WELCOME TO MY 47th TRIP REPORT
This report will cover my First Class flight on Garuda Indonesia from Jakarta to Amsterdam on the B777-300ER.
This report will soon be available on my website - www.flyroni.aero
- along with the rest of my previous work. The main focus as always will be on trip reporting, but photos and videos are also available! All non-commercial, and purely for enthusiasm. No attitude, and no pretense; everyone is welcome!
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FIRST CLASS CALL CENTER
The Garuda First Class experience begins with the First Class Call Center. Consider it as some form of a virtual 'Manage Your Booking' engine, with an added human touch. The disposal of this service rendered any need for me to use the website in the normal ways I would have to manage my booking.
Specific to First Class customers, the call center is at your service with anything; literally!
I initially gave the call center a call out of curiosity, but later ended up making friends with the sole agent that always answered every one of my hundred or so calls that followed up until the day of departure.
Apart from the usual select my seat, add my frequent flier services I was able to do here, I was also asked if I wanted 'anything' specific on board. And they really meant it! You can more or less ask the world of them, and they will see to it.
My first request wasn't too creative because I was taken by surprise. I asked for a Bloody Mary which at first was assumed to be a standard offer that can be whipped up on any flight. But after several subsequent calls, I was informed that the proper ingredients of the Bloody Mary are not widely available in Indonesia but that they are working on confirming my request.
But of course, Garuda then confirms my first request!
My second request was to eat 'Gado-Gado' on board -an Indonesian salad with peanut sauce- over and above the standard catering, naturally. Again, my request was confirmed with a very polite "Mr. Hawi, we are pleased to confirm to you that your request to have Gado Gado onboard GA
88 from Jakarta to Amsterdam is confirmed".
And my third and final request, was to be greeted on arrival from my Malindo flight from Kuala Lumpur -some 13 hours prior to my Amsterdam departure- and escorted to the lounge. And of course, my third request was again confirmed.
Now I had my Bloody Mary, my Gado-Gado, and my meet & assist all secured for my flight, and this was over and above all the other -slightly more important- details like my seat selection, frequent flier, and confirmed ticket.
MEET & ASSIST
Arriving on Malindo Air flight OD316 from Kuala Lumpur, I make my way through the LCC crowd in the aerobridge, until I found my haven at a white placard that had "Mr. Hawi/Roni" printed on it.
My Meet & Assist was promptly at the gate waiting for my arrival. But whilst I only expected one person, I was instead greeted by a group of four First Class Agents that were there to attend only to me. One was Shabeera, who was my personal First Class agent, the other two were Rama and Mufti who were there to attend to my luggage (one each for carry on, and checked baggage), and the last one was Chahia whose sole purpose was to handle my documentation and related procedures such as immigration, checking in for my connecting flight, and what have you.
Meet & Assist upon my arrival
"Mr. Hawi, welcome to Jakarta"
"My name is Shabeera, and I am your First Class agent"
"Me and my colleagues are here to assist you through the airport and escort you to the First Class Lounge"
I was far too overwhelmed to speak!
I handed my passport, and ticket to Chahia, and my carry-on luggage was with Rama. Shabeera lead the way with me, whilst the others trailed behind us, and we sailed through Soekarno-Hatta Airport passing through immigration, arriving at my Malindo flight baggage reclaim -for Mufti to pick up- and passing through customs effortlessly before routing towards the First Class Lounge.
THE FIRST CLASS LOUNGE
The lounge is situated in a rather 'normal' part of Terminal 2E, as a small extension to the overall international lounge.
Inside the lounge, I was escorted down a flight of escalators into a relatively small and lavishly decorated rectangular room, which was the Garuda First Class Lounge. At my arrival, I was promptly introduced to the lounge manager and the chef.
"Mr. Hawi, please make yourself comfortable in the lounge, and I wish to introduce to Mas Erik who is the lounge manager and he will take care of your requests here"
"Also, this is Fakhrul, who is the chef and he will be happy to prepare your lunch for you"
I had also informed Shabeera that I had a connecting flight on KLM from Amsterdam to Abu Dhabi (on a separate ticket) and requested to have my baggage checked all the way through to Abu Dhabi. Naturally, she at least ensured that the effort to see to it was made.
Garuda's First Class Lounge
The lounge itself was small (though very relative to the size of Garuda's First Class operations) but it was elegantly decorated and featured enough seating areas, lazy-boy type chairs, several personal TV
stations, a full dining area, a smoking room, a bathroom (with showers), a private room, and a spa area. A little bit of everything with most of the fine touches thought through.
The centerpiece of the lounge, was the infamous black piano that was switched on upon my arrival to automatically chime tunes during my stay. Indeed a very classy touch.
And the best part was that I was the only one today!
Private TV station
lazy-boy type chairs
I decided to make my home here for the next 12 hours
As I made myself comfortable in my very own First Class lounge, Mas Erik approaches me and places a plate of fresh sliced fruit and a glass of sparkling water on my side table. He also hands me the lunch menu just in case I was hungry (and when am I not!).
"Mr. Hawi, this is our lunch menu. Please let me know whenever you are ready to order"
"Would you like something to drink for now?"
"I'll have a glass of champagne please"
"Certainly. Please enjoy some fruit while I get your champagne"
Lunch Menu cover (sorry I somehow lost the pics of the inside!)
