Lufthansa747 From Philippines, joined May 1999, 3201 posts, RR: 32 Posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 16257 times:
This trip had been long planned – fellow Airliners.netter HB-IWC invited me for a weekend in Jakarta, but it was rather hard to make our schedules work since HB-IWC could easily qualify for the frequent flyer of Airliners.net award. Obviously I had a bunch of trips planned as well as university classes four nights per week. But luckily this May weekend worked out – I would have ideally liked to stay until Monday, but my exam schedule and Thai public holidays (read: Royal Thai Embassy closures as I had to get a visa for my wife) made it necessary to return on Sunday.
05 May 2006
Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD) – Jakarta Soekarno Hatta (CGK/WIII) Via Singapore Changi (SIN/WSSS)
Garuda Indonesia GA/GIA 867
1340-1850 – Delayed (1340-1950)
Executive Class, Seat 2F
I arrived at about 11am at the Garuda counters at Don Muang terminal 2, and quickly got my boarding pass and invitation to the lounge from the friendly agent. Pre-assigned seat 2F was given and I was informed the flight was not full although I had seen C0 Y0 on Expertflyer the night before. I later learned that GA availability is not correct in some GDS systems.
GA uses the Louis Tavern CIP Business Class lounge, found on the upper level just after passport control in terminal 2. Last time it was a total dump, now some genius has had the brilliant idea to completely renovate it. Considering Suvarnabhumi should be open by now according to original plans, I have no idea what sense that renovation made to somebody. Similarly, I don’t understand why TG renovated their Don Muang lounges recently.
Nevertheless, the lounge was pleasant enough, some sandwiches and pastries as well as a full bar were available. After a while, I decided to move to the Lufthansa Business Lounge as I have access with my Senator card, as it’s much closer to gate 44 than the Louis Tavern. I was the only guest there around noon as usual.
I made it to gate 44 at around 1.10pm, and PK-GZM just taxied in. Frustrated at the slight delay, but I didn’t have the energy to go back to the lounge. They turned around the aircraft amazingly fast, and we pushed back almost on time, around 1.45pm. Newspapers and drinks were offered, I took some water at this point.
It was the usual 21R takeoff, and our flight time to Singapore was two hours. “Zulu Mike” is fitted with ancient business class seats taken from GA’s A300s, nothing to write home about, but relatively comfortable nevertheless. However, the original Garuda 737s have much better seats, including proper legrests. GZM is an ex-Aeroflot machine, still bearing a large “VP-BAP” sign in the galley. I don’t know how hard it would have been to remove that really… No headsets were given on any of the four flights, and the monitors remained off throughout all the flights.
Lunch was served on BKK-SIN and dinner on SIN-CGK. On this flight, we were offered a choice of chicken with noodles or beef with potatoes. I had the latter, and it came with a salad only, no other appetizer, and some cake for dessert. You can forget about menus and garlic bread as well – none to be had on any of the four flights. The beef wasn’t too bad, it could easily qualify as a decent economy class meal on SQ on the same route. Champagne was available though, and I gulped down a few glasses before landing in Singapore.
Transit passengers had to leave the aircraft at Singapore, and I made my way to the Skyview Lounge by simply showing my transit card and stating my seat number. We were called to the gate very early, and soon a 15-minute delay was announced. Another 15 minutes announced after that… I had enough at this point, asked for my transit card back and headed to the lounge again. It makes no sense to me that you would call business class passengers from a lounge 5 minutes away unless boarding is well underway. But this nonsense is going on with all carriers at Changi – most flight flashing “Gate Closing” on the screens 45 minutes before departure. I later learned that the one hour delay was because CIAS had loaded wrong luggage to a few GA flights.
Not much to write about, dinner was some kind of noodle dish – went back pretty much untouched as it tasted disgusting. Chicken was the other choice and appetizer was the familiar salad. No dessert at all was offered.
Visa on arrival was quick as was immigration, and I was soon sitting in the pre-arranged Golden Bird to the JW Marriott Jakarta.
JW Marriott Jakarta
Not much to write about this stay – I missed the appetizers and cocktails completely, just some cheese left when I made it up there. Met HB-IWC in the lounge. The room was of the usual high standard, though given Jakarta’s hotel occupancy rates, it makes no sense to me why they don’t upgrade Platinums to suites.
Crowne Plaza Jakarta
I found a cheap rate for a suite here, and decided to try it for the second night. HB-IWC picked me up at the JW around noon, and it took a mere 3 hours before they had the suite ready. HB-IWC commented “I think that carpet has seen better times” – I agree – the suite was relatively nice but a bit rough looking around the edges. Huge bathroom, complimentary minibar – overall it was decent value for money save for the 3-hour wait.
