Taking advantage of the May Day long weekend plus 5 days of vacation leave, I made a 9-days trip to Europe, mainly focusing on Amsterdam and Prague, with a night each at Brussels and Frankfurt as well. My flights were rather interesting, consisting of:
All sectors would be in Economy except the last which would be in SQ Business Class.
Unknown to many, Garuda offers non-stop flights from Singapore to both Amsterdam (3x a week) and London Heathrow (5x a week), due to restrictions at Jakarta CGK airport runway, which prevented the long-haul flights to depart more than 3x a week, forcing GA to require a stopover for refuelling in Singapore for most of its Europe-bound flights. Hence, in order to fill up its flights from SIN, GA offers very good one-way deals for the non-stop flight from SIN to AMS/LHR, which I took advantage of on this trip. Also, it would be interesting to experience how the new GA performs on a long-haul, after experiencing their great service on the regional DPS-SIN flight recently as well.
Departure was after midnight and I arrived at Changi's Terminal 3 to check-in for the flight. Online check-in was already done previously and we just needed to drop our bags and get our boarding passes. The GA check-in desks, though with all counters opened but only manned at 2, were totally empty. Expectedly, the check-in agent informed that there were very few passengers joining from SIN, with most pax transiting from Jakarta. I guess there were maybe less than 10 pax joining from Changi. That explains the persistently low fares from SIN on GA's non-stop flights to AMS and LHR.
Garuda-branded sweets were offered at the check-in desks.
And in no-time, the boarding pass was issued.
Passed immigration and entered the Departure Hall. Within the Departure/Transit Hall, Garuda has set up a mini exhibition to celebrate their 50-years of service flying to Singapore and showcase their history.
Proceeded to Gate A14, where the flight would be departing from.
SQ B772ER parked at A13 and being prepared for the flight to Istanbul.
Our GA B773ER at A14. The aircraft had arrived from Jakarta and rested for almost 2hrs in Changi.
Waiting for boarding. Flight ended up rather full.
29 April 2016 Garuda Indonesia GA 88 Singapore (SIN) - Amsterdam (AMS) B777-300ER PK-GID Economy Class Flight Time: 13H09M
Boarding was announced and the boarding sequence was strictly enforced by the gate agents. Indonesian newspapers were available at the door. Received a warm welcome at the door and proceeded to my seat at 43A.
Passing Business Class.
Forward economy cabin.
GA proudly showcasing their 2013 Best Economy Class award.
Settled at my seat, with a welcome screen shown on the IFE touchscreen monitor.
Seat pitch, though advertised as 32" pitch, felt much more generous for my 180cm fame. Seat padding is pretty comfortable and recline is decent. There is a footrest at every seat. Power sockets and USB ports were fitted under the seats.
View out the window.
Waiting for boarding to be completed. Our 3-seater at the window ended up all filled, with the aisle seat taken up by a Belgium guy who slept the almost the entire flight.
The April edition of inflight magazines, including IFE guide and onboard shopping.
Amenities already pre-set at the seat includes a pillow, thick blanket, headsets and a bottle of water.
IFE was already available at the gate. Now, a flaw is spotted. This aircraft was already loaded with the May selection of IFE, but the IFE magazine was of the April edition. Lack of attention to detail here, as you would not see this onboard SQ (correct me if I am wrong). However, the IFE system was intuitive enough that I did not need to refer to the IFE guide. Selection of movies, though not as extensive as SQ nor EK, is sufficient for the flight. Plus, the new releases were almost similar as to what is currently on SQ's Krisworld May selection!
TV programmes were lacking though. Even though the IFE monitor is touchscreen enabled, handsets were available for use as well.
However, Garuda made it up with Live TV news channels! These were enabled upon takeoff.
Boarding was soon completed and safety video was shown, along with Dutch subtitles. Also, announcements were made in Indonesian, English and Dutch, Apparently there was a Dutch-speaking crew onboard.
Information of the flight, which can be pulled down over the IFE content.
Had a rather lengthy taxi to Rwy02C, passing a number of aircraft resting for the night.
Departing from Rwy02C for the long-haul to Amsterdam!
Decided to watch a light-hearted movie to start the long night.
Shortly after takeoff, menus and amenity kits were distributed. The amenity kits came in 3 different colours.
Contents of the amenity kit was pretty generous, containing eyeshades, earplugs and a pair of socks. Toothbrushes were available in the lavatories.
Supper service commenced, with 4 crew working in each section of the economy cabin. Learnt from the crew later on that there are total of 17 cabin crew on the flight, with 8 of them working in economy. Service by the crew was again, as per my previous GA flight, graceful and warm.
Meal tray. The meal appeared to be catered from Jakarta. Chose a guava juice to go with my meal.
Chose the chicken option. The serviceware was of the new design. Metal cutlery was used.
Cut fresh fruits and coffee cream layer cake. Fruits were fresh and cake was good.
Hainan rice, garlic marinated roast chicken, sautéed caisim. Served with bun and butter. The main was delicious! Juicy chicken meat with tasty rice. Only wished the portion would be bigger.
The other option of Pan fried fish, lemon cream sauce, parsley potato and sautéed vegetables. This was delicious as well!
Crew offering more drinks.
Enjoying my meal with the movie.
Garuda offers hot chocolate in economy, and I requested for a cup as my tuck-me-in drink. Not often that one gets to drink hot chocolate in economy class!
