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?