This is the main reason why this Golden Falcon Way trip series came about. A couple of months ago, I came across a fantastic deal for Gulf Air. A ticket from Bangkok to Singapore was priced at around 400 SGD. This is a route taking you from Bangkok to Bahrain to Singapore, almost 15 hours butt in seat in their Business Class which they have cutely named Falcon Gold Class. Gulf Air has a solid business class product, I am looking forward to trying out the Apex Suites. I have heard a lot about these seats and how they balance between a high configuration as well as squeezing in more seats and direct aisle access for every passenger. You could even route it via Singapore for a funny routing of BKK – SIN – BAH – SIN. I immediately jump upon it. Error fare or a real sale? No one knows about it but all of us that booked it managed to fly so far and the rate was kept alive for a couple of weeks too. Error sale fare is always exciting and I certainly miss the Cathay first-class one. With that here I go, taking the long way back to Singapore. Non-travel fans or those who are not av geeks will sure laugh at me. Who else will fly from Bangkok back to Singapore via Bahrain! I did actually meet a friend onboard the flight seated behind me. Excited to be trying Gulf Air and its premium cabin for the first time.
It was a rush to get to Bangkok Airport and the traffic certainly doesn’t help things. Do cater more and it could take up to an hour to get here. Gulf Air uses check-in counter row P which is at the end of the terminal. It was super crowded at the counters since there are two back-to-back flights. The queue was awfully for economy class but thankfully there was not much of a queue for Falcon Gold passengers. They have three counters dedicated to business class and I am next in line. Crowd control was awfully and, weirdly, economy passengers are helped ahead of business class passengers. I was given a reason that they have been waiting for a long time. This is not a valid reason despite how long you have been waiting. It is unacceptable that business class passengers have to wait just because others have been in the queue for a longer time. The benefits of paying more for business class meant that I have priority when it comes to checking in. They could not explain it when questioned.
Fast track security and immigration are available at Bangkok airport. Passengers flying in premium cabins can access it simply by showing their boarding passes. I cleared security and immigration in no time. Gulf Air does not operate any lounge at Bangkok Airport. Instead, eligible passengers are invited to the Miracle First Class Lounge which you can access via Priority Pass too. I did not spend much time at the lounge and just stop by for a bottle of water. It is a pretty decent one. As such, I would not be reviewing the lounge.
Boarding started around 16.50pm, behind schedule. While the gate opened right on time, the crew only arrive 10 mins after. I certainly jump on the bandwagon to get some amazing pictures of the plane cabin. I was warmly welcomed by the crew and it is exciting to see the Gulf Air cabin. It looks so sleek and I love the finishes. There are 26 business class seats onboard the 787. It is in a 2 class configuration with Falcon Gold Class and Economy Class.
I was ushered to my seat by the crew and they offer a welcome drink too. There was a choice between water, mint juice and champagne. Gulf Air serves Duval-Leroy Brut Reserve NV, a respectable choice in business class. The crew are a great set. Agnes and Micika that were working the Falcon Gold Class were exceptionally lovely and we have a great chat about our travels. I even met Agnes again on my flight back to Singapore a couple of days later. The crew came by later with some hot or cold towels. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I do miss towel service after since Covid. Singapore Airlines no longer does it and it is such a great thing to freshen up and start your premium cabin ride. SQ does it even for Economy pre-covid.
It is like Christmas when you are flying in Falcon Gold. During the boarding process, the crew came by with pyjamas and you are offered medium, large and extra-large sizes. It is found in a little bag and slippers are provided too. While it is not of any fancy brand, they were comfy and not too thick for lounging in the air. While I wish they have those cool grey colours with gold finishes and perhaps the Golden Falcon logo embroidered, the standard blue PJ was alright.
Then after the crew came by with Arabic Coffee and dates, the usual welcome when you are flying on a Middle East-based airline.
