Review of Garuda Indonesia flight Jakarta Surabaya in Economy

Airline Garuda Indonesia
Flight GA304
Class Economy
Seat 32C
Aircraft Boeing 737 MAX 8
Flight time 01:35
Take-off 07 Jun 18, 06:15
Arrival at 07 Jun 18, 07:50
GA   #11 out of 123 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 177 reviews
Eric V P
By GOLD 948
Published on 2nd July 2018
Report #35: GA304 - MAXimizing reposition flight

This will be my report on flying on Garuda Indonesia economy class from Jakarta CGK to Surabaya SUB, a short-haul intercity flight within Java island, on board their Boeing 737 MAX 8.

Here are the 12 parts of the trip:
KUL - CGK on KLM 777-300ER business class: Read here
CGK - SUB on Garuda Indonesia 737 MAX 8 economy class: You are here
SUB - SRG on Citilink A320-200 economy class: Read here
SRG - SUB on Garuda Indonesia CRJ-1000ER economy class: Read here
SUB - KJT on Citilink A320-200 economy class: Read here (first commercial flight to KJT)
KJT - SUB on Citilink A320-200 economy class: Read here (first commercial flight from KJT)
SUB - DPS on Garuda Indonesia 737-800 economy class: Read here
DPS - SIN on KLM 777-300ER economy class: Read here
SIN - DPS on Jetstar Airways A320 economy class: Read here
DPS - CGK on Lion Air 747-400 economy/business class: Read here
SUB - CGK on Garuda Indonesia 737 MAX 8 business class: Read here
CGK - SIN on Lion Air 737-900ER economy class: Read here

Background


GA took delivery on its first 7M8, PK-GDA, several months ago. However, GA also deferred all subsequent 7M8 deliveries till 2020, so their 7M8 had been a very rare catch and therefore high on my to-try list.

Coinciding with my last university holiday, Kertajati International Airport (KJT) in Majalengka would start operating for commercial flights on 8 June 2018, so I had the thought of a short visit to Jakarta followed by a repositioning flight to SUB.

As my flight would be near to the exodus season where many Indonesians would return to their hometown to celebrate the Ied holiday, the fare had been a bit on the steeper side at Rp884.000 (US$63) after OTA discount.
photo ga304 07062018 receipt

However, not only was the fare justifiable for the season (it was already shoulder season, plus the timing matched with the start of business hours), it came with access to the upgrade bid, branded as BidUpgrade and like many other airlines also uses Plusgrade. I had written about my successful experience with it before, but this time let's give it a shot again especially since I wasn't sure when I could try it again (note that the 9th to 12th installments hadn't even been thought of). Below you can find some samples of the bid strength and the bid value - note that any upgrade fare for domestic flights when cleared is also subject to 10% Indonesian VAT.


While my upgrade had almost cleared, it didn't go through as I changed my debit card due to damage.
photo ga304 07062018 bidupgrade card fail

Despite having changed my card details, GA didn't process it up to after the flight was closed for consideration. Worse, the rejection email came as I was airborne so constitute that as failed without notice.
photo ga304 07062018 bidupgrade fail

Trip to CGK and check-in


Some of my flights have involved me sleeping on transit to the airport or at the airport, but as I would have 6 flights in 2 consecutive days I opted to get as much sleep on a proper bed as possible and therefore didn't partake in that rite.

I went to Gambir Stn to catch my airport bus. As weird as it sounded, Damri had its largest airport bus operation from the train station and buses operated frequently from 3 AM. On a side note, Gambir Stn is the Jakarta terminus for premium classes (i.e. business and first class) train services running across Java, which made more sense.
photo 20180607_040258photo 20180607_040304

