26th August 2014 at 20:00 #591864
Anonymous26th August 2014 at 20:00 #591865
As someone who could get seasick taking a bath, the decision to fly the short distance between Bali and Lombok, rather than take a boat, was a no brainer. The second choice that also required little thought was which airline, as I believe Garuda is the only Indonesian airline not on the EU blacklist. The flights would have been half the price on Lion Air's subsidiary Lion Wings, but with a clear picture in my mind of a 737 languishing in the sea just of the end of Denpasar's runway a few months ago, a few extra rupiah seemed neither here nor there. The Garuda website worked just fine and we booked on the daily 737-800 service. Other flights are operated on new ATR 72s, but with Mrs Hermes's dislike and my children's deep suspicion of propellers as something ancient, mysterious and not to be trusted, jets won the day.
Again on line and simple. Bali domestic terminal was quite a scrum due to refurbishment work. There were lengthy queues and huge amounts of baggage and interesting looking parcels being checked. Seating and eating options were very limited – this was not a place to linger!
Boarding was delayed but once called we were swiftly on buses across the apron. As we climbed the steps a sign on the fuselage indicated that the new Sky interior awaited. We were greeted at the door by an elegant stewardess with funky orange lipstick matching her tight fitting jacket and sarong. The cabin was bright and clean – shades of brown and beige with blue accents a la SQ J class and extra spacious in appearance thanks to the enhanced lighting and more streamlined lockers. Each seat had a PTV screen and the entertainment system was switched on.
I would have been happy to settle for the boiled sweet that was offered before takeoff, but there was to be more on this twenty minute flight. No sooner had the wheels left the tarmac than we were handed snack boxes containing a hand wipe, napkin, cup of water and a pair of sweet and savoury buns. There was just enough time to consume the contents as we hopped across the water at all of 7,000ft before the remnants were handed in.
The Garuda crew were elegant and well groomed. These girls certainly know how to keep their hairdos in place and we learned their secret! While walking through the terminal, we were startled by an urgent hissing sound. Swinging around we found ourselves opposite the entrance to the Garuda crewroom where a stewardess was standing in front of a mirror applying industrial quantities of hairspray from what resembled a medium-sized fire extinguisher. Hair now in place and probably bulletproof to boot!
These were two 20 minute flights – and perhaps hardly worth a review – but puddle-hopping in a jet is always good fun especially when great views are thrown in. To my surprise though, I was left with the impression of an international standard airline (at least in the air though perhaps less so on the ground) that I would be happy to use for a longer trip. In fact we parked up next to one of their shiny new 777-300s that will shortly start serving Amsterdam and London. Based on these short flights, I’d happily give them a shot on something longer.29th August 2014 at 05:10 #591866
What a great review – so much detail for a 20-minute flight! I hear great things about the new Garuda. If only they would introduce their “immigration-on-board” service on HKG flights – took us over an hour to get through bali immigration last week despite running to the immigration hall and immediately bagging places in both queues (visa-on-arrival and actual immigration)
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