Gulf Air Falcon Gold Class (Business Class)
This will be my first time flying Gulf Air and the first time in their premium cabin as well. They name their business class Falcon Gold Class. What a unique name. This is Gulf Air’s most premium cabin. They have one of the best business class hard products, using the Apex Suite seat in the 2-2-2 configuration. Despite the heavily packed cabin, all passengers still get direct aisle access. I am excited to try out the Apex suite. You can find this product on Oman Air and Japan Airlines as well. The cabin is so refreshing and I love the grey finishes with gold trimmings. What a classy look.
For my first ever flight, I opted for the window seat in row 3. Seat 3A. Despite the heavy 2-2-2 configuration, everyone gets direct aisle access. The window seats are significantly “longer” than the aisle seats due to the way it is designed. As such, when in bed mode it is much more spacious. You will never reach the end of your seat with your legs as it is simply way too long. The curvature of the aircraft might make row 1 window seats slightly narrower so it is best to avoid it if you can. A partition can be raised to give you the perfect little cocoon. It is impossible to see your seatmate and you have all the privacy you want.
A reading light is found in the seat above your head, by the side of the partition.
The “box” style of the seats makes the cabin so neat and stylish. There isn’t any overhead compartment above the middle seats which makes the cabin look even more spacious. Check out some pictures of the seats. You enter your seat via a narrow walkway in front of the aisle seat. One advantage of the Apex suite is the leg space and largest area, in contrast to other types of business class seats, you do not have to park your legs at an angle or in some narrow cubby. You have some space below the screen for you to place some items. There is a fold-down leg rest that is useful when you are in bed mode.
Right in front of the seat, you can find a screen which is of a good size and high quality. The size is decent especially when you are viewing it from a distance.
You can find a little cubicle right near the entrance where the amenity kit can be found alongside a small bottle of water as well as some pamphlets. This is the only usable storage area for your personal items. One of the main concerns I had with the seats is the lack of storage, I had difficulty finding space to store my items besides the narrow platform.
On the right armrest, you can find some controls for the seats to adjust the centre dividers and the lighting.
The other controls are on the left, the buttons are intuitive and allow you to control the leg rest, lumbar support and the backrest. They even have a massage function built into the seat. The Apex Suites allow you to convert the seat into bed mode directly you do not have to get up to make it fully flat.
The table is stored in the right armrest and it is of a good size. You can easily fit a laptop on it and work comfortably. I love that the table can be rotated in another direction, this allows you to slide off the seat in the middle of service if you need to get out or visit the loo.
I can’t say the same with regards to the power outlets and headphones plug. While it is commendable that they had USB outlets installed in addition to the power socket, they are installed in such an awkward position to use. I spent 5 mins trying to connect my headphones. It is located under the right armrest and beside your bum. Do be careful when charging your devices as they might get crushed when you adjust the seat position.
A headphone is provided. They are alright but not Bose quality.
The in-flight entertainment system comes with a good number of movies and TV series. They even have some local shows from the middle east but let’s be frank no in-flight entertainment can beat SQ Krisworld or Emirates ICE. I left the flight map throughout my flight. You can control the television and the in-flight entertainment with a touchscreen remote. It seems like a smartphone. The controls are intuitive and you can even choose to watch the show either on the main screen or on the smartphone directly.
Turndown service is offered and I got the bed made after the meal service. The crew put a simple sheet over the bed and a simple blanket was offered. I have heard stories of Gulf Air running out of blankets so do request one when you board. The bedding was simple but I managed to get a good solid 2 hours nap in given how spacious the Apex Suite is in bed mode. There are no height and width constraints. I could also sleep on my side or straight. I would have appreciated it if they had added a mattress pad and a better or extra pillow.
Gulf Air offers Falcon Gold an amenity kit which is a nice touch considering that for the longest time ever, SQ doesn’t even offer them. It comes in a pouch and inside you have a pair of socks, eye shapes, a dental kit, earplugs, a comb as well as some Thann products. It consists of a lip balm, a face and hand moisturizer and a small bottle of perfume. I would prefer a classic design of the pouch, some of the grey finishes with gold trimmings would be sleek.
Wifi is available onboard although it is payable, even for Falcon Gold passengers. They have two different packages which cost 10 and 15 USD respectively. They didn’t clarify the allowance for each package.
