Review of Garuda Indonesia flight Denpasar Makassar-Celebes Island in Economy

Airline Garuda Indonesia
Flight GA620
Class Economy
Seat 15F
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 01:20
Take-off 05 Aug 12, 07:00
Arrival at 05 Aug 12, 08:20
GA   #8 out of 120 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 161 reviews
marathon
By GOLD 1261
Published on 5th April 2016
This is the second segment in a vacation in Indonesia, back in 2012. This report is partly history: DPS opened a new international terminal in 2014, and the domestic flights were transferred to the renovated former international terminal, so the terminal shown in this report is no longer used.

TPE – DPS (A330-300 – China Airlines) After the typhoon
DPS – UPG (B737-800 – Garuda) Flight above a volcano YOU ARE HERE
UPG - DPS (B737-800 – Garuda) I am Marathon –> to be posted very soon
DPS - TPE (A330-300 – China Airlines) After another typhoon –> to be posted slightly later

Hotel desk staff often suggest enormous margins for their customers who need to catch a flight (a customer will forgive reaching the airport too early, but not missing his plane), but this one went really too far. For a domestic flight at 7 am, from a hotel which was a quarter of an hour on foot from DPS, please meet the driver at 4:50 am in the lobby. Did he know something that I did not? No, he was simply taking NO risk. There were nevertheless passengers streaming in at 5 am, in the dark night.

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Flight GA620 to UPG was listed at Gate 17 on this FIDS outside.

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Only passengers and airport staff can enter Indonesian terminals : you need to show your ticket. This was a rare case where my systematic printing of e-tickets was useful, but I was not taken by surprise: it had been specified on the e-mail sending this ticket.

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At that time (did it change since ?), Indonesian law prohibited buying domestic plane ticket with a foreign credit card, but honorable Indonesian travel agencies accepted PayPal payments, which was more or less the same for the traveler, but was considered as cash from the Indonesian side. The fare was: 959,800 IDR, which was a large number, but only 85 EUR one way.

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There was no decoration effort in the check-in area which was purely utilitarian, with one or several counters dedicated to each airline.

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Check-in was fast, and the passport was enough : the e-ticket was back to its normal dematerialized status once inside the terminal.

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On the other hand, this report dated 2012 is from the time when passengers had to pay the airport tax in cash at this counter, seen from the rear. For a domestic flight out of DPS, it was a cheap 40 000 IDR (3,60 EUR), and could be much less at smaller airports.

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This airport tax was materialized by this receipt, half of which was going to be detached at a control slightly further. This looked very inefficient compared to including the tax in the price of the plane ticket. This became the case for Garuda flights when I returned to Indonesia in 2014; I have not followed how things have changed in this matter; comments of insiders are welcome.

Anyway, note that on my BP, the gate is #16.

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But the FIDS located just after the security check displayed Flight GA620 at Gate 17.

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The boarding room for Gates 17-18 (in the back) : on the right, you can see three free internet access consoles which I found more useful than the luxury duty shops in CDG (where the similar consoles are charged).

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But we were not in CDG’s latest terminals, but in the pre-renovation domestic terminal in DPS, where not only I could produce the de rigueur corporate screenshot …

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… but I could also check my e-mails on a computer which was compatible with Chinese, unlike those at AF’s lounge in CDG-2E, where they have not realized that China matters in the 21st century.

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Eventually, the BP was right : the display was updated to indicate Flight GA620 at Gate 16.

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(with here an FA 2012 fashion show)

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The boarding room for Gates 14 to 16 was no different. The seats were more comfortable than they seem, except the metal ones in the foreground, but that early in the day, there was ample choice.

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All this was not luxurious, but it was clean, and a cleaning staff was sweeping the floor, going carefully around the offerings to the gods placed in front of this shop.

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No uncertainty : the manual display for Flight GA620 was already ready. The PA information was bilingual Bahasa Indonesia / English, with an excellent sound quality.

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Two Lion Air and Garuda 737s, seen before boarding the bus.

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The bus windows were unfortunately tinted

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Arrival next to two Garuda 737s. Bad luck: the one operating our flight was not the one in the old livery, but the other one.

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Our aircraft was nevertheless special in being the 123rd Boeing delivered to Garuda. It was unmistakably a 738.

