For a short notice trip to Asia I was lucky to find a cheap Gulf Air fare to Bangkok, via Bahrain, more or less via accident while browsing their website. While Gulf Air is not as grand as the other Gulf carriers the price was tempting enough to book.
After leaving the disappointing Cathay Pacific lounge still hungry for breakfast I was looking forward to flying this “exotic” airline finally for the first time.
Despite having a normal gate area the boarding was conducted by bus, with a short 3 minutes ride to the nearby plane. I usually do not like bus boarding and especially in countries like Germany where there is no separate bus for business and economy, so the busses tend to get packed. However bus boarding usually makes for some nice pictures of the plane.
Upon boarding I was directed to my side by the friendly crew and offered a welcome drink. Despite it being the time of Ramadan alcoholic drinks were served aboard, including champagne.
After the initial welcome drink and boarding completion Arabic coffee and dates were distributed, a very much appreciated local touch, that only Oman Air does as well in their business class. Every seat also received a water bottle and an amenity kit while the crew took meal orders in preparation of take-off.
Gulf Air is using a single-aisle Airbus A320 for the 5h hop to Bahrain, all other Gulf carriers use wide-bodies for these routes from Germany. While the plane is small Gulf Air took the effort to install not only real business class seats, but even fully flat beds in a 2-2 configuration.
While the seats were huge with ample of legroom they were clearly not the youngest generation and provided an average comfort level. I was happy to find a power socket and USB plug at my seat, which surprised me given the older seat model and the short flight. However the entertainment options were severely limited on this flight as Gulf Air has a only a small selection of movies, no Wifi and the IFE lagged quite a bit.
For lunch I started off with the Arabic mezze, one of my favourite dishes that far too few airlines from the region have on the menu. It was superb, fresh and very flavourful. For main I had grilled chicken with sweet potato, which was tasty as well. Rounding if off with some fruits and a chocolate cake that were served from a cart, as well as a, sadly only powdered, coffee.
All in all I was positively surprised by my Gulf Air flight, the crew delivered great service, catering was of high quality and for the price the product definitely convinced. Gulf Air definitely has a rather old fleet for a Middle East carrier and the seats and IFE show that. The airline has some B787 on order of which two were delivered so far, they look great and definitely up at the same level as Qatar, so I will try to test one of these in the future.