After waiting a painful hour after landing from Lahore, I was eager to get to the ALFURSAN Lounge,freshen up and have a bite to eat and do some work.
From the outside and even the internal decor is stunning and very much in line with Saudia's vision to be a PREMIUM Airline of choice.
The Noise level was terrible, especially with people having devices on loud,loud chatting,laughing,kids running around. Why allow under 12s in a lounge ? Or why not have a lounge with a kids play area supervised by staff ?
Then again no staff enforce any rules in the lounge and noise is a big deal.
There was serene instrumental piano music playing throughout the lounge and in the washrooms.
Lounge cleaning was frequent and the washroom had a dedicated attendant to keep the toilets immaculate.
This may be a secluded area, but is not a place to really unwind. Announcements are so loud and booming like in a concert hall. The prerecorded voice of the lady which announces Saudia flights sounds like she is saying SAFIA !
Nice foods and I watched as late night Dinner was replaced by breakfast options.
There are no Computers to work on and most printed media was in Arabic and there were no global magazines or newspapers.
During my 8 hour stay, I had that moment that no one wants. I lost my mobile phone. It had my wedding photos and much much more. I walked around the lounge many many times over almost an hour. I was distraught and thought I won't be able to get photos for my flight back home as well as lose all other photos :( A male guest offered to phone my mobile but nothing. The receptionist said he could not make an announcement in the lounge as he had no facility to do so. I gave up and asked him to please seek a Manager or Security. He reluctantly agreed.
I started walking around the lounge again and there she was ! I had put my Golden Beauty on charge in the common charging area and forgotten ! Tragedy averted ! It turns out that my SV123 review would not be as lengthy in the end as I in error double deleted all my flight photos of this flight.
One final thing, when I was brought to the lounge at around midnight, I was told by the Saudia rep that my proposed upgrade would likely go ahead as 2 seats were free in Business Class.
I will now show the lounge during my stay
Due to the flight length and deleting my photos in error, the following is still a review but perhaps not as in depth as mine usually are.
After an eventful night in the lounge, I helped myself to many mini nottles of fruit juice. Bad idea ! as upon arrival at the Manchester gate ( 7) I had to do security again and had to lose all the bottles although the friendly security guy said I was welcome to enjoy these before going through ! I had been told by SV that if seats were available, I would be upgraded to Business Class as a gesture for my bags being lost between Jeddah and Kuala Lumpur. Very disappointed to hear that of the 2 seats available just 8 hours ago, the cabin had become fully sold, I felt very stupid for waiting all night in hope that I would sleep in a nice lie flat bed. Hey ho.
Passengers started being taken downstairs to the busses and I was the first – in fact my escort said to the bus driver I was a VIP !
I am flying HZ-ARC, the same Dreamliner which brought me to Jeddah 2 weeks ago. Would I receive the same amazing service however ? Keep reading !
I was warmly welcome by Steward at door who used my name to personalise the welcome. I felt very valued.
As I was one of the first to board,I headed to the back of the cabin whilst the boarding music/video played throughout the cabin. Immediately you could see that this is a top5 flight as the cabin presentation was very visibly great !
I arrived at my seat and my overhead locker was full with crew baggage. The one next to it had huge bags with kids packs and baby kits.
I noted a Steward with his back to me,taking a lunchbox out of a blue grocery store carrier bag. I went to the galley and said Salaam Alaikum.
This dude clearly did not want to be at work today,he stared at me as if he had seen a ghost. I told him my hand luggage woes and he came into the cabin and pointed to a locker further down from my row. He made a small effort to move the big bags of kidspacks but then stopped and went back to the galley. No welcome aboard, no manners. Nothing. He had two stripe son his epaulettes meaning he was a Senior. Supposedly.
As boarding got underway this weird “Senior” steward started really irritating me. I was sat next to the prayer room. He was eating in full view of passengers, would go through the prayer room, come and stand near myself, then back onto the other aisle. Very weird guy and totally put me off him. It was as if he had stepped straight off last night's Lahore flight and onto this one with his bad attitude.
At 0805am there was an Arabic welcome then English.
There was a queue for washrooms snaking into the Prayer Room ; kids crying added to the strange atmosphere.
Supervisor Mohammed came to introduce himself to me and shook hands. This was most unexpected but I guess word had got round that my upgrade had not been succesful, Nonetheless it was nice !
