Review of Garuda Indonesia flight Surabaya Jakarta in Business

Airline Garuda Indonesia
Flight GA309
Class Business
Seat 7K
Aircraft Boeing 737 MAX 8
Flight time 01:35
Take-off 14 Jun 18, 08:40
Arrival at 14 Jun 18, 10:15
GA   #13 out of 131 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 186 reviews
Eric V P
By GOLD 1448
Published on 11th August 2018
Report #44: GA309 - MAXimum space on Garuda's 7M8

This will be my report on flying on Garuda Indonesia business class from Surabaya SUB to Jakarta CGK, a short-haul intercity flight within Java island, on board their Boeing 737 MAX 8. This review was particularly unique as I was the sole passenger in the business class cabin, so read on!

Here are the 12 parts of the trip:


Background


As part of a revenge from my previous flight where I didn't make it upfront, I decided to get a chance of the business class cabin on the second part of the aviation tour, first by buying the subclass V ticket and aimed for the upgrade using GA's upgrade auction system. That was the ideal situation as when cleared through the auction I would get the full amount of miles as though I flew on subclass C.

The V subclass ticket ended up costing me Rp854.500 (US$61), which was a bit on the steeper side.
photo ga309 14062018 receipt

I then submitted my upgrade bid, which I set at Rp880.000 (US$63) after tax as the load was still low.
photo ga309 14062018 bu request

Unfortunately, as there was apparently nobody to clear the upgrades (it was the exodus season after all) I received the rejection email just around the web check-in time, which left me with no choice but to try the airport upgrade.
photo ga309 14062018 bu rejection

Trip to SUB and check-in


Like during the forced layover in DPS I slept especially well in hotels (compared with hostel or budget rooms) so I aimed to arrive at SUB 1 hour before the scheduled departure time.

Instead of motorbike taxi, I took a car to the airport.
photo 20180614_082900

I then reached the terminal, which wasn't that crowded.
photo 20180614_083418

There were some people waiting at the kerbside.
photo 20180614_083435

First I needed to go through the security check to even go to the public area shops, although that was fast.
photo 20180614_083610

There were more people proceeding to the check-in hall.
photo 20180614_083628

It was a bit unusual to see the promotion for the burger joint being done like that, though the promotion was indeed on the steeper side.
photo 20180614_083646

I first went to the check-in counter and checked the load in business class, which was light (2/8 without me yet).

Afterwards I opted to go to the ticketing counter and asked for the upgrade fare, which costed me Rp1.045.000 (US$74) and therefore brought the total to Rp1.895.000 (US$135). I then paid the fee and afterwards have the EMD issued like my SUB-SIN upgrade.
photo 20180614_090457 - copyphoto 20180614_090457

With my upgrade EMD and original ticket at hand I proceeded back to the check-in counter.
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The cut boarding pass for the morning.
photo 20180614_095213

An escalator ride was needed to get to the departure floor.
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As it was still Ramadan period for Muslims, the open restaurants were covered with curtains.
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I first went to the automated ticket check.
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It was then followed by security, which I cleared in ~2 minutes.
photo 20180614_085827

SUB transit area


The transit area consisted of quite a few stores and rows of plastic seats. Since this was only used by GA and QZ, understandably it's on the smaller side.
photo 20180614_085842photo 20180614_085904

Boarding for another GA flight to CGK was on its way.
photo 20180614_085908

I then made my way to the lounge, located just behind the seating area.
photo 20180614_085928

Lounge test #1: Garuda Indonesia Domestic Lounge


I first went to the reception, where my boarding pass was checked before the reception staff filled the lounge pass stub.
photo 20180614_085932

Just like before, a towel steamer was present.
photo 20180614_090002

The towel was indeed a nice touch, though some damage on the towel was already visible.
photo 20180614_090053

Newspapers and a handful of magazines were not absent, though the magazine selection was on the more limited side
photo 20180614_091743

The sole windowed seating area was the one behind the reception counter, and even so it only provided a view of the seating area.
photo 20180614_090122

Most seats are located inside the lounge.
photo 20180614_090131photo 20180614_090134

Two foot massage machines were also provided, though it was unused throughout the stay.
photo 20180614_091016

The hot buffet on offer was basic, but have a strong Indonesian feel and taste, which matched with the Indonesian clientele.
photo 20180614_090203photo 20180614_090255

In Indonesia we love to eat crackers (which is basically flavoured starch anyway), so there were some available as well.
photo 20180614_090328