After the meal service, cabin lights were turned off. After completing my movie, I explored a bit of the Live TV channels, and indeed, they were available.
Our present location.
Caught a second movie, Zoolander 2, before I went into bouts of naps.
Managed to catch some sleep and when I woke up, the sun was just beginning to rise.
Caught a 3rd movie after I woke up.
Not sure if mid-flight snacks were offered by the crew, but when I drop by the galley while visiting the lav, beef sandwiches, chips and muesli bars were available. Grabbed a sandwich and a pack of chips.
Lavatory, which was stocked with moisturiser and perfume… not. Apparently they were pilfered by some passenger! Forgot to take a photo from a different lav. Well, at least the passenger left the amenity basket behind.
About 3hrs prior to arrival, cabin service began again.
Orange juice and a pack of refreshing towel was handed out. The orange juice was catered from SIN, and not the duper sweet brand from Indonesia.
Flying over mountains.
Breakfast service started. For breakfast, 2 carts was used on each aisle, one to distribute the meal trays and the other with drinks. Apparently, 2 carts were used as the meals cart was also stocked with hot soup on the cart top to offer to passengers!
Received my meal tray, with a cup of warm miso soup. Great to have a soup to warm the stomach in the morning! Judging from the yoghurt, the meal tray seemed to be catered from SIN, unlike the supper service. A croissant and jam was also on the tray.
Chose the Nasi Goreng (Fried rice with Chicken Sate) for the main. Also had a coffee and orange juice to go along.
Fruits and yoghurt. The fruits were the canned ones though.
However, the fried rice was absolutely delicious!! This definitely ranked as one the best breakfast dishes I had on a plane. All the contents of the dish were flavourful and I wiped it totally clean! Only wished the portion could be bigger because it was so good. Not sure if the main was catered from CGK or SIN. No picture of the other option though as we did not choose the boring omelette.
After the meal tray was cleared, I requested for a hot chocolate, which was again served with a warm smile.
Overflying the city of Vienna
Aft cabin view.
Magazine rack, which was stocked with inflight magazines and newspapers.
Chatted with the real friendly crew for a short while. Learnt that the junior crew had the choice to wear either the turquoise-blue or orange uniform and it was not enforced to a particular colour. They joked that they might wear the orange uniform on the flight back if they are in the mood for orange haha. They were also extremely happy when we mentioned that their service is as good or probably even better than SQ! After more chats (learnt that GA crew schedules are more packed and tiring than our beloved SIN-based 5-stars airline's crew), we asked if we could take photos with them, which they gamely agreed to. Hence, presenting the warm and wonderful set of GA crew at the aft!
Also asked if they had any GA souvenirs, and the crew present us with 2 very cute soft toys!
Soon, the pilot announced the descend into Amsterdam. After the announcement, crew came down the aisle offering candies from a basket. We were free to grab a handful.
We had a bit of detour during the descend, lengthening the flight time a little.
Breaking through the clouds during descent. It was a cloudy and slightly rainy day.
Approaching a cold and wet Amsterdam. It was only 7 degrees celsius!
Video of the approach.
And a rather smooth landing on Rwy18C. We landed half an hour behind schedule, due to the longer than expected flying time, and GA's tight padding of the flight time. Flight was scheduled at 13hrs, but with a flying time of slightly more than that, and not taking into account ground taxi and waiting time.
Taxi to the gate.
Thank you and reminder message on the IFE screen.
Parked beside a KLM B787-9.
Economy cabin during disembarking. Crew were along the aisles thanking passengers and bading goodbyes.
5-Stars certification on the cabin wall.
Hard to spot our aircraft through the sun-shade patterned glass. A SQ B77W was parked beside.
And this was what greeted us as we entered the terminal building!!
Immigration was only a short wait and bags were out not too long after.
First stop was a night in Brussels. As I had booked the 1030am Thalys train, we still had slightly more than an hour to spare, hence explored Schiphol terminal. Interesting to see an aviation hobbyist shop, along with mock-up engine and landing gear!
Took a 1.5hrs Thalys high-speed train ride to Brussels Midi, followed by a short one-stop transfer to Brussels Centraal.
Hotel stay for the night was at NH Brussels Carrefour de L'Europe, barely minutes walk from the train station and rught smack in the center of attractions. The room, though seemed old, was comfortable enough for a night's stay and offered a great view of the city center.
With the recent incident in Brussels, tourist numbers significantly fell and it was obvious with the much less people on the streets.
The famous pissing boy, Mannekin Pis, dressed up in spring wear.
Of course, what is Belgium without Belgium chocolates! There are shops selling chocolates everywhere, from the affordable to the luxury.
Of course not to be missed, having the best waffles in Brussels at Dandoy!
Then it was back to the hotel for an early night due to tiredness, only to wake up early at 4am. Since we missed the night scene, we decided to explore the deserted Grand Place to soak in the night scenes. It was surreal!
The hotel offered early check-out birds a free light breakfast, which we grabbed some light bites from.
Singapore - SIN
Amsterdam - AMS
Honestly speaking, Garuda has greatly exceeded my expectations on this long-haul flight! Tasty food and beverages, comfortable seats, great amenities and most importantly, warm and genuine service by the Garuda crew! Just basing on the flight experience (ground experiences may be another story but I did not encounter any problems), Garuda had proven that it can stand head-to-head with the best airlines out there. I would definitely have no qualms flying on Garuda Indonesia anytime in the future.
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