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DLATL777 Jun 18, 09 8:48 pm

Gulf Air: DEL-BAH-CAI in J+F
 
Gulf Air Trip Report-DEL-BAH-CAI in J+F

The main reason I was in India in the first place (at least, that's what I tell myself):
http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/n...F/IMG_0162.jpg

First, I must apologize for the month long delay in posting of this TR. I have become very busy with work this summer and have not had a great deal of time to work on it. With that said, this trip report will be shorter then some of my others and will outline my May 9th flights from DEL-BAH in J and BAH-CAI in F.

Booking:
Booking this trip was actually a bit complicated. The problem was that while I wanted F, only J was available between DEL-BAH and the website would price 2 one-ways if done using the multi-city tab. If I typed in my routing under the standard booking window, it would only offer me J on both legs. Because of this, I was forced to first book the whole trip in J, call up Gulf Air, and pay the fare difference and change fee to upgrade the second leg to F. With all this done in about mid-march, I had sometime before my flights.

May 9th 2009.

Even at 5am the inexhaustible heat and congestion of New Dehli was ready and waiting to greet me at the door of the Intercontinental Nehru Place as I made my down to my awaiting car this morning. Luckily, the one aspect of Delhi (and India, for that matter) that did seem to rest this early weekend morning was the traffic, and thus I was at the airport in about half an hour. As is typical for India, one is not allowed to even enter the check in area without proof of ticket purchase. Luckily, I remembered to print the receipt out the night before and after quickly showing it to the guard, I was allowed in. Check in for whY was about 20-30 deep this morning, while J had 1 person in line. Within 5 minutes I was checked in. As the agent was checking me in I requested to have the seat kept open next to me if possible, or to move to another set of 2 open seats. The supervisor over heard this, came over to the desk, typed a few things on the computer and smiled at me, indicating that he would take care of it.

The worst part about Delhi is the lounge that GF uses. Of the 3 lounges (all pre-security) this one had to have been the worst. It is an absolutely disgusting, awful, stuffy, illegitimate excuse for a lounge. An entire half of the lounge was cut off by scaffolding which seemed to dangle dangerously from the ceiling, leaving only about 20-25 chairs open for passengers to sit in. There is almost no food or drink selection, and the bathroom was extremely hot as there was no ventilation. I spent 10 minutes in here, about as much time as I could tolerate before the negative feelings about this lounge would start to affect my mood and thus the trip itself. I left and quickly made my down the stairs to security, where I was through in 5 minutes.

With 30 minutes to kill I walked around the terminal, barely able to see 20 feet out onto the tarmac due to the haze. Shortly after making my second circle in the terminal, boarding was called for Business class passengers only. Typical for India, this announcement did absolutely no good and every single passenger seemed to run for the door at precisely the same time. Fortunately, a very diligent GA told everyone multiple times to show their boarding passes. As she scanned the room for J boarding passes, her eyes fell upon a gentleman in the front of the line, and myself. She motioned to us to proceed on board.


Flight #1: GF0131_ DEL-BAH
Seat: 2K
Cabin: Business
Equipment: A330-200
Actual flight time: 3hours 45 minutes
Load in J: 35%
Load in Y: 100%

After settling in, the FA’s came by to take my coat and offer some fresh Orange Juice. The seats themselves were fairly identical to those offered on the DL 757-200 BE equipped planes for the shorter TATL crossings and offered about 55 degrees of recline. The seats were comfortable and certainly sufficient for such a short flight, and, true to the supervisors suggestive look, I had the seat open next to me. The one thing I did immediately notice was that the IFE was not working. A few of the other passengers mentioned this to the FA who politely responded that the IFE would remain inoperative the entire flight to BAH. I was slightly disappointed, but still being exhausted from the previous 14 hour day spent visiting the Taj Mahal in the 115 degree heat of central India, I figured I would catch up on a little rest. We pushed back right on time and after a quick taxi we were soon airborne and headed west.

J Cabin
http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/n...F/IMG_0240.jpg

Shortly after take off drink orders were taken and breakfast was offered. Breakfast today consisted of 2 courses, which began with a nice selection of fresh fruit, coffee, muffins, and croissants. The second course was a choice between an Indian style or western style breakfast. Figuring my stomach had enough Indian food for a bit (although, I did manage to avoid Delhi Belly!), I went with the western option. The western dish consisted of eggs, potatoes, mushrooms, a tomato, sausage, and a continuing supply of bread and coffee. Everything was top notch.

