Welcome to my Gulf Air Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner Trip Report!
My ride (A9C-FJ) being prepared for departure.
Before booking with Gulf Air, I had plans to fly on the airline's Boeing 787-9 on the 5th freedom route, SIN-BKK but now I don't have to do that as the chance presented itself for me to fly the airline's 787-9 on a longer flight sector from Bahrain to Singapore. It is possible for the Airbus A321neo-LR to fly from Bahrain to Singapore but fortunately, that won't happen because of the healthy load and cargo of this route which the A321 might struggle especially flying through headwind and besides the 787 Dreamliner is better suited for 7 hour flights and longer.
Anyway if you have read my previous trip report, I didn't have the best in-flight service experience but I can tell you that this flight's in-flight service is definitely better. More on this in my later part of the trip report.
About my aircraft. I was hoping to fly on the retro livery (A9C-FG), however I did a check on this aircraft availability (below), it was undergoing maintenance so that means I would definitely be flying on the regular livery 787.
This is the retro livery (Photo: Tom W Smith) (A9C-FG)
About Bahrain Airport
Bahrain International Airport is located on Muharraq Island, near to the capital of Manama and the city Al Muharraq. This is the main hub of Gulf Air and is managed by the Bahrain Airport Company. Established in 1927, this is one of Persian Gulf's oldest international airport. In 2021, the airport opened a new terminal, replacing the old one and I had the privilege to visit the new terminal.
The map of the airport (Photo: Scramble.nl)
Booking with Gulf Air
The airline offered quite a good airfare for the Economy light airfare so I decided to go for it. The disadvantage about this is that you have to pay for the seat even when you check in on the day itself. Fortunately, the airline assigned me with 2 good window seats.
I had a chance to get myself upgrade by making a bid.
For the first flight (ATH-BAH)
For the 2nd flight: BAH-SIN
I decided to stay put in Economy Class to do this trip report and besides there are so many business class review of this airline out there.
So this is itinerary of my Gulf Air adventure.
I tried to change my seat during the web check-in but I was quoted the price of 24 Euros.
I rather save the money for other things and stick to seat 43A, at least it is not a windowless seat. To check if your seat has window, you can check Aerolopa.com. This website shows seatmaps of most airlines, giving you a good information of the aircraft configuration including the alignment of the seat and the window.
Transit in Bahrain Airport
I am not sure what is this, but this is what you see once you succesfully pass through the security transit check.
This is the interior of the departure hall at the airside.
The TV screen covering all 4 sides of the wall, quite unique in my opinion.
I did a check on what aircraft I was flying on, thanks to Flightradar24. A9C-FJ, one of the newest Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner in the fleet was assigned to my flight.
Airport WiFi was available but it took a while for my phone to connect. Paid access means unlimited access to the airport's wifi and the wifi speed should be faster.
Overall, I find the terminal to be spacious and clean.
Plenty of shops and restaurants to check out.
What I like about the airport is there are plenty of seating area and different types too such as sofa chair, benches, working tables and recline seats. Charging ports are available, you need to keep an eye out for them.
Somehow the interior of the airport reminds me a little bit of Panama City Terminal 2.
There is an airport hotel which transit passengers can rest if the flights are longer than 7 hours. Gulf Air and Hahn Air passengers may be entitled to a hotel accomodation or free Visa during the transit period.
For passengers transiting below 8 hours, transit visa is not needed but if you have plans to visit this city, you need to apply for a visa and if your transit flight is longer than 8 hours, you would need to apply for a transit visa, for this, you need to check with the operating airline for more information.
One Mile At A Time has done a review on this airport hotel, you can check out the review over here.
There are 2 gates assigned to a wide-body flight, both gates are connected to different aerobridges which would then be attached to the same aircraft as the premium and economy class passengers board the aircraft in separate aerobridges.
There is even a lounge for unaccompanied minors (Below 16).
This is where my boarding gate was for my flight.
One last look at the terminal
Falcon Gold Passengers board the aircraft from gate 20A while the rest of us do so at gate 20B.
Time to board!
My stay at Bahrain Airport was around 2 and a half hours.
