Monday, October 30, 2006

Gulf Air Will Always Be A Second Grade Airline

Gulf Air screws up yet another holiday

We're just back from a short break in Bangkok. It was the first time traveling with the baby so we decided to fly on Gulf Air since they have the only direct flight between Muscat and Bangkok. The only other choice was Thai Air which costs just about the same but stops over in Karachi. On other airlines we would have had to change planes in a hub like Dubai.

Gulf Air's flight is brilliantly timed. It takes off from Muscat at 10.40pm and gets you into Bangkok by 8am. So you get on the plane, sleep 5 hours and land in Thailand with the whole day ahead of you. Excellent timing. Except that when we got to the airport at 8.45pm we were told that the flight got delayed to 1.30am. And then later it got delayed again to 3am. Why? Because while we were checking in the plane still hadn't taken off from Frankfurt. This is what happens when you fly with a bankrupt airline that doesn't have enough planes to serve its routes and hence uses the same plane for both east and west routes on the same day.

Because of Gulf Air's massive delay, we ended up taking off from Muscat at 3.30am and arriving in Bangkok at noon. By the time we got to the hotel it was closer to 2pm and more than half the day had been wasted. We were too drained to do anything other than a walk to a nearby department store for lunch. I was asleep by 7pm. Our 4 day holiday essentially got cut down to just 3 days.

Yesterday we showed up at Bangkok's brilliant new airport at 7.30am for our 9.45am flight back and whatdyaknow, the flight's been delayed to 12.20pm. But guess what, Gulf Air is kind enough to offer you a voucher for a free meal at Burger King. Needless to say, the flight was delayed again and we didn't take off till 1.

Thing is, this wasn't a unique situation. Apparently this happens quite often on the Muscat-Bangkok route.

Gulf Air will never be a world class airline. Period. It had one chance under the management of James Hogan, and he has recently quit his job. He's given up on Gulf Air and joined Etihad. Can you blame him? There's only so much you can do with an aging fleet like Gulf Air's. You can have the best food and service in the air (and they actually do), but the fact remains that until last year even first class didn't have sleeper seats (and even those aren't on all the planes). In economy class they still don't have seatback entertainment screens. Everyone watches the same entertainment on the shared hanging screens.

It doesn't matter how good the crew are, and honestly Gulf Air's crews are generally some of the best (trust me I've had my share of encounters with Emirates uber-bitch air hostesses). To be a world class airline you have to be able to present a total package, which Gulf Air has consistently failed to achieve. An airline that can never run its flights on time is second class. When the planes are old and decrepit and don't have facilities that are now offered even by budget airlines these days, that's second class. It doesn't matter if you have a sky chef cooking meals on flight for first class passengers, because even though it's a brilliant service (I tried it on a flight from London two years ago), the fact remains that you can't recline your seat all the way to the back, and for just about the same price that you paid for your ticket you could have flown on BA, Emirates, Etihad or Qatar Airways and had a private compartment. of your own. The only advantage Gulf Air has for anyone flying out from Oman is the direct non-stop connection, and with our delay the other day we actually arrived in Bangkok after the Thai Air that took off before us and stopped in Karachi.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've generally had pretty bad experiences with Gulf Air too. I'd say the majority of my flights have been delayed. And I don't know if it just happens to me, but almost every time I arrive in Oman, my luggage is missing and it's on the next flight. It happened last time too but I was so used to it that I didn't even bother getting upset about it..just went to the Gulf Air desk and claimed my RO 18 or whatever it is that they give you for delaying your baggage. It's a good thing I'm always coming home to Oman on Gulf Air and don't need my stuff right away...if that happened else where it would really suck.

Anonymous said...

I landed in Oman for the first time on a Gulf Air flight from Bangalore which was delayed by almost nearly two hours. After that, I've never travelled with them. I guess they waste a hell lot of money on useless marketing.

Wardat_il'7leej said...

Flight delays can happen with any airline, I wonder what the stats are for all airlines. Well what you expect from an airline that is not getting full support from the gov. unlike Emirates, Qatar etc. I would think that they are in the same par as Oman Air.

Sowhat said...

i am frequent user of all airlines that travel from muscat to kuwait .. and i really hate it when i have to travel with Gulf air , with gulf air i never arrived on time for the past 7 years and i am travelling like 6 times a year .. so u do the math .. i was like what can i do .. it is the onl airlines that have daily flights to kuwait( Oman air now offer daily flights to kuwait ) but recetnly they have been canceling ur reservation for no reason . even if u confirmed it by phone and u got ur reservation code .. last time they canceled my first class reservation and guess what they said my ticked was purchased from oman .. so i have to buy another one in J class cause all other classes are full ..

stupid airline, i wish they bankrupt very soon !!!

and by the way oman air , yet very strict about the wieght and laggage they are much more better than gulf air ..

