Gulf Air to merge business and first class

19 Feb 2010 by Mark Caswell

Gulf Air is to launch a new premium cabin called Falcon Gold on March 1, a hybrid product offering “the very best elements of Gulf Air’s first class for the price of a traditional business class fare”.

The Falcon Gold product will eventually offer a brand new fully-flat bed product (yet to be unveiled) within one cabin on routes over 4.5 hours, which will be rolled out from the end of 2011. In the interim Falcon Gold passengers will be sat in either the carrier’s existing first or business class seating, depending on the flexibility of ticket purchased.

All Falcon Gold passengers will also benefit from Gulf Air’s onboard Sky Chef service (previously only available in first class), and “luxury pillows and blankets as well as overnight amenity packs” will also be rolled out to Falcon Gold customers. The carrier is also “refurbishing the entire Falcon Gold cabin interior to create a comfortable and consistent feel to the newly defined premium space”, with the revamp due to be completed next month.

Passengers will also benefit from priority check-in, lounge access, 40kg of baggage allowance, and bonus Frequent Flyer miles (double miles for those travelling on the most flexible tickets). Gulf Air’s flagship lounge at Bahrain International airport is also to get a revamp, with the addition of “The Dining Room” for pre-flight dining.

The carrier says that Falcon Gold fares “will be on a par with traditional Gulf Air business class fares with a simple choice of pricing options linked directly to the flexibility of the ticket”.

The new flat bed product will be introduced from the end of 2011 on the carrier’s A330-300 and A340-200 long-haul aircraft which operate on routes including London, Frankfurt, Paris, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. Gulf Air says it will also be rolling out “significant improvements to seat comfort, onboard services and other product enhancements” for Falcon Gold customers on its short-haul operations.

The move again brings the future of the first class concept into the spotlight. Qantas this week announced that it would be removing first class from selected B747 and A380 aircraft (see online news February 18), but in contrast BA recently unveiled it new first class seating due to be rolled out across most of the carrier’s long-haul fleet (see online news February 10).

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Report by Mark Caswell

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