On the Ground: I arrived at Heathrow early to avoid the lines at security, nevertheless the terminal was crowded and I anticipated a backup. After retrieving a printout of my flight itinerary at the Gulf Air information desk, I proceeded to the check-in counter where my luggage was tagged and I was asked to wait. A few moments later, to my pleasant surprise, a Gulf Air representative escorted me through security to the Gulf Air lounge — truly an oasis in Heathrow. This was only the beginning of my premium experience. (15/20)
On Board: In the bright, fresh business class cabin, I was immediately greeted, my coat was hung, a selection of newspapers offered and my drink ordered. I noticed one flight attendant dressed differently from the rest and soon learned she was a Sky Nanny, on board specifically to assist passengers with small children throughout the flight. A relief to passengers with infants — and to the passengers around them!
The dinner selection included western and Middle Eastern fare. I opted for seared chicken with marinated Mediterranean vegetables, garlic rice pilaf, and mild chili and semi-dried tomato veloute. I started with wild mushroom soup blended with Provencal herbs, and finished with international cheese and fresh seasonal fruit. Most of the wines on offer were French.
Even though my seat did not recline to a full 180 degrees (fully flat beds are available in the new A340s), I slept peacefully and awoke to something so pleasant, I thought I was still dreaming. A handsome chef gently tapped me and said, “Good morning, Ms. Young. How would you like your eggs?” I wasn’t dreaming: I was 36,000 feet up, the sky was crystal clear and I was about to have “breakfast in bed” prepared by my own flying chef! Gulf Air is one of a handful of airlines with an executive chef on board to put the finishing touches on dinner and to prepare breakfast for premium class passengers.
Even the lavatory offered special touches: hardwood floors and a window so you don’t miss the view! (38/40)
The Experience: Gulf Air does not fly from the United States, but I would be happy to fly the airline any time my travel originates from a Gulf Air gateway. In addition to the splendid in-flight treatment, the service on the ground was so efficient I made my connection although I had just 15 minutes between flights! (39/40)
Total Score: 94/100
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