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Gulf Air First KUL-BAH-KUL On Jet’s B77W  
User currently offlineAirpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 957 posts, RR: 26
Posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 24957 times:

“This is not a question of fare reductions; it’s a question of the mix changing in a fairly dramatic manner. Premium business has just fizzled out. It has vaporized.” – Emirates Airline CEO Tim Clark (Orient Aviation, June 2009)

“Our industry is in survival mode.” – IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani at the grouping’s Annual Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, June 2009


when crisis becomes opportunity





These are strange times. If they weren’t quite so strange, this trip would not have existed. Let me explain. This is May 2009, and I’m making the usual calls to my travel agent exploring year-end travel options. My conversation with A.nutter-friendly Miss Ho takes on the predictable path of me looking for unique routings at the lowest possible price. I am told that this year, even quality airlines are offering never-seen-before cheap fares for J class travel, but not for the Christmas period I am looking for. (At least not yet, I think…)

Our conversation invariably strays to Gulf Air, and how the struggling Bahrain-based airline still offers some of the best bargains for premium travel out of KUL. Having flown GF only last December, I am not especially keen to repeat the experience so soon, even if the last time was a very pleasant ride. Apparently, according to Miss Ho, the airline (or at least its KUL-based staff) had seen my TR and were “ok” with it – well, apart from the references to how cheap the ticket was.

Anyhow, I tell Miss Ho how I wouldn’t mind flying the leased 77Ws just to experience the plush 9W First Class cabin (at a bargain, of course), and how it’s such a shame they’re going back to the lessors in October. Jokingly, I propose a ridiculous price for a roundtrip to Bahrain as an example of how much I would be prepared to pay. My travel agent laughs it off: some airlines are charging that for economy! Still, she promises to inform Gulf Air about my offer: “well, you just never know.”

A day later, an excited Miss Ho calls back to inform me that GF has not accepted my offer, but has instead made a counter-offer. Assuming I am flying before the summer peak season, the airline is willing to sell First Class at this fare, she says. The GF price is a higher than what I had proposed, but it’s still insanely low!

I am sorely tempted to accept, but this being the East, we haggle. With Miss Ho acting as conduit, I cut down GF’s counter offer; and a day later – to my surprise (and frankly, slight horror) – GF reverts to accept my fresh offer (with the proviso I don’t mention the price should this become the subject of a report posted on the net).

The recession must be cutting deep: since when have airlines haggled fares with individual passengers? Although I find this rather refreshing, I’m now left with a dilemma: what starts out as wishful thinking is quickly turning into reality. Never mind that I have no business at all to be traveling to Bahrain, I don’t even have the time off work to make a trip like this. I really, really, shouldn’t be doing it.

And believe me, I try my best to resist. The saner parts of me are wishing hard the schedules don’t work out. But alas, a quick check with the timetable reveals I can indeed comfortably make the trip in a weekend, and be back home by Sunday morning. The travel gods are surely advocating decadence, indulgence and madness.

Who am I to disobey?


outbound





Is nobody traveling anymore? The KLIA Ekspres train platforms at Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station are not usually the most crowded places but this Saturday morning in May, they are deserted. Trains run between the city and Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s main terminal, which may partially explain for the poor loads. Scan the monthly air traffic statistics and you’ll find budget carrier group AirAsia grabbing an increasing slice of the business out of KUL (it is already largest by passenger movement) – and it flies from the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT), reachable by road only. Such is the anomaly that is Malaysia’s transport policy.





I don’t wait long for the next train. The intervals between trains are a decent 15-20 minutes. The Siemens-built trains can accommodate more than 150 passengers, but this one’s carrying not more than a dozen. These loads are not uncommon.







At KLIA, I report at the GF check-in desks a couple of minutes short of two hours before departure. There are tolerable queues for the four Y class desks, but those for F and J class are totally free. At the F class desk, a friendly-enough Malaysia Airlines staff conducts the entire check-in procedure in Malay – which really should not come as a surprise seeing this is Malaysia, but it’s still a first for me after years of flying out of KUL. Probably noticing my really short stay in Bahrain, the agent asks for the purpose of the visit. My generic reply “bisnes” seemed to satisfy her.





Immigration is a breeze at KLIA, and within minutes, I am at the satellite building of the main terminal which is undergoing renovation work to add more shops and food outlets. The end result will transform the place from an architectural icon of sorts to the shopping mall that all airports now aspire to be.





The departure screens show the usual regional morning flights plus a sprinkling of long-hauls from KUL at this time. The only notable departure is an MH service to Christmas Island (XCH) in the Indian Ocean. MH doesn’t acknowledge XCH as a scheduled destination but according to the island’s tourism authority website, the once weekly service is operated on behalf of an airline I hadn’t heard of before: Australian Indian Ocean Territories Airlines or AIOTA. The website shows the schedule of MH8484 as operating via SIN.







Knowing the rather bland offerings there, I pass on the invite to the Plaza Premium lounge and instead patronize the quiet coffee shop outside MH’s Golden Lounge as its sole customer. If space is a luxury, then I should be thankful I suppose that my home airport has lots of it. Outside, a sole Silk Air A320 from Singapore is being turned around. LCC competition is changing the landscape dramatically on the KUL-SIN route: this SQ unit is rapidly taking over most of the services previously operated by its parent’s B772s to the point that SQ has become a rarity at KLIA.





A Malaysian B744 bound for LHR as MH004 is parked at gate C1, while I spot the golden falcon of my ride at adjacent C3. (These are the gates closest to MH’s premium lounges and C3 seems to be in the process of being converted into an A380 gate with what looks like direct boarding from the lounge for the upper deck.)





I make my way to the gate early, but the security check queue at C3 is already forming. I join a cheerful group of elderly tourists from Malaysia’s northeastern Kelantan state headed for nine-day holiday in Turkey. The extent to which the AirAsia BOB-style has become synonymous with flying for the traveling public in this country becomes apparent when a pakcik turns to me, asking if food will be sold on this flight. Assuring him food and drinks will be served for free on Gulf Air, I get a laugh of disbelief: “really?”  Wink





Once at the holding area, I get to see for the first time Jet’s B77W fully painted in Gulf Air colors. What a gorgeous looking plane!  goodvibes  This is probably one of – if not The – best looking livery applied to the B777-300ER. But alas, it’s such a short-lived experiment: by the end of October, the last of the leased triple-sevens returns to Jet and by the looks of it, we’re not likely to see another GF B777 again. And what a shame too, the airline is now apparently in the process of changing this classy livery into something far less attractive.  sigh 





from Kuala Lumpur to Bahrain
Gulf Air flight GF 281
Boeing 777-35RER VT-JEJ leased from Jet Airways
Dept: 11.35 Arrv: 13.48 (8 minutes late)


It is 30 minutes before departure and I am the first passenger to board First. Jean, attired in a Gulf Air Skychef uniform, is at door 1L: he greets me amicably, and directs me down the aisle to window seat 2A. But of course, it’s not just any seat.

