Next Up: Gulf Air Business Class To Bahrain!

I’m slowly enroute to Colombo, as I’ll be originating my Etihad A380 inaugural flight journey from there, thanks to the relatively cheap first class fares published out of Sri Lanka.

I had a bit of a detour to Toulouse this week for the Qatar Airways A350 delivery festivities, so now I’m trying to get from Toulouse to Colombo (or as the American AAdvantage I called said “huh?”).

Toulouse-Colombo

Taking a Middle Eastern carrier is a no brainer due to the geography involved, though I’m also always looking to try new products. I’ve flown tons of Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways flights, including:

And I’d really love to fly Oman Air, but they don’t partner with any other major airlines.

So I figured I’d try one of the few airlines which partners with American AAdvantage that I haven’t yet flown — Gulf Air!

They have tons of award space between London and Bahrain. Virtually every flight has as many business class award seats as you could want (which might explain their financial woes).

So I figured I’d both try Gulf Air and also visit Bahrain while I’m at it.

Gulf-Air-Business-Class

Gulf Air does seem to have a new business class product with fully flat beds, and apparently their catering is quite good as well. They even have an onboard chef.

They have their own Falcon Gold Lounge at London Heathrow, so I’m curious how that compares to the other offerings.

Gulf-Air-Lounge-London

Here’s a video of their new product:

Gulf Air uses the slogan “the Gulf’s most hospitable airline,” and has some interesting ways of marketing that:

I guess the takeaway is not to overdose on coffee!

Anyway, this should be one of my more interesting flights.

Has anyone flown Gulf Air or visited Bahrain? If so, I’d love to hear your impressions!

Comments

  1. lucky,

    Since you always want to try something new…We’re expecting you to book a flight to Cuba via AA real soon! 😉

  2. Hello Ben!

    first of all, thanks for your first impressions on the A350.
    As a French, I’m wondering if you’re staying in Toulouse for the night (beautiful city) of if you flew straight after the media event?
    What is your routing from TLS to LHR?

    Happy holidays,
    Olivier.

  3. Gulf Air is quite nice. They don’t get a lot of ink in these circles as they don’t fly to US soil and don’t have a bling factor…but they offer am experience in the J cabin that any US carrier could aspire to.

  4. Gulf air is a pretty good carrier actually. I’ve flown them four times and never had an issue and their service was always good. Have not visited the city of BAH but the airport is extremely easy to transit. Overall, they are a great back-up to the big three Middle East carriers if you need to get to the region and use miles.

  5. Bahrain is about as boring as it comes. Think of how boring Dubai or Doha would be without the bling factor, and that’s Bahrain. Or at least that was Bahrain before the revolution attempt (I haven’t been back since, although a number of my colleagues have). You can literally drive around the island in less than an hour. Perhaps the most famous thing about the country is a tree that is carved up with grafitti (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_of_Life,_Bahrain). About the only thing positive I can say is that the newer hotels are nice, but nothing spectacular.

  6. Just flew Gulf Air in J last October AMM-BAH-BKK. Not in the same level as EY, QR, or EK, but the service was pretty good. FA’s were pretty attentive during boarding and meal service, but were absent during the rest of the flight. They have an onboard chef similar to EY. Food was forgettable, but it wasn’t bad. Hard product was pretty comfortable on their long haul A330. No turndown, but still a flat bed with duvet. Amenity kits were Chopard brand. Transit in BAH was kind of a joke. We accidentally left a bottled water in our bags, asked the screener to remove it, but he just waved us through. It was definitely one of the most lax places to transit. Falcon Gold Lounge in BAH was OK. It kinda reminded me of the EVA Air lounge in TPE…kind of random. They only have 2 or 3 shower rooms, but the bath amenity they give out is pretty nice. Hope this helps!

  7. Visited Bahrain on a whim. Stayed at the Ritz and was offered a glass of wine at check in! Tons of Saudis come for the weekend of partying. It’s a small place and you can see everything in a day including the Saudi border where the cafe in the high rise sees women going in and out after a rapid change into jeans or the hijab depending on their direction of travel. Now when will you review Garuda?!

  8. Finally you’re going to try our national airline!
    First of all, I beg that you don’t keep your hopes up since the airline isn’t “as advertised”. Our airport looks worse than some domestic US airports and is extremely tiny. However, if you would like a tour around the island I wouldn’t mind showing you around!

  9. Another option would’ve been to fly SriLankan Airlines nonstop LHR-CMB! I’d really look forward to your reviewing them sometime given that they’re now part of oneworld and their hub is in CMB. You’ve only reviewed them on a short KUL-SIN hop in the past.

    However, I’m glad you’re reviewing Gulf Air and am looking forward to the review. 🙂

  10. Have only flown Gulf on short haul so can’t be much help there.

    As for Bahrain, I can’t say there’s much to see beyond the Saudi/expat drinking scene, though that can be entertaining enough. The souq is worth a look (the old one, not the giant, overpriced shopping mall). If you’re there on a Friday, brunch at the Diplomat (Radisson Blu) is a spectacle to behold.

  11. Bahrain is fairly small and sleepy — a day is plenty. The Grand Mosque is worth touring if you like architecture.

  12. Bahrain – boring, is an understatement. While most tourists head to Dubai (Sheikh Zayed Road nightmare) and Doha (worlds largest construction site) for the ‘bling’ factor, people from Dubai and Doha (and all her Gulf neighbors) flock to Bahrain!!! So there has to be something good about it…. While there isn’t much to see, and yes the whole island can be covered in a day, there are good dining and entertainment scenes. As in most cities around the world, there are always good and bad places to stay/enjoy/dine. So choose a correct establishment and you won’t go wrong. I’m based in Bahrain and have only praise for the place. Peace and tranquility…

  13. HI Ben,

    are you still in Toulouse? It would a pleasure meeting you! I am an AIRBUS engineer (engine control).

  14. Safe travels Lucky! I recall seeing Gulf Air as an AA partner but never flew with them. I’m guessing you’re flying Gulf Air LHR-BAH and then SriLankan Airlines BAH-CMB? I’m also guessing these will have to be done as 2 separate awards since Sri Lanka is considered as Asia Zone 2?

  15. Gulf air is a decent airline. There are some very good redemption options using Virgin Atlantic miles since it is distance based award chart. The Dilmun lounge at Bahrain airport is nice. My wife and I like it better than the Gulf Air Lounge.

    Bahrain doesn’t have too much to see but there is some good food. Coco’s in Adliya has really good food but the service isn’t the best. Iskenderun Grill delivers and has great lamp chops. The Ritz is really nice but is pricey.

  16. I flew Gulf Air many years ago in (paid) First Class from Mumbai to London (via Muscat – that shows how long ago this was!). To my chagrin, despite being ticketed in F, I was denied access to the First Class Lounge as their policy was that Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan and Nepalese citizens had to use a separate lounge (that featured wooden benches and labourers in transit sleeping on every spare inch of floor space). After that experience, despite the spectacular on board product for the time (one of the first to have on board chefs, flat beds, etc..), I have sworn never to fly them again.

  17. @ Joey — Correct, I’m going two separate awards. Unfortunately couldn’t find award space on SriLankan, though, so won’t be flying them.

  18. @ Olivier — Unfortunately I left immediately after the event. From there I flew from Toulouse to London to Bahrain.

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