I have flown repeatedly with Gulf Air out to various places in Asia from India to South East Asia and the far east. These have always required a stop-off in the gulf area of the Middle East, almost always Bahrain which is the airlines hub. The airline has connections from London, Paris and Frankfurt out to Bahrain and from there there are plenty of connections out to Asia and to various places around the Middle East and Islamic countries such as Sudan and Iran. Thus it isn't the best connected airline for those trying to connect from Western Europe as it will almost always require a change over unless Bahrain is the final destination.
The main reason I have flown with Gulf Air is that they have consistently been the cheapest option on offer for flights out to Asia-perhaps because of the required change over. I have flown with them for 3 return trips (making that 12 flights given they all needed a change over) and for each of these Gulf Air was the cheapest available flight, twice when I had booked a good few months in advnace and once when I needed a relatively last minute flight. They are definitely a good option to check out if price is a pressing issue.
All bar one of my flights arrived within minutes of their designated landing time and so I would say the airline is very puntctual. One flight from New Delhi to Bahrain was delayed by around 3 hours and as a result I missed the connection from Bahrain to London. All passengers who were affeted were immediatel booked onto the next available flight which was in 12 hours time and given a free visa to Bahrain, a 4 star hotel room with 3 meals and transport to and from the hotel in the interim. Although irritating I felt that a delay can hit any airline and they did provide for us well in the meantime. The other frustration is that once in London I had missed my connection up to Scotland and as this was not with the same airline or group I had to fork out for it myself-this is very annoying and a constant frustration of having all intercontinental flights arrive in London but is not particular to Gulf Air so I can't criticise them personally for it.
The planes I have been on have always been clean with no obvious broken pieces or grubby and torn seats and carpets. The seats are also comfortable with reasonable leg room.
Staff were not the friendliest that I have come across but neither were they rude and would help out when asked. Food was served at reasonable intervals of every few hours and it was possible to request to be left sleeping or to be woken up for food during the flight. The food itself was offered with one western and one eastern dish with a vegetarian option-I would advise going for the eastern dish as I have consistently found it to be superior to the sometimes not very nice western dish. Alcohol is also served if requested despite being an Islamic airline.
The on-board entertainment I have always found to be of good quality. I have always had individual TV screens for each seat with personal control over what and when you watch films or TV. There has always been a good selection of recent films plus some classics and TV, music and games too.
Overall I am very happy with Gulf Air and providing time isn't a pressing problem and so a stopover is acceptable I would recommend them as a cheap way to get out to the east. I believe that they offer as good or a better service that many competitors and only have lower prices because of the lack of direct flights-so if you can take advantage of this!
Cabin Appearance: Clean & Presentable.
Service at Departure Airport: Efficient and Satisfactory.
Seats: Regular economy seats with but better than Qatar Airways or Emirates.
Meals: Commendable even for Economy class! Even though we were right at the back, the hostess said to me later that they sensibly stock up with more chicken options as that's what most passengers prefer. My son totally has a great time with his child meal too!
In Flight Entertainment: Good selection of entertainment with functional AVODs. In flight duty free expensive. Lots to do for kids. Wish would include a trip to the cockpit to make it perfect!
Cabin Staff: The Sky Nanny service by Gulf Air is one of a kind with the appointed hostess concentrating only on kids and regularly checking in if they were settled or needed more to play with apart from their complimentary activity packs!
Arrival Services: Gulf Air connections are via Bahrain which has a decent Airport with efficient staff and had a pleasant experience at a proper dining restaurant provided for connecting passengers with long stopovers and a choice between 2 meals served courteously. To reboard, priority was given to passengers traveling with kids.
Summary: The most preferred airline for me to date with a wonderful in air and on round crew and although Bahrain Airport could do with more comfortable waiting areas, kids play sections, once on board you can expect quality and excellence in service with an inviting atmosphere! Truly value for money with Two Thumbs Up!!
My experience travel with Gulf Air on a recent holiday to Thailand was a bit mixed. The one reason that I booked with them was because they were offering the lowest fares. I dealt with them quite a lot on a professional basis, and had found them to be OK so I decided to give them a try.
If you book a long-haul flight with Gulf Air you are likely to connect in one of their two hubs Bahrain or Muscat. These are not bad airports, all with the good facilties that you would expect from an international standard airport.
The outbound flight was not that bad. The connection was good, the planes were not that crowded, the staff were polite and the food was OK. It was with the inbound flight that the problems came.
The flight to Bahrain was fine, but when departed Bahrain for Heathrow we were in the air for about 20mins and the plane started feeling very hot with several people commenting on this. A noticeably nervous sounding captain said plane turning back for technical reasons.
Upon landing he told us that there was smoke in the cockpit and we were to get off the plane ASAP. When we got back to the airport nobody knew what was going on. We waited around for about 4 hours wondering whether we were going anywhere. The staff were rude and uncourtious, and doing nothing to calm down the situation.
Eventually we were told the plane was going nowhere today and we were being put up in a hotel for the night. The hotel was lovely 4-5 star with a nice breakfast. I arrived home in the UK nearly 24hours after I was meant to.
I ended missing a book airport taxi and a day at work, I decided to write to Gulf to reclaim this financial cost, and express my concern about the way the passengers were first treated when we arrived back at Bahrain airpiort. Eventually after about 3 months of pestering them I got a reply, they gave me some frequent flyer miles. Hardly adequate considering I wont be flying with them again!!