Bollybitch said...

thanks for that Muscati!

i totally second you on this. in fact, i can claim to have probably had the worst experience flying with Gulf Air this summer. first, it was supposed to be a direct Muscat-Bangalore flight. when i checked in, they gave some lousy excuse about the flight being overloaded (and how, if they've got a luggage limit?), so they transferred me to a muscat-madras flight, and after landing in madras, i could fly any of Gulf Air's sister airlines to bangalore.

as if all this wasn't bad enough - the muscat-madras Gulf Air flight (scheduled to take off at 1.30) first got delayed to 5 am! and then, around 2 am, they announce that it's delayed by a whole 12 hours to 12.30 pm! that was a whole night and morning's wait! it was one of the worst airline delay i've ever been stuck in. i had an important appointment with the doc that day in bangalore, which had to be postponed.

finally, the damn flight took off at 1 or 1.30 the next day afternoon, i landed in madras that evening - where all the domestic flights to bangalore were going full. so i spent a second night in a hotel room, and was put on a Jet Airways flight early the next morning to Bangalore.

So thanks to Gulf Air, i lost more than a day and a half getting to bangalore, for what should have been a simple 4 hour flight. and that's not the end of it - some of my fellow passengers were actually flying bahrain-dubai-muscat-chennai-bangalore... transferred from one flight to the other by Gulf Air, and spending more than 48 hours in journey!

GULF AIR SUCKS! Don't fly with them. Period.

a7MeDiNo said...

They suck big time, last time I was coming back fom USA back in 2000, connecting at heathrow, was in American Airlines, as I set my foot on Gulf Air, i started getting dizzy and suffered from headaches.

Everything in Gulf Air sucks, even the atmosphere on board.

Thank god, I never set foot on Gulf Air since 2000.

They are never on time.

Arabian Princess said...

Like Muscati, I dont complain about the service and atmosphere of Gulf Air, but the delys are too much!!

illogicist said...

Dear Mr,

In order to improve services throughout our network, we have taken the difficult decision to suspend operations between Muscat and Paris with immediate effect, and for an indefinite period.

We will continue to operate to and from Paris via Bahrain to replace the non-stop services from Muscat.

Let me assure you that your custom is enormously important to us and we will continue to monitor services to provide the best for all our members.

Yours sincerely

Vice President Marketing & Sales

Anonymous said...

Well its quite amusing to see you all so hyped up about Gulf Air...with heads buried in the sand. EK, QR and EY do not operate on commercially viable terms. They are subsidised like no other airlines in the world. EK was 5 star its now 4 star QR will also end up 4 star. Do you you guys honestly think that anything in the Gulf stays perfect?? EK is showing rapid signs of deterioration in service food and ground handling..growing way too fast. QR and EY are just there for prestige and the ego's of the Qatari and Abu Dhabi royals. Without lots of money and western avaiation expertise no Arab airline can make it. The only decent airline which seems to defy this is Lebanon's MEA..great fleet, great service..not a grand airline earns respect as its a 100% Arab run funded carrier.

Amin said...

Thank God for other dissenting voices, I just created a website www.ihategulfair.com dedicated to Gulf Air's useless service. You are welcome to read some of the stories posted.

I fly them on a regular basis from Bahrain and am always faced with delays, it's getting to be stressful flying with them.

Ali Zubariy said...

gulf air sucks.. there timings there services everything sucks....

Anonymous said...

Flight from Bahrain - London (June 27th). I am now writing this note from the airport. The flight is already delayed by 2:20 (H:MM) so far. My son and myself are stranded in the airport. Actually I blame myself for this as after flying Gulf Air a few times in the past and experiencing the chronic fligth delay problems, I decided not to fly Gulf Air. However, after 2 years, I decided to fly them this time - BIG MISTAKE.. Now I pay the prices for trusting that they want to improve. This is definitely my last flight ever with Gulf Air.

khai said...

Here are several things one needs to know about Jet Airways.

Jet Airways sucks, Jet Airways is a racist airline, Jet Airways is an airline Bigot!

Jet Airways is one of the racist airlines in the world.
I was delayed for 3 hours, even when I was early. And after the delay, guess what? They said that they needed to be furnished with supporting documents. Supporting documents that no other passengers have to provide, but myself. Then even when those so-called "supporting documents" are produced and showed to them, they refused to give me my boarding pass, based on the bag I was carrying (I was not using one of those "trolley bags" that people generally bring for holidays). Based on this they thought that I'm some kind of poor chap trying to stray off to another country. That was what they said. This is discrimination!

Furthermore, they even more vigorously denied me the boarding pass, only after I have confronted them with whether the fact that I have a beard, therefore a muslim, which affected their decision. This is again discrimination!
It's not that the proof was not there. It was there. I showed them. But they denied. I can only think that this is obviously a biased attitude, based on pure discrimination, not facts. They won't even accept tangible proof.

I as a muslim, am profoundly disgusted by these unfair treatment based on my religious belief.
Truly Jet Airways ought to be ashamed of their racism, and religious discrimination.

urrm.. refund = $0.00