Image Source: Courtesy of Aircraft Interiors International
Traveling while having all the luxuries on board is surely a blessing, one that not many of us are lucky enough to experience. As we board the aircraft, walking past the luxurious business class cabins that lie in front of us, we cannot but help feel a touch envious of those privileged enough to be reclining in those plush seats.
We have decided at Vaqra to resume our travel series and bring to you reviews of some of your most popular airlines. Starting off with the Middle Eastern airlines we will focus particularly on airlines that fly to and from Pakistan. This week we bring to you Gulf Airlines, the falcon.
Gulf Air operates flights to 52 destinations in 28 countries including Africa, Europe and Asia. Launched in 2018, Gulf Air business class 787-9 from Bahrain to London turned heads for all the right reasons from its inception. As we have heard people praising this new launched nosiness class by Gulf Air, we were compelled to try it for ourselves in the December of 2019.
Burgeoning importance of best travel experience as it adds up a lot to your travel memories, Gulf Air offers a luscious business class facility. It shows that Gulf Air is installing Apex Suites in its business class that’s laid out in a staggered 2-2-2 configuration and is arguably, after one of the best business class seats out there. Costing over 42,500 AAdvantage miles or about £2300 (PKR 490000), the flight comes with one hell of a price tag, but is sure worth the experience.
There is tremendous competition on the route of out London to Pakistan with other stupendous and better known UAE airlines like Emirates, Qatar and Etihad offering strict competition but despite this we at Vaqra would definitely recommend giving Gulf Air business class 787-9 a try owing to its world class facilities for this route.
If you are planning to travel from Bahrain to Karachi, A320 business class gulf Air provides an amazing travel experience but not as good as Emirates & Qatar Airlines on this particular route. Whilst the A320 neo will give you a comfortable enough ride, particularly considering the short duration of the flight, the disappointing hard product be overlooked, particularly considered what is offered by rivals. Whilst the soft product is still competitive, the infrequent flights, long layovers, small airport and dreadful lounge are all reason enough to not choose Guld air over its rivals if flying to Pakistan.
We are going to break down our review into sections and discuss our experiences subsequently. From premium lounges to luxurious cabins, this newly launched business card inculcates all the perks you yearn for.
In terms of check-in experience at London Heathrow, Gulf Airlines is situated at Terminal 4 and offers no chauffer service, that for a skywards Platinum member like myself sticks out like a sore thumb. The check in experience was smooth enough though one may take offence at the 32kg 2 bag per passenger limit.
Lounge agents welcome the passengers warmly, and the lounge itself is shared with Oman air and as such can get busy in the evenings when both airlines have scheduled outbound flights. The lounge itself is well laid out with lovely views of the apron. Its simple with an emphasis on functionality over bling but lacks the wow factor of Emirates business class lounge over in Terminal 3, with the range of food and beverages that provides a great start to ones journey. As such snacking in the lounge is not recommended; save space for the flight! However, passengers are given privacy by sectioning the lounge with beaded curtains and well-decorated.
Gulf air does not offer direct boarding from the lounge and one must make a short walk over to the gate. Boarding was smooth enough and the amazing attendants greeted me with dazzling smiles and genuine warmth. Shortly after boarding the onboard chef came round and took our orders before pre-departure drinks were offered (I definitely recommend their signature mint and lime juice).
Amenities & Cabin:
As soon as you board the flight, you are welcomed with smiling faces of crew and staff; which ultimately gives you a glimpse of your experience ahead. The cabins of 787-9 are imbued with luxurious facilities and services while you enjoy so on point comfortable seats. This biz-class setup would allow each passenger to access their seats directly from the aisle-which is quite comforting. Rows are off-set while the mid-seats are not off-set at all, keeping the privacy intact. Seats are placed in a systematic way that ensures maximum privacy, whilst giving each individual ample space to stretch their legs out. Even at 6ft I had no issue with leg room or space in my own cocoon.
Your seating has all the controls and you can cherish and select from a range of seat setting features, making your travel somewhat cozier. Besides amazing amenities, entertainment provided by this business class is also praise-worthy. Equipped by charging portals and USB ports, you can relish everything while enjoying your travel. Where this seat is lacking however is with the lack of storage which can be quite frustruated. The IFE system is limited and Wifi services are not available in the flight so for a business traveler it can be irksome.
Furthermore, when its sleep time you can easily convert your seat into proper bed as you would be provided with comforters and pillows. The mattress pad and fitted sheet give you a plush feel that will help you get a comfortable night’s sleep. I managed to get 4 hours solid shut eye on my overnight flight.
Food & Beverages:
The food menu is diverse and extensive, served with their special refreshing drinks including lemon juice with mint, orange juice, water and Jacquart Champagne, in the flight. In addition, they have their own chef on board who takes order from the menu and get it prepare for you-impressive, isn’t it? While serving wines and drinks they also offer cool nuts and raisins. The main course choices include roast beef with sweet-potato mash, steamed vegetables and gravy; chicken tikka masala; seafood saffron risotto; and a quiche with gorgonzola and caramelized onions.
After scrumptious dinner comes a trolley of desserts imbued with cheese, nuts, fruits, bread pudding, white-chocolate cheesecake and profiteroles.
This biz-class flight 787-9 impressed us wholly by immaculate set-up and professional attendants, portraying the fact that Gulf Air is primarily focusing on customer’s comfort and services provided. Improvement in the IFE and a complete overhaul of the lounge in Bahrain can make this travel experience more rewarding. For the London to Bahrain leg, this product is definitely worth a try
Let us know your experiences in the comment section below.