Review of Garuda Indonesia flight Surabaya Singapore in Economy

Airline Garuda Indonesia
Flight GA854
Class Economy
Seat 44K
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 2:15
Take-off 06 Jan 16, 07:35
Arrival at 06 Jan 16, 10:50
GA   #5 out of 111 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 135 reviews
Eric V P
By 1761
Published on 17th January 2016
This trip report will be my report on flying Garuda Indonesia economy class from Surabaya SUB to Singapore SIN, Garuda's sole short-haul international route from Surabaya SUB. For the trip report on the return flight from Singapore SIN to Surabaya SUB, please read it here.

Background and departure
As usual, no holiday feels short except when it almost ends. Since my holiday was going to come to an end soon, I am returning to Singapore to further pursue my study. Since one of my sisters would be going to go to Jakarta in a few days, I then took the door to door transport from my home to the airport.

For this flight, I requested for seafood meal again prior to departure. However, I did not do web check-in before, which therefore put my seat selection at the check-in counter officer's whim.

SFML request. Most special meal options are only available on international flights, but even on this short flight such options were available.
photo GA SUBSIN Req

I departed from Madiun at 11.30 pm since the flight was at the morning. Besides, it was done to prevent traffic jam from cancelling my trip. I took the front seat, which was quite acceptable for that 160 km stroll. The fare for the trip was only US$9 (Rp120000,00), which already includes the US$1.5 (Rp20000,00) airport surcharge.

Good bye, Madiun! Hope to see you again soon.
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I had a supper stop at Jombang, which then I spent to buy Yakult (Japanese brand cultured milk drink) at the nearest minimarket. A packet of 5 bottles x 80 mL took me a mere US$0.6 (Rp8000,00) there compared to US$2.5 (S$3.50) in a supermarket in Singapore.

The trip in the end took merely 3 hours and 10 minutes (minus the 40 minutes supper stop) which was quite fast. The driver first dropped the other passengers who were going to fly from Juanda T1 before I was dropped at Juanda T2. The fast trip, however, resulted in me waiting for quite long at the airport.

Departure at SUB
I was expecting a quiet airport, though instead I was welcomed by the hordes of people preparing to fly to Saudi Arabia for umrah.

Have a pleasant trip to Saudi Arabia!
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This terminal has just recently got one of the more silly security procedure where one now need to undertake x-ray screening only to get to the public area shops compared to previously where security in Juanda T2 was only done after check-in. The queue seemed to look a bit bad, but actually it moved pretty fast.

On my way to security before reaching the public area stores (there's no store on the curbside at Juanda T2, unlike its T1 counterpart)
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More uniform bags and uniformed umrah participants.
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I then proceeded to the general Garuda check-in counters to inquire about seat assignment. I asked if it was possible to get the middle seat empty for the flight, and unfortunately it was not possible to do so, also considering the respectable load of. However, she offered that 44K seat, which was usually reserved. Since it was still very early, I could not check my luggage or retrieve my boarding pass, but still, that's what matter for that time.

I proceeded to Carl's Jr burger restaurant which I didn't visit on my Surabaya-bound flight. At that time, they offered free small fries for all ticket holder, which I took. There was also student discount as well a complimentary upsize promotion for Garuda ticket holder, but I didn't need the free-flow drinks (I still got my bottle of tea from the minimarket visit earlier), so I proceeded with the free small fries offer. I attempted to do some last-minute browsing, but unfortunately the airport Wi-Fi's crappy login page rendered it unusable.

After spending a few moments there, it's time to proceed to the check-in counter to check my luggage and retrieve my boarding pass. This time, the agent asked if I am a student in Singapore, which I answered with a yes. On the previous SUB - SIN flight by Garuda on July 2015, the agent asked for my return ticket instead, for which I answered, "Students Pass", referring to one of the long term visit passes issued by Singapore's immigration agency. On both occasion I was let through without flashing my green pass.

GA's check-in counters for Singapore-bound flight, which pale in comparison to the proper GA counters for domestic flights. However, the queue was short as usual.
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Going one floor above the check-in counters, I encountered some new stores there, including Chatime.
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A view of check-in counters from above. I guess Royal Brunei should be quite popular for Hong Kong-bound passengers with its one stop service.
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Second security screening and immigration were quite acceptable. The immigration officer warned me that my flight was still a bit long and I was advised not to get in and out of immigration. Security for domestic flights was separate from those for international flights. One main difference between both was that LAG (liquid, aerosol, and gel) rule was not enforced for domestic flights. Read: in case you are going to travel within Indonesia, feel free to stay away from the expensive airport concession stores.

Queue to security
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After passing through immigration, I had a look at the duty free offerings, which was paltry at best. Changi's DFS stores sported a respectable offering of other choices.

The wine and spirits part of the duty free store, which was closed for renovation. They temporarily relocated to a small store beside.
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Since Juanda wasn't the best way to have some window shopping or dining, I quickly decided to do a bit of spotting.

China Airlines A330 (B-18317) flying to Taipei via Singapore (the Singapore-bound route is available as fifth freedom flight, which I used quite long ago). It departs earlier from Surabaya and arrives at Surabaya again later than Garuda.
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Garuda A330 (PK-GPU) heading to Jakarta. The Surabaya - Jakarta shuttle is usually operated by 737-800s, so I thought at first this was bound to Jeddah.
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Royal Brunei A320 (V8-RBU) heading to Bandar Seri Begawan. Somehow the plane looks small, even though it's an A320.
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Cathay Pacific A330-300 (B-HLN) going back home.
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The Gapura Angkasa agents were preparing for the departure. On a side note, Juanda T2 should have a storage area to hide all those airline-specific signs.
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The boarding commenced soon after. Being in the last few rows, I quickly got my boarding pass scanned and good to go.

