Trip Report, Saudi Arabia, BA RUH - JED

Old Oct 19, 18, 3:38 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: UK
Programs: BA Silver
Posts: 349
Trip Report, Saudi Arabia, BA RUH - JED

A report of my trip to Saudi Arabia, with an interesting bit at the end re the return flight. I'm better at talking than writing, so bear with me!

I was asked to go do some speaking / run some courses in Saudi Arabia for local dentists. I've never visited the middle east other than diving in Sharm, so thought it would an interesting opportunity.

Visa issuance took a few weeks to properly arrange and get processed, once I had the documents needed it was a simple job via an agent in London.

Flights had been booked in Y cos the company sending me would only pay for that, but I had just made BA silver so had the benefits associated with that. Exit row seats had been paid for by me in avios to make things a little better.

First flight was MAN-LHR after a night in the Crown Plaza following the Superleague Grand Final at Old Trafford, I'm a Wigan fan so was in a good mood. Perfectly good flight to LHR, 10 minute queue at flight connections, then off via the walkway to the B Lounge. My flight to Riyadh was to leave in around 2 hours so I took the opportunity to have a couple of final G+T's.. Seeing my flight not displayed on the board I asked the lounge chap, who informed me I was going from an A bus gate. About 30 seconds later my phone beeped to tell me just that. Thanks to FT I was familiar with the tunnels and got back with plenty time to spare. Decent flight over to RUH with an empty middle seat next to me.

Baggage collection and getting through immigration / customs was straightforwards. maybe 10 minutes for immigration, and I was out to find my driver within 30 minutes of touching down. Airport very modern and nice looking. Zero issues at all. Driver picked me up and took me to Holiday Inn downtown where I had been booked for 2 nights. I got there just before midnight, and was told I was to meet my team at 7:45 next day. We had a morning course in a military hospital in Riyadh, and people there were very friendly and the dentists all interested in what I was teaching. That took us to lunchtime and a trip to a Bedouin place, I had Camel cos I could!!



Very nice it was too. Driven back to hotel for the evening course and my hosts roped the Uber driver to coming to the course as he was a dentist as well! Never miss an opportunity!

Course started at about 8:30 pm, we had 95 delegates ( for same course in UK I have 20 maximum) Nice meeting room , and a hands on course for 95 dentists is challenging to say the least, but we got through it, finishing around 11:00 when it was time for dinner!!! No way would I get any sleep if I ate at that time so I headed to bed as next day we were off to Dammam on an 8am flight so had to be collected at 5:30.

FLYNAS to Dammam was fine, they tried to check my bag through to Jeddah, but my colleague spotted this and it got to Dammam fine. The sight of the pilgrims in Umrah dress in the terminal was interesting to say the least! A320 I think, on time, clean etc, only a short flight and again bags out fine at other end. A longer drive to the hotel here, I think there were six of us now in 2 cars. Bit of sleep then lunch, then bit of sleep then course again. This time 120 people turned up when 60 were expected. I had to fix the IT stuff for the presentation but all went well. Finished this one way after midnight, having started at 9.

4am start the next day, so about 2 hours sleep. Flying to Jeddah this time again on Flynas, again no trouble at all with check in etc, this time I got given an emergency exit row and an empty seat next to me again so had a bit of a doze. Lots of Pilgrims on this flight, maybe half the plane. Jeddah airport again no issues on a domestic, baggage out quickly and off in the dental dealers car this time to Le Meridian hotel. Again it was an evening talk after people finish work, but a visit to a dental practice in the afternoon had also been arranged. That was very well equipped, better than many in UK,

After that visit I had my only relaxation time, 30 minutes in a cafe on the corniche with an ice cream and a smoothie! Really late lecture this day, starting at 10, in a lovely ballroom, before a 5am start to the Airport for the BA flight back at 8:25.

Check in was efficient, I got a seat change and discovered I'd been upgraded to Premium Economy from my exit row seat. Through security quickly, like 5 minutes, and into the lounge for coffee and a rest!! Called to gate an hour before flight, second security check there by group number , again 5 minutes, and off on a bus to the plane , again bus by group number, so a 1 and 2 bus.

Flight taxied off and then stopped on the apron. Didn't move for 10 minutes, Captain come on tannoy and announced a technical issue, but it wouldn't stop us flying, but some computers had to be reset / programmed and to bear with us. Eventually moved about half an hour late.

After take off I thought we were climbing slowly, then there was quite a noise after around 6 or 7 minutes, then normality re climbing etc. Didn't think muck of it till later.

Was hoping for an early drink run, but nothing came, beef omelette was ok, but I was dozing most of the time anyway. After about 3 hours and somewhere over Croatia I pressed call bell, took ages for anyone to respond, ( 15 minutes plus) and finally got a G&T ;-)

Captain then came on again to explain the technical issue. We had a sensor reading high brake temperature. The landing gear was left down after take off to cool it, hence the noise, but it was still showing high. We would be met by emergency vehicles at LHR before being allowed to taxi. Sure enough we landed fine, went to apron and parked up for about 20 minutes. Brake had been stuck on we were told, and we would taxi in 200 yard blocks to avoid overheating again. Go to stand on a c gate about 45 minutes late.

