Gulf Air Announces Their First 787 Route

While other Gulf carriers have been growing like crazy, Gulf Air unfortunately hasn’t been on a similar growth trajectory, and arguably their best days are behind them. Bahrain used to be the center of the Gulf, and back in the day Gulf Air was the region’s longhaul airline. Nowadays they’re a much smaller airline, and they only fly as far west as London and as far east as Manila.


Bahrain World Trade Center

For their longhaul flights, Gulf Air operates a fleet of six A330s. I had the chance to fly Gulf Air between London and Bahrain in 2014, and overall thought they were decent, though not really cutting edge. On the plus side, their A330s had fully flat seats, which is decent enough for the relatively short flights the airline operates.

Gulf Air A330 business class

This year, Gulf Air will take delivery of their very first Boeing 787-9. The airline has 21 of these on order (16 directly from Boeing, and five that they plan on leasing), and they’ll be taking delivery of their first five 787s in 2018. The remaining 787s will be delivered through 2024, so over the next six years it’s possible we’ll see some longhaul growth from the airline.

For anyone who is interested in trying their newest plane, Gulf Air has announced that they’ll offer 2x daily Boeing 787-9 flights between Bahrain and London Heathrow as of June 15, 2018. The two flights operating in the market have the following schedule, per @airlineroute:

GF7 Bahrain to London departing 1:15AM arriving 6:25AM
GF3 Bahrain to London departing 10:10AM arriving 3:20PM

GF2 London to Bahrain departing 1000AM arriving 6:35PM
GF6 London to Bahrain departing 10:05PM arriving 6:40AM (+1 day)

Gulf Air’s 787s will be configured with 26 business class seats and 256 economy seats. We’ve known for quite a while that the B/E Aerospace would be supplying these seats, though we didn’t know what kind of seats they’d have. Based on looking at the seatmap, Gulf Air has gone with a 2-2-2 configuration.

There were three seat possibilities for them, given the products B/E Aerospace offers:

  • Diamond Seats (2-2-2)
  • Super Diamond Seats (1-2-1)
  • Apex Suites (2-2-2)

Now we know that Gulf Air won’t have Super Diamond seats on their 787s, which would be reverse herringbone seats.


B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seats (Virgin Australia business class)

What we don’t know is if they’ll go with a Diamond configuration, which is just a pretty standard fully flat, forward facing seat (and barely an improvement over their old product)…


B/E Aerospace Diamond seats (Royal Jordanian business class)

…or whether they’ll go with Apex Suites, which is one of my favorite business class hard products out there.


B/E Aerospace Apex Suite (Oman Air business class)

It looks like they could go either way, so hopefully we find out soon. The Apex Suite would give them a huge advantage, as they’d be one of the few airlines to offer that configuration (along with Japan Airlines, Korean Air, and Oman Air).

One thing that I find to be exceptional about Gulf Air’s new 787 is their livery. I think Gulf Air has one of the sleekest liveries out there, and I can’t wait to see it in person on the new 787.

In terms of booking Gulf Air’s business class, the airline often has attractive business class fares, especially if traveling between Asia and Europe. Beyond that, American AAdvantage still partners with Gulf Air through April 30, 2018, so you can secure an award booking by then for travel on a subsequent date.

Anyone plan on flying Gulf Air’s new 787?

Comments

  1. “arguably their best days are behind them. Bahrain used to be the center of the Gulf, and back in the day Gulf Air was the region’s longhaul airline.”

    Actually, what hurt Gulf Air was that it used to be the airline of not just Bahrain, but also for Qatar, Abu Dhabi, and Oman. Once they decided to pull out and start their own airlines, it really screwed things up for Gulf Air.

  2. It’s possible that layout could mean apex suite, and it’s also made by B/E aerospace. Maybe they could follow Oman air’s lead in that respect. That would mean direct aisle access for all and a cutting edge seat. But all speculation.

  3. I agree with the comments above. Looking at WY’s seat map on their 787-9, it would make perfect sense for this to be Apex Suites!

  4. I have fond memories of Gulf Air in the 1970’s when the fleet was comprised of sleek VC-10’s, and a few years later, TriStars.

    This was a very glamorous airline (during a distinctly unglamorous decade) and the attractive female cabin crew – with their “I Dream of Jeannie” hats and head scarves – never failed to turn heads in airport terminals.

  5. I don’t have fun memories of Gulf Air’s soft product. In 2016, flew Manama to Heathrow in BC. They rushed everything: supposed to have a “tea” and a meal. They skidded that tea cart around, blocking one’s eye-view of the ends of it and hurriedly demanded “what do you want”–visibly showing faces that we were to decide in a split-second. They then just put out H2O on a tray and did not have a beverage service. Soon thereafter, they turned all the cabin lights out after hastily collecting the trays and we were plunged into darkness. They then drew the curtains and were not seen until just prior to landing setup for the cabin. They get away with this as their normal passengers are seemingly not willing to complain. To a Westerner, it was a bald farce only orchestrated to get the ‘things” out, collect them, and disappear into the galleys for their purposes. To top it off, the bartender at their beautiful LHR lounge scowled at everyone–what gives? Hopefully a “one-off”, but this passenger thereafter never flew Gulf Air again.

  6. I used to fly Gulf a bit in the past. The service slowly deteriorated over the years though.
    As a resident of Qatar I cannot fly with them anymore now! It was often one of the cheaper ways to get back to London so they have lost a lot of Qatar based customers now.

  7. Gulf Air has been hemorrhaging money on pointless routes no one actually flew. Good riddance to Hogan, he was a better fit in Etihad.

    I am quite pleased to see it has stopped trying to compete with the deep pocketed airlines in the region and focus on routes which actually matter to the people living in Bahrain and are actually viable.

    It still amazes me that they could have flights to places in Europe like Copenhagen or Dublin when they didn’t have a single flight to Dhaka! This was remedied only 2 years back. Until then the nation’s 150,000 migrant workers needed to fly via other countries.

  8. In the early 90’s Gulf Air was my favourite way to connect to Canada. They partnered with Canadian Airlines and would over-night you in London. The schedule was such that you could see a play in London on the way home and have a good sleep. This was before Emirates was anything other than a crummy startup and the alternatives were BA or KLM. Gulf Air was a huge step up at that time.

  9. Decent enough is almost pushing it.

    I flew Gulf Air Business Class last July from Riyadh to Manila. The A330 had eight seats in the Business Class cabin from Bahrain to Manila. I was the second person to be offered dinner; my choice was already out. I passed…

    I asked for Jack Daniel’s. Every non-dry airline I’ve ever flown carries JD. Not Gulf Air. The flight attendant suggested vodka instead. (I smiled, declined and thanked her. Never, ever offer vodka to a whiskey drinker)

    On a more positive note, I liked the smaller terminal compared to Doha, Abu Dhabi or Dubai. Their lounge was OK – They had JD and a decent buffet. Wait staffs were very attentive and very polite. They also seem to adjust their ‘Asian’ timetable to the Saudi market. ME3 seems to prioritize the EU market.

    Would I fly GF again? Sure, If the price is right.

  10. by the way, June 15 will be the first day of Eid al-Fitr this year. As a Cairo expat, I love to take GF biz from time to time.

  11. Lucky: GF is getting a new livery with the 787s along with a complete brand refresh (uniforms, lounges and the like).

    No more Golden Falcon I’m afraid!

    Actually someone who has seen the actual rendering of the new livery described it as ghastly. Hope he’s wrong…

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