There’s no doubt the lavishness of this space: the front cabin accommodates a maximum of eight passengers in an area that can comfortably fit 36 if configured for economy. With no overhead bins fitted, the headroom is massive, while the 1-2-1 configuration ensures everyone gets direct aisle access. Meanwhile, every seat is a so-called private “suite”, separated from its neighbor by sturdy high partitions and individual double doors – the center seat pair also has a movable divider between them. Emirates pioneered private First compartments with doors on its A340-500s in 2003, and this was copied by Singapore Airlines for its A380 Suites in 2007. Jet Airways is only the third airline to have such facilities.





Row 2 is the second and last one of the cabin, ahead a sizable galley and toilet complex that separates the F and J classes. Here’s my seat – a 30 inch-wide dark maroon armchair that is exceedingly comfortable, but is simpler than I imagined. The fancy gadgets and amenities or shiny edges that accompany and accessorize such premium class seats on some other airlines are conspicuously missing here. Instead, what’s on offer is a very decent, comfy seat with easy-to-use seat controls that my parents would probably appreciate most – makes sense if that’s the passenger demographic you’re likely to attract most in F.





Those more in tune with their environment could probably say something about zen simplicity here. But to me, the legroom is ample and generous, while the side wood paneling adds a sober and classy feel. The 23-inch screen is large but is far enough away as not to impose. The good-sized visitor’s seat is also a nice touch, making a face-to-face conversation or meal with a fellow passenger more than just advertising fantasy. Yup, it’s not too shabby at all.





Jean stops by with the menu, takes drink orders and gives me a 2-minute crash course in my environmental well-being. The LCD handset cannot be more conveniently located, and contains the controls for the seat recline, reading lights, crew call button and in-seat massage. It would have been nice if the PTV controls could have been incorporated here as well, but that’s a separate contraption hidden under the armrest with a fiddly latch. The double doors are manually operated.









In lieu of overhead storage bins, there are a number of storage options around the suite. There’s some room under the buddy seat and another compartment under its armrest. (The laptop power point can also strangely be found hidden here.) A slim but tall coat compartment is located by the door. For someone with a small backpack, all this space is a bit of an extravagance, but what I soon realize is that none of these storage spaces is large enough to store a cabin-sized trolley bag – and this can’t please many travelers.







The boarding process is completed quickly. And a load factor of 50% in First today is not so bad, all things considered – two business travelers share the mid-cabin suites in the front row, while another solo passenger sits across from me at 2K. The obligatory Arabic coffee and dates are offered as we push back a couple of minutes behind schedule. I spot a male Jet Airways flight attendant in the galley, but unlike my flights last year on the leased 9W machines, the Indian crew member stays predominantly behind the scenes for much of the 7 hour flight. It’s a Gulf Air show today.

Safety demos are manual which presents peculiar challenges in a configuration such as this. For sure, the height of partition ensures privacy, but it also obscures the depth of one’s vision when seated: a crew member standing at 1A is all but invisible to someone seated at 2A. Two crew members perform the demo in F today: one stationed at the starboard aisle of row 1 (for the two businessmen seated in the middle seats) and another – an extremely polite stewardess from Japan serving J class – right in front of my suite door for what feels like a private demonstration. I am not sure how much of the demo the guy at 2K caught in his periphery vision, but my attention span was 100%: anything less would have seemed rude. At the end of the demo, the stewardess bows deeply – pleasant flashbacks for me from a previous NH flight – and says: “thank you very much for your attention,” bowing a second time.





It is late morning and a quiet time of day for KLIA when we taxi out. Apart from a couple of MH widebodies, the tarmac is largely devoid of planes. This is the scene that makes me smile when I read AirAsia’s increasingly flamboyant boss Tony Fernandes trying to explain away his airline’s decision to defer delivery of 16 A320s over the next two years due to “insufficient aircraft parking bays”.

With no others lining up, we roll onto 32R – the two GE90s powering up loudly – and in almost no time at all, we’re off the ground and heading over the Straits of Malacca.





After take-off, inflight manager Mohamed shows up at my suite, greets me by name and shakes my hand to welcome me aboard. It’s a rather nice gesture, I thought. It may just be midday but almost immediately the seat belt signs are off, the mood lighting is switched on and the crew goes around fanatically shutting window shades. (The passenger at 2A manages to stay defiant for a little while though!) Many Asian airlines are a tad obsessive in insisting on keeping the shades down during longer daytime flights, but I’ve never seen it happen so rapidly after take-off…







In the meantime, inflight chef Jean comes round offering lunch, which I immediately accept. The meal starts off with what the menu grandly terms amuse-bouche and what I’d call a rather mediocre stick of chicken satay. Still, I’m famished and will eat anything.







The only meal during this flight is called dinner, but it’s more an a la carte menu from which you can pick what you like, and dine at a time of your choosing. The offerings are not especially fancy for First (compared to some of the truly premium carriers) but for the price that I – and probably others – are paying, it’s perfectly adequate.







The tray table is a heavy, sturdy contraption and bigger than you know what to do with. In comparison, the GF table settings look small and a little out of place. I opt for the fresh snapper for my starter, which isn’t bad at all.





Outside, we are just passing the top end of Aceh province on Sumatra Island. This is about an hour or so after take-off with us cruising along at 34,000 feet. The weather seems to holding up well so far but a thicker blanket of clouds ahead suggests the going could get a lot choppier over the Bay of Bengal, as it often does.





A sprinkling of what appear to be idyllic tropical islands, fringed by coral reefs, stretch beyond the northern Sumatra coastline. These exposed islands must have taken the full brunt of the tsunami that devastated a good part of Aceh on Boxing Day 2004.







Meanwhile aboard GF281, the lunch service continues. I like relaxed daytime flights when traveling in the premium classes long haul – the service is often unrushed and one fully appreciates the flying experience. With a great view outside, there’s no need to even crank up the IFE, which on this plane is essentially Jet Airways’ AVOD offering, and quite decent enough. Jean delivers the honey-glazed chicken next, but the main course is a tad too sweet for my liking. And the desert following in succession is enough to give me a mild sugar rush!





With the meal service completed less than two hours out of KUL, the cabin ambience moves into the next moody phase by pretending it’s a starlit dusk over a slightly bumpy Bay of Bengal. In reality of course, it is early afternoon but with the monsoon obscuring outside views, I finally give in to the on-board illusion and shut close the window shades.







