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Is it possible for a US citizen to get a Saudi Arabian transit visa?

Is it possible for a US citizen to get a Saudi Arabian transit visa?

Old Jun 18, 17, 9:19 pm
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Is it possible for a US citizen to get a Saudi Arabian transit visa?

I have been all over the web trying to find this information! I recently opened a thread on Reddit that was helpful, but I still have not been able to confirm yes or no beyond the shadow of a doubt.

I am looking at traveling on Saudia to India later this year. I'm the kind of traveler that likes to look for unusual, out of the way places to make my trip more interesting.

Saudi Arabian Airlines has good fares. I thought it would be interesting to arrange a day or two layover, if possible. I didn't find any restrictions on Enjaz, but I found a couple reports of Saudi Arabia suspending the transit visas a few years ago. I can book a ticket with a layover of less than 18 hours and at least touch down in the country without a visa, which I might do if a transit visa is impossible, but I'd love to book the flights with an extra day layover if I can get a transit visa.

I do realize that transiting via another city, such as Dubai, is the sensible thing to do! But yet I'm willing to go to a fair bit of hassle and expense to transit via Riyadh or Jeddah if at all possible. I've already seen Dubai, Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, Istanbul, London, and many other potential transit points between the US and India. I'm looking for a unique travel experience! Any advice or (recent) experiences would be welcome!

I've not yet tried to contact the Saudi Arabian embassy in New York City or Washington DC, but I think it's nearly impossible to get ahold of them. I live roughly halfways between the two cities, so it's not like I can pop over on my lunch break. I will probably try to call them sometime soon though, for whatever good it will do.
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Old Jun 18, 17, 9:31 pm
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Before doing anything, familiarize yourself with Saudia airlines. They're not considered very good and also are dry, as are the lounges at ariports in Saudia Arabia (as well as the whole country unless you can get an invitation to an embassy party). For example, there have been reports of donkey meat being served for dinner in business class. Also, be prepared to switch seats (to much worse seats) to avoid situations where women are seated near men who aren't relatives.
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Old Jun 19, 17, 6:53 am
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The definitive answer is maybe, possibly The best you can do is to apply and wait.

But check costs. KSA visa fees have increased astronomically recently as a revenue raising exercise. Both RUH and JED are ok but no airport is a great place to spend a lot of time.

Saudia are not so bad and the country itself is perfectly safe and 'normal' once you get past the rather forbidding immigration officials.

One caveat though. Are you white ? If you are of Indian origin (or other dark skin) you may find some discrimination, the first assumption being you are a migrant worker. It ain't right but that's the way it is.

If you are culturally sensitive and welcome new travel experiences, I'd say go for it.
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Old Jun 19, 17, 7:01 am
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Before doing anything, familiarize yourself with Saudia airlines. They're not considered very good and also are dry, as are the lounges at ariports in Saudia Arabia (as well as the whole country unless you can get an invitation to an embassy party). For example, there have been reports of donkey meat being served for dinner in business class. Also, be prepared to switch seats (to much worse seats) to avoid situations where women are seated near men who aren't relatives.
I'm dry myself, so that part of it isn't an issue! I've done as much research as I can, and I'm ready for whatever they throw at me (I think!).

Originally Posted by sharp5flat9 View Post
The definitive answer is maybe, possibly The best you can do is to apply and wait.

<snip>

One caveat though. Are you white ? If you are of Indian origin (or other dark skin) you may find some discrimination, the first assumption being you are a migrant worker. It ain't right but that's the way it is.

If you are culturally sensitive and welcome new travel experiences, I'd say go for it.
I am a typical white American. I've been in many different countries all over the world, and I like to think I am culturally sensitive. I definitely welcome new travel experiences, which is why I want to visit KSA in the first place!
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Old Jun 20, 17, 12:48 am
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Unless RUH has improved substantially in recent years, any transit of more than a couple of hours should be regarded as cruel & unusual punishment. Can't comment on Jeddah as I have not flown international out of there.
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Old Jun 20, 17, 7:35 am
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Originally Posted by Reds2011 View Post
Unless RUH has improved substantially in recent years, any transit of more than a couple of hours should be regarded as cruel & unusual punishment.
Are you talking about the airport itself? I'm hoping to be able to go into the city. If I cannot get a transit visa, I'll probably fly another airline.
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Old Jun 23, 17, 11:07 am
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RUH (the airport) is a dump.

Saudi is an interesting cultural experience -- I wouldn't consider it normal at all (sorry If I may disagree with sharp5flat9), given the very stringent cultural/religious norms -- particularly regarding mixing of the sexes. I also wouldn't tell you it's perfectly safe -- there's little risk of crime, but terrorist-type incidents have occurred (though less than in Europe these days).

You can't really believe it till you experience it.
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Old Jun 23, 17, 8:48 pm
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Originally Posted by Alpha Golf View Post
RUH (the airport) is a dump.
I don't care much about the airport. If I cannot get the transit visa, I'll probably either travel with another airline, or choose a Saudia itinerary with a short layover.

