This will be my report on flying on Garuda Indonesia economy class from Jakarta CGK to Singapore SIN, a short-haul international flight within SE Asia as well as GA's largest international route, on board their Boeing 737-800.
CGK to SIN is one of the busier international routes with various airlines from GA, SQ, JT, all the way to TR and 3K. While ticket prices can reach as low as only US$75 roundtrip using pure LCCs (ex.: 3K/TR), ticket prices for GA usually remains stable (and slightly high) at around US$150-200 roundtrip, with all perks included.
As it has been the case for my trips to Indonesia for most end/start of semester, I opted for full-service carriers and therefore I chose GA again. While I had the opportunity to take the same route last year, due to lack of photos I decided not to write a report for it, instead reporting the trip I just took. Compared with the other years, the other end of semester trips for the past year I took had been especially unique since all of them were on business class, on KL from SIN to DPS and from DPS back to SIN and with OD from KUL to CGK. While both of them offer terrific to almost phenomenal value for money, as CGK to SIN is generally a busy route with their fair share of business travelers, such deals are close to impossible to find, which puts me back to economy class again.
This report is quite unique especially as there is no English report for the CGK to SIN by GA even though there are already 10 reports for the same route, and also this report features GA's kosher meal option, one of the very few available online.
I had done my web check-in before and confirmed my kosher meal order, but on all international flights GA would only provide confirmation rather than boarding pass, which means that everybody would need to go to to the check-in agents.
Trip to CGK and check-in
During the last few nights in Jakarta, I moved from South Jakarta to West Jakarta as my parents were staying at a hotel in West Jakarta.
Thanks to me negotiating with my parents, both of them finally agreed to fly from CGK terminal 3 as well to SOC (read: by GA, which is usually a difficult request due to the higher fares) before continuing their trip back home. As a result, all of us went from the hotel at West Jakarta to CGK terminal 3.
Some views on the way to CGK.
CGK terminal 3 is pretty distinctive in terms of design compared to terminal 1 and 2.
Security screening at CGK terminal 3 gate 3, which took around 5 - 10 minutes. Screening at this gate is particularly long as gate 3 leads to the middle of the terminal while gates 1 and 2 lead to the international check-in desks and gates 4 and 5 lead to the domestic check-in desks respectively.
I have reviewed CGK terminal 3 check-in area and self check-in machine extensively on my past report, so I will not review it too deeply here. Furthermore, the self check-in machines are currently only available for domestic flights, which means I would need to skip that part.
GA's international check-in desks were not too crowded.
My two bags weighed in total 32 kg, just slightly above the 30 kg limitation, so the check-in desk staff just simply made the excess known without charging the excess luggage fee. I also checked about the load for the day, which she mentioned was quite acceptable. Furthermore, she also let me know about the special meal request, which I acknowledged. Check-in was fast at just 2 minutes, and I also checked about the load, which was acceptable.
Boarding pass of the day. Check-in for international destinations had to be done at the counter, which means I only had one instead of 4 boarding passes (web, mobile, kiosk, manned counters).
In the past I have visited Shaburi (a renowned shabu-shabu buffet chain) outside the airport, but the one in CGK terminal 3 public area especially intrigued me as this is the express side. Here are what they offered: No full buffet was offered, instead only set menu with fixed amount of meat plate was offered. Soup options were also limited (3 instead of 6 outside the airport), but that was compensated with significantly lower price. A semi-buffet starting from Rp79.300 (US$6) after tax and 6% service charge? Sounds like a deal, especially considering that other simpler food establishments charged more in the airport than outside the airport (fun fact: in SIN such practice is prohibited and all retailers must provide prices equivalent to outside the airport).
The place was especially quiet, most likely since the different offerings for this airport restaurant are not yet well-known.
All you care to eat vegetables, meat products, and fish meat.
Barely edible sushi which I passed, fried chicken products, condiments, and rice.
Ice cream station and drink dispensers.
Shabu-shabu soup, meat plate, and first round of all the other stuffs - when you didn't get a buffet breakfast at the hotel, have a shabu-shabu buffet at the airport instead.
The common seating area where I slept on my previous trip.
GA's premium check-in area for international passengers.
I then proceeded to the security, which was again centralized. One important selling point here is that the number of screening machines is significantly more than in CGK terminal 2D or 2E. I was let through in a couple of minutes.
Security was followed by immigration, with counters and machines behind the sterile-looking glass facade. Immigration counters and autogates were empty, however I decided to use the autogate as usual and saved one stamp.
CGK transit area and departure
After immigration I passed through the corridor with plain wall, which didn't look especially nice.
As I had no lounge access for this flight, I decided to go to the waiting lounge area.
