Ok, so because a lot of expat time in Saudi is spent figuring out how to get out of Saudi, I thought this might be useful for those of you who are there and thinking "I need a break!" ...one myth that you might think when you get to Riyadh is that travelling must be cheap because everyone is doing it all the time. Nay. Thou art wrong. It's true people travel all the time and it's not because it's cheap, it's for sanity. Unfortunately, aside from major hubs like Paris, London, Frankfurt,etc. you are often looking at flights with connections when you go on vacation - something you will despise, but slowly, in time, accept.
For what it's worth, here's a breakdown of popular airlines in Riyadh:
Qatar - good food (like so good that you'll ask your neighbour if they're going to eat the cake or not), good service, online check in has some glitches, overall, one of the best in the region to fly with. On the expensive side.
Emirates - good food, good service, but long distances usually result in insanely long layovers in Dubai. Good news is that they will provide you with a hotel stay in Dubai as long as you call in to book it. For whatever reason the demographic makeup of this airline seems to be a lot of working class from the middle east. Also, tix tend to be pricey.
Lufthansa - your standard airline, generally reliable unless snow closes down their Frankfurt airport... This is a pretty popular option for those who can't afford the long Dubai layovers of Emirates. Don't expect anything more than average, but at least they are generally better than Air Canada - the national blight and terror of the skies. Unfortunately, when the two are paired together for routes and there are problems, you can be sure neither airline will take the blame.
Turkish Airways - decently priced, so it's popular with travellers. Don't spring for their business class, it's a waste. Planes are not the nicest, but they do the job, i.e. they haven't crashed in a while ha ha ha...ok sorry, couldn't resist.
Etihad - haven't flown with them but heard good things about them.
Saudi Arabia Airlines (Saudia) - haven't flown with them but heard bad things about them.
It's not a complete list, so feel free to chime in readers, if you've had a good or bad experience with an airline flying out of Riyadh. I am all ears if you have recommendations on what airlines to use.
Change can happen in Saudi Arabia
3 months ago