BACKGROUND My mom asked me if I wanted to visit other cities while I stayed in Indonesia. Christmas holiday was approaching and my mom not very keen on staying put in Jakarta proposed to go to Yogyakarta and Semarang. Of course I said yes particularly knowing that I am 2 flights short from attaining silver status with Flying Blue. Knowing that Garuda Indonesia is a member of Skyteam and it has pretty good network coverage in Indonesia, I immediately went on the net to search for flights. My mom said that her younger brother and his wife will join along.
I then tried to search for tickets but considering that we were already quite late in booking the ticket. We planned to fly out on December 24 and return to Jakarta on December 27. Tickets with LCC like Air Asia and Citilink are already quite pricey so I persuaded my mom that we just buy tickets from Garuda. Lion Air Group is a no go for me because of their appalling safety records. if you guys think flying Garuda is unsafe, then you're simply playing rusian roulette flying with Lion Air group (Lion Air, Wings, Batik Air, etc).
Just before I made an open-jaw booking with Garuda, my mom had an idea of trying Batik Air, the full-service arm of Lion Air. Although I totally despised the idea of ever being caught flying Lion Air (a personal vow I take, another one is to never fly with Ryanair), out of curiosity, I checked the price and it turned out that Jakarta-Yogyakarta and Semarang-Jakarta in business class costs the same as economy class with Garuda. On November 6, 2015, there was a big news that a Batik Air's B737-900ER overshot the runway during landing at Yogyakarta airport. Immediately, the decision swung in favour of flying with Garuda Indonesia. So, I booked one-way ticket Jakarta-Yogyakarta and one-way Semarang-Jakarta. My uncle and his wife will fly with Citilink, Garuda's LCC arm.
The Flight Route: CGK-JOG Date: December 24, 2015 Flight: GA204 Equipment: B737-800ER Registration: PK-GNT Load: C12/Y144 Seat: 21K Scheduled Time Departure: 8.05AM Actual Time Departure: 8.16AM Estimated Time Arrival: 9.20AM Actual Time Arrival: 9.45AM
One day before the flight, I tried to perform OLCI to secure a window seat for me and a middle or aisle for my mom. Now, this gets a bit weird and I blame this on Garuda's inadequate IT system. My mom is GarudaMiles Gold and I am just a Flying Blue Ivory. Our ticket fare was Y for Jakarta-Yogyakarta leg and B for Semarang-Jakarta. I was able to secure a bulkhead window seat for me but I can't do anything for my mom. Her name was just unclickable. I cannot select seat for her for both leg. So I ventured to KLM's website and I was able to pull out our booking. Again, I was able to select the seat I wanted but I cannot do it for my mom. I also tried with Kenya Airways' website. Same thing happened again.
So I just made a quick call to their customer service hotline and pointed out the fact that they allowed no status passenger like me to choose seats but not their own elite passenger. How odd is that? The customer service staff was very apologetic about it and she managed to secure a middle seat and a window seat for us on bulkhead row for Jakarta-Yogyakarta (row 21) and row 22 (same arrangement) for Semarang-Jakarta. With that, I said thank you and packed my suitcase.
I woke up at 4.30AM on the day of flying. Actually, I live in the center of Jakarta so the airport is technically only 30 minutes away. But due to the holiday season, the streets are even more jammed than usual. Jakarta is a nightmare for traffic, add rain and holiday, it becomes hell on earth. So, we left the apartment at 5AM for our 8.05AM flight.
The weather was cloudy but surprisingly quite clear (for Jakarta standard). This is the view from our apartment
The mountains you see in the picture above are probably Mount Gede and Mount Salak. My orientation is not very good after being abroad for a long time.
Anyway, while we were on the way, our driver confirmed that massive traffic jams had built up overnight and that hundreds of kms of vehicles stood still for hours and it was only growing bigger and bigger. Luckily, the traffic was not so bad to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Jakarta's primary airport. Around 6AM, we arrived on the curbside and went straight to Terminal 2F, exclusive for Garuda domestic flights.
It was full to the brim!
Good thing we did OLCI the day before so we didn't even stop at the check-in counter. My mom and I only had carry-ons so we just went straight airside. We went to 'lounge' because my mom didn't have breakfast. This lounge is just a very basic lounge that can be accessed by credit card holders of several banks. It's so bleeeeeeh and meeeeehh I didn't bother to take pictures and remember the name.
I left my mom in the lounge because I'd rather be outside and spot airplanes than being stuck in that lounge.
This is the main Pier F. The boarding gates protrude out from the main pier. Sorry for the blurry picture!