He said if there is anything to make my flight more comfortable to let him know ; I joked that I wish I was in Businesss Class ! Sadly the seat next to me was occupied.
The safety video played in n Arabic then English just as the crew handed out menucards and earphones. Strange to see this during the video and even more so as a third item, a leaflet was being handed out to passengers but our steward ran out by the time he got to 3 rows away. Towel service began – of the two young british Asian guys in front of me, one asked “what do I do with this ? to a steward named Mohammed” ! Erm freshen up ?!
Pushback was at 0820am to the Dua E Safar video playing and enroute to the runway I saw a RAM 738 and many aircraft of flyadeal, the easyJet/Southwest of Saudi Arabia !
At 0840am, we powered up for takeoff to Manchester. Some of the views in absence of my deleted photos and videos :(
0852am and an insecticide announcement was made and was then sprayed by crew.
Kids packs were handed out and at 0930am came drinks.
A Supervisor came by to ask if i'm ok, I menioned I had used all my cash up on this journey – he joked that I am rich and have many many dollars !
The IFE all went off and was rebooted quickly.
Mango juice was served by Steward Mohammed – he smiled and said enjoy !
A look at the menu ; I have to admit I was expecting a much more elaborate offering
Breakfast taking soooooooo long. I wanted to sleep as exhausted and asked if I may have it rightaway please.Mr Faisal a Supervisor went away and brought my bistro items and tabkecloth. I was very grateful.
I asked for a drink but it was brought by the misery guts who had been weird during boarding (bald guy with beard ). He handed this with no smile or any words. Clearly this guy loves representing Saudia and Saudi Arabia. God help us.
If you have no pride in your job then why stay in it and make others feel bad ? I chose the Eggs Shakshuka option and this was extremely delicious ! The Muesli was honeyliciously creamy !
I asked Mohammed for the meatball option – he said "I care about you and I will get it".
Mr Misery Guts uttered something in Mohammed's ear. Suddenly I ended up not getting my second choice so cleared away my table and went to sleep. Meal service was super slow. Its should be renamed BistroSlow. Before sleeping I told the Supervisor Mr Faisal about last night's poor experience from Lahore and the attitude of his colleague on this flight, He made brief notes and said he will feed it back.
I slept for what felt like an eternity.
Over Southern England,a prelanding Snack box was served with drinks. This had a tub of of Hummus with Arabic bread, a Patchi chocolate and a delicicous creamy rice pudding.
I did not view the IFE,I am sure it had not changed much from last night anyway !
1220pm descent started as I was using the wifi to let family know I am on my way back !
Views before landing
We landed at 1245pm.
The Saudia corporate video played - I loved the music as it marked the end of an exciting trip !
I asked for a photo with some of my lovely crew.
I specifcailly asked Misery guts as I did not want him to be in it as other crew asked him to be in it !
An African Stewardess smiled as I said she's been really nice to everyone and she said she hoped I'd fly Saudia again.
Supervisor Nawzi was stood by the door when I disembarked and she was sorry about my baggage issue in Malaysia but was happy I had got my suitcases back !
Walking past a Virgin 747 resting between USA flights - under a year later the 4 engined Queen would no longer be flying these despite the Airline's entire existence having been famed for 4 engined flying machines :(
Despite getting through automated passport control in mere seconds, it took quite a while to get baggage due to baggage belt breaking down.
And so comes to the end of a mega trip which saw me celebrate my 40th birthday and get married ! Although this is part 1 of my wedding ! Thanks for reading and see you soon for more indepth and colourful flight reviews !
Saudia announced an Amsterdam-Jeddah service from March 2020, having last flown here in 1991 via Frankfurt. The service was halted soon after due to the pandemic but is due to start again soon on a 787.
Saudia also introduced a new uniform. The Gents look immaculate but the Airhostess uniform is very dissappointing and is a rip off of Oman Air's hat and Emirates' white scarf. Saudia has enough power to lead with it's own identity and I sure hope it does.
Once again the Bistro service lasted a large chunk of this medium haul flight. Add to that a very miserable and young crewmember who has been made a Senior and it is disheartening to end my trip like this. Overall I am however deeply impressed with Saudia and hope that next time I fly,that I will have consistently amazing experiences. Cabin Crew training is required as noted across flights 2,3 and 4 of this set.