swi
Topic Author
Posts: 30
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:34 pm

Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Sun Dec 12, 2010 4:05 am

I have been reading articles from this website for a few years now, and after reading countless trip reports from the forums, I have decided to contribute something myself.



Background:

For the last month or so I have searched for the best way to get from LHR to CMB this Christmas. After sorting through the usual options such as EK and QR, I came across an airline that I had never flown (or considered flying) before: Gulf Air.

The tickets were only marginally cheaper than the others, however I was expecting an excellent level of service from an airline that was looking at elevating itself up from it’s current, unprofitable state. My main worry was Gulf Air’s history of inconsistency, with many passengers reporting widely varying levels of service from flight to flight.

In fact, their new falcon gold class only seemed to support the claims of inconsistency. Full-fare paying passengers are provided with the old first class sleeper seats, where others are given the old business class lie-flat seats. The only change seemed to be the improved levels of service and the availability of a sky chef to all falcon gold passengers, rather than just first class.

I decided that it would be interesting to try out this airline, and hopefully add to the little impartial information available about falcon gold. I booked the tickets roughly a month in advance.

My final itinerary:

GF002 LHR-BAH
GF066 BAH-CMB

GF063 CMB-BAH
GF007 BAH-LHR

Welcome to my first trip report.



Online Check-in:

Gulf Air’s website is easy to use, and I was able to book my tickets quickly and easily. However, their ‘manage my booking’ system (from sabre) was at best, mediocre. Compared with the competition, this separate website was harder to use and my main concern was that you could not change your seat selection once made.

Online check-in opens 24 hours before the flight, and I decided to check-in at 10:00 the previous morning. However, after FIVE failed attempts, I called their office and explained that after the final seat selection, the system (also by sabre) would simply stop responding. They told me that my seats were booked, however not the sleeper seats, but did not offer any explanation as to why I could not check-in online.

Airport:

My taxi arrived at 05:30 to take my not-checked-in self to Heathrow’s Terminal 4, now used by Gulf Air, and also Qatar Airways. I arrived at the shiny new terminal twenty minutes before check-in opened due to a lack of traffic. Even so, the wait was only ten minutes before I was processed.

I requested the sleeper seats, but was told that today the flight was busy, and I would have to request again at the gate. The new check-in area is much better compared to what it used to be, and the whole row of counters appears to have been pushed back, making more room for passengers.

I made my way through Fast-Track and to the new Sky Team lounge, located opposite gate ten. The lounge is set across two levels, both of which offer the same facilities, although I would recommend the upper level due to fewer passengers. This lounge is also much better than what it used to be.

Upper level:
http://i1126.photobucket.com/albums/l610/planepics1/GF002-GF66/DSC02476.jpg

Video game area:
http://i1126.photobucket.com/albums/l610/planepics1/GF002-GF66/DSC02477.jpg



Food selection was very good, and as was drink selection. In fact, I prefer this lounge to the CX and EK lounges in T3. Airfield views aren’t bad, but the windows are dirty and it is difficult to get a good picture. Boarding was announced thirty minutes prior to departure.

View:
http://i1126.photobucket.com/albums/l610/planepics1/GF002-GF66/DSC02478.jpg


GF002 was to depart from gate seven, which is in a corner, and so tends to be crowded during boarding. I requested the sleeper seats again from the check-in agent and was told that all eight were full. Maybe next time.


December 2010
Gulf Air GF002
LHRBAH
Departure: 09:30 (09:51)
Arrival: 19:05 (19:00)
Equipment: A330-200
Cabin: Business (100% full)

Boarding was done though door 2L, meaning that it took ages to board a full A330. At least the loads appear to have improved for GF in comparison to previous reports.

First impressions were negative, with aging seats (even though lie flat), and one rushed, tired male crew member pointing passengers to their seats. The only drinks offered prior to take off were orange juice and water, both of which at room temperature. A hot towel run was completed, and a wide range of newspapers were offered. The Sky Chef dispensed menus and wine lists, and the previous, tired crew member had thankfully run off to Y, leaving a friendly and warm Asian female flight attendant (can’t remember her name) for my section of the J cabin. Things appeared to be looking up.

It is important to note here that although the seats were aging and showed signs of wear and tear, leg room was very good, and as was recline. They are very similar to the old QR J seats on the A300-600 if anyone remembers those.


A rather small PTV:
http://i1126.photobucket.com/albums/l610/planepics1/GF002-GF66/DSC02481.jpg


Legroom:
http://i1126.photobucket.com/albums/l610/planepics1/GF002-GF66/DSC02483.jpg

http://i1126.photobucket.com/albums/l610/planepics1/GF002-GF66/DSC02488.jpg


Film selection:
http://i1126.photobucket.com/albums/l610/planepics1/GF002-GF66/DSC02496.jpg


Push back was late but the taxi to runway 27L was short, and we were in the air very soon. As soon as the seatbelt signs were extinguished, two flight attendants came around with trolleys and served a light breakfast of scones, sandwiches (cheese, beef, chicken or salmon and dill), cakes and very good coffee. There was also a wide wine selection, and Laurent Perrier champagne on offer.

