Gulf Air Falcon Gold Business Class
Gulf Air Falcon Gold Business Class looked like a exciting product on my radar. Specifically their Dreamliners which feature Apex Suites. A very well regarded hard product. On the back of my mind I was keeping an eye out for suitable trips where I can book them with.
I had flown them once as a kid back in the 90s on a family holiday when they were a very major airline with larger route network being the primary airline that served many of the Gulf states. They have since gone through a major downsizing (no doubt the emergence of the big ME3 airlines had played a part here). Gulf Air has now rebranded and looking to differentiate itself with fierce competition on its doorstep. How would their best business class product compare?
Route: Dhaka – London Heathrow (via Bahrain)
Flight No: GF251 & GF7
Departure Time: 19:15
Aircraft: Boeing 787-900
Seats/Suite: 1K & 2K
Check-In & Lounge
Check-in in Dhaka airport was absolutely chaotic with no formal Business Class check-in area. They had 2 counters that were marked for both Business & Economy passengers so it rather defeated the purpose.
Even though I arrived at the airport with just over 2 hours to spare. It took almost 50 minutes before I would be finally checked in.
I was handed an invitation to the Balaka lounge. However a further 20 minutes to go through a semi-security come immigration ( you had to fill up some exit forms for immigration and many seem unprepared for that) rendered this useless.
By the time I was airside at Dhaka airport, boarding was already in progress, so I didn’t really have time to check out the lounge. Anyway I have managed to visit Gulf Air’s main Falcon Gold Lounge in the layover in Bahrain.
Gulf Air Falcon Gold Business Class Boarding
Boarding was equally as chaotic. Dhaka is unfortunately a small airport which just was not designed for the number of flights and passengers it currently handles (they are currently building a new terminal which should ease things in a couple of years)
Boarding was through door 2 and you were immediately greeted by the beautiful Falcon Gold cabin. There was two cabin crew were by the door who pointed me to my seat..
Gulf Air Falcon Gold Business Class Cabin
The cabin features just 36 Apex Suites in a 2-2-2 configuration but this is not nearly as bad as it sounds. They are all direct aisle access! Thanks to clever staggering it’s amazing how such a products just fits into a space where even the 1-2-1 config can sometimes feel tight!
There were quite a few passengers boarded already so unfortunately I could not take too many pictures without other passengers in them.
As you can see, each suite is very long, covering in average 3 and a half window length, with the Dreamliner windows already being quite big!
Each suite has a large ottoman/footrest area. Its a footrest if you happen to be that tall frankly otherwise you will only ever rest your feet there if you are in sleep mode or deep recline!
The side panel running along the seat houses the touch screen remote control with some seat controls. Further seat controls are on the other side/arm panel.
As I was taking pictures, a crew member felt compelled to come and inform me please not to take any pictures of the crew (as if that needed to be said ).
That kinda sets of a tone unfortunately about what the crew might be like. So I was extra careful not to capture any of them if they happened to be going past..
All the K Seats are windows and H being the aisle seats
There were pre-departure hot towel service and welcome drinks for which I chose an Orange/Mango juice combo both times..
The IFE screen is a decent size and of fine quality, as is the handheld controller where you can also watch things separately.
Gulf Air Falcon Gold Business Class Dinner
Shortly after a roughly on-time take-off, the crew began the dinner service. This first sector of the flight would be just 5 hours and 20 minutes, so enough time to enjoy a full meal. The crew took drinks orders alongside the food choices and set the table..
Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of the menu, but there were choices of 3 starters and 3 mains and 2 desserts.
To start I just ordered a green salad..
The salad was served with a light paratha, which was actually quite nice.
For the main, I opted for some type of fish, which I no longer remember the name off. It was served with a side of spinach and boiled potatoes
While not the most exciting meal choice, the dish was very well seasoned and I enjoyed it all.
Following the meal the plates were quickly taken away and dessert choice taken. I chose the pistachio ice-cream with some mint tea..
That pistachio ice-cream was definitely the best part of the whole meal, I decided to order seconds!
Gulf Air Falcon Gold Business Class Bed
With a full 3 hours to go before landing, I decided to check out the best and just rest in bed most for a while..
The seat turn into one of the longest and most private beds in the skies today (yes that includes actual First Class products)
The bedding provided were also excellent. I did not want to get too comfortable however, as I aimed to sleep properly in the next flight
Gulf Air Falcon Gold Business Class Flight 2
After a 3 hour layover in Bahrain, it was time for leg two of my journey back to London. And it was another new-ish 3 year old 787-9 awaiting us..
This time I was only the second business passenger to board but I still forgot to take many pictures but got a video clip of it on insta stories
This time I decided to sit on 2k, I was gonna chose 3K but noticed it had one less window 🙂
This is when I realized the amenity kit was hidden in the small side pocket and I had not even touched it on the first flight! This time I was looking for it knowing I will need to brush my teeth ..
The amenity kit came in a lovely printed leather washbag with contents including lip balm, moisturizer, flight socks, comb and a dental kit with mouth wash.
After a few minutes of settling in the crew came to ask me what size PJs I would like..
We left the gates on time with about half the business cabin occupied and the captain welcomes us back with a flight time of just 7 hours 10 minutes..
Mere minutes after take-off this set of crew seemed on a mission to help everyone get to sleep as quickly as possible.. this time I did opt for a champagne and warm nuts..
Since it was a late night departure the menu consisted of light bites and then breakfast. Menu contents below
I chose a soup with a small quiche..
This was just perfect post midnight snack. The plates were cleared away fast after I was done and I was able to turn down less then 50 minutes post take off.
Talking of turning down, I’m not sure if turndown service is offered by GulfAir but I was very happy to make my own bed..
Helped by the timing and everything else in sync, I drifted off to sleep while still somewhere over the Gulf.
Gulf Air Falcon Gold Business Class Breakfast
I woke up 90 minutes to landing with the full hustle and bustle of the breakfast service in motion..
It was still very dark outside.
The breakfast started with some fresh fruits and warm pastries and choice of fresh juices..
For the main I opted for an omelette which came with vegetarian sausage..
As far as Business class breakfasts in the sky go, this was about bang in the middle of the spectrum.
As I opened my windows over the English Channel, there was a beautiful sunrise just behind the engines..
It felt very cosy just stretching out in the suite in my blankets
And soon enough we were approaching into Heathrow on a clear morning sky
I’d flown on an Apex Suite once before with Japan Airlines and forgot was a great product it is. Gulf Air have done an excellent job of fitting in the product with their signature touches in a beautiful way. In many ways the product provides a level of privacy and comfort that is only bettered by first class products. If you have broad shoulders though, you may find there are wider business class seats such as most Singapore Airlines or even Finnair.
On the service side, I found both sets of crew to be more than adequate if stopping short of actually excelling in any particular way. For example they were rather short with any interaction and just seemed to be doing their jobs. Do not expect Singapore or Qatar level of service here, you will be disappointed. But for what it is, I was more than happy with my flights and will chose Gulf Air again!