Review of Garuda Indonesia flight Jakarta Tanjung Pandan-Belitung Island in Economy

Airline Garuda Indonesia
Flight GA282
Class Economy
Seat 34A
Flight time 01:10
Take-off 17 Aug 18, 06:30
Arrival at 17 Aug 18, 07:40
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 596
Published on 1st September 2018
Report #47: GA282 - The great GA mileage run

This will be my report on flying on Garuda Indonesia economy class from Jakarta CGK to Tanjung Pandan TJQ, a short-haul flight within SE Asia, on board their Bombardier CRJ-1000ER.

Here are the 3 parts of the trip:


Background


Being Indonesia's flag carrier, GA ran a couple of promotions to celebrate Indonesia's independence day, with its most significant promotion being the 7300 bonus miles for certain routes booked on high subclasses (all paid business class, flexible economy class, and highest semi-flexible economy class) on 17 August.
photo ga282 17082018 promo

The shortest (and cheapest) route eligible for the promotion was the twice daily CGK to TJQ flight, and since based on my valuation the miles would pretty much paid for the ticket I opted to buy one, which costed me Rp941.360 (US$64.5) after 20% OTA cashback (and no, they don't put the cashback on their invoice)
photo ga282 17082018 receipt

To further sweeten the deal, GA also had a rather massive improvement for its frequent flyer where my flexible ticket would earn me 3 segments instead of the usual 1, thus bringing me just 1 segment short to their silver level (i.e. their lowest elite tier). In addition, free seating selection is also provided for tickets on high subclasses so after trying their (previously) business class seat naturally I went for the window seat on the second emergency exit row.
photo ga282 17082018 seat selection

Trip to CGK and check-in


I went to Gambir Stn to take the 3.30 AM bus to CGK (which was the exact same bus timing as the one I used to go to SUB on GA's 7M8 earlier).
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Just like before, the ticket costed Rp40.000 (US$2.8).
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The bus about to bring me to CGK.
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The seat was as usual a bit narrow, though with the ~50% load factor (i.e. empty adjacent seat for most passengers) this was still bearable.
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Thanks to some traffic jams at the expressway, it was not until close to 1 hour afterwards that the bus dropped me at CGK terminal 3. The terminal was quite crowded as it was after all a public holiday.
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The terminal had its own crowd measurement tool, and unsurprisingly entrance 4 came up on top (note: that entrance was used for non-elite domestic economy class passengers on GA).
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While there were some queue, I was cleared in only 2 1/2 minutes.
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FIDS of the early morning.
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GA offered self check-in kiosks.
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However, the sole reason to bother with it was to see their kiosk-printed boarding pass - even their check-in counters were quiet and I was cleared in 1 minute.
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Here are the two boarding passes issued for this flight - no prize for guessing which one was the one from the kiosk.
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The quiet check-in area was a remarkable feat, especially when considering the sheer crowd at the terminal.
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After check-in I opted for breakfast at a fast food chain (note that there were less eateries open at such early hours after security).
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I went for another round of security, which was done in ~3 minutes.
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CGK transit area and departure


There was a recomposing area just after security.
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Before reaching the waiting lounge floor a walk through the shops was needed.
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Domestic FIDS of the morning.
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There weren't that many stores being open at such an early time.
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As usual I went to the working space to charge my portable battery and start working on this report (it would be a long day with 2 reviews before going to the hotel).
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Since the working space was quite a distance from the window I didn't do much spotting.
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After a year I revisited the shower area. I first went to the attendant and after handing my boarding pass he took a record of it inside his own room before handing it back and allowing me to go inside.
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While it was good to see toiletries holder and hot water available, the facility was rather poorly maintained, thus reducing its appeal.
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After the quick shower I rushed to my gate.
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Boarding was already well underway for my flight.
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You may encounter a few photos with people in red/white T-shirt: they were from the finance department of an Indonesian consumer goods conglomerate who were having their outing.
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A downward escalator ride was needed to get to the interstitial corridor floor.
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The corridor was empty this time as this was during the morning departure peak.
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Another downward ride was needed and then a right turn to prevent ourselves from getting to the arrival area.
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Does anybody have any idea behind so many sofa being fitted despite its low utilization rate?
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A bus was waiting for us just outside the waiting lounge.
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The bus was initially quite quiet, though I learned that the bus was waiting for a group of passengers to board the bus before leaving for the plane.
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The spotting here mainly consisted of loads of GA's planes.
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CI's 738 bound to HKG and KHH.
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CZ's 7M8 and MF's 738 could be seen at the far end of the international extension pier as well.
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This time our CRK was parked at the apron opposite the terminal instead of at the very end of the international extension pier.
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The massive terminal 3 as seen from the apron.
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The plane about to bring me to TJQ was PK-GRJ, a ~5 years old CRK.
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The staffs handling gate-checked bags.
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Boarding was done using stairs (though why don't GA bother with having gates capable of handling CRK in terminal 3?)
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As all passengers have left the bus it was time for the bus to return to the terminal.
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On board


Flight: GA282
Plane: PK-GRJ
STD/ATD: 06.30/07.15
STA/ATA: 07.40/07.58
Load factor: 98%Y (94/96)
Seat type: Standard economy class (emergency exit row window seat)
Details: https://www.flightradar24.com/data/aircraft/pk-grj#1d87bb73