The bus service costed Rp40.000 (US$2.9) per person, slightly more than half of the airport train ticket price.
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While the bus is tighter than the train, it was bearable for the ~1 hour trip.
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Thanks to the lack of traffic and the bus' high speed I found myself at CGK terminal 3 departure kerbside 30 minutes after departing from the station.
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The terminal was already getting busy before the morning peak.
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As usual we needed to take the preliminary security check, which took me ~1 minute.
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The domestic check-in area was also quite crowded
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On the other hand, despite multiple foreign carriers now serving at the terminal 3 the international check-in area was still quiet.
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FIDS of the morning.
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The terminal sported some Ramadan-themed decorations.
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The check-in area was not crowded.
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GA also promoted their airport upgrade service on the check-in desks, which I inquired.
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Following is the price list for the ex-CGK upgrade, which for domestic flights are still further subject to 10% VAT. Furthermore, the ticket would also need to be repriced in case the subclass was too low (i.e. Q/T/V/S/H/L for domestic and V/S/H/L for international). Mine was on subclass T, so I would need to change my ticket to subclass N or higher before applying the domestic upgrade surcharge.
photo 20180607_052034photo 20180607_052039

I then went to the ticketing counter. Unfortunately for me, the flight was almost sold out in both classes so they would need to reprice all the way to subclass Y (i.e. their fully flexible economy) before applying the upgrade surcharge, which would end up costing more than buying business class in the first place. I would prefer the direct upgrade from the original subclass like in SUB (more on that on the later installment), though beggars (or in this case cheap upgrade seekers) can't be choosers.
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I opted to stay in the back but at least managed to request one of the few remaining emergency exit row seats so I would be seated there. As GA's 7M8 is denser than 738 the reclinable exit row seats are in row 32 instead of 31.
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The kiosk boarding pass, which was again printed on a thinner boarding pass stock.
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The area behind check-in islands were fitted with benches and dining options.
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I then proceeded to the ticket check and then security, which I cleared in ~2 minutes.
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CGK transit area and departure


The recomposing area after security.
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Afterwards it was a walk down the mostly closed shops before going down to the departure floor.
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GA's -GPR before going to SUB later as GA308.
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A working space was available which allowed me to charge my battery as well as work for a while, but the latter failed thanks to the abysmal Wi-Fi.
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The internet access was so slow I could barely upload anything to FR or sync my files to Google Drive.
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A few people soon joined using the working space.
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A rest area was also available nearby.
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As it was fasting season for many Indonesians restaurants and cafes' dining area were covered with curtains out of respect.
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The object of interest for the early morning: PK-GDA, a 6 months old 7M8.
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Situation at the waiting area, which was already crowded.
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The gate just before boarding commenced.
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The boarding took quite long as CGK-SUB route is a premium business route, which means many passengers were eligible for priority boarding.
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It took me 5 minutes to clear the boarding process at the gate.
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Even so, a snaking queue had already formed at the tunnel leading to the aerobridge.
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The terminal 3 control tower, which was needed due to the massive size of the terminal.
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The aerobridge FIDS.
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The queue to board the plane further continued at the aerobridge itself.
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A view of -GDA's nose.
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Just like at CGK terminal 1 and 2, the aerobridge was made by a local company.
photo 20180607_065904

Being a morning flight, they had almost run out of newspaper.
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It took me 5 minutes from the gate to the plane, which was excruciatingly long.
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On board


Flight: GA304
Plane: PK-GDA
STD/ATD: 06.15/06.34
STA/ATA: 07.50/07.49
Load factor: 75%C (6/8), 99%Y (161/162)
Seat type: Standard economy class seat (emergency exit row aisle seat)
Details: https://flightaware.com/live/flight/PKGDA/history/20180606/2315Z/WIII/WARR

I was welcomed by the purser and another flight attendant, then turned to the cabin.