My ride: A9C-FJ (Photo: MinXuan Zhang)
Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (Leased from AerCap)
Configuration: C26 Y256
Engines: 2 X Roll Royce Trent 1000
Delivered to airline in April 2023
1085th 787 built
Built in Everett (PAE)
Age: 3 Years Old (Feb 2024)
Departure Runway: 12L
Date of departure: 10th January 2024
Airline: Gulf Air
Aircraft type: Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
Load: 90% in Y Class
Flight Time: 7 hours 30 mins
Actual Flight Time: 7 hours 11 mins
Schedule Departure time: 2345
Pushed back: 2351
Take off: 0004
Schedule Arrival: 1220
Actual Arrival: 1214
Arrival Runway: 02L
About Falcon Gold Cabin (Business Class)
There are 26 Modified Collins Aerospace Apex seats featuring Stacked armrest in this cabin. These seats have a seat width of 22 inches and can covert into a 78-inch flat bed. The neighbouring seats are separated by a raised privacy panel to give each passenger more privacy and with the 21.5 inch HD touchscreen static display, this has to be quite an impressive Business Class product. Lastly, the passengers of each seat, get a secure storage for their personal items and also able to use the universal and usb-A socket to charge their electronic devices.
You can check out One Mile At A Time's review of the business class product, over here.
The seat map of the business class cabin (Photo: Aerolopa.com)
My first impression
I am certainly impressed with this business class product. What I like about it is every seat gets a direct aisle access and that includes the window seat passenger. There is no backward facing seat which I dislike a lot, one airline comes in mind with the backward seating configuration is British Airways, for example: the 787-9 with all window seats facing backwards.
Let's see if the opportunity comes knocking onto my door to experience this business class product.
Photos of the cabin
A big thank you to the purser for allowing me take some photos of this cabin.
The business class product looks impressive.
There is a privacy divider that can be pulled upwards, great for privacy especially sitting beside a stranger during the flight.
The passengers sitting at either row 4A or 4K get 3 windows for him/herself.
About the Economy Class cabin
Just like the Airbus A321neo aircraft, the airline selected the Recaro CL3710 seats for the 787's Economy Class cabin. With a total of 256 seats, the configuration of the Economy Class in this aircraft is 3-3-3, with a seat pitch of 32 inches. Every seat in this class has a seat width of 17.3 inches and the passengers get to enjoy the 10 inches touchscreen seatback display with the Universal and 2 USB-A sockets available to them.
For the in-flight entertainment system, the airline selected the Thales Avant System for the Audio/Visual on Demand and the same company is responsible for the wifi system inflight.
Photos of the cabin
I find the cabin crew's uniform and the cabin interior matching.
The Boeing 787 cabin is easily recognised by the electronic dimmed windows supplied by PPG Aerospace.
The overhead compartment
The mood lighting of Boeing Sky Interior is one of my favourites.
The 3-3-3 configuration on the 787 is slightly more cramp then the same configuration on the A350.
This is the last 2 rows of the front section of the economy class.
Sitting just in front of the lavatory may be noisy but if I get to choose my seat on this flight, I won't mind sitting at at 34A (last row of the front section of the economy class).
The last row of the seats near the window has limited recline.
This is where they store the beverages and hot meals.
Do note the limited space at the window seat of the emergency row.
The different mode setting of the window shade (below)
I noticed the window shade system took quite a while to change from the dimmest to the brightest mode and vice versa. For this, I prefer Airbus's window shade system as it is more responsive and offer better light protection than this, for more information you can check out in this trip report (Starlux A350), over here.
My in-flight experience
We boarded the aircraft about 10 minutes past 11. I was fortunate to be one of the first to board the aircraft and that allowed me to snap some photos of the cabin. This time, the cabin crew were friendly and the flight purser greeted us while we made our way to the seat.
Once we were on our way, only thing I have to complain is how soft the announcement was, hardly could hear what the Captain was saying, I only manage to catch him mentioning to us about our flight time and some turbulence along the way. After a smooth take-off, we were on our way. As it was past dinner time, it wasn't a surprise that the crew came around to serve us our snack meal which consist of sandwich before turning off the light for most parts of the flight crossing over the Bay of Bengal. The service on this crew was much better on this flight, I was offered the can of gingle ale and also the crew came around from time to time with refills of water. The flight had turbulence but nothing bad and the 2nd meal (breakfast) was served about an hour and a hour before arrival in Singapore. At that time, it was daylight but the electronic dimmed windows were not controlled by the crew as there were some passengers opt to have the window fully brighten. I played around with the electronic dimmed window and find it taking very long to either brightening up to the normal window mode or changing to the dimmest mode as compared to the A350's dimmed windows. The Airbus version is a clear winner (You can check out more of Airbus' electronic window shade over here.
After checking out the IFE system, it is similar to the programmes offered on the streaming Wifi on my previous flight, there was not enough contents in the audio/visual entertainment section and in-flight wifi was not available on this flight. As for the breakfast, the meal was ok and I was happy with the in-flight service provided by this set of crew.
