Bahrain – Doha Run

>British Airways fly London – Bahrain – Doha – Bahrain – London every day, with a full 4 class service (World Traveller, World Traveller Plus, Club World, and FIRST).

You can purchase a return flight on the Bahrain – Doha – Bahrain section very cheaply in any of those classes, and the best bit is, they earn full Tier Points towards your Executive Club status (240 TPs in Club, and 360 TPs in FIRST for the return).

The flights are very quick (about 20 minutes flying time each way!), and after reaching Doha, the plane refuels and comes straight back, meaning the flight times are excellent for a quick Tier Point run.

The reason more people don’t do the run is that you have to go to the hassel and expense of getting out to Bahrain in the first place. Still, an FT colleague and I thought it was finally time we gave it a go… and this is our story.

Getting to Bahrain

We had a spare Gold Upgrade For Two (GUF2) voucher, so we used Expert Flyer to look at which flights had T class (discount World Traveller Plus) and I class (discount Club World) availability.

Having found a Thursday outbound and a Sunday night/Monday morning inbound with both T and I availability, we booked our Club World London РBahrain РLondon flights, paying the World Traveller Plus fare (about £600).

London Heathrow – Bahrain in British Airways Club World

The route is served by a Boeing 777, but one of the older ones with small In Flight Entertainment (IFE) screens. But never the less, Club World is an excellent product; it has 6ft fully flat beds, good food, plenty of alcohol, and best of all… plenty of space. In addition, soft enhancements were also being rolled out to Club World, such as quilts instead of staticy blankets, better food, and a “Club Kitchen” replaces the old Raid The Larder.

As Executive Club Gold card holders, we were able to choose the front row of Club World, seats 10 J and K. These are right by the galley, which meant we could make frequent visits to the Club Kitchen for ice cream and champagne 🙂

We had a great crew, and I have to say it’s rare that I haven’t experienced a great crew in Club and FIRST.

We arrived on time in Bahrain, paid our 5 BHD (about £8) entry visa, and it was time to find our way to our hotel.

The InterContinental Bahrain

Being a Royal Ambassador carries 2 excellent perks at InterContinental hotels; Upgrades from the cheapest rooms to Suites, and a Free Minibar.

The Suites in the hotel were actually two joined rooms, one of which was converted into a lounge. The Mini bar was nicely stocked with a bottle of Lauren Perrier, which was the first thing to be opened (even if we were half cut from a solid drinking session on the flight!).

The King bed was very comfortable, and there was one bathroom, and a seperate shower room.

One thing I found out on checking out though… their concept of “free minibar” isn’t the same as yours and mine… under their “free minibar” you are allowed 15 BHD (about 20 quid) free a day, after which you get charged on checkout. I didn’t find this out until I checked out, having already consumed all of the champagne and a fair few miniatures of Gin from the minibar. I was not amused, and pointed them in the direction of the Royal Ambassador Benefits. They agreed to waive them “just this once”.

Bahrain – Doha – Bahrain x3 in British Airways First Class

Since we were flying in full fare FIRST, we used expedia to book our tickets. The advantage of using expedia was that the booking would be ticketed in the UK, which made them eligible for OnBusiness points. Had we booked on, they would have been issued in Bahrain for the same price, but not earning any OnBusiness points.

You can normally find Bahrain РDoha РBahrain flights in FIRST at around £300, or in Club World for £200. Not bad for a full complement of Tier Points!

Since we were going to the effort of flying out there, and we had 4 nights away, we thought we’d book 3 returns, and have one night off 🙂

A taxi between the InterContinental and the airport is 5 BHD (about £8). We arrived at the airport fairly early so we could make the most of the Lounge offerings.

Bahrain airport has its own check in area for First Class Passengers on any airline, complete with its own security section, so no long queues! As our return flight was within 24 hours, we also collected our return flight boarding passes. We were soon through to the departures lounge and up to the Dilmun Lounge (which BA share) for a few pre flight glasses of champagne.

The Dilmun Lounge is new and very nice, with a decent snack and drinks offering, and a separate room with sofas and a TV where my mate and I chilled until the flight was called.

Next to the Dilmun Lounge was a Cathay Pacific lounge. As this is OneWorld, we should have been given access to it, but for some reason they insist on us using the Dilmun. Having looked in and seen the Cathay lounge, this was no loss.

The walk to the gate was a long one unfortunately, and you have to go through another security check before you board the plane. There’s no priority boarding, but there were never many people boarding at this point, so it wasn’t a problem.

The flight itself was… well… short – just 20 minutes! But that didn’t stop my mate and I polishing off a bottle of champagne while we were waiting to take off, and 2 bottles in the air. The crew were great on all of the runs, and we soon worked out their working days pattern!

On such a short flight there’s no meal service, but they do serve hot canap√©s on both outbound and inbound flights.

Doha has remote stands accessed by coaches. One nice touch was that there’s always a seperate coach for passengers travelling in FIRST, which meant we could spend those valuable extra minutes checking our BA accounts seeing if our miles and points had posted!

We were soon in the Doha terminal, and for 2 of the runs, we just went straight through flight connections and into the lounge to wait for our return flight. The lounge was nothing compared Dilmun lounge in Bahrain – it was always packed, and there was an open smoking section (with fairly blurred boundries… literally). Oh… and the really scarey bit… it’s dry. Not a drop of alcohol in sight. This was probably for the best however, as we needed to save ourselves for plenty more drinking on the return flight 🙂

On one of the runs, we decided to actually make the effort to visit Doha Airport Car park. This made a welcome change from the lounge, and also gained us stamp in our passports. There was a small entry visa charge, but they took card, so there was no need to convert any money (plus we got BA miles for the Amex spend – result!).