Went down to the tarmac to take a bus to the gate.
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On board
Aircraft tail number: PK-GME (Flight:; A/C details:

STD/ATD: 07:35/ 07.44
STA/ATA: 10:50/10.44
Load: 25% C (3/12), 88% Y (127/144)

One of the benefits of taking bus is the ability to board early, especially when standing near the correct door. In the end, I got the chance to board first.

The plane was apparently used for domestic route the day before. Finally, one of the newer 737-800s!
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As usual, I went for the usual Wall Street Journal Asia, but again that newspaper was unavailable. While I had the e-paper version myself (the notification was delivered at 4 am to my email), but since even the airport Wi-Fi was crappy, I preferred to grab the paper version instead whenever available (did I say I first stared thinking of subscribing when I was flying another Garuda flight?)

(Almost) empty cabin, with only me and the whole crew inside.
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Luggage handlers ensuring all gets loaded properly. No throwing sighted (sigh).
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I was in 44K! But seriously, the whole IFE interface was nicer than the older B737-800s not fitted with Sky Interior, as well as more responsive to touch.
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The usual paper towel and small cup of orange juice again.
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The weather in SUB looked a bit nasty.
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Soon enough, the flight departed on time. Despite the nasty-looking weather, the take off and climb wasn't bumpy even while I was sitting at one of the last rows.

15 minutes after takeoff, looks like a nice sunny day ahead.
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After takeoff, a full breakfast service was served, as usual on most of Garuda's international flights.

Seafood meal (again, for breakfast?), still served the earliest.
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The meal didn't look that bad, especially considering there was not too much sauce to the point the catering messed up with it.
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Compared with the SIN - SUB flight?
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The vermicelli was a bit bland and the fish was a bit soggy, but I didn't look for something crispy up in the air either. For this breakfast set meal, the yogurt and fruit cuts really added to the breakfast nuance, probably even more so had I take the omelette (though I'm afraid it's still airline food). For the additional round of drinks, I asked for white wine, but was denied due to the flight only offering a breakfast service. Instead, I opted for a glass of milk.

The food of the day consisted of:
- Bread: Bread roll served with butter
- Main course (SFML): Deep fried fish meat chunks and seared prawns served with sauteed baby pak choi in oyster sauce and vermicelli
- Main course (others): A choice of nasi uduk or omelette
- Dessert: Fruit cuts and yogurt
- Drink on tray: N/A (but never mind for they still had drink service)
- Drink service: Juices, soft drinks, milk, water

Since I got the middle seat empty and the legroom was decent, I could sleep with ease while accompanied by Max Richter's recomposition of the Four Seasons (did I mention it's only available at Garuda's 737-800s with Sky Interior?)

A quite decent legroom. Also, the IFE box was below 43J seat instead of 43K, which of course helped.
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After I caught a few moments of nap after the journey and long waiting time, it's time to set foot again at Singapore. The 44H seat was filled by one of the stewards during landing, so I talked a bit with him. He mentioned that wines as well as WSJ will be loaded from Singapore, and that his rotation for the day would be SUB - SIN - DPS - LOP - DPS, all with the same plane. I surely expected the SIN - DPS trip to be nice and slightly longer than SUB - SIN, but services on the DPS - LOP - DPS route would be crazy indeed (if there is even any) since those two islands are a quite short hop away at less than 200 km. Link to the flight:

Random: the opening and latches of the luggage bin. It got 2 latches as opposed to one, which was presumably for sake of safety?
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Arrival at SIN
I finished this shuttle, only to be met by additional screening at Changi. High risk, is it? But anyway, it's the first time I ever encountered that additional screening.

Good bye, PK-GNJ.
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Welcome to Singapore - get ready for 3rd security check? Yes, please.
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I went to the free bar (Long Bar by Raffles) again, only to find out that it will open later in the afternoon. It was not a quick detour from the store to the arrival immigration since it's near to the centre of T3. The gate, which was at the far south end of T3, didn't help either.

A long way to the Long Bar.
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Immigration was literally queue-less, thanks to me being able to use the automated clearance. The automate immigration gates, however, can still be crowded on Woodlands checkpoint (the 1st land border to Johor state of Malaysia).

Immigration at T3 from above, featuring empty autogates.
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When I arrived at the luggage claim area, my bag together with some others were already put down from the carousel, and after passing the customs, I went straight to Chinatown for kway teow, then back to campus for bag drop, and back to downtown again to meet one of my high school friends visiting Singapore.
See more


Garuda Indonesia

Cabin crew7.5

Surabaya - SUB


Singapore - SIN



This SUB - SIN trip, despite being only 2 hours long, had shown that even US$75 one way could go a quite long way. Short queues? Ticked. Brand new aircraft? Ticked. A good breakfast and sufficient entertainment? Ticked. Hospitable service? Ticked. The quiet T3 at Changi? Ticked. Even the food offered was better than the meal I got on the return flight, and the fleet a better one as well.

Needless to say, though, even Juanda T2 airport with the highest passenger service charge in Indonesia at US$15 for international flights (included in ticket price) failed to provide enough service for passengers arriving early. Also, it would be much better to load the Wall Street Journal Asia and wines from Surabaya, if the logistic allows. In terms of entertainment, the ability to use it from gate to gate will be much appreciated as well since it was disabled on final descent and landing.

Will I take this route again? Very likely, since it's one of the two full service carriers offering reasonable timing for flights to Singapore (with the other being China Airlines; Singapore has an extremely early departure time out of SIN and most of the time has unreasonable fares for single flyers or one way bookings).



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