Breakfast, course 1:
http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/n...F/IMG_0242.jpg

Breakfast, course 2:
http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/n...F/IMG_0243.jpg

After breakfast, as is typical on many Asian based airlines, every shade was drawn, as though the FA’s were encouraging passengers to go to sleep. I attempted not to oblige, but within 30 minutes had succumb to the quiet, dark cabin of the A330-200. I awoke as we made our final approach into BAH. We landed and were quickly escorted to our waiting gate.

Transit and Lounge

The signage that was suppose to be directing traffic to specific areas was very poor, but after a few minutes of wandering around I managed to find the correct portal with which to be processed. 5 minutes later I found myself on my way up the GF lounge. As I was traveling F, I knew I could look forward to the slightly more private F lounge, which is located within the J lounge at BAH. I showed my boarding pass to the desk just outside this private room, and was allowed in. The room itself was small, but consisted of a few large cabañas, which contained a very nice seating area. Free wifi and numerous outlets made working very easy. A waiter came around every 5 minutes or so to check on me and see if I wanted anything else. Having just ate a big breakfast and expecting a bigger lunch onboard my next flight to CAI, I politely declined. Before heading back down to the gate, I had a quick look around the lounge. The lounge was very big, and seemed to contain ample seating space for the busy crowd at BAH today. I also noticed showers, a few food and beverage stations, and a prayer room. After working for another hour or so, boarding was called and I left the lounge and my way down to the awaiting Airbus A330-200.

Flight #2: GF0071_ BAH-CAI
Seat: 1K
Cabin: First
Equipment: A330-200
Actual flight time: 2hours 58 minutes
Load in F: 6/8 75%
Load in J: 90%
Load in Y: No idea

After entering the plane, I made the hard left turn that would send me through the Business cabin and eventually into the beautiful F cabin. The first thing that struck me about it was the cleanliness. Everything seemed bright, clean, and new. I was seated in the first seat on the right side, and as soon as I took my seat a very gorgeous FA greeted me with a smile and asked if she could take my coat. I thanked her and took a seat. A few minutes later the sky chef, yes sky chef, came out to greet me and went over the menu choices. Behind him followed another FA who took my drink order.

F Cabin
http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/n...F/IMG_0245.jpg

http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/n...F/IMG_0248.jpg

http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/n...F/IMG_0249.jpg

Within 15 minutes we were taxing to the active (behind a GF A340) and were airborne within 5 minutes. Shortly thereafter lunch service began. Having had ample time to look over the menu choices, I opted for the salad as a starter, and the beef as the main course. Still a bit early for wine, I went ahead with a glass of Ice cold gingerale to accompany the meal. The salad was okay, but I was not a fan of the salad dressing. The meat however was cooked to perfection and came out from the “kitchen” (sticking with the sky chef theme, here) steaming hot. I skipped desert as I was still a bit full from breakfast.

Lunch, Main Course.
http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/n...F/IMG_0247.jpg

Flying over Saudi Arabia
http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/n...F/IMG_0251.jpg

It was nice to see the IFE working on this flight, and after watching “Paul Blart; Mall Cop” (due to the absence of a better choice) I put the seat in bed mode and quickly fell asleep. The next thing I knew I was awakened for landing. I thanked the crew and made my way towards the exit, but before I could make it, I was approached by that initial FA who began making a little small talk. She seemed very nice, and even handed me her
contact information (hmm..where did this go?). And with that, I was in Cairo.

Reflection/Conclusion:
Overall, I was very satisfied with the GF experience. I would say the J product between DEL-BAH was underwhelming, while the F product from BAH-CAI was in the top 3. Again, I have been very fortunate with the crews I have been getting lately and I must thank the crews on both flights for doing everything and anything to assure I was comfortable and satisfied. A big thumbs up to GF.

Would I recommend GF to a friend: Yes
Would I travel on GF again: Yes
Would I book again on GF’s website: Probably not.

Thanks for reading!

onedog Jun 19, 09 1:41 am

Very nice trip report and great pictures.