Having read a few reports from previous Bahrain runners, the guys on security sometimes question you having a Bahrain issued boarding pass, and not a Qatar issued one. Therefore we decided to collect a new boarding pass each from the BA check in desks.

Doha airport was very small, and with only about 6 gates, there wasn’t far to walk when boarding was announced. Again there was a secondary security stage where they searched you at the gate, and we went through and waited for boarding. There was a separate coach this time for FIRST and Club World travellers, and it was nice to see the faces of 2 very self-important business men who’d been boasting about flying Club watch us as the CSD escorted us to the nose of the plane.

The crew perform have one night’s stop over, so our outbound crew from London to Bahrain were the same as our second day Doha to Bahrain sector. They recognised us, and smuggled us some ice cream from the Club Kitchen. In fact, every Doha to Bahrain crew recognised us, and as they could see we were so commited to BA, they were very good to us each time. The first time… Ice cream. The second time… a bottle of champagne each. And the third time… we’ll come to that shortly!

On landing we pulled up at our gate, strolled through Bahrain airport (which by the 6th visit in 3 days we were very familiar with!) and grabbed a taxi back to the hotel.

The down time… exploring Bahrain

On our first day in Bahrain, we enjoyed something that Bahrain is famous for among Tier Point runners… the Movenpick Brunch. The Movenpick is a hotel right next to the airport, and it does the most comprehensive brunch I’ve ever seen. Food from almost every nation (I started with lobster, and then moved onto an Indian curry, another curry, some sushi, some crepes, and then the chocolate fondu… don’t tell Mrs Schofs!). This was all washed down with bottomless sparking wine which was topped up almost before my glass hit the table.

We then popped into the airport to sort out a hire car – we wanted a convertible to ponse around in, and unfortunately there was very little on offer. We had finally decided on a Mercedes SL 500, but unfortunately the current renter extended their agreement so we couldn’t have it. We then decided to just go for a BMW 3 series convertible, which was quite nice, but less fun thrashing on the open desert roads. It cost 40 BHD (¬£60) for the 30 hours we had it, including insurance.

We headed out in search of one tourist trap (sorry, “sight”) – the Tree of Life – a tree in the middle of the desert with no water source – its existence is a miracle!! However, this proved pretty hard to find, and we ended up going to the Bahrain International Racing Track. Unfortunately they weren’t doing tours, but one guy we were chatting to outside turned out to work in the VIP tower, so took us up there to show us around. Nice bloke, and didn’t expect anything for his troubles. An hour later, we headed back onto the open road.

The next day we headed back out to the desert in search of this Tree of Life. After about 2 hours of driving, searching, getting extremely annoyed at the terrible signs, and accidentally entering a military base, we passed a bush. This couldn’t be it, because there were some toilets right next to it, and the desert in the surrounding area had a fair few green shrubs in the ground. We carried on past, but eventually realised this was in fact, it. This really was the lamest tourist attraction ever.

You may notice the donut tyre marks on the ground. Yup – sorry – they’re mine. Like I said, we’d have prefered the 5 Litre Merc 🙂

NEWS JUST IN! Thanks to PhilH for pointing out that our first instincts were right – it wasn’t the tree of life. Ah well, looks like we’ll have to do another TP run in Bahrain and find it (this time with the Merc!)

In the evening we went out to find a souk. Fortunately there was one 2 minutes walking distance from the hotel. I was expecting the sort of street sellers and husstle & bustle that I’d seen in Africa and Asia. This was literally a few streets of shops. We had a look around, but there wasn’t a huge amount of interest.

We spent the rest of our time touring the island, but to be honest, there isn’t much there. only about 25% of it is habitable – the rest is desert.

Bahrain – London Heathrow in British Airways First Class

Our final flight home was a continuation of our last Doha – Bahrain flight. As we were only checked in as far as Bahrain, we needed to get our Bahrain – Doha boarding passes swiped. Fortunately one of the cabin crew does this for you, which is nice.

Unfortunately, not leaving the aircraft meant we had to perform “the walk of shame”. We had to leave our sanctury of the FIRST cabin, and head back to Club World. OK, it’s hardly the same as going to economy, but you always wonder if people think you’ve been “found out” and were really meant to be in Club all along.

The best news though, was that this feeling didn’t last long. We’d got to know the crew in the FIRST cabin pretty well, and it was a shame they wouldn’t be with us in the Club cabin. However, after 10 minutes of settling in to 10 J/K, the Purser came back to our seats and said “Thank you gentlemen, your seats are now ready for you if you’d like to collect your things…” 😀

We left our Club champagne glasses where they were (we weren’t taking any prisoners!) and 30 seconds later we were sitting sipping our FIRST champagne in seats 4E and F. Lovely.

This upgrade was brilliantly timed, as we tucked into the full meal (fortunately there were enough meals up front) and then settled down in our 6 and a half foot beds to 5 hours of undisturbed sleep. We awoke to a nice cooked breakfast, and prior to landing, went up to thank the excellent crew!

The Aftermath

We landed on time in London, and after collecting our luggage, made our way through to the Arrivals lounge for a shower and another cooked breakfast. As we sat in the lounge, we were most pleased to see most of our flights had already credited with full Club and First miles and tier points.

And the all important totals…

BA Tier Points: 1,320
BA Miles: 20,116

An excellent trip, and one that will definitely be repeated.