GF’s in-flight team looking after falcon gold seem refined, and focused on the passenger’s needs. However, even a simple request for file paper for me to do some work could not be met because there was none on board. I would like to remind you at this point that every EK magazine rack contains a stationary set. Although it may seem petty to pick on such a small thing, but IMHO every airline must realise what passengers will need during their flight, and ensure that it is onboard, especially if you are going to charge almost as much as the market leaders.

IFE was also a let down. The PTVs are small and do not offer AVOD , or a wide selection of films or TV programs at all. It is like stepping back fifteen years or so. Gulf life (the in-flight magazine is good, and duty free offers an adequate selection.

With nothing to do, I found myself listening to my iPod for most of the flight. I was offered coffee and water every two hours, as well as snacks. All three falcon gold lavatories are different, with the best being on the left side of the aircraft, between the sleeper seats and business seats.

Weather was good, with mild turbulence over the Netherlands and Germany.

The light outside started to fade, and two hours before arrival, the cabin lights were switched on in Saudi air space. The Sky Chef came around to offer us lunch, and I chose to have the Arabic Mezze, Beef Wellington and Chocolate desert.

Menu:
http://i1126.photobucket.com/albums/l610/planepics1/GF002-GF66/DSC02489.jpg

http://i1126.photobucket.com/albums/l610/planepics1/GF002-GF66/DSC02490.jpg

http://i1126.photobucket.com/albums/l610/planepics1/GF002-GF66/DSC02491.jpg


Dining really is an experience onboard Gulf Air. Food is presented beautifully and tastes great – amongst the best I have ever had, on par with QR and SQ. The tray tables are small and far away from you, meaning it is slightly harder to enjoy the meal. The beef wasn’t dry at all, and everything was cooked perfectly. It looks as if it’s worth having a Sky Chef onboard.

The food was so good that I forgot to take pictures, except this one, of my finished plate:
http://i1126.photobucket.com/albums/l610/planepics1/GF002-GF66/IMG_01.jpg

http://i1126.photobucket.com/albums/l610/planepics1/GF002-GF66/DSC02494.jpg



Shorty after the meal service we commenced decent into BAH. By now it was pitch black outside and the lights of the Saudi coastline were all that could be seen below the light cloud covering. We touched down fast and smooth, and had a short taxi to our gate.



Transit

BAH = Chaos


Transit can hardly be described as a pleasant experience in BAH. The airport is busy, and security does not have a fast track lane ensuring that queues take a long time. With long haul flights coming in frequently, the transit area is in need of renovation, similarly to the rest of the airport.

Because BAH is so old, ceilings are low, design is unfriendly and impractical for a modern transit hub. I decided to forgo the lounge and head to the gate after some shopping.

Gate 32 was to be used for GF066 to CMB tonight. Gates 31 through 34 are on the ground flood for passengers to be bussed to remote stands. They all lead from the same small hall, which is madly inadequate for the flights departing. (UL to CMB, GF to somewhere, GF to CMB and QR to DOH).

It was only after seeing the chaos that is this departure hall that I truly regretted not paying a visit to the falcon gold lounge, located on the upper level. I sat in a corner next to some other poor soul who it turns out had left the lounge early and was also heading to CMB. I could not return upstairs because I had come so far from the lounge now it would be impractical, and there was no priority boarding.

Once most of the Y passengers had been processed and bussed to the aircraft, I joined the queue and was told to be seated in the small area beyond the counter. The agent then came around and placed ‘checked baggage’ tags on our hand luggage. I anticipated what was coming next, but could not bear to tell my travelling companion that all the jewellery, bank details and the deed to a property that was in her hand luggage was about to be sent to the hold, without a lock.

We and our hand luggage were then ushered to the back of a truly awful bus (almost a converted van), along with a dozen Y passengers and sent in the Bahraini heat to the waiting A320-200. I would like you to note now that we were surrounded by luxurious CoBus 3000s. My travelling companion, who has quite a lot of experience with this route, told me that they always treat the CMB and Indian passengers like this, in the same way they are treated in society: as second-rate citizens.


December 2010
Gulf Air GF066
BAH - CMB
Departure: 20:20 (20:46)
Arrival: 03:50 (04:02)
Equipment: A320-200
Cabin: Business (56% full)

This flight could be my idea of heaven. A medium-haul route operated by an Airbus narrowbody with a 2-2 J arrangement. A full meal service, full amenities and a half empty cabin. Throw in some light turbulence for good measure (always there on routes between the gulf and CMB), and there is nowhere in the world where I am happier. There truly is something special about the A320 on night flights in this configuration, but I can’t quite figure out what it is.

On these aircraft it is just you, no complex gadgets or gimmicks such as showers or bars. Just you in a simple but comfortable seat and the gentle rumbling of the engines. Don’t get me wrong – I love gadgets and the A380, in fact I am always the first to sing praise for it. This sort of flight truly reminds you of what flying is about, and I am sure that most aviation enthusiasts will agree with me.

