Tried & Tested

Flight review: Garuda Indonesia B737-800 business class

27 Feb 2017 by Jenny Southan

BACKGROUND

Garuda Indonesia (named after holy Hindu bird the “garuda”) is Indonesia’s national airline. It was founded in 1949. Today, it serves more than 40 domestic destinations and 36 internationally, carries 25 million passengers and is a member of Skyteam.

The nonstop route from London Heathrow to Jakarta began on March 31, 2016. The service started with five weekly flights but was reduced to three weekly flights in winter 2016. There are plans to increase the frequency back to five flights weekly again in winter 2017.

Garuda previously flew from London to Jakarta via Amsterdam until March 29, 2016, but cut out the Amsterdam touch-down to appeal to business travellers and leisure travellers on their way to Bali. This is a review of the Bali-Singapore service that connects with the return London-bound flight (all return flights to London from Jakarta stop off at Singapore).

CHECK-IN

I checked in online the night before my 0710 Garuda Indonesia flight (GA810) to Singapore and had my boarding pass sent to my phone. It was not possible to get a boarding pass for the Singapore-London leg. I arrived at the airport early the next morning at 0455, with plenty of time to drop my suitcase off in the peaceful International Terminal at Bali Denpasar.

After passing through an initial security check, there was a short wait at check-in desks A13-18 (A13 for Sky Priority/first/business class passengers) so instead I was directed to another priority desk in an open-plan lounge and was seen to immediately. My suitcase was priority tagged and through-checked to London, and I was issued two paper boarding passes. I then went through a document checkpoint and a second security screening (no one asked me to remove liquids or laptops).

THE LOUNGE

I was airside by 0515 and, after passing through duty-free, took the stairs up one level to the Garuda Indonesia business class lounge on a mezzanine level. Staff were on hand in reception to check boarding passes and there were slips of paper with the wifi code printed on them. There was hardly anyone else in the room when I got there. There were TVs on but the only departure board was outside in the lobby. It said on my boarding pass that boarding would start at 0640 from Gate 3. There was lots of free food and drink laid out, including cereal, bread, fruit, dumplings, juice and coffee. I didn’t feel like anything so just had a glass of water.

Garuda Indonesia business class lounge Bali

BOARDING

I left the lounge at 0630 to walk to the gate, about ten minutes away. Boarding began on time and there was a separate priority queue for premium flyers. I was one of the first people on board, entering the plane via an airbridge to the front. Upon taking my seat (6K) right at the front, I was offered a choice of magazines including Time, and champagne or orange juice. Boarding was completed at 0710 and we pushed back shortly after.

THE SEAT

There were three rows of business class seats on this plane, configured 2-2, while economy was a different product altogether, in a 3-3 layout. While the business class seat was wide and comfortable, the upholstery was a little old and the red pillows looked a bit grubby. There were remotes in the arm for an IFE system. Tray tables came out of the side armrests. There were UK plug sockets. There were four pre-set positions for the recline and lumbar support but the latter didn’t work. Reading lights were in the side. I was given a blanket during the flight as I wanted to sleep.

Garuda Indonesia business class B737-800

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE?

You can’t really go wrong with any of the seats in this small cabin but being in the front row means you get served first and can disembark quicker than everyone else.

Garuda Indonesia business class B737-800

THE FLIGHT

Take off was at 0720. Once airborne, I was promptly given my meal (there was no one else in business class). I had pre-ordered a special vegetarian option – there was a roll and a pastry, some hot vegetables, a glass of water and some fruit. I ate the pastry but nothing else as wasn’t very hungry and it didn’t look all that appetising. No alcohol is served on these flights. There was quite a lot of turbulence during the journey but nothing too serious.

However, what did unnerve me was the phrasing crew used to alert people to the turbulence. They said: “Due to a collision, could passengers please fasten their seat belts.” Given no one else was panicking and there was no noise or thump, and no incoming aircraft to see out of the window, I realised it must have been an error in translation. Not the best use of wording, though, for English speakers.

ARRIVAL

The captain came on at 0930 to announce preparations for landing in Singapore. We landed at 0940 and disembarkation was very quick via an airbridge.

THE TRANSFER

I was transferring on to the 1105 flight (GA0086) to London with Garuda Indonesia, which was leaving from Gate B7 in the same terminal (3). It was a 15-minute walk to the gate but it was easy thanks to lots of sign-posting.

VERDICT

Luckily this flight departed on time (unlike the Jakarta-Bali service) so I was able to make my 90-minute connection to London without a problem. A perfectly good short hop.

FACT FILE:

SEAT CONFIGURATION 2-2 (A-C, H-K)

SEAT PITCH 41in/104.1cm

SEAT WIDTH 19in/48.2cm

SEAT RECLINE 140 degrees

PRICE Internet rates for a one-way Bali-Singapore flight in business class started from Internet rates for a flexible one-way Bali-Singapore flight in business class started from Rp 7,324,100 (£441) in March.

CONTACT garuda-indonesia.com

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