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Boarding was by the front and rear stairs according to the row number. Mine was just within the limit to board from the front, which provided me a view of the J cabin.

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The plane’s registration number for the geeks

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The J cabin : three rows in 2+2 layout

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And the 3+3 Y cabin in routine 3+3 layout.

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There it is when deplaning

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Some views of the Garuda retro-jet despite the adverse lighting conditions

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Early morning still life with winglets and Garuda logos

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Rows 14 and 15 were the overwing emergency exit rows. I usually don’t favor them, because you need to place all personal belongings in the overhead luggage compartments during take-off and landing and I usually start typing my flight report in flight, but this was a short flight and for once, I did not mind not having my laptop. All Flight Reporters know that these seats enjoy a wider seat pitch, illustrated here with my trail running shoes, which are to ordinary running shoes what snow tires are to ordinary tires : they have deeper and more knobby soles for better adherence.

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Another illustration of the seat pith with local sports shoes :

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Since I was sitting at an emergency exit, I had an additional card on the specifics of this row, in five languages (English, Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese, Japanese and Korean)

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And also a short bilingual prep talk in Bahasa Indonesia and excellent English by this FA about what she would expect from us in case of emergency. Website rules mandate that her face be masked, but she was a very pleasant sight indeed.

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Two SQ and NZ aircraft, and a Lion Air, seen through the left window.

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Pushback and last view of the old Garuda livery

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And bilingual safety demonstration in Bahasa Indonesia and English, sentence per sentence. There is no requirement to hide these faces which give you a fair idea of what a GA FA really looks like.

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The pennant of the front landing gear locking pin, removed after the end of the pushback

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Some aircraft seen while taxiing : the Lion Air 737 seen through the window

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Garuda 737

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Air New Zealand 767

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And the Singapore Airlines 777

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The runway of DPS has been built perpendicularly to a narrow isthmus, and it its extremity is on an artificial promontory, hence these lines of containers off a background of crashing waves on the coral reef.

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A FA sat at seat 15C during the take-off and landing phases, but made no move to prohibit taking pictures at that time.

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The coral reef, through the left window after the U-turn at the end of the runway.

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Take-off, with a view on the southern tip of Bali Island.

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Gunung Rinjani, Lombok island’s volcano



The volcano’s crater, which was nearly monochromatic due to the lighting conditions

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The meal box contained a coconut flavored pastry, a water capsule with a straw and a small box of lychees in juice. Note the reminder of Ramadan on the cardboard box.

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The straw was convenient for drinking the water, on the other hand, it was next to impossible to open the fruit serving.

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The coffee was good, which was expected in a coffee producing country. The tiny spoon was unrelated with the coffee: it was with the fruit serving.

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The winglet; I find it even more beautiful than that of CI off a blue sky background.

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And the path for evacuation overwing

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The coast of Sulawesi was in view

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The city of Makassar was in view on the left, but it was the countryside on the right

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Touchdown significantly ahead of schedule (a 1h20’ scheduled flight time for a 600 km distance provided an ample margin)

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A Batavia Air 737-300 at a jetbridge

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… and a Sriwijaya Air 737-400

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A Wings Air ATR 42-500 seen after deplaning ,

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And an Expressair Dornier 328JET, registered PK-TXT.

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The arrival hall is decorated with this boat model, in recognition of the navigators whose transport of spices made the fortune of Makassar.

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A local curiosity : all checked luggage had been tied, sometimes loosely.

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Ideally, I would have continued with an Ujung Pandang – Rantepao flight, but there was a Merpati Airline flight on Tuesday and Friday only, if there was no fog, if there were enough passengers, if the plane was not undergoing maintenance… not only the day was not right, but the reliability of this flight seemed very spotty according to the few comments found on the internet. That was when this route with a questionable viability existed (the 210,000 IDR fare was unsustainable for a low volume line) , because it seemed to have disappeared, and this airport was maybe a ghost one – I did not waste time looking for it.

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Aircraft spotting in Rantepao was therefore limited to this Bölkow 105M seen in front of the mosque.

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So we had a long, very long wait for the 1pm bus, because the 10am bus was not running, and then had to endure 10 hours of blaring music and reach our hotel at around 11pm in Rantepao, some 360 km from UPG, after waking up around 4:20 am. This was the heart of the Toraja country, whose relative isolation has preserved its environment, culture and unique architecture of its rice granaries.

