On July 28th, I started my journey to South Africa with Saudia Airlines via Jeddah. My first flight was a bit delayed but a fast boarding process was able to make up for some of the lost time. We boarded our aircraft from Terminal 2 at Madrid, the home of most SkyTeam alliance flights. Saudia operates this flight daily to connect Europe with many cities in the middle and far east, where Saudia provides it’s strongest network.
Airline: Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia)
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9 registration HZ-ARD
Times: SV226 Madrid 2:55 p.m. departure -> Jeddah 9:45 p.m. arrival
Route: Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD/LEMD) to Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED/OEJN)
Class/Seat: Economy / 38A
Having already finished the boarding and on our way to the active runway, the airline displayed a Muslim prayer on the seatback entertainment screen. A few minutes after takeoff, the seatbelt sign was turned off and we could freely move around the economy section of this Boeing 787-9, which houses 298 passengers. At the rear of the aircraft, there was a prayer room, something that is very rare or non-existent onboard European airlines. Saudi Arabian Airlines has a very efficient online check in process, giving you the chance to choose your own seat without additional costs, something that is becoming increasingly rare. It also offered 2 free checked bags per person. I decided to take the window seat 38A; this seat was located in the center of the wings and towards the front of the economy cabin.
If you are a fan of wing views, I’d recommend choosing seats a bit behind row 38, around rows 39 to 41, in order to be able to see the ground below. Each seat had blankets and a pillow, as well as an IFE device that included a remote.
The seat pitch compared to other airlines I’ve flown with was very good, as I am 1.85m (6′ 0″) tall and I still had more than enough space between the front seat and my legs. Per usual with the 787 Dreamliner, the windows do not have window shades but rather a device where you can control the amount of light outside the aircraft you want in.
Only one meal was served during this 5 hour flight. The passengers could decide between a fish or meat meal, in which I decided to take the meat meal. This meal contained cooked carrots, potatoes, zucchini, and meat. On the side, there was a small selection of salmon slices, a varied vegetable salad, a chocolate cake, and a small water bottle. Every other passenger I observed got bread, but the flight attendant did not serve me any. I waited to see if they noticed but no luck. Very weird. When I told the FA’s they brought me my bread almost when I had finished everything, which was quite disappointing. Drinks were given out and later on the flight tea and coffee were offered. To my surprise, we even got real cutlery!
The flight went by in no time thanks to the great inflight entertainment. It offered a big variety of Arabian and Hollywood movies as well as American/European T.V. shows. Not only you were able to see movies, but you also could listen to different music genres or play a game. One little detail that interested me: whenever a skimpily dressed woman appeared in a movie/series the picture was blurred.
At around 10 p.m. local time, we arrived in Jeddah. JED does not have any gates at it’s terminals, so expect being driven by bus to the terminal. After the fast deboarding, we were on our way to the S terminal to retrieve our bags.
In conclusion, I’d gave this flight a 7 out of 10. The flight in general was pretty enjoyable, but the cabin crew didn’t take care of the passengers as well as you’d expect them to. In many cases, I observed them being quite unfriendly with passengers. If you want to experience an Arabian airline but you cant afford paying for the world-class service aboard Emirates or Etihad, then this is a solid 2nd option.
Featured photo from paineairport.com