Tried & Tested

Flight review: Saudia A320 business class

27 Oct 2017 by BusinessTraveller
Saudia-A320

BACKGROUND
Saudia’s A320 fleet is configured in two classes – economy and business. In turn, there are at least two different configurations of this – the one I flew on was version two which entered the fleet in 2012. The carrier operates the A320 on routes with lower demand and also on some European routes such as Frankfurt, Munich and Geneva. The aircraft has 20 business class and 96 economy class seats in total.

CHECK-IN
I arrived at Jeddah King Abdulaziz International airport at 0730 for flight SV168 to Frankfurt departing at 0955, a flight of five hours and 30 minutes. Saudia’s priority check-in is quick and easy to find; there was one desk for first class (long-haul and top tier with Saudia) and two for business class as well as the economy desk check-ins. Security took about two minutes to clear since this was not a peak time at the airport (I have heard it gets busy for example for night time departures).

BOARDING
At 0915 I headed for Gate C11. All gates at the Jeddah terminal are bus-gates, just one of the reasons regular flyers will be looking forward to the new terminal opening in 2018.

There was a separate line for business class and Saudia’s top tier loyalty members. The bus was already waiting, the ride was smooth to aircraft, which was parked far away close the pilgrim-terminal. The bus ride took about 15 minutes and I was at my seat at 0935.

On board, I was welcomed with a choice of water, fresh orange and lemon juice, and was offered a selection of international newspapers and magazines. The generous amenity kit containing socks, an eye mask, earplugs, toothbrush, lip balm, hand cream and face moisturiser. At the seat has been placed a blanket and a pillow. Headphones (noise-cancelling) had been handed out after take-off.

Saudia A320

THE SEAT
This Saudia A320 has 20 business class seats set across five rows, configured 2-2 (A-C, H-K). In front of the cabin, thre is one washroom and the galley. A bulkhead and curtains separate the cabin from economy class at the rear. I was sitting at 2A, a window seat. The load was light, only four passengers in business class.

The recliner-seat (54 degrees recline) was comfortable and spacious, and is similar to some of the old business class seats of the 1980s. The seats recline to a lie-flat position. My seat was 21 inches wide with a pitch of 54 inches. I had an adjustable headrest, though the footrest was a bit tricky to adjust. The middle armrest, which I shared with my neighbour, had a built-in space for a drink. The tray table came out of the armrest on the opposite. The IFE Screen is located in the middle armrest, and offers a handset with a was placed in the armrest.

All business class seats have a Thales i5000 system featuring AVOD (Audio Video On-Demand). However, the IFE system had been broken on this flight, though when it is working, it has about 80 films, TV, music and gaming options. Wifi was available on your personal device so you can access an inflight map, news and a survey, with good connectivity. There is not enough bandwidth for you to check emails.

WHAT SEAT TO CHOOSE?
All business class seats are the same. The front row behind is also closest to the washrooms and galley. The back row (five) is nearest the bassinets in the front row of economy, although I wasn’t disturbed at all on this flight. Otherwise, choose window or aisle depending on your preference from rows two to four.

Saudia Seat-in-recline

THE FLIGHT
We pushed back a few minutes ahead of schedule at 0952. There was quite a long taxi because of the huge size of the apron and long taxiways, and we took off at 1010. A menu for breakfast was brought around, and juice or water was offered about 20 minutes into the flight, hot and cold refresher towels has been offered.

On Saudia you can decide the time when you want to eat. I had a very good breakfast in the lounge before, so I decided to use some time for work and ordered my meal in about an hour from when the friendly Egyptian flight attendant had asked me at 1030.

On the breakfast menu were fresh seasonal fruits and a cheese selection with dried fruit and nuts. I had cereal to start. There are three hot entrées on the menu: a so-called fluffy omelette (with cherry tomato stew and sautéed sliced potatoes); Ful medames (mashed fava beans, offered with olive oil, dough and fresh couscous salad) and french toast, served with apple and blueberry compote. Alongside, there were breads, danish pastries and croissants on offer.

All were served on elegant dishes together on a tray with mini salt and pepper shakers. Saudia is a “dry” airline, meaning there is no alcohol served onboard. The meal was served exactly at the time I was expecting while, fresh coffee was served earlier on my request. It looks that Saudia spends quite some money on catering.

I reclined my seat and rested for about an hour, appreciating the comfort of the seat. The flight passed quickly and before long it was an hour and a half before landing and a hot and tasty chicken sandwich was served. Other options included chicken breast salad or fruit salad.

Saudia breakfast-omlette

ARRIVAL
We landed at Frankfurt T2 ahead of schedule at 1438, but we had a nearly 20 minute-long taxi from the end of the airport to the gate at the terminal. Immigration was quick, and as I had no bag, I didn’t have to wait for luggage.

VERDICT
A good service for a medium haul flight. The food and drink offering was adequate for this route. It would be interesting to compare the long-haul product, especially on the new B787s and 777s. When the new terminal at Jeddah airport opens next year, there will be an increase on ground comfort as well.

Kurt Hofmann
DEPARTURE TIME 0955
JOURNEY TIME 5h30 minutes
AIRCRAFT TYPE Airbus A320
CONFIGURATION 2-2
SEAT WIDTH 21 inches
SEAT PITCH 54 inches
SEAT RECLINE 54 degrees
CONTACT saudia.com

 

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