GARUDA INDONESIA Flight Information:
KGA088 31OCT27MAR 1234567 293332 DXBDXB0330 0745AMSAMS J
1.9 years old, and delivered to Garuda in July 2009.
This flight originated in Jakarta
DUBAI TO AMSTERDAM
Actual Departure Time:
Actual Arrival Time:
Selamat datang di Garuda Indonesia
Before stepping foot onboard the aircraft, I took a few peeks through the windows and noticed that a few passengers were scattered evenly throughout the Executive Class cabin, in a typical fashion when any flight is not full. Due to my lack of prior research, I did not know that a second J cabin was located to the right of Door 2L, and this was where I was to be seated; and not a single other person besides me. So much for the flight being 'overbooked' but most definitely it was to my favor.
The cabin was spanking fresh, and while I am not a big fan of the QR
-type maroon seat flavors, this Garuda version went exceptionally well with the deep grey seat padding which more or less evened out the tone. In simplest terms, it was a fierce looking cabin, and I wanted to be in it.
At my seat on the very last row of the cabin, a freshly sealed blanket and a pillow were neatly placed over the seatbelts, and the usual literature and headset placed in the seat-pocket in front. The seat itself is almost a replica of those on Royal Jordanian's A330-200's but this version -according to one of Garuda's more recent campaigns- is the lie-flat kind that I am assuming will be more comfortable. In its current upright position, the seat was quite cushiony and had more than adequate room to get comfy.
Leg space with plenty of room and no these are not new shoes!
The moment I sat in my seat, Relawati from Indonesia, approached me with a smile so warm that I instantly felt right at home.
"Good morning sir, and welcome on board Garuda Indonesia"
"May I hang your coat for you?"
"Thanks, but I think I will just keep it here"
"Certainly. I would like to offer an amenity kit, and our menu for the flight"
"We will be serving a light snack after takeoff, and a hot breakfast before landing"
"Please let me know if you need anything at anytime throughout the flight, and once again, welcome on board"
Moments later, Relawati returned with a glass of orange juice and a piping hot towel placed on a wooden holder.
At 3:45am, the seatbelt sign was pinged on, and an announcement was made by the leading crew first in Bahasa Indonesia and followed by English. After the usual welcome on board, we were advised that we were to depart momentarily, and that our flight time to Amsterdam was a sweet 7 hour and 19 minutes.
Following this was the safety demonstration, and Garuda takes this quite seriously with what seemed to be their strict policy for conducting this in the manual old-fashioned way, regardless of how savvy their current IFE system is. But with Garuda, the safety demonstration did not just involve the quick clicking of seatbelts and the usual uninspiring dangle of the oxygen masks. Instead, the crew -during the demo- made eye contact with the passengers, continued to smile, and carefully emphasized each and every instruction given on the PA. It was most certainly a very interesting demonstration that was so unique it caught my full attention.
At 3:50am, the doors were closed, and we commenced our pushback into the apron while the two engines ignited into a hum. Meanwhile, Dewa, approached me from the galley holding an open menu in her hand.
"Excuse me Mr. Hawi"
"Hello. Welcome on board"
"What can we offer you for breakfast?"
"We have the omelette, Indonesian Breakfast, or chocolate crepe"
"May I please have Nasi Uduk"
"Certainly, we will serve breakfast 2 hours before landing, is this ok?"
She seemed rather pleasantly surprised, and probably because I selected to have Nasi Uduk for breakfast. She had a big smile on her face, nodded, then quickly returned to the galley as the aircraft began taxiing to the runway.
Mood lighting madness during taxi
After lining up at the active runway, we held short for a few moments before thundering through the night and smoothly lifting off into the skies at 4:15am. Is it safe to conclude that the A332 has more power than the A333 or am I am on acid? In any case, with our ultra-light load tonight, it was only expected that we lifted off like a feather.
At cruising altitude, the pinging deactivation of the seatbelt sign was the signal for the crew that it was safe for them to be released to prepare for the service. The cabin lights were switched on, and the crew immediately closed all the window shades in anticipation that it was to be daytime relatively soon.
Meanwhile, as the post-departure bustle was ongoing, it was perfect time to at least explore what 'liberatables' the seat pocket had in store for my carry-on.
Dewa then appeared in my cabin, to take my order for the snack service.
"Mr. Hawi, we are offering a hot snack, would you care to try some?"
"Anything to drink with your snack?"
"Tomato juice please"
"Certainly. I will bring to you in a moment"
Tomato Juice (I was on antibiotics so no alcohol!)
"Mr. Hawi, may I pull out your table for the service?"
After Dewa dressed my table, Relawati instantly appeared from the galley with a tray that had all the elements for the set-up. On Garuda Indonesia, Executive Class service is tray-less and each table is set up individually and in line with today's ultimate standards. As such, silverware, napkin, salt & pepper shakers, a packet of sambal, and a fruit tart dessert plate were neatly placed on my table. Following this, Dewa reappeared in the cabin to place my hot snack plate.
The hot snack consisted of a vegetable spring roll, chicken skewer, and a fish cake. The meal was quite satisfying given the time of night, and while the spring roll was a tad on the soggy side, everything tasted exceptionally well, especially the tender chicken skewers which went really well with a kick of sambal.
Meanwhile, while I was having my meal, an orange-kebaya'd cabin crew -walking towards the Economy Class cabin- stopped next to me for a few moments, and said "enjoy your meal" before continuing on. So far I am loving Garuda!
"Mr. Hawi have you enjoyed your meal?"
"Yes I did, thank you"
"Would you like anything else? Maybe something more to drink?"
"I am fine for now, thank you"
"May I clear your table?"
