Airlines

Evaluation: Gulf Air Enterprise Class A321LR (FCO-BAH)

After a few flights on Austrian Airways (on the Boeing 777-200ER and Airbus A320), I continued my whirlwind Aeroplan journey with a few segments on Gulf Air, together with on the Airbus A321LR and Boeing 787-9.

I began by flying Gulf Air’s Airbus A321LR enterprise class from Rome to Bahrain, which is a flight I used to be trying ahead to. Gulf Air has been engaged on reinventing itself, and I used to be curious to see what Gulf Air’s new slim physique enterprise class expertise was like.

Ultimately I used to be… reasonably impressed? Gulf Air is absolutely near being nice, however there are some straightforward areas for enchancment, which might give Gulf Air a world class product.

Let’s get into the evaluate.

How I booked my Gulf Air enterprise class ticket

I booked my Gulf Air enterprise class ticket utilizing factors. Particularly, I redeemed 115,000 Air Canada Aeroplan factors to fly from Chicago to Vienna to Rome to Bahrain to Singapore to Ho Chi Minh Metropolis to Hanoi, all in enterprise class.

For extra particulars on how I booked that, see my publish about learn how to redeem Aeroplan factors like a professional. Aeroplan factors are straightforward to come back by, as this system is switch companions with Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, and Chase Final Rewards. On prime of that, there’s the Aeroplan® Credit score Card (evaluate) in the USA, which is phenomenal.

Particular to the Gulf Air portion of my journey, right here had been the 2 flights I flew on Gulf Air (I’ll evaluate the second phase in a separate publish):

1/07 GF26 Rome to Bahrain departing 11:10AM arriving 6:35PM
1/07 GF165 Bahrain to Singapore departing 11:50PM arriving 12:25PM (+1 day)

Gulf Air enterprise class lounge & boarding Rome

I didn’t have all that a lot time in Rome, as I landed at 9:30AM from Vienna, and was connecting at 11:10AM to Bahrain. Throughout that point I needed to change terminals, undergo safety, and clear passport management. I made a decision to go to the Plaza Premium Lounge Rome, which I entry with my Amex Platinum Card.

Rome Airport Terminal 3

Whereas Gulf Air sends its premium passengers to the Premium Vista Lounge, I didn’t have the prospect to test it out, although I’d guess it’s not as good because the Plaza Premium Lounge.

My flight was departing from gate E38, with boarding scheduled 40 minutes earlier than departure, at 10:30AM. It might probably take a while to get to this space of the terminal, as it’s essential take a prepare to get there.

Sadly my flight was delayed a bit. Gulf Air’s service from Rome to Bahrain operates as half of a bigger service, as Gulf Air flies from Milan to Rome to Bahrain. Gulf Air appears to have fairly a number of of those “direct” flights with a cease these days.

Whereas the departures monitor confirmed the flight as being on-time, I noticed on Flightradar24 that the inbound plane from Milan was round 40 minutes late, so I wasn’t anticipating we’d depart on-time.

The A321LR isn’t a really massive aircraft to start with (it has 166 seats), and even between the 2 stops in Italy, the flight nonetheless wasn’t wherever near full. I’d say there have been possibly a number of dozen passengers who boarded in Rome, so the gate space was fairly quiet.

Gulf Air departure gate Rome Airport

Boarding ended up beginning at 10:50AM, with enterprise class passengers being invited to board first.

Gulf Air A321LR enterprise class cabin & seats

I like to get “clear” cabin photos, although sadly passengers originating in Milan didn’t deplane in Rome, so I used to be getting on {a partially} boarded plane, the place half a dozen enterprise class seats had been already occupied.

Gulf Air’s Airbus A321LRs have Collins Aerospace Diamond seats in enterprise class, that are absolutely flat. The cabin featured a complete of 16 seats, unfold throughout 4 rows in a 2-2 configuration. For a slim physique enterprise class product, that is fairly stable.

Gulf Air Airbus A321LR enterprise class cabin
Gulf Air Airbus A321LR enterprise class cabin

I assigned myself seat 4F, the window seat on the best facet within the final row of the cabin.