My mom finally caught up with me and we went to Gate F5 to board the plane. It was chaotic (as always!) as long lines had formed and many passengers just simply had no idea about the boarding process. Because of my mom's Gold status, we boarded through Elite Plus line. I overheard some passengers complained as to why we cut the line and the staff let us board early. Sheeesssh! hahahaha just kidding :)
So this B737-800ER was only 7 months old. She will take us to Yogyakarta Adisujipto International Airport
She features Boeing Sky Interior
A female purser and a male flight attendant were standing at the door and greeted everyone with Salam Garuda Indonesia (you could see what is Salam Garuda Indonesia in this video I found on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch'v=Cq9bLad2HCQ). Basically, it is a greeting and it is quite similar to Thai's famous 'wai')
Business class cabin was already full with passengers so I didn't take pictures of it. Right behind bulkhead I found my window seat. I helped my mom to store our carry-ons in the overhead bin. I took out my camera, pen, and note book and immediately began taking notes and snapping pictures. Sorry, i can't help it hahaha… my mom found it rather amusing to see me 'in action' like that.
First and foremost, you will find this in every Garuda plane
They went through a lot to be able to reach where they are right now. Of course we all know Skytrax is not very reliable but to average Joe, it's a great marketing tool.
Seat pitch is great because we're just right behind bulkhead.
The cabin was filling up rather slow. Many families with infants so they all wanted to sit together, people shuffled seats, etc. It was chaotic. I noticed flight attendants tried to help out but there's only so much they can do when you have babies, elderly people, running screaming children, businessmen/women, all at once.
Mood lighting was on but it didn't really produce any effect as it was daylight outside.
So now let's explore the pocket in front of me. First is the safety card
The Garuda Inflight magazine "Colours"
Stars is for audio and video offering
While I was busy taking pictures, flight attendant in orange kebaya came and offered candies to passengers. I took one but she insisted on me taking more. So I did.. my dentist won't be very happy with my decision hahaha
Let's explore our surrounding shall we? This one will go to Denpasar. Behind her, taxiing, you can see the older livery of Garuda. That plane is a leased plane and it will be returned soon to the lessor, hence, it's not repainted with the new livery. I flew in one of those leased birds, not nice at all. No PTV, hard old and worn seats too!
Quite clear who's the boss in this airport ;) It's Garuda land! FYI, Garuda painted several planes with skyteam livery. It looks nice!
We were past our departure time and boarding was still commencing. The captain then made an announcement, first in Bahasa Indonesia and then in English. He welcomed everyone and apologized for the delay citing busy taxiway activities and busy airspace above Jakarta control but we should be pushed back in 10 minutes or so. True to his words, at 8.15AM, we were finally pushed back. Then I saw this little fella!
Another Garuda plane in retro livery parked a remote gate. This livery was used in the 60's, first applied on Convair 990
Another guest star is this Indonesia Air Asia X. Usually, she flies between Bali and Australia. I was not quite sure what she was doing in Jakarta. Maybe she was giving extra capacity on Jakarta-Denpasar route during holiday season. This bird is 11 years old and she was a former Dragonair (or I should write Cathay Dragon) plane
The captain made another announcement saying that we were number 5 for take off and there will be some landings in between so we will be even more delayed.
During taxi, I was able to see the progress of the new Terminal 3 Ultimate. I am very curious to see how this one is pulled off. Among local aficionados, many are disappointed with the quality of the building and the overall design because it's veered off so much from the original rendering. Our ministers boasted that with this new terminal, finally Jakarta will be able to stand on the same level as Singapore and Hong Kong. So time will tell. We'll see later whether this terminal is as good as promised or just another big joke
As you can see, many Air Asia's and Lion Air's aircraft parked on the tarmac even though this terminal is not officially opened. That shows how full Soekarno hatta international airport is!
Rumour has it that Terminal 3 Ultimate will be A380 ready and when it opens, Emirates will bring A380s to replace it's 3 daily flights. When it happens, I suspect it will be the end of Garuda's venture in European market.
After waiting for a while to reach the threshold of the runway, the captain finally said "Flight attendants, please take take-off positions" as we crossed the threshold of runway 25R. Soekarno-Hatta's runways have lately been quite a discussion topic as Garuda Indonesia, Angkasa Pura (the company that manages the airport), and the Ministry of Transportation are all playing blame game regarding its inability to handle a fully-loaded B777-300ER because its PCN is too low. From lack of proper maintenance, lack of planning, to mismanagement, I think everyone has their own fair share of the blame
Meanwhile, everyone seems to be sleeping, including my mom :P The pitch is not bad, eh?
Our CFM56 engines roared to life and pushed us at around 8.50AM. I had a good overview of Soekarno-Hatta airport when the pilot turned right and made a sweeping 270 degrees right turn.