Unfortunately, my dream flight got off to a slow start. After disembarking from the, frankly, crap bus that took me to the aircraft, my fears became reality, as me and my travelling companion were stripped of our hand-luggage, giving me just enough time to salvage my laptop. My argument that I was in Business Class went ignored.

For the firs time ever, I headed up the stairs to an aircraft without a suitcase in my left hand. Once onboard, I protested to the purser who was standing at the doorway, and the First Officer who happened to be standing there as well. They were shocked when they heard that my bag had been taken although I was travelling in J, but apologised because they could do nothing now.

It is clear to me that the GF ground staff and general services at BAH are in need of a major overhaul, and some people needed to be re-trained or fired. I am still surprised with the rudeness that they addressed me with.

Having said that, I cannot stop singing praise for the flight attendants who provide consistent flawless service. I will go into this at a later point.

Anyway, rant over, it was time for my favourite type of flight. Pre-flight drinks were offered, as well as hot and cold towels. Menus were distributed, as well as amenity kits and headsets. Pushback was late due to slow boarding at Gate 32 (the four gates should be combined to form two IMHO).

Seats:
http://i1126.photobucket.com/albums/l610/planepics1/GF002-GF66/DSC02497.jpg

http://i1126.photobucket.com/albums/l610/planepics1/GF002-GF66/DSC02499.jpg


Taxi was again short, and take off was powerful. As we levelled off, dinner orders were taken. I decided to have he Egg Plant salad, chicken curry, and the coconut crepes. I did not eat the salad because it was bland and boring. As for the rest, I cannot fault the food or presentation. I’ve known even QR to forget about presentation on these aircraft, but GF got it just right.

Second course:
http://i1126.photobucket.com/albums/l610/planepics1/GF002-GF66/DSC02506.jpg

Coconut crepes:
http://i1126.photobucket.com/albums/l610/planepics1/GF002-GF66/DSC02509.jpg


IFE on this flight consisted of the regular audio channels, as well as a Bollywood film and some cartoons showed on the main screens. I was offered coffee and refreshments constantly by the exceptional South Asian ISM. Service was again faultless.

The aircraft began to shudder slightly as we passed over the UAE, and the captain announced that we would experience unexpected turbulence all the way through the flight.

The main screens turned off midway through the flight, and with everyone asleep I asked the ISM to turn them on to the airshow so I could check the progress of the flight. She called the someone to check, and came back and told me that entertainment was on loop and she couldn’t turn it on. She had gone and checked with the captain, and we had just passed Chennai and would commence descent in just over an hour.

We began our decent on time into CMB, and after some rough weather on the way (There had been thunder storms for the past two weeks and Colombo had been flooded. MPs had had to be airlifted from parliament.) and landed ten minutes behind schedule.

At this time, the only other arrival was and EY A320 twenty minutes before us, and for once immigration was a painless process. Unfortunately, after waiting an hour for our baggage, we went to see the UL ground handling staff, who checked and told us that our baggage had never been loaded onto this aircraft and may still be in LHR!!

Our two pieces of hand luggage that had been taken to the hold did come though, and we had a single change of clothes. The rude GF ground staff here did not see this as abnormal, and said that if the LHRBAH aircraft was overweight, a random passenger’s bags would be unloaded for the next flight. This is a policy that I have never heard of. They could not locate my bags exactly, and there is a chance that they were loaded to another flight in BAH. Somehow, priority doesn’t mean anything on this airline. The helpful UL agent handed us a sheet with a 24hour telephone number and a reference, and advised us to visit the GF office as soon as possible.

We went later that day, and told a clueless agent our story. She took a half-hour call to their airport manager, and after much negotiating, all we got was $50 compensation per day. This was all they were prepared to give two business class passengers who had needlessly had their baggage lost for them.

Anyway, I will try to get my return flight cancelled, and rebook with another airline if I get a fair refund.

Service onboard was generally of very high quality as you can see, but the ground handling on this airline is so bad it may be worth reconsidering flying it. Service, meals and amenities are good, although the hardware on the LHRBAH flight was aging. The flight to CMB was better than I could have asked for, and I cannot fault it.

To sum up, Service is good, ground handling is poor.



Thank you for reading, comments welcome.
 
spr773
Posts: 27
Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 5:23 am

RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Sun Dec 12, 2010 4:44 am

Hi,
Nice TR. Thanks for sharing.Some more photos of the Gulf Air aircrafts interior would have been nice but I guess with the full load , you probably were not able to do much photography. Anyway    ... and Merry Christmas in Colombo
 
turjo101
Posts: 73
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2008 12:44 am

RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Sun Dec 12, 2010 1:56 pm

Thanks for the TR, enjoyed reading it. Sorry to hear about your ordeal. I flew GF in December 2008 and January 2009 for LHR-BAH-DAC and DAC-BAH-LHR on Y and I can relate to much of your frustration.

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
It is clear to me that the GF ground staff and general services at BAH are in need of a major overhaul, and some people needed to be re-trained or fired. I am still surprised with the rudeness that they addressed me with.

