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First time to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (and other parts of the Al-Jazeera region)

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Old Jan 4, 18, 12:40 pm
  #31
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Originally Posted by Annalisa12 View Post
Great report. Interesting.
Thanks for reading. I will try to finish the report today.
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Old Jan 4, 18, 1:38 pm
  #32
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December 24 2017
UA53
ZRH - IAD
United Airlines
Boeing 767-300
N666UA
17L Economy + Class
Actual flight time: 9:30hrs



When boarding was completed I was happy to have both seats to myself. I was surprised to see about 90% load on this flight.









The map function on my monitor was showing incorrect times. Once it would show 3 hours 35 minutes to destination, and few minutes later it would show 22 hours to destination



After having cup of white wine the meal service started. The food was awful, not to call it disgusting. Stale bread, some imitation of salad, and chicken in something. After having 3 breakfasts that morning, I've picked on the chicken and ate the ice cream. Finally they've stopped serving those green tea ice cream. This time they had vanilla and chocolate.





After the meal service I've made myself as much comfortable as I could on two seats and I've tried to catch some zzz'es.
I couldn't sleep so I kept watching shows on iPad. After couple of hours I went to the back galley searching for the water.
Usually they put out water and cups, with some snacks to go with it. Nope, not this time. Nobody was in the galley so there was nobody to ask for water.
Mid flight, I saw one FA walking the other isle. Oh, good. Finally some water service. Nope, she's just collecting trash mid flight. And she did that at least 4-5 times during the flight, but not even ONCE she offered water to the passengers.
When she started collecting trash on my side, I've asked her about cup of water. She said she will bring it. She never did. Maybe 30 minutes later I went back to the galley, but again, nobody was there. Everybody was hiding in the tent that the crew is building at the A,B section of E+ cabin.

When we were above Greenland, people started opening windows shades and making commotion. That's probably pissed off the cabin crew. We were still 4 hours until the destination and they couldn't sleep anymore. So most of the crew left the teepee and started collecting trash.
What is their obsession with trash collection? There was still no water service.



About 1.5 hour before landing, snack service started. It was hot bread with cheese or cheese and turkey. I've opted for the meat version.
When I've open it, the grease from the food was in one corner. I had a bite and even though I was hungry, I couldn't eat it.
Then finally drink cart rolls in. And what do they do? They've skipped my row. ...? I had to flag her down to get cup of water. That was the FA who was obsessed with trash collection. Finally after 8.5 hours into the flight I've got cup of water. I've been on many United TATL flights in 2017, and I never had crew this lazy. On other flights, the crew were always pro active and made water rounds every couple of hours.

When we landed I've made it to the first bus leaving terminal C/D. Then quick Global Entry kiosk visit and I was waiting for my bag.
And I kept waiting and waiting. I had priority tag on it, so any minute. After seeing every person from my flight leaving with their bags, I went to United rep sorting out missing bags. She looked at my ticket stub and said that my bag is at the transfer facility by terminal C/D because I'm connecting. I've politely asked where where I'm connecting to? Oops, IAD is your final destination. No worries, I will radio them in and you will have your bag within 30 minutes. No problem. About 30 minutes later I went back to her and she said it will take 10-15 more minutes. After two more 10 minutes promises from her I've said that I'm going home and I want my bag deliver. Unfortunately she's there not to take the claims. I had to go to another UA rep by the exit from international arrival building. Thankfully nobody was there and it took two UA reps only 15 minutes to start my claim.

So after two hours after arriving at IAD, I was waiting outside for my Uber ride. I was angry, tired and thirsty. After traveling 7000 miles by air I was going to make Christmas dinner. Got to my place, took quick shower and hopped in my car. Went to my family house where everyone was obviously waiting for me. I was so tired that I was falling asleep sitting up at the table. After the dinner I've said goodbye and drove back home where I immediately passed out on the bed. The jet lag was in full motion. After only couple of hours I couldn't sleep anymore. The good thing is that around 3am I've got text from United to confirm my home address. I did it immediately and got text response that the driver will contact me shortly before delivery.
About 4:30am I've got text from the driver saying "22 minutes away". My suitcase got back to me 13 hours after landing at IAD.
Should I write complain letter to United about it? I think this is first time for UA to loose my bag in all those years that I've been flying with them.