As before, porridge was also served, though I didn't try it again this time.
photo 20180614_090347photo 20180614_090353

Kediri-style vegetable salad with spicy peanut sauce and rice cake was present as well.
photo 20180614_090406

The continental breakfast offerings.
photo 20180614_090912photo 20180614_090915

A staffed coffee machine was available, so I asked for some iced cappuccino, which apparently has become my fuel for this trip series.
photo 20180614_090859

The cappuccino was however provided in a standard tall glass, which proved to be smaller than expected.
photo 20180614_091226

One item that I forgot to take photo earlier is rice with a bit of side dishes and spicy chili sauce. I only managed to eat a bit of it before the ground staff went into the lounge and announced the boarding of the flight.
photo 20180614_091256

Lounge test verdict and departure


On overall, the GA lounge at SUB wasn't the most inspiring out of all and with barely any view it wasn't excellent. However, it was functional and offered a place for a quick Indonesian-style meal while charging a phone or working for a while, which was mostly the point for the business travelers (note that GA's most significant operation at SUB was indeed to CGK).

My rating (since there is no lounge to choose from above):
Comfort 6.5
Meal/catering 5
Services 5.5
Entertainment 5.5

As I exited the lounge boarding was already underway.
photo 20180614_091834

The signage leading to the correct gate.
photo 20180614_091859

Typical at SUB terminal 2 it first involved a walk down the warm interstitial corridor.
photo 20180614_091906

The vents blocked much of the view of the plane.
photo 20180614_091944

A staff then directed us to the correct boarding gate.
photo 20180614_092008

It was another short walk down the corridor before reaching the air-conditioned aerobridge.
photo 20180614_092021photo 20180614_092035

The sole proper view of -GDA I took throughout the flight.
photo 20180614_092046

There was a bit of queue to enter the plane.
photo 20180614_092109

The table usually used to put the newspaper happened to be empty.
photo 20180614_092141

I soon reached the plane. Note the much smaller display rack than the one found on their 738.
photo 20180614_092148

The ownership plate indeed confirmed that it was the -GDA, which was the reason for me to take this flight after all.
photo 20180614_092154

On board


Flight: GA309
Plane: PK-GDA
STD/ATD: 08.40/08.46
STA/ATA: 10.15/10.05
Load factor: 12%J (1/8), 69%Y (112/162)
Seat type: Recliner business class (window seat)
Details: https://flightaware.com/live/flight/PKGDA/history/20180612/0140Z/WARR/WIII

After I was welcomed by the flight attendants I proceeded to the business class cabin.
photo 20180614_092159

GA's 7M8 has an intimate business class cabin at only 8 seats.
photo 20180614_092206

I opted for the window seat at the second row.
photo 20180614_092300

The baggage handlers could be clearly seen from the window adjacent to the seat.
photo 20180614_092354

The seat 7C's table was used to put the newspapers for passengers to take.
photo 20180614_0924320

Separating the seats are the armrest and cocktail table.
photo 20180614_092442

The middle armrest could be opened, which revealed the storage area inside.
photo 20180614_092457

An AC/USB plug was present, though there were only 2-pin headphone jack instead of 3.
photo 20180614_092509

Unlike in economy class, a remote control was also provided.
photo 20180614_092517

The remote have two different sides: one for controlling the IFE and the other for typing.
photo 20180614_092529photo 20180614_092534

Inside the armrest beside the window or aisle (for window and aisle seats respectively) is a table, though unlike most other tables I had observed in business class the table indicator had to be pulled before the table would slightly pop and afterwards brought to the lap.
photo 20180614_092607

As usual, the table could be either fully used or folded into two.
photo 20180614_092625photo 20180614_092632

The buttons to recline the seat or extend the footrest are still manual, though it was acceptable for a recliner seat.
photo 20180614_092824_001photo 20180614_092844

Legroom was exceptionally spacious for the second row seat.
photo 20180614_092914photo 20180614_092920

While the headphone was more decent than the one in economy class, the one provided wasn't noise-cancelling.
photo 20180614_092657photo 20180614_092706

The headrest was a bit on the smaller side, though still quite adjustable.
photo 20180614_104106photo 20180614_104114

The contents in the literature pocket were put in a clear folder.
photo 20180614_094940

A safety card was present, which was still quite good.
photo 20180614_095002

The magazine trio was also at my disposal.
photo 20180614_095028photo 20180614_095038
.
photo 20180614_095054