Thanks to the expensive upgrade surcharge I could only walk past the business class cabin.
photo 20180607_070012

I made my way further back to the economy class cabin.
photo 20180607_070025

My home for the next 1 1/2 hours. If you notice carefully, the seat is based on the same model used by SL's 7M9 (and by extension all 7M8/7M9 planes on JT group carriers)
photo 20180607_070110

Seat tour: the seatbelt's shape was slightly different from the ones seen at 738.
photo 20180607_070241

The recline button. Also note the slimmer armrest towards the end.
photo 20180607_070257

Legroom was especially generous at the exit row seats.
photo 20180607_070325

However, the same cannot be said for the table, which was small and didn't extend much.
photo 20180607_070457

On emergency exit row seats headphone plugs were also available at the armrest.
photo 20180607_074623

Coat hook was also present.
photo 20180607_072011photo 20180607_073314

Typical of GA mainline planes, the seat also feature an individual IFE screen, which was touch-responsive and fast.
photo 20180607_070951

Headphone and USB plugs were located below the screen.
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Me on the seat.
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The headrest was also well-adjustable.
photo 20180607_071509

On the seat pocket the magazine duo (i.e. Colours and Stars) could be found.
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The inflight shopping catalogue could be seen as well, though barely anybody would bother.
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The safety card was also quite well-maintained.
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An emergency exit row safety information card was present as well despite its less than immaculate state.
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An airsickness bag, as usual, wasn't absent either.
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Except on exceptionally short flights GA provide free, albeit uncomfortable, headphone for all passengers.
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Boarding had almost completed.
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As blankets were offered I opted for one, which was thick enough.
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We soon pushed back.
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Safety video was played, but instead of modifying it for 7M8 GA opted for the easy way and just used the one for 738.
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Afterwards it was followed by taxi to the runway, which took a while due to traffic.
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During taxi I had a look at their IFE offering, yet found the classical music selection to be limited.


The best I could get on GA was Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, which I got bored of after a while. The music could be rewind like on KL, which was a plus.
photo 20180607_072708

I then played around with the moving map, which was unfortunately only in 2D.
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The satellite map was quite detailed, which was appreciated (I'm looking at you, ID)
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While many of the details are correct, ….
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There were some glaring mistakes found, such as the Merapi volcano mark which should be nearer to JOG than BWX.
photo 20180607_072911

While the engine nacelle was correctly shown, the same could not be said about the winglet, where it missed the lower one.
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The flight details at least refreshed quickly, which was appreciated.
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I almost forgot about the seat thickness - while it was thinner than the usual seats found on their 738 it was more comfortable.
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As the fasten seatbelt sign was switched off the curtains between business and economy class as well as business class to the front galley were closed.
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The screen first showed an overview of what was available on the IFE.
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Afterwards it was followed by a series of ads, which took 4 to 5 minutes.


View during cruise over West Java province.
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Snack service soon started.
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Due to the limited time for service, the flight attendant would carry 6 boxes in one go to be distributed over the entire row, followed by drinks.
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15 minutes after the service started I had my snack box, followed by packed coconut water drink, and orange juice as my beverage choice.
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Their dining service in economy class was claimed as award-winning, or was it?
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Content inside the box.
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Instead of using plastic cups for cold drinks, this time GA used the same paper cup with GA's logo in black and white for all drinks.
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The unboxed content.
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The snack service for the morning consisted of:
- Biscuit: Assorted cookies
- Bread: Bread with red bean paste filling
- Candy: Assorted candies
- Drink (default): Aqua brand mineral water
- Drink (promotional): Coconut water drink
- Drink: Orange juice / apple juice / milk / coffee / tea / water

To start, the cookies were rather fine (note that I'm not a fan of especially sweet cookies like those on Subway). The bread was unfortunately a letdown as they were especially stingy on the fillings and even with that it happened not to be meat, as it had been the case for GA. The candies also happened to be rather sticky on the mouth, which wasn't especially pleasant. On overall, this represented another downgrade from GA's previous snack services.