Gulf Air enterprise class seats Airbus A321LR
Gulf Air enterprise class seat Airbus A321LR

One of many causes that airways supply this enterprise class product is due to how effectively it makes use of house. The draw back to those seats is that they’ve fairly small footwells, that are primarily to the facet of the seat in entrance of you. When you have massive toes, you would possibly discover this configuration to be fairly restrictive in that regard.

Gulf Air enterprise class seats Airbus A321LR
Gulf Air enterprise class seat legroom Airbus A321LR

This may very well be one profit to reserving a seat within the bulkhead row, because the seats within the first row do function bigger footwells.

Gulf Air enterprise class seats Airbus A321LR

So far as the seat options go, on the middle console had been the seat controls, which had been straightforward to make use of. There have been two pre-sets (for absolutely reclining the seat or placing it upright), after which a number of choices to customise particular person settings.

Gulf Air enterprise class seat controls Airbus A321LR

You’ll discover these identical seats on many airways, although what I actually appreciated about this configuration was the dimensions of the privateness partitions, as you actually felt such as you had full privateness between passengers, because of the actually excessive shields. These may very well be lowered, within the occasion that you just’re touring with somebody.

Gulf Air enterprise class seat privateness defend Airbus A321LR

The seat sadly solely had uncovered storage, which was within the again nook of the seat. This was additionally the place the headphone jack and studying gentle had been situated.

Gulf Air enterprise class seat storage Airbus A321LR

The one different storage was a small shelf above the footwell. Simply watch out with what you place there, since it may possibly simply slide, particularly throughout takeoff.

Gulf Air enterprise class seat legrest Airbus A321LR

The tray desk folded out from the middle console, and may very well be folded over in half.

Gulf Air enterprise class seat tray desk Airbus A321LR

When folded over in half, there was additionally an extra panel you can elevate, so that you could relaxation your private digital gadget on it, do you have to wish to use that for leisure.

Gulf Air enterprise class seat gadget holder Airbus A321LR

The leisure controller may be prolonged from the middle console, and was fairly giant.

Gulf Air enterprise class seat leisure controller Airbus A321LR

AC and USB energy retailers had been situated in entrance of and beneath the seats, within the middle part.

Gulf Air enterprise class seat energy retailers Airbus A321LR

I appreciated that the overhead consoles had particular person air nozzles, along with studying lights.

Gulf Air overhead consoles Airbus A321LR

I beloved a number of the consideration to element with the cabin design, just like the airline branded seatbelt buckles.

Gulf Air enterprise class seatbelt Airbus A321LR

Throughout boarding I additionally rapidly glanced into economic system, which seemed comparatively snug.

Gulf Air Airbus A321LR economic system class cabin

All-in-all, it is a completely pretty enterprise class exhausting product, particularly when you have an empty seat subsequent to you (as I did). For a 5 hour daytime flight, this was greater than enough.

Gulf Air enterprise class facilities

For a non-long haul daytime flight, the facilities on this flight had been excellent. For one, there was a pillow and blanket. I’d say they had been each fantastic — they had been nothing particular, however weren’t unhealthy both.

Gulf Air enterprise class pillow & blanket

On prime of that, there have been a pair of noise canceling headphones at every seat upon boarding. Once more, they had been completely fantastic, however nothing particular.

Gulf Air enterprise class headphones

Moments after settling in, the pleasant crew provided pre-departure drinks, with the selection of champagne, orange juice, or water. I chosen the champagne, which was served in correct glassware.

Gulf Air enterprise class pre-departure champagne

Subsequent up, the selection of heat or chilly towels was provided — it’s all the time good to have the ability to select!

Gulf Air enterprise class heat towel

Arabic espresso and dates had been then distributed, which can also be a pleasant native contact, as you gained’t discover that in enterprise class on Emirates or Qatar Airways.