The service aboard this flight has been decent so far; the crews are courteous but a little by-the-book. Perhaps expecting the warmth I enjoyed on my previous flights on GF over Christmas made me feel a tad disappointed with this one, but then, that’s how it is with expectations: it invariably colors one’s perceptions and sets the tone for the trip. It’s more my problem than GF’s.

Still, what I do find a little worrying though is the absence of certain amenities up until this stage. Like some airlines these days, toilet kits are not offered on GF. But neither are basics like hot (or cold) towels offered, nor blankets made available – instinctively, I decide to look for the blankets overhead, then realize the bins don’t exist! My request for a cappuccino from a passing stewardess is met with a “we don’t do cappuccino” but Jean, who delivers my regular coffee later, is surprised: “but of course, we can do cappuccino,” he says, and to his credit, immediately offers to change my order. Admittedly, these are details (and they’re readily rectified on request) but for many passengers traveling First, these are not just details, and a steadfast attention to them is one of the key reasons why they pay the substantial premium over J. No wonder then some GF regulars talk about service inconsistency. I am seeing a little of it today.





The flight settles into a routine with most of my fellow passengers already asleep. Even with the doors open, the “suites” offer a high level privacy. To be frank, I am not so sure about these doors, and the way the high partitions transform what should have been a spacious 77W cabin into the maze of a sleeper train compartment. Perhaps I am not a fan because it’s making photography for this TR too damn tricky – though granted that’s not what the typical F class passenger worries about…  Wink







A typical F class passenger also doesn’t visit the loo with a camera in hand. The amenities are pretty basic for a First washroom, although I have to admit some facilities are rather unique.






I spend a good part of the flight catching up on some work with coffee refilled on a regular basis. And I begin to appreciate the need for an over-sized table. Outside, the Indian subcontinent passes pretty much invisibly below us, under a thick blanket of cloud. By the time I lift the window shades again, we’re speeding over the United Arab Emirates towards Abu Dhabi, where we overfly an airfield just outside the city.







The cabin starts coming to life in the final legs to Bahrain. A snack is offered an hour out, but I decline, for there are many more airline meals ahead of me in the next half day! We skirt resource-rich Qatar, the oil fields dotting the desert landscape visible as we make a left turn at the northern tip of the peninsula heading for Manama, Bahrain’s capital.







A five hour time difference between KUL and BAH means that it’s only early afternoon when we are making our finals into the island state’s international airport. The Arabian Gulf here is an extremely attractive turquoise as we chase our shadow on descent towards 30R (I think), the longer of the two parallel runways at Muharraq.







This is the Bahrain scene just before touchdown: looks like a lovely day. But I suppose everyday is a ‘lovely’ day here. It’s only the start of summer but the captain informs us it’s 40 degrees centigrade out there – a scorcher!





There’s no mistaking where we are. Bahrain International Airport’s control tower has the red and white of the national flag permanently wrapped around it.







There was a time when the entire Gulf region ‘belonged’ to Gulf Air. Today, the airline can only make that territorial claim at Bahrain. Above, a relatively rare A321 (one of only two in the fleet) operates regional sectors for GF while below, sister ship VT-JEG, another leased 77W from 9W, is parked at an adjacent gate having recently arrived from Bangkok. I have to say it again: she’s just so gorgeous!







We dock at gate 16, some eight minutes behind schedule – not that its makes much of a difference to me. I have a seven hour ‘transit’ before my return flight to KUL tonight.





bahrain express


A payment of 5 Bahraini dinars (about $13) for a tourist visa gets me into the country – for up to two weeks, if I so choose. Looking out from the air conditioned terminal, I take a while to contemplate if I should launch myself into the 40 degree heat outside, but as I’m already here, I might as well see a little of the place…

Manama is not a particularly large city – about 15 minutes by taxi from the airport, and we’re already approaching the King Fahd causeway linking the island with Saudi Arabia. If my taxi driver is to be believed, the highlight of a trip to Bahrain in this heat would be shopping at one of the huge malls. “It will be much nicer for you today. The Saudis have all gone back after the weekend,” says the driver, who’s obviously not a fan of the rich neighbors from across the water.





The 240 meter-tall Bahrain World Trade Centre above is one of the most prominent landmarks in town. Apologies, for this is not the best angle to capture of the two towers which are connected by three bridges, that each support a massive wind-powered turbine. Together, the turbines are supposed to generate up to 15% of the buildings’ power consumption.

Below, the Bahrain Financial Harbour building is another key landmark of Manama, and is expected to be the centerpiece of an ambitious harbor-side commercial and residential development.





I do eventually end up at a mall, whose name escapes me. Although it is mid-afternoon in Bahrain, my body clock says it’s now dinner time and I’m in search of food. It doesn’t take me long to find a place to eat: this shop in the food court just demanded to be tried...







An amicable guy from Manila serves me. “Yes, everything comes with fries,” he says. I may not have been to Baghdad but I think it’s safe to say the food isn’t overly indigenous to Iraq…  Big grin


return





With the express tour of the city over, I am back at the airport early. As Middle East hubs go, Bahrain International is not an especially large airfield, although events like being the first Concorde destination for BA, for instance, do make it a historically significant aviation landmark for this region. To cater to today’s premium passengers, the airport has a special entrance and zone housing First and Business class check-in desks. It is quiet here this afternoon and my boarding pass for the return flight to KUL is issued in a jiffy. A fast track immigration and security channel leads directly to the busy shopping bazaar that is the departures concourse.







With no wish to browse through another mall, I make a beeline for Gulf Air’s premium facilities upstairs. Its First Class Lounge is really a lounge within a lounge. As a passenger, you enter the main lounge area that houses Business Class passengers and another lounge dragon controls the glass doors into the F class section.





The Bedouin tent theme is heavy in this handsome and otherwise classically understated lounge. It is generally quiet and I find myself a comfortable corner where I happily spend the next hour or two continuing my work, with intermittent escapes to A.net. The waiter service here cannot be faulted and it continues to keep me injected with caffeine as I try to kid my body clock into believing it isn’t nearly bedtime.







Luckily, there are diversions too. The views of the tarmac are excellent. An early evening Emirates A332 has just arrived from DXB, while a Saudi Arabian MD90 is being prepared for departure. By dusk, the lounge starts to get a tad crowded as transit passengers off GF flights from Europe start arriving. And it’s time for me to hightail it out of here.