So this is Terminal 3 Ultimate. Why does it have 'ultimate' as a part of the name? You can see on the right hand side of the main building, there is already a completed pier. This is the current terminal 3. It handles LCCs like Air Asia, Citilink, etc. It has been operational for a few years. The main building (the long curvy one in the middle) and another pier that is still under construction plus the current complete pier together become Terminal 3 Ultimate. The master plan is to have another terminal (Terminal 4) and one more runway. Also, in the picture, you can see that traffic had built up to take off from runway 25R.
These two are the original terminals of Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (named after our founding fathers, the then President Soekarno and the then Vice President Mohammad Hatta). The code CGK comes from Cengkareng, the village where the airport is located. In the foreground, it's terminal 2. I believe it was constructed in 1995? The mirror image is Terminal 1. It was opened in 1985 when Halim Perdana Kusuma airport in east Jakarta could not handle traffic anymore.
We progressed our sweeping turn by flying over Jakarta Bay. Too bad the smog became thicker otherwise I could have shown you an areal view of Jakarta.
We flew above Pulau Seribu (in Bahasa Indonesia) or Thousand Islands (in English), a chain of islands and reefs under Jakarta administration. Legend has it that there were 1,000 islands but due to erosion and rising sea level, some islands have drowned and disappeared forever. These islands are popular for Jakartans because they are located far enough to escape pollution in Jakarta and yet close enough to reach with speedboat or ferry.
Ships and containers lining up to enter Jakarta International Port. A bit like Singapore, no?
Here you can see just how dense North Jakarta is. The lack of parks, trees, water reservoir, and open public space can be seen clearly. This area is often flooded so you can imagine how horrible it must be to live there
We were heading south now and through the smog, I could see a glimpse of Jakarta's skyline. I had chosen the right seat :) yaaay!
The skyscrapers formed an area that locals affectionately call Segitiga Emas (the Golden Triangle). It spreads from South Jakarta to Central Jakarta and maybe a bit of West Jakarta too. This is the area where you want to see and be seen. The tallest office towers, the biggest malls, the most expensive condominiums, etc are there.
In this picture (center of the picture and to the left a little bit), you could see 'Monas' aka Monumen Nasional (The National Monument). It looks like an obelisk from the distance but actually it is designed to imitate a burning candle. The monument is 132M tall and it was completed on July 12, 1975. It stands a symbol for the fight and struggle of Indonesian people for Indonesian independence. It is also one of Jakarta's most recognizable icon. The square where Monas is located is called the Merdeka Square aka Independence Square. This square is considered as the largest square in the world, 4x the size of Tiananmen Square and 12x the size of Place de la Concorde.
As we continue our journey in the south east direction, we flew over Jakarta's then main airport, Halim Perdanakusuma Airport. This airport was the main international and domestic airport for Jakarta for only a short period of time as urban development encroached its surrounding on all 4 sides. It replaced Kemayoran Airport, Jakarta's first international airport (Hint: if you are an avid fan of Tintin, you will know Kemayoran Airport). After traffic was moved to Soekarno-Hatta airport, Halim airport functions as a military base (including VIP and VVIP transport), charter airlines base, and ground aviation (flying schools, helicopter service, etc). However, since CGK airport is 3x over capacity, the government decided to reopen Halim airport to relieve the burden on CGK. My uncle and aunt's flight to Yogyakarta with Citilink departed from Halim. Btw, the golf course belongs to the military who then owns the land of Halim airport.
After about 20-25 minutes flying, the plane finally escaped JABODETABEK area (Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi). It basically means Greater Jakarta and the satellite cities that make Jakarta one of the biggest cities in the world.
The landscape soon turned green and human civilization disappeared.
That's Mount Gede (2,958M). Together with a neighbouring mountain (Mount Pangrango), it forms Mount Gede Pangrango National Park.
This one is Cirata dam, the biggest hydroelectric power plant in South East Asia.
Flight attendants were released to start serving when we were flying above Bandung, the capital of West Java Province. Bandung is situated on a high plateau, around 700M ASL. During Dutch colonial period, the Europeans really loved Bandung because the temperature is cooler. The Dutch built a lot of cool buildings mainly in Art Deco style, a lot influenced by Paris. Hence, Bandung earned the nickname "Parijs van Java". These Art Deco buildings survived the war, economy crisis, etc and that makes Bandung the second after Miami for a city with the most number of Art Deco buildings.