I had enough time to make the planned LHR - MAN flight, and a couple of drinks in the north lounge as well. Security and flight connections were not an issue. Security is dead easy when your laptop is in the hold as it has to be from Jeddah!

Longest delay of the trip was of course baggage at MAN and not a surprise when my priority tagged bag was almost last off, I was just glad to get it though, maybe 30 minutes after landing.

All in all a trip that was exhausting, eye opening, and I'm glad I went. All people were very friendly to me, ( Saudis, Egyptians, Kuwaitis, Syrians etc) Couldn't have been made to feel more welcome. Even the immigration chap at RUH saw I was an endodontist and started talking about his toothache :-) It would be have nice to see more than just airport to hotel and repeat in most places, but time didn't permit.


Hopefully get an invite to go back next year, and maybe Kuwait and Jordan as well, although never having been to Dubai I'd love to tag that on if possible.

Back at work now, and first patient took a bit less time so I've blathered on a bit here. Well done if you got to the end!
endoman is offline  
Old Oct 19, 18, 4:07 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: London
Programs: BAEC
Posts: 2,380
Nice report! Sounds like an exhausting itinerary though!

I've only transitted through Saudi before, never had an issue. Not the most exciting airports in RUH or JED, but I've certainly had worse.
shefgab is offline  
Old Oct 19, 18, 4:10 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: London Stratford, E7
Programs: BAEC Gold! Thanks to FT
Posts: 2,313
An interesting trip report covering what you did when you got there highlighting thst business travel sounds glamorous but isn’t always the case. Also going to countries where the culture is so different is a great experience. Thank you for sharing.
so3003 likes this.

Last edited by Oxon Flyer; Oct 20, 18 at 4:30 am Reason: Really no need to requote the whole trip report.
KeaneJohn is offline  
Old Oct 19, 18, 4:28 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Programs: LF BA GOLD, LF HH Diamond, IHG Plat/AMB
Posts: 2,288
Very interesting report. I would insist on a down day however to see some of the local sights, and to get more than 2 hours sleep
stevie is offline  
Old Oct 19, 18, 6:15 am
  #5  
Ambassador: Emirates Airlines
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Manchester, UK
Posts: 15,089
So, not quite the hell you were told to expect in your previous thread Sounds like a fun but knackering trip!
DYKWIA is offline  
Old Oct 19, 18, 6:52 am
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: UK
Programs: BA Silver
Posts: 349
Originally Posted by DYKWIA View Post
So, not quite the hell you were told to expect in your previous thread Sounds like a fun but knackering trip!
Nope, not quite as I was told. Things changed timing and plans wise on an hourly basis!! Good job I'm fairly laid back when speaking re timings etc.
endoman is offline  
Old Oct 19, 18, 7:30 am
  #7  
Ambassador, British Airways Executive Club
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: TPA/ABZ
Programs: BA Lifetime Gold. GGL/CCR.
Posts: 9,573
Interesting report. Thanks for sharing. (Explains your FT name too.)
endoman likes this.
golfmad is online now  
Old Oct 19, 18, 11:13 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Programs: Qatar, Turkish, Aeroflot
Posts: 546
God knows how you got into Saudi (I pity you for ever setting foot there), but I guarantee you what you experienced is not real Saudi.
ilcannone is offline  
Old Oct 19, 18, 11:29 am
  #9  
Ambassador, British Airways Executive Club
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: TPA/ABZ
Programs: BA Lifetime Gold. GGL/CCR.
Posts: 9,573
Originally Posted by ilcannone View Post
God knows how you got into Saudi (I pity you for ever setting foot there), but I guarantee you what you experienced is not real Saudi.
Now that we've ruled out Saudi and Charleston, SC is there anywhere that you do like?
ScruttonStreet likes this.
golfmad is online now  
Old Oct 19, 18, 11:42 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Programs: Qatar, Turkish, Aeroflot
Posts: 546
Originally Posted by golfmad View Post
Now that we've ruled out Saudi and Charleston, SC is there anywhere that you do like?
I never said I disliked Charleston, my query regarding that was simply just about the actual demand there since I know basically nothing about it. Saudi, on the other hand, I used to live in...so...

I'm quite content in Moscow, actually.
ilcannone is offline  
Old Oct 19, 18, 12:17 pm
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: UK
Programs: BA Silver
Posts: 349
Originally Posted by ilcannone View Post
I never said I disliked Charleston, my query regarding that was simply just about the actual demand there since I know basically nothing about it. Saudi, on the other hand, I used to live in...so...

I'm quite content in Moscow, actually.
moscow is somewhere Id love to visit and speak. Was with a Moscow dentist in San Diego only 2 weeks ago!! I found everyone I met in Saudi very courteous, in the military hospital, hotels, dental practice , airport etc. I wish I had more time to see more. Im sure I only got a biased view.
endoman is offline  
Old Oct 20, 18, 3:00 am
  #12  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: JER
Programs: BA Gold/OWE, several MUCCI, and assorted Pensions!
Posts: 29,924
i'm not sure whether this thread now belongs in OMNI or Trip Reports, but it's rather lacking BA content.
mrow likes this.
T8191 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: