Gulf Air Business Class Review: London to Bangkok (787-9)
One of the best under-the-radar airlines around is Gulf Air, based out of the small Middle-Eastern country of Bahrain. While Emirates and Qatar have been getting all the online love for their amazing First Class and Q-Suite products, Gulf Air rarely gets a mention. And it’s crazy, they’re brilliant. They’ve been around for more than 70 years and are older than all their new rivals! Since their rebrand and restructure,now it’s their time to shine. They’re now my go-to choice when flying from Europe to Asia, or vice-versa.
I first started flying Gulf Air back in 2019 when I booked a Gulf Air Business Class (Gulf Air business class is called ‘Falcon Gold’) ticket from Bangkok, Thailand to Amman, Jordan and then my ‘return’ flight from Beirut, Lebanon to Bangkok, Thailand. The price? About $1250 (900GBP). For 2 flights starting and finishing in different locations, that is a crazy good deal. And so much cheaper than anything else I could find online.
It was also the first flight I ever paid for a Business Class ticket (I had used points before) because it was such a good deal. I had never looked at business class offerings when I wasn’t using points prior to this, now because of Gulf Air, I always check. Sometimes the prices are really affordable. I used them again last year to fly business class with my mum from Bangkok to Egypt (on one of my Socotra tours in Yemen).
Now I tend to use air miles to fly business class. I wrote an awesome blog post about collecting Airmiles with UK Credit Cards here for anyone from the UK!
But of course, it’s not just the price. I bid for an upgrade and flew business class with Ethiopian Air last year and it was awful, a complete waste of money. So was Gulf Air Business Class a premium product? You bet, it’s lovely. Very comparable to Emirates Business Class, and perhaps even better.
I recently used then to fly once more from London to Bangkok, transitting in their new $1 billion (!!) dollar terminal in Manama during COVID times. And once again, it was amazing. So finally I thought I’d share one of my favorite airlines with you guys. Here’s my Gulf Air Business Class review.
Booking and Paying for Gulf Air flights online
Gulfair.com is a sleek website. It’s easy to use and you don’t need to log-in or be a member to book, which is great. However, because Gulf Air isn’t a member of any alliance, if you’re going to fly with them regularly then it makes sense to sign-up to their frequent flyer membership program Falcon Flyer.
I needed to fly one-way from London to Bangkok. Anyone who flies regularly knows that booking one-way tickets it’s a nightmare. You pay almost the price of a return flight normally. But, NOT WITH GULF AIR! They were offering economy tickets from LHR (London Heathrow) to BKK (Suvarnabhumi Bangkok airport) for 291GBP ($400). Amazing deal. Business-class was around 4 times that.
Their site is super easy to navigate, and it’s also great for multi-trip options like my Thailand to Jordan, and return on Lebanon to Thailand flight.
Gulf Air Business Class Check-in
My most recent experience was during COVID. I was flying from London Heathrow and they always have a dedicated business class lane. This experience was slightly different as the staff had to check a MOUNTAIN of paperwork to confirm I was allowed to visit Thailand during COVID, from travel insurance to my ASQ Thailand quarantine booking.
The staff, as always, couldn’t do enough to help. And once they confirmed my paperwork was in order, they allowed me to go on while they dealt with the rest of the paperwork and my luggage. Great service.
In London, normally Gulf Air has its own lounge but with Terminal 4 closed at the moment, that lounge is also closed, meaning you currently use the Plaza Premium lounge. It’s decent but not stellar.
If you’re checking in in Bahrain though, it’s a whole different ball game! You have dedicated staff all over the place, dedicated areas for Business Class and then of course you get to the BRAND NEW Gulf Air Falcon Gold Lounge. Which I also got to experience during my transit in Manama.
Gulf Air Lounge Review at Manama Airport
So how is the new Gulf Air Business Class Falcon Gold Lounge? I loved the old lounge, to be honest, so I had high hopes for their new one. The whole terminal in Manama airport is pretty crazy. $1 billion dollars goes along way! But when I have lounge access, and unlimited Champagne, I tend not to spend too much time in the airports browsing, and a lot more time in the lounge, pretending to work whilst drinking endless bubbly.
So how was the new Falcon Lounge? It’s BIG! There is plenty of space to either chill, work or even snooze.
Finally, if you fly economy you can still access the Falcon Gold Lounge either by being Silver on their status on purchasing a pass HERE. The new lounge offers a panoramic view of the take-off area, and the space includes a dining room area specifically for eating. A standard lounge area, and also a quiet room with 5 chaise lounges for a quick snooze. There is even a cinema space now, where you can choose your move and kick back. Pretty epic.
Gulf Air Business Class (aka Falcon Gold)
So how’s the actual Gulf Air Business Class experience? I know the booking process, check-in stuff, even the lounge is all kind of window dressing. The real bulk of the value when you fly business class is how is the actual experience? What about the space, luxury, amenities food, and drink?