Had a nice afternoon and evening of aviation talk combined with a good lunch and dinner – a big thank you to HB-IWC for all the arrangements, it was great meeting you again!
07 May 2006
Jakarta Soekarno Hatta (CGK/WIII) – Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD) Via Singapore Changi (SIN/WSSS)
Garuda Indonesia GA/GIA 866
0745-1240 – Delayed (1000-1420)
Executive Class, Seat 1A
I went to bed early because of the departure time, and if my memory serves me, I took a BlueBird to the airport just a few minutes past 5am. The fare came to nearly 90K Rupiah – rather steep I thought. Check-in was quick and the airport was more or less deserted at this early hour.
The Garuda Indonesia Executive Class Lounge has been recently renovated, and it was simply said excellent. A waiter was there to serve any drinks to your table, and some hot options were available for breakfast. Also a full bar, but it was obviously closed at 6am.
I went to gate E6 at around 7:40am after we were called from the lounge. At around 8am, a two-hour delay (mechanical) was announced, and breakfast was served at one of the restaurants compliments of Garuda. Instead, I just went back to the lounge as I wasn’t particularly hungry. Boarding call was made again at around 9:50am, and I was about the last person to board. This is the way it should be done – board Y class and then call the folks from the lounge, not the way CIAS did it in Singapore.
I had been briefed what to expect for breakfast – didn’t really sound that interesting, so I decided to sleep instead. Snapped a few pictures of GA 747-400 at a nearby gate, and successfully slept all the way to Singapore after takeoff.
This time, transit passengers were asked to remain on board, and after a quick turnaround, we were off to Bangkok. CIAS staff checked boarding passes of transit passengers onboard and the cleaners tried to do their job.
Exact same meal choices as on SIN-CGK, so this time I took the chicken. It was edible, something I’d call decent for economy class again. The same salad was served again as well. Crew on this CGK-SIN-BKK was much better than on the way to CGK – main course served separately, frequent drink refills etc.
We arrived at Bangkok 1h40minutes late, and the immigration lines were terrible as usual nowadays. Took me about 30 minutes to get through. I wonder if the delays are caused by those el cheapo looking webcams that they use to photograph everybody or what, but it’s getting rather annoying nowadays.
Overall Impressions of Garuda Executive Class
For the price GA charges (about half of TG C class on BKK-CGK), I suppose the product isn’t bad at all. The seats are comfortable enough for the short hops, the lounges pretty nice and the crew very friendly. Just don’t expect AVOD IFE or gourmet cuisine with menus.
Again, big thanks to you HB-IWC for the nice weekend.
Lufthansa747 From Philippines, joined May 1999, 3201 posts, RR: 32
Reply 2, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 15951 times:
Quoting Myt332 (Reply 1): What other options were there flying your route?
Since LH pulled out and rerouted their flights back via SIN, GA is the only cheap option in general with fares of about 10000 THB (Y), 17000 (C) compared to TG's 13000 (Y) and 31000 (C). SQ is obviously there, but at 17000 (Y), 45000 (C), 53000 (F) they aren't unfortunately an option for me.
GA also has fares of about 1000 EUR in C Bangkok to Sydney that allow unlimited stopovers in SIN and Indonesia. BKK-SIN-CGK-SUB-DPS-SYD-DPS-CGK-SIN-BKK is very tempting at that price I must say. 150% NW Worldperks miles too.
SR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1744 posts, RR: 37
Reply 6, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 14826 times:
Excellent report. I always kind of wondered how Garuda was doing these days. Good to see a report on them. Your right, for the price, what was offered certainly does not sound too bad. They seem like a good choice if you do not want to fly an LCC.
HB-IWC From Indonesia, joined Sep 2000, 4561 posts, RR: 71
Reply 7, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 14388 times:
Hi Lari, and thanks for the nice compliment. It was nice having you here, and we should do it again, but that could very well be at the other end of the world.
Garuda is not a top-notch airline, has never been one, and will likely never reach the levels of some of its competitors in the region. Moreover, it has been suffering from corruption and unhealthy government interference for far too many years, to the extent that it is currently near collapse.
That being said, planes are well maintained (under foreign supervision) and Garuda offers very attractive fares for sure for C-class travel. The airline will bring you to your destination without the fancy service offered by some of the other airlines in the region, but I wouldn't say its service is exceptionally bad.
Last but not least, Garuda is your best, and likely only choice for domestic travel within Indonesia. That doesn't say as much about Garuda as it does about the other airlines operating within the country, though.