Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

In May, I had the privilege of flying Gulf Air between Bahrain and London with their latest 787-9 business class product. Spoiler alert: it’s superb and criminally underrated by many people.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

I had arrived in Bahrain from Dhaka, Bangladesh, and had a lengthy layover. This was my choice – an earlier flight was available with a sub-2hr connection but I wanted plenty of time to film and take in the experience for my YouTube channel:

The Falcon Gold lounge in Bahrain is well-appointed and understated. The buffet food selection had a wide range of hot and cold options and I was able to eat a delicious biryani from here; you’d never have guessed it was buffet food.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

I vastly prefer quiet elegance or simple comfort to the over-the-top bling exhibited by Gulf Air’s noisy neighbours, Qatar, Etihad and Emirates (the latter two being particularly guilty!).

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

The lounge has quiet suites with lockable doors in a darkened room available for 15 Bahraini dinars for up to four hours – about 40 USD. It was Ramadan when I travelled and not busy at all; the staff said I may have one for free. Thank you Gulf Air!

I should clarify that while I am sometimes recognised these days, I wasn’t here. I think it’s unlikely they were doing me a special favour and simply took pity on a traveller with a nine-hour stopover!

The sofa bed was comfy and fresh packaged bedding was provided.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

I remember being taken to Terminal 2 at Heathrow when I was young. Gulf Air was at that time the premier Arabian carrier. I didn’t travel much as a young child other than holidays in Britain and Spain.

Seeing the old colourful Gulf Air Tristars at Heathrow evoked feelings of Bahrain being very far away – an exotic land full of mystery. How times change – long overshadowed by the Middle East 3, Gulf Air is quietly making a comeback with a new fleet of 787 aircraft. The latest livery is beautiful.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

The rest of the airport is jaded and significantly in need of a facelift; there is little to do beyond the lounge.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

We were required to be at the gate a little early for an additional security check. I’m not sure if this was a one-off or if it is a regular practice here.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

Onboard, I got my first look at Apex suites in the flesh, and boy are they good.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

There are 30 seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. Window seats are slightly staggered which enables the suite to offer direct aisle access for everyone without angling the seat away from the window. It’s not the most space-efficient layout, but it provides for a brilliant passenger experience.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

Each seat has a full-length privacy divider, controlled by a button.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

Amenities and pyjamas were handed out on the ground.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

Arabic coffee was also served with a date.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

Departure was prompt, at 02:10 local time. This is a short redeye flight of just six hours to London; there was no queue for takeoff.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

The only thing I don’t like about the seat is the armrest placement of buttons, which make it a little too easy to accidentally press them while seated.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

Storage is good, with plenty of room under the ottoman for my shoes – you could fit a small rucksack under here too if you wanted.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

There are two USB ports and one universal charger socket in the sidewell.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

The reading lamp is over one’s shoulder (look at the lovely colours of the finishes here).

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

The table is sturdy and can be swivelled when in use to allow you to exit the seat. The build quality of these suites was noticeably high. Everything worked well, nothing felt loose or fragile, and each fitting seemed solid and well-made.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

Headphones were provided to go with the IFE, which is on a big screen.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

This late flight has an abbreviated light evening meal and full breakfast. Here is the menu and wine list:

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

I went for the salad with the salmon quiche – you can mix and match. It was delicious. Orders had been taken on the ground and service was whirlwind-fast without feeling rushed, in order to provide maximum sleep time on this short flight.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

I finished my meal with fruit.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

The amenity kit features the Portuguese Fort on its side.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

It’s reasonably well stocked and contains everything you’d need.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

The toilets on these 787s come with a bidet function – fancy!

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

I also love the pyjamas which feature a big Gulf Air falcon motif on the front. Yes, you can keep the PJs.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

Turn down service is offered by the crew, and a mattress topper complements the already comfortable seat. The bed was wide and will accommodate side or back sleepers.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

I managed nearly four hours’ sleep and was woken to receive breakfast. More fruit – to start:

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

I chose the waffles for my main dish, which were excellent. Gulf Air is known for employing Sky Chefs to prepare food. These waffles had been freshly prepared and could have passed muster in most good hotel restaurants. Impressive.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

We had made good time and by the time my dish had been cleared, it was already time to descend over the North Sea.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

Non-UK and non-EU passport holders will appreciate the expedited immigration invites provided. I just used the E-gates.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

Arrival into London was punctual at just before 06:30 local time.

Gulf Air 787-9 Business Class Review

In short, a memorable experience. I was blown away by the speed, thought and efficiency of service which turned an otherwise awkward redeye into a flight where I’d been well fed and rested. The only big downside was the lack of WiFi (Gulf Air doesn’t currently provide any!), which I barely noticed on this flight given the urgency to sleep. I hope they will rectify this.

I paid £909 one way Dhaka-Bahrain-London, which was ridiculously cheap and only because of the depressed market for premium airfares out of Bangladesh. Expect to pay double this if you start in Bahrain…

I’ll happily fly Gulf Air again and look forward to seeing the carrier expand once more.

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