When flying from Mumbai to Bahrain, I decided to fly with the lesser-known of the major Gulf airlines, Gulf Air itself. I was excited to try Gulf Air’s short-haul economy product, although, their new long haul flights are gaining traction as well. Here are my thoughts on the A321-200 operated flight.
Arriving around 5am for my 6:45am flight, the Gulf Air check-in counter was extremely accessible. The staff were also very helpful in the process of checking my bag and printing a boarding pass.
After making my way through the extended Indian security and emigration checks, I faced the never-ending walk through the duty free section of the airport. Finally, I made my way to gate 73 to find my flight starting to board a little over an hour early.
The boarding process
The boarding process ran smoothly. Having boarded the aircraft from back to front, I was in the first group to board with seat 29A located in the economy section. The actual boarding line was well organized and moved quickly. However, after boarding, it took more than an hour to push back. Apparently we were waiting for a family, causing us to lose our early departure.
After spending a while on the tarmac next to Air India’s beautiful 787, the front doors were finally closed and a safety video was promptly played. We pushed back and made our way to the runway.
As the pilot rapidly accelerated both engines, I was able to sit back and watch the beautiful Mumbai skyline through the incredibly clean windows. After a smooth ascent, we reached a cruising altitude of 32,000 feet and were well into our three-hour flight.
Gulf Air’s product
Gulf Air’s short-haul product was a solid 4/10. While the cabin was very clean and the economy legroom was on par with other airlines, the seat itself felt like a rock. It had absolutely no padding and the headrest was not much better than a brick.
Additionally, the material of the seat was extremely scratchy. I found it difficult to get comfortable as, if I moved, the seat rubbed against my face. However, I was able to use the complimentary blanket and pillow to minimize the discomfort.
While the product was already subpar, the inflight entertainment systems truly made for an unpleasant experience. Not only were there only two options in English, but the majority of the entertainment as a whole was blocked.
Everything but a small selection of TV shows were blocked, making for an extremely boring flight. To add insult to injury, the inflight map consisted of a prolonged slide show of advertisements, with a few seconds of the map here and there.
In addition to the disappointing in-flight product, the onboard service did not appear customer-centric. Not only was there a continuous duty-free video playing or adds intermingled with the map, but the flight attendants forced me to close my window shade for the full flight. The attendants themselves were well-intentioned but also came off as snappy in their tones and actions.
However, the saving grace of this flight was the breakfast. I selected the savory vegetarian option, which included authentic Middle Eastern dishes. The meal was extremely filling, and also tasted very good.
Coming into Bahrain right on time, I could not have been more excited to arrive. The descent over the Persian Gulf provided some amazing views, with many different shades of blue in the water.
After touching down and taxiing to a remote parking stand due to terminal renovations, everyone quickly disembarked and boarded the waiting buses to take us to the terminal
Gulf Air was frankly not my favorite airline. I would not fly their short-haul product again due to a poor in-flight product, lack of IFE, and below-average service. However, I would be eager to compare this flight with their long haul product, as it is supposedly quite the opposite of my flight.