The airport is a hive of activity in the early evening. Unless I am very much mistaken, I count all four of the leased 77Ws as being back at base tonight and are being prepared for departure within a short time window just after 8 p.m. One machine is departing for BKK as GF150, another is headed for MNL as GF154, while a third is off on the short DXB hop as GF508 (before presumably returning to operate the after-midnight GF007 service to LHR). My flight, boarding from a remote gate, is the fourth triple-seven departure tonight – VT-JEK was the last leased 77W to join the fleet, and the only one not repainted in GF colors after the decision not to extend the leases beyond 6 months was made.





from Bahrain to Kuala Lumpur
Gulf Air flight GF 280
Boeing 777-35RER VT-JEK leased from Jet Airways
Dept: 20.38 Arrv: 09.17 (next day, on time)





The cabin looks familiar but on this flight, English accents abound making it feel like another airline. Sky chef Austin and flight attendant Kathy both come round to welcome me aboard as I settle into seat 2K while a printed satellite copy of London’s Daily Mail newspaper is offered. It’s a lighter load tonight too – the only other passenger is on transit from LHR and seated across from me at 2A. He changes into pyjamas (the airline supplies them on this night flight) before push-back, passes on the meal service, and goes straight to bed immediately we reach cruise.





Suraj, a steward dressed in a smart Jet Airways uniform, notices my photo taking and comes over to promise to put on “the mood lighting show” later, which I might like. Suraj introduces himself as “The Trouble Shooter from Jet”. The role of 9W’s crews has certainly dwindled since the early A332 leases last year – at that time, apart from the token two or three GF crew members, everyone else was 9W staff.





Having stayed awake for the whole of the extended Saturday, the lack of sleep is rapidly catching up on me. I follow my fellow F passenger by changing into the comfy pyjamas and suddenly feel like I should be tucked up in bed under a soft duvet. Still, the menu does look a rather interesting diversion: on this flight to KUL, an impressive two hot meals are served on demand, more than most airlines these days on a 6 hour plus red-eye sector.







We push back on-time and before long, are retracing the route I had taken earlier today. We’ll be skirting Qatar, heading over Dubai and onwards across India. When Suraj cranks up the mood lighting as promised at cruise, I notice 2A is already closed shut and probably fast asleep.







I decide to order something light from the menu: a pumpkin soup at first, but then couldn’t resist the traditional biryani as well! The meal is far tastier than on the outbound sector. On the AVOD, Slumdog Millionaire provides the perfect accompaniment.







Meanwhile, the lighting show continues: at first in dramatic red and blue hues, and then later, a starlit night as the flight progresses. Like on the previous flight, the crews are courteous without being overly friendly but like before, there are no blankets unless requested – how very odd.





With my seat reclined into a bed – it’s not like some of the premium Asian carriers where they make your bed while you change – I push the double doors together easily, and find myself in a private cubicle that’s not overly claustrophobic. It’s not so bad after all.





Maybe I am tired, but the bed feels supremely comfortable and the duvet, when it was finally delivered, is comfy. The only things missing perhaps are a couple of full sized pillows. Still, tonight, I am out like a light. I only vaguely sense some turbulence half way through the flight, and hear an announcement for cabin crew to be strapped in, but otherwise I sleep through most of four and a half hours.





It’s Sunday morning back in tropical Southeast Asia. Kathy has to knock on the door to wake me up, offering breakfast: we’re about half an hour ahead of schedule, she says, and will be starting our decent in 20 minutes. I freshen up, change into my Saturday clothes and when I get back, my ordered light breakfast is already waiting. Ah, the luxury of First – over too soon.





Before long, the distant mountains from the Malay peninsula’s central range come into view. It’s still overcast and rain is promised for the afternoon. Indeed, it’s as if I never left at all!  Big grin







The final descent into KLIA is over rows and rows of oil palm plantations, Malaysia’s most important commercial crop by far.


final words


This trip came about as a result of a crisis. The crisis led Jet to lease its 77Ws to GF, which then had to sell their seats cheaply to someone who would not have otherwise flown. At the end of October, the last of these planes return to Jet, and their eventual fates are as yet unknown. Airlines are facing some enormous challenges and perhaps what eventually emerges from this crisis could well be something very different. That saga, unfortunately, still continues, but my trip report ends here. Thanks so much for reading.

28 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineOjas From India, joined Mar 2008, 2988 posts, RR: 25
Reply 1, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 24882 times:

Hi Airpearl,

Fantastic TR!. Your description about the actual product is elaborate and almost a virtual tour.

Still unknown about the 9W B77Ws fate, it worries me too what is in store for them.



A lion does not concern himself with the opinions of the sheep
User currently offlineLinglesou From Australia, joined Apr 2009, 123 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 24516 times:

Hey Airpearl!

What a great TR that was. It was truly a pleasure to read and it really gave a sense of what I imagine it's like to be on board.

That flight to Christmas Island intrigues me...I wonder what the demand is for such a routing.



YOU SHALL BUILD A TURTLE FENCE
User currently offlineAkhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2500 posts, RR: 53
Reply 3, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 24384 times:

Hi Airpearl,

You did come with a surprisingly great answer of my question!

Thoroughly entertaining and detailed TR, surrounded by beautiful pictures.The greenish window view on approach in BAH was breathtaking!

Which F configuration do you like most? The genuine GF one or the 9W?

Thank you for sharing.

Cheers,
Suryo



Friends forever
User currently offlineBurj From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 901 posts, RR: 4
Reply 4, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 24293 times:

Wow! So cool! Thanks for sharing and I loved all the pictures, especially the two showing what the suite looks like from the INSIDE with the bed made and the doors closed!

User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6937 posts, RR: 77
Reply 5, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 24115 times:

Hi Airpearl,

fantastic report, well-written and garnished with stunning pictures. Your reports definitely belong to best here.


Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
With Miss Ho acting as conduit, I cut down GF’s counter offer; and a day later – to my surprise (and frankly, slight horror) – GF reverts to accept my fresh offer (with the proviso I don’t mention the price should this become the subject of a report posted on the net).

Wow, GF must have been desperate to fill these 77Ws.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
And what a shame too, the airline is now apparently in the process of changing this classy livery into something far less attractive.

Really? I have only heard of a larger tail logo and black engine covers.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Here’s my seat – a 30 inch-wide dark maroon armchair that is exceedingly comfortable, but is simpler than I imagined. The fancy gadgets and amenities or shiny edges that accompany and accessorize such premium class seats on some other airlines are conspicuously missing here.

The color is nice, but the design is quite bland. What about reading light, lumbar support or massage function, e.g. offered by Virgin America on its (domestic) First Class?

Sin City Gloss & Virgin America's Chic First Class

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
The good-sized visitor’s seat is also a nice touch, making a face-to-face conversation or meal with a fellow passenger more than just advertising fantasy.

I'm really wondering how often these seats are actually used.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
A sprinkling of what appear to be idyllic tropical islands, fringed by coral reefs, stretch beyond the northern Sumatra coastline.

Great shot!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
the cabin ambience moves into the next moody phase by pretending it’s a starlit dusk over a slightly bumpy Bay of Bengal.