To complete the collection was an airsickness bag.
photo 20180614_095058

Service started with hot towel service, which used GA-branded towel.
photo 20180614_093014

Typical on GA business class magazines were then offered, where I then opted for Tempo. Also, at this point the flight attendant asked for my welcome drink, to which I first asked for their signature drink, passion fruit and Dutch eggplant juice, to which they said it was reserved for international flights, so I picked the orange juice instead.
photo 20180614_093156

The welcome drink arrived in their glass.
photo 20180614_093214

The view beside was of GA's AT7 under the Explore sub-brand.
photo 20180614_093244

As we pushed back, CX's plane taxied for departure back to HKG.
photo 20180614_093253

As the rest of the cabin was empty the business class flight attendant sat on the bulkhead seat up to takeoff.
photo 20180614_093413

We soon pushed back and started our taxi to runway 10.
photo 20180614_093627

Safety video was screened.
photo 20180614_093702photo 20180614_093854

The IFE can be controlled using the screen above Boeing's default cabin setting (e.g. lighting).
photo 20180614_094022

As we taxied to the runway JT's 738 were also taxiing from the terminal 1 side.
photo 20180614_093938

She then took off earlier, just ahead of us.
photo 20180614_094050photo 20180614_094118

One last view of SUB terminal 2 until the following month as we were holding short.
photo 20180614_094219

Take-off was uneventful and we started our climb to the east before heading west to CGK.
photo 20180614_094413photo 20180614_094542

After the fasten seatbelt sign was switched off the IFE preview video was first screened.
photo 20180614_095123

Like on my other flights with GA a number of ads were displayed.
photo 20180614_095151

The tablecloth was first being put while afterwards the breakfast was delivered by hand from the galley. I was then asked for my drink order, to which I opted for coffee (I was offered a choice between Toraja coffee and one other kind of coffee).
photo 20180614_095340photo 20180614_095419

I opted for the Toraja coffee, which was then served in GA's domestic business class cup.
photo 20180614_095632

The menu consisted of:
Appetizer: Fresh fruit cuts
Bread: Bread roll with butter
Main course: Fried rice with chicken and corned beef omelette or pancake
Dessert: Rice flour gruel and sago pearls with pandan leaf
Condiment: Chili sauce
Drink (default): Mineral water
Drink: Fruit juices / soft drink / water / coffee / tea

To start, the fruit cuts were fine, while the bread also equally unmemorable. The main course, on the other hand, was the severe pain point - the fried rice itself lacked the distinctive wok smell and tasted off, more like the prepacked fried rice sold in the roadside stalls than the cooked-to-order fried rice from roadside carts, the chicken quite dry, and the omelette was neither flavourful nor have much of the corned beef taste. To end the meal, the dessert tasted quite normal like on the ground, which was appreciated. On overall, while trying to offer an Indonesian cuisine the meal wasn't particularly fit for business class.

During much of the cruise I had the opportunity to talk with the purser. Here are some of the things we discussed:
- While there were previously only 2 ads on their IFE, there were now 9 of them, which took up to 5 minutes to end - he also shared the inconvenience and suggested me to fulfill the suggestion form.
- Their 7M8 had been originally proposed to fly longer routes (all the way to PER), but for some reasons that didn't work and ended up only flying at CGK-SUB-CGK-SUB-CGK rotation (note: wef 1 August 2018 GA's 7M8 no longer flies the route and started flying on CGK-HKG-CGK-SIN-CGK rotation daily on flight numbers GA876/873/834/835 respectively.)
- While I had suggested the possibilities of flying 7M8 on "holiday" routes heavier in Y, he mentioned that it was a thing in the past and now even leisure travelers start flying in J, including among them thanks to the paid airport upgrade.
- Related to the increasing load factor at the front, some markets see a significant amount of such upgrade such as flights from Japan or LHR.
- SIN flights are considered special by GA (high yield?) and therefore see more extensive services compared with the rest of their short-haul flights, including ice cream service on ex-SIN flights not on breakfast times.
- The less business class seats approach on their 7M8 was unpopular for business travelers as the cabin felt cramped so the rest of the 738 won't have their J cut (a few had their J cut to match the 7M8) but the effect on 7M8 remains to be seen.

