The executive services division of the General Authority of Civil Aviation has a little known service for those looking for extra luxury when they travel.
Businessmen, dignitaries, members of various diplomatic missions and VIPs have been enjoying the service for years, and for SR 15,000 a year you can too.
Whether you are looking for a little more personal luxury or want to impress a potential business client, or the in-laws, little else compares to a luxury four-door sedan meeting you or your guests as they step off the commercial airliner they arrived on.
They will be whisked away by a luxury private car to the executive services lounge to drink tea and coffee while their passports are processed and their luggage collected for them. Other passengers arriving on the same flight will be picked up by bus to stand in line at passports and immigration and at customs.
Mohammed Omar, a member of the executive services team at King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA), said: “The service costs SR 15,000 per year and is available for those who require a little extra care or luxury.
“The service is available at all the Kingdom’s airports.”
Family members and guests of members can also use the service for the SR 500 per round-trip, with a 24-hour notification before the flights.
“It’s the only way I travel,” said Tariq, a 35-year-old Saudi businessman who comes from a well-known Jeddah merchant family with ventures in the Kingdom worth billions of riyals. He requested his family name not be revealed.
He said: “Three hours before the trip I send the driver to the airport with the luggage and passports.
“Then 30 minutes before the scheduled departure time, I arrive at the Executive Services lounge, hand over my passport to the greeter and sit down for a hot drink and a bite to eat.
“About 15 minutes before departure, a luxury sedan, either an Audi, Mercedes or BMW, picks me up at the terminal and drives me and my family to the plane where we take our seats and within a short space of time, take off.
“I don’t deal with luggage, passports, overcrowded airport buses, or the long queues at immigration.”
According to Omar, those interested in using the service can pick up an application at the executive services office located at KAIA’s south terminal or for specialized packages visit the properties (Mumtalakat) building at the airport.
An application form has to be filled to preregister each family member or guest who will be using the service.
Mohammed Al-Mutairi, a 29-year-old businessman who travels often, said: “I never knew they had such a thing. I’ve seen people getting on and off the flights in luxury cars. I always assumed they were members of the Royal family or foreign dignitaries.
“This is definitely a service I will look into. I travel often enough for it to be worth the money.”
For Salma Al-Sharif, a 60-year-old housewife whose husband was a Saudi government official, the extra pampering is something she sees as unnecessary.
She said: “I always fly first class and have access to the first class lounges at the airports. For me, it’s not necessary to be driven to the plane in a luxury car, especially when the first and business class buses are there. I’m content with that.
“But for my 84-year-old mother, I will definitely join. This sounds like a great service for those with special needs or the elderly. It’s well worth the expense for her.”