The Seat & the space
This is the best part of the whole Gulf Air business class experience. There 787-9 planes (which they use for every long haul flight) is laid out in a 2-2-2 space. And the seats on the sides are staggered so you never have to step over anyone to access the aisle or bathroom (which you still have to do in the Emirates Business class on the 777, boooo).
The seat itself is hugely spacious, with a full flatbed that can be made up into a bed by your cabin crew. The entertainment system is impressive with a large 22+ screen waiting for you. You control it both with touchscreen or with a minitablet beside you. They used to give you great noise-canceling headphones BUT during COVID they give you the cr@ppy disposable earphones so bring your own during COVID times.
The seat has the standard upgraded business class seat controls. Ranging from extendable feet to the movie position where you lounge, and also including a back massage option.
A huge perk of the modern design is that you don’t need to use the overhead lockers, with ample room for your daypack under the area where you rest your shoes. I love not having to worry about getting up and down for my stuff.
Food & Drink
TIP TOP. I’m vegetarian so the sign of a quality airline is always how well they can deal with specific dietary requirements, and my oh my do Gulf Air do this well. Just remember to declare your requirements on their website before you fly.
NOTE: I didn’t do this on my last flight, and the amazing service they offer their business class passengers, they went OFF BOARD before we took off and got what I needed for the upcoming flight. Insane level of service.
The mealtimes are set, although they are quite flexible should you request to eat differently. But the food is/was epic. And they serve real Champagne, along with a pretty good cocktail selection. I also ask for an old-fashioned and even though it wasn’t on the menu, they did it for me. Stellar.
This is the one area that I think Gulf Air falls a little short. Where other airlines in the region offer Bvlgari bags and the like, Gulf Air’s amenity kit is a self-branded bag that you’re unlikely to keep. No design perfume or aftershave, but still decent moisturizers, eye pads and the like. And the pyjamas they offer you to sleep are solid quality too.
Perfect. The service goes above and beyond. I loved Bahrain from when I was on my journey to every country in the world, I found the people so warm, welcoming and hospitable. And my experience with Gulf Air staff has been every bit the same. But their service on the actual aircraft is better still, they really outstrip their competition here.
You get instantly seen to when you sit down, and they come back time and time again making sure you get as much coffee, water, fruits, nuts (and of course Champagne!) as you want. Service with a genuine smile. I loved it, and was sad to get off.
From the moment they escort you to your (large, comfortable) pod to sit down, until the last second you depart the flight, the cabin crew are so observant, courteous, and helpful. I don’t know what they pay them, but they seem to get the best people at Gulf Air!
Final thoughts on My Gulf Air Business Class Review?
What can I say? I love Gulf Air. Their economy product is great, and such good value. You can bid for upgrades, making it much cheaper to experience business class, they offer amazing multi-destination availability. Their food and drink options are top-notch, the staff is excellent and the actual seat/bed in the 787 dreamliners is world-class.
All-in-all 9/10. They lose a point for their amenity offering and their lack of free WiFi for business class customers. But even that seems harsh, because their lounges (in London and Bahrain) are also amazing! I’ll continue to fly with these guys again and again and again. You should too!
Gulf Air Review FAQs
The Gulf Air Baggage Allowance on Falcon Gold Business Class
- Ecomony light = 23kgs PLUS 1 6kg cabin bagged.
- Economy smart and flex = 2 X 23kgs PLUS 1 6kg cabin bagged.
- Business Class (Falcon Gold) 2 X 32kgs PLUS 2 bags totaling 9kgs Cabin Luggage
- If you have Silver status or above you can bring another additional 15kgs.
The Size of Gulf Air Business Class seats?
Gulf Ai Business-class in the 787-9 is in a 2-2-2 layout, the pitch is 80 – 89 Inch
Can I get a free upgrade? Or bid for an upgrade?
You can use Falcon Gold points to upgrade of course. Even better, one of my favourite developments with the airline industry is when you book economy but you can bid for an upgrade. You choose how much you want to bid, and then a day before thr flight, the airline will accept/reject your bid. Not many airlines offer this but Gulf Do, so that’s brilliant.
Is Gulf Air a member of Star Alliance, One World, or Skyteam?
No it’s not a member of any of those. It does have codeshare partners with Etihad, Ethiopian, Thai, Turkish, Jordanian and Egypt Air amongst others.
Which London Airport do Gulf Air use?
Gulf Air used London Heathrow, where they have their own special lounge in Terminal 4. During COVID times though, they fly from Terminal 2 and use the Plaza Premium lounge.
How about WiFi onboard?
$30 for 24 hours, or $15 for 1 hour. Paid on the browser when you log in. Sadly, it’s not free with business class (no idea why pretty much every airline doesn’t give free wifi to biz class passengers, strange).
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