Table cleared, and it was time to explore what frills were offered in my seat confinement. Not surprisingly at all, Garuda has exceeded expectations once again on this front. From advanced IFE, to in-seat power, data ports, and electronic seat controls; it's all there, and it's all part of the new Garuda!
One element of Garuda's offering which I found to be lackluster was the IFE product. While the hardware seemed up to standards, the software was rather uninspiring. over 35 English movies were offered, in addition to 11 Indonesian movies, 32 television programs (all of which were documentaries or the like), music and some games. Most importantly, a moving map was not offered on this flight, and it seems that it isn't offered at all on Garuda's A330-200's.
Water bottles were distributed
With nothing much of interest to watch on the IFE, I turned my bed into its fully flat position and dozed off for the most of the remaining flight time. The bed was extremely comfortable, and I was able to freely switch positions and sleep uninterrupted for several hours.
In bed with Garuda Indonesia!
A random announcement was made that 2 hours and 20 minutes were left till we arrived Amsterdam. Awakened by this, I assumed that this meant breakfast would be served soon. Relawanti then appeared with a hot towel and a glass of orange juice.
"Good morning Mr. Hawi"
"Sir where are you from?"
"Because you know Selamat Pagi and Nasi Uduk"
"Have you been in Indonesia before?"
"Yes I have"
My wake-up call
As it was already daylight outside
Some cabin shots before breakfast
Then, the highlight of the Garuda experience happened when Dewa, Relawati, and Marina rolled out a breakfast trolley towards my side, which was decked out with goodies. I could not resist, so I asked to take a picture, and they did not hesitate for a moment to say yes. In fact, Relawati attempted to grab Dewa's nose with the tongs and jokingly asked to take a picture.
Breakfast at Garuda's!
My table was dressed, and was set up individually with silverware, plates, salt & pepper shakers, butter & jam, and a fruit plate, and a choice of muffins and bread from the basket.
"Mr. Hawi, would you like to have some cereal or yoghurt?"
"And can I offer you some tea of coffee with your breakfast?"
"Coffee with milk please"
A fourth crew happened to pass by the aisle, and she also stopped for a courtesy chat.
"Mr. Hawi, good morning, I hope you had a good sleep?"
"Yes I did thank you"
"Please enjoy your meal"
Everything was fresh, cool, and energizing. I really enjoy an inflight breakfast that begins with an icy cold fruit plate, and Garuda's was just that. Once finished, my plate was cleared and the infamous plate of Nasi Uduk was promtly brought to my tray.
It was my first time to try Nasi Uduk and hence, I am not sure how authentic this one was. But, in Garuda's favor it tasted absolutely amazing, and was piping with spices which I even kicked up one more notch with some sambal. A truly amazing delicacy!
Once finished, my table was cleared, and it was time to visit the lavatory and the Economy Class cabin.
Garuda's spotless lavatory towards the end of the flight
Economy Class cabin
Back at my seat, Dewa came by with a comment card for me.
"Mr. Hawi, I hope you enjoyed your flight with us?"
"I did, it is my first time on Garuda and I am really impressed"
"I am glad you enjoyed it. Would you mind to fill out this card"
"Not at all. My pleasure"
Three weeks after the flight, I got the following 'cute' response to the comments I had filed with Garuda:
"Representing management, we thank you and greatly appreciate your willingness to provide perceived services performance measurement to the point of services available on the suggestion form on our flight.
On the implementation of continuous service improvement based on customer satisfaction, feedback that you convey, whether it would be expectation, support and compliments, always be a valuable references. Each related unit has obtained a copy of this feedback as a reference to follow up this entry in preventive, improvement, monitoring, and evaluation action with regard to their respective functions.
We believe that our services will be increasingly able to meet customer expectations through reliable management of customer feedback. We continue to wait for your next feedback"
Some final cabin shots before arriving at Amsterdam
I had previously asked to take a picture of the crew after the breakfast service. However, after some time had passed, I did not think it was going to happen, until the curtain was slid open and six crew members walked down the aisle, one after the other as if it was a fashion show.
"Let's take picture with the handsome one!"
At 8:05am local time in Amsterdam, our captain made an announcement to inform us that we had begun initial descent towards Schiphol airport and that we were expected to land within 45 minutes. At 8:25am, the seatbelt sign was switched on, and the crew made their final preparations for landing.
D E S T I N A T I O N
At 8:45am, we touched down at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, and the powering down of the engines signaled that this wonderful flight had come to an end.
The landing video can be viewed here:
For my first time ever, the aircraft parked at a remote stand and I was to deplane on a set of steps in the Netherlands. Perhaps this is a sign that congestion is a growing problem at AMS
Dedicated to SR 103
Gathering my belongings, I proceeded to exit the aircraft, thanking the crew for their outstanding efforts along the way.
"Terima Kasih pak Roni!"
"Thank you for a wonderful flight!"
"Hope to see you again soon!"
C O N C L U S I O N
I was expecting a positive experience with Garuda, but I most certainly was not expecting something as exceptional as this. One thing to note, was Garuda's promises on paper, demonstrated by their recent aggressive campaigns, which all pointed towards something that was perfectly aligned to what I experienced in reality; and this in itself is an achievement that not even the big boys can achieve.
From service, to hardware, software, and catering; everything was more or less flawless. Most importantly, it was the wonderful crew -the new face of Garuda Indonesia- that made this experience one of my most memorable ones. Given the chance to fly this airline again, I will take it up in a heartbeat!
For once, an airline has met its promise, and for once, a Skytrax award for the 'World's most improved airline' has been given to an airline that definitely deserves it.
Well done Garuda!!!!
This concludes my Trip Report. I hope that you have enjoyed it; your comments are always welcome!
E Q U I P M E N T
- Canon 50D
- Canon PowerShot G11
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