I mostly watched the moving map, which was unfortunately only in 2D.
photo 20180614_095610

I then tried the seat when fully reclined and legrest extended. While the seat itself doesn't recline much, the legrest extend almost all the way up. Also note the legrest being shorter than normal, which made it less comfortable.
photo 20180614_103925photo 20180614_104020

Some views during descent.
photo 20180614_103815photo 20180614_103954

The ample legroom could not be felt at the first row, which feature legroom akin to economy class bulkhead seat.
photo 20180614_103942

The economy class seen from the front - check my earlier review for a more comprehensive review of the economy class.
photo 20180614_104010

I revisited the classical music offering on the IFE, which wasn't particularly wide.


As we descended over the coast north of Jakarta some ships could be seen, though nowhere nearly as many as Singapore.
photo 20180614_104624photo 20180614_104650

Before the final descent an announcement was made through the IFE screen.
photo 20180614_104903

We started reaching the mainland.
photo 20180614_105019photo 20180614_105040

The expressway linking Jakarta's inner ring road and CGK.
photo 20180614_105118photo 20180614_105201

It was only after seeing the massive terminal 3 (the glass building with white roof) that I realized we were about to land at runway 25L.
photo 20180614_105226

In fact, it was so massive it could be seen as we flew above the runway start.
photo 20180614_105239

While the taxi took a while, it also offered an opportunity to view all 3 terminals in CGK.
photo 20180614_105539

SQ's 359 taxiing for her return to SIN.
photo 20180614_110004

GA's CRK parked at the far end of terminal 3's international concourse.
photo 20180614_110259

The land of GA.
photo 20180614_110557

As I forgot to visit the lavatory I decided to go there after the plane was parked, which was clean yet typical of 737 MAX was a bit cramped and featured the notorious faucet.
photo 20180614_110841photo 20180614_110845

One last photo of the cabin - my seat is indicated with the raised headrest.
photo 20180614_111005

After bidding farewell to the purser I left the plane.
photo 20180614_111103

Being all alone in the cabin also meant being the first to disembark.
photo 20180614_111108

Typical of the aerobridge configuration in CGK terminal 3, there are 2 glass corridors from the departure floor and 1 leading to the interstitial corridor.
photo 20180614_111126

I took the downward one.
photo 20180614_111136

Arrival at CGK and post-arrival trip


After I reached the terminal building I proceeded to walk down the bland interstitial corridor.
photo 20180614_111201

A downward escalator ride was needed to get to the arrival floor.
photo 20180614_111204photo 20180614_111217

The arrival area was also used as bus gate.
photo 20180614_111232

As others may have also mentioned, CGK terminal 3 is exceptionally long.
photo 20180614_111255photo 20180614_111258

Some installations could be found just before the intersection to the luggage claim.
photo 20180614_111344photo 20180614_111425

A separate exit was provided for passengers without luggage to claim.
photo 20180614_111459

The arrival FIDS, wich reflected GA being the sole user of the terminal for domestic flights.
photo 20180614_111518photo 20180614_111527

GA has its own quasi-arrival lounge at a few airports, including CGK.
photo 20180614_111547

This was more of a glorified seating area where the baggage for premium class passengers were supposedly going to be put there so the passengers could just walk out with their luggage without waiting at the carousel. While two lavatories were also available, there was no shower area.
photo 20180614_111607

There were only drinks available.
photo 20180614_111614photo 20180614_112124

The drinks were served using GA-branded paper cup like in Y
photo 20180614_112226.

A TV was also present, which at that time played a YouTube video about GA's first class in loop.
photo 20180614_112216

After 1 hour of waiting for my luggage and processing the lost luggage claim I finally received my lost luggage form.
photo 20180614_123728 - copyphoto 20180614_123728

I then decided to leave the luggage claim area.
photo 20180614_122317

Afterwards I reached the public area for my connection to the city centre to get some lunch and work.
photo 20180614_122339

I opted to take the Big Bird shuttle bus, which costed me Rp40.000 (US$2.8) - there was apparently a promotion for us to use the app to get cheaper promotional fare, together with two protein bars.
photo 20180614_123617photo 20180614_123630

Bonus: Jakarta to Surabaya by Argo Bromo Anggrek train


Between my flight from DPS to CGK and this flight the only logical explanation must be that I repositioned from Jakarta to Surabaya. However, as flights were pretty expensive (it was already the exodus season) I decided to take the train, and it's none other than Argo Bromo Anggrek, arguably the best train service in Indonesia with an all-first class/sleeper configuration and very limited stop (i.e. only 3 stops for a 9 hours long trip), which also makes it the fastest way to shuttle between Jakarta and Surabaya overland). Its evening schedule is also highly optimized for business travelers so that the train would depart late enough from Jakarta (21.30) after the end of working hours yet still arrive early enough in Surabaya the following day to match the working hours (06.30 +1).

