time, I was quite tired and anxious and the cabin crew seemed visibly tired and irritated as well. There was a choice of omelet, pancake or foul platter for breakfast but in my zombie land I turned down all the service and opted to just read till landing.

It really was foggy in Lahore and ours was the first flight to land when visibility conditions improved (finally)

You could barely see the terminal from the landing strip. I have never been so happy seeing the ground crew waiting for my plane and couldn’t wait to get out!

Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore:


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. P.C. – Thanks for taking us through a journey most of us will never take. You are a natural and I am happy that you had a great time travelling to Lahore. Some of your observations are an eye opener.

    P.S. I would have liked to see some pictures of the 747 seating. Did you sit upstairs?

  2. great report – I love the reference to “foul plate”! If only there was a picture to prove how foul the plate was.

    The only thing I would be weary about is the cut fruit and cold salads in the lounge- I have gotten sick eating such items from a foreign airport lounge.

  3. isnt the scheduled layover normally 12 hours? + your 12 hour delay…24hrs, which is over 18hrs alloted to unaccompanied women?

  4. re:layover, I did ask the lounge attendant if it was a problem that I had overstayed my limit. The gentlemen informed me that they would try to get me “out” on the next flight: which was the one I was waiting for!

  5. PC,
    I’m glad someone else has experienced what I go through each month on Saudi Airlines. I love how you said that you guess Saudia doesn’t upgrade. Well, just to confirm it for you; they don’t unless you know someone at the gate or on the aircraft. They also tend to fly their older planes to Pakistan and a few other countries. Thanks for sharing your flight on Saudia.

  6. Yikes – great report, but makes me shudder!
    What a nightmare….I too wonder what would
    happen if an unaccompanied female is stuck, through
    no fault of her own, unable to leave the
    country after 18 hours. Don’t think I will be
    looking to find out.

  7. Yeah, I won’t be looking to fly Saudia either, but every airline has something good about it. In Saudia’s case, it looks like the food in their lounges. Just like the United Club. 🙂 I even wonder if their non-alcoholic beer might be better than the beer you can get for free in a USA airline lounge.

  8. Reminds me of my travel from Amman to Delhi one time on a Royal Jordanian flight – instead of the two class plane for the flight they switched to one with coach seating only and the plane did not seem to have been cleaned before reuse. As if the indignity of being downgrading me from Biz to coach was not enough, one of the toilets in the front was stinking and had a clogged sink and the flight attendants tried to push everyone towards that one sparing the clean, non-stinking one for the pilots and crew. I had to tell them off to use the clean toilet, more or less ‘reserved’ for their own use. In flight service was also poor and there was nothing Royal about the Royal Jordanian airline. I would probably not fly them anytime soon, if ever.

  9. I just want to add that the 18 hour max layover is not just for unaccompanied women but anyone without a visa. Though the airport does seem boring, I would probably be just as bored at many other airports (Abu Dhabi for one) after a long haul flight.

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