I'm from the Kingdom ofBahrain. As part of my current review trip, I flew Austrian's business class across the Atlantic, and then continued east on Gulf Air's A321LR, flying between Rome and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Gulf Air is reinventing itself between a completely overhauled fleet and an all new hub airport and I was looking forward to this flight.
What is the business class experience like? There are elements that impressed me and then some areas where the airline dropped the ball. Gulf Air is almost certain to have an exceptional product, but there are some things that are holding it back. This is a five hour flight, so let's talk about some things.
They have a lot going for them. It is possible to find fully flat Collins Aerospace Diamond seats on many airlines. This is the best version of these seats that I have ever seen, and I particularly liked the huge privacy divider, which I haven't seen on other airlines.
The soft product was well made. On this five hour daytime flight, pajamas and slippers were available on request, as well as very nice amenity kits. That's amazing!
It was possible to have a dine on demand meal service, and the food was excellent. The service began with drinks and snacks.
I liked the Italian antipasto, which included artichoke, beef bresola, olives, and more.
The Spiedini ai Gimberi consists of prawns, grilled vegetables, and potatoes.
There was a huge dessert trolley where you could choose from a variety of desserts and cheese, and it was plated in front of the passengers. The dessert options were very good.
There were some nice aspects to the service that I liked.
I love that Gulf Air has internet on its A321LRs, and you can buy a full flight pass with no data caps for only$15. I was able to stay productive because of that.
The crew was warm and personable.
Gulf Air's A321LR is almost great, so why am I saying that?
Many of the same connecting markets as Gulf Air are served by a few world class airlines. The CEO of Gulf Air spoke about the company's position in the market a few years ago.
“You can’t compete with airlines that are bigger in size, volume or with prices. You can only compete in quality. I can compete with any airline, no matter the size, with the quality of my product. That’s the battle I willingly participate with a chance to win.”
Gulf Air does have an exceptional product, but there are other areas where the product falls flat.
The service was supposed to be well-intentioned, but it wasn't polished. I asked for a glass of champagne after being served the drink. It ended up not being served with the starter and only being brought to me five minutes after my main course.
The service flow was not always going well. They started serving meals from back to front, but then they would offer bread and drink from front to back. Those in the front received service in a logical order while those in the back did not.
I had ordered a starter and a soup, and the flight attendant confirmed my order, but I didn't get to eat it.
I ordered a cappuccino after seeing it on the menu. Below is how it was received. It seemed to be a mix of powdered cappuccino and dishwater.
Below is a picture of a cappuccino on an airline.
The crew was nice, but not proactive. The plastic covers from the amenity kits and pajamas sat on the aisle seat next to me, and not once did a flight attendant think to take them.
Gulf Air is a good airline and the experience was pleasant. If the airline changed its service a bit, it could be better. There is a lack of logic applied to service flow and that is a missed opportunity.
I am happy I finally had the chance to fly with the airline again, I have been watching their transformation in recent years, and am very interested. Flat beds, wi-fi, and a fresh-feeling cabin are some of the features of Gulf Air's A321LRs. The food was great, the amenities were good, and the service was friendly.
The service wasn't very polished, which can affect your perception of a flight You shouldn't have to wait 20 minutes for a glass of wine or 10 minutes for bread after a meal. Gulf Air could be great if it invests more in crew training and soft products.
I am curious to see how my connecting flight compares.
What was your experience when you flew Gulf Air?