Gulf Air enterprise class Arabic espresso & dates

Moreover, menus had been distributed. I’m not an enormous fan of how Gulf Air goes about this, although. The crew distributed them, then took meal ordered a couple of minutes later, and instantly collected the menus once more. I all the time admire with the ability to maintain onto the menu in order that I can reference the choice all through the flight.

Gulf Air enterprise class menu

Maybe most spectacular was the collection of facilities provided. Initially, amenity kits had been distributed, with a cool horse-themed equipment. The equipment contained socks, a dental equipment, mouthwash, earplugs, a comb, and some wellness merchandise from THANN.

Gulf Air enterprise class amenity equipment

Not solely was there an amenity equipment, however pajamas had been additionally provided on demand. It’s my understanding that these are proactively provided on in a single day flights, after which they’re out there on demand for daytime flights. It positive is good to get pajamas on a flight like this, although I can’t say they had been essentially the most attention-grabbing pajamas I’ve gotten on a aircraft.

Gulf Air enterprise class pajamas

Lastly, slippers had been additionally out there on demand.

Gulf Air enterprise class slippers

You gained’t discover higher facilities than this on nearly any airline for a 5 hour daytime flight, so kudos to Gulf Air.

Gulf Air A321LR departure from Rome

Whereas boarding was completed in a matter of minutes (just a few dozen folks boarded), sadly we weren’t fairly prepared for departure but, because the aircraft needed to be refueled.

Gulf Air Airbus A321LR being refueled

A day earlier than departure, solely 4 of the 16 enterprise class seats confirmed as occupied on the seatmap. The seatmap continued to replenish till departure, and moments earlier than boarding, 12 of the seats had been occupied. Then shortly earlier than the door closed, a household of three was moved up from economic system, that means 15 seats had been occupied. I lucked out, because the one empty seat ended up being subsequent to me.

Gulf Air Airbus A321LR enterprise class cabin

Lastly at 11:30AM the principle cabin door closed, at which level the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, informing us of our flight time of 5 hours, and our cruising altitude of 37,000 toes. A second later we started our pushback, at which level the moderately attention-grabbing security video was screened.

Gulf Air security video

At 11:40AM we started our taxi. As common, my eyes had been drawn to all of the ITA planes on the airport. At first I didn’t know what to make of ITA’s livery, however I sort of like it now. Is it simply me?

ITA Airways Airbus A350 Rome Airport
ITA Airways Airbus A330 Rome Airport
ITA Airways Airbus A350 Rome Airport

We had a reasonably quick taxi to our departure runway, and by 11:50AM we had been cleared for takeoff. I loved the views as we climbed out of Rome.

View after takeoff from Rome Airport
View after takeoff from Rome Airport
View after takeoff from Rome Airport

The seatbelt signal was turned off about 5 minutes after takeoff.

Gulf Air A321LR leisure & Wi-Fi

As we climbed out of Rome, I made a decision to familiarize myself with the leisure system and Wi-Fi onboard. Gulf Air’s leisure system can both be managed through the leisure display as such, or with the hand held gadget. Personally I choose simply instantly utilizing the monitor.

Gulf Air’s leisure choice was a bit unusual. There have been over 150 strikes to select from, although the library largely felt prefer it was from a decade in the past. There have been pretty few new Hollywood releases, for instance.

Gulf Air inflight leisure choice
Gulf Air inflight leisure choice

The TV choice was extraordinarily restricted, with not one of the choices you’d recurrently look forward to finding on airways (I really feel like some sitcoms are virtually made only for airplane viewing). 😉

Gulf Air inflight leisure choice

There was additionally fairly a music choice, although don’t count on Shawn Mendes…

Gulf Air inflight leisure choice

It’s humorous that Gulf Air rebranded a number of years in the past, however the leisure system nonetheless reveals the outdated branding, to not point out it shows a aircraft that the airline now not flies.

Gulf Air might replace its branding

Final however not least with regards to the leisure system, there’s the map function, which I loved.

Gulf Air map function Airbus A321LR

Gulf Air has a fairly interactive map show, the place you’ll be able to management the views you get, and select at any time to see how distant you might be out of your vacation spot.