YEAAAA!!! about that. I think there is a racism aspect to this. I didn't want to bring it up because I haven't encountered this with all the Middle Eastern Airlines. I think EK at DXB or QR at DOH was fine but at BAH, the staff were fairly rude. I think they are used to 'brown people' coming into their country and working as general laborer. And they are used to the mistreatment. The locals probably think its ok to mistreat people not only from South Asia but everyone flying towards it. I would like to see how long they stay in business if everyone flying to South Asia boycotted GF and just flew with their home carriers or some of the other Gulf carriers (EK, QR, EY)...
 
swi
Topic Author
Posts: 30
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:34 pm

RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:29 pm

Quoting turjo101 (Reply 2):
And they are used to the mistreatment. The locals probably think its ok to mistreat people not only from South Asia but everyone flying towards it. I would like to see how long they stay in business if everyone flying to South Asia boycotted GF and just flew with their home carriers or some of the other Gulf carriers (EK, QR, EY)

I completely agree, and flying GF was a mistake for me, and I cannot help but feel sympathetic towards the multitude of South Asian workers I have seen treated in this way in some countries. I have never experienced problems on EK or QR but there is no denying that some airlines need to show more respect to the passengers providing such an important piece of their income.

Having said that, for most of these passengers there is no choice to fly on their home carriers, and it is a simple matter of cost. It's the unfortunate truth. Thanks for reading.
 
Quokka
Posts: 1315
Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2010 12:26 pm

RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:55 pm

Welcome to Airliners.net and thank you for sharing your flight experience. I was particularly interested in reading it as I haven't been through BAH since 1974.

What an amazing contrast between the in-flight service and the inefficiency and rudeness on the ground. If your experience is typical of the way GF operate they can't expect to regain any of the business that they have lost to EK, EY and QR. I have heard reports of racist attitudes displayed to passengers from the sub-continent before. Typically this has been towards Y passengers rather than those in Business but, whatever class a passenger is flying, it is unacceptable. How can an airline expect to attract customers if they treat them so shabbily?

Best of luck with getting a refund if you decide to change to another carrier.
 
swi
Topic Author
Posts: 30
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:34 pm

RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Sun Dec 12, 2010 3:14 pm

Quoting Quokka (Reply 4):
If your experience is typical of the way GF operate they can't expect to regain any of the business that they have lost to EK, EY and QR.

When I started writing this report, I was on the BAH - CMB report, and finished it while in Colombo. I chose the title 'Bouncing Back' because I expected good service from this airline when trying to win back lost customers. However, I am sure you can see a change in attitude towards the end, when I was truly angry at the way they treated me. I agree with you and I don't think that GF will do well in the future at all until attitudes are changed.

In all my years of flying I have never experienced such bad service, with simply arrogant ground staff speaking to me as if I were an idiot. It was insulting, and money paying passengers should never be treated or made to feel this way, whatever the class. The fact that I was in J only made it more incredible. It apparently has always been this way amongst these second rate carriers in the gulf, and nothing has changed. Thanks for reading.
 
AI151
Posts: 287
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:20 pm

RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Sun Dec 12, 2010 7:23 pm

Hey swi,

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
Welcome to my first trip report.

Welcome on board to a.net.

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
Gulf Air’s website is easy to use, and I was able to book my tickets quickly and easily. However, their ‘manage my booking’ system (from sabre) was at best, mediocre.

Although that might be easy, there is no facility for multi-city bookings plus the information in regards to all the classes except for Falcon Gold doesn't seem to be there.

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
My taxi arrived at 05:30 to take my not-checked-in self to Heathrow’s Terminal 4

I take it GF doesn't provide chauffeur service for their premium passengers anymore?

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
I requested the sleeper seats again from the check-in agent and was told that all eight were full. Maybe next time.

Were you a full fare paying passenger? If so then you would think that they would only let 8 passengers have that type of booking for the flight. Otherwise you could have paid much less and get their normal business class seats.

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
My travelling companion, who has quite a lot of experience with this route, told me that they always treat the CMB and Indian passengers like this, in the same way they are treated in society: as second-rate citizens.

This unfortunately is true. I am British Indian and when I flew to Muscat in 2006 in First Class I was treated better than on any other airline I had flown with including EK and SQ. However when I flew to CCU with my parents in Business Class, the BAH-CCU was totally disgraceful. I think they need to realise that they shouldn't look down on someone because they are from a "second-rate country".

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
Unfortunately, my dream flight got off to a slow start. After disembarking from the, frankly, crap bus that took me to the aircraft, my fears became reality, as me and my travelling companion were stripped of our hand-luggage, giving me just enough time to salvage my laptop. My argument that I was in Business Class went ignored.

Why did they take your baggage in the first place? This is very dodgy!

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
Having said that, I cannot stop singing praise for the flight attendants who provide consistent flawless service. I will go into this at a later point.

Its funny as it makes you feel that you're flying with two different airlines for the service to be on the opposite ends of the spectrum.

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
Anyway, I will try to get my return flight cancelled, and rebook with another airline if I get a fair refund.

Seeing as this was your first experience, I wouldn't do anything like that as yet. I've had my fair share of bad flights with GF, but also exceptional flights as well.

Did your luggage eventually turn up?