The airport you see there is Husein Sastranegara Airport, the main airport that serves Bandung. The airport used to be underutilized because of its proximity to Jakarta but as Bandung develops its own economy, now it has swelled beyond its design capacity. You can fly to Singapore, Bali, Surabaya, etc where in the past, residence of Bandung had to go to Jakarta. The airport also houses PT Dirgantara Indonesia (Indonesian Aerospace), our own aerospace company that produces CN-235 and CN-212 as part of cooperation with CASA from Spain. THis company is also main supplier for Airbus (A330, A340, and A380), Boeing (737,757,767), and General Dynamics (F-16).
I didn't use the IFE other than to look at the map because of the short flight duration. Nothing you can complete with a flight time of only 40-45 minutes max. Also, we were mostly flying around FL260-270 and not higher. The IFE is on-demand though it's not the most responsive system I've ever tried.
Flight attendants came around and distributed snack box. Garuda provides snack box for flights up to 1 hour. I like the colour of the box though the content is not really to my liking. It's a nice gesture though :)
Not long after the flight attendants completed snack box and drink distribution, the Captain went on the intercom to announce that we had started descend and we will be landing shortly. He said we were quite lucky that the airport is not so busy at that time so we will not be put in holding pattern. The problems with Yogyakarta, apart from the small terminal, are the small apron that cannot cope with the amount of aircraft loading and unloading, short runway, and no full-length parallel taxiway.
Flight attendants came around to collect garbage and to do final check before landing. At that time, we were flying over Cilacap which meant that we were making straight in approach to JOG's runway 09.
In the picture above, you can see that Cilacap is a coastal town. Near it, there is an island called Nusa Kambangan. Now, Nusa Kambangan is infamous for having highest security level prison for drug convicts, murderers, corrupt government officials, etc. Do you know the Bali 9 case? The drug convicts that received death penalty? That's where it was held. Tommy Soeharto, the youngest son of late President Soeharto was imprisoned there too.
We were descending and approaching the airport quite fast which was normal for landing in JOG.
JOG has seen many incidents and accidents over the years. Do you remember GA200? The 737 bounced a couple of times before overshooting the runway and ended up in flames in nearby rice field? Garuda changed the flight number to GA 204, my flight, since the accident.
Touched down was rough and the pilots used full thrust-reverser and full brake. At the end of runway, we turned left only to be greeted by none other Batik Air's ill fated B737-900ER, the reason why we finally chose to fly Garuda and not Batik Air. She's in sorry condition after the incident.
There is a cruel joke among the locals, Lion Air Group didn't purchase hundreds of new aircraft for expansion, but to replace so many broken planes after too many landing incidents and accidents.
This one belongs to Batavia Air, once the third or fourth biggest private airline in Indonesia. It filed for bankruptcy a few years ago, I think in 2013
We taxied into the tiny apron of Adi Sutjipto (old spelling, new spelling is Adi Sucipto) airport and I immediately spotted Citilink's A320 that carried my uncle and aunt. They won the race!
No mistake as to where we were!
The lollipop man marshaled us to our parking bay. The boarding room is literally behind that dark tinted windows.
Parking brake set, engines off, doors were disarmed at 9.50AM. A good 30 minute delay due to late departure and traffic congestion in Jakarta. No jetbridge for this tiny airport, everyone deboarded via stairs and made a short walk to the arrival hall. Mandatory fuselage shot!
Nobody was concerned about taking pictures so I snapped as many as I could.
Thanks for the ride! Till we meet again!
As I entered the tiny arrival hall, I bid adieu to all of you. I hope you enjoy this flight report and are not bored with my narration. Please stay tuned for the next installment: Semarang-Jakarta with Garuda Indonesia.
No, this is not orange juice. This is Jamu, indonesian traditional herbal medicine. This one is specifically called Jamu Beras Kencur (kaempferia galangal rice) to reduce muscle ache and to increase appetite :)
I accompanied my mom to a batik factory. I personally don't wear batik but most Indonesians do. Wearing batik is considered very polite so you can wear it to attend a wedding, to attend business meeting, to go to church, to go to mosque, etc.
Jakarta - CGK
Yogyakarta-Java Island - JOG
A relatively short shuttle flight between Jakarta and Yogyakarta. The service provided by flight attendants met my requirements: they were helpful, polite, and seemed genuinely like their jobs. While I didn't really like the content of the snack box, I think it's nice that Garuda still distributes meal for a flight that is less than an hour. I remembered many DL flights I took, even from SEA to ATL we were only given pretzels, nuts, chips, and bananas.
Seat pitch was good because we sat right behind bulkhead. I didn't really explore the IFE but I sensed it was just okay. Response was slow and not very user friendly. Seat cushion was comfortable and the cabin was kept clean.
All in all, kudos to Garuda for delivering a solid service for this short flight. I wouldn't hesitate to fly with them again in the future :) The only bad thing about this flight was the delay and this was beyond Garuda's control.
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