Gulf Air map function Airbus A321LR
Gulf Air map function Airbus A321LR

Gulf Air’s Airbus A321LRs even have Wi-Fi, which is an amenity I significantly worth.

Gulf Air Wi-Fi pricing Airbus A321LR

There have been a few completely different pricing tiers:

  • There was a “Chat” plan for $10, “splendid for social media websites in addition to messaging”
  • There was a “Good” plan for $15, the “excellent selection for browsing the net”
Gulf Air Wi-Fi pricing Airbus A321LR
Gulf Air Wi-Fi pricing Airbus A321LR

I chosen the $15 plan, and that gave me limitless Wi-Fi with no knowledge caps for your entire flight. I discovered the Wi-Fi speeds to be fairly good, sufficient to remain productive with out interruption.

Gulf Air Wi-Fi pricing Airbus A321LR

Gulf Air enterprise class meal service

The crew was fairly fast to get began with the service after takeoff. As I discussed above, meal orders had been taken on the bottom. The menu indicated that you can dine everytime you wished to, and I made a decision to eat after takeoff. You could find the menu under.

Gulf Air enterprise class menu
Gulf Air enterprise class menu
Gulf Air enterprise class drink checklist

My first drink was served round half-hour after takeoff. I do want that Gulf Air had a correct wine checklist, as the one solution to discover out the choices are to ask the crew, they usually’re not essentially as nicely educated on wines as Singapore Airways flight attendants, for instance.

I requested what sort of white wine was out there, and I used to be instructed there was an Australian or Italian one. With out way more to go on, I simply chosen the Italian one. It was fairly respectable, although it might even be good if the crew introduced out the bottle and poured it at every seat, moderately than simply bringing it in a glass. To associate with the drink, I used to be served with some snack combine with blended nuts and dried fruit.

Gulf Air enterprise class lunch service

Since I attempt to evaluate inflight service as totally as attainable, I had tried to order a soup and an appetizer, because the method the menu was structured made me assume that was completely attainable. The flight attendant was initially stunned after I ordered each, however then stated it wouldn’t be a difficulty.

Nonetheless, the soup by no means got here, however moderately I used to be simply served the appetizer, round 55 minutes after takeoff. I chosen the Italian antipasto, with marinated artichoke, beef bresola, pepperoni, peppers, olives, grissini sticks, stuffed mini peppers, and parmesan cheese. I used to be additionally provided a collection of bread, and selected the focaccia and garlic bread. Each the appetizer and bread had been excellent.

Gulf Air enterprise class lunch service
Gulf Air enterprise class lunch service

For the principle course I ordered the Spiedini ai Gimberi, consisting of prawns with grilled greens, lyonnaise potatoes, and salsa verde. Whereas the presentation wasn’t superb, the dish tasted excellent.

Gulf Air enterprise class lunch service

I had additionally ordered a glass of champagne earlier than even receiving my appetizer, however it solely ended up arriving 5 minutes after my fundamental course, regardless of following up about it.

Gulf Air enterprise class drink

Round two hours after takeoff, a ravishing trolley was rolled down the aisle, with a beneficiant collection of cheese, fruit, and desserts. Every dish was plated instantly from the trolley, so you can select no matter you wished. I requested for some cheese, in addition to a scrumptious chocolate deal with.

Gulf Air enterprise class lunch service

The menu confirmed that Gulf Air presents cappuccinos, so I used to be excited for a type of. Sadly I used to be upset after I discovered that this was in truth powdered cappuccino, and a really unhealthy one at that. It tasted to me like soiled water. In the event you’re not going to have correct cappuccinos, don’t even put them on the menu, for my part.

Gulf Air enterprise class espresso

Anyway, whereas the service movement was a bit unusual, I nonetheless discovered the meals to be nice, when it comes to amount and high quality. By the point the service was wrapping up, we had been simply over Greece, with round three hours remaining to Bahrain.