Less is more sometimes. That's an overdone Emirates copy.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Like some airlines these days, toilet kits are not offered on GF. But neither are basics like hot (or cold) towels offered, nor blankets made available – instinctively, I decide to look for the blankets overhead, then realize the bins don’t exist! My request for a cappuccino from a passing stewardess is met with a “we don’t do cappuccino”

Very odd.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
To be frank, I am not so sure about these doors, and the way the high partitions transform what should have been a spacious 77W cabin into the maze of a sleeper train compartment.

Exactly my thoughts.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Meanwhile, the lighting show continues: at first in dramatic red and blue hues, and then later, a starlit night as the flight progresses.

Disco style in First Class.  Yeah sure


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineBA319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8588 posts, RR: 54
Reply 6, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 24112 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Hi Airpearl,

A very enjoyable read with some excellent pictures too, great work!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
I propose a ridiculous price for a roundtrip to Bahrain as an example of how much I would be prepared to pay. My travel agent laughs it off: some airlines are charging that for economy! Still, she promises to inform Gulf Air about my offer: “well, you just never know.”

A day later, an excited Miss Ho calls back to inform me that GF has not accepted my offer, but has instead made a counter-offer. Assuming I am flying before the summer peak season, the airline is willing to sell First Class at this fare, she says. The GF price is a higher than what I had proposed, but it’s still insanely low!



Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
With Miss Ho acting as conduit, I cut down GF’s counter offer; and a day later – to my surprise (and frankly, slight horror) – GF reverts to accept my fresh offer (with the proviso I don’t mention the price should this become the subject of a report posted on the net).



Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
The recession must be cutting deep: since when have airlines haggled fares with individual passengers?

- I know! This is just amazing, never seen this happen before!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
In lieu of overhead storage bins, there are a number of storage options around the suite. There’s some room under the buddy seat and another compartment under its armrest. (The laptop power point can also strangely be found hidden here.) A slim but tall coat compartment is located by the door. For someone with a small backpack, all this space is a bit of an extravagance, but what I soon realize is that none of these storage spaces is large enough to store a cabin-sized trolley bag – and this can’t please many travelers.

- Whilst the lack of overhad bins may make the cabin look huge, I'd prefer to have the bins so I can 'loose' my cabin-size bad.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
“Yes, everything comes with fries,” he says. I may not have been to Baghdad but I think it’s safe to say the food isn’t overly indigenous to Iraq…

- I think not!

Best Wishes

Mark



111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
User currently offlineHenkybaby From Netherlands, joined May 2008, 593 posts, RR: 4
Reply 7, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 24009 times:

Excellent report and fantastic pictures. Gives a great impression on what seems to be a great product.


Wherever you go, there you are!
User currently offlineJambo From Tanzania, joined Dec 2004, 248 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 23938 times:

nice plane, thanks 4 posting

User currently offlineEK773 From Malta, joined Jul 2004, 237 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 23929 times:



Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
“Yes, everything comes with fries,”

Maybe its in the influence of their American occupiers !!  Wow!


User currently offlineEwRkId From United States of America, joined exactly 6 years ago today! , 594 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 4 days ago) and read 23525 times:

Your pics were really good, I almost felt I was with you on the plane!!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
although I have to admit some facilities are rather unique.

Hahah, I wasn't aware an airline can customize it facilities that much!!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
how it’s such a shame they’re going back to the lessors in Octobe

Is 9W going to put them back in service? If so why did they lease them in the first place?


User currently offlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6671 posts, RR: 55
Reply 11, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 23392 times:

Excellent report with fantastic pictures!

It does seem very odd not to provide blankets in First class and no pillows!!!! I don't think I would be much comfortable sleeping with no large pillows.

Thanks again for this excellent report; I guess all the GF 77Ws have now returned to 9W ?

The777Man



Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....CI, MU, LX and LH 777s
User currently offline9MMAR From Malaysia, joined Jul 2006, 2110 posts, RR: 18
Reply 12, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 23336 times:

Wonderful composition, uniquely Airpearl's style with stunning photography - some of which are insanely sensational.

Never in my thought that an airline would bargained fares with individual passengers, they even indirectly proposed for a report of it to be posted on the net. But then again, you are not just an ordinary A.Net trip reporter, so I guess GF got a prime catch here.

I was amused with your conversation with the pakcik prior to embarking on the aircraft in KUL. Pakciks nowadays are so 'cultured' with aviation stuff LOL.

Interestingly, I always intrigue by the fact that there are 3 airlines that operate (or operated) these very First Class product (9W, TK and GF) - while they are all identical in state, the inflight experience would definitely varies.

Would be great if MH decided to lease these B77Ws to 'test the market', huh?


User currently offlineHOOB747 From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 448 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 23033 times:

My goodness, what a fantastic trip report! Most unique, with spectacular photos to add much to the reader's experience! Thanks so much for the wonderful descriptions and images of the airline and the Gulf, you have done yourself proud. The water in the Gulf is breathtaking, but not as breathtaking as the livery on the beautiful 777 you flew!


747 Number One Fan from U.S.A
User currently offlineDirectorguy From Egypt, joined Jul 2008, 1705 posts, RR: 11
Reply 14, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 22949 times:

Great TR, I can see why GF takes your feedback seriously. All in all, awesome report, and shame the 777s are staying with GF a while longer.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
It will be much nicer for you today. The Saudis have all gone back after the weekend,” says the driver, who’s obviously not a fan of the rich neighbors from across the water.

Lol, during the weekends, the majority of cars would have Saudi number plates. Bahrain without them (say, on a random Monday morning) was a totally different experience.

Quoting EK773 (Reply 9):
Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
“Yes, everything comes with fries,”

Maybe its in the influence of their American occupiers !!

Lol, the irony...oh, the irony.


User currently offlineEL-AL From Israel, joined Oct 2001, 1354 posts, RR: 13
Reply 15, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 22613 times:

Thank you Airpearl for this excellent Trip report. Very detailed, and the pictures are wonderful, I enjoyed reading it very much.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
and the crew goes around fanatically shutting window shades

They do that in first class too!? Even before lunch is served?! damn.



"In Israel, on order to be a realist, one's must believe in miracles" - David Ben Gurion.
User currently offlineAirpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 957 posts, RR: 26
Reply 16, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 22587 times:

Hey guys, thank you all for your comments, and the kind words. Having sat on this trip report for a while now, I’d almost decided not to write it. The impending deadline for the return of the 77Ws made it “timely” again, and compelled me to do “something” at least. Glad you enjoyed it.

Quoting Ojas (Reply 1):
Still unknown about the 9W B77Ws fate, it worries me too what is in store for them.

Hi Ojas, thanks for your comments. The fact that we haven’t heard much news about them is indeed worrying. On Friday, executive director Saroj Datta said 9W hasn’t decided what to do with them yet… let’s hope they can be gainfully employed soon.