To summarize my travel experience in that part of the world. KSA is very different from any place that I have been to in my life. They definitely have potential, but from what I've seen, I don't think they want to change in any way.
Oman, after that incident at the airport, I don't want to visit that place anymore. However, I have tons of miles with WY and I hate to loose them.
I will have to fly to Qatar few more times when I'm in the region, and there are very limited options besides WY.
Dubai, I will definitely be back and maybe this time I will see the city
Doha, I will also return and spend more than just few hours in there.

Now I'm planning my next trip to ME. This time Egypt as a starting point with Dubai in the middle to relax, and back to Riyadh.

Thank you all for reading. I hope I didn't bore you with my TR
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Old Jan 4, 18, 1:48 pm
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That is a weird time to be out delivering stuff!

Could you have pushed the button on the flight to get them to come to you to get some water or would they have ignored that you reckon?

I've enjoyed reading you TR.
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Old Jan 4, 18, 2:15 pm
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Originally Posted by nequine View Post
That is a weird time to be out delivering stuff!

Could you have pushed the button on the flight to get them to come to you to get some water or would they have ignored that you reckon?

I've enjoyed reading you TR.
My bag delivery time-frame was up to 2pm that day, and I guess I was first customer on the driver's route.

As for the button. I'm probably the last person to press it. I went back to the galley but as I've said, there was nobody there and this crew was absolutely the worst of any UA crew that I had traveled with. Water under the bridge.
Oh, and when I've told the Uber driver that I'm dying of thirst, he pulled over on the Dulles access road, and grabbed two bottles of water for me from the trunk He got the biggest tip that the app was suggesting
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Old Jan 4, 18, 2:33 pm
  #35
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Well, I appreciate you had to go. Thank God we have the choice, as retired persons. Your comprehensive TR just reinforces so many reasons why we never want to set foot in the region!

Thanks for taking a lot of effort to post that, though. As a 'regular' TR poster, I know how much time and effort it entails.
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Old Jan 4, 18, 4:19 pm
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Great TR!
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Old Jan 5, 18, 7:32 pm
  #37
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@bwiadca did you notice that the Victoria's Secret didn't sell lingerie? I'm not sure if males were even allowed in.

Actually, the last time I was in the KSA, a saleswoman at a small perfume counter asked me two questions- "where are you from?" "are you a virgin?" Quite unexpected anywhere, let alone the Hejaz.
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Old Jan 7, 18, 4:22 am
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Interesting report, thanks for posting. Did you ever make it to Jeddah? My grandpa used to travel there and he liked it - but that was back in the 60s and 70s.
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Old Jan 8, 18, 5:46 am
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Very interesting TR.
Couple of observations.
Riyadh not on my wish list.
united is total crap
Screw travelling so close to Christmas.
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Old Jan 10, 18, 5:38 pm
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Two things: the polish candy you saw in RUH doesn't translate to _naked_ mountain girls — there's nothing in the name that implies the "naked" part ;P

As for the whisky in the ZRH E lounges — yup, it's definitely free. The best part of the bar is that the bartenders are trained in what they have — if you're a whisky ignorant like me, they'll be more than happy to prepare a tasting set for you to try different stuff.

Just... be careful not to miss your flight. Every time I'm there I end up cutting it dangerously close, because I'm having so much fan trying all the booze and chatting with the bartenders
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Old Jan 10, 18, 8:11 pm
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Really cool trip report! Thank you for sharing, and for the look into Saudi Arabia
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Old Jan 12, 18, 4:36 am
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Thanks for posting. Saudi sounds hideous.
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Old Jan 12, 18, 9:36 pm
  #43
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First of all, thank you for all the comments. I've been swamped at work since I've returned from KSA and last night another grande landed on my laps. I'm going back to Riyadh this Sunday...
However, only for couple of days, then one week in Dubai, then couple of days in Jeddah, then back for a weekend to Dubai and again couple of days in Riyadh before I return home.
I guess I will add few more pages to this report in the next couple of weeks. I won't bother posting IAD-FRA-RUH part, but maybe just Riyadh dining scene and Jeddah insight. Also, I'm taking for the first time Flynas RUH-DXB and I don't have any other flights booked yet.
The biggest dilemma that I have right now is the hotel booking in Riyadh. I've booked earlier today Doubletree but canceled it few minutes later. They are $250 a night and it didn't feel right. Especially when my company is paying for my flights to and from Dubai and hotels during the weekends. I will definitely not stay in the Hilton Garden Inn Olaya.
I will book something tomorrow So stay tuned for more adventures from the Middle East


Originally Posted by T8191 View Post
Well, I appreciate you had to go. Thank God we have the choice, as retired persons. Your comprehensive TR just reinforces so many reasons why we never want to set foot in the region!