Progress enroute to Bahrain
Progress enroute to Bahrain

Gulf Air enterprise class service

The cabin crew on Gulf Air are a mixture of native males and overseas ladies. Not like on Saudia, I discover that the locals had been each bit as exhausting because the foreigners, in order that’s good to see. Each of the flight attendants working enterprise class had been genuinely pleasant — they had been welcoming, smiled all through the service, and appeared like they loved their jobs.

Nonetheless, there have been simply so many little service mishaps, and I couldn’t wrap my head round why. The crew appeared completely succesful, it simply appeared like they weren’t correctly educated with learn how to present service. From drink refills taking eternally, to empty dishes and plastic wrappers not being eliminated, to the crew simply not proactively passing by means of the cabin, there have been some very apparent areas for enchancment.

The factor is, any time you requested one thing from the crew, they’d handle it with a smile (generally rapidly, and generally not). However it simply appeared like they weren’t educated in learn how to present proactive service, and learn how to have a watch for element.

Gulf Air A321LR enterprise class mattress

Whereas most individuals didn’t sleep on this sector, I used to be fairly drained, as I hadn’t slept a lot the evening earlier than in Vienna (and the evening earlier than that I used to be on a redeye flight). So after the meal service I reclined my seat and tried to get some relaxation, with slightly below three hours remaining to Bahrain.

Personally I discover the window seats on this configuration to be fairly cozy, particularly should you don’t have anybody subsequent to you.

Gulf Air enterprise class mattress Airbus A321LR
Gulf Air enterprise class mattress Airbus A321LR
Gulf Air enterprise class mattress Airbus A321LR

I managed to sleep for a bit over 90 minutes. I fell asleep as we had been approaching the Center East, and awakened over central Saudi Arabia. Once I awakened, we had slightly below an hour remaining to Bahrain.

Progress enroute to Bahrain
Progress enroute to Bahrain

Gulf Air A321LR enterprise class bathroom

There was a rest room on the entrance of the A321LR cabin, reserved solely for enterprise class passengers. It was fairly no frills for a premium cabin bathroom, with cleaning soap in Gulf Air branded containers.

Gulf Air enterprise class bathroom Airbus A321LR
Gulf Air enterprise class bathroom facilities

Gulf Air A321LR arrival in Bahrain

Upon waking up I ordered a cup of espresso and requested for some water. The crew wasn’t within the cabin, so I pushed the decision button, they usually introduced this to me inside about 5 minutes.

Gulf Air enterprise class pre-landing espresso

At this level there was a ravishing sundown exterior. Gosh, sunrises and sunsets from planes are a few of my favourite issues on the earth.

View approaching Bahrain

About half-hour earlier than touchdown the captain introduced we ought to be touching down at 6:50PM. Moments later we started our descent. Throughout the descent, the crew handed by means of the cabin with a gold bottle with rosewater. The concept is that you just maintain out your arms and a few is sprayed at you, in an effort to offer some refreshment. It’s a cute, native contact.

There have been some views of Saudi Arabia on the method, earlier than making the very quick water crossing over to Bahrain.

View approaching Bahrain
View approaching Bahrain
Map whereas touchdown in Bahrain

We touched down in Bahrain at 6:50PM, and from there had a roughly two minute taxi to our arrival stand, the place we arrived a bit over quarter-hour not on time. I used to be trying ahead to testing the brand new terminal at Bahrain Airport.

Arrival gate Bahrain Airport

Backside line

I’m so pleased I had the prospect to fly Gulf Air after the airline underwent a serious refresh. The airline has definitely come a great distance since I final flew with it.

There’s quite a bit to like about Gulf Air’s Airbus A321LR enterprise class, together with snug seats, nice facilities, tasty meals, pleasant service, and Wi-Fi.

Nonetheless, there are additionally some areas for enchancment. Most notably, I want the airline would make investments a bit in service, because it’s very clear that you just’re not flying with Emirates or Qatar Airways with regards to service execution. If the airline simply invested a bit in that in its service, this might be a prime notch product.

What do you make of Gulf Air’s A321LR enterprise class?

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