Gulf Air A321 Economy Class Review – Mumbai To Bahrain

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.

Wingside View of Gulf Air A321
The A321 shortly after landing in Bahrain. Photo: Quinn Favret

Airport check-in

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.

No Line at the Check-In Counter
There was no line at the Gulf Air check-in counter. Photo: Quinn Favret

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.

Gulf Air A321 Economy Class Review – Mumbai To Bahrain

The boarding process

Boarding the plane in Mumbai
There was a well-organized line to board the plane in Mumbai. Photo: Quinn Favret

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.

Entering the A321
The plane was clean, modern and had plenty of overhead space. Photo: Quinn Favret

Take-off

Air India's 787
Air India’s new 787 Dreamliner parked next to us. Photo: Quinn Favret

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.

Gulf Air winglet over Mumbai
The stark divide between slums and city could be seen from the window. Photo: Quinn Favret

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.

The uncomfortable seat onboard
The seat had a moderate amount of legroom, but the cardboard feel and scratchy material was horrendous. Photo: Quinn Favret
The leg room was average
The legroom was average for a short-haul economy seat. Photo: Quinn Favret

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.

The IFE selection screen
When I was about to select a Hollywood movie, the service was blocked. Photo: Quinn Favret
The page which was blocked
When I tried to select a movie, it was blocked. Photo: Quinn Favret

Overall service

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.

Duty free ads playing throughout the flight
Duty-free ads played continuously through the flight, which became quite repetitive. Photo: Quinn Favret

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.

The full meal served by Gulf Air
The meal was filling and had many different snacks included. Photo: Quinn Favret
The main dish
The main dish itself was very filling and surprisingly tasted great. Photo: Quinn Favret

Landing

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.

Beautiful descent over the gulf
As we flew by Doha, freighters could be spotted through the Gulf. Photo: Quinn Favret
Bahrain came into view
As we descended, Bahrain suddenly came into view. Photo: Quinn Favret

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

Passengers disembarking
The disembarkment process was swift and easy. Photo: Quinn Favret
Buses waiting next to the plane
Buses were waiting to shuttle us to the main terminal. Photo: Quinn Favret

Final thoughts

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.

Exterior paint job
The beautiful paint job of the A321 was shining the 45 degrees Celcius sun
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