Quoting Linglesou (Reply 2):
That flight to Christmas Island intrigues me...I wonder what the demand is for such a routing.

Wondering the same Linglesou. The 734 service has been around for a while - but is never, ever seen marketed. Now, that’s the sort of A.net mystery that’ll be great for a TR…  Wink

Quoting Akhmad (Reply 3):
You did come with a surprisingly great answer of my question!

Hehehe Suryo, I did see your question… it wasn’t an easy one to answer as I was still in 2 minds about this TR… thanks for pushing me to finish it!

Quoting Akhmad (Reply 3):
Which F configuration do you like most? The genuine GF one or the 9W?

The 9W seat/bed feels more comfortable and the doors do enhance privacy when sleeping but I can’t say I prefer the “feel” of this cabin. The GF A343 cabins may be older but they’re a classier act.

Quoting Burj (Reply 4):
Thanks for sharing and I loved all the pictures

Hi Burj, thanks for your comments, glad you enjoyed the trip.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 5):
Really? I have only heard of a larger tail logo and black engine covers.

Hi PlaneHunter! Thanks much for the kind words. I always thoroughly enjoy your trip reports – and always mean to put in a comment or two but sometimes take a while to do so, much like my own TR backlogs!  Wink As for GF, there’s a thread in the main discussion board recently that says the airline is changing the gold paint to save weight and changed the name font, as has been seen in a newly delivered A320. Not so nice…

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 5):
Disco style in First Class.

Not a fan of mood lighting I see… hahaha… but it’s actually not as ‘imposing’ as it looks in the pic.

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 6):
A very enjoyable read with some excellent pictures too

Hey Mark, glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for your comments!

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 6):
Whilst the lack of overhad bins may make the cabin look huge, I'd prefer to have the bins so I can 'loose' my cabin-size bad.

Especially on a 777 I feel, the side drop down bins could easily be fitted and wouldn’t necessarily make the cabin very much more cluttered.

Quoting Henkybaby (Reply 7):
Excellent report and fantastic pictures. Gives a great impression on what seems to be a great product.



Quoting Jambo (Reply 8):
nice plane, thanks 4 posting



Quoting EwRkId (Reply 10):
I almost felt I was with you on the plane!!

Too bad it is no more, at least on GF.  Sad Thanks for leaving a comment and the nice words guys.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 11):
I guess all the GF 77Ws have now returned to 9W ?

I believe so The777Man, the leases expired Oct. 31.

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 12):
Never in my thought that an airline would bargained fares with individual passengers, they even indirectly proposed for a report of it to be posted on the net.

A sign of the times I guess. It was very surprising to me too – though I gather GF has always been more ‘flexible’ with fares than other airlines and more willing to negotiate. I am not sure that they will be particularly happy to see the ‘low fare’ image on display again  Wink Thanks for the nice comments 9MMAR!

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 12):
Interestingly, I always intrigue by the fact that there are 3 airlines that operate (or operated) these very First Class product (9W, TK and GF) - while they are all identical in state, the inflight experience would definitely varies. Would be great if MH decided to lease these B77Ws to 'test the market', huh?

That has crossed my mind too! But that will also mean ending B744 service… Sad

Quoting HOOB747 (Reply 13):
The water in the Gulf is breathtaking, but not as breathtaking as the livery on the beautiful 777 you flew!

Totally agree HOOB747. Thanks for your kind words!

Quoting Directorguy (Reply 14):
Quoting EK773 (Reply 9): Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter): “Yes, everything comes with fries,” Maybe its in the influence of their American occupiers !! Lol, the irony...oh, the irony.

Indeed Directorguy, indeed!  Big grin

Quoting EL-AL (Reply 15):
They do that in first class too!? Even before lunch is served?! damn.

Hi EL-AL, thanks for your comments, the saving grace is that at least they don’t “force” you to keep the shades down unlike in some Y class cabins.


User currently offlineRyanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4757 posts, RR: 25
Reply 17, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 22523 times:

Congrats on another trip...

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
I’m now left with a dilemma: what starts out as wishful thinking is quickly turning into reality. Never mind that I have no business at all to be traveling to Bahrain, I don’t even have the time off work to make a trip like this. I really, really, shouldn’t be doing it.

When you butt is itchy, scratch it immediately and don't allow the itch to fester. My itchy bum has gotten me into trouble too many times flying to far away places I never planned on going to and spending money I never planned on spending. The last EK trip to MEL would be a very good example.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
The KLIA Ekspres train platforms at Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station are not usually the most crowded places but this Saturday morning in May, they are deserted.

I use (more like used to) KLIA Ekspres very frequently and to be honest, I have never ever seen that train filled to capacity. At best, the load factor was at 35-40% . Maybe I have always flown into KLIA during off-peak periods?

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
The extent to which the AirAsia BOB-style has become synonymous with flying for the traveling public in this country becomes apparent when a pakcik turns to me, asking if food will be sold on this flight. Assuring him food and drinks will be served for free on Gulf Air, I get a laugh of disbelief: “really?”

LOL... classic.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
The meal starts off with what the menu grandly terms amuse-bouche and what I’d call a rather mediocre stick of chicken satay.

I seldom lay praises on your national carrier these days but it seems like their saving grace is still the satay. GF's version looks horrid. It looks like the ones you find in the takeaway counters of western countries.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
No wonder then some GF regulars talk about service inconsistency. I am seeing a little of it today.

Personally, I think ALL ME carriers suffer from this problem because of their diverse set of cabin crew. I have detailed it in my last EK report so I shan't dwell on it further.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Still, the menu does look a rather interesting diversion: on this flight to KUL, an impressive two hot meals are served on demand, more than most airlines these days on a 6 hour plus red-eye sector.

Does MH still do 4 choices in First Class these days? Or have they dwindled down to 3 after the new service protocols were introduced post 2004? Eh seriously, 2 choices in First Class is really unbecoming.



Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
User currently offline9MMAR From Malaysia, joined Jul 2006, 2110 posts, RR: 18
Reply 18, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 21993 times:



Quoting Airpearl (Reply 16):
That has crossed my mind too! But that will also mean ending B744 service%u2026

I think there's nothing much left to be hoped with MH's current FCL aboard the B744s. I mean, old style seats, no chaffeur service ala EK at departing and arriving airports, no special ground handling/dedicated lounge check-in area at home airport ala TG/SQ, no special FLounge like The Private Room (SQ) or The Concorde Room (BA), I don't think there's even a special menu that FCL passengers can preorder like on SQ.