Sandeep (AI151)

P.S. Enjoy Christmas in Colombo!
Modern Vision. Timeless Traditions...
 
swi
Topic Author
Posts: 30
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:34 pm

RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:01 am

Quoting AI151 (Reply 6):
Did your luggage eventually turn up?

I have just returned from CMB after collecting my found luggage, and on the way back I inquired about my refund. I was handed a phone with the GF airport manager who goes by the name of 'Sanjaya', who spoke to me with extreme disrespect and rudeness.

I was told that I am from London and therefore was unaware of how things work in Sri Lanka, and so I should accept what had happened. He also told me that I should stop talking and listen to his opinion. Please note that I had already listened to what he had to say, but he simply would not keep his promise of $50 per day, and only offered me $50 for the whole two days. He argued that he would only pay the $50 even if the bags were lost for a whole month! He would also not compensate my inconvenience or travel prices because I could not supply a receipt. This was even after I explained that a family member had to drive me and miss a day of work for it (CMB is far from the city). The friend was at the office, but they refused to acknowledge my arguments.

I really have now had enough of this airline and the disgusting people whom it calls it's employees. My bags contained broken goods and clearly had traveled far in the past few days. I cannot believe the situation that this airline has put me in, especially as I am flying in J. 'Sanjaya' from CMB was particularly bad, and is an embarrassment to his airline. If he was working for me he would currently be looking for another job.

I have not heard back about the refund, and will keep pressing for one. At least I have my baggage now.

Please do comment here about some more of your experiences with GF like this, and hopefully someone from GF will read this article.
 
debonair
Posts: 2749
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2004 10:50 pm

RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:15 am

Hi GREAT TR, but very sad to read...

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
For the last month or so I have searched for the best way to get from LHR to CMB this Christmas. After sorting through the usual options such as EK and QR,

What about OMAN AIR or ETIHAD?!

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
Anyway, I will try to get my return flight cancelled, and rebook with another airline

Pls. keep me (us) up-dated on this!

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
CMB this Christmas

Hope you will have a fab time, SriLanka is just wonderful! Which hotel do you stay in?!

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
I requested the sleeper seats, but was told that today the flight was busy, and I would have to request again at the gate.

So, I don't get it- where did you ended up in the end? In the old F-cabin or in the old J-cabin?! Well, even the old J-cabin on the "new" A340's is ok, as sometimes this beauty is used (pic of F-cabin!):

MyAviation.net photo:
Click here for bigger photo!
Photo © Karan Bindra

Quoting swi (Reply 7):
hopefully someone from GF will read this article.

Maybe you should write a letter to GF after returning.
 
swi
Topic Author
Posts: 30
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:34 pm

RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:27 am

Quoting debonair (Reply 8):

What about OMAN AIR or ETIHAD?!

They were unavailable, or the CMB leg had to be in Y.

Quoting debonair (Reply 8):
Pls. keep me (us) up-dated on this!

I just got off the phone with a GF office worker who said it was not possible because I had already used the ticket halfway. However, I will call the London and Manama offices and try to get one.


Quoting debonair (Reply 8):
Which hotel do you stay in?!

I have a house here, thanks for asking  
Quoting debonair (Reply 8):
Maybe you should write a letter to GF after returning.

That's the plan. I will tell them everything that I went through.


Thanks for reading!
 
SR4ever
Posts: 388
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 6:19 pm

RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:50 am

What was the reason for seizing your hand-luggage in BAH, if Imay ask?
 
swi
Topic Author
Posts: 30
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:34 pm

RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:57 am

Quoting SR4ever (Reply 10):
What was the reason for seizing your hand-luggage in BAH, if Imay ask?

They said that there was no room in the business class cabin. It appear that the Y passengers who boarded earlier had placed their baggage in the overhead bins, because there is no way that nine people can fill up the spaces on such a large J cabin on an A320. They knew this from the start, and that is why the tags were placed on the baggage while still in the terminal building.
 
swi
Topic Author
Posts: 30
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:34 pm

RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Mon Dec 13, 2010 1:04 pm

Just an update:

I have decided that it would be better to just fly back to LHR on GF after all. It would save me time and money, because I need to get some work done in this country before I leave, and time is running thin.

Anyway, I plan to write another report on the return trip, so please give me some pointers as to how I can improve this TR. Thanks.
 
Quokka
Posts: 1315
Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2010 12:26 pm

RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Mon Dec 13, 2010 3:19 pm

Hi swi,
Flying back with GF at least avoids any cancellation fees that may have been attached to the fare conditions. Hopefully you will have a better experience on the return leg.

When writing your next TR, be aware that some Anetters are mad about details like aircraft registration numbers. If you can add those, that will be a bonus. Photos of the places you visited are usually welcome too.

