I'm passionate about discovering new countries - I've been to 121 independent countries, dependent territories and partially recognised countries so far. Some countries get many tourists, some others get less, an some others do not get almost any at all. Such country is Saudi Arabia which basically hasn't issued tourist visas at all until very recently. But when it was finally announced that tourist visas were available with an easy online application I quickly decided to go. The visa application took five minutes to fill, there were no tricky questions, I paid SAR 463 (about 111 € including insurance) and I got the visa by e-mail half an hour later. I believe that tourism makes countries more open so I think that this is a very positive step.
Business class flights to Riyadh are almost always more expensive than to Dubai or Abu Dhabi. The best choice was eventually to book an open jaw Royal Jordanian flight from Paris to Riyadh with a return to Istanbul for which I had a very reasonably priced deal in business class.
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I woke up at 4am and I was planning to leave my hotel to arrive to the airport on time. But I went down 10 minutes late, I had to pay a local tax at check-out, the Uber driver came 10 minutes late, there were some road closures near the airport and the driver took the wrong road over a long distance so I arrived to the airport only at 5.30. Royal Jordanian uses Terminal 1 which is a smaller, older but well maintained terminal.
Some other destinations from this terminal:
Check-in was slow with several economy class passengers being checked in at the business class desk. Although I was stamped out of the country in two minutes and security took only maybe five I only had a few minutes left for the lounge. The Plaza Premium lounge is near gate 18 one floor up.
The lounge is not too big. It was a bit crowded in the centre but had quite a few empty seats on the sides.
Breakfast spread was very good including cold and hot dishes. I didn’t have time to eat or drink in the lounge (except a not very good cappuccino) and I was planning to eat on the plane anyway.
The boarding gate. Priority boarding was available.
Boarding was by bus. I had a beautiful view of Royal Jordanian’s Embraer E195.
This E195 had the same 1-2 configuration as my inbound plane from Amman – see my flight review from Amman to Riyadh. I had my favourite seat: 1A. Legroom was very good.
I was seated very comfortably. There were however a few small issues that I had not experienced on my inbound flights: the plane was not perfectly clean and the welcome drink was skipped.
A flight time of two hours and five minutes was announced.
Push-back was at 6.40 and take-off at 6.50 from runway 33R for a scheduled departure time of 6.45. Sunrise has already started.
The view over Riyadh Airport during take-off.
A hot towel was offered 10 minutes after take-off.
Breakfast was served another 5 minutes later. While it was a cold breakfast (there are normally no ovens on Embraer aircrafts) it was very impressive: I counted no less than 17 small items! Everything tasted very good.
Only water was served with breakfast. I had some orange juice after I asked for it – but it should have been offered automatically with breakfast. Neither was I asked if I wanted coffee or tea.
I was reading in the remaining flight time (there was no in-flight entertainment – not an issue on a regional flight).
There were some nice views as we approached Amman.
We landed at 7.50 and were at the gate at 7.55 for a scheduled arrival time of 8.10.
Deplaning was by the same luxury bus as on my flight from Paris to Amman.
Thank you for reading my flight report. Please feel free to comment.
Premium Plaza Lounge
Riyadh - RUH
Amman - AMM
Travelling on Royal Jordanian’s business class onboard an Embraer regional jet is very comfortable, especially in seat 1A. While the breakfast was excellent, the service definitely wasn't with no welcome drink, orange juice, tea or coffee offered.
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