Thanks for taking a lot of effort to post that, though. As a 'regular' TR poster, I know how much time and effort it entails.
Yes! It takes a lot of effort to put something out here. As for your comment about the region, I wouldn't go that far. I didn't had the chance to really see Dubai, but I already like it. Same with Qatar. In UAE and Qatar, there is no chaos on the streets. People drive like in US or Canada. In Saudi, they have 'organized' chaos. They are one step above drivers in Jordan. They drive on the same level as people in Thailand. Frankly, I've seen only one crosswalk in the entire city of Riyadh. In QR or UAE you could walk everywhere, without fearing for your life (that you'll be hit by the car).


Originally Posted by Uzair View Post
Great TR!
Thank you for reading.


Originally Posted by BuildingMyBento View Post
@bwiadca did you notice that the Victoria's Secret didn't sell lingerie? I'm not sure if males were even allowed in.

Actually, the last time I was in the KSA, a saleswoman at a small perfume counter asked me two questions- "where are you from?" "are you a virgin?" Quite unexpected anywhere, let alone the Hejaz.
I did went by the VS store, but I didn't pay attention to the merchandise. What else they can sell besides lingerie?

So what was your answer to her questions?



Originally Posted by MA330 View Post
Interesting report, thanks for posting. Did you ever make it to Jeddah? My grandpa used to travel there and he liked it - but that was back in the 60s and 70s.
I'll be in Jeddah on this trip. That will be my first time. I already told my coworker that we are staying at the Hilton by the sea


Originally Posted by stevie View Post
Very interesting TR.
Couple of observations.
Riyadh not on my wish list.
united is total crap
Screw travelling so close to Christmas.
The only plus flying United is extra few inches in E+


Originally Posted by klausa View Post
Two things: the polish candy you saw in RUH doesn't translate to _naked_ mountain girls — there's nothing in the name that implies the "naked" part ;P

As for the whisky in the ZRH E lounges — yup, it's definitely free. The best part of the bar is that the bartenders are trained in what they have — if you're a whisky ignorant like me, they'll be more than happy to prepare a tasting set for you to try different stuff.

Just... be careful not to miss your flight. Every time I'm there I end up cutting it dangerously close, because I'm having so much fan trying all the booze and chatting with the bartenders
I've been speaking Polish for almost 40 years and Nagie 2 Goralki means "Naked 2 Mountain girls". I know that this is marketing catch in Poland. I guess the company name is Nagie, so the've added Goralki to make it funny.
I'll be traveling via ZRH again in February (on the way to Egypt), this time I'll make sure that I hit the proper bar in the lounge

Originally Posted by Madone59 View Post
Really cool trip report! Thank you for sharing, and for the look into Saudi Arabia
Hi, thanks for reading. I'll write more about my insight on the country while I'm in Jeddah.


Originally Posted by camsean View Post
Thanks for posting. Saudi sounds hideous.
This time I'll try to make the best out of it. Like somebody earlier said, I didn't do my research.
However, this time I also didn't have time to do any research. We will see in couple of days if Riyadh has changed for the better
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Old Jan 12, 18, 9:41 pm
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Originally Posted by bwiadca View Post

I've been speaking Polish for almost 40 years and Nagie 2 Goralki means "Naked 2 Mountain girls". I know that this is marketing catch in Poland. I guess the company name is Nagie, so the've added Goralki to make it funny.
I'll be traveling via ZRH again in February (on the way to Egypt), this time I'll make sure that I hit the proper bar in the lounge


Oh snap, I totally missed the "nagie" part! W takim razie: przepraszam Głupio wyszło.
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Old Jan 12, 18, 10:19 pm
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Originally Posted by klausa View Post
Oh snap, I totally missed the "nagie" part! W takim razie: przepraszam Głupio wyszło.
Nic nie szkodzi It's ok.
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