Some stores in CGK terminal 3 international departure area. CGK is rather stingy in terms of providing carpets as only the seating area is carpeted rather than all the transit area.
Am I supposed to eat the Singapore style breakfast in Jakarta while I would be there in a few hours?
CGK's first terminal 3 seen from the newer terminal 3 building. The design is almost the same as the second pier for domestic flights, but there is one main difference: the structure connecting the terminal and aerobridge is boxed in the old terminal 3 and just nothing more than bridges in the new terminal 3.
Unfortunately, as the old terminal 3 was being renovated I could not see it and I had also never flew from the old terminal 3.
A long boarding queue for SV passengers bound for JED using HZ-AK34.
CGK terminal 3 offers 3 kinds of seats, which are fixed-recline seat,
Sofas, and ….
Before I waited for long, boarding was called.
One unique thing about CGK terminal 3 is that instead of interstitial corridor being out in front of the gate like many other airports, the corridor was put below the gate.
Some views before entering the interstitial corridor
The interstitial corridor was carpeted, although being a corridor it was barely decorated and had the same sterile feel as the corridor after the immigration.
Is that going to be the plane?
Apparently it is - GA can use one gate for up to 2 planes simultaneously using two different aerobridges, which makes guessing plane more challenging.
The flight would be operated by one of GA's newer Boeing 737-800s.
Rather than taking photo of the newspaper stack, I took photo of the plane details above the door.
Typical newspaper selections were available such as Kompas and The Jakarta Post. The flight attendant noted, however, that the contract for Wall Street Journal newspaper has ended and not renewed - a sign of cost cutting as that newspaper is one of the most expensive in Indonesia yet offers more news across Asia than the local newspapers.
As usual, I walked past the business class, which was acceptable for a short flight.
Back to the usual class.
Legroom was acceptable - I am 5' 10".
Goodies the day included The Jakarta Post which I took during boarding.
The usual stuffs include safety card and headphone.
All 3 of GA's magazines and airsickness bag were carried as well - in usual cases I would use it as my temporary bag for my passport due to its size.
During boarding the flight attendant asked me to check the special meal I ordered and checked if I would like to have the meal warmed after takeoff, which was a nice touch especially as the meal was provided by Stogel Kosher Catering in a box.
The meal's ingredients and best before date - this must be the meal with the longest expiry date I have ever seen as the meal was prepared in Belgium and sent to Indonesia. In Indonesia all airline catering providers are Halal-certified but not kosher-certified, which means it would be challenging to prepare non-vegetarian kosher meal by themselves.
The content seemed slightly like ransom especially with all items packed tightly.
Stogel also informed that the meal is a long shelf life meal, which means that the ingredients are not fresh.
I then returned the meal for the crew to reheat it after takeoff.
A view of CGK terminal 3, the home of GA.
Safety video was played during pushback. Unfortunately, the pre-departure orange juice was no longer offered.
I'll see you again in… one year, maybe?
CGK terminal 2D/E, used for international flights by all airlines except GA and a handful of other SkyTeam members.
GA's B77W landing.
Take-off was reasonably smooth and we soon left the greater Jakarta area.
After the seatbelt sign was switched off, the flight attendant started reheating the meal and provided the meal to me.
Following is the meal menu for the kosher meal: Appetizer: Tuna and egg cocktail Main course: Turkey nuggets in tomato sauce with fried rice and mixed beans Dessert 1: Vanilla pudding Dessert 2: Apple and apricot compote Bread: Packed cream crackers Snack: Salted mini pretzels
Notices from the catering for the kosher meal.
The meal after opening. While the side dishes were relatively easy to open, the main dish was very challenging to open I almost resorted to asking my seatmate's help.
Tuna and egg cocktail had a quite fishy aftertaste despite the relatively low tuna content, which would not suit very well for a meal in a confined space. The fried rice with mixed beans was tasted fine although slightly watery, but the turkey nugget was quite good as it exceeded my expectation of an ordinary nugget and even resembled more like meat chunks. Vanilla pudding was slightly too soft and tasted rather bland, with the sour apple and apricot compote compensating for the pudding's lack of flavour. Substituting the bread roll were cream crackers which reminded me of some old-styled savoury crackers and mini pretzels which were too salty. On overall, despite the depressing look this meal was acceptable for a long shelf life meal and in terms of portion size even quite generous.
The meal menu for the normal meals (photo not taken), on the other hand, consist of: Appetizer: Prawn salad with cucumber cuts, cherry tomatoes, and thousand island dressing Main course: Rice with chicken or rice with semur daging sapi (Indonesian-style beef stew) and bok choy Dessert: Fitbar brand protein bar Bread: Bread roll with butter
The cart which arrived 25 minutes after my meal was served.
