I arrived at Amsterdam Schiphol at around 1030 (having taken a flight from London) for my 1400 flight (GA89). I was through passport control and reunited with my luggage by 1050. From Arrivals, I went up an escalator to the left of the information desk to reach Departures.
Garuda’s flights were being handled at check-in desk 30, so I waited at a small cafe here with the desk in view – there was a long queue for an earlier flight than mine. At 1140, I joined one of two medium-sized queues for economy, and it took 20 minutes to reach the desk, where service was friendly, and I was offered a choice of window or aisle seat. My boarding card said that the boarding time for the flight was 1300, and my gate was G8.
I headed to passport control at the centre of the check-in area, where queues were short and efficient, and went through to the duty-free shopping area.
As security checks take place at the gate at Schiphol, rather than buying a large bottle of water for my journey (which would have been confiscated) I bought several 33cl bottles, which the cashier sealed in a see-through plastic bag, and she told me to keep the receipt in case they asked to see it at security. I then took a seat in the departure area near the entrance to Gates G1-16.
Passengers were called to gate G8 at 1300 (via the departure screen) which was a brisk ten-minute walk away. Queues at security were moving at a decent pace, although one of the two body scanners wasn’t in operation. Service here was chatty and pleasant and I was through in about 15 minutes.
At 1335, passengers were asked to begin boarding, a few rows at a time. I entered the aircraft via airbridge and was greeted by cabin crew. I was in my seat by 1345, and bottles of water and face wipes were handed out.
I was seated in 42A, a window seat four rows from the back of the two-class (business and economy) A330-200 aircraft. Economy was divided in two cabins, and was configured 2-4-2 (A-C, D-E-F-G, H-K), with the back four rows in a 2-3-2 layout.
The product was upholstered in a chocolate brown textured fabric, with a brown fleece blanket and turquoise pillow provided. I was pleased with the amount of legroom as I was able to stretch my legs out fully in front. I also found the base of the seat soft and comfortable, and the back of the seat could be reclined.
The IFE (in-flight-entertainment) screen looked a little small, but there were several decent films to choose from, including American Hustle and Her. The system could either be controlled by a rather dated-looking plastic remote attached by a cable, or by touchscreen.
On-ear headphones were provided – one of the ears didn’t work in mine, but there was nobody in the seat next to me, so I took theirs. The headset kept slipping away from my ears, even when I adjusted it, which made it difficult to hear quieter parts of the film (I couldn’t use my own headphones as the socket was for a two prongs).
The magazine rack folded out from the bottom of the chair and, as the top wasn’t elasticated, it was quite expansive, and good for stowing bulky items, such as water and shoes.
The headrest had wings that could be bent around your head to lean on while you slept. The grey plastic table was sturdy enough to balance a laptop on, although there was no power port.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE?
Go for seats A, C, K and H to be seated in a pair rather than a four (or three if in the back four rows). Seats in rows 21 and 32 at the front of each section had slightly more legroom (with IFE screens coming out of the armrests of the chairs), although there were toilets in front of row 32.
Avoid seats G, H and K in rows 44 and 45, as they are nearest the washrooms on the right at the back – although this wasn’t a busy flight, so it wasn’t really a problem. In fact, the back few rows of the cabin were largely unoccupied, meaning people had space to spread out and sleep (I’m not sure if this is to do with the order seats are allocated in during the booking process, but if so, it may be an idea to book from row 40-45.) Meals and drinks were served from the front of the cabin.
We pushed back on time, at 1400, and a video of safety instructions was shown on the IFE screens. We experienced some turbulence during take-off.
At 1515, packets of mixed nuts were handed out, followed shortly after by a choice of wine, juice or other soft drinks.
I did some work and began to watch a film. The in-flight meals were handed out at 1550. Service began from the front of the cabin, so it was about 40 minutes until it reached my row.
The non-vegetarian option was chicken breast in a tomato sauce with gnocchi (which was reasonably tasty), with a side of pickled cabbage salad, and chocolate mousse square for dessert. Metal cutlery was supplied (including a teaspoon for hot drinks), as were paper napkins, white bread rolls, butter and gouda cheese. Tea, coffee or more soft drinks were offered afterwards.
Service was polite and calm – crew worked quietly and discreetly. Drinks were offered a couple more times after the meal, and pastrami rolls were given out a couple of hours later.
Six hours and 40 minutes later, we landed in Abu Dhabi at 2240 local time, and were told that passengers could either disembark for 50 minutes if they wished, or remain on the aircraft. I decided to do the latter. Passengers were asked to remain in their seats and not to use electronic equipment at this time, and the IFE was turned off, while an army of cleaners came on board and collected rubbish, vacuumed the carpets, tidied the seats and refreshed the bathrooms.
At about midnight, the captain welcomed passengers back on board, and said that the flight time from Abu Dhabi to Jakarta was seven hours and 50 minutes. We pushed back soon after, and the safety video was shown again.
Dinner was served about an hour and 30 minutes into the flight – there was a choice of fish or beef, so I went for the beef rendang served with rice, carrots and green beans, plus an Arabic lentil salad on the side. It was a nutritious, well seasoned meal, although the portion was rather small. Drinks were offered twice more before the cabin lights were turned off.
There were a couple of toothbrush and toothpaste sets for passengers in the toilets, as well as moisturiser, which I made use of before getting some sleep. As the seat next to me was unoccupied, I was able to lie across it, and I slept solidly for few hours.
Breakfast was served just over two hours before landing. Refreshing wipes and menus were handed out – fresh fruit, yoghurt, and a croissant with strawberry jam and butter, along with either a Western option of omelette, rosti potato, chicken sausage, tomato and sautéed spinach, or an Indonesian breakfast of coconut rice with fried chicken and fried peanuts and dried anchovy with chilli. I went with the former, which was fine, although the omelette was a little tough. Tea, coffee, or juice were offered afterwards.
We touched down 20 minutes early at Jakarta Soekarno Hatta International airport at 1140 local time. After purchasing a Visa On Arrival for about US$25, I headed to immigration, where there were virtually no queues. Baggage claim was just past here, and my bag arrived within 15 minutes.
A peaceful flight. The seat is among the most comfortable long-haul economy products I’ve experienced, and amenities such as drinks and handwipes were offered frequently. The IFE system on this A330-200 could use an upgrade, though.
Internet rates for a return midweek economy flight between Amsterdam and Jakarta started from £722 in September.