In this review, we will fly with Saudia in business class from Riyadh to Jakarta on the Boeing 777-300.
Having spent some time in the Saudia Alfursan business lounge, it was finally time to board my connecting flight to Jakarta.
Even though Riyadh airport has clearly demarcated, separate boarding queues, priority boarding was not enforced as the gate agents just started boarding both queues at the same time.
In my case, this didn’t really matter much at all, as it turned out the Boeing 777 which would fly us to Jakarta was departing from a remote stand and we had to board by bus.
Although Saudia does use special first and business class buses when you arrive in Saudi Arabia, these aren’t used for flight departures so as business class passengers you will end up in the same packed buses like everyone else.
Riyadh (RUH) to Jakarta (CGK) on Saudia
Flight SV822 – Boeing 777-300 – Business class, seat 1L
Departure: 01.15am – Arrival: 2pm
Flight time: 8h45m – Distance: 4,561 miles
Costs: 350 EUR for FCO-RUH-CGK
Three Boeing 777 versions
Saudia currently has 35 Boeing 777-300s in its long-haul fleet. These planes come in three different configurations, although only two configurations are primarily used for long-haul flights.
You can see which plane is operating your flight by checking the seat map. If it’s a plane with no first class and five rows of business class seats in a 2-2-2 layout (30 seats in the cabin in total), you are flying on the reconfigured Boeing 777s with proper lie-flat seats.
If you however fly on one of the Boeing 777s with a three-class configuration (with a business class of 36 seats in total) your plane will have the older business class cabin which has outdated and rather uncomfortable angle-flat seats.
A closer look at the seat
So a Boeing 777 with proper lie-flat seats it was for me. As I wrote before, the seats in the cabin are in a 2-2-2 configuration, which is always nice if you are flying as a couple or with a friend.
Sure, these seats do not make the best ever business class product in the skies, nor is it even the best possible business class seat of the Saudi flag carrier as that distinction goes to the Saudia Boeing 787 which has lie-flat seats in a 1-2-1 all-aisle access configuration.
However, these seats still make for a great way to fly long intercontinental distances. In day-time mode, these seats are comfortable to lounge in, both in an upright position and with a slight recline.
When turning the seat fully flat, it makes for a proper bed with plenty of space to stretch out. Being seated in one of the bulkhead seats of row 1, my seat had a huge footwell and plenty of legroom, so you will certainly not feel restricted.
Just over your shoulder you will find a couple of USB charging ports as well as a normal power socket to charge your electronics.
There is a decent amount of storage space over your shoulder as well, while there is also a handy shelf between your TV screen and the footwell to store a laptop, glasses or something of a similar size.
At each seat, a pair of headphones a pillow and a blanket were already placed beforehand by the crew.
After I sat down in my seat of 1L, a friendly flight attendant came over with an amenity kit, which was a similar Porsche Design kit as the one I received on my previous Saudia flight from Rome to Riyadh.
Although I like the stylish pouch, the contents such as eyeshades, a toothbrush and toothpaste and a comb, were not spectacular but just the amenities which you would expect as a bare minimum.
Minutes later, one of the south-east Asian flight attendants came by with refreshment towels and pre-departure beverages. I opted for the intriguing sounding date juice, which was actually fairly tasty and not as bad as I assumed it to be.
The crew also distributed the menu of today’s flight. Even though the flight departed well after 1am, there was still a full dinner service for those who did not want to go to sleep straight away.
Before arrival, a second meal (breakfast) would be served, which makes sense even though the local time of arrival in Indonesia is 2pm as your biological clock is in breakfast-mode after a night’s sleep on the plane.
Before departure, Saudia broadcasts a short video in which a travel prayer from the prophet Muhammed is recited, wishing for a safe and smooth journey.
Boarding took quite some time as our night-time flight to Jakarta seemed to be almost completely full. That was certainly the case in business class, as the occupancy rate was near 95 percent.
Shortly before the doors closed, an elderly Indonesian lady was brought in with a wheelchair, who ended up being my seatmate, dashing my hopes of having an empty seat next to me.