Given that we were departing in the evening and flying “back in time” the views were spectacular as we depart and when cruising towards Bahrain. My eyes were glued to the windows. I was treated to a sunset view constantly throughout the first half of the flight. Those 787 wings look so elegant. I took so many pictures. This is the best in-flight entertainment.
They have two bathrooms in the front of the cabin for business class passengers. They are rather basic and nothing to speak of. No special Thann amenities for business class. They were also badly maintained and smelled towards the end of the flight.
Upon levelling off, the crew sprang to action and came by to take meal orders. Check out the menu. In stark contrast to other reviews they have read I was presented with a full physical menu and a drinks menu for the flight. The selection is bare and this is probably the aspect pulling it down the rating. For this particular route, they serve dinner before some light bites before landing. Mid-haul flights are always challenging. They have 4 choices for your mains and even a soup service.
The drinks menu was decent. Besides the Leroy champagne on offer, they have two other white wines, 2 red and a Sandeman port on offer. You also have some cocktails and I am sure the crew will be pleasant to mix up some simple drinks for you as well. For spirits, you have whiskey, vodka, gin, rum and cognac. International beer selections consist of Heineken and Amstel. Non-alcoholic options consist of still and sparkling water, juices, mocktails, soft drinks, coffee and tea.
Sadly, service was very slow and it took a while before the actual meal service commenced. I stayed on the Leroy in the meantime and the crew offered me some nuts to go with the drink. This is my first time having the Leroy and it was pretty delicious. I love that it is on the drier side and well balanced. Meal service started around 2 hours after taking off. That’s kind of slow in my opinion especially for a flight of this duration. One bad aspect about Middle East flights is that the flight timing is neither here nor there. The service is way too slow and after you are done you are left with around 2-3 hours of flight time which isn’t good for having a rest.
Dinner was a four-course meal with a soup course, a salad course before the main and then dessert. Five if you count the cheese plate. Service was done via a tray and the crew brought over the first course which is a Roasted Tomato and Lentil soup. It was pretty delicious, considering that I am not a fan of lentils. Soup is constantly one of the best dishes to order onboard, it heats up well and doesn’t get dry. I had it with a glass of Tuscany white.
Next up was the Prawn and Mango salad. It is alright but the prawns are huge and fresh. It is slightly on the bland side. I love the lettuce and the asparagus. The light olive oil finish was nice.
I am also surprised that the crew didn’t come by with the bread until the main course was served. The crew clearly could not cope with the full load.
For my main, I went with the pasta dish. The dish is not on the menu as it replaced the seafood mash potato due to a catering mix-up. The pasta came with crab, fish and prawns as well as cuttlefish. There are also some vegetables on the side. Pasta is always a good dish to order onboard. The seafood is not too bad but the noodles are a little on the soggy side.
I opt for the lemon tart for dessert and some port to go with it. It is simple but got the work done. By the time service ended we have about 3 hours to go.
Light refreshments and drinks were served one hour before landing just as we were near Iran and the UAE. It is done via a tray and the crew roll it down the aisle. You can then see what you want from the cart. I just got a macaron and a crab cake since I wasn’t feeling too hungry.
The crew service is excellent and much better than expected. Perhaps it’s just that the recent reviews are bad or I luck out with a lovely set. It might not be Emirates or Singapore Airlines but it was still fun to fly. They even had amenity kits and pyjamas. There is room for improvement in terms of catering. Ground service in Bangkok is atrocious. The aircraft was prepared to land roughly about 30 mins out and we landed in Bahrain way ahead of time despite the initial delay. Let’s just be practical most flights in business class will mostly be better than economy even on Singapore Airlines or Emirates. Gulf Air prices are pretty good for flights between Asia and Europe. What I hope is that they join a worldwide alliance with the ability to earn points and mouse that will be a game changer. Here it is! It is a sweet ride to Bahrain and I am all hype up to visiting my 32nd country. Getting this at 400 SGD is a great deal. I am kinda regretting not booking a couple more.