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Driving around was on a scooter or a motorcycle, which was arguably faster than by car, due to the road conditions, filling up the tank at these picturesque gas stations.

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This was the month of Ramadan (I wonder how Coca-Cola could not be halal), but this was even less an issue in Sulawesi than in the rest of Indonesia,

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…because although there was a mosque in Rantepao, the churches are omnipresent there because the Toraja are massively Christian, either Protestants or Catholics.

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This does not stop them from keeping pre-colonial funeral rites, with these representations of their ancestors in this grotto above wooden coffins.

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Verdict

Garuda Indonesia

8.3/10
Cabin9.0
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment7.5
Meal/catering7.5

Denpasar - DPS

9.0/10
Efficiency10.0
Access8.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness10.0

Makassar-Celebes Island - UPG

8.8/10
Efficiency10.0
Access7.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

The flight was better than on time, since it left on time and landed ahead of schedule. The comfort of an emergency exit seat is indisputably better when you do not need your hand luggage in flight. The welcome on the ground and on board was above average, and I enjoyed the absence of any restrictions on photography. The catering was not fascinating, but it was very decent for a one hour flight.

The domestic terminal was to be replaced two years later, yet the facilities were decent. At the other end of the flight, UPG was brand new.

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6 Comments

  • Comment 161434 by
    Razza_Pr 203 Comments

    Thanks for the FR!

    Ooh yes, the pre-renovation DPS wasn't the best of major airports, and I'm glad they totally renovated it. Last visit was when I went to Australia with my brother and his family (after the renovation), and even though the international terminal could still do with improvements here and there, I admit it was a major improvement.

    Funny, I thought Garuda flights arrive to and leave from DPS from the international terminal because they have connections to Japan, Korea, and Australia? I distinctly remember the hotel concierge correcting our pickup point because we initially asked to be picked up from the domestic arrivals section.

    I don't believe I've been to this side of Indonesia, but am definitely keen to go see it myself.

    • Comment 337897 by
      marathon GOLD AUTHOR 8477 Comments

      I too saw DPS before and after renovation, and the difference was striking.

      I did not pay attention to it then, but we probably connected inside the same terminal in 2014 from an international NRT-DPS flight to a domestic one. On the other hand, because of that, I had a hard time finding the Avis staff in DPS : he had probably expected us to fly GA or an international flight, but we had flown Wings Air on a domestic flight, and arrived at the domestic terminal.

      I have a doubt about the configuration back in 2012.

      Thanks for your comment !

  • Comment 161496 by
    Rl 777 814 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    Great spotting shots from DPS! You got some great shots of your bird while boarding, one advantage of boarding via stairs.

    Fantastic aerial shots, that winglet is stunning!

    The meal box contained a coconut flavored pastry - That sounds interesting, I wonder how it tasted like.

    Quite a few interesting carriers upon arrival at UPG.

    Thank you for the fantastic bonus!

    Have a good one, see you!

    • Comment 337959 by
      marathon GOLD AUTHOR 8477 Comments

      I always enjoy boarding by bus when it provides me opportunities for more pictures of the planes on the tarmac.

      The GA livery works wonders on a winglet - I can't understand why so many other airlines leave theirs undecorated.

      I would have noted if I had not liked that pastry, so I guess it was good, but I do not have any memory.

      The Toraja country is a wonderful place to explore on a scooter; it is mostly unspoiled by tourism due to its remoteness and (like in most other places that I visited in Indonesia) the local people are very friendly.

      Thanks for stopping by and for your comment !

    • Comment 338073 by
      marathon GOLD AUTHOR 8477 Comments

      I was disappointed not to fly with that vintage livery 737, because maybe (maybe!) I could have taken better shots at destination. It was nice to see it on the tarmac in DPS though, despite the poor lighting conditions.
      It was indeed a nice flight, with a decent catering that we don't get on European or US domestic flights.
      Thanks for your comment !

  • Comment 161608 by
    jish.b SILVER 200 Comments

    This is a lovely FR, thanks for sharing!

    The old livery looks epic on the Boeing 737-800!

    Also loved the mood lighting that comes with the BSI.

    Catering looks really good such a short flight.

    And nice non-aviation pictures in the end, too!

    Thanks for sharing, again :)

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