After the meal service ended I went to the lavatory, which was still clean and well-maintained.
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On the other hand, the classic 7M8/7M9 problem still cropped up: the washing basin leaving me with no choice but to become slightly wet at the end of the visit.
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As it has been the case for most of my flights I took a photo of the cabin from behind, after which the purser informed me that it was actually not allowed to take photos on board (luckily it didn't end up like on the MH flight to JHB). Therefore, I didn't do a galley visit during this flight.
photo 20180607_081528

I then tried watching a TV show, which was again started wit an ad of the World Cup.
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The view during cruise. I opted to take a rest for a while so there would be no photo up to arrival at the gate. However, one thing I especially remembered was that the final approach and landing was faster than usual, which made for a hard landing.
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We were parked beside CX's plane.
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One last view of the business class seat, which I would review the week after.
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After I bid farewell to the crew I proceeded to the aerobridge.
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Arrival at SUB and post-arrival trip


As usual for SUB terminal 2 domestic flights, I made my way to the much-hated corridor (for one, it's not air-conditioned, yet another thing was that it prevented plane spotting from the terminal.
photo 20180607_085859

I then went down to the arrival floor.
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Unlike KJT it was a short walk from the escalator to the carousel.
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The carousel was quiet as CGK-SUB is mostly a business route.
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As I had no luggage I quickly made my way to the public area.
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Outside an information centre was set up for the upcoming exodus period.
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I made my way to the kerbside where the interterminal shuttle bus was waiting.
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The bus was decorated with a view of the Bromo mountain nearby as well as the tourism ambassadors for the province.
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The seat was tight, but for a 10 minutes ride I wouldn't expect much.
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After 10 minutes of waiting we left the terminal 2 to the terminal 1.
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We went through the dedicated road, which allowed for a bit of spotting.
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See more

Verdict

Garuda Indonesia

6.4/10
Cabin7.5
Cabin crew6.5
Entertainment6.0
Meal/catering5.5

Jakarta - CGK

6.8/10
Efficiency7.0
Access6.5
Services6.0
Cleanliness7.5

Surabaya - SUB

7.0/10
Efficiency8.5
Access5.5
Services6.0
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

While GA still offered a pleasant way to travel on the business route, it became clear that GA had desperately tried to cut costs and increase revenues. From the last-minute airport upgrade (though this is one positive aspect for me), tighter configuration, reduced snack service quality, all the way to endless ads, when those things add up it seemed to cheapen the on board product. In terms of the airports, both CGK and SUB were rather acceptable with decent gate positioning as well as fast check-in security and the only real complaints were the terminal fee (a staggering Rp130.000 (US$9.5)) and slow Wi-Fi at CGK as well as the interstitial corridor at SUB.

As much as I would still like to fly with GA again, I would need to lower my expectations had I opted to fly with them again.

Some thing done well for the trip (airports):
+ Fast check-in at CGK
+ Upgrade offer at CGK (albeit slightly restricted)
+ Reasonable security at CGK
+ Gate usage at CGK
+ Short walking distance at SUB

Some thing done well for the trip (on board):
+ Reasonable price (given it was an early morning flight on shoulder season; Rp884.000 (US$63))
+ Decent emergency exit row seat legroom
+ Modern cabin
+ Clean lavatory

Things that can be improved (airports):
- Slow Wi-Fi at CGK
- Interstitial corridor at SUB
- Interterminal bus frequency at SUB

Things that can be improved (on board):
- Slow upgrade clearing
- Number of ads shown
- Limited IFE offerings (both music and moving map)
- Low quality snack service
- Narrow lavatory
- Unfriendly flight attendant

Informations on the route Jakarta (CGK) Surabaya (SUB)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 7 reviews of 2 airlines on the route Jakarta (CGK) → Surabaya (SUB).


Useful

The airline with the best average grade is with /10.

The average flight time is 1.0 hours and 28.0 minutes.

  More informations

8 Comments

  • Comment 452896 by
    Davidbom 12 Comments

    Unfriendly flight attendant on garuda indonesia? You should complain because their cabin crews are the best in the world... Nice report btw..

    • Comment 452911 by
      Eric V P GOLD AUTHOR 100 Comments

      Greetings,

      Unfriendly flight attendant on garuda indonesia?
      - Must be something to do with senior CGK-based crews, perhaps? I've had better experiences on the UPG-based and DPS-based crews, so consider this an isolated one for now.

      Hope you enjoyed the report - stay tuned for the rest of the series!