Fresh fruit and sparkling water
I then transferred to the dining area -my very own dining area!- where my order for lunch was promptly taken. Modern Asian gourmet was the dining theme on the menu in this lounge, all with a modern Japanese flare. Wagyu beef seemed to be the specialty here, as it was offered in various forms on the different choices.
Starter: prawn mango salad
Main course: Wagyu beef steak with mashed potato
The portions were quite small, which in all honesty I did appreciate considering that I was going to be doing a lot of eating and lying around over the next day or so. The quality of the food was superb and the flavors all blended in together perfectly what with the champagne, the zesty prawn salad, and the perfectly tender steak. All in all, a great meal and I was satisfied!
And a much needed smoke in the smoking room after lunch
Back at my confinement, Shabeera and Crew slowly march towards me with my documents (for a good hour, I actually forgot that my passport and ticket weren't with me). Apparently, Garuda was able to do the following:
- Issue my CGK
- I was already 'boarded' onto the flight as I was given just the boarding pass stub.
- My checked baggage was tagged all the way to AUH
, via AMS
- I was also issued my boarding pass on KLM from AMS
. Something Garuda isn't even required to be responsible for since it was a separate KLM ticket.
Garuda First Class document pouch
10 hours prior, I am already boarded onto my flight
And also checked in to my KLM AMS-AUH flight
"Mr. Hawi, we wish to inform you that there will be a shift change now and my colleague Tika will take over my duty. She will be with you until you board your flight tonight"
"Thank you so much for all your help"
Group photo before the 'handover'
A quick view of the dining room after lunch
This is it for a while
Things calmed down by then, and I relaxed in front of the TV
watching local channels (I do this a lot whilst traveling, trying to make sense of what is going on without knowing the language). However, with everything calming down, this also meant that the staff somehow took a step back and did not make much of an appearance either. If I needed a drink for instance, I had to look around for a staff in order to ask for one. I do realize that not many passengers have a need to be in the lounge for 13 hours so I can understand if the staff was not used to this. But being a First Class product, I still thought they could pay a little more attention to this already fine product.
And whilst we are on the -very few- negatives, I somehow expected there to be a 'sleeping' room of some sort. I should have asked the First Class Call Center, but I just assumed there would be one hence, my deliberate 13 hour transit. While there is a private room -a homey room resembling a living area in an apartment- the lounge lacked a proper private confinement for sleeping. Again, this goes back to the fact that given the nature of Garuda's First Class operations, there may be no requirement to include a sleeping area but at the same time, this is First Class and the perk should be made available.
But in the end, I did manage a few hours of sound sleep and woke up in time for dinner as it was already evening time.
After I made my order for dinner, I again moved back to the dining area and waited for my food.
It's dinner time!
Starter: Asian chicken salad
Soup: wild mushroom soup
Main course: Beef Wagyu rendang
After another great meal -with no complaints- I lounged around for a little while longer before it was eventually time to shower and get ready for my flight.
The lounge at night
Bathroom & shower
Ice cold towels: very refreshing
The usual shower amenities
At 12:05am, Tika appeared on the rolling escalators and made her way towards me. I had forgotten about her all this while, when in fact her sole duty as my personal First Class Agent was to standby until I was handed over to the flight. I felt quite bad, because I really had no need to be here when she did because of me.
"Mr. Hawi, good evening. I hope you had a good rest"
"Yes I did, thank you"
"I wish to inform you that your flight is ready for boarding"
"I will assist you to the aircraft, and if you would please give me your boarding pass and your ticket"
And a final picture before boarding
I gathered my belongings, then bid farewell to the lounge staff before heading out. Now it was time for the real thing; the flight!
BOARDING LIKE ROYALTY
Tika and I walked side by side casually chatting as we managed our way through the airport. Surprisingly, all she needed to do was show the officer a page on my passport and I beat the queue and walked right past immigration (apparently, my passport was also stamped 10 hours ago!). And after a quick security check, we arrived at gate E1.
At the gate, a porter walked towards us and took my luggage, whilst all the staff smiled and wished me a pleasant flight as we passed by them. Pre-boarding announcements were already chiming in the gate area and passengers were getting ready to board; but not before I did!
As we walked into the gate area, we sailed through between all the other passengers, and for some reason all eyes were on this 'thing' that just strolled in with a black-uniformed agent walking next to it. I felt like a celebrity because everyone
was looking. It actually made me feel a little nervous too.
But nevertheless, Garuda boards its First Class passengers first (including those waiting in the lounge), and makes everyone else wait until that has completed.
Moving closer towards the aircraft door, I begin to anticipate one of the most important parts of my travel experience; the boarding welcome. To me, it gives away the rest of the flight and I weigh a great amount of importance on it. But this is Garuda, and I have yet to have an 'unwelcome' welcome!
At Door 1L, Tika hands me over to the Oktobroto, who is the purser on our flight to Amsterdam this early morning. He quickly reaches his arm out to me to shake mine and welcomes me on board. And at that instant, three other crew members follow in line one by one to stand along his side.
"Mr. Hawi, welcome on board. My name is Oktobroto"
"I wish to introduce you to my team, and the four of us will be taking care of you"
"This is Udyanti, Hardati, and Anti"
"They will escort you to your seat, please enjoy your flight"
"Thank you. But may I please take a picture?"
"Of course you can"
Garuda's First Class boarding welcome
By 12:20am, I was onboard.
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