More photos of the Economy Class Seat
The IFE system
The button on the side of the handrest is for seat recline.
There is a storage space just below the IFE screen (where the safety card is), to store small items in it, but I am not a fan of it as I find it difficult to take out so I place my smaller items in the seat pocket.
The electronic dimmed window
The view from my seat
This window was at the 2nd dimmest mode.
Last look of my seat before leaving the aircraft.
The emergency door
The cabin crew's seat
What's provided for each passenger?
In-Flight Entertainment System
The touchscreen was responsible and navigating through the system was smooth.
It took a while for me to decide which movie to watch.
The 3D Maps by Thales
No information about our in-flight meals for this flight.
Part of the safety video shown before take-off.
Does anyone recognise this movie?
In-Flight Meal and Snack
We were given a hot toasted bread with cheese.
For beverages, I went for my favourite gingle ale.
This is breadfast. We had two choices but I can't remember what the other option was. I went for the omelette.
The meal was quite enjoyable especially the omelette, I thought it was quite well done.
Window view (Take off to Landing)
We parked beside another Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner bound for Europe.
We were on our way to the runway 12 Left.
Rolling down the way, off we go!
The take off was smooth and we headed for our assigned flight level and heading.
Goodbye Bahrain, until next time!
After many hours later, it was daylight outside.
At this point, we started our descent.
It was cloudy at this time but the flight was smooth.
When you see lots of ship below while landing at Changi, it means one thing, runway 02 arrival!
The view of the city area
Tanah Merah area
We touched down on runway 02 Left.
Air Calin's A330neo caught my attention!
We landed ahead of schedule. For passengers bound for Bangkok, they had to disembark this aircraft and board this aircraft about an hour later.
My flight summary
With that, my flying adventure has come to an end!
This is Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR (9V-SGA) bound for New York (JFK).
Welcome to Terminal 3!
Airline Mobile App/Website: 3/5
Airport Experience (BAH): 4/5
In-Flight Service: 4/5
In-Flight Entertainment System: 3.5/5
Seat Comfort: 4/5
Cabin Ambiance: 5/5
Cabin Condition: 4/5
In-Flight Meal/Snack: 3.5/5
Overall rating: 41/50
The in-flight service on this flight is definitely better and more enjoyable than my previous flight (A321neo), so one should not judge the airline's reputation based on one flight. The cabin crew on my 787 flight was more friendly and helpful and that makes the difference in helping to make the flight experience more pleasant for the passengers especially in economy class. With the IFE system on this aircraft, I was able to enjoy some movies and I was fortunate that my seatmate was small-built so it wasn't bad at all being stuck at the window seat on the 3-seater. In addition, the beautiful Boeing Sky interior and the higher humidilty level makes this ride more enjoyable.
What I like about this airline's economy class is the comfortable and stylish looking Recaro CL3710 seats, making it more comfortable even in this crampy configuration of the 787. While it is not at the same level as Emirates, the airline does have it's own merits and with the right price, you can consider flying this airline with a stop-over at Bahrain airport, the airport might be a great alternative to transit to avoid the crowded traffic at Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
This is one of the airlines I wanted to fly for a long time from the Lockheed L-1011/A330/A340 days and I am a fan of the past and present corperate liveries. Gulf Air may have limited routes in it's network comparing to the fiercest rivals in the same region, but offers decent in-flight products on both the Airbus A320 and Boeing 787 fleet. For the Business class regulars, you can consider giving the Falcon Gold Class a try especially on the Dreamliner. As for the in-flight service, this depends on the cabin crew and from my experience, most of them are friendly and helpful. Bad service occurs in any industry but not just on the crew, there are some bad behaved passengers giving the cabin crew lots of trouble so in the end, whether you are an airport staff, cabin crew or passenger, it is important to be courteous regardless of status.
Do I recommend this airline? Yes, with the stop-over at the new terminal of Bahrain, it is quite a pleasant airport for lay-over with facilities helping the passengers to pass time especially on a long lay-over. The A320/A321neo and Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft in the fleet offer good cabin products which I find them to be adequate for the duration of the flight sectors these aircraft are flying to.
Hope you enjoyed this trip report.
For my part 1 of my Gulf Air trip report (A321neo ATH-BAH), click here
With that, this concludes my flying adventure of my Frankfurt and Athens trip! Coming up next will be a trip to London and Lisbon to spend time with my family, so stay tuned. The trip reports should be out in early March.
Have a good one!