Hi everyone! Welcome to my first post here. This report covers Garuda Indonesia flight GA 825, which brought me home after finishing my study in Singapore.
During my 4 years in Singapore, I never took full-service airline for my frequent Singapore – Jakarta route because it is short enough not to ask for better comfort, except last summer when I flew Singapore Airlines with their $158 return student fare. However, this time I had to carry back all my belongings home, which made budget carriers less attractive. The cheapest ticket during my searching time – AirAsia – was charging $45 and with 30-kg baggage allowance it would have costed me $89. Garuda Indonesia, on the other hand, was charging $112 (though at the end since I could only buy the ticket a few days later it was increased to $136). The difference was not so much, and therefore I decided to fly Garuda. Save the best for the last, they say ?.
My flight was scheduled at 10 AM. It was still reachable by taxi from my campus (in Jurong West) if I left at 7 in the morning. However, one friend was flying with GA 823 which left at 7.25 AM, and he decided to take midnight taxi to avoid oversleeping. Thinking that by joining him I could save some money, I joined him to go to the airport at midnight.
We arrived at the Terminal 3 at 1 AM. Most overnight flights had closed their check-in counters, so the departure hall was quiet. We straightaway went to Kopitiam to have supper and some noises for some time. My friend then returned to departure hall because he could not stand his sleepiness anymore.
Changi T3 was quiet. Only one flight to a secondary Chinese city was scheduled at around 3 AM, before the morning rush. So in order not to fall asleep, I walked around the terminal and took some pictures.
Garuda opened their check-in counters at 5.30 AM, less than 2 hours before their first flight at 7.25 AM. The short check-in time seemed not to be a problem though because nobody was checking in when I went there.
I entered the airside at around 6 AM, just before the morning rush hour started. Terminal 3 was busy with SQ flights to East Asia and Oceania. Since there were still 4 hours to my flight, I could walk around and spot some aeroplanes.
9V-SKR, was about to fly as SQ308 to London Heathrow
9V-SQJ, was about to fly as SQ223 to Perth
9V-SVI which just landed from Brisbane and 9V-SKE which was about to fly as SQ830 to Shanghai
9V-SMC, was about to fly as SQ217 to Melbourne
Air New Zealand ZK-NZK, their latest B787-8 Dreamliner, about to fly back to Auckland
Gate A17 used for this flight opened on-time at 8.50 AM, even though boarding commenced a bit late at 9.36 AM. Maybe they knew that the flight’s load factor was low, so they did not rush in preparing the flight. The funny thing is, the status of the flight had been “Last Call” since 9.25 AM and even “Gate Closing” since 9.30 AM. Door was closed at 9.53 AM, and pushback was 4 minutes later.
PK-GPU as GA825
Garuda Indonesia GA825 Aircraft : PK-GPU (Airbus A330-300) Origin : Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) – Terminal 3 Destination : Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK) – Terminal 3 Scheduled Departure : 10.00 AM (GMT +8) Actual Departure : 10.20 AM (GMT +8) Scheduled Arrival : 10.50 AM (GMT +7) Actual Arrival : 10.43 AM (GMT +7)
The flight was served by an Airbus A330-300 registered as PK-GPU, one of the first next-gen Airbus A330 in Garuda Indonesia’s fleet. The aircraft was still pretty new, but unfortunately it was still not equipped by the latest Panasonic IFE (Garuda already has some of this in its fleet, for example http://flight-report.com/en/report/24234/Garuda-Indonesia-GA894-Jakarta-CGK-Shanghai-PVG). Understandable, because this aircraft was delivered in September 2014, before the first Airbus A350.
Time to look around! Seat pitch was good, and the IFE box was okay (not as annoying as IFE box on Qatar A333). My height is 175 cm.
On the pocket, there were headset and magazines.
I sat on the back row, and the load on this zone was very low, approximately 25-30%. Economy first row was still better, slightly more than half.
Take-off was a bit longer due to the long queue, the aircraft could only take off at 10.20 AM.
Goodbye Singapore :)
Shortly after take-off, I read the Colors Magazine to do my usual ritual: reading the route map. Garuda seems to expand a lot on smaller routes using GA Explore until they make a separate map for GA Explore routes. However, the map was not so accurate because I noticed they connected Jakarta with Maumere instead of Labuan Bajo (I will be flying from Labuan Bajo to Jakarta next month).
Meal was served shortly after reaching cruising altitude, but as I was seated near the back, I was served among the last. When the flight attendant came to me, she told me "I am sorry Sir, but we are running out of stock for one meal option, so we now only have rice with curry fish. Is it okay?". Since I like fish, I was totally fine with that. However when she gave the meal to me, what did I get?
Noodle with chicken breast.
Okay, weird. But since she already left and I like noodle, I took it anyway. It was decent. The noodle was a bit bland, but the chicken was good and the fruit was fresh. They also provide Loacker, which I appreciate because that made Garuda's overall meal package: better than SQ's offering despite arguably more flavorful meal on SQ side and better than GA's offering on a slightly longer Jakarta - Denpasar route.
When another FA came to me asking what drink would I like, I told her that I wanted mango juice. She told me that it was unavailable, and she told me that they had orange, apple, or guava juice. I asked for orange. However, she might guess from my first request that I liked sweet drinks, so she replied "But Sir, the sweet one is guava juice". She was right, so I changed my request. That was a simple but very nice gesture! They also had milk, while on the other hand Qatar and SQ did not provide milk on my flights last year (both even once misheard "milk" with "beer", how come?).
The serving was done straightly before descending. Jakarta was hazy…
And voila, landed at Terminal 3 Ultimate 7 minutes ahead of the schedule. This was my first time to use Terminal 3 Ultimate, and it left me with a rather positive impression. It felt huge and spacious as compared to outdated Terminal 2. This terminal also has a lot more immigration and autogate counters. However, it still lags behind Changi's Terminal 3 (the airport operator always boasts that this Terminal 3 Ultimate will challenge Terminal 3) by some distance. The arrival layout felt strange with some u-turns and the walls were almost empty. Perhaps it was because the terminal is not fully complete. Hopefully.
Baggage claim area
Baggage handling at CGK seems to improve, eh
Singapore - SIN
Jakarta - CGK
Personally, I feel that Garuda offers a strong product on this Singapore - Jakarta sector. Moreover, Garuda's cabin crews were hospitable and attentive. On-time performance was also good. However, based on the low load factor, it seems that it lacks obvious strength on this route. Budget carriers have much cheaper fare while Singapore Airlines offers connections beyond Singapore. Garuda cannot maximise connections beyond Jakarta because SIA Group has connections to Indonesian secondary cities as well, and therefore Garuda relies much on OD travellers for this route. As an Indonesian, I do hope that Garuda improves its performance in this sector :)
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