In all fairness, the lady (who didn’t speak a word of English) ended up being a very civil seatmate who very much seemed to enjoy her flight.
As it was dark and we departed away from the city of Riyadh, the views from the window upon departure were pitch black. I was however able to get a glimpse of our take-off by switching the in-flight entertainment channel to one of the two on-board cameras (one gives a front view from the cockpit, while the other one is below the plane giving views of the ground below).
Late night dinner
Once we reached cruising altitude, the lights were put back on in a slightly dimmed state, so that the passengers wishing to go straight to sleep could do so.
Most of the passengers in the business class cabin however seemed to partake in the late night dinner service. As it was almost nine hours to go to Jakarta, I decided to stay up as well to eat something and watch a film before going to sleep.
The menu for today’s flight to Jakarta looked quite attractive. For appetiser, the choice was between the Arabic mezze and the Western starter of grilled prawns and salmon with cream cheese, followed by a choice of soup (Moroccan Harira soup or creamy chicken mushroom soup).
For the main dish, the choice was between baked salmon, chicken relleno and lamb biryani, while the dessert options were a fruit platter, a pistachio & sour cherry gateau, and ice cream.
Saudia business class food
The starter was served some 20 minutes after we reached cruising altitude. I opted again for the Arabic mezze as I’m not a big fan of prawns. The mezze was certainly good, although the one on my previous Saudia flight tasted better.
I liked the fact that Saudia offers a soup between the starter and entrée, which is something which not all airlines do in business class.
The Moroccan Harira soup which was served was absolutely delicious as it was full of flavours and packed quite a bit of spice. The soup was also nicely presented with a small flower at its side.
For my main, I had the lamb biryani – which was very good as well. To end the meal I had a mint tea and the pistachio and sour cherry cake, which was tasty too.
Overall, I was certainly impressed with the quality of the food – which was overall excellent. The only downside was that the meal service took two-and-a-half hours, which is quite long for a red-eye flight in which most passengers might want to max on their sleeping hours.
That said, as I was watching a film which I wanted to finish I wasn’t very bothered by it myself.
Drinks on Saudia
As an airline from a conservative Islamic country, there are no alcoholic drinks served on board your Saudia flight, so you can forget about drinking that glass of champagne in business class.
Even though I certainly like my glass of wine, I don’t mind a ‘dry’ flight as long as there are plenty of alternatives.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case on this flight as the drinks list was rather limited, with basically only having some juices, soft drinks, water, tea and bad-quality coffee available.
Perhaps even worse, just like on my Rome to Riyadh flight, the friendly but unstructured crew somehow did not seem interested in serving drinks at all.
A glass of water was delivered with the meal as standard option, but when I tried to ask for a glass of juice as well they completely forgot about it despite reminding them twice about it.
Fortunately, Saudia finally has acknowledged this as they recently revamped their entire soft product and service protocols. The airline is now offering even better meals and an enhanced drinks list which features among others mocktails and proper barista-made espresso and cappuccino.
Compare for example this business class flight on the Boeing 777 with my Saudia flight to Kuala Lumpur I recently took and you can see how much the airline has improved in both service and its choice of drinks on board, thereby fully addressing the two biggest negatives I could spot on this flight to Jakarta.
As you have probably already seen before in the picture, each business class seat on the Saudia Boeing 777 has a large in-flight entertainment screen which has a decent resolution and is of good quality.
The headphones were a bit flimsy, although the quality was better than I expected.
The contents of the in-flight entertainment system were decent, although don’t expect an exhaustive amounts of films and series like you would find on some of the other Gulf airlines such as Emirates and Qatar Airways.
I ended up watching the film ‘Dunkirk’ – which is a film about British queuing etiquette while under fire at a beach.
These Boeing 777-300s are also equipped with WiFi internet, which I did not test out for speeds and connectivity.
After the film, I managed to have a solid, uninterrupted sleep of almost five hours, waking up when our Boeing 777 was flying over the sea in between Malaysia and the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
Being seated on the starboard side of the plane, there were some lovely views over the Sumatran coastline while I waited for breakfast to be served.