TPE/LAX has been switched over to B772, ARN/EWR has been terminated - the B744s are now being deploy to only LHR, SYD, AMS and JNB/CPT/EZE. 3 B744s have also being leased out for 6 years to Al Wafeer Air, plus a few more which are currently grounded. And they still haven't decided on the replacement of their widebody aircrafts (apart from the 6 A380s), so I think it wouldn't kill if they decide to try to 'test the market' with 9W's B77W. In addition, 9W and MH are no stranger to each other (it was the latter who helped the former a lot during its early years of establishment).


User currently offlineSQ772 From Singapore, joined Nov 2001, 1792 posts, RR: 5
Reply 19, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 21776 times:

Airpearl... your reports are always a treat to read.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
A day later, an excited Miss Ho calls back to inform me that GF has not accepted my offer, but has instead made a counter-offer. Assuming I am flying before the summer peak season, the airline is willing to sell First Class at this fare, she says. The GF price is a higher than what I had proposed, but it’s still insanely low!

I am sorely tempted to accept, but this being the East, we haggle. With Miss Ho acting as conduit, I cut down GF’s counter offer; and a day later – to my surprise (and frankly, slight horror) – GF reverts to accept my fresh offer (with the proviso I don’t mention the price should this become the subject of a report posted on the net).

This must be a first. Imagine trying to bargain with the sales team at SQ, I'm sure they'll tell you to "take it or leave it". Pray tell, how much did you pay for your ticket... !!!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
The travel gods are surely advocating decadence, indulgence and madness.

Who am I to disobey?

Sweet dreams are made of these....

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
The departure screens show the usual regional morning flights plus a sprinkling of long-hauls from KUL at this time. The only notable departure is an MH service to Christmas Island (XCH) in the Indian Ocean.

At first glance, almost 90% of the flight numbers on the FIDS appear to be code-share flights... or is it because domestic flight numbers comprise 4 digits?

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Here’s my seat – a 30 inch-wide dark maroon armchair that is exceedingly comfortable, but is simpler than I imagined. The fancy gadgets and amenities or shiny edges that accompany and accessorize such premium class seats on some other airlines are conspicuously missing here. Instead, what’s on offer is a very decent, comfy seat with easy-to-use seat controls that my parents would probably appreciate most – makes sense if that’s the passenger demographic you’re likely to attract most in F.

Very nice F cabin. Simple and elegant. The only thing that could potentially dazzle your eyes into momentary blindness is the starry ceiling.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
The amenities are pretty basic for a First washroom, although I have to admit some facilities are rather unique.

Wow... a drinking fountain...how convenient  Wink

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 18):
don't think there's even a special menu that FCL passengers can preorder like on SQ.

There's always Nasi Lemak... I realise that almost every Malaysian who flies MH thinks that Nasi Lemak is MH's gift to mankind. Even with all the meal choices on offer, they invariably end up ordering Nasi Lemak.

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 17):
My itchy bum has gotten me into trouble too many times flying to far away places I never planned on going to and spending money I never planned on spending.

Based on your "Big Country" mentality, BKI, SGN, BKK, KUL aren't exactly far flung places....



There's always a better way to fly...
User currently offlineAirpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 957 posts, RR: 26
Reply 20, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 21663 times:



Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 17):
I use (more like used to) KLIA Ekspres very frequently and to be honest, I have never ever seen that train filled to capacity. At best, the load factor was at 35-40% . Maybe I have always flown into KLIA during off-peak periods?

Hey Ryanair!!! Thanks for your comments. I think the KLIA Ekspres load you mention are those for peak hour. The only times I’ve seen the trains packed are when work is being done on the KLIA Transit and the Ekspres becomes a multi-stop service.

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 17):
I have detailed it in my last EK report so I shan't dwell on it further.

Yes indeed, I remember. But be prepared to change your mind in an upcoming TR  Wink

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 17):
Eh seriously, 2 choices in First Class is really unbecoming.

I think you misread it lah… it’s 2 meals, not 2 choices on GF, so that’s pretty impressive in my book.

Quoting SQ772 (Reply 19):
This must be a first. Imagine trying to bargain with the sales team at SQ, I'm sure they'll tell you to "take it or leave it".

Hehehe.. bargaining with SQ? The phrase ‘when hell freezes over’ comes to mind…

Quoting SQ772 (Reply 19):
Wow... a drinking fountain...how convenient

 rotfl 

Quoting SQ772 (Reply 19):
At first glance, almost 90% of the flight numbers on the FIDS appear to be code-share flights... or is it because domestic flight numbers comprise 4 digits?

MH domestic flights are 4-digit. The rest are probably code-shares, something our national carrier does particularly well.

Quoting SQ772 (Reply 19):
Pray tell, how much did you pay for your ticket... !!!

I thought I gave enough clues already  Wink

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 18):
3 B744s have also being leased out for 6 years to Al Wafeer Air, plus a few more which are currently grounded. And they still haven't decided on the replacement of their widebody aircrafts (apart from the 6 A380s)

Not to mention the lack of investment in almost everything that matters to the passenger… The way MH does things bugs me. For instance, the leased B744s you mention were never officially announced; they’ve never admitted to grounding any B744s (even though with the schedule they’re keeping, that’s almost inevitable). And any wide-body order now will mean a delivery schedule well into the latter half of the next decade. Makes you wonder if the airline is serious about flying at all.


User currently offlineEconojetter From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 430 posts, RR: 5
Reply 21, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 21648 times:

Another very very enjoyable read. Thanks!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
At the F class desk, a friendly-enough Malaysia Airlines staff conducts the entire check-in procedure in Malay – which really should not come as a surprise seeing this is Malaysia, but it’s still a first for me after years of flying out of KUL.

Unusual indeed!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
The departure screens show the usual regional morning flights plus a sprinkling of long-hauls from KUL at this time.

And not too many flights assigned NEW GATEs at this hour. I see more of those when I fly (usually in the evening), and it still puzzles me.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
These are the gates closest to MH’s premium lounges and C3 seems to be in the process of being converted into an A380 gate with what looks like direct boarding from the lounge for the upper deck.

The last time I was there (about a month ago), there was no sign of work done on that gate. On the other hand, the Nooodle eatery has expanded.  Wink I'll check again the next time I am there.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
The extent to which the AirAsia BOB-style has become synonymous with flying for the traveling public in this country becomes apparent when a pakcik turns to me, asking if food will be sold on this flight.

While walking to the gate to board a TG KUL-BKK flight, I overheard my fellow passengers discussing whether or not to turn around and buy snacks before entering the gate.
Pax1: Hungry... I wonder if they will sell food onboard?
Pax2: Probably not... the flight is too short. It's only an hour, so we won't starve to death.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Those more in tune with their environment could probably say something about zen simplicity here. But to me, the legroom is ample and generous, while the side wood paneling adds a sober and classy feel.

