20th August 2011 at 20:59 #502502
Anonymous20th August 2011 at 20:59 #502503
For lots of reasons I had never before considered flying Garuda and had either flown internationally into Indonesia or used Air Asia for domestic flights.
On this occasion Garuda was required as I was trying to get to Lombok from Jakarta and they are the only carrier offering a non stop service.
Garuda does not enjoy a positive press, especially in Europe and so it was with some trepidation that I arrived at CGK for the morning flight to Mataram.
The first thing that surprised me was the orderliness of the domestic checkin area. I really had expected a great deal more disorder and not the cool, clean and ordered environment with which I was greeted.
A porter took the bags to economy checkin and proceeded to take me to the front of the queue. He handled all the bags and ensured the tags were attached and was generally exceptionally helpful and for which he got a large tip.
Checkin was painless and then more surprises from CGK. I was not able to use the Garuda lounge as I have no status but there must have been at least 6 or 7 alternatives. Most required you to hold one or other of a variety of credit cards but incredibly not one took priority pass.
So I waited in Starbucks with a European priced coffee which also delivered free wi fi. The time passed quickly and soon it was time to board and this required a final security check which was rather cursory but also painless. It was then a short walk to Gate f6 which is one of several domestic departure gates and must rate as some of the most pleasant looking airport departure gates anywhere. As you look out the window the gate number is shown using plants in beautifully kept tropical gardens. The grass was incredible and you could see the gardeners sink into it, it was so lush.
A quick photo ID check and straight onto the aircraft or rather a bus as it turned out, for a short ride to the aircraft parked elsewhere. Even this was easy as the bus was quite small and once the seats were filled it moved off.
The flight was operated by a 737-800 another first for me and yet another surprise. It was clearly new, spotlessly clean and had individual seat back video units on every seat!
There were 2 classes, Executive and economy with 12 executive (proper business class seats in their own cabin) laid out 2×2. Economy, where I was seated was laid out 3×3. It was perfectly comfortable with sufficient legroom.
The flight left on time and there was a full safety briefing using both crew and the video. Takeoff was smooth, rather long due to the heat, but surprisingly quiet for someone used to BA and other carriers airbus’.
Very shortly after take off a hot meal of chicken fried rice was served which was perfectly edible. There was a selection of soft drinks and then some rather strong Indonesian coffee. It was all served by smart, smiling and attentive crew of which there appeared to be around 6.
The inflight system carried mostly Indonesian and Asian films and videos and whilst I had a played with the system I didn’t actually watch anything. There was a rather bizarre duty free run on a domestic service and I did notice that the inflight sales book was very big and carried all sorts of items, including a Garuda logo bike for home delivery.
All the activity helped pass almost 2 hours very quickly. The flight had been smooth and uneventful and the landing was again smooth.
Flying Garuda was very pleasant and a surprising experience which I would be happy to repeat, just as well really, as I have two further domestic flights in the coming weeks!20th August 2011 at 21:49 #502504
Garuda has come a long way in the past year from being a shamefully lousy Asian airline to something rather pleasant – on the way to joining the other highly respected Asian Airlines in the Asian region.21st August 2011 at 06:41 #502505
Now you know why I said GA is now way better than MH. GA advancement has left MH rotting in their dust and compared with highly priced SQ J from SIN to CGK, in my opinion GA is more valuable.
If you fly J on your return leg ask for their full collection of Twinning teas. I asked them when I flew from SIN to CGK, they came to you with an empty china for your tea… don’t know any domestic flight thou… Also I like their china and tissues with the “nature wings” shades, it smarts and distinctive I guess. Anyway, happy traveling and enjoy Matarm! Was in Gili acouple days ago!21st August 2011 at 07:28 #502506
DClinPsy: Enjoy your full range of Twinning teas served in fine china. Mop your lips afterward with the napkins with the new logo!
Binman: You might get some more Nasi Goreng Ayam (Indonesian chicken fried rice) on your return domestic flight. Be cheeky and ask the FA for sate with peanut sauce as well and you might just get some from the front cabin!!!21st August 2011 at 07:42 #502507
I recently went thru 3 indonesian airports flying Garuda and Lion air domesticly
first thing I noticed was not having to take my pc out from my bag going thru security
second was the diffrence in service between the 2 Airlines.
4 hour delays seem to be nothing if not the norm on Lion air.
on the other hand Garuda has improved so much that its well worth the extra to fly them and mke connections on time21st August 2011 at 07:45 #502508
Sure do Flyingchinaman.
And in case you are being sarcastic to Binman, Chicken Satay is what SQ served in J class on long haul flights.
While Binman, just dressed up smartly with pants and shoes and enquire the check-in person for upgrade, you might get it for free.
Happy traveling everyone.21st August 2011 at 08:10 #502509
DClinPsy: You got me wrong! I am just being hopeful as GA is trying to take on their Singapore BIG BROTHER and there is no harm in asking!!!!
BTW, MH has been serving meat sates in F/J for years as well!
Binman might have a better chance of an upgrade IF he were to wear a designer’s sarong!!!
That is the beauty of foreign travels – doing the kind of things you would not do at home!!!
Happy travels to all!21st August 2011 at 08:22 #502510
Watersz: Quite a few airports are now not requiring passengers to take out their laptops, Moscow is one of them.
The only Lion for me is Singapura – SQ, not Indonesian Lion Air!
Take advantage of the phoenix rising from the ashes – fly Garuda!21st August 2011 at 08:30 #502511
GA is still a long way to catch up with SQ. But if they are really determine to do so, I believe they can easily do that. The only problem for them now is the inconsistency among the crews as well as CGK airport. Hopefully SkyTeam will set up a new standard for them, the Jakarta lounge revamp would be very welcome, perhaps using LHR T4 SkyTeam lounge blueprint, and betterl products for their long haul fleet.
Enjoy your weekend.21st August 2011 at 11:32 #502512
DClinPsy: I used to feel GA was an odd bird amoungst the quality Asian airlines as it did not fit in with the pack!
At least it is rising and with time it will become a good airline, if not a great one!
Have a great one yourself.
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