JFC Honest Airline Reviews — Saudia Airlines, and more…

JFC Honest Airline Reviews — Saudia Airlines, and more…

    You're scrolling Google Flights and see an absolutely amazingly low price to the country that’s top of your travel bucket list. The only problem? It’s with an airline you didn’t even know existed!

    Over our years of flight finding, we’ve learned that some of you have favourite airlines (…and others you’d never be seen handing your suitcase to!).

    Considering that we live and breathe travel, who better to trust than team JFC — we’re the travellers who’ve been in the trenches! Lost luggage, surprise delays, hidden fees, and the endless quest for edible aeroplane food, we've been there!

    So we thought we would compile all of our experiences in a set of very honest airline reviews. We’ll look into alllllll the details, from how clean their toilets are to how tasty their in-flight snacks are. We’ll also point out which airlines have the best onboard Wi-Fi, the cushiest seats, and which…don’t impress. 

    Think of us as Skytrax without the questionable alliances…

    Onboard? Great, let’s take off! 

    A very honest review of Saudia Airlines

    Last summer, our flight finders discovered an absolutely insane error fare to Tanzania via Milan for £165 rtn including a checked bag. Twelve minutes of scrambling for passports and credit cards, and voilà! Six members of the team were booked.

    Once the high wore off, the inevitable question arose… “Has anyone actually flown with Saudia before?”

    Nope! And the reviews we found online were a little off-putting. From unfriendly staff to broken facilities, our expectations were low. 

    But, after taking the 2-in-1 trip with them, and bouncing around Tanzania and Zanzibar for ten days, we feel like we definitely had the full Saudia package, and we can now share our thoughts on this whole experience.

    Flight & aircraft details:

    1. SV210 — Milan Malpensa (MXP) to Jeddah (JED) on an Airbus A321-251NX
    2. SV463 — Jeddah (JED) to Dar es Salaam (DAR) on an Airbus A320-214
    3. SV460 — Dar es Salaam (DAR) to Jeddah (JED) on an Airbus A320-214
    4. SV101 — Jeddah (JED) to London Gatwick (LGW) on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

    👎🏻 — Although all the planes were branded with a fresh coat of paint, featuring Saudia’s new logo and colours, we definitely felt a drop in quality from planes connecting Saudi Arabia and Tanzania. While the first and last planes that we boarded had wider and comfier seats, wider screens and some additional features like a footrest, the middle two planes felt a bit older. Considering these two legs were overnight, this ultimately impacted our comfort levels and sleep.

    👍🏻 — We knew our last flight was gonna be a special one when Deal & Content Lead Tristan mentioned, ‘Oh nice! It’s a dreamliner!’. The plane was waaaaaay bigger than the previous ones, with rows of eight seats instead of six. The seats were comfier too,   complete with higher quality headrests, extra leg space and even a footrest. The windows? Tinted, baby!

    General Facilities 

    While we got the usual sleeping set of a blanket and a pillow, on each leg, we were treated to a hot towel at take-off — fancyyyy!

    Saudia's TVs on the back of each seat were modern and on par with most other long-haul airlines we've flown with. The screens were large, relatively ‘new-looking’ and were able to be angled according to your preference.

    The touch-screens all worked seamlessly, which was a good thing since none of them had the option of a remote control. Earphones were given out complimentary — which is standard lately, but as plastic earphones go, they were pretty comfy.

    There was a USB-A and even a USB-C charging port next to each screen, and a UK/EU charging plug socket under each seat. 

    Another piece of tech that we loved was the fact that they had complimentary Wi-Fi for economy! Although none of us managed to get social media working, we could all send texts through iMessage and WhatsApp, which — considering we paid £165 rtn — felt like a luxury!

    But the real highlight was on our last flight, connecting Jeddah to London: the complimentary amenity kit we were offered! This included a sleeping mask, earplugs, toothbrush and toothpaste, and a pair of anti-slip socks. Since this isn't a guarantee for all long-haul flights (even if they're full service), it was a nice touch from the airline — perks of flying on a Saudia Dreamliner, I guess?