To me it certainly looks classier than many F (or beyond F) class cabins.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
but what I soon realize is that none of these storage spaces is large enough to store a cabin-sized trolley bag – and this can’t please many travelers.

Definitely a major issue, unless they are encouraging their F class guests to leave their bags under the care of the cabin crew.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Meanwhile aboard GF281, the lunch service continues. I like relaxed daytime flights when traveling in the premium classes long haul – the service is often unrushed and one fully appreciates the flying experience

Though the catering on this flight looks weak and uninspired.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
But neither are basics like hot (or cold) towels offered, nor blankets made available – instinctively, I decide to look for the blankets overhead, then realize the bins don’t exist!

Very very odd...

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
The Arabian Gulf here is an extremely attractive turquoise as we chase our

The photo with the shadow of the plane is simply exquisite!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
I follow my fellow F passenger by changing into the comfy pyjamas and suddenly feel like I should be tucked up in bed under a soft duvet.

Ahem... I see someone is missing Ms Suzuki from ANA. Wink

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
The meal is far tastier than on the outbound sector.

It looks tastier too.


User currently offline9MMAR From Malaysia, joined Jul 2006, 2110 posts, RR: 18
Reply 22, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 21459 times:



To MH's defend, the only code shared flights from the above FDIS are as follows:

GA 9094 to LAX
KL 4109 to PER
KL 4111 to MEL
MI 9417 to SIN
MH 9137 to SIN
GA 9905 to CGK
GF 6238 to LGK
GF 6240 to PEN

All flights are operated by MH, except flight MH 9137 which is operated by SQ.


User currently offlineAirpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 957 posts, RR: 26
Reply 23, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 21061 times:



Quoting Econojetter (Reply 21):
The last time I was there (about a month ago), there was no sign of work done on that gate. On the other hand, the Nooodle eatery has expanded. I'll check again the next time I am there.

Ahem, you could be right… embarrassed  it could well have been wishful thinking on my part that work on a noodle bar was mistaken for an A380 gate!

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 21):
While walking to the gate to board a TG KUL-BKK flight, I overheard my fellow passengers discussing whether or not to turn around and buy snacks before entering the gate. Pax1: Hungry... I wonder if they will sell food onboard? Pax2: Probably not... the flight is too short. It's only an hour, so we won't starve to death.

LOL! I just can see that so happening…

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 21):
Though the catering on this flight looks weak and uninspired.

It’s not the most impressive I’ve seen; certainly expected better with an on-board chef. Still, with the fares GF are throwing around, something’s gotta give, and it’s not so bad…

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 21):
I see someone is missing Ms Suzuki from ANA.

Oh yeah, both called F class but what a vast difference between them! It would be hard for any airline to top that ANA experience imo. Thanks for the comments Econojetter.

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 22):
To MH's defend, the only code shared flights from the above FDIS are as follows:

GA 9094 to LAX
KL 4109 to PER
KL 4111 to MEL
MI 9417 to SIN
MH 9137 to SIN
GA 9905 to CGK
GF 6238 to LGK
GF 6240 to PEN

All flights are operated by MH, except flight MH 9137 which is operated by SQ.

Noted 9MMAR, but isn’t that list strictly incomplete? The numbers of MH code-shares are staggering. In addition to what you’ve listed there are other MH flights like to CAN (code-shared with CZ), HKT (code-share TG), MNL (PR), BKK (TG). MH also code-shares on flights operated by IR to THR, UL to CMB, CX to HKG, TG to BKK and of course my GF flight to BAH. The vast majority of flights on that FDIS are code-shares involving MH.


User currently offlineRonerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1675 posts, RR: 53
Reply 24, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 20939 times:

Well done on another fascinating report Airpearl!

You never cease to surprise me with those 'unannounced' trips  Smile But that is your thing i guess  Smile

I am starting to grow a liking towards Gulf Air actually, and your recent TR's have definitely fuelled this!

This liking is mainly due to the fact that Samer Majali has now taken seat at GF as CEO, ending his remarkably successful remit as CEO of Royal Jordanian.

He transformed RJ into the airline that it currently is, and i do not see why he won't do the same for GF!

The start of GF's Baghdad flights have this CEO's name written all over it, and i am very happy to see that he sprung into action already! Fingers crossed, let's hope he succeeds  Smile

After all, they are in desperate need of someone to steer them away from the battleground that caused Etihad to strip them to their bare bones!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Scan the monthly air traffic statistics and you’ll find budget carrier group AirAsia grabbing an increasing slice of the business out of KUL (it is already largest by passenger movement)

This scares me a little! ...  Smile

Will aviation change at AUH in 3 weeks??

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Probably noticing my really short stay in Bahrain, the agent asks for the purpose of the visit. My generic reply “bisnes” seemed to satisfy her.

I had a semi-horrible incident with the immigration at Toronto last week, for traveling all the way there for only 3 days with an aimless purpose of visit!

Not so sure whether to be honest with them or not anymore!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
an A380 gate with what looks like direct boarding from the lounge for the upper deck.)

Well MAS better not cancel their A380's.

While the direct boarding from the lounge is an ultra-lavish feature, i think it can be a risky move on the airport. JFK had done this for the EK A380, and look where we are now!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
The extent to which the AirAsia BOB-style has become synonymous with flying for the traveling public in this country becomes apparent when a pakcik turns to me, asking if food will be sold on this flight. Assuring him food and drinks will be served for free on Gulf Air, I get a laugh of disbelief: “really?”

Very curious to see this in AUH!  Smile

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Jet Airways is only the third airline to have such facilities.

And now Etihad is 4th ... Fly them on select flights to LHR and you can experience the new F suite!

I'm waiting for a TR on this! Anyone?  Wink

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
An amicable guy from Manila serves me. “Yes, everything comes with fries,” he says. I may not have been to Baghdad but I think it’s safe to say the food isn’t overly indigenous to Iraq…

Haha .. such a pity! 'Arabic' food served at restaurants, and especially food courts is so not Arabic!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
but then couldn’t resist the traditional biryani as well!

The portion here seems so small doesn't it?


Thanks once again for sharing this! .. Hope that all is well mate  Smile

Regards,
Roni



A Stop Away From One-Stop, Is Non-Stop : Airbus A340-500
25 Kurt : Airpearl: Outstanding report - I really enjoyed it - you have the perfect combination of good writing and good photos. I agree that the Gulf Air liver
26 Nethkt : Absolutely stunning. This is the way to travel First class Thanks very much for the wonderful trip report.
27 Post contains images Airpearl : Hi Nethkt, thanks for your comments. Glad you enjoyed the TR krab. Hi Kurt, thanks for your nice words. Yes, it’s such a pity about the livery….
28 Planereality : Spectacular report. Really enjoyed it- Well done! Thanks for posting
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