Don’t get me wrong, Gulf Air on the long-haul flights are pretty good, competitive in service and price, and have won awards on an international level. From time to time, at least twice a year I fly the BAH-LHR route and no complaints, except the odd late take-off which is always blamed on the ATC (Air Traffic Control).
My frustration comes on the regional routes between the GCC states. The reason why I refuse to use GF is because they always mess up my schedule on both inward and outward journeys. Some of the typical mishaps:
- late take-off
- wrong seating allocation
- old aircraft
- unfriendly crew member (only to Asian passengers in economy)
- duty-free items not being available
We all know that Gulf Air is going through a management phase, you could compare it to adolescence. There is confusion all over, alleged corruption, embezzlement, high turnover of staff, cut-backs, complaints, and the media has had the spot-light of our national carrier for past few weeks.
My last trip to Dubai was arranged by a client, and due to the last-minute decisions, I had to get there faster than ASAP.. My Alternatives???
Air Arabia (lands in Sharjah, and I just didn't have the time to do the Sharjah to Dubai journey)
Emirates (full flight, besides I needed a late flight back)
Other airlines did the home-base transit as a must (inconvenient for me)
Well Guess what… the only option was Gulf Air, the ticket cost BD93, and I had no other choice but for once to take Gulf Air off my list and give them another try. The result was not impressive, on both the outward/inward flights, my findings:
- We were boarded on board 10 minutes before the scheduled departure.
- Sat on the flight for 25 minutes before take-off.
- Besides the refurbishment of the old plane (new carpet/seat covers), it was still tatty and everything has that broken look to it (typical wear and tear).
- The food tray lock was worn and kept releasing the tray (from vibration).
- The flight attendant mentioned Abu-Dhabi rather than Dubai as our destination.
- The in-flight refreshments improved from a small box to a medium sized box full of goodies (rock hard roll, cold hummos, fruit salad literally frozen and a little cup of water). As a matter of fact, food is not a rating factor on short flights (less than an 90 minutes) for me. By the way the stewards had difficulty collecting and storing food boxes in their trolley (obviously a flaw in the box design).
- The majority of passengers came from Asia, yet no one could speak their languages. The announced languages on board were Arabic, English, French, Portuguese and Tagalog. I did look around, but no looked like they could speak any European languages.
- The takeoff made the plane rattle with vibrations, landing the beast was like the wild west rodeo.. yeeee-haaaa !!!!
- All the above points, plus..
- Air-conditioning was terrible, on and off warm air before the actually push-back. A good 45 minutes was spent sweating on board. Mind you, GF did bribe us with a cold can of sprite.
I still refuse to travel on Gulf-Air for the time being until they decide to improve their services to be competitive in service, and in price. I remember Gulf Air in the 80’s as being the bird in the sky, the Golden Falcon that could spread it's wings. What has happened? Smaller and new regional airlines are emerging fast and are capitalizing on Gulf Air’s incompetence to hold on a market she has created. Gulf Air should not forget that the Gulf sector has and will always be a good source of revenue for them, it’s time she (GF) got this mess properly addressed and sorted out permanently in a proper and logical manner, it has been lingering for far too long.
I always remember my friend (who loves creating acronyms/abbreviations out of names), when I asked what GULF AIR stands for..
He replied “Get Used-to Late Flights Always In Repair”.
Have fabulous and wonderful a nice weekend (I know I will).
That's the way it is…
23/8/2007 Capt. Arab