Saudi is an interesting cultural experience -- I wouldn't consider it normal at all (sorry If I may disagree with sharp5flat9), given the very stringent cultural/religious norms -- particularly regarding mixing of the sexes. I also wouldn't tell you it's perfectly safe -- there's little risk of crime, but terrorist-type incidents have occurred (though less than in Europe these days).

You can't really believe it till you experience it.
I'm looking for something more exciting than JFK-(LHR, AMS, CDG, FRA, DXB)-BOM (although there's nothing wrong with that!). It sounds like Saudi Arabia is the place for me to visit!

I'll try to get the transit visa when the time comes. We'll see what happens!
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Old Jan 15, 18, 9:33 am
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Update: I tried to get a transit visa but it was denied. I bought a ticket on Saudia Airlines with a 3 day layover in Jeddah. I actually called the Saudi Arabian consulate in New York City and asked about it. I was told that I could get a transit visa, and the rep told me what to send in. I did that, but my passport was returned with no visa. I called the consulate, and was told they don't issue transit visas. Whatever!

Anyway, I was able to get a business visa. It was expensive and quite a lot of hassle, but I have it. Now I'm free to come and go in the KSA for the next 5 years.
Jaimito Cartero likes this.
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Old Jan 15, 18, 3:14 pm
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Originally Posted by g289t View Post
Now I'm free to come and go in the KSA for the next 5 years.
Good move. JED was an awful experience for me. It makes dumpy JFK seem luxurious.

Medina on the other hand, was a beautiful modern airport. Can't speak for RUH.

Enjoy the next 5 years of the ability to book inexpensive SV fares with no risk of sitting airside...
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Old Jan 16, 18, 6:54 am
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Originally Posted by rivlinm View Post
Good move. JED was an awful experience for me. It makes dumpy JFK seem luxurious.
Are you talking about the airport itself? I have an acquaintance in Jeddah with whom I will be staying, so I'll only be in the airport as long as it takes to get out!

Enjoy the next 5 years of the ability to book inexpensive SV fares with no risk of sitting airside...
That's the plan! The only problem is that my wife occasionally travels with me, so sometimes I might need to choose between KSA... or her!

I'm going to be in Jeddah this trip, but if I return in the future I hope to visit other cities too.
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Old Jan 16, 18, 12:12 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
....familiarize yourself with Saudia airlines. They're not considered very good ...
Don't know if your experience is first-hand, but this first-hander would disagree with you..

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/28562152-post1.html
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Old Jan 16, 18, 12:24 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Before doing anything, familiarize yourself with Saudia airlines. They're not considered very good and also are dry, as are the lounges at ariports in Saudia Arabia (as well as the whole country unless you can get an invitation to an embassy party). For example, there have been reports of donkey meat being served for dinner in business class. Also, be prepared to switch seats (to much worse seats) to avoid situations where women are seated near men who aren't relatives.
I have flown on SV recently with my family, and had no real problems on my flights.

Iím always amazed at the comments about flying Saudia, usually from people who have never stepped onboard their flights. The planes were fine. Food and service were great. I loved their 777. Super comfortable. The lounge in JED was nothing special, but Iíve been in many way worse lounges.

Certainly, they are dry, but itís no big deal. For the money charged, Iíd fly them again with no hesitation.
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Old Jan 17, 18, 8:54 am
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Originally Posted by IAN-UK View Post
Don't know if your experience is first-hand, but this first-hander would disagree with you..

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/28562152-post1.html
Originally Posted by Jaimito Cartero View Post
I have flown on SV recently with my family, and had no real problems on my flights.

I’m always amazed at the comments about flying Saudia, usually from people who have never stepped onboard their flights. The planes were fine. Food and service were great. I loved their 777. Super comfortable. The lounge in JED was nothing special, but I’ve been in many way worse lounges.

Certainly, they are dry, but it’s no big deal. For the money charged, I’d fly them again with no hesitation.

I have two 6 hour flights on Saudia, so no matter what it's like, I'll be fine. One is on their A330, and the other on a 777. That said, I've not seen a lot of bad reports. A lot of the reported issues seem to be with services on the ground, as well as airport facilities.

I'm expecting the best!
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Old Jan 17, 18, 1:26 pm
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Originally Posted by g289t View Post
Are you talking about the airport itself? I have an acquaintance in Jeddah with whom I will be staying, so I'll only be in the airport as long as it takes to get out!
I would NEVER transit JED without a visa. The airport is awful. broken chairs, moldy ceiling, only 1-2 very basic food options, no jet bridges, not a great check in experience.

With a visa and a layover of about 2 hours it would be fine.

flying SV was great however, once you get past the ground experience. My cabin crew was mostly foreign (asian) provided great service in Y. Quality meal, IFE, good seat in a clean plane.

I agree many whom have never flown SV stereotype negatively.

Jeddah as a city is ok. reasonably cheap, plenty of western options. A few tourist sites. No nightlife so to speak. My issue was with food. I found KSA only offers very high end food (for the govt/business types) or low cost fast food. They love fast food, specifically chicken in KSA! Not much in the middle...
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