Onedog

MatthewLAX Jun 19, 09 2:12 am

Excellent report! Love the picture of Taj Mahal.

ylwae Jun 19, 09 2:22 am


Originally Posted by DLATL777 (Post 11932211)
...the sky chief, yes sky chief...

Did you ever find out why this person is called "sky chief"? Is this the CSD you're talking about?

Nice Taj Mahal picture!

Moomba Jun 19, 09 11:46 am


Originally Posted by ylwae (Post 11933434)
Did you ever find out why this person is called "sky chief"? Is this the CSD you're talking about?

Nice Taj Mahal picture!

I think the op means Sky Chef. http://www.gulfair.com/air/skychefs.asp

Nice Report & photos. ^

DLATL777 Jun 19, 09 12:43 pm


Originally Posted by Moomba (Post 11935494)
I think the op means Sky Chef. http://www.gulfair.com/air/skychefs.asp

Nice Report & photos. ^

I did indeed, haha, thanks for catching that.

paulmcgrath Jun 19, 09 4:22 pm

Thanks for the report and pictures. Great stuff!

camsean Jun 20, 09 9:18 am

Thanks for the trip report.

Flyingfox Jun 20, 09 4:22 pm

Thanks for the report!

The whole "sky chef" thing sounds like a gimmick.
Austrian has a "chef" to do the plating of the food as well.

But what else are they really doing in the air besides taking orders, plating the items to make them look pretty, and then serving them?
There is really no actual "preparation" of food onboard beyond heating things and arranging them on plates, is there? The meals are actually designed and "cooked" on the ground. I don't see how they and Austrian are any different from SQ, CX, NH, JL, BA, etc.
Seems to me these people are essentially FAs dressed up in "chef" costumes?

ylwae Jun 21, 09 2:24 am


Originally Posted by Moomba (Post 11935494)
I think the op means Sky Chef. http://www.gulfair.com/air/skychefs.asp

Ah--thank you.

NoY Jun 24, 09 1:03 pm


Originally Posted by Flyingfox (Post 11941060)
Thanks for the report!

The whole "sky chef" thing sounds like a gimmick.
Austrian has a "chef" to do the plating of the food as well.

But what else are they really doing in the air besides taking orders, plating the items to make them look pretty, and then serving them?
There is really no actual "preparation" of food onboard beyond heating things and arranging them on plates, is there? The meals are actually designed and "cooked" on the ground. I don't see how they and Austrian are any different from SQ, CX, NH, JL, BA, etc.
Seems to me these people are essentially FAs dressed up in "chef" costumes?

IME no, it's not a gimmick :). Yes, presentation is a key feature, as it indeed should be in F. If only certain other cariiers did at least pay attention to this :rolleyes:. The GF sky chefs do prepare some items from scratch - fresh eggs, any style, cooked to order? Yes, on GF but certainly not on at least some of the carriers you mentioned above! That's just one example. They are also very good at mixing and matching various elements from various appetizers and main courses to customise what you may require. Ms. NoY is a somewhat "fussy" eater and she LOVES the sky chef service on GF First for this very reason. It's airplane food yes, but the sky chefs makes it much less so IMHO :)

Oh, BTW nice report DLATL777!

luxury Aug 8, 09 2:24 am


Originally Posted by NoY (Post 11962156)
IME no, it's not a gimmick :). Yes, presentation is a key feature, as it indeed should be in F. If only certain other cariiers did at least pay attention to this :rolleyes:. The GF sky chefs do prepare some items from scratch - fresh eggs, any style, cooked to order? Yes, on GF but certainly not on at least some of the carriers you mentioned above! That's just one example. They are also very good at mixing and matching various elements from various appetizers and main courses to customise what you may require. Ms. NoY is a somewhat "fussy" eater and she LOVES the sky chef service on GF First for this very reason. It's airplane food yes, but the sky chefs makes it much less so IMHO :)

Oh, BTW nice report DLATL777!

+1. I enjoyed GF F from BKK-BAH-KUL in the old F seats. I had booked BKK-KUL but that route was cancelled by GF and we were re-routed on that circuitous route. The cabin was practically empty and the Sky Chef customised much of the F menu for me and my best friend. Saved us a hotel night and we were wined and dined very nicely, in the air and in the Lounge at BAH.


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