  • Comment 452915 by
    Abdul.Rachim 3 Comments

    Nice report eric
    But i think based on your report everything was fine, especially it's just a 1.5 hour flight
    I mean what can you expect, they give you snack, full ife, even headphone on peak season in IED holiday
    i think 6.4 is pretty unfair but anyway nice picture

    • Comment 453230 by
      Eric V P GOLD AUTHOR 100 Comments

      Hi!

      I mean what can you expect, ....
      - You should try HKT-BKK on TG/PG - now that's service :p That aside, it's not just about the services provided quantity-wise, but also the quality as well, which GA had skimped on.

      ... on peak season in IED holiday 
      For one, I don't care about the seasonality (apart from the price and load factor), but the joint holiday period would only commence later on and it was still on a normal working day so consider it as a normal flight.

      Hope you enjoyed it - thank you for reading!

  • Comment 453167 by
    nafandra 21 Comments

    Nice one mate! I always look up to your reports as a benchmark because you execute them in a fantastic manner, and it's always a nice thing reading your reports because it's so deep, and so comprehensive and a pleasure to read. Regarding the cost-saving measures done by GA, I really think it's inevitable since their financials are in big trouble right now. Hope they still live up to their 5-star ratings in the future. Keep up the good work!

    • Comment 453349 by
      Eric V P GOLD AUTHOR 100 Comments

      Hi!

      I always look up to your reports as a benchmark ....
      - There are quite a number of great reviews here, yet mine's never one of them (plus, a couple of my reviews in the series may be shorter than usual as I was pretty fatigued from early morning flights).

      Regarding the cost-saving measures done by GA, I really think it's inevitable since their financials are in big trouble right now.
      - As much as they would like to cut costs, those minor differences can be easily discernible and make the difference between GA or a more pricey version of ID (and I'm never into paying GA price for ID product).

      Hope you enjoyed the report - stay tuned for the rest of the series!

  • Comment 453419 by
    emyrrs 34 Comments

    What a report! I really like the new colour scheme of the seats.

    You state "The purser informed me that it was actually not allowed to take photos on board" hmmmm is this another BS coming from the old man? You should ask the written rules about that. Taking pictures/videos of the crew while safety demonstration or/and without their permission lah I've heard about that about 'taking pictures onboard'??? whut?

    I'm following a guy that work as a cabin crew for GA on Instagram and he always sharing stuff about his work. One time he said that he always briefed on handling/serving snack box to not stack it all together like lego brick even though the serving time is limited like the one you share it here. "Due to the limited time for service, the flight attendant would carry 6 boxes in one go to be distributed over the entire row, followed by drinks." like stack 3 boxes for one section ABC is acceptable but stack all 6 boxes? emmmmm

    About GA's snack standard for 1hr flight time is still way better lah compared to MH for example. like this ((The snack service for the morning consisted of:
    - Biscuit: Assorted cookies
    - Bread: Bread with red bean paste fillings
    - Candy: Assorted candies
    - Drink (default): Aqua brand mineral water
    - Drink (promotional): Coconut water drink
    - Drink: Orange juice / apple juice / milk / coffee / tea / water
    )) VS. Salted peanuts and a cup of Orange juice ???

    • Comment 453453 by
      Eric V P GOLD AUTHOR 100 Comments

      Thank you for reading!

      I really like the new colour scheme of the seats.
      - I would prefer the one on 7M8 as well compared with the 738, so we're on the same side.

      ... hmmmm is this another BS coming from the old man?
      - Exactly - at least he didn't actually stop me or ask me to delete all my pictures, otherwise this review wouldn't exist.

      One time he said that he always briefed on handling/serving snack box to not stack it all together like lego brick even though the serving time is limited like the one you share it here.
      - Then how about for CGK-TKG? That would be a hell of a service as they would have even less time to serve. I must admit it, though, that I would work slower with 6 boxes than with taking 3 in one go.

      About GA's snack standard for 1hr flight time is still way better lah compared to MH
      - But that doesn't cover up the fact that the snack offering standard in GA had considerably declined. I wouldn't comment much on GA vs MH on short-haul as MH's short-haul Y is only a tad better than OD so both of them are held to a different standard.

      Thank you!

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