Best wishes,
Quokka
 
9w748capt
Posts: 846
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:27 am

RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Mon Dec 13, 2010 3:50 pm

Thanks for sharing your report! Appreciate the details of your story and you did a great job of highlighting the difference in service in the air vs on the ground. Truly pathetic the attitude GF shows on the ground - do they really think that in this day and age with so many 5 star airlines in their own backyard that they can continue to treat their passengers this way? Unbelievable. Wouldn't mind seeing a few pictures of BAH's interior if you get a chance on your return trip, and/or pics of the ghetto bus they used to transport you to the aircraft. Don't think I've seen any on a.net. Otherwise great job with your 1st report! Looking forward to the return TR.
 
swi
Topic Author
Posts: 30
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:34 pm

RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Mon Dec 13, 2010 4:00 pm

Quoting 9W748Capt (Reply 14):
Wouldn't mind seeing a few pictures of BAH's interior if you get a chance on your return trip

I have a layover in BAH of over four hours. I think this will be possible!
 
AI151
Posts: 287
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:20 pm

RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Mon Dec 13, 2010 5:55 pm

Looking forward to reading the return TR. Hopefully GF won't mess you up that badly this time. See if you can speak to a manager at BAH. Year by year they are starting to go downhill which is a shame as they once used to be an amazing airline.
Modern Vision. Timeless Traditions...
 
SR4ever
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RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Mon Dec 13, 2010 6:28 pm

Quoting swi (Reply 11):
Y passengers who boarded earlier had placed their baggage in the overhead bins

That's a real pain in the ass...
 
ba319-131
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RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Mon Dec 13, 2010 6:54 pm

Nice report, thanks for posting.

We don't see too many GF TR's here these days, I think your experiences go some way to show why!

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
The new check-in area is much better compared to what it used to be, and the whole row of counters appears to have been pushed back, making more room for passengers.

- BAA have done a great job with refurbishing T4, it is most impressive now.

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
My travelling companion, who has quite a lot of experience with this route, told me that they always treat the CMB and Indian passengers like this, in the same way they are treated in society: as second-rate citizens.

- Quite wrong, people are people, we are all the same when you come down to basics.

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
After disembarking from the, frankly, crap bus that took me to the aircraft, my fears became reality, as me and my travelling companion were stripped of our hand-luggage, giving me just enough time to salvage my laptop. My argument that I was in Business Class went ignored

- I've never had my hand luggage removed from me when travelling in J or Y, inf fact I had 2 carry-ons when travelling LH Y and SAA Y recently, no issues at all.

Liked the report, a few more meal pix would be nice next time - if you remember before you eat it  

Regards

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
 
swi
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RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Tue Dec 14, 2010 2:59 am

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 18):
BAA have done a great job with refurbishing T4, it is most impressive now.

Yeah, I never expected that the refurbishment would be so good. I would say that it's a nicer place to be than terminal three, even though it is smaller.

[Edited 2010-12-13 19:03:04]
 
gardermoen
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RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Tue Dec 14, 2010 8:58 am

Hi, interesting report.
I can't believe how shocking GF was to you. I have heard various reports that these Gulf airlines tend to offer poorer service on their labour traffic sectors, however I never noticed this when I have flown DXB-CMB a few times on EK.

What were 2 Air Mauritius 340s doing at LHR? I take it one was severly delayed?

Shocking that GF took away your cabin baggage at BAH, especially as you were premium pax. Why weren't the Y class pax disciplined over the issue, and furthermore, did the crew just let them walk into the J cabin and take over all the overhead space? The purser on board should never have allowed this. I would have been kicking up a fuss over the matter.

Considering BAH-CMB is still somewhat a new route for them (launched in October) I would have thought they would still be trying to maintain the best of everthing still.
 
swi
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RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Tue Dec 14, 2010 10:01 am

Quoting gardermoen (Reply 20):
Why weren't the Y class pax disciplined over the issue, and furthermore, did the crew just let them walk into the J cabin and take over all the overhead space? The purser on board should never have allowed this.

This was such a busy flight that I don't think the purser would have seen what was going on, especially since this was a narrowbody. I don't think it was her fault, but I would have personally checked every bag in the J cabin to see if it belonged there if I was in her place. But, as I have said before, the service she provided in the air was exemplary, and I therefore do not believe that she would have allowed this if she had seen. Thanks for reading!
 
swi
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RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Tue Dec 14, 2010 10:04 am

Quoting gardermoen (Reply 20):
I have heard various reports that these Gulf airlines tend to offer poorer service on their labour traffic sectors, however I never noticed this when I have flown DXB-CMB a few times on EK.


Just to let you know, I have flown between the gulf and CMB many many times now on EK and QR J and I have never seen such poor service. In fact, the usual service is consistent with that offered on the LHR sector, for example.
 
Flightsimboy
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RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Tue Dec 14, 2010 6:48 pm

Nice report. Such a shame about your carry on bags being taken away even though you were flying in J. This is something the check in staff should have been looking out for at the gate. EY took away a lot of bags on the AUH-KHI while boarding passengers, and indicated the flight was full and there would not be enough room on board. Luckily my bag was allowed on board! Kudos to GF for providing you excellent inflight service, something that even EK is on the decline in the premium cabins.
 
swi
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RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:11 am

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 23):
Kudos to GF for providing you excellent inflight service

Please note that although service was excellent, hardware was old and last generation on the LHR - BAH leg. The crew did their best with what they had.
 
debonair
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RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Thu Dec 16, 2010 2:44 pm

Quoting swi (Reply 9):
I have a house here, thanks for asking

I am very jealous...   