    Considering long-haul flight standards, the food met our expectations and the service felt consistent across all 4 of our flights. We got the usual offering (vegetarian) pasta or chicken, and special-requirements meals (vegan, gluten-free options, etc) could be requested before check-in.

    However, we were continuously treated to unexpected munchies and soft drinks throughout the flight. Apart from trolleys filled with juice and water glasses passing every 30 minutes, Flight Finder Lauren was even offered a glass of water while queuing for the bathroom! It’s the little touches, eh?

    Plus, the crew even allowed a couple of us to have breakfast after we snoozed past the breakfast service — yum.


    Considering the moral criticisms Saudia Arabia receives from the International Community, our expectations of Saudia’s entertainment were quite low. However, as soon as our fingers started tapping on the TV screens, we were met with an impressive, diverse, and up-to-date movie selection from a range of countries.

    Though, in amongst the usual blockbusters — including Barbie and Oppenheimer! — there were some sneaky self-promoting Saudi Arabia documentaries that piqued our interest…

    Cultural Aspects

    While not immediately obvious, there were definitely some cultural aspects to the flight that you probably wouldn’t find on a British Airways plane.

    Before take-off, an unexpected audio recording accompanied by a video filled the cabin. The voice recited an Islamic prayer in Arabic, invoking blessings for a safe journey. Which, if anything, definitely just set a positive tone for the flight ahead. 

    If you’re someone who prefers staring at the in-flight map rather than a movie, you might be surprised to see one additional feature… a Mecca tracker! 

    This was pretty cool, and there was also a special announcement when we flew directly over it.

    Top tip: If you aren’t in need of Islamic prayer time updates, you’ll need to turn these off in your TV settings, or else they’ll keep popping up on your screen several times throughout the journey. 

    Despite Saudia Arabia’s recent changes to the rules surrounding alcohol sales, there was no alcohol offered—or allowed—on board. We were perfectly fine without them because of the amount of complimentary soft drinks they offered, but it is still something to be aware of.

    Staff and Service

    The cabin crew that we met all spoke English (along with many other languages), and were extremely friendly and helpful. They went out of their way to help store our bags, along with moving Flight Finder Andreia closer to the front to help her catch her connecting flight.

    The whole process of boarding was very smooth, which meant that we were able to take off and land early on every flight!

    One downside to Saudia is they have a strict 7 kg (15.5lbs) weight rule for all carry-on bags. You can get around this by checking in online and bypassing the check-in desk at the airport. But, if you have to check in at the airport, or drop a bag, you'll need to make sure your cabin bag is under the limit. Or, risk handing over your cabin bag to be checked in the hold — no one likes that!

    One extra thing to note if you check in online, is that you may be called to the boarding gate to replace your digital boarding pass with a physical copy. This happened to most of the JFC team, but we all got lucky and still managed to avoid weighing our carry-ons at the gate — phew!

    In the Airport

    Based on a slew of online reviews, the layover was going to be the intimidating part of the trip, with Jeddah Airport known to have an eerie atmosphere during the night.

    After a very smooth security check (just be aware there are no scissors allowed into the airport, as Fran sadly learnt…), we were pleasantly surprised by how lively Jeddah Airport turned out to be at 1 am. All the shops and restaurants were open, chefs were cooking in the lounges, and it felt as if it was midday!

    On our way back to Europe, before boarding our flight from Dar es Salaam to Jeddah, we had to go through bag checks, basically in front of the plane door! Carry-ons and small bags were opened on a table and inspected thoroughly. If you've travelled to places like Mexico, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or Turkey, you'll likely have been through a similar check before.

    Overall Rating — 4/5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐


    🧑🏻‍✈️ Service: Kind and smiley, both on board and on the ground.

    🔌 Facilities: In line with main European/US Flag Carriers.

    🍝 Food: Tasty meals, plenty of snacks and drinks throughout the flights.

    Timing: Took off and landed on time.

    💸 Quality VS Price: Worth the money.