As I boarded everybody was handed with a pack of coconut water (which again, was the same as the one provided from CGK to SUB on GA as well as for paid seats on QG)
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I first passed through the ex-business class seats (yes, GA once offered business class with the exact same seat width on its regional jet fleet)
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Since I opted for the emergency exit row seat I went back to the economy class proper.
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I then reached my seat. Not that it was windowless, but the seat was quite far behind the door and CRK isn't known to offer as many windows as the mainline fleet planes.
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Legroom was exceptionally good on this row.
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The seatback feature a literature pocket and a table, which surprisingly worked (GA's 738 is known to have the table at the seatback in front of emergency exit row seats disabled)
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The contents in the seat pocket managed to be fit on both tables.
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This is the table provided from below the armrest.
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Seatbelt was nothing unusual.
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While I thought the bus I rode earlier was the last one, I was proved wrong as another bus came a few minutes later, bringing the last batch of passengers.
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Selfie test: the seat felt a bit on the narrower side.
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It didn't help either that the foldable table made the seat feel even narrower.
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Safety demonstration was manually done.
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View from the window earlier as I settled on my seat.
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We then pushed back.
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The struggle to get to see the view during the flight was evident on both emergency exit rows.
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CI's 738 had started her taxi before us to return to KHH via HKG.
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The cabin was dimmed for departure.
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After a 20 minutes queue we finally reached runway 25R for departure. JL's 788 and XT's 320 could be seen queuing up behind us.
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A snack (and to my surprise, drink) service was conducted using one trolley from the front to rear.
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Since I figured out they would take a bit of time I went to the lavatory, which was clean.
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As expected on a regional jet, though, it was a bit on the tighter side.
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A view of the rear galley.
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The cabin as seen from behind.
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When I arrived at my seat I noticed that everyone had the snack put on the table.
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That, of course, didn't exclude my seat, and as usual packed in the standard GA snack box.
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The box when opened revealed the standard GA snack service.
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A few minutes later the drink trolley reached my seat, to which I asked for orange juice.
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All foods and beverages provided for this flight.
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The snack service for the morning consisted of:
- Biscuit: Assorted cookies
- Bread: Bread with minced meat filling
- Drink (default): Aqua brand mineral water
- Drink (promotional): Coconut water drink
- Drink: Orange juice / apple juice / milk / coffee / tea / water

As usual on GA, the meat fillings on their breads were exceptionally stingy, which lent to the rather bland flavor. The cookies were on the other hand slightly better, and the plethora of beverages was quite a plus. On overall, this was an appropriate snack service given the range.
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The view during cruise mainly consisted of sea.
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As we descended the view stated to change to Belitung island.
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The view during descent and approach was quite stunning and a sheer contrast to the buildings and developments as seen when arriving at CGK.


Landing at TJQ was uneventful, although due to its size we needed to go all the way to the end of the runway and go around before reaching the terminal.
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The luggage carts were expecting our arrival.
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While there was another plane to the right of us, there was no plane parked to my left side.
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The deplaning process consisted of people waiting at the aisle to deplane early, though I opted for a more leisurely pace.
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I was the last to deplane so I got to see the rather messy cabin.
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Just after I left the plane the ground staff started to enter the plane.
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SJ's 738 about to return to CGK
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The terminal consisted of a small single storey building.
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The luggage handlers could be seen delivering the luggage to the carousel.
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I then reached the walkway to the arrival hall.
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Being a small airport, it was only normal to have the ATC tower at only 4 stories high.
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It was a short walk into the terminal building.
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Arrival at TJQ and post-arrival trip


As I arrived at the terminal building I was greeted with the sign. Also note the Ministry of Transport's logo, which showed that the airport, like TKG, was directly under their purview.
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The luggage claim area was quite crowded.
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As I had no luggage I exited the hall to the public area where there were quite a number of greeters.
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There was a government bus service provided from TJQ to anywhere in downtown Tanjung Pandan free of charge.
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The bus, however, was very underutilized as most people went to Belitung island by organized tour so I ended up taking the bus all alone. Their reporting system was quite simple as well: as long as there is at least one passenger after the arrival peaks and he/she was willing to be photographed for documentation, the bus would depart.
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To start the day I went to GA's sales office and did city check-in, with my boarding pass put on GA's envelope.
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See more

Verdict

Garuda Indonesia

6.0/10
Cabin7.0
Cabin crew6.5
Entertainment/wifi3.5
Meal/catering7.0

Jakarta - CGK

6.6/10
Efficiency7.5
Access7.0
Services6.5
Cleanliness5.5

Tanjung Pandan-Belitung Island - TJQ

6.3/10
Efficiency6.5
Access7.0
Services6.0
Cleanliness5.5

Conclusion

Despite the natural shortcomings of flying short-haul on a regional jet, this flight was a particularly good way to go to TJQ (though in all fairness I won't pay up at the current price except for the sheer amount of miles) with decent dining offerings and spacious emergency exit row seat. In terms of the airports, CGK terminal 3 was acceptable except for the dilapidated shower, while TJQ was a breeze to pass through (that is, without checked luggage) despite the crowd.

On overall, I would fly with GA again if the price was right and I was keen on exploring the island (the latter wasn't true when I visited).

Some thing done well for the trip (airports):
+ Fast check-in at CGK
+ Fast security at CGK
+ Working space provision in CGK
+ Compact terminal layout at TJQ
+ Free on-demand airport bus service to downtown at TJQ

Some thing done well for the trip (on board):
+ Acceptable fare (Rp941.360 (US$64.5) for 7500 miles and 3 segments)
+ Modern cabin
+ Wide legroom on the emergency exit row seats
+ Extensive dining offering for the distance
+ Clean lavatory

Things that can be improved (airports):
- Dilapidated bathroom at CGK
- Gate selection at CGK
- Small luggage claim hall at TJQ

Things that can be improved (on board):
- Lack of inflight magazine (where's the Colours magazine?)
- Rushed flight attendants

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