Quoting swi (Reply 9):
I just got off the phone with a GF office worker who said it was not possible because I had already used the ticket halfway. However, I will call the London and Manama offices and try to get one.

Anyway, looking forward for the return TR!
 
malioil
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RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:28 pm

Swi,

It is unfortunate for you to have had such bad ground service with GF. Having flown with GF in excess of 70 times, I can relate with some of your story. It is sad that most flights heading to South Asia are filled with passengers who have probably flown only once or twice before, and this tends to provoke unacceptable service from GF employees. At the end of the day, everyone who buys a ticket deserves the same service. Although I have personally never transited in BAH (which has, over the years become an old airport) when terminating here, it is delightful- you can be off an international flight and in the car within 20 minutes, with your baggage. However, being quite compact, it may not be to great for someone not familiar with its layout. I would definitely recommend trying the Falcon Gold lounge, although it is in need of a refurbishment. If you have an American Express card, you might want to try the Dilmun lounge on the second floor behind Chilie's (just follow the signs for the CX lounge)- it is a lot more quite, and is also quite delightful.
GF, money wise atleast, is finally starting to bounce back under new leadership. Many silly, stupid and unnecessary mistakes led to its demise from the Gulf's flagship to a carrier not even on par with SV (although SV ground handling at RUH would make you think BAH was heaven on Earth). These days though, it seems that through loads they are starting to return, and profitability may be coming up soon over the horizon. What one has to also note is that unlike the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia who do not need their airlines to be profitable as long as they fulfill certain roles (promoting their flag nation, for example), Bahrain does need GF to be a profitable company. That is what makes their bad routing, and silly internal politics even more infuriating. GF has, over the years, been sucked dry through corruption from certain foreign figures, and the airline has over all been one big mess. It is starting, ever so slightly, to regroup, and on my recent flight BAH-DXB-BAH, this started to show more clearly- for the first time since 2003, I was on a flight with a 100% load in Falcon Gold. As my national airline, I wish them all the best. Nonetheless, when one looks closley at it, the demise of GF is a very sad story- as had it not been through shear greed and a lack of understanding, the Gulf would still have only one flagship airline (bar perhaps QR).

To see that GF still has bad attitude towards those heading to the Indian Sub-Continent is sad. They tend to take it for granted that these are 'bus flights'- yet it is not so, and besides the fact that it is unacceptable on a humane basis, from a business point of view, if they want to really get up there, they need to step up their service in the full sense of the world.

One might say that it is quite ironic that GF tend to treat South Asian passengers so badly- for it was their ill-contempt towards a certain South Asian company that ultimately led to the establishment of the airline that would one day eclipse them, EK, all those years ago.

[Edited 2010-12-20 15:36:25]
 
swi
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RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:58 pm

Quoting malioil (Reply 26):
I can relate with some of your story
Quoting malioil (Reply 26):
Having flown with GF in excess of 70 times

If you don't mind me asking, why? I have re-read your post and although you live in Bahrain would it not be easier and/or better for you to take EK or QR, or the national airline of the country you are visiting? From my experience even on the LHR route they use outdated equipment on old aircraft. If you can relate to any of my experience, why would you give more money to this airline?
 
malioil
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RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:20 pm

To Swi-

As you have stated in your experience, GF still maintains a very good on board service, and if you are Bahraini departing from Bahrain, like myself, there is little ground issues. BAH is one of the most delightful airports I have ever traveled into in terms of departing and arriving from (I have not transited here, so I cannot judge that). My father also worked in a very high position in GF during the 1970's, as well as the fact that many of the flights I have taken with GF are prior to EK and QR rising to any prominence- back when GF ruled the skies of the Middle East. They also operate very convenient flights directly from Bahrain- every year, I may do as many as 30 intra Middle East flights, with aroung six or seven internationals. I must admit, recently, I have relied on GF less and less on my international flights- but it seems unnecessary to have a 4 hour stop over in say, DXB, when the direct flight time is 3 hours in total, for example.
I also have hundreds of thousands of miles on my Gulf Air FFP, so letting that all go does not make much sense.
GF also tend to have very good prices.

To be very honest with you, I have flown with GF less and less the last few years- mostly just burning the miles on my FFP. Most of the time, I'd fly to DXB on my miles, and then board a flight on any international carrier to anywhere i'm going from there. There was a time when GF had a very extensive network, but those days are gone- the bulk of my GF flights are in the Middle East, or at very best, to BKK or KUL.

Nonetheless, most of my flights were before EK or QR had any substance, and long before EY even existed.


EDIT: Just wish to clarify, by 'international' I mean out of the Middle East (as all intra-ME flights are also international)
Regards,


malioil

[Edited 2010-12-21 11:22:22]
 
swi
Topic Author
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RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Fri Dec 24, 2010 5:36 am

Another update:

My traveling partner and I have decided that the best option would be to return to LHR on GF, and after pressing for a refund some more, I have still not heard anything. Therefore, the flights will take place as booked in one week's time. I will be writing another TR for those legs.