Bonus : Click here display
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Verdict

Garuda Indonesia

6.9/10
Cabin7.5
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment/wifi6.5
Meal/catering4.5

Surabaya - SUB

6.4/10
Efficiency7.0
Access6.5
Services5.5
Cleanliness6.5

Jakarta - CGK

5.9/10
Efficiency4.0
Access6.5
Services6.0
Cleanliness7.0

Conclusion

While GA offered a relatively comfortable way to fly on the shuttle route, but not without a few glaring issues. Apart from the rather expensive fare (even by using airport upgrade), the dining and seat pitch left a rather mixed view, as well as the missing baggage. The lounge at SUB also looked like it could benefit from some upgrade from the dingy interior, and despite the better dining offering the serving size for the iced coffee can be improved as well. In terms of the airports, SUB was generally fine besides the lack of spotting opportunity while CGK was also rather modern, which was appreciated.

On overall, I would fly with their business class again if the fare can decrease up to its competitors (e.g. ID/SJ).

Some thing done well for the trip (airports):
+ Fast check-in at SUB
+ Fast security at SUB
+ Acceptable dining offering at GA's lounge in SUB
+ Arrival lounge provision at CGK

Some thing done well for the trip (on board):
+ Modern cabin
+ Friendly flight attendant
+ Clean lavatory

Things that can be improved (airports):
- Lack of spotter-friendly location at SUB terminal 2
- Dingy interior at GA's lounge at SUB
- Small iced coffee serving size at GA's lounge at SUB
- Long walk at CGK terminal 3
- Missing luggage

Things that can be improved (on board):
- Expensive fare (Rp1.895.000 (US$135))
- Mediocre headphone
- Poor main course quality
- Limited seat recline
- Tight bulkhead seat pitch
- Limited IFE selection

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

The contributors of Flight-Report published 7 reviews of 3 airlines on the route Surabaya (SUB) → Jakarta (CGK).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is Garuda Indonesia with 8.1/10.

The average flight time is 1 hours and 36 minutes.

  More information

4 Comments

  • Comment 459169 by
    FFlyerCDG 2739 Comments

    Thanks a million for this quite informative and plaisant report !!!
    GA is really one of the very few Stars in the ST sky :-)
    This product is just perfect... Except for the luggage problem :-(
    But as you might be aware, this kind of problems might arrive anytime, even with the best airlines...
    In my country, in an airline which is proud to be among the best ones, the only option for such a domestic flight would have been Y seating even you were connection from a long haul First class flight and you'll got... Some crackers :-))
    This Business class option wasn't exactly cheap but, at least, it existed !

    • Comment 460265 by
      Eric V P GOLD AUTHOR 119 Comments

      Hi!

      GA is really one of the very few Stars in the ST sky :-)
      - But mind you in SE Asia we have quite a couple of other well-regarded carriers as well (regardless of whether it's in ST or other alliances), so it's normal that GA also tried to follow suit.

      This product is just perfect... Except for the luggage problem :-(
      - It still had quite a few flaws, but apart from that was quite functional.

      In my country, in an airline which is proud to be among the best ones, the only option for such a domestic flight would have been Y seating even you were connection from a long haul First class flight and you'll got... Some crackers :-))
      - Is the intra-Europe catering really that bad? It's understandable that they can't even give proper recliners, but at least from what I heard it's more substantial than that

      Thank you!

  • Comment 459566 by
    Zadas88 12 Comments

    Hi! Thanks for the nice trip report. I wanted to ask you, if you know the answer- I am FB Gold and flying a few Indonesian domestic flights in September. Is there a lounge on the domestic terminal of CGK? And then, are there lounges in Lahuan Bajo, Ende, Maumere, Denpasar and Lombok Airports? Thanks!

    • Comment 460266 by
      Eric V P GOLD AUTHOR 119 Comments

      Hi!

      Is there a lounge on the domestic terminal of CGK?
      - Of course, it's GA's hub after all - too bad I haven't got the chance to visit it.

      And then, are there lounges in Lahuan Bajo, Ende, Maumere, Denpasar and Lombok Airports? Thanks!
      - I'm not too sure about the rest, but GA has its own lounge at DPS and there should be also a lounge on LOP as well.

      Thank you!

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