For breakfast, I opted for the American pancakes. It was fine enough – but I felt I should have chosen the beef tapa which my Indonesian seatmate got as it looked much better.
The quality and choice of bread from the bread basket (I took a Danish pastry and croissant among others) was however good.
Soon after, our breakfast trays were cleared and the flight attendants began to prepare the cabin for our arrival into Jakarta.
The views from the window over a smog-covered Jakarta were quite decent. It’s always impressive to land in such Asian megacities just to see the massive urban sprawl.
The landing was smooth and on-time. We first taxied past the freight terminal, then the old terminal with its iconic architecture which nowadays seems to be mostly used by secondary Indonesian airlines, after which we finally arrived at our parking position at the gleaming, relatively new Terminal 3 of Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.
A short line at immigration meant I was through passport control within minutes. After withdrawing some rupiahs from an ATM, I managed to find a taxi to take me to my Jakarta hotel for the next two nights.
I had an excellent flight in business class on the Saudia Boeing 777-300 from Riyadh to Jakarta. The business class product of Saudia on the Boeing 777 is not ground-breaking, but is certainly not bad either.
These lie-flat business class seats are spacious and make for a comfortable night’s sleep. Although this product is a bit older and on paper not as good as the business class seats on the Saudia Boeing 787 which are in a 1-2-1 configuration, the 2-2-2 layout of the Boeing 777 is actually preferred by many passengers who are flying together as a couple or friends.
Being seated next to a stranger, I still felt I had enough privacy and space – even though I would personally certainly prefer Saudia’s reverse herringbone seats on the Boeing 787. Do watch out though that you are not flying on one of the older Boeing 777s of Saudia with angled flat seats – as those are nowhere near as good!
Although the service on this flight was far from polished and there were some hick-ups, the flight attendants were friendly. Meal quality was certainly very good and the portions large.
The sparse amount of different drinks available on my flight did leave quite something to be desired, although this is an issue which Saudia has finally managed to address.
Overall, I can certainly recommend Saudia and would not hesitate flying them again if the price is right.
Trip report index
This article is part of the ‘Journey to Java‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:
1. Review: Wizz Air Bucharest to Rome Ciampino (Airbus A321)
2. Half a Day in Rome: A Walk Around the Eternal City
3. Review: Casa Alitalia Lounge ‘Piazza di Spagna’ Rome Fiumicino Airport
4. Review: Saudia Business Class Rome to Riyadh (Airbus A320)
5. Review: Saudia Alfursan Business Lounge Riyadh Airport
6. Review: Saudia Business Class (Boeing 777-300) Riyadh to Jakarta (current chapter)
7. Review: The Hermitage, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, Jakarta, Indonesia
8. A Day in Jakarta: Exploring Indonesia’s Bustling Capital City
9. Review: Garuda Indonesia Domestic Business Lounge Jakarta Airport
10. Review: Garuda Indonesia Business Class Jakarta to Yogyakarta (Boeing 737-800)
11. Review: The Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta – Mgallery By Sofitel
12. A Magical Sunrise Visit to Borobudur Temple
13. A Visit to the Great Hindu Temple Complex of Prambanan
14. Review: Yogyakarta to Surabaya (Indonesia) by Train
15. Review: Majapahit Hotel, Surabaya
16. Visiting the city of Surabaya
17. Review: Concordia Premier Lounge, Surabaya Airport
18: Review: Singapore Airlines business class Surabaya to Singapore (Airbus A330-300)
19. A quick Singapore stopover
20. Review: Silverkris Lounge Singapore Changi Airport
21. Review: Singapore Airlines business class Singapore to Manila (Boeing 787-10)
22. Review: PAGSS Lounge Manila Airport Terminal 1 Gate 2
23. Review: China Airlines economy class Manila to Taipei (Airbus A330-300)
24. Review: China Airlines Business Lounge Taipei Airport Terminal 1
25. Review: China Airlines Economy Class Taipei to Rome (Airbus A350)
26. Review: TAROM economy class Rome to Bucharest (Boeing 737-700)