At times the service was good and I understand that if a plane has smoke in the cockpit it has to turn back, I just think that Gulf could have handled it differently. Im not going to tell people to fly with them as Im sure this does not happen on every flight, but I wont use them again
I have only flown Gulf Air once, and I have to say it wasn't by choice. I simply bought the cheapest available ticket to Jakarta and it happened to be with them. The first thing to point out therefore, is that they are indeed very cheap. The second is that the reason for this is that the flights are not direct, they stop in the Middle East, in my case Bahrain. Unfortunately, I had cause to test Gulf Air's reliability more than I would have liked. In a moment of monumental stupidity, I managed to lose my passport on the flight between London and Bahrain. I realised before I left the aircraft and had the crew and cleaners looking for it, but it failed to show and I started to think it had been stolen. Either way, I wasn't allowed to board my connection to Jakarta and got stuck in Bahrain for 24 hours while I got the British Embassy to issue a new passport for me. (NB - moral of this bit of the tale is ALWAYS CARRY SPARE PASSPORT PICS WITH YOU, along with a photocopy of your passport. Without this it's ten times harder to get a new passport). I have to say though, Gulf Air were helpful. They didn't put me up or anything - it was my fault the thing had gone missing - but they did arrange for me to get on the next day's flight and didn't charge me any extra even though my ticket wasn't alterable. On the downside, it took a lot of hassling to get anything done and if I hadn't parked myself in their office and refused to move until they'd sorted everything, I'd probably still be in the departure lounge. So when it came to the difficult stuff they didn't do too well. They did redeem themselves slightly when it came to me changing my flight back at short notice (I'm an airline's walking nightmare as you can tell) - no fuss or hassle and no extra charges, just a phone call and they did my reconfirming for me. So. The flight itself. Smooth and average for cattle class. Downsides are the food
if you don't like foreign stuff, it has a strongly arab flavour, you won't find any pork tho they do serve alcohol on the flights. But they did give me a second tray when I asked cos I was starving. At least one of the (terrible) movies was in Arabic with no subtitles - again fair enough but not much fun for me. And then, of course, there's the question of praying. Many of those on board were devout muslims who are required by their faith to pray five times a day. Now, there's not much room to do the full kneel down and prostrate yourself thing on an aircraft so they all had to queue up to use the space by the loos, one by one. Not very condusive to getting to sleep - although they did draw the line at broadcasting the call to prayer on the PA system. Aside from that, it was your standard cattle truck experience. I have to say I almost prefer flying in stages rather than direct, at least you get a break, get to walk around, eat some food of (marginally) better quality in airport restaurants, breathe proper air and stock up on essentials. If you agree and also need a bargain price, Gulf Air are for you. And my passport? It was found by a passenger on the plane while on it's return trip to London - so nul points to the cleaners.
I recently travelled with gulf with two children to the middle East on what was supposed tobe a direct flight. They were many over bookins which meant we had to go on a different flight (despite the fact I had confirmed the seats). From than on I was told lie after lie and had to suffer a five hour delay. There is not problem with making mistakes a sthe best airlines make them but the way they attempt to rectify themis appalling
Gulf Air- well I had no choice but to fly with them, it was a nightmare. Initially i was told it was a stop in Abu Dhabi only to find out we had a stop in Paris as well for an hour which added to the time. Unfortunately my vegetarian meal was a very hot curry which burnt my mouth, as I ran up the galley unable to speak, I was ignored then a bottle of water was thrust into my hand. I did arrive in Nepal and got a seat to allow my injured leg some space to stretch, but however no such treatment on the way back. A delay meant our connection at Abu Dhabi would wait for us as hoardes of people looked to find the way to their connections. Not 1 member of staff helped or guided anyone. Due to my leg I could not get pre-book a seat soinformed the cabin crew of this as soon as I was on. I had to threaten to report the cabin crew supervisor before she would move me as she said there were no other seats on the plane. there were and i knew she was lying. We were all grateful to get back at the end, despite the delay just to get off the plane. This was my 2nd journey with them and hopefully my last.
I was reluctant to fly Gulf after bad experiences with arab airlines..namely Saudi and Egypt Air....but what a pleasant surprise. Cabin crew are European and Oriental...so expect a high level of efficieny and service. Food reasonable, entertainment good and alcohol supplied as requested! I was frequently flying from the Middle East to Far East and found the amount and timing of flights far superior to any other airline. So much so that on Muscat-Bangkok flights I changed to Gulf from Thai International. (it avoided that awful stop in Karachi!) Although, travelling from Europe, you will expect some long waits connecting if you are travelling onto Asia. Thats OK if you are in Dubai or Abu Dhabi as there they are good airports with opportunities for some serious duty free.But avoid Muscat if you can! Bahrain is excellent too; and I received wonderful service from Gulf in Bahrain (albeit slow -but accept it thats their way!) with a free Hotel & transport overnight. From Europe, terminating in the Middle East I found it far superior to any 'stop-off' airline. You are not waiting for incoming flights from Asia and so Gulf tend to suffer less delays. However, they were less relaible than British Airways. Prices tend to be a bit more expensive...about 15% more than Asian Airlines, but comparitive or cheaper than most European. Go for it!
I have flown Gulf Air a number oftimes in recent years - provided you book early (because they ration how many seats they sell in each price bracket) you can get some good deals to places like Hong Kong, Manila and Bangkok. Depending on the route, you have to change places in Bahrein, Abu Dhabi etc, but they are modern air-conditioned airports with all the usual facilities. Although Arab owned, a lot of the pilots are British or Australian, and the cabin crew are British, Indian and oriental.