When the fruit cart reached, it was already more than halfway down the trip, leaving no time for lavatory visit. Instead, I played Vivaldi's Winter 1 on the background while watched the map.
The flight attendant first apologized to the passengers for the long wait and took meal order first before drink orders. As the airline is an Indonesian airline and Indonesians tend not to drink nearly as many alcoholic beverages, the alcoholic beverages selection was rather limited. Following was the beverages on offer: Water: Mineral Hot drinks: Coffee, tea Soft drink: Coca Cola Fruit juice: Apple, orange, tomato Alcoholic beverages: Beer, red wine, white wine
My first round of drink was orange juice, served in GA-branded plastic cup.
On the third round of drink (I had my orange juice refilled beforehand) I opted for mineral water, which was served in the paper cup instead.
A drink with a view over Sumatera island.
A view of the economy class during cruise
Several minutes later, the flight started descending and we headed towards Riau Islands province.
A view of Batam city - Singapore was barely visible from there.
This flight approached SIN from the north where the weather was less than ideal and my seatmate, who later told me that she was pregnant for 5 months, puked.
Another view of the economy class, this time during approach.
One last photo before we landed at SIN runway 20R. The landing was slightly hard and the pilot exited the runway using the high speed taxiway while still slowing down.
Upon reaching our gate, JT's 737-900ER from CGK had also just landed - was there some sort of race up in the air?
Several minutes later I bid farewell and deboarded the plane.
Views of JT's PK-LKO and GA's PK-GNT - the gate position made it especially difficult to take photo of my plane.
Arrival at SIN and post-arrival trip
We were led to a corridor after we exited the aerobridge.
The corridor would lead to arrival security screening, which fortunately was fast.
I arrived at gate A17, which means ….
A lot of walking to the arrival/retail area. Does GA tend to use gates near the end of the terminal, or else …?
An ad of Indonesia's leading online travel agency, which also happen to expand rapidly across SE Asia.
Leftover cash deposit machine - I happened to use one in MXP, which started my experience using Skype credits for overseas calls.
SIN's most prominent landmark: two cooled drinking water fountains.
Reminiscing the trip from SIN close to two years ago, I decided to go to the Long Bar by Raffles, which opens from 3 PM to 11 PM. The bartender, however, was especially grumpy I decided to take no photo of the bar. Rather than providing me the menu or explaining the alcoholic beverages used (because it's in a duty free shop), he just noted that the drink (I picked the Singapore Sling) was small as, "It's just a tasting bar," and said that any gin could be used instead of just telling that he used Bombay Sapphire.
Retail area at SIN terminal 3
SIN terminal 3 departure immigration area
I then walked to the arrivals area where the immigration was not that crowded and I was let through in less than a minute.
By the time I arrived at the baggage claim area, my bags were ready and after collecting my bags and buying duty-free alcoholic beverage I proceeded to the public area.
To end the journey, I took a carpooling service to my campus by Uber which costed me just S$10 (US$7.5) for a 40 km journey.
Jakarta - CGK
Singapore - SIN
Garuda has shown its signs of cost cutting on my past trip to TKG, which unfortunately also affected its international flights operation. Despite the cuts were apparently minor such as lack of pre-departure beverage and foreign newspaper, this shows Garuda trying hard to recover from its large amount of deficit it accrued. On the other hand, their effort on providing the full kosher meal was appreciated, especially as very few customers get to request such menu. CGK terminal 3 was acceptable despite some concerns such as the lack of carpeted area in most part of the transit area and the presence of reasonably priced semi-buffet restaurant was appreciated, while SIN terminal 3 was fine except for the excruciatingly long walk from gates A16-A20 to the arrival area.
This flight is a typical short-haul international flight by Garuda, which was on overall adequate and offered good value for money despite not being the cheapest among all.
Some thing done well for the trip: + Reasonable fare (Rp1.075.800 (US$80.5) one way) + CGK terminal usage + Acceptable check-in waiting and processing time + Proper boarding pass stock paper + Reasonably priced semi-buffet restaurant at CGK + Acceptable centralised security at CGK + Acceptable immigration at CGK + Rather new aircraft + Acceptable seat pitch + Touch-responsive IFE + Acceptable IFE offering + Provision of kosher meal + Apologetic flight attendant + Singapore SIN terminal usage + Acceptable immigration at SIN
Things that can be improved: - First security queue at CGK - Lack of self check-in machines for international passengers - Cheap looking finishes at CGK - Few stores at CGK transit area - Lack of foreign newspaper offering - High load factor - Lack of pre-departure beverage - Kosher meal appearance - General meal portion size - General meal and drink waiting time - Rather hard landing - SIN gate usage - Grumpy bartender
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