Thanks for reading.
 
swi
Topic Author
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RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Sun Jan 02, 2011 2:52 pm

A TR for the return flights can be found here:

A Second Chance For GF: CMB-BAH-LHR Falcon Gold (by swi Jan 2 2011 in Trip Reports)
 
MSS658
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RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:06 pm

Nice report, sorry to hear about your transit experience in BAH. Besides that GF seems to be a pretty good airline to me.
Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
 
swi
Topic Author
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RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Sat Feb 05, 2011 4:32 pm

Another update:

I was contacted by GF a few weeks ago stating that they have received my complaint and would contact me in two days or so. However, they have still failed to contact me, and I am beginning to think that they have forgotten their promise. I spoke to whom I believe is the customer relations officer who claimed that they were searching for 'concrete' evidence. I will post any news if they contact me again.
 
swi
Topic Author
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RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Tue Feb 08, 2011 7:05 pm

I have been contacted again by GF. Essentially they apologized several times and offered us 12000 miles each on their ffp, which will be sent to us. They also said something about them building a larger office in Colombo airport.
 
abrelosojos
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RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Wed Feb 09, 2011 6:18 am

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
I have been reading articles from this website for a few years now, and after reading countless trip reports from the forums, I have decided to contribute something myself.

= Thanks a lot, and welcome to the TR-writing crew.

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
I requested the sleeper seats, but was told that today the flight was busy, and I would have to request again at the gate. The new check-in area is much better compared to what it used to be, and the whole row of counters appears to have been pushed back, making more room for passengers.

= GF ground service at LHR continues to leave much to be desired. I have had the most horrific agents who are stuck in the 1970s.

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
I requested the sleeper seats again from the check-in agent and was told that all eight were full. Maybe next time.

= Sadly, they were probably all taken by non-revs. The amount of NRSA's on the LHR-BAH flight is quite incredible.

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
First impressions were negative, with aging seats (even though lie flat), and one rushed, tired male crew member pointing passengers to their seats.

= The senior crew member on GF is usually a Bahraini and the least friendly of the crew usually ... this is kinda sad because I usually find Bahrainis (along with the Omanis) to be the nicest people in the Gulf.

Quoting swi (Thread starter):

GF’s in-flight team looking after falcon gold seem refined, and focused on the passenger’s needs. However, even a simple request for file paper for me to do some work could not be met because there was none on board. I would like to remind you at this point that every EK magazine rack contains a stationary set. Although it may seem petty to pick on such a small thing, but IMHO every airline must realise what passengers will need during their flight, and ensure that it is onboard, especially if you are going to charge almost as much as the market leaders.

= God, until last year ... might have changed now ... they didn't even have amenity kits in FCL ... or toothpaste!

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
Transit can hardly be described as a pleasant experience in BAH. The airport is busy, and security does not have a fast track lane ensuring that queues take a long time. With long haul flights coming in frequently, the transit area is in need of renovation, similarly to the rest of the airport.

= It is sad because as an O&D passenger, BAH is VERY pleasant. I prefer it to almost ANY other Gulf airport. One can be in/out within 20 mins ... for premium pax, the check-in/security process through the dedicated area is a delight.

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
My travelling companion, who has quite a lot of experience with this route, told me that they always treat the CMB and Indian passengers like this, in the same way they are treated in society: as second-rate citizens.

= Completely ironic because South Asia used to be the bed and butter route for GF, and it sustained them through most of their flying history. Their neglect for the route has meant that they get only the lowest yielding South Asians as their economy has improved and as they have got choices from their own airlines and the likes of EK. A look at GF's network in the region shows this. I continue to believe that airlines who discriminate against ANY race/nationality do it towards their own long term peril.

Quoting Quokka (Reply 4):
What an amazing contrast between the in-flight service and the inefficiency and rudeness on the ground. If your experience is typical of the way GF operate they can't expect to regain any of the business that they have lost to EK, EY and QR. I have heard reports of racist attitudes displayed to passengers from the sub-continent before. Typically this has been towards Y passengers rather than those in Business but, whatever class a passenger is flying, it is unacceptable. How can an airline expect to attract customers if they treat them so shabbily?

= Quokka, the South Asians (especially those with choices - primarily India) vote with their wallet and probably having the last laugh.

Quoting malioil (Reply 26):
Although I have personally never transited in BAH (which has, over the years become an old airport) when terminating here, it is delightful- you can be off an international flight and in the car within 20 minutes, with your baggage.

= Agreed.

Quoting malioil (Reply 26):
One might say that it is quite ironic that GF tend to treat South Asian passengers so badly- for it was their ill-contempt towards a certain South Asian company that ultimately led to the establishment of the airline that would one day eclipse them, EK, all those years ago.


= Agreed.

Thanks for the excellent report.

Saludos,
A.
Live, and let live.
 
debonair
Posts: 2749
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RE: Bouncing Back? Gulf Air GF002 And GF066

Mon Apr 18, 2011 9:07 am

Quoting swi (Thread starter):
I made my way through Fast-Track and to the new Sky Team lounge

GF just opened their new Falcon Gold Lounge @ LHR:

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