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Thu 19 Jan 2012 11:37 AM

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Gulf Air hit by boycott after minister denied prized seat

Foreign minister allegedly orders travel ban after losing 1A spot in business class to another passenger

Gulf Air hit by boycott after minister denied prized seat
Bahrain foreign ministerSheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa

Bahrain foreign minister has reportedly ordered government workers to boycott national carrier Gulf Air after he was refused his preferred seat, 1A, in business class during a recent flight.

The flag carrier, which has struggled to keep pace with rival Gulf airlines, said it was unable to give Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa his favourite spot as a full-paying customer had already booked the seat.

The incident followed the cancellation of the minister’s flight from Malaysia to Bahrain, Gulf Air said in a statement.

“Priority was given to the minister on the next available flight… [but] passengers had already been checked in. Therefore, the minister’s request for the specific seats could not be accommodated,” a spokesperson for Gulf Air said. “It is unfortunate that we were not able to meet the minister's request.”

The foreign ministry has denied the ban on travel with Gulf Air was a result of the seating dispute, instead blaming unsatisfactory service and ongoing flight delays for the boycott.

Bahrain’s US media attaché, Saqer al-Khalifa, took to Twitter to back the foreign minister.

 “I take it seriously when anyone insults a falcon, but with Gulf Air, about time someone stands up to them. Go MOFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs]!” he tweeted.

The dispute is all the more awkward coming in the wake of a recent ruling that said all government employees should use the state airline when travelling at the country’s expense.

Members of Parliament in the Gulf state said on Jan 17 that staff should only use a rival carrier if Gulf Air does not fly to the required destination.  

The bill is seen as a means of supporting the loss-hit airline. Gulf Air last year offered foreign ministry staff a discount of up to 50 percent in a bid to encourage them to travel with the airline more frequently.

Gulf Air, one of the Middle East’s oldest airlines with roots dating back to 1950, is the midst of a three-year reorganisation to restore profit as it confronts newer rivals such as Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways.

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Rajesh 7 years ago

Not allowing the Hon Minister his favorite seat is a sign of disrespect and i am not surprised he has been offended . The concerned Gulf Air people should be punished

Jon 7 years ago

This is just so petty and highlights what is wrong with people who believe they are entitled.

John 7 years ago


david 7 years ago

Gulf Air has done what any western airlines shall do once full paying passenger is checked in and he has the full right unless he willingly agrees to give his seat to someone else. In is common practice in 3rd world states that a person who has checked in Business or First class is denied boarding if any VIP from Govt turns up at airport unplanned and demands a seat on a flight that is about to board, they disboard anyone to give him the seat. It has happened twice with two of my friends who were travelling first class and they had checked in but were told to take next flight, they were told if they disgree than security at airport shall take them out by force. Simply they agreed and they were offered economy seat to travel in same flight. This is not first incident, it is happening but never get reported in news.

John Thomas 7 years ago

Rajesh - Are you serious? You are telling me if i was a full paying business class passenger i would give up my seat just because of a misnister???? Not even for the Pope! Let alone for some Minister (i.e PUBLIC Servant!) If i am a paying passenger that seat is as much mine as the next person who books it!.... Equality?? - you familiar with the word????
Rajesh - 2012!!! wake up and smell the Jet fuel!

Somali Pirate 7 years ago

What happened to Democracy? If someone has paid the full price and taken the seat already, its TAKEN. He is also HUMAN. No offence to the Minister, but he can take another seat.

Andy 7 years ago

Is that right Rajesh? So how do you suggest they be punished?

Lionheart 7 years ago

Everything about your comment is so wrong . I put it down to your ignorance and nothing more

snake 7 years ago

Rajesh you must be living in Disneyland buddy, what differs between a paying human being and a Public servant who jets for free? I can only wiggle my head, and this in the 21th century

Mohammed 7 years ago

This is nonsense and a pure lie.

In Bahrain some sections of people have made a habit of spreading lies and misinformation. I am seeing this on day to day basis.

First of all such big shots doesnot travel business class and never did I hear in my life that any of the royal family here behaving something like this. On the contrary Royals here are very simple and dignified.